We open with a warning:
CAUTION: Red Rapture is an addictive substance and might cause permanent physical & psychological damage. Midnight Grindhouse, Universal Cable Productions, and SyFy do not condone its use.
You’ll remember Red Rapture as the drug introduced in the pilot, used by scavengers in the arid water deprived cities. Looks like we’re about to learn all about it.
We see a cheery and slightly disturbing Heart Enterprises commercial showing a suburban utopia with dogs and children and parents playing catch on front lawns, to the upbeat tones of The Archies 1969 hit “Sugar, Sugar.” The frolicking families have CGI enlarged eyes and smiles as they cavort in the sun.
A Smax candy truck pulls up, and one of the fathers gorges himself on sweet treats.
His eyes grow huge and red rimmed as he wolfs down dessert after dessert. When the candy truck driver cuts him off, he turns into a rage monster as a rapid fire disclaimer zips across the bottom of the screen:
Disclaimer: If you are pregnant or nursing, you should not come within ten feet of Smax candy products. Candy may cause migraine headaches, night sweats, restless leg, schizophrenia, anal leakage, spontaneous human combustion….”
It goes on and on, but you get the idea. Meanwhile, the sugar infused daddy is chopping the driver to pieces with a pair of hedge clippers. We see the golden Heart Enterprises logo on the side of the brightly colored truck as the narrator intones: “Smax candy. You’d kill for just one more taste.”
Welcome to Heart’s private mental institution, Kane Hill, where a nurse wishes the patients a Happy Halloween. One man is studying himself in a mirror as he applies chalk to his lips, thinking it’s lipstick. Due to the holiday, everyone gets a Smax candy treat. This should go well.
At the Finish Line, where Grace made a deal with The Scholar to disable Julian’s death box long enough to find her sister at Kane Hill, Arthur, and his dangerous partner sneak away as the others party into the night. They bought themselves 3 hours before they will be forced to rejoin the race.
Arthur asks a key question: if they successfully liberate Grace’s sister Karma from the loony bin, what are they going to do with her? Will she finish the race with them? Grace admits that she hasn’t thought that far ahead, and I think she’s right not to. Getting her out of Kane Hill is going to be challenging enough, so it’s best to take it one step at a time.
In a nightmarish circus tent filled with illuminated jars powered by a man on a stationary bike, Julian Slink is having some dental work done by a vastly unqualified looking cretin with a diamond tipped drill. A nearby monitor beeps, showing that Sexy Susie has left the area. Julian snatches up the implant control box and pushes buttons uselessly, before noticing that the interior circuitry has been shredded. You’d think The Scholar would’ve been a bit more subtle about it. Julian tosses the box to the creepy dentist.
“Get that to the Scholar. He’ll know what to do with it.”
Looks like the plan worked. Slink also asks for the location of dog-loving badass Rib Bone and his new race partner, the rescued Pomeranian known as Caligula.
Grace and Arthur arrive at the very ordinary looking Kane Hill. Bailey seems to think that all they have to do is sign Karma out and go the legal route, but Grace is already wearing a bandolier of shotgun shells and pulling a giant axe, steel nunchaku and a shotgun from a tool box in Sexy Susie’s trunk.
Did I mention I love this woman?
I mean, was Arthur awake for Pixie Swallow and Steel City? Nothing goes right and nothing is easy.
She finally agrees to try a little diplomacy and they enter as a bloody bandaged phantom watches from a window above. As the pair enter the Halloween encrusted lobby, a receptionist greets them.
“You know it’s June, right?”
The receptionist, who is obviously a mentally ill patient, is dressed as a human-sized radio and eating a Smax bar. His face is smeared with chocolate. He tells them that Karma D’Argento, Grace’s captive sister, has been transferred. When Arthur asks to see Karma’s staff psychiatrist Dr. Kleinfeld, the Radio Man draws him a ridiculous map of squiggly lines that apparently lead to the doc. Grace has to be grabbed before she lunges across the table at the dude. Arthur asks that they be buzzed through a secure door into the facility and the receptionist complies.
At the Finish Line, Slink informs Rib Bone that Arthur and Grace have gone missing. He offers a few hours with a deactivated implant if Rib will kill Arthur and return Grace alive to complete the race. Mr. Bone agrees to the terms on one condition: Caligula gets her own doggy masseuse to rub the stress of the race away. Slink, who is not wearing pants, agrees.
Back in Kane Hill, Arthur examines the idiotic map.
“So does this squiggle mean right or left?”
They are lost in the green lit hallways as a janitor in a clown wig mops up. In one of the cells, a frantic man tries to get the interloper’s attention, but he is dragged back by a psychopath wearing a strange mask. As the camera pans left, we see the panicked guy’s portrait on the wall. He’s the head of the institution.
