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REVIEW: iZombie 2×19 “Salvation Army”

Kick it!

Wow, this episode. Just… well, let’s go through it.

The very end to “Dead Beat” left on a bit of a bleh note, but taking these two episodes as one, it was just the middle portion to set up the ascension to the climactic moments of the season. Tonally, the episode begins as a “let’s catch our breath” before any of the main action happens. And, whoa boy, is there a lot to be found in “Salvation Army.” From the top:

You cannot help but feel some sadness for Clive. As a man in which going-by-the-book is absolutely intrinsic to his professional and personal life, the betrayal of one relationship in favor of others has cast an awful cloud overhead; not only has he gone against Dale, but he has jeopardized his career for someone whom I wouldn’t describe as a friend to Clive. Sure, Liv Moore is about as close as someone will get to being his best friend, but Clive has kept Major at a distance for the majority of the series, and further than that, usually is probing him in some investigation. Which of course, came to a head in the previous episode.

There is however a moment of recognition though when Major explains the scheme to Liv, Clive, and Ravi, where Clive accepts that there are larger pieces in play, one of them being extinction. Which they remind us several times over in the episode, something I always thought was funny. Eventually, you’d have a situation like the one at the end of Shaun of the Dead, where the Army eventually steam-rolls over the undead. And Seattle isn’t exactly Manhattan. That’s neither here, nor there.

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Mr. Boss has finally wormed his way back to the small screen after being nothing but a hushed mention and a shudder, Mr. Boss has been biding his time as the prosecution against him has geared up, but now that the city has thrown the case–ruining Peyton’s day with it–he is free to step out of the shadows. Hot damn, does he get stepping too. Chief, head goon now working for Don E. gets iced straight away, and if it wasn’t for his own slipperiness, Don E. would have gotten the same treatment. I wanted to write him off as a sort of half-wit former junkie, but obviously he has been able to keep Blaine’s business alive and well, flowing Utopium through the streets of Seattle, and he squeaks out of situations with the odds overwhelmingly out of his favor. Is he menacing? No, but this episode provided a great moment of characterization for him that hopefully will carry into the next season.

This scene in the basement of the Funeral Home, also sets the pace for the rest of this episode: high-speed, low-drag; people coming in and dropping out left and right, and iZombie channeling it’s best Game of Thrones impersonation.

Now, what this entire series has been leading up to, is the final showdown between Good and Evil: Liv and Company versus Max Rager and CEO Vaughn Du Clark. The real potential for complete outbreak of a virus, either the fun way where undead are biting and gnawing on each other–hey that zombie was eating Rob Thomas!–or scratching, blood, classic zombie stuff. Or through the mixture of Super Max and the tainted Utopium our beautifully bald entrepreneurs Don E. continues to peddle. Well we get a bit of both this episode. Not really a bit actually, a whole lot of macabre to be quite honest. Equally one of the goofiest episodes mixed with some of the darkest parts of the entire series, at some points feeling disjointed, like when Ravi is knocked near unconscious and is threatened with the death of Peyton by Kenny and Howard, Mr. Boss’ muscle, they cut to Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas singing on stage. It doesn’t rip you out of the show, but it feels like filler when there is so much still going on at that moment.

But then it happens. It all goes south. Full on hell for half of the episode, you might find that in a handful of HBO shows. It was shortly after the “evil” scientist turned zombies pounced on the security team that I had shed all of my petty bickering and donned a gigantic smile. Every minute was exhilarating, between the Liv crew being trapped in a fake prison turned actual prison with murderous, hungry zombies, to the shaky alliance between Ravi and Blaine coming to the rescue of Peyton, to the final scenes for Vaughn; the action was absolutely solid, the direction was excellent, and the writing was tight. In particular, the Ravi/Blaine sequence was incredibly tense with a mixing of heartbreak.

As far as heavy emotional moments go, none was more impacting then Liv stumbling onto Drake, freshly a full-blown Romero. We know that Vaughn was a terrible, despicable person, but it always came off that he was just a sleaze ball in big britches, maniacal but walking with a short stick. He showed his true colors though when opening the doors to let Drake out, forcing Liv’s hand, and well, her trigger finger as well. That’s the second time a loved one of hers was shot in cold-blood. But there was a life at stake this time–Clive’s life–and she had to make the ultimate choice. Getting back to Vaughn–oh you just knew he was going to get it, he was doing the whole monologuing way too hard. At least have a solid Plan B, right? Situational awareness comes in key and you need to know the best exits.

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We also get the best line of the entire series and possibly the best line of television this year: “Here’s Major” would have been trending worldwide if this show had half the audience it deserves.

What else can we talk about? There is so much packed into this episode it’s making me giddy, and also upset because I know there are things that were totally left by the wayside and another pile of questions thrown onto the pile. For instance, Vivian Stoll, Private Military CEO, owner of Max Rager, and zombie. Is this the beginning of a new world where governments use zombie fueled soldiers in secret, Seattle being the “capital” and Liv Moore stuck in the middle of  it all? Would there be harmony or the formation of a new social hierarchy, sub-section humans and zombies a la District 9? Season three has plenty to keep it going as strong as the latter parts of season two have been. I am more than excited to see what comes next for iZombie. 

 

Final Grade: A+ 

With the addendum Finale Grade of: A-

+Everything about this episode

+Vaughn’s final scenes

+Tough decisions all around with hard emotional tolls

+Blaine wiping out Mr. Boss’ crew

+The entire Super Max Party scene

+Closure on many threads, but huge bombshells on others and for the future

Extra Thoughts:

–Simply put, this was one of my favorite season finales I have ever watched. And instead of ending on a long exhale, that was refreshing, they throw another punch right to your gut while wafting a doughnut in your face. We’ll have to wait until next year to see what the hell is happening, the repercussions of EVERYTHING, and how everyone will come out of this. Will Blaine’s memory come back? How will Clive handle working with anyone? Stoll?! So many questions! Anyway, might as well hop to On Demand and watch it again.

I’m going out on a limb and saying that whatever you watched in the last month was not as good as that episode. Tell me I’m right, because I am, in the comments or send us your thoughts on why I am right on Twitter!

About the author

Brian Corliss