iZombie 5x12 "Bye, Zombies" Review
It feels like I’ve been waiting for this episode the entire series, in more ways than one. Buckle in, there is so much to discuss!
The episode opens with Liv tending to all the Freylich brain kids at the headquarters, and she gives a quick rundown of events via voiceover. I wish this narrative device was used more consistently this season. I have a love-hate relationship with voiceover, I think it can often tip into cheesy and unnecessary. On iZombie, however, the use of voiceover was crucial in the early seasons. If Liv is on a different brain every week, her personality and character development can get lost in the mix. Her voiceover bookended the episodes and was a good way to touch base with her, and to make sure the audience still had access to inside her head. Liv sums up the events that have happened thus far, and how stressful things have been. But her hope remains in the cure; it’s the only thing they have to look forward to.
This hope becomes complicated fairly quickly. Liv walks in on an upset Ravi, who tells her that the CDC has decided to use the uptiopium for treatments, rather than a cure. Charlie has been kicked off the project, and it’s been moved to a high security building. Ravi points out there’s more money in treatments than cures, and the CDC doesn’t actually have any interest in being helpful to the suffering people of New Seattle. It’s a good call back to Ravi’s fraught relationship with his old employer, the CDC. He was fired for taking biological warfare too seriously, and it seems he finds himself back at square one with them. He and Liv decide the only thing to do now is to pull off an Oceans 11-esque heist. Obviously the only answer! They gather with Clive, Peyton, and Major to tell them the plan. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, this show is always at its strongest when it trusts its five main players to drive the story, and let them drive it together. Getting the entire gang involved is part of what made this episode so great.
It turns out there can be advantages to being zombies — they don’t actually have to learn any heist skills overnight, they can just consume them. They order a ninja and acrobat from Don E (who is in a really foul mood due to Darcy’s death) and Clive thinks of some old petty criminals he knew back in the day. At first, Clive doesn’t plan on going with them. He gives an emotional goodbye to Liv and Ravi, including hugs, and maybe there were a few tears involved. But Bozzio tells him to get his butt out there, and to save the world for their daughter. “You’re the Clooney,” she reminds him. How are they going to pull this off without him? Clive finally steps through the closet of the Renegade quarters, and it’s one of my favorite moments of the whole series. Everything is coming together for one last adventure, and it was an immensely satisfying scene.
In order to get the pickpocket brain Clive recommended, Major and Liv dig up his grave together. It’s difficult to write this scene objectively, without taking into account the uproar in the Veronica Mars fandom this week. A shocking twist at the end of the new revival season regarding the show’s main couple has left many fans feeling betrayed, confused, and frustrated. Rob Thomas, the showrunner for both Veronica Mars and iZombie, has expressed multiple times that he’s not interested in writing main female characters with boyfriends or writing couples with happily-ever-afters. He didn’t see a way that he could incorporate hard-hitting detective stories and a healthy romance into the same show.
I have only seen a few episodes of Veronica Mars, but I’ve seen every episode of iZombie, and several things about this show now make sense. I now understand why all of Liv’s boyfriends have been killed off and then never mentioned again. I now understand why when Clive and Bozzio finally got together, Bozzio got pregnant and practically dropped off the face of the earth. It makes me wonder if romance between Ravi and Liv was never explored because the showrunner believed it meant he had to eventually axe one of them, and didn’t want to do that. And most of all, it makes sense why Liv and Major haven’t had any significant progress in their relationship in several seasons.
Rob Thomas has basically admitted that he doesn’t know how to successfully juggle murder and love on his shows, and he has no interest in finding out. So the timing for this Major and Liv scene is terrible, in more ways than one. Not only do I wish I could have enjoyed it without the baggage of another show hanging over it, but I really think it should have happened sooner in the series. Regardless, now we know why it didn’t.
The scene itself is actually incredibly sweet. “I’m really glad we’re at this place in our relationship,” Major says. “We can dig up graves without having to talk.” The two of them reminisce on their relationship over the entire series — from how they used to be engaged to wed in a pre-zombie world, to how they’ve both done things that hurt the other, and how they’ve wound up here. “We’ve both done a lot of well-intentioned crap to each other. But here we are, still here,” Major says. He gives her a heartfelt pep talk, telling her that he believes she’s the only one that can pull this off. And pull this off, she must. The fate of the world depends on it. Not only is this a commentary on their deep friendship, but also on who they are as characters. They both have gone through immense changes throughout the series, but it feels like the core of who they are is still there. Major and Liv are both good people, with a capital G. A war-torn, zombie world has tried to change that, but it never succeeded. I’m forever grateful for this show for giving me these two. Major tells Liv she’s a badass, and she kisses him, right in the middle of the grave. Within the world of iZombie, it felt true to the show, and something I’ve been waiting on for so long!
