This Blood Drive review contains spoilers.
Blood Drive Episode 9
“The Chopsocky Special” serves up mind expansion with rice and a fortune cookie when Blood Drive trips balls in episode 9. Arthur (Alan Ritchson) got shot by the sheriff of Red River at the end of last week’s Spaghetti Western genre homage. This week the Blood Drive racers become day trippers as his wound begins to fester.
While Gracie (Christina Ochoa) and a mysterious restaurant owner named Pearl go noodling around his body looking for bullet fragments and infection, Arthur is free to find himself. The superfluous mushrooms in his egg drop soup put him on a vision quest. Or as Aki (Marama Corlett) puts it, he is tripping balls. I don’t think Syfy could find a better trip mate than Aki. She is relaxing as an Ambien and exciting as a vitamin B shot with something extra for lightweights.
Arthur is depicted as a serious, button-down but caring cop. He’s been staid, steadfast and steady. Cool under pressure and impervious to some of the most enticing of temptations. But there are cracks in his armor. He was able to resist the seductive overtures of his partner. He holds back on most of his violent tendencies. He will not be bribed, extorted or cajoled into looking the other way, unless his inner good-cop intuition tells him that justice is not being served. The hallucinogen strips him of his veneer only to uncover an even more reliable foundation layer underneath.
The set designs have been consistently extraordinary on Blood Drive. They do so much with so little. They created a gravity-defying set a few weeks ago that worked because of strobe effects. Their Club Mayhem traveling parties adapt to any finish line. Linoleum floors, walls of TV sets, desert sands and urban sprawl have all been lovingly rendered through a Grindhouse lens on a small budget. The producers play with that they got, and use low-budget Indies for inspiration. Blood Drive drops some of their best effects quickly so the audience doesn’t notice the cheap construction.
Tonight’s moment comes through a split second of forced perspective camera work. At the start of the Arthur’s fantasia, he and Aki emerge from his inner landscape into one of white sands. The door to the building behind them disappears, which is something we’ve seen on the show when Christopher first emerged from the back door of Heart Enterprises’ headquarters. After Aki explains the deeds at hand to her uniformed companion, she kicks over the building they walk out through like it’s a sand castle.
Visual puns abound on Blood Drive. In one setup, the racers are in formation to Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” gathered around the counter at the Pixie Swallow diner. Rib Bone is Jesus, Grace is Mary Magdalene, not John the Apostle, and Clown Dick is wearing a cocktail dress. Who says everything has a secret meaning? We try to find our own way, but the world has the final say, Pearl drops. In his happiest hallucinatory state, Arthur is married to Grace and they live in a Plexiglas-perfect home with a baby named Rib Bone. The same Rib Bone who will be Jesus in the diner Da Vinci. The lamb of the world is almost sacrificed in the garbage disposal to fuel the house. So much symbolism it would make Blood Race drivers’ heads explode if their brains were still armed. Aki give her life for a the reluctant warrior in his quest for cosmic expansion. Arthur needs the key. It is physical key because it is a symbolic key.
Slink (Colin Cunningham) and Christopher (Thomas Dominique) don’t show up until the halfway point, and when they do they serve up a promethean feast with Arthur as the main course. Slink is quite the epicurean, sleek in his Chef Boyardee finest, while Christopher is more of a finger-food aficionado. This episode shows how the main characters can be paired off in any combination without losing flavor. The pig looks good with an apple stuffed in his gob. The scene is fun and ridiculously suspenseful. It is ludicrous because we buy the scenario of hungry diners on Slink’s word, not the most reliable source.
Arthur’s vision quest becomes reality TV on the “Contracrime Files.” This is where we, and he, get our deepest insights into his character. Arthur was a hooded hoodlum in his youth. But that doesn’t make him a bad person. He got caught stealing food the first year after the quake. He still carries the guilt to this day. He has been running from it since a kindly cop let him off the hook and died for his flagrant flouting of the rules. It was an accident, but karma is no accident. Arthur’s survivor’s guilt was triggered last week when he offed the sheriff of Red River. Yes, the sheriff was evil, and he was about to do evil on a large scale, setting up gallows for people in a neighboring community. But Arthur had already subdued him before pulling the trigger.
The Sheriff looked into Arthur’s baby blues with the coals of his own barbecue pit sockets and found him guilty. But Arthur wasn’t always that way. That is the cross he has to bear. That cop that let him go, who set him on the road to protect and serve, died. But before he did, he imparted a truth beyond truth. The kind of truth that can only be enhanced by chemicals, the world still needs heroes. It is the weepiest acting in the series so far. With the sappy music and the cornball over-emoting, the scene is doubly effective. It’s pure treacle to stir the sentiments and it works. The whole over-the-top approach works. It brings tears to this reviewer’s eyes. They were tears of laughter. It is the most subtle of satire on the smallest of budgets, but it is not a cheap shot.
The transfusion scene is cheesy fun. Do it yourself medical procedures are in vogue this season. Grace and Arthur are totally loyal to each other. After learning about the death of her sister Karma, Grace is already dead inside, but the prospect of losing the only person to go through that with her resuscitates her like a pair of heart paddles. They are separated, Grace on the dunes of white sand and Arthur lost in his vision quest, by the time of the cliffhanger ending. Grace gets a bill for services from Pearl. But it comes with a fortune cookie and a note saying “We hope to see you again really soon.” So I don’t think we’re done with eastern cuisine or MSG flashbacks.
“The Chopsocky Special” is a clever twist on the road to tje ultimate finish line where the curves make you unsure who to root for in the race. Haven’t you figured it out yet? There are no good guys on Blood Drive.
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