You wouldn’t think the undead would live in constant fear of the unknown—Liv has already bit the big one, what else is there to be afraid of, really?—but our girl has proven she’s a more cerebral type. And not just because her diet is brain-based. (Lucky her, she doesn’t have to worry about gluten. Wait, do brains have gluten?) Pre-zombiedom, Liv thought she knew herself pretty well. But now, in addition to death’s existential questions, she has to wonder things like: What would happen if I boinked my human ex-fiance? And, Zombie Rage: Friend or foe?
How do you answer questions without a Handbook of the Recently Undeceased? With creative exposition, of course. Just like Joss Whedon used everything from silence to musical theater as an expository tool (and please let Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright be planning a musical episode), so too have the creators of iZombie found a way to teach us our ABZs. Google alerts, zombie pals that look like “a melted candle,” and accidental shootings, oh my! And this week there’s no shortage of lessons.
“The Exterminator” uses the mental makeup of a sociopath (or two) to shed some light on basic zombie tenets. And to prove that they—besides Blaine, apparently, but we’ll get to that later—have souls. Hitmen and cocksure angel investors who kill for money do not. To solve this meandering crime of the week, Liv must give up her ability to feel, one that so colorfully explored in last week’s episode. But she also gets to give up the guilt she feels for dropping Major and the pain of his recent rejection, the dread of hopelessness, and the revulsion at her meal requirements.
So is the trade off worth it? Of course not. (Although there is one personality perk: The litany of random facts she Rain Mans throughout the episode is a pretty rad “Bizarro Jeopardy.” I’d pay good money to have her on my trivia night team at my local bar.) The most important lesson is the one Liv comes to learn about herself, one that seems to be reinforced in every episode: Just because you’re not human doesn’t mean you can’t choose to have humanity.
This Week’s Dead Meat. We’ve got a twofer. First up? Marvin Webster, “family man, two kids, suburbs, owner of C-Tack Bug Whack,” who was hit by a spectacularly orange 1978 Landau in a parking lot. Ravi: “Should be a pretty safe brain to eat.” Liv: “Said no one. Ever.” After polishing off Marvin’s parietal lobe, Liv heads home and has a vision. Turns out mild-mannered Marv doesn’t have any manners at all—he’s a hitman who killed Wally Walker, a tech company CEO found dead in a park, single gunshot wound to the head. Wouldn’t you know it? Detective Goodwin is assigned to Wally’s case, which was signed, sealed, and delivered thanks to Freddie Brown who found Gus Williams, a homeless man with Wally’s possessions—which makes him the killer, obviously—and collected a reward from Don Watts, Walker’s angel investor. (“Is that the one where all the of the suspects in the murder case are named after Seattle Supersonics of the ’70s?” asked Doc Jensen when I emailed him about this recap. Yes, yes it is. Did I pick up on this? No, I did not.) So, Marvin killed Wally, but who killed Marvin? And at this point, do we care anymore? We do when Wally’s bookie owns the cop bar where the trivia contest is run by a lovely lady in an I Dream of Jeannie costume. After this spectacularly amusing red herring (“Do you mind if I call our trivia team ‘Piggy and the Brain?’” Liv asks Clive), the dynamic duo track down the car’s owner, and wouldn’t you know it? It’s his partner, the super cocky Don Watts, a money-grubbing low life in a fancy suit who didn’t want his partner to sell the company. But he’s duped into confessing his crime by a bait and switch sanitation worker. (Like the trash that he is, get it?) I didn’t care much about this week’s case, but I don’t think we’re supposed to. So many other good things were set up in this episode that the case could have been about a beauty queen murdering a purple unicorn and then marrying a fire hydrant and I probably wouldn’t have noticed.
NEXT: Zombie Google Alert Pings