'iZombie': "Twenty-Sided, Die" Is a Near-Perfect Balance of Plot and Humor

Liv and Clive investigate the murder of a D & D master.

"Twenty-Sided, Die" is an episode that manages to balance its mix of long-term and short-term plots perfectly; the episode flies by in a blur of hilarity and new twists.


Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley
Subtitle: Season 3, Episode 9 - "Twenty-Sided, Die"
Network: CW
Air date: 2017-05-30
Ravi: I’m Mosco Bandywax of the Murkwood Bandywaxes. I'm a halfling monk!

Major: I'm Sirjay Esclaborne, the human paladin.

Peyton: Hi, Brangelina Darksbane. Dark elf assassin.

Clive: Earl. Dwarf fighter.

The latest episode of iZombie, "Twenty-Sided, Die", is one of the most entertaining of the series, as well as one with some big implications for the rest of the season. The new change of leadership at Fillmore Graves, Chase Graves (Jason Dohring); Peyton's (Aly Michalka) continued investigation into the dominatrix murder; Harley Johns (Andrew Caldwell) and his fellow zombie truthers; and the return of Blaine's (David Anders) dark side are all major plot lines with long-term consequences. Yet, it's the excellent mystery of the week that will remain the most memorable part of the episode.

The murder of Dan (John Stewart), a Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master, prompts Liv's (Rose McIver) transformation into a fantasy role-playing game expert who eventually ropes Clive (Malcolm Goodwin), Ravi (Rahul Kohli), Major (Robert Buckley), and Peyton into a game to solve the murder. As if their game alter egos weren't enough to make this a highlight, Liv's abandon in playing her role, particularly when playing the old woman who tasks them with killing the Lich of Castle Rommscoddle (Major: "Lich, please.") makes the game-playing scene a contender for one of the greatest in the show's history. As the group gradually gets more and more invested in the game -- Clive losing himself in the game and Ravi's repeated attempts to save Peyton's character from death, despite her repeated attempts to get out of playing are especially great moments -- the scene offers an alternate reality to the personalities of those involved. Not since Freaks and Geeks' brilliant finalé (I mean, Earl the Dwarf has to be a shout-out to Carlos the Dwarf, right?), has D&D looked more fun, so much so that a full iZombie episode of the group playing would've been wonderful.

When the game reveals the existence of a secret door in Dan's apartment with a high security computer setup, Clive and Liv are taken off the case and the FBI is brought in, marking the return of Agent Bozzio (Jessica Harmon). As Dan's regular D & D group included Jimmy (Ryan Beil), the police sketch artist, and Vampire Steve (Kett Turton), police tech assistant, the murder will surely require further involvement from Clive and Liv, despite Agent Bozzio's distrust, as the investigation continues. Similarly, Peyton's refusal to let the dominatrix murder stand, along with Weckler's suicide, leads to questioning D.A. Baracus (Kurt Evans), who brushes her off, and meeting with Weckler's prison psychiatrist. There's more to come from this storyline, certainly, and the return of Mr. Boss (Eddie Jemison) at the end of the episode may be another piece of the puzzle.

Meanwhile, Blaine continues his plan to become the largest brain distributor to zombies, putting Don E (Bryce Hodgson) in charge at The Scratching Post as his backup, and testing his blue juice brain for mass consumption. His experimental blue juice brain was soaked for twice as long as Ravi's recommendation and its effects end up with unintended consequences that not only cause immediate problems for Don E (and Ravi), but also put Blaine's business in potential jeopardy. Ravi's involvement is directly tied to his undercover role with the zombie truthers, whom he's told he's close to creating a zombie vaccine. When he convinces them to delay their plan to kidnap a victim until the vaccine is ready, he can't foresee Don E's intense reaction to the blue juice brain making him careless and too obvious for Harley Johns to pass up.

In addition to all that's already happening, D.A. Baracus also hosts a fund-raising event attended by Peyton, Liv and Justin (Tongayi Chirisa), and Chase Graves. Liv and Chase's first meeting is predictably significant, with Chase getting right to business and grilling Liv on all she knows, while also subtly hitting on her. He's also at the center of a shoot-out when Baracus is targeted at the event. Dohring, the latest transplant from Thomas’ earlier series Veronica Mars, has had only a few scenes in the show so far, yet he's made them notable in their intensity.

There are episodes of iZombie in which plot takes center stage, and there are others that focus much more on the murder of the week. “Twenty-Sided, Die” is an episode that manages to balance both perfectly, making the hour fly by in a blur of hilarity and revelations. Apart from the terrific D&D scenes, there are great Blaine one-liners, such as when he sends a brain down the well to feed his father (“That's from an impotent proctologist, by the way. Enjoy.”), flawlessly scored to Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper", and the always-entertaining Clive reactions. Four episodes to go and it almost seems impossible that the many threads of the show can be brought together to a satisfying conclusion, but this is iZombie: it understands how to play a season-long story, with all its moving pieces beautifully resolved.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.