iZombie 3.9: “Twenty Sided, Die” Review

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



iZombie waved its geek flag pretty passionately once again this week, as we got another case-of-the-week that involved a tried-and-tested nerdy pasttime. After a Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master keels over dead in the middle of a game night with his friends, Liv and Babineaux have to investigate a case of poisoning, though as you can imagine, none of the other players give the impression of being hardened killers.

There was plenty of initial intrigue in the case-of-the-week, though disappointingly, it largely fell apart towards the end. The setup was pretty good, but too many elements of the case felt like a waste of time. The red herring of the other male players all pining for the lone female player in over-the-top ways, who was apparently secretly sleeping with the dungeon master too, also felt like a cliche and a low-hanging fruit. Not even Liv’s latest brain could hold the episode up terribly well on its own, since the brain made her unrealistically over-the-top herself, narrating everything around her, which I’m pretty certain most Dungeons & Dragons dungeon masters don’t do in real life.

More than provide a proper setup and resolution, it felt like this latest case-of-the-week was an attempt to re-introduce Dale Bozzio into Babineaux’s circles, when the case ends up handed off to the FBI, after the victim is suspected of hacking into Russian nuclear power plants. This left the real killer a complete mystery in the end, which felt like a waste, especially when the show may never address who actually killed the dungeon master. Maybe this will come into play for the season’s climax later in June, especially with the dominatrix murder from a few weeks back still being investigated by Peyton, but it felt like this week’s case-of-the-week was too gimmicky and under-developed, even by the usual standards of iZombie’s third season.

Fortunately, and also as usual for iZombie’s third season, the character subplots at least went over better. Ravi’s first visit to Harley’s zombie-truther meetings is appropriately tense and nerve-wracking, with Ravi just barely managing to talk the zombie conspiracy theorists down from kidnapping and starving a zombie, so they can broadcast their transformation into full-on zombie mode across the internet. Ravi claims that he can develop a vaccine over the next few weeks, but this is obviously a lie, since his ingredients were seemingly stolen by Blaine. This is likely simply a way for the show to safely go through its next few episodes before the season finale at the end of June, but Ravi does also meet a new love interest in the form of a photographer named Rachel, who is apparently at the meeting to innocuously capture evidence of zombies being real.

Another character who saw a surprising romantic turn this week is Major, which feels well-timed, since Liv is now nicely settling into a romance with Justin. After Major discovers that Ravi was hiding a bunch of Chaos Killer hate mail from him, he goes through most of it, only to eventually find a letter from a woman who believes he’s not guilty. This woman, Shawna, even enclosed a picture and a phone number, with Ravi encouraging Major to call her up. Major does exactly that at the end of the episode too, creating an interesting path to potential redemption in the public eye for Major, assuming this woman is on the level. Really though, Major deserves a new confidant at the very least, because he really has been through enough over the history of this show. He could use a break.

The highlight character of this episode however was probably Blaine once again, now that he’s assumed control of The Scratching Post. Blaine has used Ravi’s vision-enhancing blue juice to lace brains with intense drug trips that accompany super lengthy and involved visions, declaring that his product will make the club’s management rich. We also get to see Blaine tossing unimpressive brain chunks to his father in the well, while recounting news stories about better fathers. Even now, Blaine finds new and interesting ways to become more ruthless and sadistic than ever, creating the impression that, no matter what, this will always be who he truly is. Still, Blaine may not stay on his pedestal for long, as Don E. sneaks some blue brain, only to become so out of it that he gets captured by some of Harley’s zombie-truthers, with Ravi discovering a berserk Don E. in their custody at the end of the episode. Looks like Blaine is officially going to be pulled into the upcoming zombie war, especially since the fallout will inevitably mess with his booming business, and that inevitably just won’t stand!

That zombie war really looks like it’s about to escalate in a big way too, as pieces start moving into place for the Season Three climax, which is nonetheless a few weeks away. After Liv and Justin attend a fundraiser for zombie mayoral candidate, D.A. Baracus, with Peyton also becoming suspicious of the would-be mayor’s involvement in the dominatrix’s death from earlier in the season, Baracus is suddenly shot by an unknown sniper! This also happens around the same time that Stacey Boss smuggles himself back into Seattle, declaring that he needs to settle an old debt and reclaim some money. Looks like yet another obstacle that’s speeding towards Blaine, with Peyton possibly also being in danger as well. Could this be what unites Peyton and Blaine against a common enemy, or will they be driven apart al over again by the return of Mr. Boss?

“Twenty Sided, Die” felt like a busy episode that had to begin shifting iZombie towards the necessary direction for the end of the season, as the procedural element of the series becomes more undercooked than ever, to the point where we don’t even learn the killer’s identity this time! The brain humour for Liv felt very uneven as well, though at least the other characters had some solid, heartfelt drama, especially as Ravi, Major and Babineaux all have to face their loneliness in separate ways this week. The general payoffs to each story arc were at least good, as Stacey Boss returns to Seattle, Baracus faces an assassination attempt, and Blaine takes torturing his father to a new level, while he prepares to launch a killer new zombie drug. Now that the zombie-truthers have captured Don E. in his berserk state as well, the human/zombie war is continuing to move ever closer. That almost makes lingering menaces like Blaine and Mr. Boss feel like small potatoes, beyond the fact that they’re bound to profit from the violence in some way.

iZombie delivered a busy, somewhat uneven episode this week, though offered some exciting payoffs for most of the leads.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Ravi, Major and Babineaux all facing their romantic anguish
Blaine turning Ravi's brain juice into a narcotic, and Don E. suffering for it
Mr. Boss making a surprise return to Seattle
Liv's dungeon master brain humour doesn't totally work
Case-of-the-week quickly runs out of steam, especially with no killer revealed