After a shocking season one finale involving a deli’s worth of corpses, things have calmed down for Seattle’s favorite zombie M.E. Of course the shock-waves of the Meat-Cute Massacre continue to resonate, effectively selling the theme of fallout for the episode, along with the rather thickly laid foundation of choice and consequence. The effect of Liv’s actions in the season one finale make up the majority of the drama of the episode, successfully linking the two seasons as well as bringing us up to date in a thought provoking and intriguing way.
…then Liv eats the brain of a crotchety old man, and things start to unravel.
Let me start by saying that Rose McIver’s channeling of a bitter, politically incorrect, dog hating, and frankly pretty racist senior citizen was mostly just entertaining. (“Obama.”). Unfortunately there’s a flip side. iZombie is usually pretty three dimensional in the “victims” that Liv absorbs, as she inherits not just their personality and skills but also their fears and desires. It’s makes for a very human kind of experience that definitely makes Liv more entertaining, but also an empathetic connection to these supposedly one shot characters. The biggest flaw of “Grumpy Old Liv” is that it ends up being less about genuine characterization, and more an exercise in tired stereotypes about right-wing old men. It ends up being a shtick that even Rose McIver has a hard time selling. In fact, there are a fair amount of jokes in the whole of the episode that seem to be pushing a little too hard and end up feeling forced. Also if I have to see the dramatic monologue close-up/sales pitch fake out gag, I can’t guarantee I won’t hurl my TV through a Best Buy window and go live in the mountains somewhere (“I KNOW YOU’RE SELLING SOMETHING BLAINE! JUST STOP WITH THE GAG AND REVEAL IT! …coffins. Okay, that’s pretty funny.”
While these are some glaring flaws, the episode still sets up the season succinctly. Despite the runtime, “Grumpy Old Liv” manages to establish satisfying story-lines for all the characters, as well as provide an intriguing mystery that really picks up in the second half, even if it kind of rushes together. Major, Blaine, and Liv all pick up continuing plotlines that seem like they’ll be a joy to explore in the coming episodes. There’s an added bonus story for the returning CEO of Max Rager Vaughn Du Clark (Played by the ever amusing Steven Weber), who ends up being an even more charismatic presence than previously considered. The finale plays out as both tragic and thought provoking and ends up making the episode provocative as well as amusing. It’s a hell of an accomplishment considering it’s done while juggling more than five full plotlines and a pile of rough comedic material.
Final Word: iZombie’s Season 2 premiere shambles along in its first half, but manages to pick up enough to pull out a satisfying conclusion. You’ll find plenty of reasons to stick around, though you might have to wade through some murky waters of exhausted and long winded jokes to get there.