Drive: Let The Games Begin
Moving on, thinking happy thoughts about Nielsen boxes tuned to Drive, episode three was another solid installment. That's solid, but not great. It didn't quite match the level of the first two. Not that there weren't high points. It just seemed that some of the stories lacked the intensity that we saw in the premiere. There was still some good information coming to us, but not in as gripping a fashion. That's fine, but not exactly what I wanted to see in the time slot premiere.
The highlight of the episode was the Alex part of the story. I was picking Officer Poole as another stranger working for the sponsors right about the time he gave Alex yet another shot to the head. Someone at Fox should really be working an advertising deal with Excedrin. Apparently that work beating on Sawyer, as Pickett on Lost, prepared Michael Bowen for this new gig. Previous to that, he also did a guest spot on The Inside. I thought he was good here. Dirty fake cop is a role that suits him well.
The big Alex reveal that came from all of that was hinted at nicely in the scene with Becca (Katie Finneran, Wonderfalls) and the detective. It was clear that Alex wasn't just a gardener, but hearing her comment on how he's through with all that gave the idea more weight. The choice to make him the wheel man for the crew serves a couple purposes. First, it's a nice boost to Alex's driving cred. A professional wheel man should be able to do all sorts of things with a car that may seem somewhat suspicious for a gardener. And second, it makes it easier to root for Alex. Yes, he was a criminal, and not a good guy, but despite what the law and the fake Officer Poole say, there is a difference between the wheel man and the trigger man.
My favorite bit of the whole Alex/Poole exchange was the line, "You don't want to meet the real Alex Tully." It called to mind the scene from Firefly's "War Stories" where Mal asks, "You wanna meet the real me now?" I have to say, I'm all for more of the real Alex Tully, and his badass Challenger. His beat up old Ford truck had a certain charm, but that car is awesome.
As far as the rest of the teams go, I was entertained, but not really excited about any of it. Dupree (Sasha Barrese) was certainly gorgeous, and the "Fugitive Recovery Agent" was a nice angle. She also helped to show just how much power Sean and Winston's father has now. Other than that, most of what we got from the Sean and Winston interaction was just ok.
It was similar to the Wendy and Ivy portion of the episode. It's worth getting some back story on how Ivy ended up in the race, but there wasn't much to really latch on to there. The only thing from them that I really dug was the strange mood swings from Wendy. She goes from so sweet and demure, to borderline crazy and threatening, and right back again, so quickly. She's an odd duck, and that's interesting to watch.
Rob's story hasn't really captured my attention yet. I am curious about Ellie though. At this point I'm not buying her whole trying to protect him story. I think there is another angle at work. She's manipulating him in fine fashion, even turning on the tears. Right up to the point where he agrees to go to Rome before making any calls. She's good, and I'm wondering what her real motivation is.
John and Violet were good together as she taught him how to lie. She probably had the funniest line of the night as she revealed her fib about going to the "Teen Girls Considering Celibacy" group. I liked how he played off the call from Doctor Roth, but the fact that he is hiding his illness from Violet was already well understood.
Overall, a step back from the big debut, but still well worth a look. The final run with Alex back in his Challenger was fun, and appropriate given that he really carried this episode. So, mostly on the back of Nathan Fillion, I'm giving this one a 5, out of 7.