iZombie – Season 2 Episode 19
iZombie closes off the second season with the show’s first full on zombie outbreak to a degree that would make George Romero proud.
The threat of this happening has always been hanging over the show but there have always been mechanisms in place to contain the zombie population. As crooked as Blaine is, his brain supply business has been a practical way to make sure that zombies stay fed and in control while also turning a tidy profit for him. He was basically a necessary evil and that’s a large part of the reason why he was tolerated.
Vaughn Du Clark has been helping to control this in his own was as well though his methods are decidedly more lethal. As far as he knew, Major was killing all of the zombies he had identified and solved the problem that way. If a zombie apocalypse started it would be bad for business for him as well as being bad PR considering his company is partly responsible for creating them in the first place.
After having two seasons of this outbreak threatening the show it was immensely satisfying to see it finally happen. The episode was broadly action driven which was earned by the previous one handling most of the build up so that this one could really hit the ground running.
This is one of the few examples of Liv using a brain to be proactive rather than reactive. She makes use of the military training to help her get through this and makes sure Major is armed with the same skills. Come to think of it, this show is almost like Dollhouse done right with the ever changing personalities and associated skills helping move the story along.
I loved how the action elements were handled as it made good use of the available characters in this situation. Liv and Major were the voices of experience and confidence where Clive was completely out of his depth having only just discovered zombies exist. This scenario is pretty much his worst nightmare as it is like something out of a zombie movie. The episode expertly juggles moments of quiet broken by real peril. The weak link in all of this is Clive who is a delicious target for the zombie horde given his human status. They aren’t interested in Liv or Major so the possibility of keeping Clive safe by turning him into a zombie to stop him from being eaten is considered. Liv apparently fully embraces the military training in the brain as she makes the suggestion confidently with no apparent doubt in her voice. Had she done it I imagine guilt would have crept in once the effects wore off. It is a practical idea but Clive naturally doesn’t want to lose his humanity.
This episode isn’t as gory as your typical episode of something like The Walking Dead but it more than gets the point across. Some of the visuals were fairly grotesque by my standards such as the various times that brains were being pulled out of the heads of dead bodies as if they were crisps -or potato chips for you American readers- or the blood and brain splats from the multiple head shots. It was a pretty gory episode for network TV and conveyed the horror of the situation really well.
I never found it especially scary but I felt anxious for the outcome due to how invested in the characters I am. There were points where I felt like Clive was in legitimate danger which was supported by the fact that it almost felt like the episode was giving him something of a sendoff. There was that moving scene where he and Major set their differences aside and Clive encouraged him to earn the second chance that he had been granted by Clive’s actions. There was also the tragic element to the fact that Dale won’t return his calls and the way that Malcolm Goodwin made Clive seem almost helpless. I’m glad I was wrong but for a while it seemed like him going to help Liv and Major was going to end badly for him.
Instead, Clive acts as the driving force of the situation at several key points. When Liv is forced to kill Drake in order to save him Clive takes the opportunity to get Liv back on task by reminding her of what he recently told her about the state Drake was in. She was distracted by seeing him like that but Clive is able to remind her of what needs to be done and keep things moving. His presence was instrumental as far as Liv was concerned and we get a taste of what the dynamic will be like next season now that Clive knows the truth about her. Unfortunately Liv killing Drake to save Clive was caught up in everything else that was going on and didn’t resonate properly. It was a busy episode and it almost feels like Drake was someone that needed to be out of the way so that Major and Liv can be together now that he’s a zombie. It’s a shame because Drake was a good character who deserved a better exit than that. He did get a final moment of nobility when he volunteered to be a test subject to buy more time for the others.
