Hey kids, do you like a good old fashioned cliffhanger? How about a half dozen of them? Good, because this penultimate episode of iZombie is literally chock full of cliffhangers.
Let’s bitch it out…
Over the course of its first season, iZombie has proven itself surprisingly adept at a variety of things: building up bland love interest Major (Robert Buckley) into a significant character, developing a believable work friendship between Liv (Rose McIver), Ravi (Rahul Kohli) and Clive (Malcolm Goodwin), and laying the foundation for a major showdown between Liv and her zombie creator/nemesis, Blaine (David Anders). Now we can add two other elements to the show’s resume: 1) balancing its case of the week with the goals of the overall narrative arc, and 2) tossing out a few jaw-dropping cliffhangers.
For the former, the last few episodes have convincingly demonstrated that iZombie‘s writers have an understanding of when the case can stand on its own two legs, and when it needs to be intertwined with the larger plot of the series. Although the murder of Major’s psych ward friend didn’t end up factoring into Blaine’s criminal empire in the way we imagined, it continued to advance Liv and Major’s relationship in satisfying ways. The week before the Max Rager storyline laid the foundation for one of tonight’s most shocking developments and lent the show’s mythology about the origin of the zombie outbreak an additional dimension.
The case this week fits these new parameters quite comfortably. The shout-outs to I Know What You Did Last Summer (1 and 2) are a nice reminder that iZombie is at least partially a horror show, and anticipates two of the big cliffhangers, which trade on the horror genre. What I liked most was the fact that the case not only fit into the larger world of the show because it (at least partially) involved Sebastian (Matthew MacCaull), but also that it isn’t resolved by episode’s end. I don’t need each case to be an ongoing, open mystery, but one of the elements that creator Rob Thomas demonstrated on Veronica Mars was proficiency at integrating small cases into larger, ongoing ones. Sometimes this involved recurring characters, but often it involved pieces of a larger case building on small cases of the week. Here the horror movie inspired riff on the plot of any number of slasher films, including the one directly referenced by Bex Taylor-Klaus’ Teresa, isn’t even close to being solved by the end of the 44 minutes. While we barely know the character, there’s great anticipation in finding out who (or what) was waiting for Teresa behind the door of the motel that leaves her bloodied and desperately calling 9-1-1 as the credits roll.
Which brings us to the second element that ‘Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat’ does exceptionally well: those damn cliffhangers. Holy hell. Talk about waiting for next week’s finale with baited breath. In addition to Theresa’s near murder, we have the following dangling story threads to resolve (from lowest to highest “eeeeeek” level):
- Hope, the zombie rat that Ravi seemingly “cured”, is discovered dead, sending the search for the cure back to square one.
- Liv’s brother, Evan (Nick Purcha) arriving at Meat Cute, as if on cue, to drop off his CV.
- At the exact same moment, Major is strung up like cattle in the back of Meat Cute by Julien (Aleks Paunovic) after he is caught posing as an overly attractive health inspector (with “great hair”).
- Liv confesses the truth about her zombie-status to Peyton (Aly Michalka) after her roomie witnesses the epic battle-to-the-death between Liv and Sebastian in their kitchen. Peyton predictably bolts.
So…yeah. Things are blowing up on iZombie and with only a single episode left, it’s unclear how all of this will be resolved. Tune in next week to find out!
- Just like last week, iZombie zigs when we expect it to zag. We thought Liv and Major were getting together and it turns out she’s been hallucinating. Here we think Major will learn the truth about Liv and instead it is Peyton who sees her in full-on zombie mode.
- I doubted Peyton was in any true danger when Sebastian turned up in the bathroom mirror (a nice little horror cliche). That assumption changed, however, when Sebastian casually mentions he’s cooking brains and Peyton’s prone figure is lying on the ground. I briefly flirted with the idea that the writers might kill off a character who is only a guest star.
- That fight scene was amazing. The tension in the proceedings is especially impressive considering both participants are zombies who cannot easily die. And yet watching Liv get stabbed and seeing her respond by stabbing Sebastian in the hand and head (using the knife embedded in her own hand no less!) was satisfying on a number of deeply disturbing levels.
- It’s hard to hypothesize about Theresa’s attacker without all of the details. It’s clearly not Sebastian unless the editing is deliberately meant to mess around with the timing of events. Can we assume that this is another zombie attack or could the series be introducing a new villain?
- It’s no surprise that McIver can handle a perky cheerleader persona, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch. Also amusing: Ravi’s cheerleading mockery of “Be aggressive. B-E-E aggressive”
- Can the defensive sketch artist be a recurring character? He’s still hurting from the week when Liv hurt his pride (remember she was an opinionated artist)? The dude holds a grudge!
- Finally, Major’s eyebrow raise at the mention of a grenade = priceless.
- Theresa: “I’m not going to prison. Have you seen Orange Is The New Black? I’m not taking a shower wearing tampon sandals!”
Your turn: what did you think of this horror movie inspired case of the week? Which cliffhanger are you most anxious about? Was Evan’s timing too on the nose for you? What was in the motel with Theresa? Will someone die in the finale? Sound off below.
iZombie airs its season finale next Tuesday at 9pm EST on The CW. Next week: Major’s in the freezer as the conflict between Liv and Blaine presumably comes to a head. Here’s your preview