iZombie 5x11 "Killer Queen" Review
As iZombie creeps toward its series finale, we are getting our last tastes of brains as our heroes get closer to a cure than ever before. This episode managed to juggle a case-of-the-week while also doing a fair amount of table setting for the finale, even if some aspects were anti-climactic.
While the last few episodes have had murders that tie directly into the progressing plot or were a result of the existence of zombies, this week’s case was pretty isolated from the rest of the episode. Other than Liv’s sole, crucial vision, it seems as if this murder could have been solved on any other show. An aging drag queen, Mike, is murdered with a six-foot string of pearls, sending Liv and Clive down a rabbit hole into old school drag queen culture. It gives Liv the opportunity to gussy up more than usual, via dramatic eye makeup and a wig with impeccable finger waves. There’s a conflicting consensus among the group on her look — Clive calls it a “bold choice” while Ravi remarks that it’s “A bit more reserved than I was expecting, frankly.” Despite being suspicious of the new queen in town, Bitchcraft, it turns out to be the drag queen’s performing and business partner for 20 years, Gary, who is the culprit. Mike was planning on selling the drag bar to turn it into a parking lot, and Gary could not abide to lose his home and family to such a business decision. A very specific Cher outfit ends up being the smoking gun, which Liv, with her new found keen drag queen eye, was able to spot.
While Clive and Liv are getting schooled on the nuances between traditional and mainstream drag queen conventions, Major and Ravi get a much more action star plot in this episode. Another murder case down at the station tips Liv off to a cure that’s been floating around, and she and Ravi are able to trace it back to the Freylich brains. Ravi makes Major a sushi dinner to ask for his help, but it turns out Major doesn’t need much convincing to basically play James Bond. He whips out his hopelessly charming smile to get a contact from a young woman named Clarissa Bates and puts a tracking device in a business card. (The best part of being in charge of Fillmore Graves is “the toys,” he gushes.) He and Ravi stake out where they think the Freylich kids are being smuggled from, decked out in black beanies and big coats. Ravi finds the van with all the kids while Major gets in a close range shootout. Ravi drives the van into their assailant, and then uses it as a getaway car, with all the kids in the back.
Ravi has been feeling so guilty about the Freylich brain discovery, and I have to say, seeing all the kids in the van with their mouths duct-taped was pretty disturbing. It certainly puts a visual on the horrible operation Blaine has been running. While Ravi is stealing the Freylich kids out from Blaine’s nose, Blaine figures out that Don E has been smuggling brains for Fillmore Graves behind his back. He’s angry, but halfway impressed. This coincides with the day of Don E’s and Darcy’s wedding. Don E gathers his friends and the bagpipe player to the bar, dressed to the nines, ready for holy matrimony, when Blaine quietly tells Don E to follow him. When Blaine leads Don E to the back, it seems like he’s setting him up for some kind of payback, but then it’s revealed Darcy has passed away. She’s peacefully lying on the couch, dressed her wedding dress. Blaine coldly tells Don E that Darcy has to go to the client soon, but Don E should take his time.
All of this was so heartbreaking. I felt like neither Don E or the audience got a real moment to say goodbye to Darcy, which is a bummer. But it also casts a suspicious light over her death. Although we knew her Freylich brain would take her too young and too soon, you can’t help but wonder if Blaine had hastened the process. It would certainly be in his character to do so, as Ravi has taken his other potential Freylich cures, and Blaine has motivation to want to hurt Don E now. It seems as if Darcy died with no sign of struggle, but I have a hard time believing it. Don E has emerged as one of my favorite characters this season, and I’m interested in where he will end up when the show ends. Darcy burned bright and quick, but I enjoyed her time with us. On the other hand, I hope Blaine gets his comeuppance in a few weeks.
What seems to have the biggest impact on the endgame going forward is Ravi and Liv’s discovery of Martin’s operation. Right as the episode starts, they flee into the night with the original recipe of uptoipium, as well as the knowledge that Martin and Enzo have a full army of Romeros. Ravi tells Liv that he can send the uptiopium to Charlie at the CDC to find out more. Martin and Enzo find the tamperings Ravi and Liv left behind, and move their operation. That doesn’t stop them from moving some important pieces their game plan.
It’s still a little fuzzy to me what Martin’s end goal is. Martin seems to only be driven by revenge, to get back at humans for hating zombies by creating more and more zombies. We never really see what the root of that anger is from. Sure, tensions are high between humans and zombies in general, but Martin seems to have a lot more agency in this situation than he claims. After all, he started this whole mess! He also believes that zombies are more superior to humans, but there’s really no other basis for this belief other than he accidentally created a way to live undead.
When Martin is wishy-washy on pushing forward some of the details, Enzo tells him he’s being soft, and Liv has been a bad influence on him. Martin gives the okay to have their hostage, Graham’s boyfriend Stephen, killed. It cannot be understated what a terrible, awful, logistical mistake this is on Enzo and Martin’s part. Stephen comes through the morgue, which alerts Liv of his connection to Graham. Since Graham has no incentive to stay loyal to Martin and Enzo, he tells Liv about Riley, the double agent coyote. Riley had just left for a smuggling mission Liv hadn’t been tuned into, and as it turns out, it was a way for zombies to leave Seattle to infect a much bigger number of people. Liv immediately calls Martin, and begs him to call it all off. Martin tells Liv, “You’re a good person and suffer when others do,” which is why all of this is upsetting to her. For a moment, it seems like Liv might have won Martin over, but then Enzo shows up. Frustrated with his inaction, Enzo executes Martin, with Liv watching the whole thing.
Unfortunately, I found this to be a little underwhelming. When Martin was introduced at the beginning of the season, it was supposed he was some kind of unstoppable force of evil. Reintroducing Graham into the mix reminded me of that first initial meeting, when Martin and his goals were still shrouded in mystery. As episodes went on, he became a less and less formidable presence. It was humanzing to see him try to be Liv’s father, but it undercut the sinister vibe significantly. I was hoping to see more of a heartbreaking showdown between Liv and Martin. With this latest development, it has effectively (and perhaps unwittingly) made Enzo the Big Bad for the entire series. I’m not sure this was the strongest choice they could have made, but with two episodes to go, I’m hopeful iZombie has a little extra twist up its sleeve to close us out.
“When have I ever been anything but professional?” Clive looks like he could cite several years of grievances to this comment.
This was a good episode for Liv’s wigs, which I would expect nothing less for a drag queen episode
The biggest laugh for me this episode was when Liv admonishes Jenkins for pulling an image from the security footage of a drag queen that was so obviously “not Cher!!”
Graham finding out that Stephen had died was absolutely devastating. Graham was underutilized this season, in my opinion.
I missed Peyton. As interesting as the Ravi and Major plot was, it would have been so exciting to have her come along, as well as Liv. I hope the four of them get some key group moments before the series ends.
Also, where is Bozzio? I want to see the baby!
Lots of gays buried in this episode. Along with the attitude towards sex workers in a previous episode, sometimes iZombie can use disappointing, regressive tropes.
I thought the Renegade plot would be much more front and center this season, but I wonder if they weren’t sure what to do with it in the midst of everything else going on. Seeing Liv back at their headquarters again was a little jarring, as we haven’t paid it a visit in a few episodes.
Haley’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝.5
iZombie airs Thursdays at 9/8c on the CW.