Thursday, July 11, 2019

REVIEW: 'iZombie' - Liv Confronts Blaine for Answers About the Latest Murder at the Club in 'Night and the Zombie City'

The CW's iZombie - Episode 5.10 "Night and the Zombie City"

While investigating the murder of private eye Mick Chisel, who was stabbed in the head with an ice pick, Liv consumes Chisel's brain in hopes of breaking down how the gruesome murder took place.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's iZombie.

"Night and the Zombie City" was written by Bob Dearden and directed by Tuan Le

This episode is pure fun. That's a little startling given how things concluded with the previous hour which seemed to suggest that things would intensify significantly between zombies and the rest of humanity. And yet, this episode embraces the overall idea of the detective noir genre. That has always been an inherent part of the series. Liv consumes brains so that she can help Clive solve murders. That was her driving mission in life for a long time. It still is even though she is also a human smuggler trying to help those in desperate need of getting in and out of New Seattle. But the show has never lost sight that it is a procedural. At times, that has really constrained the narrative because every week Liv and company needed a murder to solve. It placed limitations on the world-building that could be done in the later seasons. But the balance is absolutely perfect in this hour. It delves into the realities of a constantly changing situation between New Seattle and the outside world. Everyone has delicate and competing interests. But it's also just as engaged with solving the latest murder that takes place at the nightclub owned by Blaine and Don E. The show goes all in on Liv being a hard-boiled private investigator from decades past who doesn't play by the rules. Ravi comments that he and Clive are essentially already playing the stereotypical roles found in this particular genre. That allows them to compliment the story without their personalities also needing to change. This is a massive upheaval of the way the show normally tells stories. And yet, it maintains the conceit even in scenes and stories where Liv isn't important at all. The comic graphics and pun-based titles still introduce every act. The show maintains its own sense of identity while also going broad in this major way with genre experimentation. That is appreciated while also signaling that this creative team still has a ton of good ideas. That has been questionable a little bit during this final season. But it's still rewarding to see Clive and Ravi a little exasperated over Liv's recent actions based on the brain overwhelming her own personality. And it's just as engaging to see Liv and Blaine spar once more. This comes across as the episode in which the police finally get to pin a major crime on Blaine to ensure that he spends the rest of his life in jail. He does kill someone and eats her brain in order to find the zombie cure that led to all of this death. That's what everyone wants right now. Peyton may be trying to normalize relationships between zombies and humans. However, the market for a cure is so competitive that people are willing to do just about anything in order to get it. Candy has been an amusing side character at the club for a long time. She provides relief and understanding to Blaine and Don E when they need it. Don E doesn't know why Darcy is upset with him now. Meanwhile, Blaine is short with everyone because things aren't working out for him. And yet, they all manage to survive. In fact, Candy may be thriving because she gets to escape this world completely. She heads off into the sunset with a zombie cure. The police understand that she ends up in possession of this lucrative item. And yet, they may have more pressing concerns elsewhere that could distract them from mounting any kind of serious inquiry into where she is going next.

All of the noir stylizations don't take away from the escalation of the main plot that also happens in this hour. This episode advances the major stories in some significant ways. Ravi is upfront immediately with Liv about her father being the one who created the tainted utopium that led to the rise of zombies. She confronts him but Martin is once again able to get as much information out of Ravi and Liv as possible regarding the science that has been cultivated over the course of the show to understand this virus. Ravi believes he is close to a cure if he can recreate the tainted utopium. Martin presents as a drug addict who doesn't remember everything that he did. And yet, the audience is aware that he is so much more than that. He is the mastermind actively planning for the rise of zombies throughout the entire world. It's no longer confined to New Seattle. It has traveled back to Washington, D.C. The generals have a major decision to make about the future of this outbreak. They are split on whether or not to bomb the city. It's ultimately Hi, Zombie that changes the opinion for the swing vote. That's outrageous. As a comedy, Hi, Zombie is dumb and doesn't work in the slightest. But the show is also very insightful in saying that, regardless of quality, visibility in the media can be very empowering for marginalized communities. It helps them feel seen and understood by people outside of that cultural experience. The people outside of New Seattle are just now learning about the importance of hot sauce to zombie culture. Plus, they can't rationalize killing zombies because of the monsters they have the potential of becoming. That too is a potent political message. Everyone may be a monster waiting to strike. Dolly Durkins is a monster even though she's not a zombie. She is promoting a hateful rhetoric that could lead to even more deaths. She doesn't face any punishment or repercussions for the recent attack. That may be coming at some point. And yet, she now has an ally in the government. But again, that just shows that everyone has the potential of being a monster who uses fear of the other in order to spread hatred in this world. Of course, Martin is a significant threat as well. He uses people to get exactly what he wants. He wasn't expecting this newfound connection with Liv. But now, he can use that bond in order to learn that Max Rager has a significant impact on zombie behavior. He can tinker with that science so that full romero zombies actually follow direct commands. That makes him an even more terrifying threat because he understands exactly how to take advantage of this world. He is creating a story in the hopes of toppling everything. The protagonists are just now becoming aware of his deceit. That reveal shows that things are truly escalating and building to a huge confrontation. That may happen sooner rather than later with the fate of zombies and humans hanging in the balance.