iZombie Takes off With Flight of the Living Dead

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Warning:  This review contains major spoilers for iZombie episode 5

Things are heating up on the CW’s new hit show iZombie. We’re five episodes in and the both the characters and the plot have grown complex and multilayered, with a healthy balance between the ability to function as stand-alone episodes and the desire of returning viewers to see progress in the season’s story arc.

It’s a testament to the skill of the creative minds behind iZombie that the simple visual cue of a bottle of hot sauce has become so charged with meaning and potential that the sight triggers an immediate combination of recognition and excitement. This simple but effective use of imagery was key in introducing two major plot twists without the need for exposition or unnecessary dialog that could have detracted from the emotional impact of the scenes.

First, we learn that Detective Babinaux’s boss is also a zombie, which leads to a multitude of questions. Is he in the service of Blaine, or are there two contenders for zombie kingpin of Seattle?s1e5cap8

That would be a simpler question to answer if not for another delicious tidbit dropped in a A-story for this episode. An interrogation for the murder case of the week reveals that an energy drink company has a formula that causes violent rages in a fraction of the people who consume it. Is Blaine truly the kingpin he appears to be, or is he in turn a company man setting the stage for his employers?

s1e5cap4Either way, the reveal that the police have been infiltrated by zombies is likely to have dire repercussions in the near future. Not only is Liv’s brain buffet in jeopardy, but if zombies recognize one another so readily, it can’t be long before others catch on that Detective Babinaux is getting frequent visits at the station from Liv. She receives some lingering glances that hint he could be on to her already. And how Babinaux will react upon learning the secret behind Liv’s “psychic” visions is perhaps the most exciting question of all.

My only quibble is that this big reveal took place in a scene where Liv wasn’t present. In keeping with the detective story framework, seeing things mostly from the perspective of one of the protagonists adds to the suspense. If the audience knows too many things Liv and Clive aren’t privy too, the show might lose some of its noir charm.

s1e5cap6Liv’s love life is growing complex as well, and the introduction of potential love interest Lowell Casey again uses the hot sauce method of zombie identification. This was a more subtle use of the hot sauce clue-in and it managed to inject a healthy dose of suspense. There was a gap between the audience seeing Lowell pour the very spicy-looking drinks and Liv tasting it when we were left in suspense. It was rewarding to see that suspicion pay off when Liv realized he’d made her drink so hot, and the dawning realization on her face.

While I’m not usually a big fan of love triangles, iZombie has managed to set up a compelling one.  Instead of the trite conflicts that normally lead to a love triangle, Liv is actually in a very tough situation. Being with Major could quite likely kill him, and at this point it’s too early for her to know if a cure is possible. Her zombie status is no danger to Lowell, but he’s not the ex-fiance she’s loved for years. Watching this situation unfold will be interesting.

s1e5cap3On the more platonic front, there were a few touching scenes between Liv and Peyton as they mourned the loss of their former sorority sister, and they provided a much-needed insight into their friendship. After the previous few episodes conveyed quite a bit of tension between the roommates–due to Liv’s frustrating apathy–it was nice to see some female bonding.

iZombie started off with a modest pilot and quickly amped up the quality of each successive episode. For a show that’s only been on the air a little over a month, there’s already been a multitude of competing agendas to add interest and make this a weekly must-see.

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