iZombie 5x06 “The Scratchmaker” Review
For the duration of the show, iZombie has primarily been from Liv Moore’s point of view. In earlier seasons, her voiceover was heavily used, but as storylines became more ambitious and formats got more playful, the show moved away from the narrative device. This week, however, we heard the voice of a new character — Blaine DeBeers. Disgraced and dejected, his kingdom is finally, finally crumbling down. His voiceover opens the episode, telling us that we “all know the drill” per the murder-of-the-week. This week, however, “This isn’t her story, it’s mine.” Despite his insistence, it’s another character that stands out this episode: Don E.
When we were first introduced to Don E in Season 2, he was a textbook minion. Never particularly smart or independent, he was a comic relief sidekick. Over the seasons, we’ve seen Don E grow into himself, starting to take more responsibility in Blaine’s businesses, and feeling ownership over the bar. A good chunk of this episode is devoted to showing how Blaine’s latest circus is finally the last straw, and Don E is finally ready to strike out on his own. Because of Al’s expose, Blaine is basically out of the picture. His assets are frozen, his “rainy day” funds are “running on fumes,” he’s lost public face, his estate has burned down, and Fillmore Graves is in emergency mode because of the loss of brains.
After raging out and killing Tanner for losing the last remaining cures, Don E is finished. He goes into cahoots with Stacy Boss. They have a somber conversation about cutting Blaine out of the middle, and we see a side of Don E that we’ve never seen before: he seems defeated, but there’s a new seriousness and maturity to him. “Would Blaine be as loyal to you?” Mr. Boss asks him. The answer is devastatingly clear. Frankly, it’s surprising to me that it’s taken this long for someone to steal Don E away from Blaine. There’s only so many seasons someone can go as a designated underling to a vicious mobster.
Mr. Boss is ready to take advantage of the dire brain situation (Major estimates they have 48 hours before they run out), and plans to jack up prices and run away with Blaine’s monopoly. Major forces their hand last minute by bringing in some new smuggling competition, a deal with a shipping company called “UFreightEze” to rebrand the brain business as legit. While Mr. Boss gets caught off guard, Don E doesn’t hesitate to take Major’s deal for a lower price. When Blaine finally can show his face again back at the bar, Don E tells him that his image is bad for business and to lay low. He uses the UFReightEze operation as a cover to tell Blaine that they were out of the brain business, instead of admitting that they are just cutting him out of the operation. While Don E has been making strides all episode, he does make one mistake — assuming Blaine will take his advice to lay low. Remembering the article that leaked, Blaine goes in search of a Freylich brain. He’s gone full Big Bad now — offering a half a million dollars to a young college student named Darcy. It turns out that Ravi’s concerns about an ethical extraction of a zombie cure were warranted, and Blaine is willing to go back to his old gig of child murder. His voiceover closes out the episode — “So if I’m a monster, maybe I am. But sometimes they don’t leave me any choice.” If the voiceover was meant to lend sympathy to Blaine and that he was somehow pushed to this edge…they are going to have to do a lot more to convince me of that.
I liked that the brain was kind of a fun add on top of the plot this week. Liv made a few coy comments to Major (“Matchmaker brain? Nailed it,” he smirks), and notices a sweet moment between Clive and Dale...and that’s about it. iZombie has always been committed to small character moments, whether it’s Liv, Major, and Ravi teasing each other in the living room, or Liv helping Clive move into the lieutenant’s office. Sometimes the brains are essential to the plot, sometimes multiple plots, and sometimes they seem extraneous in an overstuffed episode. This episode, the brain was like sprinkles on top of a cupcake, and I’m okay with that from time to time.
Meanwhile, a few crucial things did happen. Our blackmailed teacher friend Graham from a few episodes ago is back. For reasons unknown, he helps smuggle in a zombie named Riley to be one of Liv’s coyotes. To “prove” she’s human, they take a shot of ghost pepper, and she pretends to cough. (Anyone else feel like that was a strange detail? Also, I didn’t know that all of Liv’s coyotes had to be human.) Major goes toe to toe with Dolly, confronting her at her food truck. We find out that one of Major’s cadets, Murphy, is Dolly’s son. She’s disowned him over becoming a zombie. Murphy tells Major to be careful, because Dolly “really hates zombies.” Yeah, buddy, so we’ve heard. Dolly has spoken into every single microphone she can get her hands on, on every TV channel, multiple times a day. She’s got sneaky food order codes that have killed people. She knows what she’s doing. I’d be very curious to find out why, however. Her hatred seems to have existed even before her son became a zombie, so I do wonder what the root of it all is. Major had better find out a way to get through to her soon, something tells me that Dolly won’t wait much longer to strike again.
Malcolm Goodwin directed the episode, is there anything he can’t do?
UFreightEze is a brilliant pun. Despite this show’s ups and downs, you can always count on it for grade A wordplay.
I’m dying to know who the matchmaker was going to set Don E up with! A love interest for him could be cute.
Dude, talk about a conflict of interest. What a twist that Al is Mr. Boss’ niece.
The US government has officially named Fillmore Graves a terrorist organization. Both parties have earned one Big Yike for that.
Don E admits that Dale scares him so he “steers clear.” I would pay good money for Dale to roast Don E.
“Oh, no you are not taking credit for me and Peyton.” Rahul Kohli’s delivery was perfect here.
Major’s little wink at Dolly ended me.
Beanpole? Davinci of Utopian? Are we talking about Shady Zombie Man?
Don E stage whispering “Tanner’s capable” is one of my favorite Don E lines this season.
Haley’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝.5
iZombie airs Thursdays at 9/8c on the CW.