Mark Watches ‘iZombie’: S02E19 – Salivation Army

In the nineteenth and final episode of the second season of iZombie, the final showdown is here. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch iZombie.

I have so much hope for season three, and that’s a fantastic way to end a season.

I know I’ve spoken of it multiple times, but it bears repeating: the serialized arc of season two is a goddamn masterpiece. Somehow, the writers of this show have been able to consistently escalate this story without making us feel cheated. I never felt like the show was throwing twists upon twists just to be shocking; instead, each frightening or thrilling moment was just another branch of a natural occurrence. This is where the story had to go. It felt honest. That’s not an easy thing to do, y’all! I struggle with it all the time as a writer because I don’t want things to feel written. I love immersive storytelling, and I love when I can completely disappear into a story so much that I think have to think about it ever being created.

If that makes any sense.

If there’s anything here that feels “written,” it’s the brilliant inclusion of Rob Thomas (of Matchbox 20 fame) in a Rob Thomas show, and you know what? I don’t care. It’s the best fucking joke imaginable, and it still works. As surreal as it is, IT STILL WORKS BECAUSE YOU NEED TO HAVE THAT ABSURD ENDING TO LEAD INTO SEASON THREE.

Let me just talk about “Salivation Army” because this episode fucked me up.

Blaine

I honestly did not expect iZombie to utterly commit to Blaine’s amnesia, and I don’t know how long it’ll last in the next season. But this whole tabula rasa element has allowed the show to completely recast Blaine, and I’m fascinated by it. Without his history, who is he?

By the time events in “Salivation Army” come to a head, all Blaine has seen around him is violence and chaos. His “boss” is running a drug empire and eating brains. He learns he used to be a zombie. And a homicidal asshole. And someone worthy of scorn and hatred. He sees how badly he’s hurt literally everyone in his life, despite that he can’t remember anything. Given that, it’s interesting that bits and pieces of the “old” Blaine seep through. There’s that scene where he’s sitting in the car with Ravi, and you can hear his sarcasm again. It’s a brief moment where Blaine feels like his old self, but it’s still not quite him, right?

So what does it mean that Blaine becomes selfless and determined to help someone? Obviously, there’s the shock that comes from seeing Blaine comforting Peyton, especially after Peyton and Ravi just rekindled some kind of a romantic relationship. But there’s another shock there: what kind of person is Blaine now? A good person? How do you deal with that after his murderous past? I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW, but you better believe I want to see more.

Max Rager 

Oh my god, I was so pleased that Babineaux called out the Max Rager lockout party for what it was: THE WHITEST THING IMAGINABLE. I am instantly turned off by any attempt to make prisons a fun and quirky party concept, so yeah. It figures that Max Rager would do the same thing. PEAK WHITENESS, Y’ALL. Vaughn Du Clark found a way to achieve it.

Moving on from that… I barely know how to contend with what I’ve witnessed in “Salivation Army.” Much like the rest of this show, the writers and actors and crew have managed to craft an episode that’s scary and funny and downright entertaining. It’s also a milestone for the series’ mythology because of what it represents. The chapter on Max Rager is more or less closed, what with the destruction of the vast number of their employees, as well as Rita and Vaughn. That’s an ambitious thing for a single episode to accomplish, and yet I feel like this one resolved everything that I needed it to.

If this wasn’t Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggerio-Wright I was referring to, I would be surprised, but their work is so consistently tight and rewarding, and this is no exception. From the second Liv and Major get to Max Rager headquarters, this is a thrilling end to this plot. And I kinda love that this almost-apocalypse was started by people just being foolish. Those scientists knew that the boat-party Utopium plus Super Max would end in disaster, and yet they still took it. Ah, what a crowning achievement for people who literally used the suffering of others in order to advance their product, so you’ll have to excuse me if I cheer the demise of all these people. But from that twist onwards, the show manages to control chaos enough to give us a closure. How does Babineaux deal with a world where zombies are real? What of Natalie and Drake, who were iced by Major (GET IT???) and could still be ostensibly saved? Would Vaughn really get away with the sale of his company, guaranteeing that he’d never have to pay for what he did?

And even in exploring this, there’s still some incredible character drama. Y’all, Babineaux refused to let Liv turn him. THAT IS SUCH A HUGE MOMENT FOR ME. I mean, we can partially blame his decision on the fact that he just found out zombies existed like a day earlier. However, he still views himself as separate, even if he cares about Liv and the fate of the world. He’s not ready to join them, and I don’t see him ever becoming a zombie. He very much likes being a human! And I still see him as requiring a wall between these worlds, even as he’s drawn into them.

There’s also the tragedy of Natalie and Drake, who are both lost to Vaughn’s “attempt” to find a cure. Mixed up in that is the tragedy of Gilda discovering that her father never really cared for her. Look, I don’t think Gilda was ever a good person, but it still hurt to see her realize that Vaughn didn’t give a shit about her. It’s not often that I am super into one-note villains, but y’all. Vaughn Du Clark is goddamn evil, so much so that I felt momentarily bad for the other villain because he was so terrible to her.

Thus, there’s a catharsis in what happens during the party. Max Rager consumes itself, quite literally, as the Super Max zombies kill everyone. And despite that Vaughn has consistently won throughout this season, he still underestimates those around him, including the man he blackmailed, tried to kill, and ultimately betrayed. Because being treated that terribly can be a hell of a motivating force, my friends, and it was incredible to watch Major find a way to escape death and to allow Gilda to get her revenge, at least before he shoots and kills her, too. I don’t care, I love that shot where we see Gilda eating her father’s brains. It’s beautiful. Poetic. Major’s the real hero, isn’t he?

Yet in the final moments, the show introduces the third season’s plot, and HOLY SHIT, THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL. A group of zombie military contractors who want to ensure that when humans find out they exist, they aren’t destroyed. Oh my god OH MY GOD. VIVIAN STOLL IS BUILDING A ZOMBIE ARMY TO PROTECT OTHER ZOMBIES. She’s like an antagonist and a hero at the same time. THIS IS SO DEEPLY UNFAIR, I WANT SEASON 3 RIGHT NOW.

This was such a delight to cover, y’all. Thank you to Ellie for initially commissioning season one through Patreon, and to Szark for then claiming practically all of season two after it was announced. There’s no doubt in my mind that iZombie is one of the best television shows airing right now, and I feel blessed to have gotten the chance to watch it with all of you.

You know what this means, right? It means in just a few days, I start Steven Universe. THE WORLD ISN’T READY.

The video for “Salivation Army” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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