Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes every Wednesday
Writer: Kit Boss
Director: Jason Bloom
Essential Plot Points:
- At the gun range, Ravi watches the footage of Justin. They’ve got it all figured out, and they’ve got Billy, the Max Rager guard survivor on site too.
- Johns and his survivors are starting an army. They ask for volunteers to keep watch on stalk. He also preps the first blue juiced brain to be tried out…
- Back at the gun range, Billy asks what they’re planning to do with the first confirmed zombie. Johns’ plan is simple; capture a zombie, starve it, livestream the results and tell the world. Billy is not cool with this. He refuses to participate and the Johns’ brothers get ugly.
- And then Ravi does something amazing.
- He stands up. He tells the truth.
- Most of it.
- He SWEARS that he’s close to a serum, points out a kidnapping could start the apocalypse they’re trying to avoid and they listen.
- After the meeting. Ravi gets talking to a lady called Rachel. Well, she makes contact with him. Turns out she’s a photographer and wants to shoot a zombie. Oh and she has a motorbike. And likes Ravi.
- Victim of the week is a GM. He leads his players in an in-character toast and…dies.
- At the lab, they confirm Dan was poisoned and Liv makes a delightful brain pie. Seriously it actually looks really good.
- Vampire Steve, the first suspect reveals that Dan was extremely wealthy due to his career as an online poker player and that he bought the original cover art for classic novel Ogden Twiddlyhut and the Valiant Men of Golden Glen, worth $10,000. It turns out that despite playing in the campaign for years, they were all playing level 1 characters. Because their characters were killed by poison darts one week before the murder…
- Vampire Steve and Liv get into it over whether or not it was a bad call. Liv rolls a dice and…has a vision of the players all blowing up at Dan for killing them.
- Next up, Zoe.
- Over at The Scratching Post, Blaine is getting some surprisingly solid customer feedback from Don E’s assistant who ate the brain. The Blue Juice is a HIT.
- Don E waits until the others go, and takes a melon baller hit of the blue juiced brain.
- At home, Ravi finds Major reading the hate mail Ravi’s been hiding from him. Ravi wants him to stop torturing himself. Major, because he;s still kind of awful, revels in it. Especially when he gets a letter from someone who says she believes him and that she was accused of something she didn’t do too…
- At Peyton’s office she talks to the dominatrix killer’s psychiatrist. It turns out he was tormented by the ghost of his dead wife. But when she finds out who James killed, the psychiatrist tells Peyton that’s impossible. James lost his wife and his sex drive evaporated after her death…
- Liv and Clive visit the comic and gaming store where Zoe works. Clive, as well as revealing a really endearing Flash fandom, spots the missing Ogden Twiddlyhut cover. Zoe tries to front it up, claiming that she won it from Dan in a bet. Liv, who’s had a vision involving Zoe, Dan and erotic cosplay involving Halfling feet, calls her on it.
- Zoe admits that she and Dan were sleeping together and Jimmy may have spotted it. Zoe thinks Jimmy had a crush on her so he’s next in the box.
- Jimmy, it turns out, has a sketchpad.
- One full of sketches.
- One of which is Liv. In a bodice, with a whip.
- Another of which is Jimmy, on a Conan-ified body, with Zoe in his arms.
- Clive asks how long Jimmy was obsessed. Jimmy suggests they check Diego’s back.
- With a huge tattoo of a dragon, and Zoe’s name.
- Steve, it turns out, became Vampire Steve when he realized Zoe liked Twilight. They call Vampire Steve back in but he’s in the clear.
- The only option? Play the game.
- Liv, Peyton, Major and Clive are the group. The plan is to play the game to try and get Liv a vision.
- Liv sets the adventure up and Peyton immediately tries to munchkin her way out of it. She’s killed.
- Mosco saves her.
- Some CONSIDERABLE time and a lot of floor plans later they’re facing off against the lich and they are ALL totally into it.
- They fight the lich off, search for secret doors and..Liv has a vision of Zoe finding a secret room in Dan’s apartment. Peyton wants to go and Clive wants NOTHING to do with it.
- Later, Lich dead, Clive a convert and back at Dan’s apartment, they find the secret room. Which is filled with computers, and a log in for a Russian nuclear power plant…
- They try and question Zoe but she’s sent home. The Feds have taken the case because of the chance Dan was poisoned by the Russians.
- The lead on the case? Agent Bozzio.
- In possibly the sweetest moment the show has ever done, Clive runs out of the building to try and find her. He almost breaks down as he tells her how lost he is without her. She shuts him down anyway.
- At home, Major gives Liv some of the brainmush FG mercs are given so she can be ‘normal’ for Justin.
- At The Scratching Post, Don E is TRIPPING. The blue juice brain, of a WW2 gunner, is having quite the effect.
- Liv and Justin are at Baracus’ fundraiser. Justin working security, Liv mingling. She’s introduced to Chase Graves who cuts directly to…the…chase.
- He is super intense. And maybe flirty. It’s confusing. And oddly sweet.
