iZombie: 5.01 Thug Death
The fifth and final season of iZombie begins six months after the events of last season's finale. Seattle is still under quarantine after news of the zombie outbreak has gone public. All the main players are reintroduced during the course of the episode updating us as to what has been happening to them.
With Chase now dead, Major is in command at Fillmore Graves and is struggling to maintain order in a city ready to explode into anarchy at any second. Clive and Dale, having been administered the zombie cure at the end of the last season, are still very much in love and looking forward to expanding their family. Blaine is positively thriving and living the highlife as he’s currently making a small fortune smuggling much needed brains into the city.
The best part of the episode, and the source of most of it’s comedy, is Ravi’s transformation into a lowlife thug after eating the brain of a gang “hard man”. In a complete reversal of Ravi’s usual kind nature he spends the episode scowling, threatening and just generally revelling in a Ray Winstone style that causes a lot of laughs. The only down side to this is that by contrast Liv is slightly sidelined in this episode. With no brain to eat and Ravi taking on much of this episode's heavy lifting, there isn’t much for our heroine to do. Under her “Renegade” guise Liv is still running the Seattle underground and smuggling terminally ill people into the city to be ‘cured’. Hopefully future episodes will see her return to munching on the grey matter so we get a chance to see Rose McIver’s acting and comedy chops again as she dons the persona of the victims.
Liv does get to do some police work with Clive in investigating a potential murder of a woman by zombies which is threatening the already shaky status quo in the quarantined city. Some thinly veiled social commentary is present with highly bigoted city folk refusing to serve zombies or “whities”. Combine this with the introduction of new character Dolly Durkins, head of Concerned Humans Imposing Common Sense (CHICS, yep not a great gag) who seems intent on stirring up anti-zombie sentiment and it’s easy to see where this season is potentially headed.
As a season opener Thug Death is okay. Just okay, and it’s a shame because with only twelve more episodes to come and potentially a lot of major storylines to tie up it needs to be more than that. Tonally the episode struggles slightly, balancing as it does Ravi’s broad comedy with the “Renegade’ storyline bringing us abused foster children. Again this may be an issue caused by the need to truncate plots as we head towards the finale.
With an impending zombie/human showdown in the offing and the always looming nuclear deterrent hanging over Seattle’s head, I hope iZombie goes out on a bang rather than a whimper. Hopefully after this scene setting opener the show can get back into it’s stride. Returning to its roots rather than emulating the lacklustre fourth season should be the priority. Not side-lining Liv would be a good start to this, even if it was fun seeing Ravi take the spotlight.