iZombie’s “Grumpy Old Liv” Review: Not Much Has Changed with Our Undead Friend

By Shakeema Edwards, Contributing Writer

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Our favorite blonde zombie is back and hungry for brains. It’s been three months since the events of the phenomenal season one finale, which featured Major massacring the zombie staff of Meat Cute, Liv giving brain-dealing Blaine the cure for zombieism and Evan getting injured in the explosion of the zombie-run butcher shop.

Like any successful season premiere, “Grumpy Old Liv” set about explaining the consequences of last season’s cliffhanger. After Liv refused to give Evan a much-needed blood transfusion in the closing seconds of last season, we learn that the youngest member of the Moore family spent all of the summer hiatus in and out of surgery.

If you were hoping that Liv’s refusal to donate blood would have resulted in her finally telling her mother, Eva, that she’s a zombie, you were disappointed.

When Eva accuses Liv of refusing to do the transfusion because of drug abuse, Liv replies with the proverbial, “You wouldn’t understand.” Sure, zombieism isn’t an easy thing to explain to people, but given the range of reactions she’s received from revealing her secret and her current estrangement from her family, shouldn’t Liv at least consider explaining herself?

Aly Michalka’s Peyton, whose absence is a gaping hole in the show’s story, has yet to return from her fear-induced walkabout after seeing Liv plunge a steak knife into a rival zombie’s cranium. After Peyton’s justified flight, you’d think Liv would be more open to telling her loved ones of her zombieism on her own terms, rather than waiting for them to find out during stressful situations.

Nope. In the same vein as Smallville’s Clark Kent and Arrows Oliver Queen, Liv seems intent on hiding her condition from those she loves most. When Evan tells her, “Go away. Don’t comeback,” Liv embraces the idea of exile. Rose McIver’s voiceover narration is as piercing as ever as she delivers the lines, “Harden yourself, Liv. You’re a monster; act like one.”

iZombie is a CW series based on the graphic novel of the same name. Photo courtesy of Thwipster (Flickr)
iZombie is a CW series based on the graphic novel of the same name.
Photo courtesy of Thwipster (Flickr)

Still, McIver’s talent has never been showcased in her ability to play the emotionally-strained zombie, but in her ability to portray the personality of whatever brain her character eats. In “Grumpy Old Liv,” McIver plays a crotchety, racist 77-year-old Wendell Gordon Gale, whose brains Liv grounds, rolls into meatballs, fries, seasons and eats with a side of spaghetti.

Watching snarky Liv snap at youths and make questionable comments to Ravi and Babineaux were highlights of the episode, but the case itself wasn’t that intriguing. In its first season, iZombie was strongest when it focused more on its Max Rager/zombie mythos and less on the case of the week. The challenge of the second season will be maintaining the balance between burgeoning mythos and weekly criminal case.

There is no shortage of comic book adaptions on network television. The CW, home of iZombie, is also home of The Flash, Arrow and an increasing number of superhero stories. Still, iZombie stands apart from these shows in its investment in its villains. Gotham’s Fish Mooney and Sal Maroni and Arrow’s Ra’s al Ghul are all dead, unable to transcend one season’s arc to another. But iZombie’s Blaine DeBeers is still here and has taken over a funeral parlor, “Shady Plots,” a name I’m sure we’re not meant to read into.

Having DeBeers return from the previous season means that iZombie can build on his motives and bolster its mythos while other shows scramble to introduce new baddies.

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