iZombie Season 2 Episodes 18 and 19 – TV Review
Will iZombie truly shirk the water-treading fluff of its mid-season sag, and capitalise on the impressive build its made over the last few episodes towards its season finale?
Thank God, yes.
TL;DR Dale and Babineaux come down on Major for the Chaos Killer and Meat Cute murders; the gang does everything they can to free him before he goes brain-crazy behind bars; Liv has to resort to telling Babineaux about zombies to get him out; Steven tries to assassinate Liv and Major to ensure the sale of Max Rager to a private military contractor.
But Scary Black Man ain’t no match for Morgue Guy With Fire Extinguisher.
So Major’s bailed up by the authorities for the Chaos Killer murders. He can’t deny the oodles of evidence found at his place (which also incriminates Ravi as an accomplice), but he also can’t tell them “Hey, they’re just zombies in a freezer. They’re not dead.” Steven sends hotshot lawyer Ken Marino to his aid (to minimise bad publicity for Max Rager, of course), but despite the charges stalling, Major is still trapped in jail without access to brains. Ravi admits to Liv and Peyton about Major’s Chaos Sedating ways, and they scurry about trying to get him brains, with the amnesia-inducing zombie cure as a last resort. A temporary victory gets him out on bail, but then Babineaux, on new evidence, immediately arrests him again for the Meat Cute murders. Liv refuses to take Major’s memories away, so she finally admits to Babineaux the truth about zombies, and Babineaux collapses both the Chaos Killer and Meat Cute cases to get Major out, destroying his relationship with Dale and FBI hopes in the process. Meanwhile, Steven is in final negotiations to sell Max Rager, but the buyer will only close when Major (an employee of Max Rager, remember) is out of the headlines, so he sends Scary Black Man to kill Major and Liv. Ravi intervenes, and he and Liv are forced to murder him to save themselves. But hey, the bright side? They’ve got Scary Black Man’s brains to ingest to learn where the missing freezer zombies are (they tried to find them earlier, but they were gone, and they assumed Steven must have taken them). And they, including Drake, are indeed in the Max Rager basement lab.
Gosh, Liv. Can’t you have a boyfriend who isn’t imprisoned somehow?
What a focused and intense episode of iZombie, the kind-of comedy detective procedural. When Rob Thomas shows go serious, they go serious, baby.
The escalating scramble to get Major some brains to prevent a zombie outbreak just keeps ratcheting up the tension as each plan fails, leading to the long-overdue reveal to Babineaux about zombies.
And we’ve still got another episode to go. Can you imagine?
Why I hate this episode:
The stipulation from the military contractor that Steven must silence the publicity around Major before the sale goes through is an intrusive plot point. All the public knows is that Major is a personal trainer who happens to work for some company. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Yes, he was a personal trainer to some of the Chaos Killer victims, but that work wasn’t connected to Max Rager.
And as cool-tacular as Ravi’s takedown of Scary Black Man is, it’s pretty hard to believe that puny little Ravi would be able to take out a contract-killing security specialist.
Liv and Ravi’s subsequent decision to carve up the body and eat his brains is uncharacteristically callous. I didn’t appreciate it.
Oh, and if the gang couldn’t get food or a shake to Major while he’s behind bars, how did they expect to get him a syringe full of cure?
But it’s not all bad:
I admired Liv’s sacrifice in outing herself to Babineaux to prevent Major having to take the cure and lose his mind. And she also should have told Babineaux a long time ago, so it’s nice she’s finally thrown him a bone.
The scene between them is as touching as you’d expect. Babineaux, naturally, doesn’t believe her, so Liv picks up one of his big kitchen knives and impales herself. Babineaux’s reaction is filled with concern, rather than horror, which is so sweet. And then of course he’s filled with horror. Because of the zombie thing.
Dale had earlier found a witness statement about seeing Major at one of the Chaos Killer abductions to be false, so Babineaux passes that information onto Ken Marino, who uses it to get the charges dropped. The Meat Cute case is also thrown out for tainted evidence, and Dale is not happy. She fucks Babineaux off hard, and all he can do is stand and take it. Because explaining zombies to Dale would probably be difficult, but I imagine also to keep Liv’s secret. Aww.
