Airing in the UK on Netflix, new episodes every Wednesday
Writer: Talia Gonzalez & Bisanne Masoud
Director: Viet Nguyen
Essential Plot Points:
- Mr Boss comes home, sneaking past his wife who’s complaining about his absence and apparent death, to a suitcase full of money and passports.
- Major is in bed with Shauna when Ravi calls him and says he’s got a surprise family trip to London. He asks Major to tell Liv and, because Major is both getting his ear nibbled and AWFUL, he blows Ravi off.
- At the gun range, Ravi has his phone taken off him to keep him ‘focused’ on studying Don E. Johns and his idiots have the stream set up and decide to wait till 100,000 views before turning Don E full zombie.
- At home, Peyton agrees to clear out of the apartment for the day in return for Liv taking some of James’ brain. Peyton levels with her; she doesn’t think he did it.
- One blue brain scramble later and they’re under way.
- At The Scratching Post, Blaine’s staff are…well…bored. And Blaine is having trouble getting his dad’s old contacts to work with him. Oh and he finds out Don E is on the blue brain…
- At the gun range, Don E is still convinced he’s a WW2 Air Man.
- At home, Liv persuades Peyton to be her dominatrix in order to trigger the visions. It works.
- Bad news: The dominatrix killer killed the dominatrix.
- Weird news; Drake’s back!
- Liv figures out that the killer, who hallucinated his dead wife,felt guilty about her death and she feels guilty about Drake’s. Hence his return.
- At home, Major and Shauna have built a blanket fort and ordered pizza. They also find out that they went to the same Summer Camp.
- Back at the gun range, Don E is off the brain. Ravi briefs him, and Don E lets him know that he still has a burner phone…
- Liv’s narration is back! Briefly!
- Liv looks for another brain to wipe Drake out of her mind. It doesn’t work. Drake berates her for killing him and Clive and Peyton come in. Liv explains what’s going on, and a second vision triggers.
- The killer didn’t hang himself. He was hung. By a guard.
- None of the guards are talking. Peyton however finds a call the killer made ot his daughter from prison. She’s adamant ‘they’ made her dad do it. Peyton tells them they need to find the memory card from the dungeon, and Clive agrees to talk to the daughter.
- Drake interrupts Justin and Liv having sex. And sticks around.
- At the funeral home, Blaine answers the door and is shot in the chest multiple times by Mr Boss. He’s rescued by Candy.
- Liv pops round to pick up Ravi’s key and meets Shauna. It’s…awkward.
- Clive finds Liv feeding the rats and gives her the news. They have a prisoner who saw something and wants to make a deal.
- And it’s AJ from “Live and Let Clive”! Way back in season 1! Continuity!
- After bickering with Liv, he comes clean; he saw a guard called Gary Obermann hanging the killer.
- They find his house and…it’s full of people. At his wake.
- Gary’s wife reveals that Gary died on a cruise when he fell overboard.
- Clive and Liv get a call giving them a location for the killer’s daughter and head over. Its becoming clear someone is trying to clean up a mess. And making a bigger one.
- At the gun range. Ravi sits through a conspiracy thriller about how Iran created the zombies. His tangible disgust is both endearing and oddly metafictional.
- Especially when he sedates the idiot redneck to make him STOP. TALKING.
- Ravi grabs the burner from Don E and, brilliantly, can’t remember anyone’s number. With no choice, he calls Blaine whose number is in the phone and…has to leave voicemail.
- At the funeral home, Mr Boss is tied up in a coffin. Blaine introduces him to the concept of zombies and…is interrupted by Ravi who fills him in. Blaine hangs up and goes right back to negotiating; Mr Boss can be buried alive or he can work for Blaine.
- At the range, Johns brings Rachel along. There are 81,000 views. It’s almost show time.
- At the funeral home, Mr Boss stabs Blaine through the next and…he still doesn’t die. Mr Boss finally, FINALLY gets it.
- Liv and Cive find the address Tatum is living at and ask her about her father. She, clearly worried she’s under surveillance, tells them to go and Clive gives her his card.
- They leave and Tatum and her friend both eat brain mush from FG. They’re zombies. And they know Liv’s one too…
- At home, Liv finally confronts Drake’s ghost. She admits she’s thrown herself into work because she’s frightened of facing the grief of losing Drake. She kisses his memory one last time and he fades away.
- Juuuust in time for Peyton and Justin to find her French kissing the air.
