iZombie is a busy show, which makes it easy to lose track of the many plates it spins at any given moment. But this week, as the season comes to a close, there's no case of the week and no real subplots. "Dead Beat" is squarely focused on one thing: saving Major.
This isn't much of a surprise; last season also ended with a story line about saving him. When "Dead Beat" opens, he's trapped in prison for the Chaos Killing murders, hungry and barely stopping himself from going full zombie. Liv, Ravi, and Peyton are naturally worried, since Major losing it in prison would mean the start of a zombie apocalypse. So really, this episode is about Team Liv saving the world. #SaveMajorSaveTheWorld
After Ravi explains to Liv the whole truth about Major, they start looking for a way either to get him out of prison or to get brains in. First, they figure out where Major was hiding the frozen zombies, since Major's case will be cleared if just one of his alleged victims reappears. Unfortunately, all of the freezers are empty. Someone got there before they did. Props to Rose McIver for selling just how discouraged Liv feels in that moment.
The obvious culprit is Vaughn Du Clark, who has been keeping tabs on Major. He hires Brant Stone (Ken Marino), a skeezy defense lawyer who loves hitting on Peyton, to defend Major. Vaughn also lands a deal to sell SuperMax to a private military contractor; however, the deal is contingent on the public not believing the Chaos Killers' murders were caused by the drink. So, Vaughn decides it's finally time to kill Liv and Major.
"Dead Beat" also spends a lot of time with Clive and Dale. It's been awhile since we really checked in on their relationship, and it's nice to see Clive playfully comforting her as she stresses about not having enough evidence to lock down the case. Though Dale is stonewalled, Clive makes some big headway with the Meat Cute murders. An inmate saw Major's picture on TV and tells Clive he sold Major the guns that were used in the killings.
Meanwhile, Brant manages to get Major out on bail, and Liv and Ravi are waiting outside the courthouse with a brain shake waiting for him. Channeling his inner Penguin, Vaughn's henchman Janko is also there with an umbrella hiding a retractable knife. However, both plans are foiled when Clive shows up to arrest Major for the Meat Cute murders.
At this point, Major is feeling hopeless enough to ask Liv for the cure. She refuses because she doesn't want him to lose his memory. But what other options do they have? They're going to lose him either way. Liv tries one more plan to get Major some brains, which involves baking a brain candy bar and getting Peyton to seduce Brant into passing it to Major. This plan fails, too, because Brant's dog eats the bar.
And that's where "Dead Beat" does such a good job. By slowly narrowing Liv's chances to save Major, the situation becomes increasingly desperate. As the episode goes on, it becomes clear that there's only one remaining choice: the truth.
Liv pays Clive a visit at home and tells him everything. Zombies and all. Obviously, Clive doesn't believe her at first. So, Liv stabs herself with a knife to prove she's a zombie. The entire season has been inching toward this point, and now that it's finally arrived, the episode slows down. It's a savvy move, giving this important scene enough space to breath and sink in. It mostly succeeds, too. I still kind of wish Clive would've pieced it all together on his own, but it makes sense for Liv to come clean in this moment. It's an important step for her. iZombie is about Liv recovering from the trauma of becoming a zombie. It's about her attempts to reaffirm her humanity to herself, while learning how to trust again.
Now that he knows everything — and believes it — Clive helps destroy both cases. Major is set free. However, saving Major's life and preventing the zombie apocalypse comes with a price. Clive's relationship with Dale is officially finished. She's pissed after realizing he's the one who sabotaged the cases, and when he refuses to explain why, she leaves him. (Her last words to him: "Good-bye, Clive.") This scene, in particular, reminded me that Malcolm Goodwin's strong performance isn't lauded nearly enough. His acting in this scene, combined with those cute flirty moments from earlier in the episode, make this breakup pretty heartbreaking.
But Liv and company aren't out of the woods just yet. Janko finds her alone in the morgue and drugs her — luckily, Ravi arrives before he can kill her. During their struggle, Ravi accidentally injects Janko with a full dose of the drug he used on Liv. The henchman is dead. Janko's death leaves Ravi visibly shaken. Liv does finds one bright side, though: She can eat Janko's brain to find out where the other zombies went.
Liv and Ravi return to her apartment, where Major, running on musician brains, is drumming away. The scene feels a bit too joyous after Ravi just, you know, killed a guy, but I'll give iZombie the benefit of the doubt and assume they'll deal with in the season finale. Suddenly, Major's incessant drumming causes Liv to flash. She sees Drake and the rest of the now-defrosted zombies locked in the basement of Max Rager.
- "Dead Beat" briefly checks in with Blaine: His memory still hasn't come back, he's still nice, and he's still taking orders from Don E, which is very weird to see.
- How will Clive's sabotage of the Chaos Killer and Meat Cute cases affect his standing within the SPD? Dale surely won't tell people that Clive did it, but the fact that two high-profile cases fell apart on his watch can't be good.
- In exchange for smuggling the candy bar to Major, Peyton agrees to get drinks with Brant at a bar of his choosing … and she must have two drinks, minimum.
- In case anybody forgot: The finale has to deal with Vaughn and Mr. Boss. That's a lot to handle for a single episode. Let's hope iZombie can pull it off.