iZombie – Season 5 Episode 13
“All’s Well That Ends Well”
Audiences say goodbye to iZombie in its final episode that wraps up the Human/Zombie War plot and gives a taste of the future of the characters.
Endings are never easy and rarely satisfying to the audience at large. I don’t envy Rob Thomas and his team who were tasked with coming up with an definitive ending for this show as the weight of expectation placed on them is significant. Fans will have an idea in their head for how they would want the show to end while also wanting a satisfying conclusion to everything the season has been about. It’s no easy task!
Speaking as someone who loved this show right away I would broadly say that I’m disappointed in how it ended. There are things I liked about this finale and I will definitely get onto that but on the whole it’s a less than stellar ending. It’s not terrible by any stretch and I don’t feel that anyone involved betrayed the fans or anything like that but I have issues with how this plays out.
Part of the problem has been this season and what it tried to accomplish. It was clear early on that it wasn’t really working as well as the writers wanted it to because there were too many things tripping over each other without any of them getting the time they needed to develop properly. Liv’s role as Renegade often took a back seat despite how important it should have been in the context of the situation and the exploration of the Human/Zombie tensions was oddly disjointed. Dolly Durkins was supposed to be the figurehead of the anti-Zombie movement with Enzo eventually embodying the anti-Human side but neither of them were interesting enough to carry this.
This ends up bleeding into the finale as the Human/Zombie War feels like a small scale afterthought rather than the potentially Apocalyptic conflict that it should have been. I understand that budgetary constraints would prevent the full scope of it being shown but it never felt like an urgent issue that was impacting everyone in the city which makes it very difficult to invest in as a threat. Keeping Liv at a distance from this plot didn’t help either as her lack of involvement only serves to make it feel less important.
Seeing Enzo get his comeuppance by having the cure forced on him therefore turning him into the very thing he is fighting against. It’s a classic example of poetic justice and the moment is played really well with Ravi laughing maniacally after receiving a beating that gets progressively weaker as the cure takes hold. Enzo’s defeat isn’t as satisfying as it needed to be because he has never been a well developed character so it hasn’t been established why he hates Humans so much or why he wants this War to happen. at least not to any significant degree so his defeat comes across as a minor nuisance getting what he deserves. A well developed face of the Zombie side of the conflict was needed and that just didn’t exist. Enzo was far from up to the challenge so it just fizzles out.
The cure aspect of this episode was also underdone. One of Ravi’s goals throughout the entire run of the series was to develop a Zombie cure. He started work on it very early on and it was a recurring project for him. The developments, setbacks and conditional successes maintained the momentum of this story and allowed various characters to contribute in different ways. It has been pretty much the only persistent story this show has had and the end result of it doesn’t reflect that. Ravi isn’t seen making his new version of the cure and the mass distribution of it that is referenced but not shown so it’s an anticlimactic end to one of the mainstays this show had. It’s just something that happens and functions as a background detail that feels largely unimportant. Dialogue establishes that the cure basically ends the conflict though not every Zombie chooses to take it which makes sense as becoming Human again would bring back things like terminal illnesses which would mean certain death for them. For some remaining a Zombie is preferable to becoming Human. Is the show trying to say that all people needed was the choice to be Zombie or Human and that would end the fighting? Lack of choice has never really come into the argument that was based on old fashioned bigotry and hatred so it’s pretty weak as an explanation for ending the conflict.
Sufficed to say the episode struggled to wrap things up on a narrative level but it fared far better in terms of its characters for the most part. Finding an ending for Blaine that would suit his character can’t have been an easy task considering the wealth of plotting surrounding him over the years. His arc this season where everything was blowing up in his face was interesting as it limits Blaine’s options and changes up his role within the show where he always had contingencies in place should things start to not go his way. The current Seattle situation affects his access to resources as much as anyone else and now that he doesn’t control the flow of brains things become more problematic for him.
Blaine begins this episode complacent in his future as he has the fallback plan of riding out this troubled period in his father’s mansion and believes he can count on Don E for unconditional support. This prevents him from seeing that there could be any opposition worth worrying about and leaves him open to attack. Peyton takes advantage of this and works to free the kids from his clutches which ends up with her being gunned down. Considering Blaine’s obsession with her it’s pretty clear that he won’t allow her to stay dead and she becomes a Zombie. The scene where he shares a meal with her gloating that he has her under his control is incredibly creepy and allows for another great performance from David Anders who never fails to sell Blaine as an unsettling control freak. Aly Michalka similarly does a great job playing the revulsion Peyton has for Blaine. Her lack of fear because he has already killed her comes across well and she conducts herself exactly as would be expected from Peyton given the situation.
