‘iZombie’ Fall Finale: EP Diane Ruggiero-Wright on Surprising Splits and Ravi’s New ‘Ticking Clock’

iZombie, Rose Mciver
Katie Yu/The CW
iZombie -- "Cape Town" -- Image Number: ZMB209a_0082.jpg -- Pictured: Rose McIver as Liv -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Spoiler alert! Do not read further if you haven’t watched the fall finale of iZombie.

The iZombie fall finale packed quite a punch.

As Liv (Rose McIver) took on the persona of a part-time amateur crime-fighter (thanks to her brain of the week), her relationships fractured: Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) realized how much Liv put herself in danger after she got shot, while Major (Robert Buckley) tried coming to grips with Liv’s multiple personality changes with each new brain. He couldn’t understand why she wasn’t open to options that would give her an out, making Liv realize they had to break up (again). Adding to the trauma and drama, Ravi (Rahul Kohli) discovered the zombie cure—which Blaine (David Anders) and Major reaped the benefits of—but it had a limited window of effectiveness, so he set out to find the ingredients to make another batch.

We spoke with Diane Ruggiero-Wright, iZombie co-creator and writer of tonight’s episode, “Cape Town,” about those relationship splits, Ravi’s evolving quest for the cure and more.

When you went about writing this episode, how much of the story was inspired by the superhero shows on The CW?
I am the biggest nerd…I watch everything. I’m so excited about [The CW’s upcoming superhero series] DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. I’m a big superhero fan, a big comics fan. I do secretly wish I was a superhero…I think I’d be really bad at it. The best fun was naming the superheroes. I want people to call me Ghost Cobra. Or Mega Fist. And the whole costume process was really fun, too. For me, it was just total wish fulfillment, because I love all those shows, and I’m on the network.

A lot of things came to a boiling point all at once. What made the timing right for things to explode?
We knew we were getting the break, and we wanted to do something big. To be honest, we weren’t sure what our situation would be, if we were getting the back-nine [episodes], or if we were just getting the first 13. We weren’t sure what was happening, and it was hard to break the first [arc], because we never knew how much time we had. So we eventually just said, instead of looking at 13 as the big episode [of the arc], we were going to treat 9 as the biggest episode, because it was the one before our break. And, hopefully, [we would then] be able to treat 13 as a regular episode, because we’d be getting more. Luckily, we did get more. So we treated 9 as a midseason finale.

Liv and Clive’s partnership has been such an important part of the series. Now that he is more conscious about protecting her, where does that leave Liv, and how does it impact them going forward?
I think it’s really hard for Liv, because she was in such a bad place when she started with Clive. That relationship, and that working relationship, brought so much to her life and helped her so much in dealing with the newfound status of her life. It’s not going to be easy for her, but she’s also a tough girl and will work towards making her life better. But there’s definitely a rift between them, and over the rest of the season, their relationship will take some turns. There’s going to be some big stuff going on with the Liv/Clive friendship.

As viewers, we know Liv can’t stop her visions, even if Clive doesn’t want to work with her. How will she be an investigator if he doesn’t want her to be as involved?
It’s schmuck baiting to say, “Liv and Clive will never speak again.” It’s more that they have come to a kind of agreement. And over the course of the season, they’ll be redefining their work relationship.

Speaking of relationships, what led to the decision to break up Major and Liv before any reveals about Major’s relationship with Rita (Leanne Lapp) or his zombie “killing”?
We really liked their relationship not ending because of some chick. Their relationship has been through so much, that if it wasn’t going to work out, we wanted it to be because of reasons we believed. As much as people want love to conquer all, being in love with a zombie is hard. Dealing with someone whose brain changes every day is hard. I don’t know how the United States of Tara husband did it, but it’s a hard thing. Not being able to have full-on, regular sex with your partner, and having them change brains every day, makes a relationship very difficult.

Another thing that was important for me was, in this new life of Liv’s, working with Clive had become a calling…and given her purpose. The idea of someone not getting that is like, “If you don’t get that, you don’t get me.” There’s all these sorts of elements. And then there’s this key point of, “I have changed from this person you first loved. Now I’m me, but I’m also this new person. And if you can’t understand this new person and you can’t roll with it and you don’t respect it, you’re not meant to be with me.” Liv says, “You’re in love with the girl that I was. But I’ve changed. You have to be in love with that girl, too.” It’s kind of brutally honest. But Major hasn’t really made that shift. I’m glad [the split is] not just about some girl. I think that would be giving the audience short shrift.

