TV Korner: iZombie 2.12 – “Physician, Heal thy Selfie”

By patricksmith - February 10, 2016

iZom Liv S2 featured

Expert storytelling.

This week’s iZombie defies mystery conventions to tell a story that forwards the significantly more intriguing plot of the second season and gives just the right amount of attention to all of the characters.

Things start out just like iZombie always starts out: funny but formulaic.  Liv eats the brain of a social media aficionado and contracts an unenviable habit that sends her nose in to her phone vlogging, blogging, tweeting, and hashtagging.  #millennialsugh #yeahthatsmygenerationimstillashamed.  Of course this on its own is a zany situation gold mine, and considering that zany situations are like the five dollar bill at the bank of iZombie, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that this is the direction that the episode would go.  Well, that’s the greatest part about it.  iZombie couldn’t care less about the brain, because the brain is finally just a brain and not the setup to a joke (or in iZombie’s case, a gross of jokes).  Instead, the mystery of the week is relevant to the overall plotline to the second season and it’s not enough that there’s a vague connection to big bad Mr. Boss: “Physician, Heal Thy Selfie” connects all the threads between all the characters perfectly to tell a story that does not miss a single junction.

Liv encounters a situation that prevents her from having the insight in to the case that she usually does and has to rely on good old fashioned detective work while taking a day-old snack from the morgue cabinet.  The brain jokes are still there, so if that’s your bag (and considering how well the humor in iZombie is handled, it really should be your bag), than you will not be disappointed by the typical brain situational comedy: albeit this time with a more topical twist.  The thing that makes the brain use so brilliant in this episode compared to the others is that the joke isn’t the primary focus.  The brain is a functional plot device this time around and just funny as a side-note.  The regular detective work focus of the case is a breath of fresh air, because it breaks up the waiting on the ghost of plot’s past to introduce the deus ex machina information that moves the story along, which means there’s not really a “killer of the week” formula as the identity of the killer is not the primary goal of the episode.  Instead Liv’s mystery ties her in to the mysterious Chaos Killer and Peyton’s case against Mr. Boss.

The other big standout here is Major.  He seems to get a small plotline to explore each episode, that usually involves racing against a clock, and while that’s the case here it’s a much slower burn that brings the tension.  Meanwhile, we’re able to get some really disturbing but enlightening characterization for Vaughn Du Clark and his Max Rager cronies giving us a much clearer picture of who Major is dealing with.  Now lately I’ve felt the Max Rager thing hasn’t really been a successful villain for the show.  Steven Weber is charismatic enough to pull off the smiling sociopath he’s acting as, but the evil actions of Max Rager have just been implied and believe it or not I would say that even feeding your scientists to zombies is not truly terrifying behavior.  It’s cartoony evil, and can be defanged by highlighting how ridiculous a concept it is.  That illusion is completely dispelled now by his actions in “Physician, Heal thy Selfie.” Truly horrifying parallel for the corruption of power and insanity.  But those are just designed to add tension to Major’s dilemma, the dilemma itself is what makes the plotline, as it is directly influenced by Liv’s actions and Peyton’s reactions.

Final Word: Modern-relevant humor, a story that is actually too good to be spoiled in any fashion by me, and brilliantly connected plot threads in to a tapestry of intrigue all make this the single most smoothly operating iZombie episode of the entire series thus far.  It’s entertaining as always with the emphasis on relationship drama and humor, but flawless cause and effect uses all of the characters to tell an incredibly intricate story that only whets the appetite for what’s to come but still has closure.

“Physician, Heal thy Selfie” get a 9.8/10: It’s a damn near perfect chain reaction that makes the most of all of iZombie’s assets.  Why not a 10? Well, could’ve used more Clive.      

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