Thursday, December 3, 2015

iZombie 2.06: "Max Wager"

“Before I became a zombie, I was wasting my life. Human Blaine was a nobody, an underachiever. He was a joke. Zombie Blaine, though? He was the man.”

“Max Wager” was an interesting take on where “iZombie” could go as far as mixing mythology with cases of the week. There was a case of the week in this episode, but it was, in a way, a continuation of the previous episode’s mystery. The murderer last time was the victim this time. It was a nice, full-circle kind of deal. We also got to learn a bit more about Blaine and his rather twisted family dynamics. One particular aspect of Blaine’s family dynamics intersected in a very clever way with Major’s current torment. Ravi, meanwhile, was relegated to zombie research for most of the episode, although this time around, his task had more to do with living with zombism than it did with curing it. It was an interesting aside that served to deepen the mythology and the relationships between characters in a lighthearted way.

At the beginning of the episode, Ravi and ex-girlfriend, now awkward roommate Peyton marvel at how chipper Major is when he joins them for breakfast. All is clear when Liv also comes downstairs dressed in one of Major’s shirts. Liv and Major are officially back together, although they aren’t having sex yet due to fear of Liv re-infecting Major with zombism. Ravi says he needs to do some research on how Liv and Major could safely have sex. Meanwhile, Mr. Cole, the murderer from the previous episode about the basketball coach, has reached a plea deal. Babineaux confronts him on the courthouse steps because he’s worried Cole is a flight risk. As Cole is walking away, a shooter drives by on a motorcycle and guns Cole down, leaving him dead. Babineaux manages to avoid the gunfire.

Ravi and Liv’s workplace chat about zombie safe sex is interrupted by Babineaux delivering news about Cole’s murder. He and Liv interview the fixer from Cole’s law office, Thronk, who is slimy as all get-out. Thronk says he couldn’t have ordered a hit on Cole, because he was in jail at the time of the murder. Babineaux has a recording of Thronk making a phone call that seems innocuous on its face, but it could be in code. Babineaux describes Cole as a “degenerate gambler,” and we know we’re going to be in for some fun times with Liv’s brain-eating side effects in this episode.

Babineaux and the FBI Agent Bozzio are outside taking a friendly snack break from work, and Babineaux tells Bozzio about how Suzuki’s wife gave him the container of brains Suzuki was keeping in the refrigerator. They have an awkward meet-up with Liv and Major, where Liv and Major announce they are back together and assume Babineaux and Bozzio are dating. Regarding the latter, they don’t exactly deny it. It seems more like the thought just hadn’t occurred to them. After they are back on their own, Major expresses concern about Bozzio, but Liv tries to reassure him by saying Bozzio is just in town to look into the recent disappearances of a number of rich guys. Since Major is responsible for many of those disappearances as part of this zombie-killing work for Max Rager, he is understandably still concerned.

At Shady Plots, Blaine’s father, Angus, makes a dramatic entrance. He tells Blaine that Blaine works for him now. He knows all the names on Blaine’s client list, and he threatens to turn Blaine back into a zombie if he doesn’t play along. Blaine’s first assignment under the new regime is to kill the son of one of Angus’ business rivals. Blaine does not seem at all happy about the new state of things. Angus has already killed off most of Blaine’s goon’s though, so he doesn’t think he has much of a choice. He’s pretty much resigned to it.

Liv has a vision of a collections goon threatening Cole, which leads Liv and Babineaux to the headquarters of a famous bookie called the Barber. It’s a barber shop, of course, with all the chatter that entails. The Barber says he didn’t kill Cole, and he suggests Liv and Babeineaux investigate Cole’s widow. Liv can’t help but gamble on a horse race while she is there. Liv and Babineaux decide to go to Cole’s memorial service in the hope of getting to talk to the widow. Unfortunately for Blaine (because Babineaux is looking for him in connection to the Meat Cute explosion), the service is at Shady Plots. Ravi and Liv both end up giving Blaine a heads-up, so he lays low and out of Babineaux’s sight. Liv pays him a visit, though, and they have an interesting conversation on whether or not being a zombie is a good thing (Blaine is decidedly pro-zombie). Babeineaux interviews the widow Cole, who says there was no big life insurance policy. Also attending the funeral is a famous basketball player named Calvin (Rick Fox), who was a college buddy of Cole’s. Calvin shows off his championship ring, and Liv sees a vision of Calvin leaving Cole behind with “psychos.” It appears Cole had been asking Calvin for money.

Liv goes back to see the Barber to pick up her horse racing winnings, and the buys at the barbershop ask for an update on Cole’s case. Liv can’t give any details, obviously. They all start gossiping about the perfect crime, and one guy in particular mentions Skype and gets a bit creepily specific. He starts about threatening someone’s wife and family, too. Peyton, who is at the office after hours working, is confronted by that creepy guy from the barbershop, who happens to be none other than Mr. Boss. He rearranges her conspiracy wall while generally looking threatening. He alternatively threatens and bribes Peyton, saying he can pretty easily figure out her source for information about his organization. He questions Peyton’s credentials and why she was chosen for this particular case. Peyton doesn’t seem scared off yet, at least.

Thrunk’s call from prison was about taking care of his turtle, and Babineaux has managed to acquire the turtle. And he finds a huge bag of coke in the turtle’s tank. Thrunk is brought back to the station, but Liv isn’t part of this interrogation. She and Major have a Skype date where they are playing a strip card game. It is both awkward and kind of sweet at the same time. Despite the kind of sweet, though, I’m still not all that invested in Liv and Major’s relationship. I miss Lowell! Anyway, the next day, Liv wins another sports bet, and he decides she wants to gamble again. The Barber pauses at Liv saying she wants to put all her money on Arizona to win. Liv says Calvin Owens (Rick Fox) gave her the tip, and that gives the Barber even more pause.

Liv wins another bet – gambles again. Barber pauses at Liv wanting to put all money on Arizona. Even more pause when Calvin Owens mentioned. Later, Babineaux tells Liv that they found the motorcycle from the shooting, and it has been traced to a Serbian crime gang. Babineaux thinks the shooter was a gun for hire. Before Babineaux interrupted, Liv had been watching one of Calvin’s college basketball games. She thinks he might have been shaving points. Liv and Babineaux interview Calvin, and Liv reveals that she thinks Cole was blackmailing Calvin about his college game-throwing days. There is also a connection between Calvin’s Serbian former teammate and the assassin. Peyton breezes in and offers Calvin a plea deal he can’t refuse.

Liv, still in a gambling mood thanks to Cole’s brains, turns things up with Major, and it appears that they are about to have sex despite Ravi’s research still being incomplete. Ravi arrives home, sees the strewn clothes, and makes a panicked dash to Major’s bedroom. Liv and Major thankfully haven’t actually had sex, because Ravi has some bad news. The Zombie virus is so small that no condom Ravi has tested can contain it. Liv and Major vow to just get creative until a better solution can be found, but they don’t seem especially thrilled about it.

We end the episode for a very odd twist for Blaine. We see him at a hospice taking care of his ailing grandfather, and while there, he takes a phone call about getting the brain his father has asked for (the son of the business rival). Then he smothers his grandfather with a pillow. Back and Shady Plots, Blaine takes his grandfather’s brain and boxes it up. The idea is to pass it off as the brain his father wanted and subsequently force his father to experience (when he eats it) what it is like to be near death. It turns out Major was ahead of the game, though. Angus happened to be the latest potential zombie on Major’s kill list. Only we learn that Major isn’t actually killing all the zombies. He’s freezing them.

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