I speculated in an earlier review that Blaine’s downfall could be spearheaded by Don E once he learns what Blaine did to Darcy. The fact that Blaine assumed he could simply kill her and never be found out shows how arrogant and self serving he is. It’s also a needlessly malicious act since killing her has no real gain for him since she was fated to die fairly soon anyway. It isn’t explicitly explored but it ties into Blaine’s propensity to control everyone in his life. Blaine himself admits that he was never going to end up as the “good guy” in the previous episode and this is entirely confirmed by his actions in this one. There is a reminder of his daddy issues which seems like a side issue at this point though it’s believable that he would see those as an excuse for him to behave the way he does. Al was the last person to call him out on the sense of entitlement he goes through life with and it’s important to remember that he has moved past the point of redemption. Don E pushing him down the well therefore resigning him to the same fate as his father is pretty much exactly what he deserves. His final downfall also robs him of the remains of his support in Don E. Everything Don E says to Blaine about being the only one to stand by him is entirely correct and only highlights how one sided that partnership was considering Blaine’s willingness to take the one thing Don E cared about away from him.
It’s also important to remember that Don E is far from innocent in all of this even though steps have been taken to portray him as sympathetic he has still done a lot of unforgivable things so there’s no way he can be redeemed simply because Blaine has wronged him as he does everyone else. Resigning Don E to the same fate as Blaine feels very fitting since Don E was always one to follow Blaine into everything he did. It’s just a shame that there was no follow-up giving us an idea of how that resentful dynamic might play out until the point that their ability to be rational disappears. At least it’s a form of comeuppance for each of them that feels somewhat appropriate though more as a temporary setback between seasons rather than a permanent prison.
The disappointing thing about Blaine’s fate is that there was no catharsis for any of the other characters. Arguably he was Liv’s chief recurring antagonist especially when considering all he personally took from her so robbing audiences of that final moment between them where Liv has an opportunity to get her own back can’t be anything but a wasted opportunity, Similarly Ravi and Major don’t get the chance to have final words with him. Peyton gets the closest thing to catharsis but even then she needs help in order to escape the situation that she finds herself in. All told Blaine’s ending is a mixed bag because it does work on some level but ignores the relationships that have been cultivated over the seasons.
I’ve mentioned that Ravi gets to finish his work on the cure after so long working on it but that’s not the only conclusion we get for his contribution to the show. The final moments reveal that he is in charge of the CDC, possibly married to Peyton and generally living a good life. His contribution to the events of this season made him famous but he refuses to rest on his laurels when he can still make a positive contribution to the world. This is about as perfect an ending as Ravi could possibly get. His altruism has been consistent throughout the series and devoting his life to making sure that nothing like the Zombie virus ever happens again is the perfect future purpose for this character. Taking charge of the CDC also counts as redemption for him as he began the show disgraced from it.
Peyton becomes Human again and resumes her legal career which is about all that can be said for her. It’s great to see that she finds a way to be successful following the insanity of these events and knowing that she is happy with Ravi is satisfying enough but I was hoping for more from such a prominent character that doesn’t have her defined by a relationship. As Liv’s best friend she deserved a more concrete ending personal to her.
Clive spends much of the finale away from the action to be with Dale as she gives birth to their daughter. His future involves working with Dale as co-captain of the San Francisco Police Department so Clive continues doing what he does best. He shares a really sweet moment with Liv where he tells her how much he misses her which is reinforced by him naming his daughter Olivia in her honour. As a final moment between these two characters with such a rich history is nice and understated which feels fitting for their relationship. Clive and Dale adopting Michelle’s child is also very appropriate though Michelle’s unceremonious death does a disservice to a character that the writers didn’t have time to properly flesh out. It’s clear that the binary pregnancy narrative was building to this conclusion but as with many other things there wasn’t enough time to properly integrate it into the collection of plots that made up the final season.
Major ends up with a happy ending against all odds. He was ready to end his life in order to prove that the cure was viable which seemed like a fairly unnecessary sacrifice yet it tracks with with Major’s tunnel vision altruism that would often blind him to other solutions. Luckily Ravi was able to anticipate this and offer a suitable alternative that Major didn’t know about. It’s a great showcase for their dynamic and ties it to the events of the final episode. Major and Liv end up living happily ever after with the rest of the world unaware that they are still alive so they can live peacefully with their adopted Zombie children. It’s a simplistic ending but a good one as it allows the characters to build a life together in a way that makes sense for them. Remaining Zombies also feels appropriate given that they turned their back on being Human long ago. Each of them devote themselves to a higher calling of preserving the Zombie species and setting an example for them through a peaceful outlook.
Despite how appropriate this ending feels for Liv and Major there’s still so much that goes unaddressed. The 10 year time jump following the suicide bombing is really awkwardly handled with a janky cut leaving the audience no time to process how devastating the explosion would have been. Peyton, Ravi and Clive talk about how it resulted in Liv’s death and they seem somewhat convincing as they talk about it when it serves as a fake-out for the audience who later learn that they are covering up what really happened to Liv. It’s a really long time jump and the virtual podcast glosses over the details of what happened in the intervening years. On one hand it all sounds a little too idyllic which trivialises the stakes that were set up prior to that and on the other there are complications that are completely glossed over. The idea of Liv as a legend with sightings the world over has merit to it but there isn’t time to explore the notion of her as a guiding light for other Zombies. Ultimately the conclusion leaves the viewer with more questions than answers and not in a good way.
