iZombie Season 4 Episode 11 Review: Insane in the Germ Brain

It's all tears and blood in an emotionally-charged iZombie that sees tensions boiling over in New Seattle.

This iZombie review contains spoilers.

iZombie Season 4, Episode 11

Killing off the adorably precocious teen girl with wisdom beyond her years, iZombie? Emotionally manipulation, perhaps, but very effective.

Isobel never felt like a real person, not really. Her dying and death were too neat, too amiable with not even a hint of anger from Isobel. Her character would have benefitted a great deal from coming on earlier in the season as something other than the manic pixie dying girl, but Izabela Vidovic used her too-short time on the show to amazing effect. I’ve said it before, but this actress—previously seen on Supergirl and The 100—is going to be big. Arguably, if you’re a frequent CW TV watcher, she already kind of is.

Isobel’s death was one of a few plot arcs that came to fruition in this emotionally-raw episode. iZombie continues to be at its best when exploring the rising tensions amongst the human and zombie populations of New Seattle, and the water started simmering over the pot edge in “Insane in the Germ Brain.” When Don E. films one of Angus’ sermons and puts it online, zombies start to listen.

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It’s a chilling moment, to see a popular figure spew violence-inspiring hate aimed to turn people against each other. It hits a little too close to home in a real-world climate where our president uses this kind of language and these kinds of tactics to similar effect. Here, iZombie begins to play it out to its inevitable extreme. Violence erupts. One of Tucker’s human friends tries to kill Angus, but Tucker, who has seemingly embraced his zombie-ism, saves Angus. He does not save his friend, however, calling him food when Angus asks what he is to him. New Seattle’s zombie population is desperate, and they are increasingly turning to Angus’ simplistic, hateful rhetoric to fuel their actions.

Desperation was the watch word in more than one way in tonight’s episode. After Major took down Russ Roach and the brain black market ring he was a part of, Fillmore Graves is in celebration mode. But, when Major’s squad of teenagers let him escapse, Chase Graves absolutely loses it, shooting two of them—one, fatally. It’s a shocking moment, even though we have seen Chase slowly unraveling under the pressure of trying to solve New Seattle’s brain shortage problem all season. It also feels like a turning point for Major who, thus far, has followed Chase Graves and Fillmore Graves pretty blindly. This is no doubt going to affect Major’s loyalty to the cause, which is good news for Liv and her smuggler friends. 

Meanwhile, Ravi met Peyton’s parents, just prior to Peyton’s work trip to D.C. I would have liked to see what Peyton was up to, trying to convince the human population outside of New Seattle that humans and zombies can peacefully co-exist, but it was also compelling to have the time devoted to Peyton’s loved ones suggesting she defect to non-New Seattle while she has the chance. Both Peyton’s parents and Ravi think it’s a good idea, but Peyton refuses. Right now, she is acting mayor of a desperate city that needs her more than ever. It would be a selfless choice to stay, and it’s so entirely Peyton. She is the best of all of us.

In other news, Bozzio broke up with Clive after accidentally overhearing a tape in which Clive admits to Liv that he can’t imagine a future with Dale because he wants to have kids. (iZombie covers all of its bases by including the detail that they’re not letting zombies adopt… though you’d think Dale and Clive could just snag one of the many zombie orphans off of the New Seattle streets.) Rather than talking to Clive about it, she breaks up with him, lying and telling him that she has met someone else.

I don’t think it’s in character for Bozzio to lie about her reasons for breaking up with Clive—she respects him enough to tell him the truth, and Clive respects her enough to accept any decision for her breaking up with him—but damn if that breakup hug didn’t get me. These two really love each other, and it just plain sucks that they have been torn apart by the zombie-human divide.

iZombie continues to struggle with balancing its more light-hearted plots—which somehow includes the murder-of-the-week—with its apocalyptic ones, but, in an episode as emotionally-charged at this one, it’s harder to care.

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Additional thoughts.

A long one: iZombie has a bad habit of biting off more than it can chew when it comes to complex, underrepresented issues. In this week’s episode, Liv and Clive investigate the murder of a man who was dressed as a woman. While the character in question was not transgender, this brushes up against a major problem without actually trying to meaningfully engage with it: the violence against transgender Americans, and the lack of coverage and representation it getsiZombie plays fast and loose with the aesthetics of violence against the transgender population, relying on the potential that it could have been a hate crime without fully addressing it, while also including an interrogation scene in which an ignorant bro categorizes one of the people involved in the murder scene as “Real Lady” (implying that there is such a thing as “fake women”—a slur that is often aimed at trans women). We’re not supposed to take the bro seriously, but we are intended to laugh at his jokes. It’s a sloppily walked line that iZombie could have handled a lot better, especially given the fact that there was no plot-driven or thematic reason for the murder-of-the-week to involve a man dressed as a woman. As a cisgender woman, there is a lot I don’t know or understand about the complex topics of transgender identity, discrimination, and representation, but this subplot felt unnecessary and lazy to me. 

“I know this is your coping mechanism, but would you mind picking one a little less heart attack-y.” Ravi and Isobel’s relationship was pretty adorable this week. Still crying about Ravi’s death denial scene, even if Isobel’s fake death stunts were pretty obviously setting us up for this kind of moment all episode.

Dude, Clive is already sleeping with Michelle. Like, no judgment and they make a cute couple, but you know Clive would have holed up for like two weeks binge-watching Game of Thrones and eating massive amounts of Ben and Jerrys before even calling Michelle.

I rolled my eyes a bit at the fact that Ravi’s big moment of winning Peyton’s dad over was in telling her that he’s not allowed to treat Peyton like shit. Like, yes, true, but also Peyton can call her own dad out, if she wants to. This felt more like a pissing content than Ravi actually thinking about what Peyton would appreciate. The fact that Peyton seemed even more dopily in love with Ravi after this moment did not ring true for me for Peyton’s character.

That Peyton/Ravi goodbye kiss!

Peyton never got to say goodbye to Isobel, either. 🙁

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Liv’s impersonation of Peyton was 90% hair and I loved it.

“No, he’s out of time. You’re still moving and grooving.” Great advice on living in the face of imminent death from our man Ravi.

“Name’s Major. I’m ready to be rich.”

Russ’ boss has veritaserum brain, which is pretty cool. It’s also nice to see the trope of a main character somehow resisting truth serum totally subverted, with Major literally telling Russ’ boss everything.

“He’s not exactly Ivy League. Maaaybe Brown.”

Everyone’s joking about Major being in love with Chase Graves and I’m just like: That would explain a lot.

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4 out of 5