Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, David Anders
Photo: Shane Harvey (The CW)

You can tell when iZombie starts to pull a season together because the episodes are so full of plot you barely have time to take a breath. After really struggling to strike a consistent balance between character and plot in the back half of the season, this penultimate episode finally settles in and sets things up for what looks to be a very dramatic season finale.

If there’s one common thread that runs throughout all the various plots in this episode it’s that everyone is doing extreme (and sometimes extremely stupid) things in order to protect the people they love. First in line is Major, who kidnaps Liv and takes her out of Seattle in an attempt to keep her from turning herself in to Fillmore Graves so they can execute her for being Renegade. The fun little twist to this plot is that once they get there, Major feeds Liv the brains of an old, happily married couple who are over the moon for each other and they proceed to act out their 1950s-era romanticized fantasies about what their relationship could have been if the zombie virus never happened. There are a lot of interesting layers to this role playing, in that is part fantasy, part nostalgia, and part still real to both of them, in a connection that will always exist somewhere under the surface. When Liv’s brain evolves to relive the unhappy parts of that marriage, the ever-increasing bits of discord between Major and Liv themselves come out until it culminates with Liv locking Major in a cage in the basement and taking herself back to Seattle. The way Liv and Major’s story has played out this season was rocky at best, but it’s handled cleverly and deftly here in a way that smartly reflects the long history of their relationship.

Making a more overtly stupid decision in the name of love is Levon, who very selflessly decides to claim to be Renegade so Curtis can be with his pregnant fiancé. This also is intended to prevent Liv from being executed, so when she shows up and turns herself in as well he ends up making things even worse by attempting to take Chase hostage and free both of them in the process. It doesn’t work, and instead they are both now marked for execution in the finale. Some version of this scenario was an inevitable outcome as soon as we saw Liv and Levon being happy and having what amounted to cute small talk in bed, because as soon as someone seems remotely smitten and in love the writers of this show like to rip their hearts out. It’s a cruel sickness they have. Plot-wise, this is a perfectly fine development but character-wise, the whole Liv and Levon relationship never really got off the ground. Making the choice to have it start in the pick-up artist episode made everything confusing, and it was treated like almost an afterthought after that so there wasn’t much of a chance to get invested.

Someone who also tried to protect the person they love to the detriment of themself is Dale, who broke up with Clive in a previous episode so she could set him free to pursue his dream of having a normal life with kids. This has been a bit of a rocky story along the way with both very high and very low points, but it pays off nicely here when Clive founds out why Dale broke up with him and he pledges his love to her and asks her to marry him. It’s very sweet and romantic, and “you are the non-negotiable” is a practical romantic’s dream line. But there is one small sad part of this whole thing: Michelle! Poor Michelle is just out here in New Seattle, a human woman trying to meet a stable, honest human guy, and then this happens? Dating is rough, especially when half the eligible population is basically off limits.

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Beyond the heavier plot developments, though, this episode also managed to be very playful and lighthearted around the edges. Most of this is due to Ravi’s turn on the brain of some sort of Instagram influencer who is like a 2018 social media version of Paris Hilton (yes, I’m old, these are my references). Ravi’s time on this brain is short but definitely hilarious, and Rahul Kohli and Malcolm Goodwin give the material just enough silliness to cut through the very serious steamroller the writers are building with the Brother Love plot.

The basic purpose of this murder—carried out by familiar Brother Love follower Tucker, after Brother Love preaches her as an “apostate” for getting cured of the zombie virus—is to push Brother Love and his followers into starting the “end times” war with humans, right in time for next week’s season finale. There’s a fair bit of casually clever plotting in the second half of the season that led up to this, most notably showing how the French zombie detective slowly got indoctrinated in Brother Love’s church, just in time to set Tucker free. There are still issues with the broader scope of New Seattle as a place and all of the bits we missed to truly make such a massively complex story land, but it plots well enough within this episode itself to make for a good, tight viewing experience here.

Despite some strange out-of-nowhere bits sprinkled throughout the episode—like finding out the murder victim used to be a zombie but is now cured, presumably from Blaine’s stolen doses, or Russ appearing out of nowhere just in time to complicate things for Major—overall this was a tight, funny, well-paced hour that put all the various chess pieces in place for a harrowing finale. Now it’s up to the finale to live up to the promise hinted at here.

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Stray observations

  • The biggest development here that’s a question mark for the finale is Ravi’s new zombie cure. Is it going to be something that can swoop in and save New Seattle from itself, or will the cure yet again slip out of their hands? Since iZombie is having just one more season before it flatlines for good, it might be time for there to be an actual, viable cure.
  • Of course Blaine’s plan all along was to manipulate his father into starting his “end times” prophecy in order to tip the world to the side of zombie and therefore cash in on his real estate investments. I can’t believe I ever doubted him. His Fargo-inspired brain shower was quite the bit of masterminding.
  • Dating Liv really should come with a warning from the surgeon general. It’s really hazardous to your health.
  • Hobbs told Chase all about Major’s betrayal, so that is certainly going to become important in some way in next week’s finale. It’s difficult to see how both Chase and Major get out of the finale alive.
  • I’m still very curious to see how Levon’s documentary is going to play into the story in the finale. It seems like way too big of a feature in the final story arc to not have some sort of payoff.
  • “Is that a snuff boomerang?”

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