Sunday, April 19, 2015

iZombie 1.04: "Liv and Let Clive"

“I don’t know how many Take Back the Night self-defense seminars they gave at your sorority house, but I could pretty much take out Batman with a spiral notebook and a student ID card.”

The fourth episode of “iZombie” did a nice job of giving us more information on the characters and mythology in an interesting way. We learn about what Babineaux did before he joined the Homicide department. We learned more about what Blaine is up to in his spare time and how he runs his brain selling operation. The case of the week was incredibly high stakes, involving witness protection and organized crime, and it tied in nicely to Babineaux’s past. It would be nice, however, if episodes of “iZombie” started to have more of a sense of place. I never forgot that “Veronica Mars” took place in the seedy SoCal beach town of Neptune. I have, more often than not, forgotten that “iZombie” takes place in Seattle. I’d like to start seeing the creative team start using the Seattle location to full effect.

We begin the episode, however, seeing a bit more of what Blaine is up to. He’s shacking up with Jackie, the (sort-of) older woman he charmed at a bar in the previous episode. It appears that Blaine turned her into a zombie, and now she’s paying him an exorbitant sum for a supply of brains to eat. That’s quite the business plan Blaine’s got going. He’s literally creating the market for what he’s selling. Meanwhile, Liv visits Major’s house, armed with apology coffees. This strategy works well, and Liv and Major have a pleasant conversation, that is, until Corinne, Major’s new girlfriend, appears. She’s wearing one of Major’s shirts, and Liv is not happy about it. Liv tries her best to keep it friendly and professional, but it’s pretty clear that she is upset underneath the surface.

We are introduced to the case of the week early in the episode. Ravi and Liv’s latest guest at the morgue is a deceased Asian gangster who was part of the “Blue Cobras.” Liv and Ravi were able to identify the gang affiliation by the particularly brutal way he was killed. He’s missing fingers and molars, which was intended to make him difficult to identify. Babineaux stops by, though, and he recognizes the deceased immediately. His name is Sammy Wong, and he won’t say how he knew him. Babineaux really doesn’t want Liv’s help on this case, and he is clearly hiding something. It goes from bad to worse, when Liv, who just ate some of Sammy’s brain, has a vision of Babineaux threatening Sammy and some other members of the Blue Cobras. She doesn’t mention this vision to Babineaux, though. She says she saw nothing. We’ll learn later that one of the side-effects of consuming Sammy’s brain is a bit of paranoia, although the paranoia isn’t entirely unjustified considering Sammy’s life.

Once Babineaux leaves, Liv does tell Ravi about her vision. She wonders if Babineaux might be a dirty cop working with the Blue Cobras. She also wonders if Corinne is just after the spare room in Major’s house that Major is trying to rent. Ravi thinks she’s being paranoid thanks to Sammy’s brain, as we discussed. Mixing things up a bit, Liv’s brother Evan stops by for a visit. He is in town for a little while and will be crashing at Liv and Peyton’s place. All we really learn about him in this episode, though, is that he’s kind of creepily obsessed with Peyton. Apparently he’s gotten in trouble before for going through her things, and he also makes several references throughout this episode to wanting to spend some time in Peyton’s bedroom while she is out of town. It’s kind of gross.

We learn more in this episode about how Blaine’s brain selling operation works. He operates out of the kitchen of a restaurant. The chef at the restaurant makes Blaine gourmet brain meals, which is kind of weird. Blaine also has two rather stupid minions, who we also meet in this episode. I’m not going to bother looking up their names because they don’t survive long (sorry…spoiler alert). Blaine’s two stupid minions, while they are out making deliveries and finding more fresh meat, hatch a plan to start their own brain selling business. They try to lure Jackie in as their first customer, saying they can sell brains to her for a cheaper price than Blaine. Blaine finds out about the newborn rival business, though (because Jackie snitches), and he shoots the stupid minions in the head right after letting them try one of his gourmet dishes. We learn that he’s got a whole freezer locker of dead bodies from which he procures the brains. Near the end of the episode, we see him chopping up one of Major’s shelter kids, which is just sad.

Since Liv isn’t trusting Babineaux right now, she goes to the police precinct to talk to some of his former coworkers in the Vice unit. They don’t have nice things to say about him at all, and they tell Liv that he was suspended before being transferred to Homicide (where he now works). Next, Liv and Ravi go to a video rental place in Chinatown because Liv saw it in one of her visions. Liv, who turns out to have some acting chops, pretends to be a bimbo and tells the store clerk that she wants to see Ray (another Blue Cobra who featured in Liv’s visions) because she hooked up with him recently. The clerk fetches AJ, who is the leader of the Blue Cobras, and he confronts Liv. Liv and Ravi quickly sense danger, and they hightail it out of there. Before she leaves, Liv has another vision (this one taking place in the store), and Liv now thinks the Blue Cobras are looking for a snitch. They also see Babineaux near the video rental store, and this makes them more convinced that he might be helping the Blue Cobras.

Liv continues to get more paranoid throughout the episode. When she arrives home, she sees a guy walking his dog across who has stopped near her house for a little too long. She has Evan keep an eye on the guy while she gets a shower. When she gets out of the shower, though, Babineaux is waiting in her living room. He tells Liv that Sammy was in WITSEC and living in Albequerue before he died. He made an unauthorized visit home to Seattle to visit his dying mother, and that’s when the Blue Cobras got to him. Babineaux warns Liv that she could get killed if she doesn’t stop prying. Meanwhile, Major stops by the morgue to talk to Ravi. Major mentions that Liv told him he (Ravi) was looking for a place to live (she was trying to stonewall Corinne). Ravi is reluctant at first, because he’s happy with his living situation, but he and Major bond over Ravi’s big screen television and their mutual interest in playing video games on it. Eventually, they decide to move in together.

Liv is nothing if not determined (and still paranoid), so she decides to put a tracker on Babineaux’s car. She thinks she sees an Asian man (possibly a Blue Cobra) watching her, so she runs down the street and takes a spill when she trips over a homeless man’s cart. While on the pavement, she has a vision of Sammy telling the other Blue Cobras that Ray is an undercover cop. She tells Babineaux about the vision, and Babineaux tells her that Ray was his partner when they were both deep undercover with the Blue Cobras. Liv also apologizes for thinking he was dirty. Babineaux calls his old colleagues in vice and arranges for the cavalry to meet him at a private airstrip where Ray is supposed to be picking up a shipment for the Blue Cobras. Liv goes stir crazy waiting for news, but Babineaux eventually calls her and says that everything went wonderfully and Ray has been rescued. It almost seems too easy. Babineaux does mention that AJ wasn’t at the airstrip, though, so they are going to the video store to arrest him.

There is just one small problem with Babineaux’s plan. AJ is in Liv’s apartment. AJ attacks Liv, and Liv uses some sweet kung fu moves (courtesy of Sammy’s brain) to fight back. The situation escalates when Evan arrives at the apartment, but Babineaux arrives soon after and rescues Liv and Evan from AJ. Once everything has calmed down, Babineaux tells Liv a bit about how difficult it was to be deep undercover. Apparently the suspension Liv was told about was part of the set-up for going undercover. Liv promises that if she ever has a “vision” featuring Babineaux again, she will talk to him first before jumping to any conclusions. At the end of the episode, Liv helps Ravi move in with Major, and she makes an effort to be “friends” with Major. According to Ravi, though, the plan backfired. Apparently Major took the push to move Ravi in as a sign that she wasn’t really over him. Which is probably correct, although it doesn’t make Liv happy.

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