This iZombie review contains spoilers.
iZombie Season 4, Episode 8
iZombie walks a tricky tonal balance. Sometimes, it walks the line between brain-of-the-week comedy and end-of-the-world depression improbably well. And, sometimes, we have to watch Liv use a Ren Faire accent for an entire episode.
It’s not that Rose McIver doesn’t do a great LARPer, but iZombie pushes the surrealism too far with this week’s murder-of-the-week plot. While the motivation, crime, and episode-ending twist are interesting ones, it’s actually unbelievable that any of these LARPers would stay committed to character upon discovering that their friend and fellow LARPer was murdered. They’re into a little light fantasy role-playing; they’re still, you know, people.
The same can be said for Liv, who usually can turn off her brain a bit during her most serious moments. Here, she stays committed to the accent and persona at all moments, even when she is turning humans into zombies in her role as Renegade. That’s… a lot. Even if it’s believeable that Liv would be so far gone on a brain that she would fully commit to her role, it’s hard to imagine that the other coyotes would continue to accept Liv’s erratic and often disrespectful behavior. Liv is a mensch, but they haven’t know her very long.
One plot development that genuinely worked and should have had more time to breathe in tonight’s episode was Peyton’s decision to join the coyotes. Not only that, she stole money from a crime lord to contribute to Renegade’s campaign. I could have watched an entire episode about Peyton struggling with how to react to the realization that Liv is a coyote, and Liv feeling conflicted about her best friend joining the dangerous operation.
iZombie has so much dramatic space to explore, and I can’t help but feel it wastes too much of it with goofy, superficial murders-of-the-week. Of course, that is in part personal preference. I love my undead angst, but many find the brain shenanigans the most delightful part of this show. It’s when iZombie can’t balance both that we get an episode like “Chivalry is Dead.”
You know which part of iZombie can pretty much always be guaranteed to strike tonal gold? Blaine’s world. This is true tonight when, in the best scene of the entire episode, Blaine, Don E., and a recently-returned Stacey Boss watch Brother Love and his minions attack a prison transport bus. The episode chooses not to show much of it visually, instead telling the story through Blaine, Don E., and Stacey’s business-like reactions to the situation. It’s funny, horrifying, and totally effective.
The plot point itself is undermined by the contrivance of having Brother Love so easily fall into Blaine’s plan. Angus has never been an idiot, which means iZombie is just lazily relying on the religious people are dumb and naive trope, which should really be banished from the storyteller’s toolbox unless they can prove they are doing something interesting with it. iZombie could have gotten to the same plot point without making Brother Love look like a moron by implying he went along with Blaine’s tale of religious intervention not because he believed him, but because he knew he needed brains to feed his followers.
Speaking of brains, Major is off undercover investigating Russ, aka the man inside Fillmore Graves who is suspected of illegally stealing and selling brains. Spoiler alert: to the surprise of no one, he is. This felt like a distraction from the thrust of Major’s arc in this season, a way of making his actions seem not so bad. Which, yeah, Major isn’t as terrible as Russ, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t making terrible, harmful decisions. I’m not sure where iZombie is going with this plot, but I hope it’s not just a vehicle to make Major seem like less of a villain.
The episode ended on a dramatic high note, with young Isabelle, a terminally-ill teen hoping for a new, undead life finally making it to Renegade. But, when Liv scratches her, nothing happens. Isabelle seems to be immune to the zombie virus. This is terrible news for Isabelle, who probably got her hopes up about not-dying, but potentially good news for the world. Could this be the next step to the progression of Ravi’s zombie cure and/or vaccine? And how will Liv let anyone know about it without outing herself as a human-scratcher in the process?
“Chivalry is Dead” might not have been the most even of episodes, but it sure did stick the landing.
When Peyton asks Liv what she can do to help with Operation Renegade, Liv asks for money, which, yes, is always helpful. But it does seem like Peyton might be helpful in her role within the city’s government.
I do love how Clive and Liv’s relationship manifests under the influence of this brain. I could watch LARPer Liv give Clive pep talks all day.
Levon needs some shot-reverse shot action in his zombie documentary.
The actress who plays Isabelle is a CW veteran at this point, having appeared as Charlotte in Season 1 of The 100 and, more recently, as young Kara on Supergirl. This young actress is one to watch.