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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

In iZombie’s “Death Of A Car Salesman,” deadbeat dads are for closers

Illustration for article titled In iZombie’s “Death Of A Car Salesman,” deadbeat dads are for closers
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Despite the potent car salesman brain, “Death Of A Car Salesman” doesn’t actually go with one of those truly overbearing brain plots. It’s become pretty clear by now that there’s a major difference between a big personality brain and a big personality brain that also ruins how Liv (and/or Ravi) functions altogether, with the latter brain/writing choice serving as the main reason brain antics have become such a major point of contention for iZombie. Instead, “Death Of A Car Salesman” rides the fun and high of Liv and Ravi on this hypercompetitive salesman brain while still allowing them moments to breathe and exist fully as themselves, which is especially necessary for the scenes between Liv and her father. (Unless you think all the rehab pamphlets are Liv trying to close on a rehab deal for her father… which actually improves the story, now that I think about it.) Even Ravi is able to turn off the brain away from work—only temporarily dipping back into it for a short comedic beat with Peyton—as they all enjoy the premiere of Hi, Zombie together. To make this one of those way-beyond-overbearing brains that just won’t stop would be to betray the story iZombie’s trying to tell, as well as Liv, as a character who should be able to control herself—which has, of course, been the problem with so many brain personalities over the years.


However, while Rose McIver gives it her all in this part of the episode—again, without having to play the brain completely taking over Liv’s brain—it’s Rahul Kohli that inhabits the car salesman role. And the biggest (and I admit, somewhat absurd) reason why? Because he’s very tall and she’s not. Kohli instantly has the natural physicality to dominate the frame and scene like this stereotypical salesman character should and would in a way Rose McIver simply can’t, even though the acting is certainly there on her part. Plus, while both characters eat the same brain, Ravi clearly has the bigger (not just size-wise) interpretation of the personality. Honestly, the case itself and the suspects aren’t special here: It’s all about Kohli, McIver, and even Malcolm Goodwin (who has perfected Clive’s resignation that comes with these personalities, as well as his smugness when besting them).

While the end result with the tie for the mountain bike, of course, makes sense (as they were both on the same brain), it still feels like the plot shows Ravi being better at sales than Liv, with Liv only getting a few wins over him (the Peyton thing; the beautiful moment where she hits him with an L on her forehead, Smash Mouth-style). The competition is definitely the key to this plot, so unlike Thumbreaker Barnes in “Thug Death” (and it’s still a shame we’re only told Liv was on that brain but not shown), both Ravi and Liv get in on the same brain this episode. While they can both obnoxiously chew and maneuver a toothpick with the best of them, Kohli has the advantage from the moment Ravi tells Liv he already sold his initial 50 raffle tickets (and 10 of Liv’s). Although, I suppose Liv has this brain on top of actually working the case—Ravi kind of just pops in and out, depending on where his need to “close” leads him—and getting to know her estranged father.

Of course, she doesn’t really get to know her estranged father. Because to do that would mean to learn that he’s also “Beanpole Bob”—he was right there in front of Ravi, and he missed him—and that he is the first zombie, the one responsible for the tainted Utopium. (He tells her he was turned with the “flu” vaccine.) The flashbacks to 2013 (when “Beanpole Bob” met Mr. Boss) and 2014 (when the zombie shit hit the fan) are a nice touch, confirming the obvious (that Martin Roberts = “Beanpole Bob”) while also just giving the audience the definitive answer of what/who exactly caused zombies, once and for all. However, in the present, watching this all play out, knowing Martin is definitely not going to be the parent Liv wants him to be (and not just because of his addiction), it begs the question of if iZombie tipped its hand too soon with this character. Because while Rose McIver plays the right amount of awkwardness and hopefulness and disappointment of Liv meeting her father her, it’s impossible to watch their scenes and buy even a little of what he has to say. That’s not just because he lies to her immediately about being sober and then about how he became a zombie: Our introduction to this character was as a rambling zombie zealot, and every moment until this episode (when he’s faking) has confirmed that’s all he is.

The last scene suggests that Martin actually cares about Liv... but are we to believe that he didn’t realize Renegade—the person whose organization he infiltrated—was his daughter? As I mentioned last week, unless he was in cahoots with Liv’s mom, he wouldn’t have expected Liv to show up at his front door, ever. And it seems he didn’t have “find my daughter” high on his priority list either. As he watches the Renegade documentary, the way Bill Wise plays it, it feels like it’s the first time he’s ever seen it—especially as Enzo chimes in about the type of person Liv is. (It’s possible he’s watched it many times before for research, but there’s no way he wouldn’t have known it was his daughter.) Yet pretty much everyone knows Liv is Renegade, so a guy who considers himself the leader of the zombie uprising should know that, right? Or at least his second-in-command should fill him in. And it’s not like Enzo has any problem filling him in on things, as he utters a line here that only exists as a way for writer Christina de Leon (who has a solid first-time outing with this episode but still has to tackle the rough parts of the season) to explain the hows and whos of this episode:

“Riley’s mission was a success. She got Spud out of the city to scratch a doctor at the VA hospital, and selected delegates have now been turned zombie.”


The “French” accent doesn’t make the clunky dialogue go down any smoother. On top of the time spent on new characters, one of this season’s biggest problems is how convoluted it’s been, especially as it attempts to keep secrets close to the vest for reveals that aren’t even great.

