iZombie S03E05 “Spanking The Zombie” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Major is in the middle of a war zone. He’s taking fire and coughing a lot. His troop storms the objective, Major gets stabbed a half dozen times and… gets right back up. Zombie soldiers have some advantages after all.
- At the lab, Ravi and Liv are talking about how to break it to Major that the memory serum doesn’t work. They’re interrupted by Clive who tells them they have a body. Or more specifically had a body. Roxanne Greer, a dominatrix.
- Who died two weeks ago.
- And whose brain Ravi was using to test the serum.
- One escalope later, Liv and Clive are at the lady’s dungeon. The brain is in FULL effect. In between bantering, they find a concealed camera with the memory card missing. Could be a motive…
- Liv picks up a bondage mask and… JACKPOT – she flashbacks.
- She sees that DA Baracus, the zombie running for the mayor of Seattle, was a client.
- In the field, Major has a couple of rounds dug out of his back. He watches some locals tearfully thank his colleagues and, just for a second, feels like the hero he’s always desperately wanted to be.
- A colleague bringing severed heads (aka, zombie food) in a bag into the morgue kind of takes the edge off that though.
- The following day, Clive and Liv crash Baracus’s politics breakfast. Baracus follows the usual trajectory; lie, admit, defend and push back. He claims to have no idea of the camera’s existence and can prove he was somewhere else. Alibi confirmed.
- Back at the precinct, Liv gets with Jimmy the sketch artist. It turns out the blue serum soaked brain works FIERCELY well and she’s been up all night with visions of the brain’s clients. Liv has another vision and it’s… JOHNNY FROST!
- He has an alibi too.
- To make matters worse, Cavanaugh finds out about Liv and Clive questioning Johns and tears a very deserved strip off the both of them.
- But in doing so, he reveals that Harley Johns was casing Wally’s house the day before the murders…
- They decide to go to Filmore-Graves about this and fill the senior staff in.
- And then Liv zones out. And, brilliantly, we see it from the outside for once!
- Back at the station, she verbally pummels another sketch out of Jimmy. Or is in the process of doing so when Clive bursts in. Jimmy is SUPER turned on by new Liv.
- Less so when she flashes on another suspect – returning character Brandt Stone!
- The interrogation goes exactly the way interrogating a lawyer should go. Until they get him to sort of, maybe, identify a peeping Tom he would have seen if he had been a client. Which he neither confirms or denies.
- Don E makes a new friend! Who’s at least as squalid as he is! And they rock out to Oasis. It’s adorable. And also kind of awful.
- Back at the station Liv and Clive are going through Facebooks and it’s not going well. Until, Johnny shows up, along with his lawyer.
- Guess who that is?
- Turns out Johnny was videoed in his session. A video that leaked. And he was being blackmailed for it. They have a chance to get the blackmailer by arranging the money drop off and nailing them when they show.
- Johns is told there’s been a settlement for him at F-G. He’s offered 10,000 dollars and they goad him into discussing the zombies. They claim they want to pool their resources. They claim this as outside, F-G troops break his truck down and implant something…
- He brags about the forces lined up to oppose the zombies. They give him numerous chances to back down. He takes none of them. Liv listens with them as the bug they planted pays off. Johns and his people believe that the Chaos Killer victims were zombie victims too…
- At the drop, Ravi is delightfully awkward and terrible at being normal.
- The blackmailer makes his run. Clive, disguised as an ice cream vendor, intercepts him with his mobile freezer and arrests him.
- Liv wants first crack at him in the precinct. Clive… gives her the shot.
- It works.
- He confesses.
- Liv and Clive are both kind of stunned.
- Back at F-G, Major is off-duty and feeling like hammered crap.
- He tries to talk about the ice chest full of heads he saw but his colleagues aren’t interested.
- They leave and Major convulses, coughing in spasms. Dustin hears him and rushes him to the lab.
- There, Ravi tells them they need to cure him.
- But the knife wounds still haven’t healed.
- Liv drains his lungs of fluid, giving them time for the wounds to heal before the cure is administered.
- At the bar, Don E and his new friend are in their element. It’s going GREAT. So we figure he’s got maybe two weeks before it all goes south.
- At the apartment, Liv and Ravi are watching over Major as he sleeps. She sends Ravi to bed.
- Major wakes up and Liv levels with him. Major is surprisingly okay with it and asks her two favours; to keep reminding new him of what they meant to each other and to give him a new name. Something less silly.
- They reminisce. And have sex.
- The next morning, Ravi takes a moment to get himself together. He’s either about to kill, cure or erase the memories of his closest friend.
- Liv watches Major sleep, just about holding it together. Ravi comes in and gets them ready and all three of them are about a minute off openly crying. You’re not that far behind.
- Liv takes Major’s hand, Ravi readies the needle and…
- End credits.
There is so much to enjoy about this episode. Saedi’s script takes what could be a cheesefest and turns it into a considered, smart and very, very funny story with one hell of a sucker punch ending. Liv on dominatrix brain is very funny but never over-the-top and this episode really lets us see her in a new light. We especially enjoyed her new found kinship of sorts with Johnny the world’s most put upon sketch artist.
The F-G plot moves right along too, from the profoundly disturbing super soldiers action sequence at the start to the tangible unease when Johns is at the F-G Offices. You honestly expect him to be killed and the scene is very smartly shot by Blake. It’s only at the end, when Liv appears, that you realise the man is safe. For now. And almost certainly prime suspect too.
Also, continuity! Ken Marino and Daran Norris return as Brandt Stone and Johnny Frost respectively. It’s great to see the show layer in characters from previous seasons like this and even more of a delight to see the two Veronica Mars alumni share the screen. Marino in particular is great fun, and his arch, deadpan delivery gives the episode its best scene. Plus, the continued appearance of characters like this really drive home the subtlest element of the show’s premise. Seattle is a small town. When things go south, and they will, it’s going to get messy.
Best of all, though, is the emotional component of the episode. Major facing the cure and its consequences is way more poignant than you’d expect. There’s a real sweetness to the final scenes here, and everything from him and Liv spending the night together to Ravi psyching himself up to do it just breaks your heart. These three characters are the core of the show and seeing them face something this potentially terminal is hugely poignant.
All of which combines to create another brilliant episode. This is the strongest season this show has ever had and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
- “Crawl over here, Piggy, and bring me my gloves.”
- DA Baracus. AK Fortesen. This show has never met a pun name it didn’t love.
- Baracus throwing hot sauce all over his food is a nice touch.
- We love seeing Liv’s visions from the outside.
- Major has a basketball in his kitbag because Major is the world’s largest jock.
- “That has to be some kind of a record. I was worried you’d gone Waug.” GAME OF THRONES CLIVE IS BACK!
- “My job is to READ the news not ABSORB it.”
- “In lieu of laughing in your face I’ll chuckle to myself on the way out.”
- “Are there any other questions you’d like me to expertly evade?”
“Yes, can you order a Catholic schoolboy uniform in a 44 tall or do you have to have that specially made?”
- “Zucchini… Fiddlesticks… Mollycoddle.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m hoping one of these is my safe word.”
- The Don E stuff feels a little out of place. That’s it.
And The Random:
Tessa Blake has directed award-winning short movies and worked for NCIS: New Orleans as well as directing the movie Election Night.
-Sara Saedi has written for The Goodwin Games, All My Children and as a Story Editor for izombie.
Review by Alasdair Stuart