It means, however, that I’m incredibly worried about Major’s life. The tension between humans and zombies is finally at a breaking point. His Fillmore Grave squad tells him that zombies are riding in the streets, provoking humans and wanting to start a war. Major takes a team out to hopefully quell the riots. “They want to start a war, let’s not give them the satisfaction,” he says. He and his team ride out, but while Major is giving orders, a huge explosion hits their van. My heart skipped a bit, because I really thought Major might have been taken out in this moment. He crawls out of the van, bleeding and confused. Enzo rolls up in a Fillmore Graves van, and the final stand that we always knew was coming finally happened. Enzo convinces all of Major’s men to betray him, leaving Major standing alone. Fillmore Graves has never believed in Major, never totally committed to him as a leader. I’ve never felt the show built a convincing argument as to why Chase Graves inspired so many more followers than Major and that Major was a bad leader. Major has tried to keep the peace in New Seattle for as long as he’s been in charge, but his zombies are out for brains. He escapes by the skin of his teeth, and Enzo goes on TV letting everyone know that he’s the new sheriff in town, and humans had better hide. Dolly and her people watch from their fish food truck, and she gives the go ahead to retaliate and recruit.
Meanwhile, Blaine discovers that Ravi has stolen his Freylich brains. He tells his smuggler that if he sees Ravi, shoot to kill. This season has really doubled down on Blaine being evil, with no interest in redeeming him. This episode sees him doing some truly unforgivable acts. While Liv is gone, she asks Peyton to housesit at the Renegade quarters. Because Blaine is the worst, he and Don E “follow Ravi’s favorite thing” to lead them to where the Freylich brain kids are hiding out. He and Don E muscle themselves in, and Peyton emotionally begs Blaine to leave them alone. It’s hard not to imagine a season that had gone all in as Blaine as the Big Bad of the entire series. If they had whittled down on nuclear threats and off-shoot human supremacist gangs, and beefed up even more on Blaine’s goal of taking control of New Seattle, I wonder if the season would have been stronger. Thankfully, the show did cut back on forcing real world political parallels that it didn’t have the range for, as I was afraid it would be the main focus of the season, but I think a centered focus on Blaine would have made everything much more focused. This scene, for example, was absolutely terrifying. Both Aly Michalka’s emotional performance and David Anders cold brutality elevated the tension in this moment, and left the fate of both Peyton and the Freylich brain kids in the balance. I’m holding out hope that this will be the moment that our dark horse player, Don E, will emerge as an unlikely hero of this series, but we are going to have to wait until the finale to find out.
In Atlanta, Clive, Liv, and Ravi actually pull off the heist. Despite Liv on pickpocket brain having the stickiest fingers ever, Ravi being incredibly unpleasant on Russian hacker brain, and Clive getting momentarily distracted by busting some serious moves on the dance floor, they manage to hit their mark, Gladys from HR. For the second half of the heist, Liv and Ravi switch to the ninja and acrobat brains, and sneak into the high security building. Clive saunters passed a guard that thinks all black people look the same, and helps Charlie smuggle in too. For a moment, it seems like the CDC has caught on to our heroes. Saxon rushes in and opens the vault to make sure the uptiopium was still there. Unfortunately for him, he fell right into their trap. Liv points a gun at Saxon and smugly tells him they knew they wouldn’t be able to get into the vault, so they tipped him off so he could do it for them. Saxon tries to bargain with Ravi, and to apologize for how the CDC has treated him, but Ravi is done standing by. No one knows better than Ravi the importance of this cure. Not only is he a man of science, he’s watched his loved ones deal with the zombie virus for several years. He’s had a front row seat to Liv and Major’s trials and watched Peyton buckle under the pressure of being New Seattle’s mayor. He watched Isobel pass away, and then when he tried to avenge her by ethically pursuing a cure, he kept losing to Blaine and the CDC. Well, not anymore. After five seasons of setbacks, there’s no way Ravi’s going to let go of the cure that easily. Ravi rages out. He knocks out Saxon, and Liv grabs the uptiopium. There’s just one more piece they needed for the cure — the Max Rager from Fillmore Graves. Liv calls Major, and he reassures her not to worry about it. When the camera cuts to him, we see him hiding out in the waterfront, injured and alone.
There is a lot of things to wrap up next week, but I thought this penultimate episode was exciting, character-driven, and showcased elements of the show that made me love it so much. Next week, I’ll see you back in New Seattle, for one final time.
“You’re not that great with boyfriends, are you?” Don E tells Liv, which is the first time all season anyone has mentioned that Liv’s boyfriends have short lifespans on this show.
“His hair makes me so angry!”
Clive mentions that if Liv eats the pickpocket brain, to “get ready for visions of me rockin’ a mustache” and I’m so mad the show didn’t make good on this promise.
“What are you going to do without me?” Liv asks Clive, pointing out that she’s no use as a police partner without her visions. What’s their relationship going to look like when Liv is no longer a zombie?
Peyton tells Liv that she’s probably going to marry Ravi. Pavi forever.
“We are in the south now, you don’t put stolen jewelry in a black man’s pocket.” I squeaked at this line! Between the racist janitor and this line, Clive was really coming for Atlanta in this episode.
I thought it was a hilarious gag to have someone remember Ravi from his CDC days, even if it was a one night stand that didn’t really reflect well on his character
Haley’s episode rating: 🐝🐝🐝🐝.5
The series finale of iZombie airs Thursday, August 1 at 9/8c on the CW.