iZombie: Dead Beat/Salivation Army

“Let's stop this zombie apocalypse.”

After a season's worth of intricate plotting, meticulous set-up and exciting world building, everything finally came to a head in this exhilarating, hilarious and game changing finale. It was all done with that trademark iZombie charm, yet it also felt much bigger, and much more ambitious than anything the show has ever done before.

Dead Beat


The first hour is dedicated to Major, and the potentially world ending fallout his arrest could cause now that he’s no longer human. A hungry zombie trapped in a prison has the potential to cause some serious carnage, and I like that this episode addressed that. It was hinted at previously when Liv was arrested in ‘The Hurt Stalker’, but the precariousness of Major’s situation means there’s a greater chance he could succumb to the hunger he was so clearly feeling while he was trapped behind bars.

There was a lot of fun to be had in the back and forth of operation Save Major. One minute he’s nearly released; then new evidence pops up that could mean bad things for him; then he’s almost out, within arm’s reach of a brain shake; and then the Meat Cute murders come back to haunt him. In a lesser series all of this toing and froing would be frustrating, but iZombie does it with pizzazz and humor that makes it fun and exciting, not exasperating.

While Major is undoubtedly the main focus of the episode, what Clive ends up doing for both Major and Liv is arguably more important. Not only is he now part of Team Z, after Liv told him the truth about what both she and Major really are, he also sacrificed the future of his career to get Major out of prison. He also effed things with Bozzio up too, by ratting her flimsy evidence out to the judge in charge and getting the charges against Major dropped. It seems a little too easy that a guy with connections to a mass of killings would get out of prison so quickly, but I’m choosing to let that plot hole slide. It’s what Clive sacrificed here that’s important, and he sacrificed a lot.

With the fallout of the chaos killings taking precedent, Liv and Ravi almost got themselves captured by Vaughn and his side man, Jenko. Thanks to some last minute heroics on Ravi’s part, Jenko was stopped before he could kidnap Liv in a body bag. I think my favorite part of all of this action was that it didn’t make Ravi into a total idiot just to serve the story. I was a little concerned with how easily Jenko managed to slip past him with a body bag. Thankfully, Ravi wasn’t as easily convinced as I thought and not only did he get Liv out of harm’s way, but he was also the one who took Jenko down. He was understandably distraught by his part in killing the man, but Liv was right to tell him it wasn’t his fault. I hope what happened doesn’t have a huge impact on his demeanor. I like Ravi when he’s quipping and dishing out pop culture references by the dozen.

Salivation Army


The closing episode of the season sees our core characters split down the middle. One team, Liv, Major and Clive, take on Max Rager in the hopes of rescuing the trapped chaos killer victims, including Drake, locked up in the secret basement lab underneath their headquarters. The second team, the unlikely duo of Ravi and Blaine, are forced into working together to save Peyton after she’s captured by Mr Boss’ men, who use her as bait to lure Blaine out of hiding. Having two separate stories here isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it works perfectly given the sheer volume of story that needed to be serviced, but certain aspects of the Ravi/Blaine/Peyton triangle feel slightly contrived.

Those aspects are almost completely down to the limited episode count this season of iZombie received. In today’s TV climate, I’ve found that shorter seasons almost always work out better than the traditional 22 episodes that are the norm for most of the major networks. In this show’s case, I actually think a longer season would have worked in its favor. While ‘Salivation Army’ is extremely satisfying, there was something that felt unearned about Blaine’s rescue of Peyton. It makes sense that he would do it. With his memories gone, he’s a blank slate and knows he has a lot of wrong doing to make up for, but I don’t think we saw enough to feel for him after he offed Mr Boss’ guys and got Peyton out of there. As hard as it was being sold, I just didn’t buy into it in the way I should have.

That aside, I do think this is a story that’s worth exploring. I miss old Blaine, but his “Brains, brains, the magical food: the more you eat, the less you brood” line makes me think that the retort savvy master mind is still in there, and will come out again if given the chance. He was well utilized this season, and I do want to see him continue to play a role in the “new zombie world order”. But if it’s a relationship with Peyton that he’ll be pursuing, I need to see more justification before it actually happens, especially if it leaves Ravi in the cold.

The A plot of ‘Salivation Army’ felt like something that Rob Thomas and Co had wanted to do for a long time. The World War Z vibe of the Max Rager outbreak was undeniably the biggest sequence the series has ever done, and though it felt very different than what’s come before it, it didn’t feel wrong. Instead it worked as a fittingly explosive conclusion to Vaughn Du Clark’s reign as the show’s big bad.

