Other Rob Thomas knows his niche, and he knows it well. He might not ever win any major awards (which is a goddamn shame because the writing alone on Party Down was worthy of a Pulitzer), but he’ll always have a loyal following. Why was I willing to dive headlong into a series about a medical examiner who is secretly a zombie with the infuriatingly bad title of iZombie? Other Rob Thomas goddamnit. Because he knows what we want. Specifically:
Multiple Story-lines That Run Like A Well Oiled Machine
Just a few of the things happening right now on the most recent episode:
— Clive is trying to solve the murder of his former neighbors-turned-zombies
— Peyton is trying to solve the murder, which was made to look like a suicide, of James Wexler who in turn confessed to the murder of Roxanne the dominatrix.
— Ravi, whose plan to infiltrate the zombie hunter movement backfired, is now possibly romantically involved with fellow zombie-hunter-undercover Rachel who is actually a reporter for a very alternative weekly Seattle paper.
— Major is attempting to maintain a normal relationship in the wake of the Chaos Killer accusations (which still doesn’t excuse building a sex fort in a common area).
— Fillmore-Graves, in general, is trying to find the killers Clive is after, building Zombie Island for the inevitable D(iscovery)-Day, cover up any discoveries made by Harley and co.’s zombie hunting group, figure out who blew up Vivan Stoll’s helicopter (R.I.P.), and help D.A. Baracus win the mayoral race (also I see what you did there, Other Rob).
— Liv is essentially involved in all of those plots in one way or another (except for Fort Lust) while also carrying on a blooming relationship with fellow zombie Justin.
Did I get everything? That’s a lot of moving parts, but somehow never feels overwhelming. Probably because there will likely be a natural conclusion which nicely ties up all of the plot points (more on that in a second).
Lovable Bad Guys
Listen, ORT does a lot of things really well. Resolving previous plot points which don’t fit into the crafted current-season-long-arc is not one of them. It’s here that I remind you again that Liv has not one, but two dead boyfriends. We got all of half an episode of closure on poor Drake, and I guarantee we’ll never hear about him again. So as much as it pains me to assert this (and as much I know this will piss of specific commenters), Blaine’s past as a child murdering villain is no longer in play. He’s still a bad guy in that he does a lot of bad things, but those are mostly bad things to other bad people. Since he’s found a somewhat ethical way to supply his customers with brains, he’s not the big bad. And because humans are bad at keeping conflicting thoughts in our head at the same time when it comes to real life let alone a TV show, Blaine’s current portrayal as lovable asshole is who his character is now. I’m not arguing this is necessarily the right thing to do, I’m arguing that this is what Other Rob is doing. (Also he’s clearly not the first showrunner to take this track, yes, Eric Northman, I’m talking about you.)
Which is fine by me because Blaine and Donnie are my new favorite couple. Look at the joy when Liv agrees to join them for a post-rampage snack.
Or at how naturally the three Pale Heads fell into a trio.
Are you really telling me you didn’t enjoy their “threesome” vision? Or the conspiracy off at the Scratching Post? Is there no joy in your heart? Come on.
He Plays The Greatest Hits
Maybe Other Rob brought in his buddy Jason Dohring to do him a solid, but the gratuitous oogling was purely for the benefit of the female gaze.
He Knows How To Craft A Season
Despite Other Rob Thomas’ tendency to ignore elements that don’t work at the moment, he knows how to tell a goddamn story. All of those moving elements I listed up at top? If they aren’t shown over the last two episodes of the season to be the work of one mastermind bad guy, I’ll give up puns for a month. A MONTH. Because as much as ORT knows that the most satisfying resolutions to mysteries are often the simplest ones, he has the ability to resolve all of the mysteries with the same simple answer. With all of the various ins-and-outs of season one and two of Veronica Mars, all of the problems could be summed up with “Beaver’s a psychopath.” I’m suspecting ORT has something similar up his sleeve for iZombie. And if he somehow doesn’t, he’s still going to give us the Liv-Ravi fanfic absolutely no one wants but will love.