Director: David Straiton
Stars: Alan Ritchson, Christina Ochoa, Thomas Dominique, Marama Corlett, Colin Cunningham
This review contains mild spoilers.
The race has been won. The final battle is over. Now it’s just about reaping the rewards.
Arthur seems up for the challenge. The good-cop-turned-bad-boy may have started this race with a warm heart, but weeks of fighting for his life has left him cool and detached. If he’s ready for the Primo Tribute Ceremony, he doesn’t show it. All he seems to look forward to now are the finer things in life: chicks, beer, and a good fight.
It turns out being bad isn’t all that bad.
That is, until it becomes clear just what they do with Primos at this ceremony. Chris and Grace show up just in time to warn Arthur, but he’ll have none of it. He’s in charge now, and no slimy showman is going to end his fun. Too bad Slink isn’t that easy to de-throne. In fact, the moment you think you’ve truly destroyed the dastardly director, he has a way of popping back up. We’re treated to a peek of how he accomplishes this in this episode, but we’re left with more questions than answers.
Meanwhile, it’s time to take a look at just how Karma rose through the ranks of HEART Enterprises with The Ballad of Karma D’Argento. Although she originally wanted to follow in her sister’s footsteps, her sadistic nature was better suited to the management vertical. Even so, it wasn’t an easy climb to the top. Every journey has a few snags along the way. All it took was a little bump into the glass ceiling to give Karama the inspiration she needed to succeed. With a little bloodlust, determination, and a new (ahem) suit, she was back on the executive track.
Relationships take work, and although they say you don’t have to choose between your friends and your girl. Let’s be real. Sometimes you do. Arthur is left with the same challenge in this episode. His decision suggests he could still have both, but the reality of a situation is never as real when it’s on tv.
A highly edited replay of Arthur’s choice leaves the real Chris confused and angry. If his best friend could betray him, perhaps he has been working for the wrong side. An emotional Chris decides it’s time for an upgrade. The bionic eye was nice, but he’s ready for the works. Why he needs it is yet to be seen. All we know for sure is, with Karam pulling the strings, it’s going to be bloody.
This is a show that delivers week after week without letting the tension, gore, or fun slip. What seems like simple grindhouse fair is filled with fantastic acting, clever special effects, and surprisingly nuanced storylines. As a newly cold Arthur brushes past Grace at the top of the episode, we realize that his story has always been building to this. It’s a magic plot twist we couldn’t have predicted at the start. That unexpected magic can be found in every episode of James Roland’s first season.
This is more than blood-soaked escapism. This is good storytelling.
The finish line is in sight. What waits for us on the other side? Hopefully a second season.
Photo courtesy of SyFy.