**This is a spoiler-y review.**
Things have gotten weird on iZombie over the course of this season, and this season finale ratchets the weirdness up to eleven by going full-on zombie apocalypse. It’s an ambitious decision; the show has had some success this season with changing up its style, moving away from the episodic case of the week format in favor of developing a season-long story, but this is a huge change, and the way they get there is, frankly, bizarre.
After spending the previous dozen episodes teasing a conspiracy, it’s revealed over the course of about ten minutes in this episode that every potential lead we had before now was a red herring and that all the unusually connected events of the season were a plot by background character Carey Gold (a criminally underutilized Anjali Jay). Pretty much everything about this revelation is terrible. It’s surprising, sure, but not in a good way. Carey Gold hasn’t gotten enough screen time or characterization to make her betrayal feel consequential or to make her motives feel real or compelling. She doesn’t have any strong personal connections to any of the main characters to make her actions feel personal, and she just literally never got enough screen time to feel like, well, anything more than exactly what she appeared to be: an important administrator at Fillmore Graves with ill-defined job responsibilities and no particular connection to the show’s main story.
There’s not even much that in hindsight justifies the decision to have Carey be behind the conspiracy. Yes, Weckler’s daughter was staying at the Gold house, and it was Carey’s daughter who was on the plane, but it’s only in this final episode that we really understand what the conspiracy even is, what is actually going on and what Carey’s goals are. When we do find out, it’s in a lengthy (for iZombie) monologue from Chase Graves, who has put the pieces together (at around the same time Liv has a vision of Carey murdering Katty Kupps) and explains Carey’s own plan to her before rather unceremoniously shooting her. To be fair, Carey was about to have Chase killed, so at least it was self-defense, but her very brief remarks about how cowardly Chase and the zombie island idea are don’t really work as an effective conclusion to her plot to, apparently, usher in the zombie apocalypse instead of trying to coexist peacefully with humans like some kind of sissy. Or something. It’s hard to say, since—though Carey Gold gets more to say in this episode than in the whole rest of the season—we don’t actually get any cogent explanations out of her.
After a whole season of buildup to this baffling denouement, it’s finished with quickly—by about the halfway point of the episode—and the back half of the hour deals with much of the fallout from Carey’s plan. As the episode opens, the Aleutian flu has started infecting more in the Seattle area, and a vaccine is being recommended for as much of the populace as possible. We later learn that this was all part of Carey Gold’s plot and that the vaccine is how she and her faction of zombies have decided to transmit the zombie virus, which sends Liv on a frantic quest to stop the infections and hopefully prevent the chaos that must surely come from the sudden infection of thousands of people with a zombie disease. It’s a situation where the best-case scenario is still only damage control, and Liv and her friends have mixed success.
Major has Chase Graves re-infect him with the zombie virus so he can rejoin the mercenary force; Johnny Snow is a zombie now; Peyton’s first tasks as Mayor Baracus’s chief of staff are crisis management; Dale Bozzio shows up again just in time to get turned into a zombie right after finding out zombies are even a thing; and Ravi ends the episode asking Liv to scratch him as a test of his newly developed zombie vaccine, because vaccines have worked out so well for people already in the iZombie universe. iZombie has always been a plot-heavy show, this has been a jam-packed busy season, and they’ve never shied away from making sweeping changes from season to season, but this is a lot of changes, many of which undermine the formula of the show the audience fell in love with. The worst part of it, however, is that what felt like a solid ten minutes of this stuff is delivered under yet another lengthy Chase Graves monologue, which lays out how things are going to work now that the zombie cat is out of the bag—and it looks and sounds like next season we’re in for a positively dystopian ride that no one has ever asked for, filled with zombie martial law, brain-hungry hordes dependent on Fillmore Graves for sustenance, murderous anti-zombie mobs, underground speak easy shenanigans, and I guess some kind of resistance(?).
The biggest thing left unclear by the end of this season is what the shape of Liv’s role is going to be from now on. In the final montage of the episode, one gets the sense that basic infrastructure has not held up well in the post-zombie world, no matter how much zombies insist that they’re still everyone’s friends and neighbors, and the Fillmore Graves mercenaries (Major and Justin included) are shooting humans in the streets, so it seems safe to say that normal police work is not going to be happening. By the end of the hour, Liv has reverted to her pale-faced and bleached-hair look, which reads as both a direct rejection of Chase’s compliment of her tanned and dyed disguise and an explicit embracing of her identity as a zombie, but this could mean anything in a show that has never quite totally decided if Liv is owning this zombie thing or if she desperately wants a cure. Without a case of the week and with it left so ambiguous about who the antagonists are now that Carey Gold is gone (not that she was much of an antagonist), it’s hard to say what further seasons of the show hold, and I’m not sold yet on this darker zombie apocalypse dystopia. Much of iZombie’s charm has always been in its fundamental lightheartedness and optimism; it’s been a fun show before this season, and it’s hard to see the potential for fun in the landscape we’re left with at the end of this episode.
- Liv blaming Katty’s brains for her infidelity with Chase is not her finest moment, but I guess props to her for confessing immediately?
- I want a full-length music video of choreographer brain at The Scratching Post, with extra shots of Don E.’s delight.
- Every face Clive and Ravi make while Liv is talking around having slept with Chase Graves. That is all.
- Zach crawling around as a torso after the house party explosion was uncharacteristically gruesome for the show, though it was a nicely executed special effect.
- Chase seems to genuinely like Liv, and they probably have more chemistry than any other Liv/X pairing on the show, but I’m ready for a season without a romantic subplot for Liv.
- Zombie Johnny Snow is a spinoff-worthy idea.
- Liv and Ravi saying “I love you” before she scratches him was perfect, and ending the season with that scene in the morgue—quiet as chaos reigns outside, and with just the two of them—was a smart and moving callback to the dynamic that has been at the absolute core of this series since the very beginning.