iZombie – Season 5 Episode 11
iZombie starts to pull the various plots together as Liv consumes the brain of a murdered Drag Queen.
With three episodes left to go everyone knows the routine when it comes to the murder investigations and this episode is more or less a standard example of this. Liv isn’t overpowered by the Drag Queen personality which allows for more nuanced involvement in the ongoing plots without having her altered personality impact them. Rose McIver is excellent as always and the plot is entertaining enough though it’s a little too self contained to feel relevant. At this late stage in the life of the series having plots that don’t have any bearing on the threads that need to wrap up feels like a bit of a waste of time especially when the investigation doesn’t stray far from the established formula.
Bizarrely Liv’s involvement in the ongoing plots is largely passive. She definitely has a part to play with them but feels distanced from the events themselves. This is especially true when it comes the smuggling operation. She has no idea what’s actually going on with it which turns it into this extra element in the background that she is occasionally updated on rather than something she actively shapes. It’s good to see the fact that Liv is stretched a bit thin addressed in universe but it doesn’t make up for losing Liv’s attachment to it especially when considering how important it was to her when she became Renegade.
Another plot that Liv isn’t involved in is Ravi and Major’s mission to liberate the kids suffering from Freylich syndrome. Once again it’s something she hears about but doesn’t play a part in which makes for another missed opportunity. This one isn’t quite as bad as it allows Major and Ravi the opportunity to work together in a way reminiscent of the earlier seasons with the twist of Major having access to far more resources. This team-up is refreshing as Major has been so distanced from the other characters since becoming affiliated with Fillmore Graves. It’s a necessary evil when expanding the scope of the show while still having the various narratives grounded on the available characters but the absence of Major in plots that involve him interacting with the other characters on a personal level are missed.
The Ravi/Major plot plays out like meeting an old friend and picking up with them as if you last saw them yesterday. Their friendship is so beautifully built and lived in that no work needs to be done reestablishing their dynamic as they slot into it so naturally. The mission to save the Freylich infected kids harkens back to the first season where Major was fixated on learning the truth behind the missing kids. Despite the intensity of the issue and what these kids represent the episode still manages to pepper this plot with plenty of levity that never feels forced or intrusive. If this is the last opportunity to see Ravi and Major work together like old times then it’s a great example of what this friendship can bring to the table.
Another plot that Liv is oddly disconnected from is the one containing Blaine and Don E. On one hand it makes perfect sense for her not to be invited to Don E’s wedding since they aren’t exactly close friends but on the other it’s another collection of significant developments that have nothing to do with the lead character. Don E’s relationship with Darcy (Valerie Tian) has been really strong up until this point. She exists to do nothing else but die but that doesn’t stop her being an important figure in her own way. Developing her as a bit of an oddball to help make her whirlwind relationship with Don E come across as believable has worked really well and it’s hard not to be invested in the relationship despite how briefly it has been featured. The chemistry of the actors comes across well and their scenes together are amusingly endearing.
Her death in this episode is impactful thanks to the skill of everyone involved building to this moment by developing her through her relationship with Don E. The contrast between the quirky happy atmosphere of the pre-wedding moments and the bleak suddenness of her death moments later is really powerful. Bryce Hodgson sells the moment brilliantly taking the audience into Don E’s shock and despair with his believable vulnerability. It’s a quiet and effective moment that reinforces the ability of the writers to take a character predominantly designed to be comedic and expand them beyond that core purpose.
Darcy’s death in terms of plot purposes is another addition to the list of things that make Blaine a villain. A lot of his contribution to this season has been focused on moving him into position as the central antagonist and it has gotten to the point where it’s almost comical that anyone involved with him comes to a messy end. I’d like to see his involvement in Darcy’s death come to light and Don E completely forsake him as a result. It would follow the pattern of having his resources stripped from him over the past few episodes. Don E is one of the few resources he has left so it’ll be interesting to see how losing that would impact him. It’s also worth noting that having his comfortable life stripped away from him has made him more dangerous due to the increased desperation so it remains to be seen what that looks like when he has nothing but himself to rely on.
