iZombie: All's Well That Ends Well

“All it takes is a scratch.”

Maybe it’s fitting that iZombie’s final season would end in a jumble of half-cooked deaths and under-realized potential. We’ve had a fun few episodes leading up to this, but in general it’s been somewhat of a muddled race to the finish line, with this final season’s narrative never really sticking to anything concrete. It was the recent character driven episodes and the more nuanced story machinations that actually worked, and in the case of ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’, they’re what save an otherwise disappointing and confusing curtain call.

Last week’s set-up didn’t exactly pay off, but the hour did at least wrap up all of the show’s larger stories. Liv, Ravi and Clive make it back to Seattle; Major manages to get back into Fillmore Graves to get the Max Rager for the cure; Peyton helps to save the Freylich kids from Blaine; Blaine and Don E get their comeuppance; and the zombie vs. human war comes to a head on live television, with the new more affordable cure being made public knowledge at the same time. All of this feels like it had to happen, but a clumsy script meant that a lot of these major moments just didn’t land.

At the start of the episode, Liv, Ravi and Clive are all stuck on a plane on their way back from Atlanta. They're exposed by a nosy passenger, but the hostess just so happens to be related to someone Liv saved as Renegade, so she asks her brother to help them to get back to Seattle. It’s an oddly inconsequential sequence, one that could so easily have been lifted out of the hour, making time for the remainder of the episode to dedicate to the more pivotal story beats. Instead, it all ends up feeling completely rushed.

The biggest issue with the decision to waste valuable screen time impacts Blaine and Don E the most. Despite some odd choices this season, the direction the show has taken them has always felt natural. But the moment that they’re both served with a hefty dose of karma just falls completely flat. Don E pushes Blaine down the well at Angus’ estate in a fit of rage when he discovers the truth about Darcy, which is fine, but we never get any final confrontation between Liv and the man who has essentially been her arch nemesis for five seasons. All we see is a split second take-down of Don E after the fact. It’s also majorly disappointing that we never got enough time to watch Blaine realize what’s coming. That would have been supremely satisfying. The idea of Blaine and Don E tearing each other apart for eternity is a funny thought, though, even if I do secretly wish Don E didn't have to suffer as bad a fate as Blaine.

Then there’re the three huge fake-outs. Two of which were kind of stupid, one of which actually works well enough. Peyton ends up getting shot while risking her life to get the Freylich kids home; it’s a shocking and heartbreaking end to her character. I was happy when it turned out to be all a trick thanks to Blaine turning her just in time. The episode played the twist well enough too, even if it showed its cards a little quickly.

But that’s not the only time we think one of our favorites is a goner. Both Liv and Major get their own respective close calls, and they annoyed me in different ways. Major manages to make his way to Fillmore Graves to get the Max Rager and makes a tremendous sacrifice in front of the world by willingly taking the cure to show its viability. Enzo takes the bait and shoots him point blank. Major also takes the bait thinking it’s an actual cure, but in the end it turns out to be a plot of Ravi’s to stick Enzo with the cure himself, and Major survives having only been injected with Max Rager. This is all fine, but after what happened with Peyton it just stank of an inability to commit to the stakes the series raised over the last two seasons.

Liv also has a brush with death. Along with poor Michelle, she’s sitting within the blast radius when a strapped Dead Ender arrives at the morgue to destroy the cure. With Liv’s fate up in the air, we cut 10 years into the future, where Chris Lowell (one last Veronica Mars alum for kicks, I guess) interviews Ravi, Peyton and Clive who have managed to make wonderful lives for themselves. It’s a cute catch up, but I’m not sure this all needed to take place in a virtual reality. It does allow the writers to easily write in the “surprise” reveal that Liv survived and is living happily with Major on the long lamented Zombie Island, along with the zombie orphans.

The series closes with an offer from Liv to turn her friends so they can come and live in paradise with them. It’s a cute moment that shows how much this group all care for each other now, but it also feels at odds with Liv’s own thoughts on zombie-ism. Perhaps I missed it, but did Liv decide somewhere along the way that she wanted to remain a zombie forever? I don’t feel like the series connected the dots between the times Liv has gotten so close to taking the cure and her making such a huge decision, here.

Maybe it has to do with survival. The extremists didn't exactly get wiped out when zombieism was declared to no longer be a danger to humanity. They’re still out there, with the likes of Dolly Durkins fully committing to their insane cause in the face of diminishing returns in an increasingly more open-minded world. It makes sense considering how single-minded these people are. They weren’t going to lay down arms under any circumstances, and I’m glad the show didn’t try to force an all-together-now happy ending for the sake of it.

Plus

I'm glad the cure was decided to be a voluntary thing so people could continue to live as zombies if they wanted to.

Enzo was a bland villain in the end. I wasn't expecting the finale to hinge on him. It was funny that it was Mr. Moss who killed him, though. RIP cute and spineless Moss.

Dolly Durkins killed her zombie son with no hesitation. She was the worst, but she was a good B-list bad guy.

Clive and Bozzio transferred to San Francisco and are now both joint police chiefs.

Bozzio also had her baby, which was nice for her and Clive but a waste of screen-time.

