NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “iZombie” are present in this review
iZombie hit a high note in this week’s especially entertaining episode, which offered plenty of appealing story material, while also bringing back some fan-favourite characters for the latest case-of-the-week. “Spanking the Zombie” had another especially funny and memorable brain for Liv to consume, as a dominatrix turns up dead in her dungeon. Meanwhile, Major and Don E. both settle into their new career gigs, with Blaine and Peyton once again being absent for this week’s episode.
The dominatrix case is inherited by Babineaux from another cop, so we don’t actually see the crime scene this time, which is likely on account of FCC restrictions for The CW’s programming, namely that the network’s shows can’t depict a sex dungeon nor sex toys. The body was also apparently cremated off-screen, though Ravi was at least nice enough to save the brain, as part of his experiments in trying to find a serum to counteract the memory-killing effects of his potential zombie cure. Thus, Liv is left to consume the brain and see what turns up, and seeing as the victim is a dominatrix, you can imagine what turns up!
The procedural element of the show improved a bit this week, with a more in-depth and interesting case that finally started making proper use of Liv’s latest brain meal again. Ravi’s experimental ‘brain juice’ even gives Liv longer and clearer visions, which definitely helps identify many of the dominatrix’s clients for the investigation. The brain juice feels like a way for the writers to compensate for Liv’s visions appearing less and less frequently so far this season, and this concoction by Ravi could serve as an especially effective way to make longer visions a bigger part of more challenging cases.
There’s quite a lot of clients to go through as well, especially when the dominatrix happens to have news anchor stooge, Johnny Frost and Ken Marino’s sleazy lawyer, Brandt Stone (remember him from, “Dead Beat” last season?), among her customers. Watching these two, among others, take notice of Liv resembling their late dominatrix made for lots of outstanding humour, and I’m glad that both of these characters still come up every so often on iZombie. Liv’s dominatrix brain in general was a huge amount of fun, and Rose McIver really excelled with the humour in this episode, as she goes intentionally over-the-top to deliver a cringe-inducing, yet relentlessly amusing performance as Liv under the influence of an insatiable dominatrix.
As much as the case-of-the-week was a bit more interesting and better developed this week though, the payoff was still a bit disappointing. This is because the final killer and his motive is still rather lame and undercooked, since the culprit is just some creepy voyeur that killed the dominatrix when he realized she was taping her sessions, so that he could blackmail her other clients. The guy making an abrupt confession also feels way too easy, with the episode looking like it’s going to throw a curveball, and then it just doesn’t. The procedural element of iZombie at least improved in regards to the case progression this week, but Season Three’s new batch of killers is still bush league for now, and that’s annoying.
We also get a couple of subplots in this episode, between Major and Don E., though Don E.’s storyline is pretty small. The check-in with Don E. is simply to establish that he’s successfully got The Scratching Post up and running, complete with the opportunity to turn former Utopium dealers into fresh zombie customers. We also get something of a check-in with Fillmore-Graves, when the zombie conspiracy theorist complains to another Seattle PD detective about Liv and Babineaux, leading to Fillmore-Graves calling him in for questioning, under the guise of presenting him with a cheque for funeral expenses. Vivian also bugs the guy’s car during this process, leading to more evidence that a chunk of Seattle’s population is continuing to build towards open war with zombies. It’s looking so far like the conspiracy nut is indeed behind the murders of Babineaux’s former apartment acquaintances too, but we’ll obviously have to see how this develops.
The remaining subplot has Major deploying abroad on missions for Fillmore-Graves, sustaining an injury and barely escaping death, though also managing to perform well enough as a soldier. This gives us a chance to see where Fillmore-Graves gets its seemingly limitless brain supply from, namely from terrorists in international countries that their mercenaries take out. This is also the point where Major finds himself in critical condition, as fluid continues to fill his lungs, forcing him to be rushed back to Liv’s morgue. With no other option, Major must take Ravi’s prototype cure and lose his memory, which provided an effectively bittersweet way to end this episode, as Major says his goodbyes to Liv and Ravi, and hooks up with Liv one last time before forgetting their relationship. Watching Major likely lose himself over the next few episodes is going to be rough, assuming that Blaine isn’t lying about having amnesia, but so far, it really does look like Major is going to become a whole new person after having to take the cure. Is it worth it? We’ll have to see…
Beyond yet another unimpressive killer and motive in the latest case-of-the-week though, “Spanking the Zombie” is perhaps the best Season Three episode of iZombie so far. Even if it had a weak pay-off, the latest murder case at least had more interesting progression, especially since it provided a good excuse to bring back Johnny Frost and Brandt Stone, further helping an episode that already has especially great humour in it. Liv’s dominatrix brain is especially amusing and entertainingly uncomfortable too, plus the heartbreak with Major provided a nice emotional balance to more light-hearted mystery solving with Babineaux. Overall, the storytelling feels noticeably better balanced here, and with Major now likely having nothing but his duties to Fillmore-Graves, and Don E. and Angus opening a successful new illicit zombie club, there’s plenty of interesting drama and fun to look forward to in the weeks to come!
- Especially fun case-of-the-week, particularly with Frost and Stone returning
- Interesting updates on Fillmore-Graves and The Scratching Post
- Major having to forget his friends to save his life
- Yet another unimpressive killer with a lame motive