Blood & Oil Season 1 Episode 1 – TV Review
With the sad, but necessary, cancellation of Revenge, I need a new “rich people doing bad things” soap opera to satisfy me.
So Blood & Oil is exactly what I’m looking for.
TL;DR I’ve never watched Dallas (either version), but this is what Dallas is, right? In any case, Blood & Oil looks like it has a chance of being a fun, little soap that likes to think it’s an important, big soap. As long as the budget doesn’t dry up, we should be in for a good ride.
But it’ll be cancelled quick. I’m under no illusions.
Our setting is a present day oil boom in North Dakota. Chace Crawford and his wife, Cody, move there to open up a laundromat or something, but crash their truck immediately upon entering town, losing all their uninsured washing machines in the process. They both take up menial jobs to keep themselves afloat, and manage to hear about an important land sale being orchestrated by Don Johnson, the local oil baron. Chace somehow comes up with a quick $100,000, and buys an essential, but small, piece of land out from under Don and his wife, Amber Valletta. Chace and Cody manage to negotiate a million dollars out of their land-owner rivals, and celebrate good times. Meanwhile, Don has trouble with Wick, his disappointment of a son. He cuts Wick off completely after one fuck up too many, so Wick makes the rational decision to start siphoning oil out of his dad’s rigs. The episode closes as Wick collides with his dad and Chace, and all three are standing in a pool of flammable oil about to ignite.
No happy endings for you, Chace.
While I appreciate the slickness of the presentation, I worry at where exactly the series has to go from here. Chace and Cody’s plot, about raising the funds to buy the pivotal property and screwing over Don and Amber, happens ridiculously quickly. In a regular soap opera, that shit would have eaten up several episodes.
I mean, Chace and Cody are millionaires by the end of the episode, and they’re apparently friends with Don and Amber. Where does Blood & Oil have to go from there?
Why I hate this episode:
No, really. Even Wick has been caught stealing the oil. The only possible salvation is that Wick is wearing a balaclava, so maybe he’ll be able to limp away from the scuffle without his identity having been revealed. But that’s a big “maybe.”
Chace and Cody don’t make for very compelling leads. He’s the risk-taking, go-getter young husband who’ll do anything to prove himself, and she’s the wet blanket, worrying young wife. Bonus demerit points that she’s pregnant, and therefore even more of a boor.
Chace’s risk-taking loses its tension because everything works out perfectly for him within the span of forty minutes. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t insure his laundromat business, didn’t keep his first job, buried him and his wife in $100,000 of debt, borrowed money from a loan shark, and then crashed a second car on the way to his business meeting. Nah, it’s all good. Here’s an easy victory over Don and Amber, and a million dollars for your work. Really?
Wick is a dick, but Don is huge arsehole to his son, right? Poor Wick is basically cowering in fear of his father after their confrontation at the rig Wick accidentally breaks.
Not that Wick is without stupidity, as his immediate response to being cut off is to partner with a local criminal to steal from his dad. Yeah, because Don won’t think that the thief who magically has all the access information to his oil operation could possibly be the no-good-nick son he recently pissed off.
Oh, and there’s some flashes of racial tensions between the local Native Americans and the oil industry (Wick poaches a white moose that is sacred to them, and the new drilling plans are on Native American land). I don’t want any of that bogging down my flashy, primetime soap opera, please. Leave it to Banshee. They handle it well over there.
But it’s not all bad:
It’s got a good little cast going. Chace Crawford may have fucked up his lip, but a bit of beard hides it well enough, and he’s still pretty chiselled; Don Johnson suits his role well; Amber Valletta brings some Lydia from Revenge attitude as the actually-very-business-savvy trophy wife; and Delroy Lindo gets a quick scene as the town sheriff.
Kristoff from Once Upon a Time season 4 is Wick, too, by the way. He’s pretty different here.
Blood & Oil seems to have a decent budget going for it, too. The locations are varied and feel authentic, and there are three impressive action set pieces. First is the fantastic, practical effects crashing of Chace and Cody’s (first) vehicle. It’s all slo-mo and stuff. Next is the rig collapse that Wick causes with his negligence. It’s got a bit of conspicuous CGI, but the rain covers it up well enough (as well has his subsequent fist fight with his dad). And lastly is Wick’s masked tussle with Don and Chace in the oil. Amber even gets to shoot a gun into the air to startle their attacker. It’s badass.
Amber is the surprise star of the show. I was expecting her to be a typical skanky, bimbo trophy wife. Or, at worst, a Victoria Grayson-esque ice queen. But she’s actually a dedicated businesswoman who isn’t above using her hotness to her advantage. She uses it to help schmooze some oil commissioner, which is how she and Don end up with the information about the rich new oil fields. She’s a boss.
The woman who owns the local Coyote Ugly-esque bar also proves herself useful. She is kind to Chace and Cody when they first show up, and later offers to loan shark Chace the extra $25,000 he needs for the land.
And it appears that Chace has already done the smart thing and paid her back. Cody had to give up an expensive heirloom necklace as collateral for the loan. Chace later gives it back to Cody after they’ve gotten their cool million from Don and Amber, implying that he’s repaid the loan. Clever boy.
Chace and Cody give $50,000 to a nice African couple who befriended them at the shanty town they had to stay at. Aww.
Oh, and here’s hoping that Amber will get to brandish a gun frequently. It suits her.