Spoilers ahead for Episode 6 of iZombie Season 5, called "The Scratchmaker."
The fifth and final season of iZombie is in full swing on The CW, and the stakes have never been higher as tensions rise between zombies and humans due to a brain shortage. The latest episode, called "The Scratchmaker," was unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that one of the show's stars was behind the camera. Malcolm Goodwin, who has played Clive Babineaux from the very beginning, directed "The Scratchmaker."
The episode saw Liv consume the brain of a matchmaker, leading to efforts to find the perfect match for the people around her. Donnie had high hopes that she would find his perfect match, but those hopes were dashed, as you might expect for Donnie. Blaine made it out on bail and is on a quest to get to the top once more.
Clive himself didn't have all that much to do, but he's showing some stress as Dale's due date approaches. Besides, Malcolm Goodwin had plenty going on behind-the-scenes without Clive having the A plot for himself. Goodwin spoke with CinemaBlend and other press outlets about his big episode during a set visit in the fall, discussing the new opportunities it gave him and how it was a "dream come true."
Here's what Malcolm Goodwin had to say about the new aspects of iZombie he was able to explore with his episode:
It's called 'The Scratchmaker.' It's a little different. We actually follow Blaine's storyline. It's pretty much Blaine and Donnie. The episode focuses on them. It was really interesting because there were sets that I'd never been on. For example, Clive's not really in that world. Scratching Post, and their office. To be on those sets, prepare for those scenes... I'd never been here before, never been on these sets... And [the actors] were just amazing. They just gave 110%. Everybody gave everything. So it was an amazing experience.
Almost every episode of iZombie has centered on Liv Moore and her struggles after becoming a zombie. She's come a long way over the years, and fans got to see the nuances of her journey. "The Scratchmaker" showcased Blaine instead, and by letting fans in on his point-of-view, the show made the coming conflict all the more interesting... and complicated.
By directing a Blaine-centric episode, Malcolm Goodwin had cause to visit sets that Clive Babineaux never would have had reason to drop by. Not too many episodes of the series were left to film following "The Scratchmaker," so he might not have had opportunities to visit those sets if he'd waited much longer.
Apparently, the cast went all out in making "The Scratchmaker" a success from their end. Now that the episode has aired, I think fans can probably agree that it was a success on Malcolm Goodwin's end as well!
When asked if directing was a bit easier since he'd worked on the show with this cast for years already, Malcolm Goodwin said this:
Oh, sure. Absolutely. Because we're also friends, but you never know how it's gonna translate when it's hopping behind the camera. Everybody was so supportive. Everybody was on board. I was nervous. I've directed before. I've directed for features. I just directed a feature this summer... I was well-prepared. It was just a dream come true of an opportunity. I was overly prepared. Just wanted it to be good.
Malcolm Goodwin had directing experience from past projects, including feature films, so he definitely knew what he was doing before getting behind the camera on iZombie. That didn't stop him from getting a bit nervous about the prospect of directing these people he's known on the same project for so many years, but his co-stars were ready to go. And he was clearly quite prepared! The end result was 'a dream come true.'
Other members of the cast had plenty of good things to say about Malcolm Goodwin as a director as well. Leading lady Rose McIver, who weighed in on whether Liv should be cured, described working with Goodwin as a director rather than just scene partner, saying this:
He was incredibly prepared, and I just think with Malcolm, what you really forget because he's not somebody who sings his own praises, he's also directed a couple of films before. He's got a lot of experience, so it wasn't like a new director coming in. What was cool though is this was his TV episodic directing debut. And he was so confident, because he prepared. That's still a new thing to work for and working for a network and a studio. And he was so confident with it. He didn't micromanage. I thought it would be easy and tempting to want to have a finger in every pie in the studio. And he was really, really great... Everybody was geared and ready to help him as much as they could. He nailed it. So proud of him.
While Malcolm Goodwin has several features to his name as a director, episodic television was something brand new for him. Rose McIver's comments indicate that he was perfectly prepared to manage working with a network and studio despite never having directed episodic TV in the past, and he was the right level of involved in the process to make the episode great.
Robert Buckley, who plays Major on iZombie, shared another reason why Malcolm Goodwin was such a great director to work with:
I worked with him a lot. We've already shot it, and that's one of my favorite episodes this year. He's great at directing and also because it's Malcolm, who we love, everyone genuinely showed up ready to help him, help him succeed. So it went so smoothly, and he's also crazy positive. It's so contagious. It's like effusive. So the set was light, it was efficient. And then you're just seeing your buddy kick ass in this new light. So it was awesome.
There's a lot to be said for positivity at a job, and Malcolm Goodwin's lightness and effusiveness evidently made the filming process all the better for Robert Buckley and Co. As much as iZombie is a relatively comedic take on the zombie genre, it can still get pretty dark.
A little lightness probably went a long way. After sampling the fake brains with fake blood while on the set visit, I could understand if the actors playing zombies might need some cheering up if they were eating those all day!
In all seriousness, Malcolm Goodwin directing was a long time coming, according to another of his costars. Rahul Kohli, a.k.a. Ravi, shared his thoughts on Goodwin helming an episode of iZombie:
I've been fighting for Malcolm to be a director on our show for three years. Vocally... And they finally did it, and then I got the schedule and Malcolm got it, and I was in it for a day. I was like, 'I've never been in an episode this little. This is the smallest amount I've ever been.' But I got to watch, I was on set with him a lot. It was awesome. He's an amazing director.
Rahul Kohli didn't have the spotlight in "The Scratchmaker," but he still got to watch Malcolm Goodwin work on set as a director. It certainly sounds like his faith in his friend as an iZombie director was rewarded. So what if he wasn't in much of the episode? He was around for enough to be able to call Goodwin an "amazing director."
Finally, we have the thoughts of Bryce Hodgson, who plays Donnie. His character was a very big part of "The Scratchmaker," so he worked with Malcolm Goodwin a great deal during his stint as director. Like the other stars, Hodgson had nothing but good things to say:
The best. Just the best. From Day 1, it was Malcolm's already a friend. Malcolm kept saying, 'You have the acting partner directing.' So you were talking about the script a lot. We were talking about the characters a lot. Getting to put time into that. Usually you do on your own time, but it was like being on the phone with Malcolm and saying, 'I have this question,' and then taking a lot of time to talk about it. Just totally felt taken care of.
All things considered, it sounds like Malcolm Goodwin's stint behind the camera on iZombie was a highlight for the Season 5 cast as they worked to produce a killer final season. "The Scratchmaker" was an atypical episode in the best way, and it sets the stage for the remainder of the season in some intriguing ways.
See what's in store next for Clive Babineaux and the rest when new episodes of iZombie's final season air Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.