This Blood Drive review contains spoilers.
Blood Drive Episode 6
Blood Drive is a fast-paced, horror/scifi car race series designed for summer fun, and an episode called “Booby Traps” sounds like it is revved up for a sexy diversionary sidetrack. But it also delivers heart, romance and one of the best designed sets of the production. The opening shot of all the drivers fueling up is an impressive propulsive for the episode.
The racing action is particularly intense tonight, even when the drivers aren’t dodging grenades. Slink (Colin Cunningham) imposes a new safety restriction on the drivers. Don’t think for a minute that this is too keep them safe. On this leg of the race, the drivers are not allowed to use their brakes. If their toes touch the pedals their cars are disabled for ten minutes, leaving them at the mercy of the ultra-feminist Biker Chick cult in Savage Land.
Grace (Christina Ochoa) and Arthur (Alan Ritchson) get Wile E. Coyoted into applying the brakes. Fooled by a fake front that looks directly out of the Acme supply catalogue, they are dragged off to a day spa in the desert. Grace is pampered while Arthur gets in line to get his penis pumped. This is not as much fun as it sounds. The liberated women in Savage Land have only one need for men, sperm donation, and they took a page out of A Boy and His Dog, the 1975 science fiction cult classic about a seventeen year old World War 4 survivor and his faithful telepathic canine, for inspiration.
Arthur makes the same miscalculation the teenager makes in the movie based on a Harlan Ellison cautionary tale: getting a nut off is not fun. The men are slaves to their urges and those urges are completely submerged for the greater good, no matter how bad it feels. Arthur continues to try and play good cop to Grace’s bad trip, but things like cattle prods keep getting in the way. He is still a reluctant fighter, in spite of, or because of, how good looked like it felt to him last week. Arthur fancies himself a negotiator, until he sits back for a couple cold beers with the boys.
Roving homicidal couple Domi (Jenny Stead) and Cliff (Craig Jackson) are also invited guests at the savage resort. Theirs is the most romantic story on Blood Drive. Their relationship gives the series heart, and occasionally other organs and body parts. They are so in sync, after years of devoted copycat killing, they can communicate in Morse without the codes, Domi can read the emotions and meanings of Cliff’s taps. And just when you think she’s a bored housewife, looking for an excuse to euthanize a healthy stranger on her own, she comes through in a pinch for her loving husband. Domi forgives him his trespasses and fears no evil in the shadow of death for she is the most dangerous creature in the valley.
This leg also marks the first time the drivers will be passing through the dangerous territory. Slink is under a lot of pressure to keep up the ratings, now that the “Blood Drive” show at the heart of the series, and Heart Enterprises, got picked up by the networks. The producers nitpick over every curve that slows the action and the sex, but Slink is an artist who fashions the race for a larger canvass. He doesn’t only see the deep reds of the plasma-injection engines, Slink envisions a multi-colored and multi-textured torture track for his hot wheels.
Christopher (Thomas Dominique) and Aki (Marama Corlett) are settled into something akin to domestic bliss, marred somewhat by the unappetizing egg and ketchup boxed lunches the sexbot calls nutrition. The newly body-modified security guard at Heart Enterprises shows his first signs of independent thought since being broken and rebuilt at the company’s expense. At first, Aki appears to be limited by technical restraints as she is given the choices kill, maim, castrate, or say “yes dear” as appropriate responses to his macho autonomy. As he gets into his unauthorized work day, we see much she’s ingratiated herself on his subconscious.
Aki can see through Christopher’s eyes and impose far worse correctional procedures than mere nagging could ever replicate. While she may not actually be able to control his errant thoughts, she can control his body, and not just with sex, but with stomach churning success.
The centerpiece of the episode is the Hall of Secrets. It’s the most fun place on earth, well, on a post-scar earth. At first glance it appears that the gravity-defying antics of the room are done purely by spinning the camera. But ever-adjacent doors, lighting and colors come together to amplify the effect as much as Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” defined the opening race. The silver sheen of the hallway is only foreplay for the ejaculation of colors that splatter the walls when Christopher turns the room into his own private vomitorium in a nod to the Ludovico Treatment, the physical conditioned response brainwashing in A Clockwork Orange.
This episode really belongs to Grace, though. Her arc is painfully wide. She begins as she always does, obsessed with finding her sister, and willing to break any rules to do it. She’s got a true partner in Arthur, and is softening to him, but that doesn’t make her in any way less hard on him. Arthur and Grace shared a moment when the wannabe-stoic cop got caught up in the loving energy of the genetically altered sex disease last week. But Grace goes through the heart of darkness only to find that Kurtz is her sister Karma. The scene in the holy place is emotionally effective, even or especially through the cartoon over-acting that marks the series.
Karma fell in the revolt at the women’s prison for the criminally insane and her followers are ultimately set free from their bondage by the bonds of matrimony, psychotic as it is. Just because Domi doesn’t have any emotions, and that’s with clinical testing, doesn’t mean she doesn’t love. If anyone is going to kill her true love it is her. Both couples are saved to kill another day, but as the racers pull up to the finish line, we can see that Grace is damaged and changed.
This is a heartrending episode of Blood Drive. It pulls at heart strings. It jerks a tear. It turns a corner.
Read and download the full Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition magazine here!