iZombie Season 5 Episode 6 Review: The Scratchmaker
iZombie gives Don E the narrative spotlight as the final season explores Blaine's fall from power.
This iZombie review contains spoilers.
iZombie Season 5, Episode 6
iZombie hasn’t always known what to do with its “good” guys, most especially central protagonist Liv, but, from the beginning, central antagonist Blaine has benefitted from a commitment to his character’s objective villainy. Sure, Blaine is fun to hang out with—both as a viewer and, sometimes, even for the other characters—but this show has never presented him as anything other than a bad person/zombie.
As we move closer to this story’s end, iZombie is moving towards a finale for Blaine, which seems to mean his inevitable downfall. In “Scratchmaker,” his bad deeds continue to finally catch up with him and his desperate struggles to stay powerful feel urgent and doomed in a way that they never have before—the benefit of having a pre-determined and announced end to your TV show.
Blaine begins the episode in jail, exposed by Al’s story that heavily (and correctly) imples that he killed the former mayor of Seattle. His assets are frozen and he is unable to provide the brains that he has promised Fillmore Graves. By the end of the episode, he may be out of jail on bail, but he is in arguably even worse shape. While he has figured out the Freylich brain zombie cure hack, he has lost his remaining cures and his brain business. He has also lost his most trusted employee.
While Blaine may get the film noir-esque voiceover here, in more ways, this episode belongs to Don E., and what a great choice that is! Don E. has been a consistently delightful supporting character mostly used for comedic relief as Blaine’s somewhat derpy sidekick. However, in that time, Don E. and Blaine have represented one of the most stable and committed relationships on this entire show. Which is why it’s so emotionally-rich when Don E. is asked to betray him.
read more: iZombie Season 5 Episode 4 Review
Don E. has never been overly ambitious. He likes comfort and stability, and isn’t afraid to do evil things in order to keep him. But he has also always been fine with playing second fiddle to Blaine’s plans. As he tells Major, Blaines is the brains. Don E. is support, and he has done a damn fine job of it, despite the fact that Blaine is unable to act as a loving friend and, therefore, has never appreciated Don E. for all that he has done.
Still, it takes quite a lot in this episode to get Don E. to seriously consider betraying Blaine. Even when Blaine doesn’t have any money, Don E. has faith in him. He lends him $10,000 in bail funds and lets him stay in his relative’s basement; Blaine doesn’t so much as thank Don E., but the characteristic lack of gratitude is not what does it. The straw that breaks the camel’s back is Blaine’s casual murder of Tanner. When Tanner tells Blaine that he threw the remaining cures into the river out of sheer ignorance, Blaine’s desperation comes to the surface and he stabs Tanner in the brain.
To Blaine, Tanner is just another replaceable minion. To Don E., who is tasked with disposing of Tanner’s body, he was a friend. It’s a moment that finally makes Don E. wonder how Blaine might categorize him, or how disposable he might be to the brains of the operation. It’s what leads Don E. to join forces with Boss, who is back in town, and eager to take over the brains business. When he crashes Major’s meeting with Don E., he offers Don E. a new partnership.
Don E. eventually takes it, of course, and Blaine is completely in the dark. Because Fillmore Graves wants to keep the corrupt source of the brains on the D.L., everyone in New Seattle (including Blaine) thinks that brains are now being sourced and supplied by a local philanthropist/shipping magnate. Blaine is no doubt going to figure it out sooner rather than later—he’s too smart not to—and I am eager to see how he will react. We already know he values himself and his power above all else, but does he feel anything for Don E.? Is he even capable?
Malcolm Goodwin, aka Clive, does a superb job directing this episode.
As always, all One Tree Hill references are welcome and appreciated.
I’m kind of bummed that reporter Al is Boss’ neice and that she wrote the expose as part of his larger plan to edge out Blaine and take over the brains business in New Seattle. Like, couldn’t she have just been a reporter who thinks Blaine is garbage and deserves to be exposed for the corrupt monster that he is?
Interestingly, we get some rare external context for New Seattle and the zombie crisis. Major checks in with the joint chiefs and then we get to stay in the room even after they’ve hung up on Major. They don’t seem to consider the zombie population Americans, but they do have incentive to work with them to avoid the human “hostages” who live in New Seattle from becoming collateral damage, which we can worth with. At least until the CDC definitively does or does not find their own zombie cure.
Meanwhile, the Dead Enders have successfully put another spy in Renegade’s operation. Frankly, it’s hard to get invested in any of these Renegade subplots.
We also meet Dolly’s zombie son this episode. His name is Murphy and he works for Fillmore Graves. It’s an odd reveal, but one that will no doubt come back into play further down the line.
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.