In Season 2 of The CW series iZombie, Liv’s (Rose McIver) secret is now out and she will have to face new and even more powerful enemies, as relationships and friendships are challenged, and the line between good and evil becomes blurry. And with the zombies of Seattle mysteriously disappearing, Liv and Blaine (David Anders) reluctantly find themselves on the same side.
Collider was invited, along with a handful of other press outlets, over to The CW to screen Episode 2 and chat with co-creator/executive producer Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) about how much things will be escalating this season, where things are headed with Major (Robert Buckley), upcoming zombie brains that Liv will be eating, building towards a season of 22 episodes, how long it could take Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) before he figures out what’s going on, the return of Peyton (Aly Michalka), Ravi’s (Rahul Kohli) journey, Blaine’s relationship with his father (Robert Knepper), and Liv’s strained family dynamic. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Question: How are you pushing things in Season 2?
ROB THOMAS: Well, the world is getting bigger, without a doubt. There are more moving parts this season. Last year, Blaine was really the sole big bad. And this year, Steven Weber is occupying a bunch of that space, and Blaine still has really fun, juicy stuff. Blaine is going to try to become the crime lord of Seattle, but we eventually meet the crime lord of Seattle and he will have a significant role, as well. Eddie Jemison is playing the role of Mr. Boss, which sounds like a silly name, but every name on iZombie is a silly name.
What is Major’s journey going to be, this season?
THOMAS: He’s trying to keep himself and Liv alive, and in order to do that, he has to take out these zombies. You’re going to watch him deal with that for a long time. It’s going to be a moral crisis for him. It will tear him apart, and it doesn’t get any easier for him, for a long time. He’s not just going to sit back and take it, all season. At some point, he’s got to figure out how to turn the tables on Max Rager. You won’t watch 22 episodes of him forlornly going about this task. One of the fun things about Season 1, and what we pitched Robert Buckley when we got him to agree to do this, was that there would be this journey and that he would be a man of action. He’s been put in another pretty awful predicament, but he will be trying to figure out a way out of it.
How far is Major going to go down the rabbit hole?
THOMAS: He will hit rock bottom. That’s the journey that he’s going on. He’s doing this horrible thing and can’t quite stand himself. We have a scene that I really adore, in which he officially hits rock bottom. Major will know that he’s made it all the way down, but that’s a few episodes away.
How long will it be before people figure out what Major is going through?
THOMAS: Pretty quickly. It’s pretty hard to hide. Ravi picks up on it really soon.
Did you intentionally want to go a little bit darker this season?
THOMAS: Yeah. We were excited about the moment that Liv and Major have it out. He certainly doesn’t want anything to do with her, at the beginning of the season, and at a certain point, not too far down the road, she will have had enough and will confront him. That’s one of the things we wanted to build towards early.
When a zombie eats brains, why do they take on some traits and not others, especially when it comes to that individual’s sexuality?
THOMAS: With the painter brain, she actually was attracted to everyone. She just become very sexual. There’s no hard and fast rule. I would say there’s even been an evolution over the two seasons. Really, we’re just looking for fun stuff to play. That becomes the dominant thing. Last year, we had a theory that we were going to give her one thing that’s useful and one thing that’s a pain in the ass to deal with, but we’ve gotten away from that. This year, we’re finding the best luck when we have a stereotype to play with, like Frat Boy, Grumpy Old Man, or a Real Housewife. I think a lot of murder-of-the-week or criminal-case-of-the-week shows start from a place of figuring out a compelling murder mystery, but we’re always in the room saying, “What’s a fun brain to have Liv eat this week, and what will that give us to play? What comedy can we mine from that?” If anyone digs too far down, every person probably has a hundred characteristics and we just pick one. There was a big moment in Season 1 when we were sitting in the writers’ room, trying to decide how these brains affect people, and we talked about it forever. Back when we were doing Veronica Mars, we were doing a true noir mystery where we tried to put all of the clues in there and we worked very hard on all of that adding up and making sense. But somewhere at the beginning of last year, we decided that we were going to have fun. We have a zombie who inherits the memories of the dead, so a clue in a vision is always an outlet, but with this show, it’s about what would be fun to have Rose play. Sometimes we try to think thematically.
What can you say about the upcoming brains?
THOMAS: The next three are Real Housewife brain, country western chanteuse brain, and then basketball coach brain.
Is there a brain that you’ve come up with in the writers’ room that just hasn’t worked out yet?
