'iZombie' Showrunners on "Unleashed" Liv and Season 2 Structure

Executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright tell THR they're planning out a 22-episode season despite only having a 13-episode order.
Diyah Pera/The CW

[Editor's note: This story was conducted before The CW ordered five back-up scripts.]

iZombie's showrunners are going all-in with season two.

As of now, The CW's DC Comics drama about a zombie (Rose McIver) working in a morgue only has a 13-episode order for its sophomore outing, the same episode count as its freshman run when it debuted midseason. But executive producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright are structuring season two — now premiering in the fall — as if they already got a back-nine order.

"I am betting on success!" Thomas tells The Hollywood Reporter. "If we only get 13 episodes, we are going to be in big trouble. I'm structuring this season like we're doing 22. If we don't get a back-nine order and end up only doing 13, it will just feel like the water cut off midstream. So we're putting a little extra spice on that 13th episode and hoping for the best. If not ... well, let's just say the fans would not be happy where we leave off."

Ruggiero-Wright said it was never an option to plan for a straight 13 for season two.

"Episode nine is our episode before we go on our six-week break for Christmas," she tells THR. "That's our midseason finale and it's a pretty big episode, and then 13 will also be a big episode. But we're breaking for 22 episodes since we're cocky bastards. And I saved [Warner Bros. boss] Peter Roth and [The CW boss] Mark Pedowitz's lives more than once, so I feel pretty confident."

So what can fans expect to see from season two? Check out what else Thomas and Ruggiero-Wright had to say about the zombie procedural below.

At the end of season one, Max Rager boss Vaughn (Steven Weber) was about to debut Super Max. If Max Rager made zombies, is it right to assume something even worse will come from Super Max?

Thomas: No. Super Max will have a different quality to it, but I'm not sure if it's worse or not. Super Max will actually have a lot going for it.

Ruggiero-Wright: There is more of Max Rager to come and things get pretty hairy. Max Rager certainly factors big into season two in surprising ways. 

You revealed at Comic-Con that Vaughn is going to play a bigger part in season two. How so?

Thomas: He makes it pretty clear going in to season two that he plans to take care of Seattle's zombie problem. So if season one was largely about zombies taking out humans, season two will be the reverse.

Blaine (David Anders) and Major have been injected with Ravi's (Rahul Kohli) zombie cure. Are we going to see them bond over being the only two cured zombies that we know of?

Thomas: Not at all. [Laughs.

Ruggiero-Wright: You will not see Major and Blaine bond. I don't think Major will ever get over what Blaine's done, both to the homeless teens and to him.

How are they each going to be handling their transitions?

Thomas: Major was only a zombie for a couple hours so his issue is less about the fact that he was a zombie for a little bit and more that he's feeling pretty betrayed by Liv since she broke up with him without telling him why, she let him check himself into a mental institution, and so he's having a pretty hard time letting go of that. Blaine is very much enjoying being a human, though it is important for his customers to not know that he's human. In season one, we saw zombies trying to pass as human, and season two there's a lot of Blaine as a human trying to pass as a zombie.

Ruggiero-Wright: It is more difficult for Major than it is for Blaine. Blaine's an enterprising guy and he's got a mind for crime, so I don't think you can keep him down long. But it's going to be a struggle for Major, not only finding out the whole zombie-ness of it all but also that he was lied to by the person he was supposed to marry. She lied to him so much he thought he was crazy and had himself committed. That's a lot for him to process.

Thomas: And both Blaine and Major are going to experience some strange side effects from the cure. It was not a perfect solution. Ravi is going to be very involved in everything cure-related. That continues to be a high priority of his. Liv used up the last bit of tainted utopium at the end of season one, so part of season two is Ravi's quest to get his hands on some more of that.

Prison Break alum Robert Knepper has been cast as Blaine’s father. What is their dynamic like? 

Thomas: It probably won't surprise anyone to know — I think we even teased in the season one finale that Blaine says he's got "daddy issues" — he certainly does have some pretty, pretty intense daddy issues.

Ruggiero-Wright: The relationship is what you hope it would be. They're not going to be throwing a ball around the yard together. You can expect to gain some insight into what makes Blaine tick and what his motivations are for doing the things he's done, or at least what inspired him.

Will we see more of Peyton (Aly Michalka) this season now that she's clued in to Liv's secret?

Thomas: Most of what Peyton did in season one was bounce off the other characters. In season two, she is a bit more ingrained in the mythology. She has stories that are centered on her job and digging into Seattle's criminal hierarchy. We have some fun stuff for her planned. She's probably in about half the episodes again in season two, so about the same as last year, but she has meatier stories this time.

Liv couldn’t save her brother with her blood. Her family is going to be upset with her about that — will that be a season-long arc?

Thomas: You will get some answers to the cliffhanger in the first scene of the premiere. So you will see it immediately when we pick up, but it won't be resolved right away. It will have season-long repercussions. It will be an ongoing issue in Liv's life.

Ruggiero-Wright: There's a lot of tragedy there. That will play out over the season. We're not going to jerk you around for a whole season though. There will be answers that will be given but there's a season-long story for her and her family.

Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) was still suspicious of Major after the Meat Cute massacre. How close is he going to get to discovering what’s really going on?

Ruggiero-Wright: He's a dog with a bone. He's not going to stop and he will make progress with his case.

Thomas: I don't want to say how close he's going to get because that's going to play out in some surprising ways, but I will say that he is persistent. As we start season two, he has been taken off the case because he was taking it in a direction that his superiors didn't like, and he definitely believes that Major is tied up in it in some way and he won't let it go. That will occasionally be a problem in his relationship with Liv, since she's Major's alibi for that night. That's Clive's great white whale of season two.

Are there any more Veronica Mars or Party Down alums going to show up on iZombie?

Thomas: Yes! We start off with Adam Rose who played Mac's (Tina Majorino) boyfriend Max on Veronica Mars. And there are plans for more to show up. I emailed Jason Dohring earlier this year saying that I was going to find a cool storyline for him. That was certainly my intention until he booked his gig on The Originals so that went by the wayside.

Are you going to hold that role for him for some point in the future or did you have to cast someone else in that role?

Thomas: We had to cast someone else in that role, but it would have been great to have him on the show. And we're going to get some more people in. It's just a bit tough since the show shoots in Canada and it's hard for some actors to get away and shoot for 10 days up in Canada. But there are many people from Veronica Mars and Party Down that I hope to get on the show.

If you had 22 episodes for the first season, would the show have looked any different?

Thomas: It's interesting doing a midseason show because you have no idea how the audience is going to react to anything until it airs, and we shot all our episodes way before anyone saw any of them. With a fall show, you can adjust to how the audience reacts to things. For example, I had no idea how much the audience would love Lowell. [Laughs.] We had always planned on a five-episode arc for him and we knew what we were going to do with that arc and how it was going to end, so who knows? If we had been on the air at the same time as we were breaking it and seen how the audience was responding to Lowell [Bradley James], he may have had a much longer arc. There was just no way of knowing.

What are you most excited for fans to see from season two?

Thomas: I feel like it's the year of Rose McIver unleashed. [Laughs.] Her performances have been great, and she's getting to really push the character further than ever before because we're playing her a bit more brain-motivated. The personalities of the brains she eats are shining through more clearly this season and it's really fun.

Ruggiero-Wright: And we learned that we need to be as specific as possible with the brains. The more easily identifiable of a personality, the better. The more clear, the better. So you'll see that reflected this season.

iZombie season two premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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