- Baracus makes his entrance along with his son. Peyton tries to ask Baracus about the dominatrix case but he shuts her down. Which is pretty much the worst possible thing he could do. And then Liv tells her that Baracus was one of the dominatrix’s clients.
- Ravi, because he’s ADORABLE, is painting miniatures in the lab when Johns bursts in. They’ve captured a zombie.
- They’ve captured Don E. And he is in full zombie mode.
- Major is watching TV.
- Justin is off duty and he and Liv chat about Chase Graves. She’s heading over to chew him out for shooting Justin a few weeks ago when a would be assassin shoots Baracus in the chest. In the chaos, Chase returns fire and Baracus, seconds from going full zombie in public, is talked down by Liv.
- Major is heading out when Shana, the woman from the letter earlier, comes in. Major may have invited her…
- Blaine is reading the newspaper to the well his father is in. And implies very VERY heavily that he was behind the assasssination attempt. After all, Baracus is being praised for taking a bullet for his son and a zombie mayor is good for business..
- At the airport, a car pulls up. Mr Boss is back in town to settle some old debts.
There’s a nasty moment early on in this episode where it looks a like the show is about to jump the rails. We walk right up to a really nasty, central casting look at roleplayers and Ravi’s revulsion at the ‘nerds’ is less charming than it is mean. Liv’s ridiculous, endless dice rolling starts off as a cute Futurama call back and ends up just being annoying.
Then, they all actually sit down and play the game. And something magical happens.
They totally get into it.
There’s no revelatory moment, no ‘FOR NOW WE ARE ROLEPLAYERS’. Instead you have the five hardest working, most over stretched people in Seattle working through their issues in a fictional environment. We love that Major doesn’t overly care, we love Ravi’s Halfling accent but most of all? We love that Clive TOTALLY gets into it. Seattle’s Finest’s biggest Game of Thrones fan makes perfect sense to bring to the hobby and we’d really like to see him back there.
So, with the huge sigh of relief that the episode actually uses roleplaying as a backdrop and not a punchline, how’s the rest of it? Great!
We get two new characters, both of which are clearly hiding something and are possible love interests for Ravi and Major. We get a singularly horrible throwaway moment with Blaine and dad. We get the most interesting Don E has been all year and we get some really fun stuff with the zombie underground in Seattle.
We’ve talked before about how iZombie is using its mid-sized seasons and small environment to its advantage and that’s only ever becoming more apparent. Billy’s reappearance here, as well as Ravi’s moment of Awesome taking the heat off him really raise the stakes. Likewise, the scene with Chase Graves, Baracus and the assassination attempt adds a delicious ambiguity to what’s going on. It also puts the humans and zombies in the same boat. Both are desperate to avoid a conflict. Both are making choices which will make that conflict inevitable. It’s taut, tense stuff and there’s a real sense of the show bringing every thread together. Including Agent Bozzio in the sweetest moment the show’s ever done. We hope she stays, we hope she and Clive make up and we hope the series keeps being this good.
- ‘Oh he’s not a knight. His first name is…Sirjay.’
‘Clever. I’ll be watching you.’-Yep, we’ve run adventures for this group.
- ‘Lich PLEASE.’-We’ve DEFINITELY run adventures for this group.
- ‘He’ll be okay, right?”…don’t care.’-Top marks for making how annoying Don E is a feature this week.
- ‘Oh white people’-Line of the episode, right here:.
- That adventuring party in full:
- Mosco Bandywax (Ravi)
- Sirjay Esclaborne (Major)
- Brangelina Darksbane (Peyton)
- Earl (Clive)
- Ravi’s halfling accent is ADORABLE.
- The breakdown of what a DM does and how tabletop RPGs work is actually rock solid.
- Liv being surprised Zoe would find a big guy attractive is a welcome, somewhat dark character beat. It’s nice to see that after three years of literally living other people’s lives, Liv still has a few hangups.
- The episode walks RIGHT up to embracing every dreadful, tired roleplayer trope there is. The token girl, the overweight guys, the goth, the unrequited love, the endless rules lawyering. It doesn’t leave a box un-ticked.
But here’s the thing; it also doesn’t laugh at any of those boxes while ticking them. This isn’t that maliciously left-field fat joke from Doctor Who a few weeks ago, it’s an episode that plays like the writer has direct experience of what they’re writing about. Because all those things can be part of tabletop roleplaying sometimes.
But they’re not all there is. The joy of being part of an infinite world you can change, of succeeding as you work as a team? All of that is here too, especially with Clive and Ravi. So while the bad stuff is here, it’s earned and contextualized. The end result isn’t quite Community’s barnstorming ‘Advanced Dungeons & Dragons’ but it sure as hell isn’t the Laugh At The Nerds Power Hour either. Nicely done.
And The Random:
- Jason Bloom directed Bio-Dome and as a result will always, ALWAYS have a seat at our tea party. He’s also directed previously for iZombie and for Veronica Mars.
- Kit Boss is co-executive producer of iZombie and has been with the show since the start. Kit’s also worked on Bob’s Burgers, Rake and King of the Hill and was last seen here as the writer of Wag The Tongue Slowly
Review by Alasdair Stuart