No Peyton this week, and no Vaughn, but there’s so much else going on in “Love & Basketball” that I can [mostly] forgive these sins. “Love & Basketball” is one of those rare episodes of television that manages to be just jam-packed with really interesting stuff, full of important emotional moments, and very funny. It would be very easy for this episode to become incoherent with so much going on, but it’s masterfully balanced here.
The episode picks up right where last week’s left off, with Liv and Major making out big time. Which Liv puts a big time stop to almost immediately, and there is so much that I love about this interaction and the following morning when Liv wakes Major up by taking his blood pressure. This is probably the funniest Major has ever been, which is a nice change after several weeks of him sort of alternating between boringly tortured and boringly insufferable to everyone around him. I still don’t love Liv and Major as a pairing, but I can kind of see the appeal now at least.
I even found myself rather liking Major when, after Liv delivers a long, basketball coach brain-inspired pep talk in Major’s (disgusting, by the way) bedroom, he just responds with a lovingly indulgent, “God, you are so weird.” If you are a Liv/Major shipper, this is basically a perfect episode for you, as it’s peppered throughout with these kind of cute moments. I do think the emotional arc of them going from wanting to tear each other’s clothes off to being best friends again to ending the episode with having a real serious relationship talk was a lot to squeeze into a single episode, but it mostly worked here. It didn’t even completely monopolize the episode; there was plenty of time for advancing other plots and revealing new information about other characters.
The larger of the two B-plots in “Love & Basketball” is definitely the actual case of the week, which Clive ends up mostly working alone. Even then, this storyline this week is much less about the actual murder mystery (which is, frankly, almost too convoluted) and more about giving Clive a good deal more screen time than he’s had so far this season. In the end, this turns out to be almost entirely in service of advancing the Meat Cute plot, which has apparently not been abandoned.
This is another story thread that this episode manages to pull of nicely, even though it seems like it would be a lot to squeeze in. Honestly, though? I think the most important part of these scenes is the new insight that we gain into Clive’s character. He’s apparently the kind of guy who will beat the shit out of a child abuser, which makes me like him even more than I previously did.
While following Clive around, we also get to see more of the new character that was introduced last week: Dale Bozzio the FBI agent. We learn a couple of big things about her. First, she’s totally hilarious. Second, she’s also interested in what happened at Meat Cute.
Finally, in the third major story thread this week, Ravi finally gets his hands on more of the tainted Utopium that he needs in order to re-develop the cure for Liv and the rest of the zombies. This is a pretty significant development, but the best thing about it in this episode is that we get a scene with just Ravi and Blaine. Fighting over the tainted Utopium. While “Friday I’m in Love” (Get it? The Cure!) plays in the background, which is my favorite thing that has ever happened on this show.
- “Clear eyes, full stomachs, can’t lose” is a great line.
- I hate the conflict between Gilda/Rita and Liv over Major. Gilda/Rita doesn’t even seem to like him very much, and I can always do without this type of sexual competitiveness and jealousy between women. It’s not entertaining to me. At all.
- Blaine comes up with the very best business names. I’m sure I’d heard it before, but Shady Plots as the name of his funeral business? GENIUS.
- The other medical examiner in Tacoma was super racist, right? If they were just trying to portray a kind of humorous city vs. country rivalry between Ravi and this guy, I feel like they went a little overboard with that dude’s really hostile bigotry. It wasn’t the whole scene, but it was early enough in the scene that it made it hard for me to laugh when the tone was more playful later in the conversation. I just felt bad for Ravi and Clive being stuck dealing with this jerk.
- I don’t really get what’s going on with the zombies at Max Rager. How is it possible that this scientist lady doesn’t know that the zombies they are paying Major to kill are sentient people? That stuff was all just weird.