THOMAS: When we used to do Party Down, the most fun we had was the first couple of days we would sit around and think of ten parties. With iZombie, the fun is thinking of what the brain will be each week.
Liv used to just eat the brains, but now she seems to be getting more creative with what she eats them with. Was that an intentional evolution?
THOMAS: That’s an alteration that we’re doing differently this year. It makes no sense, in some ways, because we’re having them be thematic, but she hasn’t eaten the brain yet. It’s just a wink. She’ll be on degenerate gambler brain and make brains casino. It’s a little joke for anyone paying attention, but she shouldn’t already be there. It’s silly, but we have fun in the writers’ room. We’ll be like, “What would a stalker eat?” They’re also fun episodes to name.
Are you building towards a full season, or are you taking it half a season at a time?
THOMAS: We are building towards 22 episodes. I think we’re going to get to do 22, so we’re breaking towards 22. If it’s a disaster, we’ll start thinking about 13, but I feel good. We have nine that play before the break for the holidays, and we’ve built a really big Episode 9. And then, Episode 13, we’re treating as just an episode on the way to 22. That could change, but that’s how we’re building it. We did 22-episode seasons on Veronica Mars, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done it and it’s a slog. Last year, doing 13 was so great. It was such a good life. Thirteen is such a good number, but we’d still rather do 22.
Will you ever have a case that takes longer than one episode to solve?
THOMAS: Last year, Episodes 12 and 13 ran together. And then, this year, Episodes 5and 6 also do that. You kind of get an answer at the end of 5, but they support each other. Even though they both stand alone, it’s the same cast of characters for two episodes.
Right now, Clive Babineaux is the only character that doesn’t know about Liv. Is that getting difficult to maintain?
THOMAS: It is, yeah. It’s already one of those things that I see tweeted out with, “How could Clive not figure this out?!” But, would you figure out that these were zombies? Maybe if you lived in a TV world, you might. Of course, he’s a cop who believes in a psychic. It’s a blessing and a curse. We’ve written scenes that have not made it into the show, where Clive looks at Liv and says, “You realize that you start acting like the people whose deaths we’re investigating,” a few different times. Malcolm [Goodwin] is just so funny reacting to her brains that there’s so much comedy gold there. Maybe at some point, we’ll know it’s time to shut that down, but right now, we just enjoy Clive sitting there when Liv is on some strange brain.
What can you say about Peyton’s return in Episode 3?
THOMAS: Last year, she largely was a sounding board. And then, later in the season, she was a love interest for Ravi. This year, she is very much in the thick of it. She comes back in her assistant D.A. position. She gets asked by the D.A. to take over the Utopium task force, and that puts her right in the thick of the action.
What is Ravi’s journey, this season?
THOMAS: We’ll see a little bit of a love life for him. We made the decision that when Peyton comes back, they won’t fall into a relationship because they’re both going in different directions. But then, the first scene we shot with the two of them together, was one of my favorite things that we shot in Scene 2. They’re just so good in that scene that I had to rethink everywhere I wanted to take that. He will also be incredibly involved with trying to remake a cure and trying to locate the tainted Utopium.
How will Max Rager respond to finding out that Liv has successfully cured two people of being zombies?
THOMAS: They haven’t found out yet. They’ve got scientists working, but they’re working in a different direction. They believe in zombie eradication, and they’re just trying to pull the good stuff out of the zombies. So, I don’t know when or if they will. We haven’t broken a story where they learn about the cure.
Are Major and Blaine successfully cured?
THOMAS: We’ve got a whole Flowers for Algernon story playing. There’s the one zombie rat, New Hope, who will be the canary in the coal mine for both Major and Blaine. Once stuff starts happening to that rat, you have to figure that it will eventually happen to Major and Blaine, as well.
Will we get to see more between Blaine and his father?
THOMAS: Yes, we do get to see [Robert] Knepper back in the show. We thought he’d be great, and he was great.
Liv is in a pretty bad place with her family. Will we see more of that?
THOMAS: Yeah. We don’t get back to the family right away, but we just shot a couple of episodes with them, so you will see them. Originally, when we broke the pilot, Eva and Evan were going to be series regulars. The thing that we learned was that our episodes are so tightly packed right now, and we like having them in our show, but trying to get in all of our bad guys and the case-of-the-week is a real juggling act. So, we will keep coming back to the family, but much like Season 1, it will probably be every three or four episodes.
iZombie airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.