iZombie: 5.12 Bye, Zombies
For its penultimate ever episode, iZombie goes all Ocean’s Eleven as an elaborate heist is planned by Liv, Ravi and Clive to steal the zombie cure from a CDC vault. Blaine goes into full villain mode putting Peyton and the all the Freylich brain kids in danger and the long brewing situation in Seattle finally reaches boiling point as the final battle for control begins.
Bye, Zombies is a truly great episode, eschewing the big action scenes that were expected and instead plays to the series’ strengths. What we get is a very intimate episode where we follow our main heroes as they get to have one final hurrah before it all comes to a conclusion. The characters we have come to know and love over the last five years all get their moments to shine against an undercurrent of tension where you’re not ever sure that everyone is going to back it home safely.
When the episode starts, things are looking bleak. There is an internal monologue from Liv which acts as a sort of synopsis of what has come previously and sets the scene for what is to come next. It all feels very final and really sets the tone of the episode. We’re left in no doubt that we are entering the endgame. Ravi reveals the hammer blow that the cure they were expecting is not coming. The tainted Utopium they retrieved from Liv’s father has been sent to Ravi’s friend Charlie at the CDC to use for making the zombie cure. Unfortunately her boss has other plans and has dismissed her and taken the Utopium to sell to a shady pharmaceutical company so that they can control who gets a cure and when. The formula for the tainted Utopium is on a thumb drive in a safe. This is where the heist comes into play.
Ravi reveals all the hurdles they must overcome in order to retrieve the formula which leads Major to ask him if its all true or whether he was just doing the Tom Cruise monologue from Mission: Impossible. Rahul Kohli’s timing and facial expression is perfect as he just replies “both”. All the cast are on top form and the writers have really given them some great material. The comedy is very funny and even adds to the tension. You get the feeling that everyone is getting these great lines and reminding the audience how good our favourite characters are very probably before something incredibly bad befalls one or possibly several of them.
The idea for the heist is an excellent use of the fact that two of our heroes are undead (it’s Ravi’s time of the month so he gets to munch brains as well this time) and can gain the powers of pickpockets and acrobats by feasting on the appropriate brains. It actually seems like a good idea for another show, possibly along the lines of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, where a team of zombies could go on missions every week after being given all the skills they’ll need. Plus hey, after next episode they’ll be a gap in the market for a zombie action comedy show.
On of the episode’s highlights is Clive getting to cut loose on the dance floor whilst attempting to keep a lab employee distracted. Almost always the straight man, Malcolm Goodwin really gets to show his comedic acting chops as well as his glorious dance moves as Clive’s plan works too well. The woman he is keeping distracted reveals an altogether far kinkier side than he was expecting. There is more funny stuff from Ravi after eating the brain of a laconic Russian computer hacker and also from Liv stealing everything in sight when she’s on pickpocket brain.
As well as all the comedy and really feel good interaction between the leads there is the fact that iZombie is coming to its conclusion. The writers have never shied away from killing characters if required and as there is an undercurrent running throughout Bye, Zombie that there are going to be some tragic consequences to saving the city. Liv and Major finally get a moment together and kiss, appropriately in a grave, as they dig up some of the criminals Clive has told them will be useful for the heist. It’s a tender moment but again feels like a goodbye. I suspect the finale is not going to be all laughs and smiles.
A big part of that comes from how they position Blaine and Don E this time round. Always more of a lovable rogue type with his simpleton sidekick, the writers have definitely given them more of an edge. Blaine is confrontational to both Liv and Ravi when they come to purchase ninja acrobat brains for their heist. He tries to get under Ravi’s skin by reminding him of his past with Peyton. Don E is clearly still dealing with the death of Darcy and has also raised his nastiness levels. When Blaine discovers Ravi is the person who has rescued the Freylich brain kids from his clutches, he orders him killed. Then when he tracks the kids back to Renegade’s secret headquarters, threatens Peyton and kills one of Renegade’s men. Blaine is definitely being set up as a proper bad guy that will need dealing with in the show's final episode.
The only downside to Bye, Zombie is that with the intimate setting highlighting the heroes and their heist we lose some of the drama playing out in Seattle. General Mills has supplied Dolly Durkins and her Deadenders with weaponry and they’ve taken to the streets to readdress the balance. It seems the war we’ve been waiting for has finally started, but unfortunately we don’t really get to see much of it. iZombie breaks film and television's golden rule of “show don’t tell.” We only know the battle has begun because we hear about it on the radio or from Major’s soldiers reporting to him. When the armoured car Major and his squad are travelling in is hit there is just a flash and a fade to white. Then when we get to see Enzo turn up and convince Major’s men to change sides it is in a sort of industrial park at night and it looks kind of cheap. Hopefully they’re saving the budget for a big blowout finale.
So it all ends next time. Major is injured and on the run. Enzo’s zombies and the Deadenders are at war in the streets. Blaine has taken Peyton and the Freylich kids hostage. Will our heroes create the cure, defeat the bad guys and restore Seattle to normality? We’ll find out in the final ever episode of iZombie.