iZombie – Season 4 Episode 12
“You’ve Got to Hide Your Liv Away”
iZombie prepares for the season finale with loyalties tested, identities revealed, possible hope for the future and the promise of a national Zombie outbreak.
I have been more critical of this show in recent reviews than I usually am because I feel that it has lacked clear focus and the disparate plot threads have largely failed to come together. This episode starts to make amends for some disjointed plotting by starting to make some of the decisions feel relevant to a larger story. It’s not perfect but feels a bit more like the iZombie I came to love.
The main plot thread here is Major’s benevolent kidnapping of Liv to stop her turning herself into Chase to spare Curtis from execution. Despite the missteps taken with his character this season it will always make sense for him to take a big risk to ensure Liv’s safety. His decision to kidnap her very quickly reminds the audience how well he knows her. He knows that Liv will turn herself in and doesn’t really have the time to debate it with her so he knocks her out and takes her far away to wait out the execution. It’s a reasonable plan that comes from a profoundly emotional place on Major’s part. His loyalty to Fillmore Graves may put him in opposition to Liv in terms of what they stand for but their history means that he won’t ever let any harm come to her.
Thankfully the episode deftly avoids angst by having Major and Liv consume the brain of an old exceedingly happily married couple who spent a long time living happily ever after which allows them to spend time together living out a romanticised 50s era “perfect” marriage. It’s really amusing and speaks to the history of the characters as they get to explore a variation of “what could have been” for both of them. It basically allows for the exploration of Liv and Major’s relationship in microcosm. The possibility of going back to the way they were before Liv became a Zombie is mentioned and there’s a certain catharsis to seeing them live a version of that life. Naturally because it’s iZombie it’s dialled up to an extreme to make the point clearer and have some fun with it at the same time.
I found this plot thread interesting because there is a lot of depth attached to it. I’ve already mentioned that it lets Liv and Major play out a “what could have been” scenario but there’s a lot more to it than that. For one thing the brains stir up feelings in them that will always exist one way or another so there is a distinct element of reality to the situation that makes it possible to invest in it beyond an amusing interlude involving Liv and Major acting like a pair of walking stereotypes. The emotion beneath the surface is the interesting part and it goes through its own arc that mirrors the tumultuous nature of their actual relationship. Eventually Liv starts to experience the emotions associated with the less idyllic parts of the marriage and it affects the dynamic by allowing the building resentments between them to come to the surface. Major’s plan backfires because he assumes that he had found the brains of the perfect couple but the truth of the matter is that there’s no such thing as perfection and it just takes time for the honeymoon period to wear off until Liv locks Major in the basement and sets back off for New Seattle. This whole thread was a clever way of summarising the history of Liv and Major’s relationship while having some fun with it.
Some aspects of this story didn’t quite add up. The discovery of the Romero Zombies in the basement was definitely expected though did accomplish the intended effect of a mild shock. The note stuck to the outside of the cage was meant to be endearing but it came across as really clunky exposition filling Major, Liv and the audience in on the details of what motivated the couple to lock themselves in the cage. The sentiment of a couple so devoted to one another that neither of them could bear to live without the other is really touching and is supposed to be a mirror for the Major/Liv relationship. It works well enough but the note could have been so much simpler as it feels like the episode is beating the audience over the head with an obvious comparison.
Major is having his own issues related to the Fillmore Graves plot. For starters Hobbs comes to his house and encourages him to try to overthrow Chase. We’ve already seen that Major has the respect of the soldiers so he’s the natural challenge to Chase’s leadership but there’s added complexity to Hobbs recording what Major says and taking it to Chase as proof that Major can’t be trusted. It’s unclear at this point if Hobbs has a hidden agenda involving Chase and Major in opposition to one another and taking over when the dust settles. If so then it won’t feel earned as Hobbs hasn’t been developed properly as an antagonist. Of course there is one more season to do that so it isn’t to be ruled out.
