Today we look at the 2nd season of iZombie, a show that surprised me last season and demanded I fall in love with it. Could it keep up the passion for another round?
First thing I have to command the show runners on is an absolute mastery of the economy of storytelling. This season we got whole new side characters to introduce (or move up in prominence) so it all started out with Liv losing connection to her family. We might see more with them later, they might be gone for good. Regardless it came about because of logical story movements and organic character actions. As they leave, Evil CEO, his hot daughter, even Blaine’s employees step up to do more. For a period of time even Peyton left only to come back (I believe she coordinates to Rita’s prominence but I’d have to watch the whole thing again). I’ve long believed that stories should be seen similar to role-playing characters. If you’re going to have a real complicated plot, then keep the character simple, or if you want real complicated characters, keep the plot simple*. It is amazing to me how the people behind this show seem to realize this and perfectly regulate their characters and plots so that too much doesn’t stack up at once.
Speaking of plots, this show also knew how to keep a rhythm going. Right as things would get worse, the heroes would have a break. Right as things were getting good, the villains would succeed. They really demonstrated an understanding that for a low or high point to have an impact, it must have its opposite preceding. The Evil Co plot was the most “disappointing” as I hoped the company might stay in a gray zone for the entire season but I found myself quite enjoying the use of Evil Co for pushing Major into true character trials and Major coming through in some pretty impressive ways. Mr. Boss masterfully puled off “dweebish threat” and I’m interested in seeing where things go since his usual tactics don’t work well when Blaine is a zombie. I’m hoping next season he moves from being less Blaine’s enemy than Peyton’s and we get to see our girl bring him down (unless Blaine moves into zombie mob boss territory). Not much opinion on Major/Rita (other than being jealous of Major) but I liked Liv/Drake a lot more than I expected to and feel disappointed we didn’t get to see more of Drake’s undercover efforts. With as much as his story mirrored Major’s it would have been interesting to watch a contrast between the agent who has department support and one who is on his own. I probably took his character’s death harder than any other in a long while.
All in all this season continued everything from the first, piling on layers and layers of story and twists in logical, consistent ways. Surprises came, but they never felt like cheating or cheap surprises. It’s a show with 3D characters I love spending time with and plots which encourage one to think. I love that when I talk with other fans of the show, we can all find different aspects to love and express about it. It’s a show that encourages and invites you to think as well as feel and never lets you down when you do so.
Well done, iZombie, you impress me very much.
*Of course all of this is based upon 1) the medium you are telling the story in and 2) how popular you want it to be. Movies have less time so they have a smaller “total” to work with while a longer serial fiction like TV can have more complications to them as well. It’s more of a rough guideline, if you want to try and max out “everything” about your story, the simple fact is you’ll alienate more audience members and have less people interested in your tales.