The new season continues, with sub-plots building and weird brain side-effects in full swing, in “Zombie Knows Best.” Unlike a lot of their usual episodes, this one has a lot of flashbacks in it, and focuses a lot more on Clive. I thought it worked well, and that’s even with me being sick of flashbacks as storytelling technique by and large.
The flashbacks I mentioned are Clive being interviewed by Detective Cavanaugh, the one who’s officially investigating young Wally’s (and his family) death. We see how Clive, undercover at the time, grew close to Wally and his mother, Anna. It’s actually a series of fairly touching scenes, and makes me feel really bad for Clive. They employ an interesting loop from beginning to end of the flashback/interview sequence, so at roughly the end of the show, we see how all this started.
After all that gets set up and moving, we get to the murder of the week. In this case, two. A father and daughter are arguing in the car, nothing bad, just typical father/teen stuff. They don’t get a chance at a heart-warming reconciliation, since their car gets damn near destroyed as something huge hits and then takes off with a squeal of tires. Considering how thoroughly the car gets crushed, the driver not stopping, and the nature of the show, we can rule out accident.
One of my favorite bits on the series has always been Clive reacting to Liv’s weird personality changes. Now that he knows her secret, that’s still happening, just in different ways. It’s really funny watching him work out how Liv’s been getting her brains, and her reaction to the double murder. Clive is a veteran homicide cop, and he’s seen a lot, but this is something he’s not really ready for.
Liv ends up with the dad’s brain, and Major, the young teen girl. Rose McIver has done a great job picking up new ticks with each brain she eats as Liv. Robert Buckley, playing Major Lilywhite (I still can’t believe they went with that name) does the same, and the two of them play off each other really well, especially this episode. Liv is picking up a penchant for fatherly advice and random handy-man tasks. Major is, well, a teenage girl, wrapped in drama and overreactions. That’s even better considering Major is training with the Fillmore-Graves zombie mercenaries. Major’s rendition of some Katy Perry music is…unique. Major does find out that the Fillmore-Graves mercs have a special version of brains which doesn’t come with mood swings and visions. Liv is not thrilled with this idea, since it would negate her edge in murder investigations, and her reaction is filtered through the dad’s brain.
One of the odd new additions this week is a very Goth-ish IT guy. I didn’t catch his name, and can’t find it in the credits, but whoever this guy was, he was a really weird bit of comic relief. And standing out as weird on this show is an accomplishment. The addition makes sense; this was one of the only cop-style shows airing without a techie. I kinda hope this one sticks around. EDIT- IMDB has updated, and apparently he’s “Vampire Steve.”
There was a subtle bit in this episode that I thought that was really nicely done. When they’re out at Fillmore-Graves, the team hears about the students in the school being worried in the wake of Wally’s murder. What was kind of poignant was a little zombie kid worrying about when the humans were going to come for them. Talk about role reversal. We also learn that Vivian had a timeline for humans discovering zombies, and things are going a bit faster than anticipated.
The murder investigation takes the usual bizarre twists and turns with false leads along the way. The motive eventually emerges, and it’s a stomach turning series of events. I’ll just say it’s a different version of “family drama.” Clive’s actual detective skill isn’t as big a part of this one as it often is, but Clive’s kind of busy this time around. As usual, there are more crimes uncovered along the way beside the murder.
They also make some progress on the unofficial investigation into Wally and Anna’s murders. There’s a computer forum the investigators run across that is full of the hate and bile people spew anonymously online. But this one seems to have a few people on it who know about zombies. This is both bad news for the zombie population, and the investigation, since it really widens the suspect pool. There’s a new player lurking in the background of Seattle, and it’s bad news for Liv, Major, Vivian Stoll, and even Blaine. Speaking of, Blaine and Peyton apparently get this week off.
What I liked: Really, just about everything. The new quirks from the brains were great this week, and having Liv and Major playing off each other was fantastic. I liked seeing more of Clive, and felt really bad for him. The IT guy was amusing, and I hope he comes back in small doses like this week. The murder was something that was sadly believable, as were the circumstances around it. The weird sense of humor that pervades the show really entertains me.
What I didn’t: Not much comes to mind. I enjoy David Anders’ portrayal of Blaine, and I’m sorry he wasn’t around, but they would have needed to shoehorn him in with everything else going on. I do sort of wonder what happened to Ravi’s ex-boss, who was around last episode and potentially a threat, and now just seems to have vanished.
I’ll give this a high 4 out of 5. The new season is off to a great start, and I hope they keep this level of quality.