iZombie – Season 5 Episode 12
iZombie crosses another episode type off the bucket list for its penultimate outing by bringing audiences its take on the heist episode.
The ubiquity of films like Ocean’s Eleven or Mission: Impossible have made the meticulously planned heist a mainstay in popular culture. Stylish montages outline the plan as visualised by the mastermind behind it, there’s snappy dialogue and no shortage of complications when trying to pull off the job.
Is there anything new that can be brought to this breed of storytelling? Probably not but the entertainment value comes from how well executed a given take is. As with everything iZombie goes all in and makes it clear that nobody is intending to reinvent the genre. The commitment to satire is made apparent early on when Mission: Impossible is directly referenced and Ravi admits that he was trying to emulate it so this immediately tells audiences what sort of an episode they are in for.
The unique personality absorption gimmick on this show allows the lack of skills befitting a criminal mastermind to be sidestepped fairly quickly. As long as Liv and Ravi -who happens to conveniently be on his monthlies- have access to the necessary brains then they can gain whatever skills are needed to achieve their objective. This is the episode I didn’t know I needed as it’s a lot lighter in tone than most of the season and abandons the case of the week formula for something much more inventive. The idea of using the right brain for the right job is something I wish had been introduced far earlier in the life cycle of the show as it opens up the storytelling possibilities considerably. I’m not discounting the formula that the show stuck to as it provided me with hours of entertainment but it’s a shame to have the possibilities expanded to this degree when only one episode remains.
All in all the heist portion of the episode is immensely entertaining. Allowing Clive, Ravi and Liv one more case to work on together where they are all playing an important part was an inspired choice. I’m glad that their final plot as a trio was as entertaining as this as it gives their dynamic the send-off it deserves. I suspect they will interact in the finale but it’s unlikely that it will be along these lines. It’s a great showcase for one of the main reasons I love this show and celebrates the characters in a way that is both respectful and fitting.
Pretty much everything about the heist plot works. Liv’s pickpocket brain might be one of her best; Rose McIver is very clearly having a blast taking on this particular personality and completely owns any scene she’s in especially when she’s pretending to be clumsy in order to steal things from people. The dialogue is snappy, Rose McIver’s performance is perfectly engaged and the whole thing is shot in such a way that glamourises the location as well as the characters perfectly. It also really helps that every bit part encountered by way of the heist has a distinct personality whether it be the horny head of HR, a racist security guard or the CDC employee who slept with Ravi back in the day. They aren’t deep characters by any stretch but they do give the plot an extra layer because it feels populated by characters that fit in well with it and provide some entertainment value.
Rahul Kohli and Malcolm Goodwin also have plenty of opportunity to show what they can do. Ravi’s Russian accent and dispassionate line delivery may be a little cliché but it’s entertaining and amusing in equal measure which makes it worthwhile. It’s especially hilarious when Ravi meets the woman he once slept with and doesn’t break character leading her to be a bit confused as she forgot he was Russian. It’s hard to tell if the brain made Ravi speak in that action involuntarily or if he decided to go full method in his approach; personally I would have accepted either explanation.
Malcolm Goodwin has an opportunity to let Clive step out of his comfort zone. It’s hilarious to watch him attempt to be suave to keep the horny head of HR distracted long enough for Liv to do her part. This involves him getting closer to her than he would like and eventually being shunned for not being up to her adventurous standards. It’s always fun to see Clive doing something different and his awkward “sexy” dance is sure to be remembered for a good long while.
The heist isn’t merely entertaining, it’s also highly relevant to some of the ongoing stories. Its entire purpose is to steal the formula for Tainted Utopium so that Ravi can finish recreating his Zombie cure which in turn allows the War between Zombies and Humans to be averted since all of the Zombies can be cured. It’s a fairly simplistic approach as it doesn’t account for the Zombies that would prefer to remain that way but perhaps this will be dealt with in the finale. For now the future looks optimistic if the team are successful as every Zombie -including Liv- can be Human again therefore putting an end to the potential nightmare. Adding this relevance helps the entire episode feel joined up and full of purpose.
One drawback to the heist plot is that it all feels far too easy. There aren’t enough complications to increase the tension at the right points and outside of the hilarious character beats there isn’t really an awful lot to it as it consists of getting through a couple of doors before tricking someone into opening the vault that they need access to. There’s nothing technically wrong with it but it’s largely bereft of any real threat level which makes it feel somewhat disposable in some ways.
This especially impacts some of the earlier scenes where Clive is visibly concerned that this mission might be the last he sees of Liv and Ravi. Ultimately this sets up him deciding to join them following some encouragement from Dale but this should have been accompanied with a moment or two where it seemed as if all hope was lost for them. It doesn’t devalue the entertainment value but it is an issue as it fails to sell Clive’s fear that he will never see them again. Malcolm Goodwin’s concerned performance hits the right note but the episode doesn’t quite back him up and make it fully believable.