One thing seems certain at this point; Chase and Major will be in direct opposition to one another in the final episode and it’s unlikely that they will both make it out alive. It does feel like a natural way for this to end up but Major’s problematic characterisation this season makes it difficult to buy into him being uncomfortable with Chase’s leadership. The example of him crossing the line by savagely killing soldiers under Major’s command from last week could be seen as a tipping point for Major where he can no longer tolerate this but even that feels flimsy. It works as a way to accelerate this conflict but iZombie is at its best letting things build gradually to a satisfying conclusion which makes this a rare example of dropping the ball.
One clear eventuality has been set up here. Major will have to make a choice between saving Liv and being loyal to Chase Graves. This episode establishes that he cares enough about Liv to whisk her away to safety in order to save her from her own self righteous nature so he will definitely side with Liv over Chase. The fact that he hasn’t told Chase that Liv is Renegade before this point is telling enough of his loyalty to her above anyone else so I predict that Major will come to Liv’s defence in the moment before her execution.
It appears that Levon has gone the way many men on this show have and fallen for Liv. Unfortunately this also puts him in the same danger that all of her former boyfriends have experienced. In this case, Levon is willing to take the fall for Liv as Renegade while admitting that he’s in love with her. At this point Liv must be flashing back to her various boyfriends that have come to a grizzly end and sees the same thing happening to Levon so she does what she was always going to do and confesses. Levon isn’t dead yet but Liv’s sacrifice isn’t enough to save him from the chopping block so it appears that history is due to repeat itself.
The Liv and Levon relationship has been fairly well handled for the most part. They share enough scenes together to make the progression believable even if a lot of it develops during a Zombie High binge watching montage. The actors certainly have plenty of chemistry which makes their scenes engaging and the relationship is developed enough to invest in the shared sacrifices in this particular episode. Whether Levon has enough depth to have staying power into next season is anyone’s guess but he might not make it through the finale so that thought could be moot. At the very least his death would be fairly meaningful because enough ground work has been done to allow for audience investment.
Blaine is still fixated on a National Zombie Virus outbreak and wants to use Angus’ influence to make that happen. Angus is resistant to this idea because he lets God made all his decisions for him by way of clear signs along with how difficult it will be to get out of the city in the volumes that will be required to spread the virus as quickly as Blaine wants. As always it’s great to see David Anders and Robert Knepper share the screen with a distinct role reversal to their dynamic where Blaine is the one in charge. What he basically does is take advantage of his clearly insane father and creates a scenario where Angus uses his influence to do exactly what Blaine wants. Having it snow brains at the end of the episode was a really hilarious addition that shows how out of touch with reality Angus is.
I like the idea of a Zombie Virus outbreak on a National level though rationally I don’t think that will happen for a variety of reasons. For one thing I doubt that iZombie has the budge to visualise something on that scale so if it does happen then it will likely be confined to some blurry news footage and the characters talking about it. The threat of it certainly raises the stakes and it’s only natural for the situation to escalate to some degree for a season finale though it’s clear that the real threat here is Blaine who further proves his talent for skilful manipulation.
There is a case of the week but it’s really unimportant other than giving Rahul Kohli the chance to play Ravi as an Instagram Princess. It’s funny and doesn’t hang around on screen long enough to become irritating. Malcolm Goodwin always does a great job playing Clive growing more impatient with a the personality shifts of a Zombie and Rahul Kohli fully buries himself in the part. There’s a lot of humour to be had here and it combines nicely with the more amusing first act of Liv and Major’s idyllic relationship roleplay.
Clive makes an important decision about his relationship with Dale after learning the real reason she broke up with him. This prompts an important realisation for him which causes him to tell Dale that he cares more about her than having kids and asks her to marry him. She gleefully accepts and there’s an implication that they are immediately intimate which could mean that Clive becomes a Zombie. It feels like a satisfying moment though there’s no real mention of Michelle which is somewhat problematic as it doesn’t paint Clive in the best light when it comes to how he handles the women in his life, at least in this episode.
