iZombie: “Return of the Dead Guy” wastes time dredging up the past

There’s a lot going on every week on iZombie, but “Return of the Dead Guy” is extraordinarily busy, even by iZombie standards. The show is juggling multiple different plots, even adding new ones, and while this is something iZombie has always done with mixed success, this week’s mix is more bad than good. Still, the good parts are very good. It’s just a shame that they’re tied to garbage material like “Fort Lust” that does nothing but drag down the episode.

**Spoilers below.**

The highest stakes plot this week is, fortunately, one of the ones that works best in this episode. After Harley and his zombie truthers showed up at the morgue last week, they’ve commandeered Ravi and repaired to the gun shop, where they have Don E. imprisoned and a live video feed set up to document his declining health as they starve him of brains. With his phone confiscated and surrounded by dudes with guns, Ravi is still determined to prevent the torture planned for Don E. Eventually, Ravi manages to get Don E.’s phone and call Blaine, but by the end of the episode Ravi and Don E. are still waiting on their rescue and shit just got real. With the view counter for the livestream over 100k, Harley and his friends are ready to go to town on Don E., and the episode ends with Ravi physically blocking their way and Harley putting a literal gun to Ravi’s head. Of course, the viewer knows that Blaine is outside, with Liv, and gearing up to save the day (finally), and this does diminish the overall effect of the attempted cliffhanger, but it still works well. It’s especially nice to see Ravi getting a storyline that takes his character growth in a positive direction and gives him a chance to do something heroic.

The other storyline that works in this episode is Blaine’s, if only because villainous Blaine is vastly more fun—even absent David Anders’ singing—than nice Blaine ever was. This week, we get a showdown of sorts between Blaine and Mr. Boss, rather sooner than expected, when Boss shows up at the funeral home and shoots Blaine as soon as he opens the door. Obviously, this doesn’t go well for Boss. Blaine trusses him up, lays him out in a casket and then gives him a crash course on the existence of zombies. There’s a lot to love about Boss’s reaction to this news, which is neither the easy(-ish) acceptance of Ravi and Clive nor the fear and hatred of the truthers. Instead, Boss is skeptical, or perhaps “violently disbelieving,” and he continues trying to kill Blaine until it becomes extremely obvious that it’s not going to work. What’s less obvious is why Blaine wants Boss as a business partner after all this. It seems like the sort of thing that is obviously going to backfire at some point, probably sooner rather than later.

Interestingly, there is no regular case of the week this week. Instead, Liv finally eats the brain of the dominatrix murderer, Weckler, who Peyton thinks may have been innocent. It turns out that he wasn’t, but it also turns out that he was, himself, murdered. This is found out in scenes that involve some interesting (in a “gift to the femslash community” way) roleplay between Liv and Peyton. Liv and Clive investigate, trying to figure out who might have had Weckler murdered, but they hit a wall when Weckler’s daughter refuses to cooperate with their investigation. Also, Weckler’s daughter is a zombie, staying with a zombie family, and they’re involved somehow with Fillmore Graves since they eat tube brains. Unfortunately, this plot twist is more confusing than anything else. This episode did an okay job of establishing some of what happened with Weckler, it feels as if we’re as far away as ever from learning why, and a whole new plot just got thrown into the mix as well.

The other side effect of Weckler’s brain is that Liv experiences aspects of Weckler’s mental illness, particularly his visions of his dead wife, except Liv sees her dead boyfriend, Drake, because she apparently still has some issues to work through regarding his death by her hand. Here’s the thing, though. Liv straight up says to ghost delusion Drake that the reason she’s been throwing herself into all these different brains has been to avoid having to live in her own head and thus having to deal with actually processing the grief and trauma and guilt she feels about Drake’s death. However, she’s just spent several days on tube brains, specifically so she could be herself, unaffected by other personalities, in order to pursue her relationship with Justin, who she spends most of this week—even after being visited by ghost delusion Drake—trying to bone. And when it really comes down to it, she’s able to talk herself out of her Drake-induced doldrums relatively quickly (and successfully bone Justin). The time to address this stuff was about eight episodes ago; at this point in the season it just feels superfluous and, frankly, baffling.

Finally, for some unfathomable reason, this episode contains not just one but several check-ins with Major and his new friend Shauna, who have built themselves a blanket fort for sex. I mean. Okay. Fine. Liv is slightly jealous and weirded out by it, but not enough to stop her from going right out and sleeping with Justin. Shauna seems nice, but not in any truly sinister way, which is almost sinister just in and of itself. But the truth is there’s no particular reason for any of this stuff to have made the cut in an already busy episode. It’s late in the season to be introducing a new character that we’re supposed to care about, and Shauna isn’t particularly likeable or at all interesting. Sure, Major doesn’t have much to do now that he’s not a zombie any longer, but that’s okay. It would be better to have no Major at all than to have Major engaging in overly saccharine sexy times with a virtual stranger when there’s far more interesting stuff going on elsewhere.

Miscellany:

  • Mr. Boss sneaking in and out of his own house while his wife is on the phone with her lawyer or the life insurance company or whatever was a smart, funny intro to the episode.
  • Even as Blaine is expanding his business, there’s some grumbling in his crew about how things are going.
  • Curious to find out who Rachel is. My money is on FBI, but we’ll see.

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