I’ve been crazy busy so far this week, and I caught up on this episode a day late so I apologize for the tardy post. But alas, in a relatively shorter form: my review.
With the first nine episodes of iZombie‘s second season setting a multitude of branching story arcs in motion, I can’t fault it for taking a moment to look back at the series it has become and embrace itself for a change. Of course, it would still feel weird and out of sorts if “Method Head” just decided to ignore the Max Rager situation or the status of Blaine’s brain distribution business (thankfully, it doesn’t), but to its benefit it puts these plots in the back burner, allowing Liv and Clive’s detective work to take center stage in a setting that could not have felt more ironic.
Highly considered a “meta” episode, “Method Head” has so much fun picking at the context of the show’s own trappings that it doesn’t even slip up in the slightest. This is a beautiful thing because there’s so much personality and material pulled from the fictitious world of “Zombie High”. The zombie extras bicker about their lack of acknowledgement on set in delightful fashion, sex tapes and hidden revelations surrounding the stars of the show are revealed in compelling ways, and on numerous occasions iZombie even circles these components back to itself, mirroring the parameters under which it has featured its current run. Whether we learn about the tax breaks the fake show’s producers are enjoying by filming their “Portland-set” series in Seattle (sound familiar?), or experience Liv and Ravi’s wide contrast in behavior surrounding the show, this “all-in” approach to the episode’s proceedings fully cherishes the adventurous fun of self-parody.
Better yet, the case itself gives this talented cast of main and supporting characters the chance to be more tongue-in-cheek than we’re used to, without winking at the screen or breaking the fourth wall. Ravi, for example, is an utter joy in this more spiteful attitude, calling out the blatant flaws of “Zombie High” in such a disgusted tone it both endears and amuses. Also: Extra points for his apparent excitement for the new Power Rangers film, a discovery that sort of curves the magnitude of the current case in one of the episode’s many hilarious scenes (Side note: upon doing some research, this may have also been the show’s way to paying homage to Rose McIver’s work in Power Rangers R.P.M., which, if true, was a very subtle callback).
Through Clive, we got a welcome payoff to his fleshing out from the earlier portions of Season Two. His child-like fascination over the endless variety of assorted delicacies the studio lunch room had to offer works both by opening up his looser tendencies and by quietly poking at the divide in perks between civil and celebrity work. The gag with him in the sunglasses reciting one of Liv’s lines from earlier in the episode just epitomizes his materialized playfulness. Clive also just seems more on board with Liv’s mood swings and Ravi’s nerdy habits than ever before, and it only strengthens the team’s dynamic as a whole.
These week’s brains offered Rose McIver some of her most prominent work yet, as she literally acted her way out of Liv’s new persona. Those who have watched iZombie from the beginning with love the imaginary apple bit she shares with Ravi back at the lab, and the overwhelming appreciation for both “Zombie High” and the “kill one major character a year” mantra it builds its fan base off of. The rehearsal with Cody has her flexing her muscles the most, while lending to the episode’s lighter tone with some obviously fake crying and a rather soap-y slap in the face for good measure. Suffix to say, no one else was as enthralled in the backdrop behind “Method Head” as Liv herself, and for a ridiculous number of reasons I couldn’t have wanted it any other way.
But here’s where this week’s chapter truly becomes a winner: cohesion with the case, advancement with the overarching plot, and a willingness to push its characters forward. Although it was fairly arbitrary to have Clive open back up to Liv at the end of the episode, I liked how the case helped lead to that conclusion. Liv’s brains not only alter her personality; they give her a distinct talent that plays its way into the very detective work Clive would have to construct on his own (and let’s not forget that Liv is an intelligent crime-solver in her own right). The two bounce off of each other’s advantages so well it’s hard watching them try and figure things out separately, and since “Method Head” realizes this so elegantly their reunion as a “buddy cop” duo is immensely satisfying and earned.
With Major’s zombie hoarding and increasing deceit with Vaughn Du Clark, we are again treated to the inner workings of a subplot that never ceases to compel. His bullshit scheme with Clark is entertaining to watch on a number of levels, and the overall intensity of him being discovered as a bullshit artist continues to mount week to week. In addition, that test with the doctor and a potential information leak threatening to expose Max Rager culminated in an actually really good bait-and-switch, where Clark places Major’s loyalty to the cause on an honorably high pedestal. There’s no way the two aren’t on the same page now, and it’s going to be interesting seeing how far Major is willing to go in his quest to topple his proprietor (especially since his wrist collar gift to Clark is all mic’d up).
Dale’s visit to Blaine’s funeral home is the very definition of short and sweet: It doesn’t interrupt the action over at “Zombie High”, yet it’s so effective in its brevity that the show now has another exciting story layer to build off of. Through their encounter, we finally have virtual proof that Dale can play a bigger role in the following proceedings than simply screwing around with Clive, as her exposing Blaine’s existence to Clive spins the wheels again on the Meat Cute investigation. The potential implications of that blowing up are still extremely severe, and I’m really hoping that Major is pulled back into this particular scenario somehow; connectivity between story arcs is always a good thing.
Like the best iZombie has yet to offer, “Method Head” uses setting – this time, that of the “Zombie High” television studio – and thorough execution to bring the episode’s case-of-the-week to life, showcasing a wonderful balance of humor, plot/character development, and rewarding drama presented throughout. Even on the sidelines, Clive’s digging around the violent happenings at Meat Cute from last season, and Major’s involvement with Max Rager, got their brief time to shine. We could’ve done without the Holidays-centric time jump at the start, but otherwise this was just another excellent day at the office for iZombie.
+ Everything about “Zombie High” and its cast
+ Liv, Ravi, and Clive’s varied reactions to “Zombie High”
+ Awesome callbacks and meta-flavored humor
+ Subplots quietly pushed forward