iZombie knows how to bring a season home. It demonstrated this in season one with the Meat Cute story, and proves season one was no fluke by totally nailing its final two episodes of season two, bringing together all of the many story threads from the season and wrapping them up in an extremely satisfying fashion. Plus, there was an actual zombie outbreak for the first time in the show’s history, like the show decided it needed to finally go full-on zombie mode or go home, and it definitely did not go home.
The first order of business is Major and his arrest on suspicion of being the Chaos Killer, an arrest that feels like it’s been coming since Major started doing crazy things back in season one. What’s great about this story is that the writers use Major’s obvious, obvious guilt in the eyes of the law to ratchet tension up to unbearable levels in order to get to the real goal: bringing Clive in on Seattle’s big zombie secret. Without some big help from above Major is totally sunk here, on the hook for the Chaos Killer and even for the Meat Cute murders, once the guy who sold him the guns back in season one comes forward looking to cut a deal (and how impressive it is that the writers had this in their back pockets this long). The only way Liv could think about getting Major out of trouble—without giving him the cure and wiping his memoires—is to tell Clive everything, and everything about her decision to do it and his reaction to it works incredibly well, especially considering how condensed the story must be to fit into this framework.
Bringing Clive in on the secret not only helps the plot for this season, it opens up an entirely new way for the show to tell stories in the future, and that is genuinely exciting. Clive is a good, solid character, a reliable straight man and always good for a “what the heck?” reaction shot, but telling him the secret keeps those things while allowing for actual growth in his relationships with everyone else on the show. Also, the things he had to do in order to get Major out of jail (and therefore avoid a zombie jail apocalypse) have immediate impact to his relationship with Dale and will have a long-term impact on his career, which allows for many more stories for Clive in the future. It’s a great decision, and the scene where Liv tells him is very well done.
With Major taken care of, the two other biggest stories of the season are all that are dangling out there to wrap up in the second episode: the Max Rager problem and the Mr. Boss problem. The Mr. Boss story turned out to be the much lesser evil of the season, as Peyton has to drop her case against him and Mr. Boss learns that Blaine’s drug operation is still running somehow, despite his death. Boss orders hits on Chief and Don E (of which we did not see Don E actually die, so see you next season, buddy) and then once he learns Blaine is somehow alive, kidnaps Peyton in order to get Blaine to come looking for her. It’s probably one complicated thing too many for these episodes in theory, but it plays enough in the background of the bigger story at Max Rager that it effectively moves the episode along at a nice brisk pace. Also, Mr. Boss is still around—and still knows Blaine is alive—so there’s plenty of time to bring that dynamic back next season, if the show wants.
The big draw in the actual finale episode is Max Rager, and it’s basically the culmination of Vaughn Du Clark’s evolution into supervillain status we wanted and deserved. Max Rager gets sold to a private military contractor on the strength of Super Max, and when they have a party to celebrate it becomes less of a party than a giant awful zombie apocalypse, as employees hopped up on Super Max and Utopium turn into zombies and take out the entire party crowd (including musical guest Rob Thomass; sorry Rob, I guess there can only be one Rob Thomas in this show’s universe). The party is also Liv, Clive, and Major’s cover to get into Max Rager and free Drake and all of Major’s formerly frozen zombies, and they also get caught up in the zombie outbreak before finally getting downstairs and confronting Vaughn. Their confrontation turns into what feels like a Rob Thomas finale trademark, which is basically bad guys pontificating while the heroes fear for their lives and have to make horrible, soul-crushing decisions. For Liv, she has to choose to kill Drake in order to save Clive, a decision the pace of the episode doesn’t quite allow to breathe enough but will certainly affect her in the future. Vaughn’s whole story, his selfish, narcissistic, greedy story, ends with a brutally angry Rita eating her own father’s brains because he always loved power and money more than he loved her, and that feels right.
If I have one nagging concern about these episodes and about the show in the latter half of the season (not to mention the future), it’s the direction of Blaine’s character. Blaine’s amnesia was essential to making the plot work, and as a device it worked well. But where it falters is how it takes away one of the show’s most reliable go-to characters for both humor and menace, turning Blaine instead into kind of a boring blank canvas. Blaine’s amnesia literally made him forget he had an actual personality, which is either an interesting commentary on how the writers think being a bad guy on purpose makes you an epically snarky asshole, or a total mishandling of who and what Blaine is actually supposed to be, now that he can’t remember who he was. The culmination of his story seems to be that he’s a guy who will do the right thing, even if he doesn’t quite understand why. Which is… fine, sort of, except we haven’t been able to spend enough time with the character amidst all the crazy plot shenanigans in order to make any of that fully work.
What’s a bit more concerning is how Blaine’s story fits with Ravi and Peyton’s in this episode, and what that indicates for the future. Ravi and Peyton spent more time together in these two episodes than they have since their misunderstanding earlier in the season, except this time there was no misunderstanding—they were into each other, and seemed to be picking up their relationship where it left off last season. Their romance has always been a very, very small runner in the show, but it’s a nice one and it’s nice to see both of those characters get screen time that doesn’t only serve the plot. So when Peyton gets kidnapped by Mr. Boss’ goons and Blaine comes to save her, Ravi’s devastation in seeing Blaine comfort her (knowing Peyton had some sort of relationship with him when Blaine was the “bad boy” to Ravi’s “good guy”) isn’t the powerful moment for any of the three of them it could have been. It also potentially sets up a triangle dynamic between the three that the show doesn’t seem qualified to quite pull off.
These are minor quibbles, though, in what was overall an absolutely outstanding two-hour finale that wrapped up pretty much everything that needed wrapped up in season two and left a lot of doors open for season three. The biggest door is introduced in the very last scene, as Liv learns that the military contractor who bought Max Rager (and Super Max) seems to be controlled by zombies who want to create some sort of Seattle zombie Narnia. Whatever this means, it looks like Liv’s problems just went from “sort of manageable, maybe” to “holy crap, can’t we just go back to the days when Blaine was just murdering innocent children to steal their brains?” Season three just got a heck of a lot more complicated.
- Thing that was not so great: Those Max Rager employees finding Utopium in the lab and then taking it and mixing it with Super Max. That just screamed “this is a plot thing that needs to happen, ignore that it’s pretty dumb!”
- Do not attack Ravi in the morgue or he will own you. They should put a sign on the door, or something.
- It’s not a clever line on its own, but nothing made me laugh harder in these episodes than Robert Buckley’s delivery of “Sup?” when he saw Ravi and Peyton making out on the couch.
- Clive’s incredulous face when Liv shoved a knife into her chest needs to be a gif, or a meme, or something internetty. Do it, internet!
- Better Dead Rob Thomas joke: “This is how a skull breaks” or the military guy singing “Unwell” after chowing down on some Rob Thomas brain?
- “A prison theme? White people.”
- “Are we having fun yet?” This line definitely needed to be in an episode that guest starred Ken Marino (since Adam Scott guest starring seems like a long shot).