iZombie: “Reflections on How Liv Used to Be” sets things up for a great season finale

After last week’s slightly frenetic episode and with a two-part finale scheduled for next week, I rather expected “Reflections on How Liv Used to Be” to have a lot more going on than it turned out to. Instead of another frantically-paced hour of setup for the season finale, however, this episode actually slows things down considerably and takes its time dealing with the fallout from last week before ramping back up and ending on a significant cliffhanger.

Probably the biggest event of last week’s episode was Ravi’s confrontation with Major at the end of the episode, which was further complicated with Major’s return to zombie form, and these two get a good amount of screen time this week as they work through their situation. When Major wakes up, Ravi is waiting for an explanation about the Chaos Killer stuff, and that part of things is sorted relatively quickly, though both men agree that they won’t tell Liv, at least for now. This makes their most pressing issue Major’s rezombification and possibly impending death. Major’s immediate need for brains is filled with the last of the happiness brain from a few episodes ago, which is great on several levels, and it’s interesting to see how Major, the guy who at one point would rather have died than be a zombie, is handling it now—better, obviously, than when he’d just had the whole zombie thing sprung on him, but also, importantly, better in a way that seems to indicate real character growth on his part.

The bad news, of course, is that the zombie cure that Ravi has currently developed has some very negative side effects. Blaine still hasn’t gotten his memories back, and is struggling to just make it through his days. On the one hand, this generates one of the best scenes of the episode, when Ravi tells Blaine all the evil shit he’s done and then Major walks in and introduces himself absurdly cheerfully. On the other hand, it’s starting to be actually difficult to watch as Blaine goes through the motions of his life and is shamelessly taken advantage of by Don E and Chief. I mean, there’s no way that this is going to end well for either of those two, because surely Blaine’s memories are going to come back sooner or later, but it’s tough to watch in the meantime.

The case of the week is somewhat forgettable, functioning primarily as a way to give us a look at something like Liv’s pre-zombie normal. Unfortunately, that character work is overshadowed by the ways in which all the show’s various storylines are being systematically tied together. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Drake, but his colleague in Vice plays a major role in this episode and provides several important pieces of information. He even mentions the z-word in connection with the Utopium trade, though he scoffs at the idea. Clive is so close—and yet so far away—to putting it all together, but this weeks’ award for good detective work has to go to Dale, who finally gets a break in her hunt for the Chaos Killer.

The bait and switch ending of this episode is a masterful piece of high tension television. Major is planning to purposefully infect Vaughn with zombieism, but Vaughn is being tipped off about Major’s failure to actually kill any of the people he’s been supposed to murder. Just as that situation is about to erupt, Dale makes her move, and the episode ends with Major facedown on the floor being arrested. There are several things going on at once here, and all of them are exciting. The last couple episodes have been steadily chipping away at various characters’ secrecy and connecting all of the show’s numerous plots to each other. Next week, we get to see just how much everyone figures out. It seems as if the only way out of some of these situations is going to be total transparency and honesty, but that literally never happens on television. I can’t wait to see what happens instead.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • “Can we play hooky and follow him around all day?”
  • Don E and Chief playing bluegrass was delightful.
  • Peyton is back to hassle Blaine about flaking on helping her nail Mr. Boss for doing so much crime.
  • Vaughn has Rita locked up in the basement, and she looks like she could cheerfully murder him, which I consider a likely event by the end of next week’s finale.
  • Robert Buckley has teased a character death next week. My money would be on Dale or Drake, but this could also be a good time to off Major, who has had a great arc this season and is probably at his most likeable since the beginning of the show, making his death the most potentially impactful. Major’s death could also have been foreshadowed this week with his blithe attitude about the cure and his seemingly sanguine feelings about being a zombie.

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