A disappointing ending for iZombie that is somewhat satisfying for the main cast but wraps up the main plots in fairly simplistic ways and ends the show on a more confusing than fulfilling note. Many of the weaknesses of the finale were inherited from the rest of the season. Enzo and Dolly as the representatives for the two sides of the Zombie/Human War weren’t developed enough for their contribution to matter. In particular Enzo was very poorly handled which makes him difficult to invest in as a threat. It was good to see Ravi cure him without his knowledge but it didn’t carry the necessary meaning. Ravi creating the cure didn’t resonate as strongly as it should have considering how prominent a plot it was over the seasons. Neither the distribution or the impact of it was shown in any detail which does a disservice to one of this show’s longest running plots. Blaine’s downfall works well enough and completes the arc of him losing all of his resources while doubling as a reminder that Don E deserved to be punished as well. It’s a missed opportunity to rob the audience of a final confrontation between Liv and Blaine but there’s some justice to having him end up like his father.
The individual character endings work to varying degrees. Ravi in charge of the CDC offers him redemption since he began the show disgraced and ties into his brand of altruism as he refuses to settle down when he knows he can still do good. He is also clearly happy with Peyton who resumes her law career and is successful. Sadly there is little more to Peyton’s future than that which is a shame given the prominence of this character. Clive and Dale are happily married and running the San Francisco Police Department together which feels appropriate for them. Adopting Michelle’s child is also fitting despite how poorly that character was handled. Liv and Major remaining Zombies and ending up together works really well and repositions them as guardians of the Zombie species as well as setting a peaceful example. The 10 year time jump is awkwardly handled and attempts to tie up the loose ends in a really rushed way. Ultimately there are more questions than answers and not in a good way.
- Blaine’s ending making sense in the context of the season
- not losing sight of Don E deserving to be punished
- Ravi’s ending feeling spot on for his character
- Clive and Dale’s future suiting them nicely
- Liv and Major’s happy ending
- some strong and sweet character moments
- Blaine not sharing final moments with any of the main characters
- a lack of detail to Peyton’s ending
- failing to resolve the long running cure storyline in a satisfying way
- Enzo and Dolly’s poor characterisation making the Human/Zombie War feel like a small scale afterthought
- an overly simplistic ending that leaves more questions than answers
User Review( votes)
I considered writing a separate article to sum up my thoughts on this show as a whole but decided against it as I’m not sure what I can say that hasn’t already been said in my reviews of almost every episode this show has brought us. I would definitely say that the finale was overall a disappointment and that the final season was the weakest of all of them but none of that takes away from the many hours of entertainment this show has brought me since it began.
I’ve spent a lot of time recommending this show to others over the years and been met with blank stares when attempting to describe the premise. It isn’t something that lends itself well to a quick one line summary but I always assure others that it’s worth persevering with to understand what the show is really about and sometimes it has worked. Anyone that has tried it has said that they love it. I fell in love with the show because of the characters, how their relationships developed over time and how clever the writing was. The central gimmick of Liv taking on extra personality traits whenever she eats a brain was well used most of the time and was the source of a lot of laughter from me. Rose McIver always did an excellent job playing the additions to Liv’s personality without losing the core of the character. I’ve mentioned this in many reviews and feel that it was always worthy of comment. The rest of the cast were excellent as well and as a group they gelled together wonderfully.
Another aspect of the show I liked was the sense of humour. It was consistently hilarious in a natural way. Most of the humour comes from the characters and how they react to increasingly insane situations. It’s rare for me to be so engaged by attempts at comedy but iZombie never failed to make me laugh even in the infrequent less than stellar episodes. Rarely was plot or character consistency sacrificed for a joke which is something I greatly appreciate given how poorly handled this is on other shows. iZombie remained great because it was consistent in its approach and making its humour part of its DNA.
I could go on about how all of the characters are individually great but revisit any of my reviews and you’ll get a sense of what I think of them and how they have impacted me personally since I began watching the show. Even when the quality of the show dipped the characters remained strong and their development was never sacrificed to the degree of turning them into something they aren’t.
Another thing about this show that will stick with me is the surprise opportunity I had to interview Malcolm Goodwin back when the first season was airing. He retweeted one of the reviews and when I asked him if he would like to do an interview he graciously agreed. To this day I will never know what came over me when I asked him as at that point in time the podcast didn’t exist and I’d never done an interview for the website before. He was the first of many and that’s something I owe to this show. If he happens to be reading this I’d like to thank Malcolm for taking the time to talk to me all those years ago. If you want to hear my very first attempt at interviewing for this site then you can find it here.
For me the early seasons where there is less at stake in a broad sense are a lot stronger than the latter seasons where the scope of the show expanded beyond what the writers could reasonable handle. They did find a way to make the formula work within that framework but the bigger picture often dragged it down which meant that the show failed to be as strong as it was. There was never a point where it became unwatchable. Despite the disappointing ending and steady decline in quality towards the end this is a show I will miss a great deal. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to this world or the characters who live in it and think there was still lots of potential to tell good stories with this setup. Recently I’ve learned to never say never so it’s not impossible that in a few years fans will help the creators resurrect it as with another Rob Thomas produced show with a devoted following.
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