REVIEW: iZombie 2×06 “Max Wager”

What I love about this show is the strange and effective dichotomy between being easygoing and fun, and having holy hot damn moments. There is a weird feeling that you’re watching an episode of Friends where one bad set at the Central Perk causes Phoebe to jump into momentary homicidal rage. Keeps you on your toes.

Detective Clive Babineaux has been getting a ton of love in the past few episodes after being stuck as the nerdy desk jock who just shuffles along the story–now he plays an integral part in not only being the most important character to keep the story on track, but with his own full fledged “plot-b” that is becoming more interesting than others. Let me say, that doesn’t take away from anyone in iZombie as each character, for the most part, is given due course, but you aren’t exactly being handed a family tree to memorize before each episode and expected to just understand. Also, though they alluded to it, he hasn’t been looped into an unnecessary love story. Malcolm Goodwin is a fine actor and fits Clive to a “T,” and I’m happy that he isn’t being shoe-horned because the producers just found out that they have this magnificent talent to play around with.

Angus DeBeers, the cool as a cucumber and cruel as a rogue buzzsaw, comes back from his brief introduction to strong arm his own son out of his business. Blaine is now at his most mortal; pointing out the fact that zombies have no affinity for alike brains, he believes that charade has kept him in the clear from a business stand-point, however his father has seen through this and knows Blaine’s secret. Back to the bottom of the ladder for Blaine. This, I feel, is setting up Blaine to strike back against his father with some odd alliance between he and Liv by the end of the season where Angus is dead (for real, for real?) and Blaine is a zombie again. Zombie-Blaine, the best Blaine. Take the bet, it’s a safe one with a small payout, but if you parlay it with Clive getting shot at some point this season–I’d say you’re making a decent chunk of change.

“Max Wager” does a fine job of building atmosphere. While The Barber has only been introduced, the inclusion adds to the “underbelly” of Seattle organized crime, that things don’t just rise and fall with the chugging of Max Rager drinks but money and power is always changing hands in every dark corner. Then there’s that guy from Ocean’s Eleven trying to be creepy with his Omar whistling and his vague intimidation. I don’t know, not that this was particularly cheesy, but I have always found it difficult to take these parts truly seriously–you need to be a real Man with No Name.


I love that Major and Liv are back to being America’s sweethearts, but the CW has this wonderful quirk where they have to play a girl singing some translation of an ancient Icelandic poem while strumming a guitar, just so their audience knows that this is what earnest affection looks like. Again, a bit of cheese I can handle, but more often than not–mind you how beautiful both Rose McIver and Robert Buckley are as humans–I reach for my phone until it’s over. Not to mention there’s rarely anything revolutionary in these scenes, it’s just a bit of fodder that could otherwise be told in a more mature manner.

This week’s main story started out strong: it immediately linked back to the previous episode–rare for a show like this–started with a serious bang, or really, a series of several bangs,  in a kind of Call of Duty last mission repetition of loud noises. And right away, last week’s smug but innocent egghead Harry Cole is waxed, almost bringing Clive with him. In a mostly empty of cop-drama episode, there was plenty of other things to make mention of: Liv and Major’s ongoing relationship; the continued absence of Vaughn Du Clark and the laissez faire attitude of Max Rager’s CEO; Major’s revelation at the end of the episode and how that is absolutely going to come back to haunt him at some point; and the never ending search for the zombie cure that Ravi is slowly–maybe at this point stagnantly–trying to develop. Ravi had little input to this episode, though, as usual he has the best one-liners. Liv’s gambling obsession was fine; a new angle for her to play though it wasn’t overly interesting or comedic.

The only real interesting part to an episode that started so strongly was the last shot, as mentioned above. He’s been storing the bodies of the zombies he has “killed” in some remote icebox. Then who is going into the water? Why can’t immortal zombies survive through a cold icebox? Is Major stealing corpses? Then there was the creeper from the barbershop and Peyton; likely he a Max Rager company man, but we have only speculation.

iZombie falls in with the brotherhood of shows that don’t necessarily have bad episodes, they just have episodes that aren’t as strong. Small episodes that have to set up blips on the map to navigate to the bigger episodes at the end of the season. The previous outing, “Love & Basketball” was such a huge episode that you couldn’t expect a relatively small show like this to keep such a constant pace. Next weeks should have a big drop or two, and then we get into the last legs of the season.

Final Grade: B-

+Major’s meat collection

+Babineaux emerging as a top character this season

+Blaine looking to make a move?

-No real progression to the main story

-Weak episode plot

-No Vaughn still, again


What are you guys thinking? Don’t you kind of want Blaine to win? I do. Share your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Brian Corliss