Liv acting like a meaner version of Blanche from the Golden Girls ends up playing second fiddle to a variety of subplots in Zombie-Seattle.
“iZombie” stumbled on a narrative goldmine. A new species is born and the fact that they even exist changes the rules for humanity relating to all things. Religion, crime, relationships, sex, sports, violence, and death are all completely different. A wealthy aged socialite is killed by a golf ball fired from a specially made gun and Liv and Clive are on the case to find the killer among a trio of the woman’s servants. Liv has her afternoon lunch and transforms into a haughty Bette Davis type with a dash of Cruella DeVille: an oversexed, under-compassionate, lush with a slew of dated pop-culture references. This is one of Liv’s best impressions to date. It’s a full transformation and Rose McIver does a hell of a job, sprinkling in little subtleties that give the character more presence. But it seems like she’s getting farther and farther away from being the actual main character of “iZombie.” Liv used to have first-person narration, it used to be a staple of the show, but as the seasons have gone on and we’ve become more attached to the supporting cast, Liv has instead become a single member of an ensemble and that’s diminished her character a bit. The brains have become much more potent too, basically erasing Liv for the entire time she’s affected. Before it used to just pop out every so often, but with this episode it’s a complete takeover. There’s nothing different about this brain compared to others, but it’s odd that there’s no narrative equivalent to how some brains affect different zombies more than others. Then again, that’s something that they can touch on later too.
Robert Knepper is perfectly suited for his role as a pseudo-Christian zombie-messiah figure. The societal aspect of zombiism is most affecting when his church subplot puts a face on the “zombie-children” problem. It’s incredibly striking and at once horrifying to see kids being forced to face all the problems that come with being a zombie when we also consider how difficult it was for our main characters to adjust with their jobs, relationships, and bills, and other adult stuff. A kid that doesn’t have independence, being forced to tangle with all the changes that come with becoming a zombie is more than just tragic, it’s devastating. This subplot is also featured to a less striking extent by Major attempting to train and temper his two young recruits in the face of all the horrors of their new world. Our zombie heroes are far from immortal, and despite all the abilities we’re aware that they have, we still experience empathy from their fear for their safety, because of the negative stigma that they also carry. We can really understand the harrowing aspects of the situations that both Major and his charges are in. To round out the real world equivalents that iZombie is playing off of, the episode touches on the sexual relationship between Clive and Dale. Namely, on the fact that they have to find alternatives to avoid Clive being infected. The episode plays it off as being a bit awkward and it’s very funny seeing Clive and Ravi attempting to have the conversation despite the sensitive nature of it all, but it all culminates in a more serious and grim duty of adults trying to solve a real problem. It’s easy to empathize with any perspective here because it’s a relatable adult problem, but because it’s fictional it can be much more detailed without alienating the anyone. iZombie has found a really incredible niche by weaving aspects of military, religion, and relationships into its narrative cloth to build the world that the characters inhabit and are challenged by.
Final Word: The ending and the solution of the mystery pack a lot of emotion in to the third act. It’s staggering how well this episode highlighted the difficulties the characters’ experience living in a society of zombies, the different changes that zombie-Seattle has undergone societally, and a basic murder-mystery all in the span of 45 minutes. Then, it still has enough gas in the tank to give us a nail-biting ten-minute finale that’s loaded with complexity and heart and plenty of dangling plot threads that could go for miles. Despite being a procedural detective action/dramedy with a zombie chaser, “iZombie” is building its world and its people. Zombie-Seattle isn’t just where “iZombie” takes place, Zombie-Seattle has walls and sectors and infrastructure and boundaries and people hating each other and trying to find ways to love each other and it’s just so rich with possibility and life. The coolest thing about iZombie now is that no matter which road you go down you’re in for something totally different. Maybe this will eventually just become commonplace, but for now, I simply can’t get enough. Zombie-cults, people-smugglers, Zombie-friendly PR campaigns; then a competent murder mystery and exploration of zombie/human relationships. I’m just stunned that this version of iZombie is even allowed to exist. It’s absolutely everything I ever wanted from a story about zombies; as in a story literally, *about* zombies.