I am glad we got to see Daran Norris as Johnny Forst one last time. That man makes me laugh so much.

Peyton is a lawyer now. I'm glad she got her career back on track.

Ravi managed to make a quick buck by becoming an author. Good for him.

One last Aly & AJ plug for old time's sake?

I won't to spoil the recent Veronica Mars finale for you all, but there was one moment in this episode that echoes it. Probably an intentional easter egg from Rob Thomas.

He Said, She Said

Blaine: "What do you think? This being your first brain meal and all."
Peyton: "Oh, the brain's palatable. You on the other hand I know what'll fix that."

Blaine: "You know you weren't wrong, Pop. You started to believe in big ideas. More than wealth, more than pleasure. It's a short ride, life. You gotta get what you can, while you can. Someone's gonna come up on you, put a gun to your head, and pull the trigger. Some army's gonna line you up, and gun you down. It's okay by me. You hear that? It's okay by me! 'Cause I filled my life with wine, women, song. At least I wasn't bored."
A super-fitting final monologue from ours truly.

Don E: "No one was ever gonna love you! Not Peyton! Not your dad! Hell, I am I am the only person who could stand you. And you killed my fianceƩ!"

Clive: "I do miss you, partner."
Liv: "Vice versa, Clive."

Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see these characters get a happy ending, I just don’t think that it was delivered in a feasible way. When this series started, Liv and her friends were at the heart of it, and I was expecting Rob Thomas to remember that. Instead, we got a clunky mess of an episode and a laughable flash-forward that forgot to pay homage to the show iZombie used to be.

But for all its issues over the last season and a half, I will still remember iZombie fondly. When it started it was a sharp, funny and unusual series that smartly mashed-up genres that had no business being mashed-up. Then there was the incredible balancing act of its tightly woven plotting at its peak, which very few shows are capable of pulling off, let alone a low-budget CW series. When I think back on the five seasons I've seen, I don't think I'll be remembering how disappointing the ending was. It's not a Game of Thrones situation, thankfully. I'll think about all of the things that made iZombie special, and the wonderful characters that drew me in so quickly.

No rating for this since I don't want to tarnish the legacy of the show.

I just wanted to leave a small note to say thanks to everyone who read even just one of these reviews. It's been a fun five seasons and I enjoyed writing about all of them.

8 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Panda, congratulations on finishing reviews of all five seasons of iZombie! It's too bad it didn't end as well as it could, but it's certainly one of a kind. :)

Matthew said...

I personally loved the ending

Yeah I had a few holes (like wtf after all that time liv wanting to be human she decides nahh zombie better )

But hey it’s good that Peyton didn’t die like I thought she would and that Ravi and her (most likely) got married cause ravis the new head of the cdc which is based in Atlanta and Peyton’s a lawyer IN ATLANTA

And Blaine was vanquished

Great finalie

Panda said...

Oh, I liked that they got happy endings, I just thought the episode itself was a total mess.

Yes, I’m assuming that Ravi and Peyton are 100% a thing :)

Anonymous said...

Liv and Major remained zombies to be with those orphans, one of whom could not go back to being a human since he had a terminal illness.

Katie Hart - Pinterest Manager said...

I liked the ending for all of the characters, but I hated the choppiness of this episode. I mentioned on a different review that I would have enjoyed the "10 years later" bit more if they had let us feel the emotional weight of the current timeline first. Show Major looking for Liv and her showing up before you jump to the future - they could even have Ravi narrate over it with the false ending, and then reveal he's talking 10 years later. I'm disappointed we didn't get to see a bit of Blaine and Don E in the well, or to see Ravi's reaction to Peyton not being dead. (Though seriously, why did he and Liv not consider that possibility? Turning Peyton into a zombie was the most Blaine-like thing for Blaine to do.)

I'm really curious if Rob Thomas devoting time to Veronica Mars is what made this season so uneven. Why have all that build-up with Michelle's pregnancy for 5 seconds of letting us know that Clive raises her kid? Why have so much about Liv's dad when it has almost no bearing on the plot for them to be connected, and very little emotional impact? Why invest so much screen time in "Hi, Zombie" for it to only influence one person to delay a decision?

I did like that while the cure resolved most things, there are still zombies. And I love how Liv got her happy ending (a family with Major) WHILE remaining a zombie. Now we know why the show was pushing the zombie kids on us so much. In the same way that she gave up the Freylich brain so that Clive could have a family, she gave up the cure so that the kids could have a family.

Unknown said...

That's exactly what I thought, too. And it was the orphans, not the Freylich kids, Panda, because the Freylich kids would have been dead from their terminal condition that couldn't be saved by trying to turn them. One of the orphans however couldn't take the cure because he would have reverted back to his terminal state and died. I am guessing all the other ones Renegade Liv saved too by turn6are most of the ones on Zombie Island that declined the cure. My only question in my mind was Peyton saying okay right before Liv's last line.

Unknown said...

Yes, this!

Unknown said...

By the way, Panda, overall I think you have done a stupendous excellent job reviewing all 5 seasons! Despite some minor quibbles I have had, I applaud you!