This Blood Drive review contains spoilers.
Blood Drive Episode 11
For those about to die, and that will be most, Blood Drive salutes you. There’s only room at the top for one in episode 11 “Rise of the Primo.”
It’s the last day of the race and the final episode of Blood Drive, the show within the show, promises the CEO of Heart Enterprises. But have no fear. Slink (Colin Cunningham) is here and he’s got everything out of control. The master of mayhem is an artist and an entertainer, and although all the best marketing research says entertainment is old news, Slink’s got an even older hat. It’s vintage. Three out of four power point presentations say the next big thing is politics and the Blood Drive Emcee is willing to throw that hat into a ring.
Club Mayhem has been retrofitted into a mini-Coliseum as the Blood Drive racers go head to head in Roman gladiator combat. Each Heart Enterprise executive is represented in the stands by a video camera and a thumbs for making death or life decisions. It has been decided, because of Slink’s egregious show of insubordination, The Blood Drive race will not go to network. This will be the final battle. Many go in. One comes out. These racers will be losing some of the best fiends they’ve ever known. They will probably be killing them. And that always makes you a little nostalgic.
No one is going to miss the Blood Drive race more than psychopathic couple Domi (Jenny Stead) and Cliff (Craig Jackson). But while they are sad the race is coming to an end, they will be happy to get back home before the do-it-yourself project in the basement starves to death. They have a lot to lose. Blood Drive gave them a reason to stay together that no marriage counselor could come up with. Out on the road they are free to maim and dismember more than their engine’s fill. The couple goes out dancing.
Trying to make the moment last forever, they leave an indelible image for televised eternity. It is a beautiful scene, well, it’s actually a very mundane scene made emotionally effective because of the music. Composer Michael Gatt’s score plays into irony as easily as into the dramatics. Heart-rending syrupy tones accompany the most horrific circumstances. He can transform a simple goodbye into a romantic pang of loneliness that brings tears to your eyes. I seem to remember weeping openly at the turn of an ignition key.
Christopher (Thomas Dominique) misses his loyal sexbot Aki (Marama Corlett). Even the multicolored puke stained steering wheel reminds him of her. That’s her vomit on the dashboard and it proves to be too much. The audience knew last week that the pair is too bonded to split. What we didn’t know is how much of a relief it would be for them to get back together. The episode opens with multiple Akis multitasking around the cars before the start of the game. From mechanic to hawker, her eyes glow with bionic perfection
In order to create great drama, one must heighten the stakes, raise the jeopardy. Put characters in risk. The series showrunner in him knows when a segment’s arc isn’t quite good enough for a commercial break. The show continues to self-reference. Even though the fictional show hasn’t aired beyond a small coterie of Heart sycophants, you can’t go two minutes on any channel without hitting a Blood Drive commercial. In the post-scar world, it is already a phenomenon, unless this is all just playing out in Slink’s head. There is a board game and really cool action figures. One of the retro ads shows one of the kids voicing his Grace and Arthur dolls, saying “don’t succumb to the darkness.” “It has me, Grace. It has me,” foreshadowing dire things to come.
Visual puns and gags abound. Aki puts a ribbon and a second place championship medal over a slab of meat that used to be a blood drive racer. One of the least subtle gags is a shot of the words “there will be blood” written on a pair of panties with menstrual blood stains. Blood Drive isn’t afraid to appeal to the lowest of brows to make brilliant points.
Aki and Christopher stumble upon the soul reclamator. It appears that the cannibalistic engines don’t merely munch and crunch their fuel, they recycle. As people are ground into pure energy, the go to a better place. Of course, Christopher, who just a week ago was a dumb security guard, concludes “I think it makes hats. Probably his best comically delivered line in the series. Thomas Dominique brings such a wide-eyed innocence to some scenes you have to wonder how his character got though the police academy. Other times, he’s all grit. He’s been tortured physically, emotionally and ironically, just for the fun of it. And he, and Alan Ritchson, who plays Arthur, still plumb this childlike desire for truth, beauty and the American way.
Arthur’s breakdown is wonderful, the butterfly emerges amidst flailing limbs and gushing gore. Arthur calls out the death perverts for what he thinks they are, Heart-less corporate enterprisers in empty suits. Not all of them, though. The chief executive of Heart Enterprises is a Karma-Karma Karma Chameleon. The big reveal is really no shock. It is only unexpected. Grace (Christina Ochoa), who found out that her sister died in bringing freedom to the inmates at an insane asylum, is not an only child. Because this is Blood Drive, don’t expect a teary reunion with hugs and tubs of ice cream. Karma is back for one reason. To bring her sister pain.
But Arthur prevails as the king of pain. “I can see why you like him,” Karma tells Grace while Arthur is in a killing frenzy. “He’s sick upstairs.” Everyone is sick upstairs on Blood Drive. It’s why we come back.