Surprisingly, Martin makes his exit through being killed by Enzo who thinks he has lost the mission and can no longer be counted on to follow through with the plan. Despite some strong work done building his relationship with Liv he has never felt like an important fixture and their connection has always come across as a bit rushed. Liv confronting him pretty much straight away about his plans made sense given everything we know about her approach to dealing with him so far and his apologetic response feels about on par with his prior behaviour but there isn’t enough known about him or his plan for any of this to have the desired impact. The individual scenes were really well done especially the one where Liv was at a distance through a Skype call where she could do nothing except watch him die. Rose McIver and Bill Wise do a great job here with Liv’s helplessness coming across strongly.
The actual content of the conversations don’t work quite so well as there’s something really disingenuous about Martin’s claims that Liv is getting through to her. Now that he’s dead we’ll never know if he was being serious or simply stringing along by taking advantage of her irrational desire to see him redeemed. Enzo seeing him as a traitor and killing him because of that perception suggests that his change of heart was real but I was far from convinced. Introducing a character so late in the life of the series and establishing that he is routinely duplicitous means that it’s hard to believe that he could be redeemed so quickly. Martin really needed to be introduced earlier and doubts seeded throughout in order to make this work. It’s strange that there’s a good example of making a character meaningful through Darcy and a bad example in Martin all contained within the same run of episodes.
Their final conversation before Martin is killed had the potential to be something interesting but never quite rose above surface level. Liv was able to vocalise her values to someone who held the opposite from her which seems well and good but Liv’s dialogue amounted to empty platitudes about everyone getting along with Martin countering with his view that Zombies are seen as monsters and he is doing what is necessary for survival. The trouble with this exchange is that it feels very contrived. It quickly goes from them disagreeing on fundamental values to Martin questioning his position. This is supposed to be down to Liv being a positive influence on him but the shift is so rapid that the audience risks getting whiplash. The scene is also oddly scored in a way that makes it come across as overly melodramatic which makes it difficult to take seriously. It’s very well acted and Rose McIver plays the shock of Martin’s sudden death really well though having the conversation take place over a Skype call is somewhat limiting since they aren’t sharing the same physical space. There must have been some other way to have Liv helpless to intervene without having her at such a distance. It remains to be seen how Martin’s death will impact her and what Enzo will do next, he definitely seems more focused than Martin and it may be interesting to have him in the limelight after so long in a supporting role.
A mixed bag of an episode that has a lot of strong moments that don’t entirely fit together and are countered by elements that drag the overall quality down. The Drag Queen brain was a lot of fun though the plot itself was overly formulaic and didn’t have any connection to the other plots playing out. It’s a good example of the established formula and it allows Rose McIver to have a lot of fun adding the Drag Queen persona to Liv’s personality but it feels like a distraction rather than a necessity. The brain doesn’t have as profound an effect on her as some of the others which allows her to be involved in other plots more or less as her default self. Bizarrely she’s largely passive in the other stories with the smuggling operation acting as something happening outside of her priorities that she receives updates on. Liv being stretched a bit thin is addressed but it doesn’t make up for losing Liv’s attachment to it.
Ravi and Major’s team-up is something else that Liv is barely involved in. This is an excellent example of the natural friendship that exists between the two characters. Major has been distanced from the core characters more frequently since taking over Fillmore Graves which is limiting for him so it’s refreshing to see him work with Ravi on something that harkens back to how their dynamic would play out in earlier seasons. Major helping to save kids is also a throwback to his role in the first season. It’s a lot of fun and manages to not be overpowered by the comedy. Don E’s wedding being interrupted by Darcy’s death ends up being really impactful because of the work done to make their relationship worth investing in before now. Darcy’s death is another reason for Blaine to be considered a villain and I’m intrigued by the prospect of Don E turning against Blaine after learning about his involvement. Liv’s relationship with Martin doesn’t fare quite as well. It still suffers from Martin’s late introduction and the rushed development of his connection to Liv. Their scenes together are well acted but it’s difficult to tell if Martin is being genuine or manipulative when he appears to come round to Liv’s way of thinking. Having their final moments framed as a Skype call also robs them of impact since they aren’t sharing the same physical space.
- a fun case of the week
- Rose McIver’s performance in the key emotional moments
- Ravi and Major’s old school team-up
- Darcy’s death having real emotional impact
- Liv feeling oddly distanced from most of the main plots
- being unable to tell if Martin is being genuine or not
- Martin’s death having little impact
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