Vaughn Du Clark’s basement proves to be full of drama as Rita -Du Clark calls her that so Gilda must have been an alias- has no love for her father after it is conclusively proven that he really doesn’t care about her. It should have been obvious by now but I can accept that she is somewhat blinded by her desire to have a meaningful relationship with her father. She gets over it pretty quickly and ends up eating his brains which is the most satisfying end to this relationship the show could have done. It’s a shame that Rita is dispatched shortly after that as she could have been a decent recurring zombie antagonist next season. It would also have been interesting to see her absorb Vaugn Du Clark’s personality traits and memories to learn how he really felt about her. At least the payoff to his years of emotional abuse felt right and I like that Major set him up for this but left him with an axe to give him a fighting chance. Shades of Batman’s refusal to save Ra’s Al Ghul not being the same as directly killing him in Batman Begins anyone? There was also a reference to The Shining which I really appreciated. I will miss Vaughn Du Clark as Steven Weber has been a magnetic presence on this show.
The main threat for season 3 is established in this episode in the form of Vivian (Andrea Savage) who declares that Seattle will become a zombie “homeland”. The prospect is a terrifying one as this Private Military group have a very focused agenda and they happen to be zombies so it looks like Liv’s problems aren’t quite as manageable now. It feels like an appropriate level of escalation after having the relatively small stakes over the past two seasons. The fact that the episode ends pretty much mid scene is irritating as we won’t see the rest until the show comes back much later in the year. My guess is that annoying the audience with it was the intention as it really worked as a cliffhanger.
Using the Max Rager offices as the setting of the Resident Evil situation was a really good idea as it offered plenty of space for the characters to use but also kept the issue contained. There never seemed to be a threat of it spilling out into the streets of Seattle so it was more or less an arena for all of this carnage. Having the party be the setup for the outbreak was a nice touch though I didn’t really buy the random decision to mix Utopium with Super Max. Also, I really should mention the fact that the singer Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty fame is among the casualties which is really harsh but also darkly funny. Since the writer/executive producer of this show shares his name it’s almost as if he’s saying that there can only be one Rob Thomas in this universe. Even when the stakes are almost apocalyptic this show manages to crack a few jokes.
The other characters were also used well here for the most part with Peyton’s campaign against Mr. Boss proving to be a complete failure as she is forced to abandon her crusade to bring him down. This is too little too late though as he has her kidnapped. Blaine and Ravi rush in to save her while dealing with the rivalry between them. Blaine and Peyton had a fling earlier in the season which makes Ravi jealous and this is compounded when he sees how grateful Peyton is to be saved by Blaine. I hope this is a brief bout of jealousy and not the harbinger of an irritating love triangle next season.
There is cause for Ravi to be alarmed since he and Peyton finally get together in this episode after an awkward foreshadowing conversation about “nice guys” vs. “bad boys”. Peyton insists that she has never really been into the “bad boy” but her fling with Blaine shows that she at least likes to dabble now and again. Whether she has genuine feelings for Blaine is up for debate but her affection for Ravi definitely feels genuine and I’m glad that they got together because it felt somewhat earned and the two actors have such natural chemistry.
Blaine could possibly become a problem for this show as his amnesia makes him pretty boring. His instincts seem to be somewhat noble which doesn’t really mesh with the personality that we have seen over the past two seasons. I would have liked to see shades of the old Blaine in there beyond his muscle memory in using guns.
I was surprised that the Mr. Boss story took such a back seat considering how prominent it has been off and on all season but it makes sense not to overstuff the episode more than it already is. The scenes establish that he is still around and the way he goes after Don E and Chef as well as Peyton reminds the viewer that he means business. My guess is that he will be a big rival for Vivian next season considering they already conflict over who owns Seattle.
Another thing I liked was seeing Don E manipulate his way into getting shot in the chest so that he wouldn’t be killed. His story isn’t over yet either and there are plenty of lingering elements for season 3 to develop in interesting ways. It’s going to be a long summer waiting for more of this!
A great if imperfect finale that finally realised the possibility of a traditional zombie apocalypse scenario to entertaining results. There was plenty of payoff for many of the stories that were developed over the course of the season. As always every development is informed by the well developed characters and there’s plenty of exciting prospects for next season already.
- the zombie apocalypse scenario
- satisfying payoff for many of the character stories
- intriguing elements put forward for the third season to develop
- a taste of the changed dynamic between Clive and Liv
- Blaine with memory loss is boring
- a little too much going on in the episode