Every so often, iZombie takes a break from being emotionally distressing and plot-important to do an episode that’s just pure unleaded fun. Which seems weird to say, since the show is always lighthearted and entertaining, but it’s usually combined with heaping doses of suspense and drama. “Abra Cadaver” was straight-up joyful with only enough limited pathos to complicate things. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of personal highlights, countdown-style. (No magic tricks were involved in the making of this post.)
3. “You’re bumming me out, man.” Remember when I said I never wanted Blaine to become a good guy? This subplot is one of the reasons. Liv and Blaine as antagonistic enemies forced to work together is so much more interesting and hilarious. It’s not often that you get to see two people so wholly unimpressed with each other’s worldview actually being productive. Plus, Rose McIver and David Anders are both great at being irritated, as well as just being performers who play off each other so well.
2. Ravi breaking up with Steph. With all apocalypse-related concerns and serial murders, it’s nice to see this show get down-to-earth and real about its characters. Ravi’s at once easy to sympathize with – even if you’ve never dumped someone romantically, who hasn’t been in the awkward position of letting another person down? – and sincerely flawed. Steph’s parting shot (“Waiting until the morning after to let me know: not classy.”) is pretty much deserved, and he knows it. It’s a particularly human scene, and in a way that makes it more than just another stepping stone towards reuniting Ravi and Peyton. When he was introduced in the pilot, Ravi could so easily have just been the sidekick character, but instead we’ve spent two seasons seeing him as his own person, with an actual personal life and his own collection of positive and negative personality traits. Nice work, show.
1. Liv taking down the murderer. Speaking of character development: HOW GREAT WAS THIS? I know she’s still being influenced by magician brain in this scene, but there’s also a sense of Liv having kind of embraced the impulse, both here and in the rest of the episode. Early season one Liv on a death-obsession kick would have been a lot more self-conscious about the implications of her words, reflecting anxiously in voiceover about what it all means and how it applies to her life. In fact, I was initially a little surprised that the episode didn’t explore more existential questions along this line of thinking, and instead mostly stuck to the comedic opportunities. I realized, though, that it wasn’t an issue of missed opportunities — it was Liv being comfortable with herself and riding out the latest personality in her head. We know that even when Liv’s actions are colored by the brain of the week, she’s still self-aware (remember her slapping Major and then immediately apologizing, saying she’d never do that as her normal self?). Even if she doesn’t entirely control her own actions, she still reacts to them later.
With that in mind, it’s interesting that there’s no angst or frustration about what Sid Wicked’s beliefs really mean, or if he has a point. Liv just goes with it, getting the job done with few second thoughts involved. And, as a result, it feels like there’s at least a little actual pleasure in her theatrical reveal of Sid’s killer. “You want me to just tell you? What happened to showmanship?” feels like that genuine Liv Moore snark, instead of entirely brain-fueled dialogue. It’s a delight to see her at the top of her game like this, even if Clive doesn’t totally appreciate it.
If iZombie can take what would normally be dismissed as a filler episode and pack it full of wonderful character moments like this? Bring it on. The serialized arc is great, but episodes like this remind us where the heart of the show is.