Liv is an undead dame to kill for in this noir soaked excellent episode.
An incredibly inventive episode this time out as Liv eats the brain of murdered private eye Frank Chisel. This leads to some classic film noir homages as she hunts for the killer. In another twist Blaine has already found the killer, murdered them and eaten their brain. The scene is set for Liv and Blaine to go toe to toe at last. Meanwhile the threat of a nuclear solution to the zombie problem looms ever larger over Seattle.
With only three more episodes to go until iZombie is laid to rest for good it is great to see the programmes makers still having fun with the format. After Liv eats private eye brain we are treated to an episode dripping with the style of a classic film noir. Donning a trenchcoat and developing a penchant for melodramatic monologues, Liv becomes one no-nonsense dame as she embodies the familiar hard-boiled detective role. Rose McIver’s performance as the tough as nails detective shows once again what a talented and versatile actress she is. Muted trombones accompany double bass lines as 1930’s slang peppers the dialogue.
The episode is beautifully shot; every time Liv is onscreen the colour is de-saturated, sometimes to the point of being virtually black and white. The lighting is harsh as shadows are splashed across the screen. The silhouettes of horizontal blinds are everywhere, usually thrown across Liv’s face as she stares pensively and spouts detective clichés. Rain falls constantly as a storm swirls around Seattle. The effect of all this makes for an extremely enjoyable episode, refreshingly different and all the better for it.
Adding to the intrigue in Night and the Zombie City is the fact that the murder takes place in the brothel situated in the back of Don E Be Goods (formerly The Scratching Post). This means when the murderer returns to the scene of the crime, to collect a zombie cure they had to leave behind, Blaine is there. One blow to the head later and he gets to chow down on killer brain. This is a nice setup with Liv and Blaine now having visions of both victim and killer. One trying to solve the case and the other trying to use it for their personal gain. The conclusion is very satisfying as the show’s heroine and main villain finally get to go into full zombie rage mode and battle it out.
One disappointment is that the cliffhanger from last episode is seemingly resolved pretty much straight away. Ravi and Peyton had discovered that Beanpole Bob, creator of Utopium and ultimately all zombies, is really Liv’s father. Ravi tells Liv this right at the beginning of Night and the Zombie City and she goes to confront him immediately. He apologises and ultimately this wraps things up. Liv is annoyed at him for not being honest but to me this seems a wasted opportunity for a lot more drama. I suppose by introducing this storyline so close to the show’s final episodes, it was inevitable that things wouldn’t be dragged out too much but even so, it just seems quite a big plot that I’m sure would have been allowed more time to breath had it occurred earlier.
A lot of good stuff is packed into this episode. Don E gets dumped by Darcy, his Freylich-brained girlfriend. Blaine sends his team of bounty hunters out to try and kidnap some more Freylich brained kids and there is also a mystery for Major to investigate. Someone has been forging keycards at Fillmore Graves and using them to steal their private stash of Max Rager, the banned drink that caused so many problems in the early seasons of the show.
In a particularly effective scene Major confronts a suspected thief who quickly run and impales his own head on a coat hook rather than be taken in for questioning. It comes out of the blue and is quite shocking. There is a lighter touch as Peyton, newly sacked from being acting mayor, goes to Don E’s new karaoke night, Completely drunk and appallingly out of tune, she manages to start a bar fight much to Don E’s dismay. He soon cheers up when Darcy returns, he apologies and proposes to her. She agrees to marry the lovable loser but I can’t help but feel that tragedy is not far off. A shame as Don E has become a funny and likeable character this season.
We also find out that Liv’s dad and his cronies are using the stolen Max Rager as part of his plan to control his ever increasing army of zombies that he has locked up. Couple this with the US military narrowly voting against wiping Seattle off the face of the planet and things are definitely hotting up as the big finale approaches. Not to mention General Mills throwing his lot in with Dolly Durkin and her Deadenders. The battlelines are being drawn and there is definitely carnage coming. Who ends up alive, dead or undead remains to be seen.
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum