iZombie Season 5 Episode 10 Review: Night and The Zombie City
iZombie walks the fine line of parody as it takes on the film noir genre.
This iZombie review contains spoilers.
iZombie Season 5, Episode 10
It’s pretty interesting to watch a film noir-inspired episode of iZombie when Rob Thomas’ other film noir-inspired show, Veronia Mars, is about to come back for a fourth season. Unlike Veronica Mars, or even the earlier, more noir-ish Season 1 episodes of iZombie, “Night and The Zombie City” doesn’t just pay tribute, but often (lovingly) satires the form, making for one of the most effective brains-of-the-week for the entire season.
The brain? Frank Chisel’s, a private dick murdered for the zombie cure he had in his possession. The details of the case don’t really matter, it’s all in the presentation, but I’ll give them to you anyway. There is a femme fatale—Jane, a waitress who “found” the body and manages to throw Clive and Liv off the scent of her murdering with her “crocodiles tears.” She doesn’t make it far. When she shows up at Don E’s club, searching for the cure, she pulls her gun on the wrong person—Blaine—and is killed by Crybaby for her trouble.
Blaine cottons on to the cure in the wind and eats Jane’s brain so he can figure out its location. PI Liv and Blaine comes to physical blows in search for the cure, a rarity for this show that usually avoids the action scenes, especially when it comes to their protagonist. But this episode is nothing if not formula-breaking, often taking on the film noir style of sharp camera angles and plays of light and shadow in its storytelling.
Notably, it never takes the film noir of it all too seriously. We’re all in on the joke. Characters like Clive and Ravi in particular playing the role of the straight man to Liv’s and then Blaine’s noir-tinged perspectives. It’s a fun gimmick, and one that is explained away in-world by a power outage and a particularly stormy day. In the process, iZombie is able to have its cake and eat it, too, in a way that particularly shouldn’t work when the stakes of this world as so high and the series finale so close at hand.
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The world hasn’t forgotten about the highly-televized zombie attack at the Pie-esta from last week, and the Joint Chieves of Staff are seriously considering bombing New Seattle in the aftermath. Former mayor Peyton is getting drunk and starting bar fights, perhaps the only character who seems to be taking the powerlessness of the situtation seriously (though her behavior is all explained away by her job termination rather than her impending possible life termination).
Unbeknownst to her, Peyton saves the day again. The Hi, Zombie TV show she greenlit making it into the homes of one of the government decision-makers via her grandson. Grandma Chief of Staff is the tie-breaker when it comes to the decision to bomb New Seattle or not, and she votes nay. Apparently, all it took was a sitcom to change her mind. It’s all a bit too afternoon special or PSA to work, especially because it never seemed likely that iZombie would explode all of its main characters in one fell swoop.
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That doesn’t mean Liv and friends are out of danger. Not only does the episode end with General Mills calling up Dolly Durkins for an alliance, but Liv’s dad, Martin, aka Beanpole Bob, is about to implement his plan. Though the details still remain a little fuzzy, it seems to involve using a zombie army (now controlled with the help of Max Rager) to take control of the city… and the world?
Meanwhile, Candy manages to retrieve the cure, left at the dry cleaners in one of Frank Chisel’s many trenchcoats, before either Liv or Blaine can get it. She drives off to Colorado (I thought it was supposed to be hard to leave this city?) on the back of smuggler Bubba’s motorcyle. It’s a cool moment, I guess, that one that speaks to the relative underdevelopment of especially Bubba’s character. Like, good for you, Candy? But, also, I don’t know what your motivations or ambitions are here, even if I have some guesses.
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Nonetheless, it speaks to iZombie‘s vibrancy as a TV show that it is able to pull off a film noir episode this late in the series run, and do it while also moving along several important plot lines. This is me, getting sad about the imminent ending of this charming show.
It feels out of character that Ravi would give up the Max Rager information so easily, but, hey, maybe Ravi just has a weak spot when it comes to Moores?
Martin has been demoted from “Dad” to “Bob.”
“There’s a muillion stories in the zombie city. Dollars to doughnuts, this ends with us sending Bunny to the big house.” Rose McIver kills it this episode.
There is so much alcohol in this episode—from Peyton’s many attempts to get drunk to all the scenes at Don E’s—which is par for the course in a film noir.
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Speaking of Peyton, I really wanted one of her friends to take her post-firing depression seriously. Like, your loved one is really hurting here and you can’t drink a margarita with her?
“How hard could it be? They’re sick kids. That’s got to be one of the top five easiest kinds of kidnapping.” — Blaine, on Freylich kids.
Speaking of Freylich kids, Darcy gets mad at Don E when he takes Bunny’s death so lightly, lamenting the inconvenience of it more than anything else. Viewers thinking she may be having a crisis of conscious would be wrong. It’s not that she worries about her boyfriend placing a lack of value on human life. It’s that she worries he finds her replaceable. He proposes, I guess eliminating the concern?
Can we please see Blaine trying to drop an Ewok-style net to capture Freylich kids?
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” “You’re already dead.” “We’re all already dead… we just don’t know it yet.”
“Tequila, neat.” “Salt and lime?” “What am I, 16?”
Peyton’s drunken karaoke is actually a really good distraction for Liv’s search for the cure.
Operation Seattle Salvation is a terrible name.
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Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.