Black Summer – Drive An Adrenaline-Fueled Episode

Black Summer’s second episode, Drive, largely narrows its focus to one set of its characters. Just as its title implies, Drive constrains most of its action to desperate car ride through suburban streets. It’s a briskly paced episode with minimal zombie action but plenty of tension.

Black Summer Does Some Sunday Driving

At the end of Human Flow, Barbara ended up in a car with the Asian girl, who we first saw with Ryan, and an unknown man. The man’s name is William and he assures the ladies that he’s an ‘okay guy’. Fortunately for Barbara and his other passenger, whose name it turns out is Sun, William keeps his promise. Though Drive occasionally detours to check in on Rose, Spears, et al., it’s mostly interested in our zombie apocalypse car-pool’ers.

But everyone’s luck runs out pretty fast.

Aside from brief snippets of conversation, Drive is an adrenaline-fueled episode. For most of Drive, a black pickup chases down William and company in their minivan. This provides the episode with some harrowing chase scenes along suburban streets. However, Drive’s best moment comes when a child’s bicycle lodges itself under the car. Poor Sun volunteers to get out and pry it free. But Black Summer’s zombies are fast moving undead. Lucky for Sun, William waits and she survives. But everyone’s luck runs out pretty fast. Both cars crash into a semi-trailer, killing the pickup truck’s driver and Barbara. By the conclusion, William, Sun, and the surviving pickup truck passengers take refuge in an abandoned diner.

Oh Barbara, We Hardly Knew You

Two episodes into Black Summer, and the Netflix series is still finding its voice. Very little character development has surfaced in the zombie show. Black Summer introduces Barbara with her own segment in Human Flow. Yet in its second episode … boom … Black Summer kills her off with little fanfare. It’s not so much that no character is safe where Black Summer is separating itself. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones had that well covered. Rather this zombie series positions itself as an ‘apocalypse in real time’ show.

Black Summer has used its monsters pretty sparingly.

In spite of its zombie storyline, the undead haven’t played a major role in the series’ first two episodes. Black Summer has used its monsters pretty sparingly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Unlike The Walking Dead, Black Summer’s episodes have felt a lot shorter and tighter in terms of story-telling. Episode 2’s focus on the characters’ desperate bid to get to a military-controlled stadium keep things tight and tense. Director John Hyams executes the car chase with the same stripped down quality that characterized the previous episode.

Drive is a Simple But Effective Episode

So far Black Summer has really distinguished itself from other zombie fare. It’s still an ‘end of the world’ series where human nature is the ‘real monster’. Nevertheless, Drive is a trim episode that has enough action and tension to hook you in for one more episode. Moreover, the series’ shifting focus on different characters episode to episode along with a sense that there’s some stakes.

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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