After an uneven start to the season, this week's iZombie, "My Really Fair Lady", following on from a stellar episode last week, ups the ante even more, with a brain of the week that actually really aids Liv in what she needs to do.
As well as providing humourous moments, a standout storyline for Ravi and FINALLY tying Blaine's weirdo Dad into the main story, this week's episode also features a brief but very funny cameo from everyone's favourite Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Rachel Bloom.
This week's iZombie felt like something of a departure from the usual formula for the show. There is no "case of the week" as such, no murder to solve - instead, it focuses far more on Liv's role as the New Renegade for the Underground, a tactic which very much worked in its favour as it would have been strange had everything gone back to business as usual after the game changer that was the execution in the last episode.
Liv's brain this week is probably my favourite of this season so far (being a massive musicals fan!) because not only was it super fun (I laughed out loud for the entirety of the sexual harrasment seminar portion of the episode), but it also was actually really helpful for what she was trying to accomplish. Often times, the brains Liv eats can be as much a hindrance to her as they are a help, but this week, she got the exact right brain for what she needed to do. Her theatre brain allows her to prove herself to the Underground group (rightly unconvinced of her ability to lead them), with a delightfully convoluted plan, set out like a play and involving Rose McIver breaking out her natural Kiwi accent to distract a security guard.
Rachel Bloom featured in a cameo in this week's episode as the former owner of Liv's theatre brain and whilst I appreciated the humour of her opening sequence in a Zombie adapted version of Rent, it did feel like she was somewhat underutilized. We see her for all of two minutes - enough to get a few laughs in - and then we find out that she died in a bus crash after the opening credits.
I appreciated that the members of the Underground network were sceptical of Liv taking over, and pointed out that she doesn't have the same connections Mama Leone had, and in fact, the connections she does have, with the Seattle PD, Major and Peyton, all of whom work for the city, could potentially hinder the network. I also felt like their turnaround came a little too quickly. Sure, Liv's plan worked out, but it actually showed how unpredictable a zombie leader who eats whole brains can be. It worked out because of the particular brain she was on at that moment, and there's a definite chance that at some point, she will be on a brain that won't help them, or even worse might get them caught. It didn't really show her leadership skills, it showed her luck. I'm hoping this will be explored more in future episodes, because oftentimes it seems like things work out too well for Liv and I'd like to see her struggle a bit more and face up to some of her flaws.
The lack of a murder subplot this week really allows more focus on character development, both for Liv and in this week's subplot, Ravi. Ravi is on his "monthlies", and in order to help Peyton (and due to hunger), he eats the brain of a heroin addict who died in the same bus crash as Rachel Bloom's character. This seems like a silly subplot at first, and whilst yes, it was a very dumb decision on the part of Ravi, it does give a chance for Peyton and Ravi to reconnect and finally act on the chemistry that has been so darn obvious this season. It was quite a convoluted way of getting there, but I'm glad those two are back together and I hope it stays that way - they both deserve at least a little normalcy!
Perhaps the weaker of the three main plots in this week's iZombie (one of the benefits of having a murder free week is that it allows for a decent C plot), is Clive. At loose ends as to what to do without a murder, he engages in a flirtation with cute new cop, Michelle, exploring an open relationship, but it soon becomes quite clear that neither of them are comfortable with the situation. Whilst this was perhaps the least interesting part of the episode, what was interesting was Dale's reaction to Clive's flirting and I look forward to seeing where this goes in future episodes.
It's clear that something has to give - this arrangement isn't working for Clive and after this week's episode, I'm unsure how well it's working for Dale either. It was nice to see Clive do something different rather than just play the straight man to his zany partner, which is one of the many benefits of a murder free week.
I'm still unconvinced as to Blaine's father's storyline. He and Blaine finally interact this week, which feels like a step forward to what has for the most part been a rather stagnant storyline this season, but I still felt like it didn't really add much to the rest of the episode.
There are definitely some sparks flying between Liv and new underground railroad colleague Levon, which is cute, although given Liv's track record, it probably means he will die sometime soon! Levon's insistence on recording everything, including Liv scratching people, is going to spell a recipe for disaster though, because there is no way that someone at Fillmore Graves isn't going to find that footage at some point.
Overall, this episode was a much needed, refreshing break from iZombie's usual format. It definitely feels like the stakes have been raised, and that means things are only going to get more intense from here.
iZombie is available to watch on Netflix, with new episodes arriving weekly.