iZombie 1.12: “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” Review

NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of iZombie are present in this review


iZombie’s penultimate Season One episode began almost like any other, but by the end, it had seriously upset Liv’s environment in a rather shocking way. “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” took some of the light-hearted direction from last week, continuing to carry on from the increased optimism (well, beyond Major deciding that he’s going to kill every zombie he finds now), before a shock final twist once again thrusts the show into some surprisingly dark territory.

Anyway, the case-of-the-week begins with the Max Rager enforcer that Liv miraculously survived against a couple of weeks ago during the events of “Mr. Berserk”, waking up and getting hit by the car of a bunch of stoned teenagers. After the group ‘good girl’ speaks out against the group burying what appears to be the dead body, she’s made into a late-night snack, prompting everyone else to flee.

iZombie - Footage 1

Liv and Detective Babineaux end up discovering the girl’s mutilated corpse, which is naturally missing brains, and was quickly unearthed in a shallow grave by someone’s dog. Since Liv is now facing yet another violent zombie, she eats what’s left of the dead girl’s brains, and quickly gains an upbeat, although somewhat vapid personality.

A fellow viewer of iZombie made the comment to me that Rose McIver is a pretty great actress if she can play a role like Liv Moore, and now that I think about it, that’s really true! McIver has to shuffle her personality significantly with every episode of the show, and it’s incredible how much she sells even the most off-the-wall of brain material in each case-of-the-week!

With that said however, the writing was a bit problematic with both brains that Liv had to eat this episode. Yep, she eats not one, but two, after another teenager is killed, this one turning out to be a careless stoner. The show did subscribe to a few tired and potentially offensive stereotypes of both cheerleaders and stoners here, as humourous as it was to see Rose McIver play up both angles in the same episode, so some viewers may be a bit irked by that. Still, if you have a sense of humour, most of it was in good fun.

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The same is true of Major looking up how to kill zombies on YouTube, because of course he would. I have to wonder how Major is affording all of his black market firearm purchases, now that he’s out of a job, but maybe that’s where we just have to suspend our disbelief.

Anyway, after another of the teenage survivors comes forward, Liv begins to piece together that the killer is the very same Max Rager enforcer that she thought was chewed up in that boat propeller. Worse still is that the man has intruded in her apartment, and attacked Peyton, who lies unconscious on the floor. Apparently, the man was also responsible for another murder that Liv was distracted away from after eating stoner brain this episode as well.

What follows from here is a pretty intense action bit, where Liv and the enforcer fight each other, with both having gone ‘full-on zombie mode’. This ends with Liv violently stabbing the man in the skull, finally finishing him off for good… Oh, but Peyton conveniently awoke to see the whole thing. Crap.

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Backed into a corner, Liv has no choice but to reveal to Peyton what actually happened at the boat party, how zombies exist, how she broke off the wedding with Major because of them, and how Liv, herself is a zombie. This leads to Peyton abruptly leaving the apartment, also ditching Ravi, after the two were supposed to visit the old set of Alfred Hitchcock classic, Vertigo. On a slight side note, it seems like the show’s repeated referencing of Vertigo is something of an in-joke, given that the iZombie source comics were published by Vertigo, the adult graphic novel imprint of DC Comics. It’s clever.

Even more dramatic than Peyton learning Liv’s secret however is Liv having to seek consolation from Ravi afterward, upon realizing that her accidental scratching of the enforcer during their struggle turned him into a zombie, and led to the death of more people, including the near-murder of her best friend. Adding to the irony of this is Detective Babineaux trying to convince Liv that she shouldn’t feel remorse for killing the man, since the real tragedy would be the police having to zip up Liv in a body bag. This was a brilliantly-done scene, since Babineaux is obviously missing the point of Liv’s guilt, being unaware of the whole zombie thing, and Liv is forced to confront the darker side of being a zombie in a way that she hasn’t had to do for most of the season at this point.

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Making matters worse is the fact that Major masquerades as a health inspector at Meat Cute, rather sloppily standing out, and ends up getting captured by Blaine. With Blaine almost appearing ready to torture him for the whereabouts of the brains that Major stole, things only worsen further as Liv’s little brother shows up to inquire about his job placement. After Blaine realizes that the boy is Liv’s younger brother, he hires him on the spot. Boy, this episode sure got very intense, very quickly!

The intensity keeps on coming as well, as Ravi’s prototype zombie cure is revealed to be a bust, with the seemingly-healed rat ending up dead. Apparently, he has enough tainted utopium for one more attempt, but it seems like Liv has given up at this point. Still, I can’t help but speculate that Ravi’s final attempt will be successful, and Liv will inevitably choose the life of a zombie, since we already know that iZombie has been renewed for Season Two.

The episode ends with the confessing teenager getting attacked in a hotel room by a mysterious assailant, after just barely punching 911 into the phone. Looks like the season finale isn’t going to be wanting for excitement next week!

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“Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” continues to approach a fantastic climax to great effect. Liv having to confront her inadvertent actions with the Max Rager enforcer was powerful stuff, as was Peyton learning Liv’s secret, and Major getting captured by Blaine. Even as its shortened first season winds down, iZombie is showing no signs of lost momentum, continuing its reign as one of The CW’s best new shows, which it will hopefully hold more than ever after the season finale next week!

iZombie's penultimate Season One episode began light-hearted, and concluded intensely, with Liv having to face the reality of being a monster, Major's curiosity catching up to him in a very bad way, and Ravi yet again failing to stop the rise of zombies.
Liv's inadvertent actions leading to this week's killer
Peyton unexpectedly learning of zombies
Major getting captured by Blaine
Some tired stereotypes in this week's brains