Compared to every other season, this has probably been the calmest, most tame, borderline mature season of Workaholics yet. And yes, I say this after last week’s episode, where Jack Black tried to cremate a man over a pizza oven. Even in an episode like that, Adam, Anders and Blake all agreed what was happening was basically a bad idea.
“Blood Drive” however is the episode I feared this season would have, one where the gross out jokes become the big punchlines to a disgusting level. But they’ve been showing such growth! Such restraint! Hell, no one has even shit in Ders’ mouth this season! Yet even though “Blood Drive” does revert to its old gross ways, it works so much better than it has in the past.
When I think about those moments that were used to make us laugh from grossing us out—such as the aforementioned Ders’ literal toilet mouth and of course the skunk burrito—it felt like the show trying to go for easy laughs. Whereas here in “Blood Drive,” these moments work because they surprise so perfectly, it’s hard not to laugh along with your gasps.
TelAmeriCorp is having a blood drive competition, where the office who gives the most blood gets a visit from Dolph Lungren. The Tarzana office has already given 29 pints and since their office has 32 employees, winning shouldn’t be so hard. But Anders, Ghostman, Montez and some old heroin addict I don’t remember seeing around the office are all afraid of needles. Meanwhile Adam is overcompensating in order to win and Blake—who is constantly chomping down on a homemade weed protein bar—is understandably curious about why Dolph Lungren would be so interested in a blood drive.
“Blood Drive” just has everyone at the top of their game as well. Blake, with the help of an also high Jillian, believes that Dolph Lungren is using his chemical engineering degree and his fame to get access to blood and create clones. Adam becomes desperate to give all of his blood, first by pretending to be Weyman to give an extra pint, then bribing Bill to drain all of his blood in the bathroom.
But the big gross out moment in “Blood Drive” comes when Anders calls Karl to get some blood. When Karl can’t give his own blood by trying to cut his wrist with a razor, he licks the razor—you know, like how that sometimes works with a pen—cuts himself, and starts bleeding profusely from his mouth. It’s such a huge shock and so over-the-top that the surprise outweighs just how gross it really is, which this episode also reuses later when Blake decides to smash every single pint of blood in the bloodmobile.
Directed by Anders Holm, “Blood Drive” gives almost every character at least one perfectly edited moment that supplies huge laughs, whether it’s Alice telling the guys to shut up, Jillian saying Dolph Lungren can use all her holes or Blake admitting he’s not high, with a little shrug at the end. “Blood Drive” perfects these singular lines and moments that are absolutely hilarious.
I was worried if and when Workaholics would go back to that gross-out well, yet here we are and they’ve learned how to utilize the grossest ideas—Karl’s gigantic cut on his tongue, Blake smashing pints and pints of blood, Bill’s stomach—in a way that works incredibly well. This season, Anders, Blake and Adam seemed to have grown up on the show, but it also looks like they’re growing behind the camera as well.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.