The last comic book show of the 2014-2015 season has finally ended and I’m just going to put it right up front that this was my favorite show, edging out the Flash by a very narrow margin. I hadn’t watched Veronica Mars before watching this so I wasn’t very familiar with Rob Thomas’s work outside of Matchbox 20 (yes I know, wrong Rob Thomas). I also had never even heard of the comic book and thought that the whole iNaming convention had been way overused. But after the pilot episode I was hooked, and throughout these thirteen episodes it drew me in further and further and it just has the right amount of depth, character development, and twists and turns without relying too heavily on its own gimmick.
Before I get too far into the show as a whole I do want to focus on my favorite character. Not only that, but he’s a character that I would have never thought would have become my favorite, so much so that I thought I would want to see him killed off mid-season. But Major Lilywhite, stupid name notwithstanding, went through just an amazing character arc from the beginning of the season until the end. And he did it without feeling like it was forced, sped up, or unnatural. When the show starts out he was basically a chick flick version of Mr. Perfect. He was a social worker, buff, handsome, perfect hair, and Liv’s parents and roommate loved him. But as he ended up drawing himself further and further into the world of Seattle zombies that had sprung up around him he went on a downward spiral the further down the rabbit hole he reached. From seeing the shoes of one of his troubled youths to finding a cooler with human brains, to learning how to use a gun and spending time in a mental ward. When it finally gets to his complete badass action scene in the final episode, it has been totally earned. Not only that, but the way his relationship with Liv carries on throughout the season was a lot more realistic than most TV couples. Early on when Liv essentially eats a horny brain he pushes her away, and again at the end of the season when Liv saves him by turning him into a zombie he doesn’t thank her. He isn’t glad that they can finally be together. He resents her for making his decision for him, it’s an act that appears to push them even farther apart rather than bring them closer together.
This has been a show that isn’t afraid to let things sit either. Some shows would set something up in one episode so that it can have a payoff in the very next episode. Even with only thirteen episodes, iZombie manages to use an extended timeline on certain hints and clues to be paid off three, four, even five episodes down the line. I imagine that this is a style of storytelling also used in Veronica Mars, and I can see why it worked there and why it works again here. It makes it worth it to pay attention. While seeing an application form for Meat Cute being given to Liv’s younger brother seems like an obvious set up, by the time it comes back around that small detail would have easily been forgotten. The same with the Max Rager thread that shows up as early as the second or third episode, pops up again a few episodes later, but doesn’t start to really pick up steam until the last five or six episodes.
The gimmick of the show that never really got old for me was the fact that when Liv eats brains she not only gets glimpses of memories from the recently deceased, but she also gains some of their personality traits for a while. This has a couple different benefits. The first is part of the premise of the show that allows her to help solve murders with first hand information. The second is that Rose McIver gets to play a different personality each and every episode, while still retaining the essence of Liv. She has had a wide variety of brain-induced personalities from stoner to psychoanalist to agoraphobic to cheerleader. But I would have to say that my favorite brains of hers would be early on with her kung fu brains. Even though she does get the zombie rage super strength when needed, getting to see her have the Keanu Reeves moment of “I know Kung Fu” and go off on her attacker was well worth it.
Throughout this season, even when the case of the week might be a little bit on the weak side, there are always the overarching throughlines that keep the show interesting. But for me to go with a favorite episode I would have to go with one of the later episodes, Astroburger. This is the episode where Liv eats the brain of the guy in the psych ward and starts seeing hallucinations. It’s great for several different reasons. The first is the comedy with the obvious devil hallucination that pops up everywhere in increasingly hilarious moments. But the second is the reveal that the devil wasn’t the only hallucination and Liv has been having others that she didn’t even realize, like the weatherman that she inherited from the brain and the Major one that she conjured up herself. It allowed her to have the perfect moment where she revealed her secret to Major and he accepted her completely only to turn around and have him go the completely opposite direction when he shows up with a handful of coolers with astronaut brains wanting to kill all the zombies. Excellent payoff with a nicely subtle setup.
There’s not much more I can say about iZombie, there have been several great guest roles that have popped up here and there, like a completely grown up Brian Krakow from My So-Called Life, Steven Weber from Wings, and Wallace from Veronica Mars. There have been a few surprising deaths, and a few surprising non-deaths. I love everything about the show from the pop culture humor including the self-referential moments where they are watching zombie movies for research or calling out Warm Bodies as an example of what type of zombie situation they’re in. I love the more realistic character interactions as well as the subtle hints at a larger story that are scattered throughout the entire season rather than lumping them all into a few episodes. I just can’t say enough about how much I enjoy the show and I hope it gets more recognition next season and becomes a hit in the same vein as Buffy: the Vampire Slayer.