This Blood Drive review contains spoilers.
Blood Drive Episode 3
It’s another finish line and another world on Blood Drive, episode 3. And this stretch of race is a real drag. “Steel City Nightfall” is what happens when the sun goes down on Motor City West. Steel city, was the leading carmaker in the west but the population went savage after some post-scar industrial accident. The government sent troops in, but they never got out. Same thing with a second unit. Then the sun went down.
But the episode opens in the blinding light of day. Race day 3 starts in Utah, where bigamy is almost a religion. But not to Domi (Jenny Stead) and Cliff (Craig Jackson). They only have eyes for each other, though not always each other’s. It may seem the romance has gone out their marriage like so much human blood through a gasket, but they are perennial newlyweds.
The opening shot catches Cliff flirtingly finger-walking from the shift to her knee while dreamy nostalgia pours of speakers. Domi catches him mid-pre-fondle and urges him to edge. “I will cut your fingers off, shove them up a monkey’s ass and make you chase them,” she says. Don’t let that fool you for one quarter of a mile. They treasure memories like disemboweling the bellhop on their honeymoon, and even save a trinket much more personal than a slice of wedding cake with a plastic bride and groom on a stick in a freezer.
Grace D’Argento (Christina Ochoa), and the Ken doll she calls Barbie, LAPD Officer Arthur Bailey (Alan Ritchson), are once again dead last when we first meet them, though someone will come up from behind after they cut a dangerous swath to the finish line. Car troubles are our troubles on Blood Drive and when you crack a strut without The Scholar to jerry-rig your choke a racer could wind up brain imploded skid marks. Grace and Arthur find that the only way to stay alive is to take a shortcut that will probably get them killed.
Slink, on the other hand, is just looking for a lethal short cut to impose on Blood Drive’s producers. The drivers keep one hand on the wheel, Jonathan, I mean Julian Slink keeps a delicate grasp on the phone. All decked out and anywhere else to go, Slink’s every chipper “hello” digs a deeper grave for the notes-givers.
The first shot we see of Officer Christopher Carpenter (Thomas Dominique) is censored. He’s lying, strapped-down, naked in his cell, one eye obscured by a bandage. His apparently humungous morning glory is covered with a big black box to spare TV viewers’ sensitivity. It looks like the producers want to save people the trouble of comparison. Unless the producers are being extremely generous, this dick swings wide. This is one of many great visual gags the show displays discretely as running comment on censorship. Blood Drive takes a lot of chances with TV’s standards and practices, and turns the joke on itself as much as on those who would red ink scenes.
Of course the worm might also turn on full view of Aki (Marama Corlett), the seductively seditious recruiter from Heart Corporation. She might not have the sexiest wink, but her eyes do enough stunts, and her vocal calisthenics can compel obedience through sheer will. She is frighteningly cute at times too, always chipper and eager to tease.
The Steel City dwellers live in a covered environment that is intricately designed, right down to the graffiti and little dashboard toys and hood ornaments. The sets are impressive in general in Blood Drive, but I got a thing for urban decay, so this is a joy. The cult leader sits atop a throne of old TV sets, worshipping chassis and bobbleheads. One glance at the Grace’s red Camaro and they are empowered. It is a survival amid the rubble. All hail synergy. The Steel City auto worshippers may talk funny but they know a treasured ride when they see one.
What they don’t see are the Glimmers, their unfortunate neighbors who were the victims of a 45 triox experimental gas additive leaked into the groundwater. They bleed an unsexy but potent toxic green sludge and are only kept at bay by staying in the light, which is why the Steel City cult holds rites. The ritual is too sexy to interrupt by slitting everyone’s throats. Grace is a little impatient, even if it’s always “ladies first” with her. Arthur seems to be getting used to his co-pilot. He’s still rolling his eyes at her, like an old married couple, but when the old married couple roll eyes at each other, it is simply scrumptious. That has to be one of the goriest setupd because it is so funny. The couple already dispatched the rest of their emotional debris in a blood bag they used to send Clown Dick to the shoulder, in spite of what the production notes demand.
But hands down, the most exquisitely excruciating wince moment is when Aki pokes around at Officer Christopher’s belly button. The gore never really gets too cheesy on Blood Drive because the show is run through the grater of grindhouse. The leftover goo is looked over by The Gentleman’s (Andrew Hall) mechanic/lover, The Scholar (Darren Kent).
Grace and Arthur forge unlikely alliances and the day is saved shortly after nightfall by what leaks out of the nocturnal transmissions. The episode ends on a subversively romantic note that twists tracks brilliantly.
“Steel City Nightfall” was directed by James Roday and written by James Roland.