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REVIEW: iZombie 2×18 “Dead Beat”

To avoid doing any proper disclaimer, the “two-part” finale review for season two of iZombie will be just like any other review where the sixty minute block will be reviewed in the context of the episode and the series entire. It is apparent, though, that the finale is going to be a blocked story, so I will individualize scores and provide an extra score at the end of the following review that is an overall “average”–not numberically–score to represent how I felt about the entire event. On with the review!

Hot off the heels of last week’s ending, the gravity of Major’s night-time activities is finally plummeting to earth at breakneck, meteoric speeds. The Chaos Killer has been arrested, and though Major hasn’t actually killed anyone, and that they aren’t really “alive” to begin with, the lives of those around Major have been irreparably damaged and altered. Ravi is brought in as an accessory, Liv and Major’s relationship will never be the same, as it won’t be with Clive, Bozzio; there is a certain line that once you cross it, no matter of cathartic purging by way of flashing smiles and hugging-it-out will get you back over. It will be interesting to see into next season how, once this story wraps up in some way, their day to day dialogue will change.

Now, Major being locked away produces a bit of Deja Vu, if you recall in episode 8 “The Hurt Stalker,” hungry zombies and jail add up to a very dangerous solution on par with total outbreak potential. Also the potential for some really bloody on-screen shenanigans, and being a consumer of television first, why I would love nothing more.

Liv is, in her own words, barely holding on. The entire weight of all her relationships seem to finally getting the better of her; Major, her ex-fiance being a serial freezer with one of the victims being her current boyfriend and undercover (mega-spy, more apropo) officer Drake Halloway. Her family has completely abandoned her, which still feels like a total missed opportunity this season. Hiding who she is from Clive Babineaux is becoming increasingly more taxes, not that he is truly trying, but that outside influencers are inching her closer and closer to slipping up. And the ever present Blaine, still a thorn in her side, but for the time being has quelled with him being more or less “reset.” The only relationships that she has to hold onto are Ravi, Peyton, and her work.

It’s a real moment of sympathy when you step back and see that she can’t control everything. Occasionally I have issues with the show as the stakes are never too dire for Liv–she’s immortal and the visions of her homicide victims are more or less photo albums of the actual killer. She rarely has to “try” to get herself out of sticky situations, personal relationships notwithstanding. But now those two elements have collided, the victims are her personal relationships and there are no brains to eat that will give her the answers. Being pulled apart by loyalties, it’s heartbreaking that she has to lie to Clive’s face while protecting Major, a Major that she has worked hard to separate from.

Finally everything that Max Rager has been built up to be is coming to fruition. With head honcho, Vaughn Du Clark being as coolly menacing as ever, the launch of Super Max is at hand and the foundation for something absolutely terrible is set. This is the feeling throughout the entirety of “Dead Beat,” these are the points in place for the final sixty minutes to follow. I also want to shed light on the man behind the character, Steven Weber, is possibly the finest actor in the series, pound for pound, and certainly one of the veterans among the young cast. His nuance as Du Clark, near perfect timing, and ability to toe the line of cocky businessman and raving psychopath displays a great range of character next to Rose McIver.

Repeatedly, I have praised the writers and producers of the series to have natural talent for their craft, and in “Dead Beat” they proved more than ever that they are going above and beyond what their contemporary creatives are doing; the call back to Meat Cute is something I absolutely did not see coming, but when it did, it seemed to all make sense, that the inevitability was in front of us the whole time, we were just waiting for them to turn the hand. As pointed out by Major’s lawyer Brant Stone (played–surprisingly–by the wonderful Ken Marino) the prosecution in the Chaos Killer case had nothing and he’d walk scot-free, but bringing back the Meat Cute incident shows that Rob Thomas and team are smart writers. Be honest, if that didn’t come up at all would you have given it second thought? Probably, there’s enough going on as is.

To wrap up the “finale jr.” we come to the big reveal of the week, which feels closer to the reveal of the whole series: Liv coming clean to Clive about everything, Major’s role both the massacre and the Chaos disappearances, while also coming out of the zombie-closet. There are two trains of emotion here. One. Thank god, it’s out there, let’s move on. Two. That was really, really underwhelming, and I blame Clive; the reaction he gives us would make sense at the end of the first season maybe, however he picks at the surface this entire season, why isn’t this “wonderful detective” clued into the idea that this person may actually be telling the truth?! And like that the scene was over. A significant moment for the entire show and it fell flat to say the least.

Then we have Ravi AGAIN being the unexpected badass–maybe not so unexpected anymore? The plucky side character with the one liner jokes has repeated come to the aid of the characters, immortal characters with the strength of a dozen men. Of course, not being one of those immortal zombies, he doesn’t take it as well, knowing that he killed someone…but Janko was the hired gun for Max Rager who even hushed Major and gave off the impression that he knew how to kill everyone in a room in any given scenario. Just to say, hats off to you Ravi.

If you felt that this episode was slow, that’s because it was, there was more to set up than there was time to cram in anything else, however I believe it only elevated it’s quality. Slow burns are becoming “the” show format of late, and while I don’t believe nor exactly want the show to have these long gestating, meticulous plots, pock-marking them throughout a season would be well met. And any other week, I would have told you that a great, cleanly structured episode was muddied sour by some half-assed cliffhanger, but thankfully there was no need to wait–onto the finale!

Final Grade: B+

+Wonderfully written, with Major’s storyline getting the emotional weight it has promised

+Ravi taken on–and out–Janko

+Near perfectly set up the finale…

–…except no Mr. Boss once again, strangely

Extra Thoughts:

–They weren’t zombies in 28 Days Later! Watch the finale!

Let us know what you thought about the prequel to the finale in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Brian Corliss