Damn, “Cape Town” tricked us good. We thought we were getting a goofy adventure poking fun at the rise of superheroes in popular culture set against the backdrop of the holidays, but what we got was a much more somber affair. To be fair, we should have seen this coming. Not just because the holidays can be depressing, but because there’s been a darkness creeping over iZombie all season long. It was a quintessential midseason finale. It paid off on some of iZombie’s long-simmering arcs, like Liv and Major’s relationship struggles, while also pressing forward on some others, like Mr. Boss’s involvement in the Seattle crime world. And at the end, the show snuck in a series of well-placed punches to the gut that could potentially unravel everything the show and Liv have been working toward this entire time.
After Liv chowed down on the brain of a man who was a shop teacher by day, vigilante by night, she dressed up in her own crime-fighting costume and said some hilariously dramatic things that Ravi joked would be good to use in her character’s graphic novel. iZombie had a great time poking fun at the ridiculous idea that people run around in costumes and attempt to fight crime but then go to work at pressed juiceries during the day. It’s humorous in light of how saturated with superheroes popular culture has become over the last decade, but it’s especially funny when viewed through the lens of a show like iZombie that is equally unbelievable in its premise. Liv thought the Fog was crazy for his nighttime activities as a caped crusader, but Liv is a zombie who solves murders through the visions she receives after eating the brains of the deceased victims who pass through the morgue where she works. I mean, vigilante crimefighters who say things like, “I’m the Fog, and tonight I’m thick with justice,” don’t sound nearly as crazy when you put things into perspective.
And this week, iZombie was all about putting things into perspective, whether it was Clive realizing how dangerous it was to allow Liv to consult on cases or Major finally coming to terms with how a brain affects a zombie, things were becoming clearer but also changing, and not necessarily for the better, for our ragtag group of heroes. Like many superhero tales, “Cape Town” ended with Liv standing on a rooftop surveying the city she was trying to protect, and although it was fun while it lasted, the particular brain put Liv in a dangerous position when she went to one of Mr. Boss’s warehouses to stop a gun deal and after overpowering a few men with marbles, chloroform, and her built-in zombie rage, was nearly killed by the murderer, who’d been robbing Mr. Boss’s high stakes poker games. Mr. Boss arrived and shot the woman, and if Liv wasn’t already on his radar from his first appearance on the show, she is now. Liv has done some questionable things as a result of whatever brain she’s eaten that week, but has she ever been quite so needlessly reckless as she was this week? She is not a trained law-enforcement officer, and her zombie strength and instincts can’t protect her all the time. The fact that there were repercussions for her actions is actually something that I think needed to happen in order for iZombie to continue to move forward, even if moving forward actually meant taking a few steps back. One of the worst things that can happen to a show is that it becomes complacent, and although iZombie was in no risk of stalling out—between Max Rager, Mr. Boss, and Blaine’s scheming, the show has plenty of storylines to ensure it has forward momentum—Clive ending their partnership threw Liv for a loop and forced the show to turn inward in a way that we haven’t seen in a while.
Clive blamed himself for Liv’s actions because he’d been treating her like an equal when she wasn’t one, but by putting an end to their partnership, he has unknowingly also taken away the one thing that gave real meaning to Liv’s undead life. And so without her tether, everything kind of spiraled out of control from there. The way Liv sees it, if she’s not using the brains she eats to retrain her humanity to also solve murders, then there are no positives to being a zombie. It means she suffers through visions of someone else’s life for no reason, it means her personality shifts are for nothing, and it means that she no longer serves any purpose. Clive dissolving their weird little partnership essentially threatens to erase all of the progress Liv has made since the series premiere taught Liv that being a zombie didn’t have to mean her life was over. And without helping to solve murder cases, the depression that once dominated Liv’s life is already threatening to creep back in.
The first casualty of being a zombie without a cause was Liv’s love life. It was already in jeopardy, of course, but after having a heart-to-heart with a zombie who was forced to have sex for food, Major thought he had finally begun to understand how the brains affected an individual, and was willing to forgive Liv for her stalker actions last week—an argument that bled over into this week’s episode—but Liv decided to break things off. To his credit, Major was so sure that they’re meant to be together that he’s willing to wait and was certain this latest hiccup in their long, rocky road to happiness will be overcome. On the one hand, good for you, Major. Someone needs to fight for the relationship since Liv isn’t able to. But on the other hand, by viewing Liv’s zombieism as a temporary roadblock, that sent a message to Liv that he loved the woman she used to be and only tolerated the woman she was now.
Like many of the CW mid-season finales, Izombie’s is a game changer and now we have to wait till January to see the aftermath.