Major’s deterioration behind bars is tragic and kind of funny. Ken Marino hits the nail on the head with the episode’s best line, commenting on Major’s appearance just as he’s reaching the end of his rope and is so close to starting the zombocalypse: “He looks like a day old dog dump. No offence.” Well, he is Lilywhite.
One of the gang’s schemes to get Major some brains sees Liv making a fake energy bar with brains cooked in, then passing it to Peyton who has to flirt with Ken Marino to convince him to give it to Major, and then Ken gives it to Major at their next meeting. Unfortunately, Ken loses it and gives Major a non-brain replacement. Dammit.
Another major (ah ha!) ploy involves Ravi cryptically ascertaining the location of Major’s freezers, and the gang trying to go get one of the zombies to parade around for the authorities to prove that Major can’t be the Chaos Killer if his supposed victims weren’t killed (“kill” is in the name, you know). Liv wants to get Drake, of course. But alas, the freezers are empty.
Because Steven got to them first, as evidenced by Liv’s Scary Black Man memory flash of the Chaos Killer abductees in Max Rager’s basement lab. I appreciate iZombie’s commitment to putting the Dudes In Distress.
Liv’s initial reactions to the accusations against Major (she’s at his house when Babineaux and the cops bust in with the search warrant) are affecting. She’s aghast that Major, and, as a possible accomplice, Ravi, could do this kind of thing. Even moreso when Drake’s name is found on Major’s hit list. Thank goodness Ravi sets her straight later.
Oh, and iZombie uses a fantastic callback all the way back to season 1, as Babineaux’s big break in the case is Major’s guns dealer, currently in prison, summoning Babineaux to blab now that he’s seen Major plastered all over the news. Just another example of iZombie’s commitment to continuity. It really is that good.
TL;DR The zombocalypse outbreak happens in microcosm at a Max Rager staff party; Liv, Major, and Babineaux break in to free the Chaos Killer abductees; Drake doesn’t make it out alive; nor do Steven or Gilda; Ravi and Blaine fight for Peyton’s affections while saving her from Mr Boss; a new villain rises.
Come through, season 3.
So with Scary Black Man’s brains on the, well, brain, Liv and Major gear up to liberate the Chaos Killer abductee zombies, including Drake, from Max Rager. Their way in is a prison themed staff party to celebrate both SuperMax, and the new owners, so Liv and Major dress as waiters in full police riot gear costumes. Babineaux, having earlier refused the call for help, ends up joining them, but before they can find a way down to the basement lab, a group of Max Rager employees find some leftover tainted Utopium from the boat party and take it, chasing it down with SuperMax. They immediately zombify and set off a full scale zombie outbreak. The party guests are tragically trapped because of the prison theme, and Liv and Major, non-targets because they, too, are zombies, must protect Babineaux while still trying to access the basement lab. They do, thanks to some assistance from Vivian, the military contractor executive who is seriously packing heat, and below they discover zombified Gilda. She bargains her own release with help in accessing the other part of the lab, but Steven then shows up and traps Liv and Babineaux with the Chaos Killer abductees. Liv is forced to execute Drake, having been turned rabid mode by a failed Max Rager cure, but the duo are able to escape Steven’s deathtrap with the remaining abductees. Major manages to fight off Steven, leaving him to be munched on by his daughter and some other rabids, and our heroes reunite above (Gilda, sadly, gets rather cruelly headshotted by Major). Liv then finds out Vivian is a zombie, too, and wants to take over the world. Meanwhile, Mr Boss, in the wake of the mayor shutting down the task force against him (Peyton does not approve), figures out Not E and Eyepatch Goon have inherited Blaine’s Lucky U operation and dispatches goons to kill them. They headshot Eyepatch Goon, but Not E only suffers ominous torso wounds. But the goons are surprised to see Blaine up and alive. Blaine hides out with Ravi and Peyton, but the goons tail him and kidnap Peyton. Blaine and Ravi go to her rescue, but Blaine does all the rescuing, and Ravi is left holding his dick in his hand while Blaine laps up the “you saved my life” attention from Peyton.
I’m starting to think Blaine isn’t such an amnesiac.
I mean, wow. An incredible finale, and the perfect antidote to the patchiness earlier in the season.
The prison party was the ideal way to have the full zombie breakout cake and eat it, too. Because we get to enjoy the carnage, but it’s also contained and able to be explained away.