Is their relationship really over? Or is it a will they/won’t they get back together situation?
Oh, I think they’re truly done for [now]. Is it ever [possible] in the future? Who knows about the future. But this is real; they’re broken up…I can promise you we won’t come to episode 10 and they’re back together. That’s one of the things about the breakup being substantive, about “I am a different person now.” It’s kind of a big deal. It’s not a wishy-washy, let’s-get-back-together-in-two-episodes deal.

I can’t imagine this will change Major’s desire to protect Liv, but how will this impact his side project of “killing” zombies?
One of the things I love about their relationship is, the basis of it is friendship. Not being together is not going to change, for one minute, Major’s desire to protect her…he still loves her; they still love each other. They’re just not in a place where they can have a romantic relationship.

Will there be a new romantic relationship for either of them in the near future?
There is a potential love interest for one of them.

Is the love interest someone we know or someone new?
Someone that you know.

On a more dangerous topic, the cure wasn’t quite as effective as one might have hoped. How will Ravi be dealing with the setback?
I think Ravi, as you saw at the end of the episode, will be really determined to find the ingredients he needs. I think there’s a lot more of a ticking clock now, and a lot of pressure for him. He’s going to pull out all the stops to make this cure, and it’s not going to be an easy road. Every time he takes two steps forward, there is something in his way; he can’t catch a break, cure-wise.

Mr. Boss saved Liv’s life in the episode. How much is this going to bite her in the butt?
It doesn’t really bite her in the butt that much. Even if he could [say], “Hey, remember that time I saved you?”, she’d be like, “Yeah? And, murderer?” [Laughs] It’s out there, it’s mentioned, but it’s not like he can control her or anything. It’s more that this guy she wants to take down saved her life.

Patrick Gallagher recently tweeted about appearing on the show. Is there anything you can say about his character?
I don’t think I can say who he’s playing, but I love him. Who doesn’t love Patrick Gallagher? [Note: A rep for the show later shared that Gallagher will be playing a reporter named Jeremy Chu in an upcoming episode.]

iZombie has never shied away from embracing Veronica Mars (which iZombie co-creator Rob Thomas created, and Ruggiero-Wright worked on). Should fans expect any homages or nods in the next batch of episodes?
John Enbom is writing two episodes…he wrote on Veronica Mars with us, and he wrote Party Down. He was kind of a fan fave with Veronica Mars viewers…we’re trying very hard to cast some of the Veronica Mars alums in his episode. Dan Etheridge, who is also a Veronica Mars alum, is directing, so we’re trying to get as many Veronica Mars people as we can involved.

Also, with 19 episodes instead of the traditional 22, will storylines be impacted? Will anything planned for this year be pushed to season 3?
If you knew Rob well, you would know there’s no pushing. [Laughs] Now it’s, “Oh, the stuff we’re going to do in 22 [episodes], we’re going to do in 19.” There’s just a ton happening; there was already a ton happening, but now there’s a ton happening. It’s a river raft.

Will the show ever go back to Liv’s drama with her family?
We’ll definitely be seeing them in 2016. I’m not really sure how much, but we’ll definitely be seeing them. It’’ll be pretty satisfying for fans.

What brains of the week are coming up in 2016?
We get to see Liv on this method actor brain. There’s a show—it’s been in episodes—[in their world] called Zombie High. It started off as a joke in the writers’ room that [the characters] were watching a show called Zombie High that they were really into. And [episode 10] is about [the death of] one of the actors on Zombie High. So it’s Liv eating the brain of an actor who plays a zombie fighter on a show about a bunch of high school kids trapped in a school fighting zombies. So there’s a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek things about zombie TV shows. And it’s written by Kit Boss, who writes a lot of amazing episodes.

What else you can tease about what’s in store next year, especially for Blaine?
There are so many good episodes in the back half. There’s some Liv/Ravi stuff coming up that’s super fun. And Blaine has some hilarious stuff regarding his dad…he has a really fantastic “get back at dad” moment in the new year.

iZombie will return in 2016.