Then again it’s possible that there’s a cure for everyone who would rather be a Human than a Zombie based on Ravi using Isobel’s brain and his own intelligence to run some experiments. Early results are promising at least on rats so it could be Ravi has discovered a cure that can be replicated and solve the Zombie crisis through restoring people to Humanity. This could work wonders for Dale and Clive certainly as well a multitude of other characters. Being able to figure it out is also a fitting tribute to Isobel who gave her life to make this work.
The fifth and final season could be focused on the notion of identity and how people choose to live their lives. If Ravi’s cure works and is easily mass produced then people would have the choice between being Human or Zombie which could open up a lot of doors for the characters on this show. For example, has Liv spent so long as a Zombie that she prefers that existence or does she want to resume her normal life? We know for a fact she loves the work she does with Clive because it helps people by bringing murderers to justice so there will be a potential loss of fulfilment that will be lost should she become Human again. I suspect that Major prefers being a Zombie because he has become disillusioned with Humanity at this point but once the potential exists to have the life with Liv that was taken away from him then things might change. The implications of a readily available cure are fascinating and I’d like to see them explored to the fullest extent of that potential.
A vast improvement on the previous episodes that starts to bring the various plot threads together while delivering engaging character drama. Major kidnapping Liv makes sense given how deeply he cares for her and the likelihood that she will sacrifice herself to protect others. The use of the happily married couple brains to let them live out their own relationship in microcosm is a nice touch that is also a lot of fun to watch. Liv eventually experiencing the emotions associated with the less idyllic parts of the relationship. It’s an impressive and entertaining way of exploring the history of the characters. Adding another mirror in the form of the locked up Romero Zombie couple in the basement is a reasonable idea though is marred by clumsy execution through the ridiculously long note left explaining something that was already obvious. Major’s upcoming conflict with Chase is well done in the context of this episode though it’s the culmination of weak plotting throughout the season and could have been a lot stronger. Framing it as a clear choice between Liv and Fillmore Graves is a smart idea because it makes good use of the available plots but it doesn’t excuse the weak characterisation.
Liv and Levon’s relationship reaches a pivotal point when Levon is prepared to sacrifice himself for Liv by outing himself as Renegade. It must conjure memories of the horrible things that have happened to Liv’s previous boyfriends. A further sting is added by her sacrifice being unable to save him as Chase opts to execute both of them. Enough work has been put into this relationship for Levon’s death to mean something should he not survive thanks to the natural chemistry between the actors and building them up over a number of episodes. There is also a case of the week that largely comes across as unimportant though allows for some levity in the form of Ravi taking on the personality of an Instagram Princess. Blaine’s manipulation of Angus to spearhead a National Zombie Virus outbreak is excellent thanks to some clever plotting and the excellent acting on display. The idea of this outbreak is really intriguing and I look forward to seeing how it plays out in the final episode. Clive’s realisation of what he wants with Dale feels satisfying enough though ignores his current relationship with Michelle who is somewhat cast aside at least in this episode. There’s a suggestion that Clive becomes a Zombie in this moment which may not be a big deal with Ravi’s cure is anything to go by. There’s a lot set up for the following episode and the potential cure could play into that in interesting ways.
- exploring Major and Liv’s relationship in microcosm and having fun with it while making a point
- the strong hint of an upcoming conflict between Major and Chase
- Blaine’s expert manipulation of Angus and the implications of the National outbreak
- Liv and Levon’s relationship meaning there are stakes associated with Levon being in danger
- Ravi taking on the personality of an Instagram Princess
- Clive and Dale’s satisfying reunion
- the implications of an actual cure for the Zombie Virus
- Major’s characterisation still coming across as problematic
- the weaker storytelling clearly showing itself
- failing to consider Michelle in Clive’s proposal
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