iZombie Season 2 Episode 1 Review: “Grumpy Old Liv”


Throughout its freshman season, iZombie could be one of the funniest shows on television, embracing the unique comedic talents of Rose McIver as Liv embodies constantly changing and entertaining characteristics on a weekly basis. However, while the humor of iZombie does make the CW series such a joy to watch, the show is truly at its best when it’s dealing with the struggles of Liv’s situation and connects her pain and loneliness to the victims she and Clive try to get justice for.

“Grumpy Old Liv” does this beautifully, as it provides us with a heartbreaking look at how Liv’s relationship with her family has imploded ever since she didn’t give Evan her blood in the Season 1 finale. Now, Liv’s mother and brother want nothing to do with her, she has no idea where Peyton ran off to, and Major is doing everything he can to avoid her, and it’s all because of one reason: she’s a zombie.

As I mentioned in a few of my reviews from last season, iZombie has been able to utilize its unique lens to tell actually tell a rich and compelling story about depression. Season 1 of the show was about Liv regaining who she was after transforming into a zombie, her constant battle to not let the overpowering isolation of her situation define who she was. Similarly, the Season 2 premiere deals with Liv’s struggle to not slip back into that state of mind, the “all business”-type of person that she was before she opened up to Ravi and started solving crimes with Clive, and it ties this internal battle directly to the episode’s case of the week, as Liv and Clive investigate the death of Wendell, an old man who was so vindictive and cruel that absolutely no one wanted anything to do with him.

It’s great watching Liv take on Wendell’s grumpy, old-fashioned, and sometimes straight-up racist personality traits, but what makes “Grump Old Liv” so much more than just an entertaining hour of one-liners delivered to perfection by Rose McIver is that it allows Liv to learn from Wendell’s mistakes. It would be so easy for Liv to shut everyone out (especially her family who doesn’t want to see her), and while that lifestyle seems tempting at first, she comes to the realization that she won’t ever stop fighting for those she loves. Even if she has to keep secrets from them right now, even if she can’t be fully honest with them because they’d want to lock her up in a mental institution, Liv can and will still try, and that’s all she needs to do to continue to be the most alive member of the undead on TV’s best zombie show.

However, while Liv rises above her bad circumstances, Major isn’t so lucky. Even though he’s blackmailed by Vaughn into doing it, we see our favorite zombie hunter become a murderer for hire, working for Max Rager as tries to stay out prison, attempts to keep Liv out of Vaughn’s crosshairs, and searches for some type of purpose. It’s an incredibly dark turn for one of last season’s breakout characters, and it’s a ballsy move by iZombie to have one of its more heroic personalities become a cold-blooded killer. But it’s also a great twist, one that works well with the new instinctual powers that cured zombies possess and also with Major’s lack of direction at the beginning of this season (think back to what his main goal was of Season 1: stopping the murders of the kids he worked with and killing zombies–it makes sense that he would find some type of solace going back to that style of behavior).

And although Major may be the only knowing participant in Max Rager’s endeavors, he’s not the sole character helping the company achieve its goal of zombie extinction, as Liv, having no idea that her new roommate is actually Vaughn’s assistant, also finds herself tied up in the corporation’s web. While Liv’s constant fight to keep her humanity may provide iZombie with its most emotionally fulfilling material, “Grumpy Old Liv” makes clear that our heroine will have a lot more to worry about than just her problems with her family and friends this season, and after this excellent first chapter, I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

Other thoughts:

  • Welcome back to iZombie reviews here at TVOvermind! I’m so happy to have this show back (it’s one of my favorites on TV right now) and can’t wait to see what this new season has in store for us.
  • I didn’t mention it much above, but I actually really enjoyed the premiere’s case of the week, especially because you could tell that Byron wasn’t actually a bad person–he just did a bad thing.
  • That opening scene with Liv, her mother, and Evan in the hospital room is some of the most heartbreaking TV I’ve seen this year. I love that iZombie never forgets about the enormous personal challenges Liv faces, even as she goes up against criminals each and every week.
  • I think I may like Blaine as a human even more than I liked him as a zombie, and how terrific were David Anders and Rose McIver in that Blaine/Liv scene tonight? That could have gone on for the whole episode, and I would have been happy.
  • Really happy to see that the iZombie writers are giving Clive his own story this season with his investigation into the Meat Cute killings and his continuing questions regarding Major and Blaine. It’s a nice reminder of how good of a detective he is, and it provides Malcolm Goodwin with more opportunities to shine.
  • The zombie-detecting instincts that Major and Blaine both have now are a cool new addition to the show’s mythology. I wonder what other side effects the two of them may have after taking the cure.
  • In case you forget, this show’s opening credits and theme song are back to remind you of how awesome they are.
  •  Liv complains to Ravi about how Major has forgiven him but not her, and Ravi’s response is hilarious: “That’s just a simple case of bros before…ex-fiancés.”
  • So many good quotes this week, most of them courtesy of Old Man Liv, so I’m just going to list them all below.
  • “Your t-shirt’s stupid. That’s meant to be literal.”
  • “He’s a teenager, not a bear. Pretend you got a pair and speak up, son.”
  • “I would have been here sooner but we got stuck behind an Asian driver.”
  • “If I wanted to give her a depressing name, I would have called her Phantom Menace.”
  • “He’s wearing makeup and his paints are hanging so low that it looks like a bra for his a**. Obama…”
  • “Is that my cue to start cackling maniacally or should I wait for you to provide the details?”
  • “Dream on, Tupac.”

What did you think of the iZombie Season 2 premiere? Did you love it as much as I did? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Diyah Pera/The CW]

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