Over in opportunistic villain territory, Blaine walks the cool guy walk, but this episode is another reminder of just how evil he is. I mean, there are constant reminders through the series that Blaine’s a child murderer, but then he just says another quip and suddenly people want him to get redemption at the end of the series. If there’s one thing I feel certain about, it’s that Blaine won’t get redemption. Especially as Blaine’s new money-making venture is smuggling Freylich kids into Seattle (turning Ravi’s fears into reality) and selling them just like he did Darcy. Sure, he’ll let the kids die naturally when they’re in Seattle and their deals are made, but that’s not proof he’s worthy of redemption. That’s just proof he’s trying to pretend he’s a legitimate businessman again. Even though the smugglers decide to go through with it after their “moral issue” pay bump, there’s a clear point to them having an issue at all and Blaine not understanding why. He calls teens “the worst,” as though it justifies it. He even evil laughs to end the scene, just driving home the point.


To the U.S. government, there’s no difference between Blaine and any other zombie. Unsurprisingly, Major’s plea to the government falls on deaf ears and Seattle looks nuke-bound. (Seriously, after all he’s gone through this season, Major still didn’t stand a chance in his pitch. Misery truly loves Lilywhite.) Until Martin’s plan goes into effect and there are zombies in Washington D.C., that is. It’s a smart plan for his goals, but I’m brought back to wondering if this final season is able to tell the story it wants to tell. When I talk about how iZombie’s decision to go for an epic story instead of a smaller one may not be for the best, it’s not because the writers, cast, and crew aren’t talented enough. It’s a matter of the series’ budget and how, despite getting “bigger” with each season, it’s only felt smaller. That should work with Seattle being walled off. But when it comes to the long run and the bigger picture, it doesn’t. While it’s always made sense for a zombie uprising to be big, iZombie’s issue is not having the resources to make it so. And when it tries to go outside its world, that sticks out.

Still, I want to know how it all ends for iZombie. We can safely assume it’s not going to end with the nuclear option and we all definitely know it can’t end with humans and zombies living in harmony. Unless Hi, Zombie really does become a phenomenon.


Stray observations

  • Yes, this episode quotes Glengarry Glen Ross. You knew it would.
  • Eddie Jemison literally showed up just to film one scene in this episode. I don’t know why that amuses me so much but it does.
  • At least “Beanpole Bob” listened to Mr. Boss about changing his shirt. Had he not, I guess Ravi and Liv would’ve found him out immediately.
  • So we still don’t know what happened to Martin when it comes to the chrome dome and awful toupee. His hair was so nice in the flashbacks.
  • It’s a treat to see how much Scott E hated Blaine and didn’t buy into all of his Blaine-isms. He even tried to make Don E see the light... but that didn’t work.
  • Hehe. “Mom E.”
  • Liv: “That can happen?”
    Ravi: “Uh huh. Cars can be possessed: Herbie, for example.”
    Liv: “Herbie wasn’t possessed. You’re thinking of Christine. Herbie wasn’t evil. He was the lovebug.” This exchange is so pure. Less pure is salesman Ravi calling Clive “Babs.”
  • Ravi: “What’s the prize for whoever sells the most tickets?”
    Clive: “A mountain bike.”
    Ravi: “The mountains are on the other side of the wall.”
    Clive: “Then… don’t win the contest.”
  • Peyton’s back, but she doesn’t get more to do in this episode than watch the premiere of Hi, Zombie (which she’s clearly proud of) and stand around while Major presents the (returning) Zombie Island plan to the U.S. government… before taking all the officials to lunch.
  • Know who could use some fun human brains? Major. I know we got the excuse that he needs to keep his head on a swivel because of all the Fillmore-Graves stuff, but as so much of the show is “look at this brain personality,” it sticks out when one prominent zombie character is so very clearly kept out of these reindeer games.
  • Clive: “Well, she didn’t mention that.”
    Liv: “I get it. Why spread around that you were with a second place nobody?”
  • Blaine (re: Hi, Zombie): “Peak TV, my ass.” While it does make for a sweet moment to see the gang watch and enjoy it, Hi, Zombie is pretty bad. Peyton really grifted all of that Space Needle money for this? Also, for all this season’s decision to really hit the social issues button, I’m still surprised Clive’s comment about cultural appropriation was just a throwaway line. You’re telling me there are no zombie actors in Seattle to actually play zombies?
  • Other web series: That Chick is Sketchy (she’s sketching, you see), So Many Species, Hipsterrific, Here’s the Deal, Ladies (like Dealbreaker), and We’re Doin’ It! (possibly a Gals On The Town spin-off).
  • I figure Darcy is at least 18 (19 at most, as the Freylich “kids” are all teens), but… how old is Don E supposed to be? And if she’s the one the matchmaker had in mind, why was this 18-year-old, dying, college girl meeting with a matchmaker? (I’d ask why she likes Styx, but I’m not going to question her having taste.) Darcy and Don E have sparks, but things don’t quite add up to get from point A to point (meat) cute.
  • Martin: “You’re a good person, Liv. Good people can’t help themselves.” To me, this line is the one bit that suggests he’d expected Liv to come to him eventually. Somehow.
  • I know Liv was taken by the father/daughter moment in the end after Jack confessed, but maybe she should’ve been taken by the lesson that fathers lie and kill people. Also, as Renegade, Liv was already placed in the unfortunate role of zombie messiah, but now that we know her estranged addict father created the zombie virus and is responsible for all of this, it’s official: Liv is Zombie Jesus.
  • I had a whole thing about how iZombie really doesn’t make the idea of turning into a zombie appealing (despite the zombies we know and love... and the demand for zombie equality), but then I had to deal with Spectrum internet doing what it does best: not work. But I’m curious to know your opinions on that.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Despite her mother's wishes, LaToya Ferguson is a writer living in Los Angeles. If you want to talk The WB's image campaigns circa 1999-2003, LaToya's your girl.