- Justin because Justin is amazing, is absolutely cool with this and Liv leads him to bed.
- Later that night, there’s a knock at the door, it’s Blaine. ‘You wanna go kick some ass?’
- At the gun range the rednecks, all holding their guns and drunk, are watching the stream. Rachel, clearly regretting her decision, asks Ravi if there’s anything they can do. There isn’t.
- Outside, Liv and Blaine go full zombie and get ready to go in and rescue Ravi.
- Ravi puts himself between them and Don E. Johns puts a gun to Ravi’s head, counts down and…
So, this is what an episode of iZombie that doesn’t work looks like. It’s been a while.
The good news first; there are elements of this that are great. Rahul Kohli’s visceral disgust at having to stand near the rednecks, plus Ravi getting his hard fought moment of badassdom works really well. Likewise, the Ravi and Don E pseudo team up is surprisingly good fun.
Elsewhere there’s some great Clive and Peyton stuff. Who knew they’d be this much fun working together?! And a lot of really solid motion on the dominatrix killer plot. The reveal that his daughter is a zombie, and she appears to be at a zombie safehouse, and knows what Liv is was jaw dropping and really sinister. It also makes perfect sense; Liv has white hair, no skin tone whatsoever and was at the Boat Party. Any zombie with google and a brain (Their own) would be able to figure out what she is.
There’s some cool stylistic stuff too. Liv’s visions seen from the outside is reminiscent of the episodes of Scrubs from other people’s point of view and is great fun. Likewise the, weirdly brief, return of her voice-overs.
But the rest of the episode tries to do too much and doesn’t quite manage any of it. It’s great to have Drake back, and the idea of him as an externalisation of a condition the brain of the week had is really very smart. The only problem is, because there’s so much else going on he doesn’t really do very much. This plot needed more room, and while their final goodbye is both very sweet and gives the episode its best joke there’s a sneaking feeling it’s arrived a little early.
The problems don’t stop there either. The opening gag with Mr Boss’ wife is meant to absurd but plays as intensely sexist and unpleasant. Mr Boss’ inability to understand what Blaine is doesn’t work either, switching from blind ignorance to total acceptance way too fast.
Then there’s Shauna, who’s very sweet and she and Major are great fun together but who spends an inordinate amount of time on screen here for the D plot. Is there something more to her? Maybe. But her screen time here feels like panicky front loading and it hurts the episode.
Worse still is Rachel, brought in here to give Ravi someone to chat to as he sits in a room full of lowest common denominator stereotypes for the entire episode. The rednecks are AWFUL. Just flat out awful. They play like racist stereotypes of racists, not menacing enough to be convincing and too stupid to be dangerous. And we spend SO LONG with them this episode. Even Johns, who was great in every previous appearance, is one step away from yelling ‘Boy howdy!’ and putting a gun rack on his gun rack.
It’s a real shame that this episode doesn’t work, because every plot separately (Even, just, the Rednecks) has some fun stuff to it. But so much is crammed into 42 minutes that nothing really does anything besides get in every other plot’s way. There’s still fun, but this is the first stumble in a great season.
- Liv’s admission that she’s thrown herself into her work to run from her grief and horror at having to kill Drake is a really brave thing for the show to do.
- Clive is a Pink Floyd fan. And a Game of Thrones fan. And a gamer. Clive is the BEST.
- The look on Ravi’s face through much of the redneck plot is all of us.
- ‘Fort Lust is a place he used to take me…it’s a euphemism.’
‘God I hope so.’-This entire exchange is gold.
- ‘dun dun dduuuuuun.’-Drake we really have missed you.
- ‘Drake the old boyfriend Drake?’
‘No Drake the multiplatinum hiphop star.’-Again the episode is really good in these little character exchanges.
- The scene with Mrs Boss was awful. It’s meant to show he’s sneaky we know but it just comes off as mean-spirited and stupid.
- ‘Volition?’-OH COME ON. Johns was interesting because he was smart. This week he and the other rednecks are uniformly terrible and the one thing the show isn’t usually; stereotypical.
- The pacing is way off this week. Way too many plots and none of them given enough time.
And The Random:
- Viet Nguyen is a frequent flyer on iZombie and has also directed for Party Down and Human Target among others.
- Talia Gonzalez and Bisanne Misoud have previously written for Teen Wolf as well as working as story editors on this season of iZombie
Review by Alasdair Stuart