Murder Derails Hopes for Peace in Final Season of ‘iZombie’

iZombie” on the CW remains a fresh tonic against the usual walking dead fare on television, even as it enters its fifth and final season. Fans have been waiting for six months to see how this combination of thriller and comedy plans to wrap up. It’s not easy holding the peace between humans and zombies, especially since the latter survive on eating our brains. Now a murder derails everything, including the brain-smuggling business.

The season begins with an attack outside of a bodega caught on security cameras. A woman just happens to hit a car full of zombies and they decide to attack. Not only is the woman missing by morning, but now there’s a public uproar in New Seattle over the incident. This is immediately bad for business for Done-E (Bryce Hodgson) and Blaine (David Anders), who have been making a killing smuggling brains which keep zombies nice and calm. Blaine is even doing some acting in flashy car ads. Border agents might not be willing to cooperate anymore. Meanwhile over at the morgue, Liv (Rose McIver) preps the last brain available for munching, which happened to belong to a violent sort. But following the bodega incident Liv, Ravi (Rahul Kohli), Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) and Peyton (Aly Michalka) start investigating to find out what happened, and if the woman is alive. As the investigation comes close to finding answers, a doctor contacts Ravi. She is interested in Isobel’s brain from last season and the potential for a zombie cure. But the implications are that thousands of children’s brains would need to be used, and Ravi isn’t too keen on the idea.

Based on a DC Comics print series, “iZombie” has always featured a particular charm in how it is funny, but not self-mocking. It’s having fun with the whole brain-eating premise while still doing justice to the genre. The fifth season begins with a very basic problem: There are not enough brains anymore to keep the zombies calm and collected. The apparent murder of a human woman exasperates tensions and the bigoted, anti-zombie Dead Enders carry out attacks against activists, including by using a truck armed with explosives. It’s classic dystopian material, with more political commentary than the usual CW guilty pleasure roster that includes “Riverdale,” “Roswell, New Mexico” and “Charmed.” Much of the comedy this time around comes from Ravi eating the last brain in the morgue, absorbing its former owner’s violent temper. This doesn’t do him any favors Peyton goes on a talk show to defend zombie rights and the host admires her hair. But then it is Ravi who faces the episode’s great ethical dilemma when another doctor offers to link up to use Isobel’s brain to find a zombie cure and he can’t go along with killing hundreds of kids, but at the last minute the doctor also backtracks and Ravi not only breathes a sigh of relief, but seems to have made a new ally.

The other major developments involve Blaine’s attempts to rescue his smuggling business. Major (Robert Buckley), now the of the Filmore Graves corporation is also nervous about lack of brains meaning angry zombie team members, and puts pressure on Blaine to resolve the crisis. Like any good smuggler Blaine simply heads to the New Seattle border and threatens the border agents with turning them into zombies unless they comply. They very surely do, except for one who Blaine simply disappears. The other strong side story involves the Liv helping smuggle people into New Seattle, including a boy who wants to escape an abusive home in the non-zombie half of the city, but who we discover also has siblings. But just as the siblings appear to be making it across someone on their bus tips off the police who check for I.D.s.

Yet the connecting thread in the season premiere is the murder from the opening scenes. The episode closes on Liv and Clive being approached by a man who could be the victim’s husband. A search in the woods leads to evidence that the woman was indeed the man’s wife, but in classic cliffhanger tradition this is where we’re left to wait for the next chapter. The tense calm in New Seattle is about to be shaken.

Zombies have long life spans on TV. Shows like “The Walking Dead” easily cross into nearly a decade’s worth of seasons. “iZombie” now prepares to close the curtain, hinting that Liv and team will have to fight now to preserve New Seattle even while the slim hope of a zombie cure begins to present itself. It’s going to be a season worth watching, with suspense and brains to spare.

iZombie” season 5 premieres May 2 and airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on CW.