A completely nude Chris Carpenter is racing through sunlit fields of flowers in his mind. He’s smiling while still bound to the slab in the Heart laboratory. Aki begins the process of harvesting his bodily fluids as a means of potentially cloning Carpenter.
She holds up a foot long stainless corkscrew as these words hit the screen:
The Milkening Of Christopher Carpenter.
In Kane Hill, Grace asks a group of patients about Kleinfeld. In the background, a pantsless man squats and defecates, then collects his droppings. The patients respond to Grace by donning masks and performing a dance to techno music while the squatter makes a kind of Jackson Pollock painting using his own feces.
Something about the music triggers a flashback and we see Grace and Karma going to a nightclub in the city. Grace has anime buns in her hair and chats about her contact with her more timid, nervous sister. In the club, a patron smokes Red Rapture as crimson clouds roil around him. Grace strips down to her panties in the restroom to catch the attention of a Blood Drive recruiter. She’s heard the race can net a huge payday, though Karma points out that no one could afford enough gas to race across America.
Grace informs her younger sister that the winner of the Blood Drive is called The Primo, a title she hopes to obtain. Karma is left at the bar while Grace approaches the race contact.
In the present day, Rib Bone and Caligula arrive at Kane Hill. After killing Arthur, Rib promises he will feed the cop to the tiny dog before master and pet lick each other.
In the reception area, the Radio Man is playing with a large hunting knife. Rib Bone notices that the floor is covered in dozens of Smax candy bar wrappers and that Radio Man is nude below the waist. He dons a pair of skull shaped novelty glasses and grins at the receptionist. What Arthur and Grace failed to notice, Rib immediately deduces.
“So tell me, how long have you crazy fucks been running this place?”
In the Records Room at Kane, Arthur is trying to look up Karma on a 1980s personal computer. He opens an adjoining door while the computer crashes and discovers the nurse who handed out candy to the patients early on. She’s terrified and informs him that the patients rioted and took over. Arthur doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of total anarchy.
“Well, there has to be somebody in charge here.”
At that moment, the PA system crackles to life. It’s Rib Bone, taunting Arthur. He hits an emergency button on the wall that locks the hospital down. Doors slam shut, trapping Grace in with the patients as the lights overhead turn from green to red. The nurse, Anne, warns Arthur that the crimson color of the emergency drives the patients absolutely bonkers. She also asks him if he has any food because she’s been trapped for days.
“No, but if we get outta here, I promise…first roadside diner we come to, the apple pie is on me.
No meat, though.”
He still looks horrified from his cannibalistic experience at Pixie Swallow. In one of the funniest moments, Anne insists that Arthur change out of his police uniform to attract less violent attention from the patients.
“You won’t make it ten feet dressed like that.”
He smirks condescendingly.
“I’ll be the judge of that.”
Arthur opens the door. In the corridor, a bloody woman wearing a bandage over her entire head drags a machete across open cell doors as screaming people race this way and that. He quickly closes the door.
Time to change his look.
Grace finds a comatose staff member. He’s strapped to a gurney, his arms penetrated by syringes. He wears a gas mask over his head that is pumping Red Rapture into his lungs. Staring at the crimson vapors, Grace resumes her nightclub flashback. Karma watches a young man inhale Red Rapture from the bar as she waits for Grace to return. The Rapture freak hassles Karma, and Grace violently intervenes, catching the sinister attention of a male dancer.
The club’s DJ, clad all in white, turns around and it’s a younger Julian Slink. Karma and Grace fight over the fact that Grace is willing to sleep with a Blood Drive contact to get into the race. Karma picks up a Red Rapture hookah and angrily walks off.
Meanwhile, the Blood Drive’s previous champion enters the club wearing a leather jacket with the title Primo written across the back. Grace, wearing an extremely revealing outfit, shoves a topless groupie out of the way to get her moment with the champ. Though he is only shown from the back, something about the Primo seems familiar.
The flashback ends before we see his face.
A woman in a rabbit mask spider-walks down a Kane Hill hallway sniffing for uneaten candy bars. She encounters the newly costumed Arthur and Anne and has to be chased away. In one of the gruesome soaked rooms, a man sitting in a baby’s crib is carted around the room by blood spattered psychopaths while two more paint the floor with gore. We learn that a staff member is sacrificed in a ritual each week. And then comes the marvelous piece de resistance. As they turn a corner, they are confronted by a female staff member hanging from wires attached to rings in the ceiling as dozens of patients move her limbs like a life-sized screaming marionette. She begs the nurse for help.
“Anne, help me!”
For a show that has done crazy pretty great in the last three episodes, I’m amazed that Blood Drive keeps finding new depths of insanity. They keep it so fresh and exciting!
After they chase away a man dressed as a woman dressed as a rabbit, Anne comes clean. It turns out that Kane Hill used to be a legit mental health hospital until the funding ran dry. Along came Heart Enterprises with wealth and the need to experiment on captive subjects. Anne holds up a Smax bar and explains that it contains a re-engineered sugar substance with the side effect of eventual insanity.