There are other touching character moments. Major and Liv talking about how far they’ve come as they dig up a grave is a treat. Their exchange has so much levity attached to it and with it being so close to the show ending it feels like the right time to reflect on how their relationship has developed over the course of the season. The kiss that they share feels out of place in context but I accept that there are still lingering feelings that will never disappear even though very little time has been spent developing this over the course of the season. Despite that it’s still good to see Major acting like something resembling his old self and it’s great for him to have a meaningful interaction with Liv.
Blaine’s scene with Peyton is both unsettling and beguiling. It completely confirms that Blaine is an irredeemable monster and his line “Were you still secretly hoping I was a good guy? Yeah, I was too.” acts as a direct statement confirming without question the sort of person Blaine is. He knows he’s a terrible person and this one line basically removes the possibility of him changing. He may have flirted with the notion when Al was around but since then his world has come crashing down around him and his true self has been revealed. Peyton’s terror is really well played by Aly Michalka and helps solidify Blaine as the best antagonist this show has ever had. It remains to be seen how this all wraps up but having Blaine act as an unapologetic bad guy is definitely the right move for him under the circumstances.
Enzo and Dolly each get their way in having a War erupt between Zombies and Humans. Martin’s vague plan is picked up by Enzo and revealed to be using the altered Romero Zombies as the next step in creating a breed of even more dangerous Zombies. It seems that if one of the modified Romero Zombies scratches someone it turns them into the next stage of evolution for Zombies. It tracks with Martin talking about where Zombies fit in an evolutionary context though there’s probably not enough time to make this more than a potentially interesting dangling thread that remains unresolved.
Unfortunately the budget limitations are clearly shown in how this conflict plays out. There is the suggestion of a large scale conflict where Major leads a group of soldiers and the aftermath of it later in the episode where Major appears to be the only survivor and part of the city is devastated around him. In fairness it gets the point across and establishes that there is an external conflict that is completely out of control but makes it feel overly confined at the same time. It also doesn’t help that the main players in this conflict are so uninteresting. Enzo is far from the compelling antagonist such a plot needs because nothing has been done to make him a character in any way. and Dolly had a strong start but has completely fizzled out with lots of her plot seemingly dropped such as the Zombie son she disowned. It’s hard to invest in the scale of this conflict when the main players in it are so underdeveloped and any suggested nuance it once had has been eroded away. Things like the suggestion that Zombies are a persecuted minority have all but been stripped away to be replaced with disturbing subtext of them being “white” supremacists based on Martin’s goal of Zombie superiority through violence with no real weight behind it. It’s a messy continuation of a plot that was never all that well conceived to begin with.
An entertaining penultimate episode that delivers an endlessly entertaining heist storyline along with a number of strong character moments. The heist is a lot of fun and immediately leans into the satirical nature of it. Ravi and Liv consuming brains that will be useful for the job itself which ably gets around their lack of skill and the whole thing makes for a great showcase of the Ravi/Liv/Clive dynamic for what is likely to be the final time. Rose McIver and Rahul Kohli take on their altered personalities wonderfully and Malcolm Goodwin has the rare opportunity to push Clive outside of his comfort zone. It also greatly helps that the bit parts in the heist have identifiable personalities. The plot is also tied into the ongoing threads the season is dealing with which helps it feel relevant. One issue with it is that everything goes to plan which means there are very few complications to heighten the tension. This makes it difficult to invest in Clive’s concern that he would never see Ravi and Liv again. It doesn’t affect the entertainment value but it does hurt the episode as there’s no real threat level in this plot.
Other touching character moments include a scene where Live and Major discuss their lives bringing them to this point and acknowledging everything they have been through. It works really well though the kiss doesn’t feel earned because the show has spent no time exploring the notion of there being lingering feelings between them recently. Blaine’s scene with Peyton where he admits that he’s a monster solidifies the sort of person Blaine is and removes the possibility of this changing. The War between Zombies and Humans is interesting in part but suffers from the obvious budget constraints evidenced by how little of it is shown. It doesn’t help that Enzo isn’t really a character with any weight behind him and Dolly fizzled out after a strong start. It’s a messy continuation of a plot that wasn’t well thought out to begin with.
- an entertaining heist plot
- a strong final tribute to the Ravi/Liv/Clive dynamic
- Rose McIver and Rahul Kohli’s performance on their expert brains
- Malcolm Goodwin getting the chance to take Clive out of his comfort zone
- the bit players in the heist all having distinct personality traits
- Liv and Major reflecting on everything that they’ve been through
- Blaine confirming that he’s beyond redemption
- the lack of threat level associated with the heist
- the Zombie/Human War being limited by clear budget constraints
- Enzo failing to be a character at all
- Dolly having all but fizzled out
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