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The second season of this breakout hit series opens with plenty of brain candy to satiate its devoted viewers.

 

“Time heals all wounds. Time, heals all wounds. . . .”

 

That is what Liv tells herself when she trepidly enters the hospital room where her brother Evan is recovering from his third surgery.

 

Three months have passed since the events that ended the first season of this sleeper hit show about a heroic zombie medical examiner. The heroine of iZombie survives only on brains of the deceased that enter the police morgue in which she works. Once consumed (with hot sauce and various spices for flavor), the personalities and disjointed memories of that person share Liv’s headspace. She uses the memories, “visions” as she calls them, to give her clues to help her local detective partner, Clive, solve crimes.

 

It is an intriguing and unusual premise, based loosely on the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series of the same name, and puts an interesting spin on the current monster du jour. There’s been an inexplicable resurrection the past several years of the zombie craze, zombie apocalypse, et cetera; another show about them could inspire a groan similar to that creature’s tortured vocalizations. We already have The Walking Dead, as well as numerous films; do we really need another zombie series? iZombie avoided the pitfalls of that overdone trope with solid acting, dark humor, and creative storytelling during its 13-episode first season.

 

Can the show and its actors stay fresh and intelligent in this sophomore effort? If the season premiere, titled Grumpy Old Liv, is any indication, it most certainly can.

 

The first season ended epically with zombie massacre, zombie cures, explosions, and a few broken hearts (ironically of a romantic, rather than violent nature). Evan was seriously injured in the explosion and needed a blood transfusion to save his life. Liv was a match and, of course, she could not offer her blood for risk of infecting him, but obviously couldn’t explain why. Season 2 opens with her mother still angry and her brother banishing her from his life. Time will heal his physical wounds; the emotional ones will take much longer.

 

Alternating with the show’s usual crime of the week premise, there are plot developments building off last season, as well as hints of how these characters will evolve along with how events may unfold this season. This week’s murder victim is an elderly man found with his upper half squashed under a car. His sister-in-law informs Clive and Liv that he was a cantankerous son of a bitch hated by everyone.

 

As regular viewers probably predicted, Liv has flashes of the curmudgeon she consumed. She snores, gripes, uses bygone terms, such as referring to Clive as “Matlock” and “flatfoot.” Half the time, she is not even aware of the personality change, even when Clive looks at her like she’s gone mad. Rose McIver continues to shine as Liv and is charming, funny, and relatable even when the deceased bigot slips out.

 

Dr. Ravi (the drolly comedic Rahul Kohli) has tried unsuccessfully for the past three months to reverse engineer the cure. There were only three dosages before that. The first was given to his lab rat, New Hope. Liv used one to cure her nemesis, Blaine, and the other for her ex-fiancé, Major, after she had to turn him into a zombie in order to save him.

 

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Liv’s archenemy now owns a funeral home since his deli Meat Cute—where he ran an illegal brain supply operation for zombies—was destroyed in the explosion. It may seem on the surface that he runs a respectable business now, but David Anders as Blaine never loses his Cheshire cat grin, and chews the scenery like his erstwhile zombie did for brains.

 

Adroit effects and camera work show the hairs on the back of his neck rising up as Liv walks in. She needs him to find out who cut the Utopium—the drug that was served at the boat party where she was turned into a zombie—with the virus. She warns him that the first batch of the cure killed the test rat, so dangles Blaine’s fate in front of him knowing his self-interests are sufficient motivation. She says he should find the Utopium dealer as if “his life depends on it.”

 

Even though Major was cured of the disease, he almost still looks zombie-like as he meets with his clients as their personal trainer. It is the only job he’s able to get, and it takes the life out of him. It does not allow him to be the hero that he was in the first season. The hairs on his arm stand up upon meeting one of his clients. After letting Ravi know that his heart races and he just knows when he is in a zombie’s presence, Ravi determines it is a side effect of the cure. Major is a zombie detector, just as Blaine and the test-rat New Hope also register zombie presences. However, why doesn’t Major respond that way around Liv? Ravi speculates that it is because she domesticated him. That seems like an odd and unscientific explanation coming from the doctor. One hopes that the writer intended it as such and will revisit it later.

 

Clive sees that the Meat Cute crime does not add up, even though Liv is Major’s alibi. He suspects Major killed Blaine’s five henchmen. Liv knows Clive will not let it go, and later expresses her concern to Ravi.

 

Let’s not forget Max Rager, the energy drink conglomerate that was discovered last season to have turned some of its consumers into rage-zombies. Steven Weber is wonderfully devious as the Machiavellian villain Vaughn Du Clark, the company’s head. He is working on releasing a new product, sans the zombie virus. Along with re-branding, he needs to eliminate the errors created by the first drink. The person he recruits to clean up his mess and essentially sweep it under the rug is deliciously designed to cause unrest for viewers.

 

Grumpy Old Liv sets the stage for some exciting possibilities this season. Liv already showed herself last season to be a complex person despite, or maybe partly because, she is technically undead. She had to make painful decisions; it looks like they will be an easy zombie crawl in comparison this time around. Everyone else, particularly Major, has layers building up that will either fall off like dead skin or be painfully peeled away.

 

If the writers continue to wisely focus on the human aspect instead of reducing the show to superficial, comic book heroic and wicked, we are in store for an entertaining and thought-provoking next several months.

 

Produced By: Diane Ruggiero and Rob Thomas

Written By: Rob Thomas

Starring: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli

Distributed By: The CW Television Network (The CW)

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Run Time: 60 Minutes

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