Last week was the bloody and brilliant premiere of Syfy’s latest television series “Blood Drive.” Metroplague was thrilled to be introduced to gritty yet fun characters like Grace D’Argento, The Gentleman, Julian Slink, and The Scholar. Other main characters like Arthur Bailey and Christopher Carson (Thomas Dominique) fell a bit short on the excitement scale; but luckily for Syfy, boring characters are in short supply in the world of “Blood Drive.”
Episode two, “Welcome to Pixie Swallow” opens up with the introduction of customers enjoying their meals at the hoppin’ Arizona food joint, Pixie Swallow Diner; a restaurant connected to the local motel. An upbeat, attractive, blonde waitress is shown serving meat dishes, flirting with customers, and making out with the janitor before stepping into the diner’s backroom kitchen where the audience sees the chef, her father, grinding a human leg into a meat grinder (Not a spoiler, this was in the episode preview on the network). It is now clear that viewers are in for the cannibal content that can only be enjoyed in a Grindhouse production setting.
After the credits, it is discovered that the competitors of the annual Blood Drive have deemed Pixie Swallow as the latest stopping point to “refuel,” relax and imbibe for the night. With this introduction to the episode’s setting, our protagonists, Arthur and Grace step in for a bite to eat. Arthur is still intent on exposing Heart Industries after finding out they are pulling the strings behind not only the Blood Drive but society itself. Grace is still intent on winning the race prize money to help her sister Karma, who the audience still knows little about. Despite their risque achievement during the “climax” of episode one, both characters are still at opposite ends of the moral spectrum. Without any spoilers, very quickly madness and cannibalistic violence ensue, and our “heroes” are forced to step up and save another member of the Blood Drive after the family of cannibals has tampered with their vehicle.
This episode also included two subplots; one involving Julian Slink, the other, centers on the fate of Chris Carson, who was captured by a secret society at the end of episode one. Both of these stories were among the weakest portions of the episode when there really could have been more focus on the Blood Drive competitors war with the cannibal clan.
Carson’s plot point was completely unnecessary and trivial, coming off as an attempt at the show’s creators to make a dull character more interesting. Unless Carson’s misadventures in the secret lair of the baddies lead to a major turning point, it may have been better to just off the character in the previous episode.
Slink’s solo venture in the plot makes sense since he technically broke the rules and allowed Grace and Arthur to live after their loss during the first leg of the Blood Drive. The meat of Slink’s portion of the episode involves him in Heart Industries waiting room where audiences get a comedic glimpse at the depths of depravity this character is willing to go in order to get his way.
The entire portion of the episode involving Pixie Swallow and the inhabitants of the diner was highly entertaining and gave viewers the violent spectacle that was expected after the pilot episode. There was also quite a bit of body humor (pun intended) that just worked for the plot and made a tense situation for the protagonists a good time.
The latter half of Slink’s storyline was also filled with dark humor and violence but unfortunately, the action came a little too late, but not by any fault of this sections plot.
One of the shining characters on the show is Grace D’Argento, played so slickly by Christina Ochoa. In each scene she is in, Ochoa brings a presence that fans of Grindhouse cinema will clamor for in hopes for more. With each one liner, innuendo, or kick-ass fight scene, Ochoa proves she was born for the genre.
While the pilot episode shined with a look that went beyond the average Syfy production, something about the camera quality and direction seemed different and off this episode. It wasn’t terrible production quality, but it was obvious that more money was spent on the pilot episode than “Welcome to Pixie Swallow.” Hopefully, this was just an episodic fluke and audiences will have the slick look of the pilot episode back in no time.
Another area that hurt the show every now and then was Arthur’s dialogue. Yes, Grindhouse dialogue is meant to be cheesy, but it wasn’t the cheese that smelled bad, it was Ritchson’s delivery of his serious lines.
While this episode overall had quite a few low points, these bad marks should not be enough to bring the Blood Drive to a screeching halt. Sure the transmission of the show stumbled a bit this episode, but audiences were promised a deeper look into Grace’s interesting past in episode three.
Look out for weekly recaps and thoughts from Metroplague as “Blood Drive” plays out its first season. Be sure to catch the show on Syfy Wednesday nights at 10 PM EST/9 PM CST or on Syfy.com.