Here his selfish, arrogant nature is his downfall. After his disturbing experiments and appalling treatment of his less arrogant but equally selfish daughter, he got his comeuppance when she was set free by Major. Locking Vaughn into the same elevator he shut on Gilda in ‘He Blinded Me...With Science’, with two rabid zombies and his pissed off daughter was such a satisfying punishment. And who can argue that having his brains eaten by that daughter, who he left for dead, wasn’t the perfect end to his reign. I’m a little confused at how quickly Gilda turned into a rabid monster, though. She seemed a little more calculated than that, but I guess she was just as single minded as her father when it came down to it.

Unfortunately, Drake wasn’t among the survivors that Liv and Major rescued in their raid. Instead he volunteered himself to be the last experiment victim to protect his fellow captives; a sad but understandable act. I was pretty certain going into this episode that he wouldn’t make it out alive, and considering how much of a good guy he had been up until now, he was always going to go out doing something noble. It stung that Liv had to be the one to put a bullet in his brain, but that’s the life of a soldier, and Jenko’s brains gave her the bravery to do what needed to be done.

Clive’s actions in ‘Dead Beat’ continue into ‘Salivation Army’, as he runs right into the belly of the beast with Liv and Major despite everything he’s on the line for them already. He’s risked so much for these guys already, and his willingness to go down fighting, and not turn into a zombie, was so typical Clive. Though he’s a huge part of iZombie in terms of story mechanics, he himself isn’t given as big of a chance to grow as the rest of the cast do. In the last two episodes that’s changed, which is something that should continue well into next season.

The aforementioned shortened episode order had another knock-on effect, as the fallout from the events of this episode aren’t fully explored. The immediate aftermath is barely even seen, with just a brief taste of where Seattle’s zombie world is heading with Vivian Stoll’s arrival. I didn’t see her being a zombie coming. What does her reign mean for Liv? Will she fall in line? Something tells me she won’t. Vaughn was a villain who was driven by his own desire for power. He was all about self gratification. Vivian seems like a completely different villain all together. I’m excited to see what season three will look like with a woman like this ruling over Seattle’s zombie population.

Plus

Ken Marino appeared in ‘Dead Beat’ doing what he does best; making sleazy cool.

Though it’s mostly blood, violence and big heroics, there was still plenty of humor to the events that took place during Max Rager’s prison themed celebration of their new takeover (“white people” – insert annoyed face emoji here). The guard at the gate running away probably made me laugh the most, but I also appreciated the not so subtle Rob Thomas the musician references.

Natalie, the escort Major froze in ‘Cape Town’, was taken by Mr Boss’ men before Major got to her.

Now that Drake is dead and Major’s a zombie, it looks like the end-game couple might actually end up being a thing, if Liv can forgive Major for everything that he’s done, that is.

He Said, She Said

Blaine: “If I go out, it's going to be in a blaze of glory, not by friendly fire.”
Ravi: “So you know, I'm squad leader on my Call of Duty World League Challenge Division team. I know what I’m doing.”

Liv: “A massive zombie outbreak means never having to say you're sorry.”

Vivian: “Vivian Stoll, Fillmore-Graves Enterprises.”
Clive: “Clive Babineaux, Seattle PD. This is Liv Moore from the Medical Examiner's office.”
Vivian: “You're gonna be a busy girl.”
Major: “Major Lilywhite. Personal trainer.”

Though the second episode suffered in terms of pacing and running time, both ‘Dead Beat’ and ‘Salivation Army’ proved to be a fantastic conclusion to what I consider to be one of the strongest, most consistent run of episodes I’ve seen from any series in a long time. The first season had a similar hot streak, but the sophomore year ended up surpassing it by not only upping the ante, but by making an almost overwhelming amount of story seem breezy and effortless. I do feel like this season deserved an episode or two more to wrap up everything perfectly, but the writers did an amazing job of crafting a fantastic ending with the time they were given, and there’s a lot of exciting possibilities for iZombie’s third season introduced to boot. If it can maintain the same level of quality next season then we’re in for another crazy year of zombie madness.

Dead Beat 5 out of 5 body bags

Salivation Army 4.5 out of 5 rabid zombies

Originally posted at PandaTV.

3 comments:

migmit said...

"Here comes Major!" I never saw The Shining, but I've seen that scene a million times, and I like Robert Buckley's delivery much better.

"Don't worry your pretty head about it" (might be not an exact quote). Both quotes surprisingly feminize Vaughn. Here is the third: his almost-final speech, "why do you make all this about you" is so Cordelia.

I wonder how many guns did Vivian have under her jacket just in case. And knowing she is a zombie, and pretty much invincible... must be she simply loves those.

migmit said...

And one other thing: Blaine's decision to go in alone was stupid. Ravi once won a fight with him; and not so long ago he killed a trained assassin.

Unless, of course, Blaine really wanted to get Peyton — or at least her gratitude, at the same time taking out several Mr. Boss' goons. Which would imply he is faking. Which won't be that surprising.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so if the full-blown zombies weren't interested in Liv's & Major's zombie brains, why would they go for Drake's zombie brains or any of the reanimated zombies' brains?