Things Move Fast in 'iZombie' "Dirt Nap Time"
The fast-paced “Dirt Nap Time” successfully juggles large plot points and entertaining character moments.
iZombieAirtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley
Subtitle: Season3, Episode 7 - "Dirt Nap Time"
Air date: 2017-05-16
As iZombie often does, this week's episode, "Dirt Nap Time" begins immediately where last week's left off. Major's (Robert Buckley) reveal that he'd given the last zombie cure to Natalie (although at the time he didn't know it was the last cure) is painful to watch as Liv's (Rose McIver) real hope to return to her human form is quickly dashed. There's not much time to dwell on the news, however, before Liv decides that Blaine (David Anders) is behind the theft and confronts him in full-on zombie mode.
There's a great deal that happens this episode: the murder of the week, Peyton's (Aly Michalka) further investigation into the dominatrix murder from "Spanking the Zombie", and continued varied plot points related to the zombie cure and zombie exposure. The murder of the week involves a preschool teacher, Jamie Brennan (Ryan McDonell) having affairs with three moms from his preschool class.
It's not an especially intriguing murder, but Liv on preschool teacher brain has its moments. While her propensity to be overenthusiastic and mildly scolding is amusing at times, she's most funny when breaking out sock puppets during an interrogation and encouraging Major and Ravi (Rahul Kohli) that they could be astronauts if they really wanted to. Plus, Clive's (Malcolm Goodwin) increasing ability to roll with her shifting personalities leads to some genuine moments in which he’s entertained by them ("Who's a superstar?" "Damn straight.") rather than always exasperated.
Apart from the mystery of the week, the more substantial parts of the episode revolve around Peyton's investigation, the intensifying stakes around Major's role as a mercenary -- particularly now that he's human again -- and the ongoing outside attempts to expose the existence of zombies to the public. Peyton's investigation takes an odd turn when her offer of a deal to dominatrix killer, James Weckler (Gordon Woolvett), in exchange for the video card in his possession, quickly leads to a new lawyer, a refusal of Peyton's generous offer, and Weckler's eventual suicide in prison.
Weckler's former lawyer (played by Adam Kaufman, who also played Buffy's [Sarah Michelle Gellar] bad freshman year boyfriend in Buffy the Vampire Slayer]), senses that the strange circumstances surrounding his death warrant a closer look and enlists Peyton's help, who goes to Ravi to find out more about the autopsy. Ravi suggests soaking Weckler’s brain in the vision-enhancing blue juice so Liv will be able to get more information from the brain, and it’s a nice moment between the two. While it's still not clear how the dominatrix murder and Weckler fit into the season's larger story, it's obvious that the information on the video card is damaging or incriminating in some significant way. Perhaps this will mark the return of Mr. Boss (Eddie Jemison)?
Major's role at Fillmore Graves is unclear now that he's human, and therefore no longer zombie mercenary-level indestructible. Although Justin (Tongayi Chirisa) pretty quickly figures out Major's human again, he's the only one of his mercenary friends who does. A social outing to discover a rumored zombie speakeasy leads them to The Scratching Post and it’s another glimpse into Don E's (Bryce Hodgson) successful business.
Don E's obvious pleasure in being the de facto master of ceremonies at The Scratching Post is a lot of fun to watch, and his small interactions with Major, and later with Liv, are terrific. He schmoozes and brags and essentially makes a spectacle of himself, and Hodgson plays it all up wonderfully. In many ways Don E's functioning in the role that Blaine used to play pre-cure. It's an interesting shift, but one that emphasizes that Don E will never epitomize the menacing charm that Blaine did.
Speaking of Blaine, after he convinces Liv he didn’t steal the cures -- and later, Don E confirms he didn't steal them either -- he's still performing his dejected lounge singer act ("Misty Blue" was an inspired choice) and sullenly packaging brains for his customers (The War on Drugs' "Suffering": another great music choice). It’s only by the end of the episode that the Blaine story moves forward again. Don E and his bodyguard (who really works for Angus [Robert Knepper]) show up and forcibly buy out Blaine's brain business and then, on orders from Angus, the bodyguard shoots Blaine.
Clearly, this is a way to turn Blaine back into a zombie, especially when the scene ends on Blaine pleading that he has a lot of money. It's no surprise that Blaine wouldn't remain a human forever, but his recent experience as a human, and more importantly, as a sympathetic character, makes the potential for a variation on a zombie Blaine possible.
Meanwhile, Justin gets a call with a tip about Harley Johns (Andrew Caldwell) and he and Major follow up on it. Things escalate rapidly and Justin is run over. Harley and a friend then witness his instant recovery and Justin goes full-on zombie on them. Harley and his friend escape, however, and they capture Justin’s state on video. The looming threat of exposure has been an ongoing theme this season to the point that it seems imminent. Still, Harley and his fellow zombie believers are a fringe element, and even though they captured video of Justin, the general public could easily explain it away as a hoax.
There’s a lot happening in "Dirt Nap Time" plot-wise, and yet iZombie manages to find time to squeeze in Justin’s crush on Liv, providing the episode’s funniest moment when Ravi’s compares Liv’s boyfriend history to "sort of like being the drummer in Spinal Tap". The show’s commitment to maintaining its comedic voice is part of why episodes with so much story don’t feel overwhelming. Things move quickly in iZombie, and "Dirt Nap Time" is a great example of an episode that presents a ton of plot that will play out over the remainder of the season, while also giving the audience time to breathe in between with entertaining character moments.