Again, who knew this little comedy zombie detective procedural could achieve something like this?
Veronica Mars most certainly wasn’t a fluke.
Why I hate this episode:
This episode and last episode are proving my point about how the show is better when it’s not relying on the procedural format. But as long as Liv is eating brains and gaining personality traits and having memory flashes, the procedural element can’t really go away. Which means it could end up in Castle territory, where you have to just slog through the COW-heavy episodes in the hope of landing on an arc-relevant week. And I don’t want that for iZombie.
Going back to the COW stuff could also be difficult now that Babineaux knows about zombies. So the show wouldn’t have that tension of Liv trying to keep that stuff from him. I trust the iZombie team to make it work, but I’m also anxious.
I was a little confused by the ending. Were Vivian and her soldiers already zombies before the party? Or did she get inspired and roll with it?
Gilda’s fate was a lazy way to just get rid of her. Why did she go rabid mode, while Major didn’t? They were both in the same room when Steven started pumping in the poisoned gas.
And why didn’t Major help her? She’d just provided the gang genuine aid (with some obligatory snark), and Major had seen how disgusted she was with her father’s actions.
And then the poor dear just gets wasted by an impersonal headshot from Major like she was just any old zombie. Rude.
While I liked the rekindling of the Ravi/Peyton relationship, I think the moment of her rescue wasn’t an appropriate time for Ravi to get green eyes when seeing her gratefully hug Blaine. He literally just saved her life from gangsters. Give her a break.
I’ll have to concede I was wrong about Kacey Rohl’s character returning, because she didn’t. What a shame.
Oh, and one of the threads left hanging is Zombie Call Girl. Major notices she isn’t with the group of Chaos abductee survivors, and one of them tell him that she was taken off for experimentation, like Drake and the preceding failed cure test subjects, but unlike the others, she didn’t return. I’m sorry, babe, but I don’t care.
But it’s not all bad:
After tiptoeing around it for two seasons, we finally get a legit rabid mode zombie outbreak. And, within budgetary constraints, of course, it’s glorious. iZombie cleverly opts out of showing most of the action. We only really get to see the beginning, with the party guests running up against the locked bars, preventing their escape. After that, we just see the aftermath, and Liv, Major, and Babineaux backed into a corner.
In another impressive Dude In Distress display, the episode sees Liv and Major having to protect Babineaux from the zombies. Because he’s the only human, and the zombies only attack humans. When they’re backed into the corner with fastly-depleting ammunition, Liv offers to scratch and zombify Babineaux to save him from being eaten. What a sweetie.
Thankfully, he doesn’t have to, as Vivian appears and slaughters the shit out of the zombies. Because that’s how private military contractors do. She even nonchalantly hands the trio a bunch of guns for their continued mission, while she goes and summons her men for backup. Like a boss. You know, because she is a boss.
I enjoyed the death trap situation Steven puts the trio, plus Gilda, in. Again, Liv has to protect Babineaux, but this time she’s forced to execute rabid Drake to save her friend’s life. So we get a cool moment between Liv and Babineaux, and we get Drake’s death. That’s a win-win for me.
Steven then really puts his supervillain pants on and unleashes rabid zombies on Gilda and Major. But, keeping consistency, they aren’t interested in them. Because they’re zombies. Steven is deflated, but then just tries using poison gas, instead.
So Major shoots him in the hand through the glass, then axes all the way through the glass and leaves him to be eaten. It’s a shame about his ditching of Gilda, but it’s badass, regardless.
Eyepatch Goon is killed with finality, but Not E is only shot in the torso. When Blaine and Ravi return to the funeral home for weapons later, he’s not around. Hello hanging thread for next season.
Additionally, though Blaine murders Mr Boss’ goons, Mr Boss himself isn’t present. So he’s still out there. And rightly suspicious that the man whose throat he slit is up and at ’em.
Vivian, taking up her villain mantle from Steven, extends an offer for Liv to join her and her plans to make zombies the dominant race or something.
iZombie really plays up the Rob Thomas jokes by having Rob Thomas (the musician, not the writer) perform at the party. He is killed, and when Liv finds Vivian in the final scene of the episode, she and her soldiers are eating his brains. Adorable.
Oh, and his brains aren’t the only ones we see being graphically eaten.