“So, Smax is like another form of Red?”
“Not even close. Red Rapture makes you feel euphoric. Smax makes you feel like a hunter.”
They gaze down the blood red hallways as lunatics rage around them.
“And the hunt never ends.”
At Heart, Aki is poking and prodding Chris. She kisses him deeply and a flexible worm like vacuum tube exits her throat and enters his. After breaking off the kiss, she pulls a glass vial containing a sample from her mouth. While he suffers, she does a kick. Since her body movements control the lab functions, a strange beige energy drink appears next to Chris’s head.
“Drink up. It’ll make what’s coming a lot easier.”
At Kane Hill, Rib Bone is seated comfortably at the reception desk waiting for Arthur to pop up. He is busy training the Radio Man to bark, roll over, etc. Grace finally finds the esteemed Dr. Kleinfeld. We recognize him as the frantic imprisoned staff member dragged off by the masked man earlier. Before he can say much, he is defibrillated to death by his previous captor, who wears panty hose and sunglasses over his head.
Grace and the psycho brawl. He’s incredibly powerful and the fight is pretty brutal. Up until now, Grace usually has the upper hand in fisticuffs not only due to her gear shift stabber, but because male assailants underestimate her. But this attacker is too deranged to be capable of such simple sexism, and things get vicious.
When it’s over, Kane Hill is on fire. And I don’t mean that it becomes suddenly popular. We’re talking actual flames. Grace and Arthur reunite as Rib Bone makes a proposal over the loud speaker.
“Hey, batshit lunatics, I have a bag of Smax candy bars for whoever brings me the cop. He’s good looking. Feel free to change that.”
Patients crawl from nests of hanging chains, baby cribs and blood smeared chambers, salivating over the Smax prize promised them. Grace, Arthur, and Anne find themselves surrounded by masked goons as techno blasts, and the ensuing battle uses freeze frames and sudden rewinds as if the images are being spun and remixed by a DJ on a turn table. When Anne cries out “This way!” her words are repeated over and over as if they’ve become an audio sample. It’s a unique approach to a slug fest, to say the least.
So what’s the big deal about Episode 4?
It’s the first one to feature almost no driving, and no racing at all. Sexy Susie is in maybe five minutes of footage. Although there wasn’t much in the way of road scenes in Steel City Nightfall, the car itself played a key role in the episode. We only see Susie in the beginning here and the very end.
It gives us Karma for the first time and shows us the Big Sister relationship Grace has with her.
It also contains more naked people than any episode thus far. Apparently, in Blood Drive world, it’s perfectly acceptable to be undressed in the club. And the mental institution.
We lose one of my favorite Blood Drive racers. But the death scene is fantastic.
We welcome the presentation of the truth that a woman can be tough as hell and also a sexual being. There seems to exist the warped notion that if a woman is interested in sex, she’s either a slut or in some way subservient to a man. Or both. But Grace is incredibly hot and not very shy, particularly during this episode, and also a total badass. She makes Arthur look like a pacifist.
Am I suggesting that female characters can have depth and dimension and not fit into neat little boxes? I don’t even have to because here she is.
Aki does something to Carpenter’s backside that is rather gross.
We learn the name of Rib Bone’s rusted truck. It’s Patches!
During a commercial break, we are treated to an ad for Vlad’s Blood Bank.
“Do you ever feel like you have too much blood in your body? Well, now you can make it do something useful! Got a retired relative who’s just not pulling her weight? Make a withdrawal from her wrist and turn her blood into cash! Rotten roommate late on rent? Deposit him down at Vlad’s and we’ll squeeze the blood from your stoner.”
There’s a nifty twist involving a certain nurse. Followed by another reveal that genuinely surprised me. We learn a mind-blowing fact about how and why Karma came under the care of Kane Hill. It’s a jaw dropper that will make you reassess what you know about Arthur’s driving partner.
We see the first meeting between Julian and Grace, and his proposal basically involves her becoming the new Primo right off the bat. Does Slink want Grace to win?
If you’re a Blood Drive fan at all, you’ve been waiting for Arthur VS. Rib Bone. We knew this was coming from the first episode when Arthur saved the cheerleaders from the meat grinder. Well, you get what you want. No shortcuts, no filler. They beat the bejeezus out of each other. After taking a bloody hammering, Arthur smiles.
“You this gentle in bed? I should ask your bitch. I mean, your dog.”
Aki removes her rubber outfit. Beneath, her body is as featureless as a Barbie doll. No nipples, no nothing. Creepy! She and Carpenter share a very special moment.
Arthur and Grace learn a key lesson: do not f—k with Julian Slink.
A photograph from 1957 provides a clue and a boatload of questions.