Friday, April 10, 2015

iZombie 1.03: "The Exterminator"

“Fine. We’ll go a-zombie hunting. Solve murders. Find zombies. Why don’t you ever suggest anything whimsical?”

“The Exterminator” combines a fairly interesting mystery with intriguing development in the “iZombie” mythology. We learn a little more about the zombie condition, and we meet a zombie who is much farther gone than Liv or Blaine. The mystery was satisfyingly complex, although business deals, sports betting, and hit men aren’t exactly in my wheelhouse. I think with this episode I am starting to see how some of the puzzle pieces of the show are intended to fit together. I have a better understanding of the roles that Peyton and Major play in Liv’s life, and I’m starting to care about all of them (although not so much Major just yet – I think I need to see more of him to develop any attachment). I think I’m also starting to get a sense of what the show is going to be like on a week-to-week basis. It seems similar to “Veronica Mars,” another wonderful show by the same creative team, in the sense that we’ll get a mystery of the week and some advancement of the mythology every episode. I think that’s a strong formula. It certainly worked for “Veronica Mars.”

The episode begins with a couple of teenagers trying to shoot horror movie B-roll at a shipyard on Lake Washington. At first, I expected the teens to be the murder victims of the episode, but that wasn’t the case. I wonder if the “iZombie” team isn’t willing to go that dark? “Veronica Mars” certainly did. Anyway, the kids hear something stirring in a large tank with a broken lid. One of the kids thinks he’s found the next big viral sensation, so he takes a picture of it to post on social media. Ravi, of course, sees this photo on Facebook, and he convinces Liv that the two of them should take a little trip to find this potential zombie. Before that, however, Liv eats some brains. Specifically, she eats some of the brain of a guy named Marvin who, on paper, seems like a run-of-the-mill suburban dad. While Liv is eating her brains, Blaine stops by the morgue to confront Liv about not supplying him with brains like she promised. After a tense conversation, which involves Blaine describing how he has to bash skulls open with rocks to get his fill of brains, the two decide that when it comes to feeding, it’s going to be every zombie for him/herself.

Liv heads home, where Peyton is in a celebratory mood and pops some champagne. Peyton is a lawyer, and she is one of the prosecutors on the very visible “Wally Walker” case. Wally Walker was a rich tech executive who was allegedly murdered by a “drifter,” and the trial of the drifter is about to begin. Liv agrees to help Peyton rehearse one of her upcoming cross examinations, but things go awry when Peyton shows Liv a photo of the murdered Wally Walker. She has a vision from Marvin’s passed and believes that Marvin is actually the killer. Liv guilts Babineaux to help her pursue this break in the case, and she’s surprised that she doesn’t feel bad for doing so. She feels numb, which means she believes Marvin was a hit man with an anti-social personality disorder. At home, Peyton shows her a video on Facebook of Major with another woman, and Liv continues to feel numb. It’s interesting the various side-effects that the brains can have.

Liv and Ravi go to the shipyard in search of the potential zombie from the Facebook video. They open up the tank and indeed find her. To Liv’s shock, this new zombie is someone she knows, a coworker named Marcie who invited Liv to the boat party where she was turned. Ravi, of course, wants to turn this into a science experiment. He and Liv give Marcie some brains to see if a zombie this hungry will go back to normal after feeding. Next, Liv and Babineaux get to investigating, and they start at a cop bar run by an ex-cop bookie. Liv and Babineaux think the bookie may have hired Marvin to kill Wally over a gambling debt, then killed Marvin when things went pear-shaped. The bar is kind of weird and not like other cop/fire fighter bars I’ve been to. There’s trivia hosted by a woman in an “I Dream of Jeannie” costume, and the implication is that the cops get turned on by her calling them “Master.” Liv, since she’s got Marvin’s encyclopedic knowledge of trivia in her head, wins the trivia contest. The bookie, however, stonewalls the investigation by threatening to complain to Babineaux’s lieutenant, who apparently bets on the Seahawks occasionally.

The next stop in the investigation for Liv and Babineaux is Marvin’s house. They get Marvin’s widow’s permission to go through Marvin’s things, presumably because the widow thinks her late husband had nothing to hide. This search actually provides two breaks in the case. While in the basement, Liv has a vision of being run over by a car, and Babineaux finds the gun (with suppresser still attached) used to murder Wally Walker. When Liv finally goes home after the day’s investigating, she is greeted by a furious Peyton. Liv has, after all, blown up the case that was supposed to make Peyton’s career. Liv feels no remorse for this thanks to Marvin’s brain in her system, which makes the situation even worse.

Back at the morgue, Major stops by to see if Liv and Babineaux can help with a missing kid from the shelter where he works. He brings along the kid’s friend who swears that the missing kid was doing well and wouldn’t have just run off. Things are super awkward between Liv and Major because of Liv trying to kiss Major in the last episode and Major not responding to Liv’s apology text. Babineaux, however, does say he will try to help by checking in with Missing Persons. While at the police station, Liv draws the taillights of the car she saw running over Marvin, and Babineaux is able to identify the make and model. Only one such car is in the area, and it was recently sold. Liv and Babineaux talk to the seller, and he is able to identify the buyer, who is none other than Don, Wally Walker’s “angel investor” who was offering a reward for information on Wally’s murder.

Babineaux and Liv interrogate Don, but they don’t get very far because he’s lawyered up. He admits to owning the car, but he says he’ll come out looking like a hero no matter what happens. Next, Liv and Babineaux head to a dog park that Marvin frequented. Liv has a vision of Marvin talking to Don about a debt, with the confrontation being stopped by a sanitation worker. Babineaux goes to look for the sanitation worker, since he’s a witness. Meanwhile, Liv and Ravi go to check on Marcie, and she’s still in full-on zombie mode. Liv wants to kill Marcie, but Ravi begs her to consider the Hippocratic Oath. Before they can argue much longer, Ravi falls into the container and is attacked by Marcie. Liv, after hesitating an absurdly long time, jumps in and kills Marcie by smashing her skull.

Ravi, despite his earlier self-righteousness, is grateful for the save. Before he and Liv can really talk about what happened, Babineaux texts to say he needs both Liv and Ravi at the police station. He is interrogating Don again, and he tells Don they have a witness now. Don sees someone dressed in a sanitation worker uniform through the window, and Babineaux makes Don think he was identified by the sanitation worker in a line-up. Peyton powers in and offers a plea deal, and Don signs a confession to murdering Marvin and ordering the hit on Wally. As Marvin’s brain works its way out of Liv’s system, she contemplates eating more to avoid the pain of what she had to do to Marcie. Ultimately, however, she destroys the rest of Marvin’s brain and opts to work through the pain. She secretly delivers Marcie’s treasured necklace to Marcie’s mom, and she starts crying over the Major Facebook video. Meanwhile, the kid from Major’s shelter is out asking people if they have seen his missing friend. He has the misfortune to run into Blaine, who of course says he has seen the friend and offers to take the kid to him. Oops.

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