When Eleanor Cash, the Research Scientist working in pharmaceuticals is found dead, nothing falls under the unusual for the local Seattle weekday. As procedure goes: fellow science gal, Liv Moore, working in forensics analysis examines poor Eleanor’s corpse for signs of trauma, bruising, struggle; reads the briefing on the crime-scene; checks her brain for hemorrhaging and because it pairs well with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio.
Procedure follows as normal until Liv’s visions–thanks to the recently ingested brain–kicks in, and the bombshell on the barely cold Eleanor whistles over her head and explodes in beautiful, deserved finger-pointing: Eleanor worked under Vaughn Du Clark, head honcho of the energy drink conglomerate Max Rager. The products of Max Rager are one half of the Zombie tonic, and the maniacal Du Clark seems to revel in it.
Welcome back, everyone!
In the past few weeks, iZombie has let you stew on the new revelations that poured out of the previous few weeks of quality television on par with the best of the show. To catch up: Blaine has been made by Mr. Boss, who then slit his throat and left him for dead. But none for long because Blaine is once again ranking among the undead. Ravi’s cure isn’t full-proof, where those injected with his vaccine revert back, then crash and die, leaving both Blaine and Major on a short clock. Clive almost came close to at least poking the bear with Liv and her idiosyncrasies. Drake, Liv’s boyfriend, is playing both sides of the fence–a tri-fold fence possibly? He’s a George McHale from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull essentially, no one knows that he’s on their side when he truly is, and he keeps all his enemies close. Extremely close. Too close maybe, especially with Major, who adds Drake to the seemingly bottomless meat freezer.
What we get for the few weeks of patience is a slower episode with not too much of the main characters, however this is exactly what the show needed: there were too many plot points that were getting slivers of air time when the show focused on having an episode about a stranger’s unfortunate ending. Particularly–finally–the plot with Max Rager and Vaughn has been given a violent shove forward. It seemed strange to me that a show about zombies, where one group is actively trying to eradicate it, another is profiteering from it, and the final group is trying to unleash it, almost kept to the wayside that third, incredibly important group.
Du Clark sees his Super Max energy drinks as the next step in the industry, powerful enough to wipe out the competition while at the same time being a step in the direction of human physical progression, where people will have the same strange at their control as when their love ones are trapped under a car. A nod by the writers to contemporary politics, Du Clark even sights that when the drink becomes a danger, the only ones that can take down a “bad guy” on Super Max is a “good guy” on Super Max. Money obviously being the byproduct in his eyes. Du Clark has always been eccentric and full of himself, but it seems now he is ushering himself into a God complex. He is a visionary with the ability to bring about a change in human physique, and he has experienced it himself; the reincarnation of dead flesh is on his list as well, maybe not quite so high, but one could easily say that Vaughn is playing with higher powers and he knows it.
This comes to a head with the episode’s climactic scene: Vaughn, Dr. Lockett, and Vaughn’s daughter Gilda (realizing I’ve been neglecting that some people may know her as Rita) are enjoying the results of the latest Super Max drink by way of experimentation on the in-house zombie. When the zombie escapes and all hell is breaking loose, Vaughn abandons his daughter to deal with the “suped” up walk–ehr, ahem, shuffler. Clearly not a utter monster, Vaughn is genuinely shaken by this and the scene with him reconciling what just happened is tense and creepy, more than any moment I’ve experienced watching this show. Usually the light and airy tone took a serious nose dive as you feel that there going to be some fingers crawling up his back and over his shoulder before ending him.
What happens in the end is actually much more depressing, another tonal shift for the show: Gilda shows up at the door to his office, pleading for her father to open the door. She is clearly beaten and, though the show doesn’t expressly say, with all her cuts and scratches and shambling, she is likely a victim of her father’s madness.
From there the show plays on with the sadness being experienced through all it’s characters: Liv is stood up, Blaine could be on death’s true door, Drake is captured by Major; this episode left me wanting next week’s right now, a feeling not felt at 10PM on Tuesdays in a long time. The potential that the season began on and built onto is finally being realized, and the stakes are higher than ever: Gilda is pissed and who knows what secrets she could spill, or if a true containment breach is imminent. This is the Empire Strikes Back episode, where no good triumphs and evil is wounded too, the two sides retract to lick their wounds in preparation for whatever event is to come.
The opportunity iZombie has here is splendid, and it is a mark to their perseverance to keep some consistency through the production woes they have faced. All the threads they have spun have ample time to be lovingly tended to by the end of the finale with the main and most exciting plot lines seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Truly a mark to the writers that nothing of substance feels like wild extrapolation to get Point A to match Point Y. What we should get are more (several per episode) “oh hell” moments, and by god if Blaine doesn’t get better…
Also, Gilda had it coming.
Final Grade: A-
+The entire final third of the episode
+Blaine’s pacification after a rousing comeback and the heart strings it pulls
+Major making a move on Drake
+/– Sort of slow for what is typical in the series
–Liv wasn’t prominently featured
–The promo for next week highlights nothing from what made this episode great
A great show uses moments like these to control you and your emotions with excellent pacing in the next episode: open with a taste of what you just had but take away the plate. Then they bring out a fresh dish and waft it in our faces. Hopefully, next Tuesday works through the story they’ve been promising and continues the momentum into the finale–and into season three!
Do you think Gilda really deserved to go out like that? What do you think the punishment for Vaughn will be then? Let us know in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!