This Blood Drive review contains spoilers.
Blood Drive Episode 12
Blood Drive, episode 12, “Faces of Blood Drive,” brings us past the race into the championship circle, where the Primo jacket only fits one and all the champs are chumps. The Blood Drive racers, even though the show is only an underground hit seen by the executives at Heart Enterprises, a diminishing lot, are rock stars in the post-Scar 1999. They are feted and feasted and foisted on the festering public.
At least success hasn’t gone to Arthur’s head. It’s not that the new Primo’s shit don’t stink. It is positively coming out petunias. He’s got a sweet ride, a boss leather jacket and twice as many girls than he ever got being a patrolman. Arthur’s old friends don’t get it. Grace has changed. She’s no longer the protective older sister hungry for revenge. Christopher doesn’t seem to appreciate how good things could be in a the post-Scar world. But Slink and the fans, they get it. They could eat Arthur alive.
Arthur is pulled from both ends by his two former partners. But he doesn’t care about either of them, or their plans to derail the best thing that’s ever happened to him. This is the guy who was desperate enough to rob food from the community after the scar tore society in half. Before he was a cop, Arthur was willing to do the crime and the time. He came to the top of the Blood Drive pileup through sheer willpower and strength, and by stripping himself of his police uniform and any human decency that made him put it on in the first place.
Blood Drive treats viewers to “The Ballad of Karma D’Argento.” Grace’s sister’s rise up the corporate ladder is documented, from the very first kill, of a cameraman chronicling her recruitment, through three months and eighteen days, when her first stab at getting revenge on her sister is blocked by corporate red-tape. She cuts through a lot of red in a journey through the epidermis and consilium ward which has such fun toys as false faces and human flesh generators.
“Faces of Blood Drive” takes the skin off the backstories of Arthur and Karma as they race to their transformations. Karma takes complete control of her situation and sets herself up as the undisputed head of Heart Enterprises. Her sociopathic nature fits well with the psychopathic corporation. She is more bloodthirsty than any of the yes men, brown-noses and suited sycophants. She is above production notes and beyond downsizing. Her first order of business after taking on the extra weight is to cut corners, personnel, and limbs, in the human resources outsourcing play of the century.
Slink’s killing is particularly cheesy fun. At first we think he can’t be dead because it looks so fake. Then we are given pause because cheap effects are no barrier to terminating characters and combatants. But no death is a guarantee the soul won’t live on. Karma’s soul is obviously so tainted she was able to pass through the engine cleaner intact on the other end. But Arthur still might have a fragment of feeling left in him. It looks like he’s gone completely over to the other side when he lops off Slink’s head, but his self-interest comes back in a wholly different way when he finds the Master of Mayhem is still in control.
Betrayal, dramatic irony, it’s all gloriously unexpected but completely welcome by Slink. His show is his life and it is taken off life support by Karma’s executive order. She does it because her sister is still standing. Grace is still upright because she has indeed changed. She’s begun to care. Not only about eh cop she once called Barbie, but about the whole world and what is happening to it under the evil auspices of Heart Enterprises. Grace started the series, smacking on some bubblegum, only interested in herself and what was left of her family. She was after the money, which she was going to use to save her sister. But she was also the person who put her sister in danger. Grace wanted the fame and fortune of Blood Drive long before she had a reason to need it. Slink saw that cannibalistic cannonball drive running through her and it was blood lust at first sight.
Christopher, on the other hand, is pulling at the same do-goody instincts Arthur still harbors in an attempt to bring him back to the way he used to be, the savior in blue. He feeds into Arthur’s paranoia and ego even as he says he is fighting it. When the chips are down, it’s not duty that pulls Arthur to the right side of the soul reclamator, it is love.
It is very significant that Arthur chooses Grace over Christopher. It is more important because we find that he did it without knowing he was being played by a video game version of his old partner with a couple of chips missing. The former LAPD patrolman who balked at collecting teeth may now be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, but he still looks really good in a leather jacket with spikes. There’s only room for one Primo and Arthur takes the mantle seriously. But he made a virtual Frankenstein monster of an enemy by choosing his new partner over his old. Under Aki’s hypnotic eyes, we see Christopher shed his last vestige of humanity to save humanity as the former cop and Heart Security Guard opts in for all the corporate benefits he can be fitted for. Christopher is gonna take all the mods the firm has to offer.
Blood Drive runs on unbelievable tracks. The entire series is based on impossible premises built on improbable circumstances. Only the environmental disaster “The Scar” is really real and even that’s not real. To say we suspend disbelief if a foregone conclusion because we buy into every whim the writers come up with. The series has played with multiple subgenres in the Grindhouse movie game, but as it plays with commercial snuff films. It delivers a killer episode in “Faces of Blood Drive.” Next week, we finally cross the finish line.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!