After first introducing the possibility near the end of Season 2, iZombie revealed in Tuesday's "Some Like It Hot Mess" that Blaine (David Anders) has indeed been faking his amnesia. Depending on which side you took in the argument that accompanied this long-running storyline, the reveal either left you feeling vindicated or betrayed. Ultimately, though, it feels a little like the show is attempting to have it both ways, and it's just one of a few minor quibbles we have with the series this season.
Now, it's true that Blaine did initially lose his memories as a result of injecting himself with the cure last season, but once the memories returned a few days later he made the decision to continue the charade, potentially because a non-working cure would assure his lucrative brain operation remain in business, but more importantly — and more immediately — it also offered him a blank slate without actually having to do the work to redeem himself.
That Blaine would do something like this is well within the realm of believability. Despite putting on what Don E. described as an Emmy-worthy performance — and although there have been glimpses of humanity within Blaine over the years — he remains a manipulative, untrustworthy and selfish man interested only in taking the quickest, least labor-intensive route to the finish line. And while he may have genuinely believed his little lie would allow him to change the trajectory of his life by offering him the opportunity to change who he was and how people viewed him, the fact is that the decision really just proves that he hasn't changed as much as he would like to believe.
By continuing to look out for number one and lie to Peyton (Aly Michalka), Blaine allowed Liv (Rose McIver) and Major (Robert Buckley) to believe the cure didn't work. Now, the second Liv takes the cure iZombie ceases to be a TV series, so in that regard Blaine's actions matter very little, but it was also only a matter of time before Major was going to have to take the cure and the truth would come out. So what exactly did Blaine — and iZombie — stand to gain by hiding the truth for so long?
If the answer is that it allowed the series to fully explore the sexual tension between Peyton and Blaine and introduce conflict into her fledgling relationship with Ravi (Rahul Kohli), then that's a pretty weak excuse for taking us down this path for so long. The series has more than enough complicated relationship drama as a result of the back-and-forth Liv and Major have been doing since the show first debuted (and will continue to do now that he's human once again). And there were plenty of other ways to drive a wedge between Ravi and Peyton.
If the answer is that the show genuinely wanted to explore the possibility of redeeming its main antagonist, it wasn't the greatest attempt at doing so since Blaine didn't actually do anything, and it's now going to be even more difficult to go down this road for real. Not one of our heroes is likely to ever trust Blaine again after this, but it's also not impossible for him to be at least partially redeemed; this could actually be the push the character needs to truly work toward becoming a man worthy of a place on Team Z. It's a lot to take on, but it can be done; Buffy the Vampire Slayer spent years redeeming Spike, a character more evil and ruthless than Blaine who ultimately ends up saving the world.
But by the end of "Some Like It Hot Mess" someone has stolen the remaining doses of the cure and Blaine is recreating Ravi's memory enhancing serum from the list that Liv's hot mess brain forgot she'd printed out. We don't know if Blaine or Don E. (or someone else) stole the cure, but it's also not possible to tell exactly what this means for Blaine. He's once again operating alone, with Don E. having partnered with Blaine's father to create another zombie-related business. But the tell-tale smirk is back, and Blaine is simply a lot more dynamic when he's given the range to be the villain you love to hate, so it'll be interesting to see where he and the show go from here.
But the decision to prolong the amnesia reveal highlights a few other issues that have cropped up during iZombie's third season. The early focus on setting up Fillmore Graves and its complicated objectives, the love triangle between Blaine, Peyton and Ravi, and Major's serious health problems have taken up a great deal of screentime thus far, and the result is a lead character who's become less central to the show's main narrative. There's nothing inherently wrong with Liv playing a supporting role when there is also a cast that is talented, likable and interesting in their own right, but it does make the series feel a little unbalanced of late. Add in the fact that the brains Liv has been eating recently haven't been as strong narratively and some have even seemed to consume her personality more than usual and it feels a bit like Liv is standing still while everyone else moves forward. When she thanked Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) for helping give her life meaning these last few years, it really drove home how little we've explored Liv's psyche this season.
Now, none of this is to actually suggest that iZombie has somehow taken a turn for the worse in Season 3 — it absolutely hasn't — or that these decisions won't turn out to be purposeful in hindsight. Like Veronica Mars, the witty mystery series that iZombie co-creators Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright previously collaborated on, iZombie is adept at cleverly plotting its arcs, doling out pieces of plot here and there like breadcrumbs so it's easy to follow them later on but not a moment before the writers are ready for you to do so.
The series is always, always working, even when it doesn't appear that way — and not in the obvious way that it was clear the baseball was going to be relevant in solving the murder this week. iZombie regularly introduces scraps of information that seem innocuous and are only revealed to be important when all the puzzle pieces have been flipped over and we're ready to start putting them together. There's a lot up in the air at the moment as the show enters the middle of its season, but if there's one thing that can calm our nerves, it's the knowledge that we've been here before. If we're patient enough, everything will likely soon make sense and all these complaints will hopefully become invalid.
iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)