I had left the last episode wanting as there had been a loss of focus, some meandering character plots, and lack of what made iZombie so effective as a whip smart, light on its feet buddy-cop dramedy. Coming into the halfway point of the season I had wondered how they could right the ship for the while trying to iron out its plot, because sometimes I think I am smarter than veteran television writers. Actually, I should mention, I think that I may involved in this tornadic pirouette; someone is clearly reading these reviews–this is the hands down the best episode of the season and one of the best the show has offered in fifteen hours.
From the onset, the humor is fast and furious in this one with a long-awaited rebound from mopey Major to the fun, loving guy that we originally knew him. The references are thick in this episode, from dredging up the miss-play from last Super Bowl, which as a die-hard Jets fan who spent four collegiate years in Massachusetts, still hurts to think about–you only had to fall down and you would have won!–to sly winks to the Talking Heads, reminding us all that the writers have exquisite tastes in music; even flashes of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. A small quip to the Seahawks is part of this episode’s motif: there’s a dead pee-wee basketball coach and Liv becomes Coach Herman Boone. It’s a wonderful change of pace that McIver nails perfectly, probably her best alter ego in a long time.
Then, it was time for Detective Clive Babineaux. Thank you God! You can’t be a cop and be an altar boy for this long, holy hell–I mean, you did it, but, man did every one of those meaty punches delivered into the jaw of this week’s persona non grata felt oh so satisfying. To be honest, for a show about zombies has little to offer in terms of violence–when there is, it’s either between the undead or when Major is shooting up a meat shop. But this week we got what we were waiting for, just your apple pie baking, cheeseburger grilling, all American ass kicking.
Oh, yeah, and a zombie sort of melted. It’s no Walking Dead.
Avid readers will know I hark on the forgetfulness of the main story, but this week in “Love & Basketball” I actually felt it to be a genuinely proper story that was able to sprout character development of those involved, instead of the usual where the characters shuffle along the with the plot and the answer bites either Liv or Clive in the butt. Roll credits. I wrote a prediction down at the beginning of the show before starting the review, and I promised not to edit my assumption because I am an honest, commendable soul, but as the episode went on with its bits of turns and upturns, more robust characters than your Law & Order-esque box movers, I found that my prediction was giving the show I know far too little credit. This week almost felt like a bona fide criminal investigation. What makes this even more profound, is that the arching story that tends to carry the other bits of random plots sewn together is still there and still exceptional. Every character brought their A-game.
Max Rager is showing that they are still (slowly) a wonderful evil organization but their motives for zombification is still amiss. Ravi may have had his strongest episode this season being even funnier than normal and getting into it with Blaine for a hilarious “fight” that only a proper Brit and a manicured mortician can get into. Blaine’s motives have slowed a bit with this episode by taking one step forward and then one step back, which isn’t too egregious to say it was wasted–he was still shown at least. It’s the same argument about why you can’t get mad about any Game of Thrones episodes. Back to Ravi; if it wasn’t for Clive having a truly all-star showing Ravi would have been the best of the hour. Again, everyone was great–a rising tide lifts all boats–but I do play favorites.
Now we come down to those precious last few moments, where television entertainment can dangle that beautiful carrot of half-information that will bring you back same time next week, and the bring back of Lieutenant Suzuki–remember he had been a returning customer at Meat Cute–and the frozen brains that were carelessly left in his beer fridge. Well, now that tender morsel of gray matter is in the finally capable hands of Babineaux. Now we can only guess at the ramifications–whether this will lead to Liv, exposes the Zombie epidemic in Seattle thanks to the greedy, empirical, rat-faced hogs of Max Rager. Or perhaps nothing exciting will happen until the end of the season.
Final Grade: A
+Clive throwing the beat down
+One of the funniest episodes; nostalgia inducing with the amount of references packed in
+Liv’s turn at being a fast talking go-getter
+Major and Liv’s relationship from sappy to sincere
-Blaine didn’t get much done, but as mentioned, ninety percent is showing up
-No Vaughn still
They sent the first half of the season off with a bang–let’s see if this momentum continues. Share your hopes for the next five on Twitter!