iZombie and the Art of Pacing

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When we last saw Liv, things had taken a turn for the depressing (if not yet apocalyptically dire). Ravi had just discovered his current zombie cure was only a temporary fix. Liv broke up with Major, believing their needs were too incompatible for a relationship. And, perhaps most distressingly, Clive ended his partnership with Liv, a move that both fundamentally impacted the structure of the show and took away Liv’s one constant in the middle of all her unlife’s ups and downs. I was very excited to see what turns the story would take after this — of course the status quo would eventually be restored, but there were so many emotional roadblocks in the way, and seeing how Liv dealt with them was going to be the interesting part.

And then…the first episode back from hiatus featured Liv almost immediately getting back into Clive’s good graces after a brief probation.


Again, it’s not that I thought the duo was in actual danger of not reuniting, or even that I wanted Liv to suffer needlessly. A series that uselessly drags out fights between main characters for the sake of “drama” is no one’s friend. Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 3.06.44 PMBut it’s also a bit of a letdown to see iZombie immediately reverse a huge change with little focus on any consequences that might have made the solution feel earned. We deserved at least one episode of seeing how Liv tries to find meaning in life or save the day without Clive backing her up — and, with Clive established as firmly putting his foot down, it should have taken more time and space within the storyline for him to fully regain trust in her.

This isn’t the first time iZombie has pulled back from showing real consequences in favor of strangely reversing a story idea that needed more breathing room. Major’s solid minute of crushing sadness and betrayal at Liv turning him into a zombie in last season’s finale could have easily been the first episode of season two. We could have fully explored the emotional fallout there, and the payoff of Liv using the remaining cure to change him would have been much stronger for it. Instead, they undid the situation at the television equivalent of lightspeed, and everything rang less true as a result.

This Clive situation is similarly truncated, except the effect is even more frustrating: at least Liv and Major got some resulting character development out of their deal regardless of it being rushed. Clive and Liv’s dynamic hasn’t changed Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 3.07.01 PMat all, even though the loss of trust in the midseason finale had so much emphasis and heartbreak attached to it. I don’t know the grand plan for this season and can’t guess as to why this episode was plotted in such a manner, but it’s sort of baffling. Why take something so important from Liv if it’s going to be relatively simple for her to get it back?

Still, we’ve got a lot on the table: the Major breakup remains indefinite for now, and the threat of his eventual turn back into a zombie is very promising. Plus, Clive’s status as the sole holdout in not knowing the truth can’t last forever (right?). I remain as excited as ever to see where iZombie’s second season goes — the plot has been ambitiously multifaceted without getting too complicated. I just hope that the show can figure out how to smooth out its writing bumps and fully commit to the swerves it teases at regularly. Liv, Clive, and the rest of the cast are all complicated people with their own interests and agendas: we should be able to see their conflicts play out, instead of bending under the weight of iZombie’s chosen formula.

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