iZombie: “Abra Cadaver” breathes life into a pretty standard dead magician murder mystery

It seems that it’s a requirement that every police procedural show must eventually do an episode involving stage magicians, and iZombie’s time to continue this tradition has come. In “Abra Cadaver,” Liv eats the brain of a death-obsessed magician with a penchant for explaining his colleagues’ best tricks on YouTube.

It’s nice to see an episode where the murder mystery of the week is more than just incidental to more important goings on, although this mystery turns out to be not as clever as the writers think it is. The best parts of this episode are all the parts that aren’t the investigation of Sid Wicked’s murder, and we finally get to see the show begin to address the enormous elephant that’s been in the room since the beginning—how Liv’s being under the influence of the brains she eats affects her relationships.

Post-, well, not –coital, but post-probably-hand-stuff, I guess, Major talks a good game about how he’s cool with all incarnations of Liv, but it turns out that he’s much more bothered than he wants Liv to believe. By the end of the episode, Liv has gotten very weird from morbid magician brains, and Major has gotten very weirded out by it. I might be annoyed that Major’s brief flirtation with the most boring drug problem ever is so quickly forgotten, but this shift in direction for Major and Liv spawns one of my favorite interactions on the show so far when Major asks Ravi and Peyton about Liv’s personality changes.

My love for this scene might have something to do with the fact that it immediately follows Peyton shutting down Ravi’s awkward and totally unwelcome and inappropriate attempt to ask her for relationship advice. Left to his own devices, Ravi ends up dumping his girlfriend, Steph, later in the episode, which is actually the lowlight of the episode. Steph, weirdly and annoyingly, has decided to throw a Guy Fawkes Day celebration for Ravi—a couple of weeks late—and it’s every bit as cringeworthy as you could expect. It’s a really lazy way of dealing with a character who’s outlived her usefulness to the narrative the show is building.

Steph was introduced as Ravi’s new, relatively cool-seeming girlfriend a couple of weeks ago, and now she’s suddenly, well, this? I don’t buy it. And I didn’t like it. I ship Ravi and Peyton as much as the next person (which is to say a lot), but I hate to see this kind of character assassination in service to that. It could just as well have been handled by Ravi saying at some point that it just didn’t work out with Steph. There was no need to humiliate her on screen like this, and it didn’t make Ravi look good either.

By far my favorite parts of the episode, though, are the scenes of Liv and Blaine hanging out together trying to figure out who is killing zombies. By the end of their time together, I want nothing more than for them to get married already and make some beautiful zombie babies. In all honestly, though? Liv and Blaine have about ten times the chemistry that Liv and Major do, and we know that Blaine isn’t totally thrilled about being de-zombified. Liv and Blaine giving into their obviously sexual tension would be a great way for him to get re-zombified.

“Abra Cadaver” is a solid episode overall, and it hit most of the right notes, but it could have made better use of its premise. Personally, I could have used more magic puns, but it’s still a solid example of iZombie at its near-best and a nice entry into the annals of the dead magician murder mystery genre.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • How did Liv not even seem to notice that the dog in Dale’s file looked an awful lot like Major’s new canine friend?
  • Please stop trying to make Blaine and Peyton happen.
  • Who is the mysterious woman who drops off something at Babineaux’s place?
  • Speaking of Babineaux, I really like him and Dale together.

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