iZombie, Ep. 1.02: “Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?” continues building on the show’s strengths

David Anders, Rahul Kohli
David Anders, Rahul Kohli

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 2, “Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?”
Written by Diane Ruggiero-Wright
Directed by John Kretchmer
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on The CW

The final scene of last week’s series premiere of iZombie showed that Liv wasn’t the only person who was turned into a zombie on the night of the boat party. It also showed Liv with a renewed dedication to living her life, even if she was part of the undead at this point. This week’s episode delves deeper into both aspects, as Liv taking on the traits of a passionate painter leaves her questioning the mark she’s made on the world, while her search for fellow zombie Blaine brings him to her morgue. The result is another enjoyable episode that shows a different way to handle being a zombie, while establishing that Liv’s path won’t be easy.

Blaine is a fascinating addition to the show’s universe. Unlike Liv, it’s clear that Blaine has embraced the more powerful aspects of his zombie nature, making him, in many ways, her polar opposite. While his decision to attack the gangsters can be seen as a self-defence maneuver, his decision to turn the woman at the bar into a zombie, and then extort her for brains, proves his cold-blooded cunning. While Liv is rightly wary of Blaine at this point, the fact that Blaine is the only other zombie that Liv and Ravi know of right now presents a unique dilemma for both. In the case of Ravi, Blaine’s presence means his tests can now have a greater degree of accuracy, as he can confirm what aspects of the condition are unique to Liv, and what aspects are shared between the two of them. Similarly, with Liv having trouble opening up to people, and already expressing doubts about how long she can keep lying to Detective Babineaux, Blaine represents an outlet for her that she doesn’t have anywhere else, even with Ravi. The scene where Liv and Blaine reminisce about the loss of their taste buds is perhaps the strongest example of this, as Ravi can listen and sympathise to Liv’s issues, but Blaine can understand them from first-hand experience. How the relationship between the two progresses will be intriguing to watch, particularly if Blaine’s predatory nature becomes more apparent. It’s clear that much of what he told Liv about his current life is a fabrication, and how Liv deals with the situation once she finds out will say a lot about the responsibility she feels towards humanity now.

David Anders, Rose McIver
David Anders, Rose McIver

Liv’s decision to embrace her current life with more passion is also an intriguing story thread. While the zombie turn has certainly robbed some aspects of Liv’s life while forcing her to cut out other aspects, her revelations this week show that she was already missing out on much of life even before the boat party. How the combination of this decision, and her decision last week to stop living as if her life ended on the boat (although it technically did) affects Liv will be worth keeping an eye on. As Major points out, Liv had a number of poor habits in her pre-zombie life that she got a pass for for a variety of reasons, whether it was from Major due to him being attracted to her, or from Peyton due to the duo being best friends. Now that Liv’s burned through a lot of her goodwill, however, those passes will be a lot harder to come by, as her final interaction with Major indicates this week. Her actions have driven many people close to her away, and it will take a lot of work to rebuild those relationships, and reformulate them to match who she is now. Liv may be willing to scale that mountain now, but how strongly her resolve holds in the face of being rebuffed will be what really tests her mettle. This is new territory for Liv, pre- or post-zombification, and the road is likely to be a difficult one.

Overall, this episode continues the strong start this series had with the pilot. Rose McIver continues to acquit herself excellently, and displays her comedic chops quite nicely in scenes such as the interrogation room and her second interaction with Major. It’s good to see Ravi interacting with people other than Liv and Babineaux, and the growing friendship between the two morgue attendants is nice to see. Anders is an excellent addition to the show, as he manages to convey Blaine’s pain at his current situation as effectively as he displays his sociopathic side when extorting the trendspotter after turning her into a zombie. Liv and Babineaux also continue to be an amusing pair to watch, particularly as they appear to have a rapport that keeps each other on their toes. Having Babineaux not be a self-serious detective is a smart decision on the part of the writers, as it allows for Goodwin’s natural charm to shine through. With his reliance on what he believes are Liv’s psychic powers growing, it will be interesting to see whether Babineaux changes his mind about zombies, or about Liv, if and when he discovers the truth about her condition. Whether Liv encounters any other zombies, and how she reacts to them, will also be worth keeping an eye on. This episode proves that there’s atleast one more zombie in the city now, courtesy of Blaine, but it’s possible that the boat party may have had other survivors as well. While Liv’s search may not have turned them up yet, Liv herself would be difficult to find for anyone looking for zombies in general, so the possibility is still open. How this develops, as well as how the relationship between Blaine and Liv evolve promise to be compelling storylines in the coming weeks.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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