When I watched the pilot for the first time, I found myself overly distracted by how different it was from the script I'd read many months ago. Clearly, that was a very early draft, and a later draft I read also had some changes I didn't like, but the pilot I read was how the show had imprinted on me, and that's what I was expecting. This is why I don't like spoilers! I was so concerned with what was not what I was expecting that I couldn't appreciate what I was getting. Some were very minor things, like the fact that the phone used to be red, which I thought was neat and made it seem out-of-place and recognizable as "one of those freaky Race phones." Some were structural, like the fact that you don't find out Corinna has any connection to the Race at all until the bathroom scene; I still feel like it was an awesome reveal in the script and having her establish straight out that she knows about the Race takes away from some of the mystery of her character. Probably the biggest difference (besides, of course, the addition of Ivy) is that the Salazars appeared to have undergone a huge reworking. In the original script, they were more like the Winchesters, brothers with a clearly established relationship whose playful antagonism provided humor. This new version obviously has more potential for drama.
I think all pilots are better on a rewatch because then you can see it as an episode of television rather than a bunch of new shit being thrown at you. Winston's plotline in particular is much cooler when rewatching since when you first see it, you don't really know what the hell is going on until the reveal with Sean.
I was a little underwhelmed initially, which was only natural since I was so excited with the vision of the early script in my head, but after three episodes, I'm really digging it. I'm getting a little confused and disoriented, however, at a show that's giving up so many answers so very early! Alex's secret past? There it is! Corinna's secret past? There it is! Everyone's secret past? We're almost there! They're going to run out of secrets at this rate! But I'm sure they'll find more; there are so many layers of deception on this show.
And that's the fun of it! There are a lot of interesting characters. Alex Tully is way cooler now that we know he was some sort of speed demon hoodlum before settling down to become a landscaper (and Tim TOTALLY FUCKING RIPPED HIMSELF OFF with that "You don't want to meet the real Alex Tully" shit). Corinna is intriguing because one wonders just how much she knows about the Race, since she was able to sneak herself into this latest one. I don't think I liked Wendy at all in the script I read, but oh my God, now I know why people were watching the show just for Melanie Lynskey. She's awesome. And hilarious ("I think maybe I shoulda shot you"). I really like Winston, but oh my fucking God, if he says "Holmes" one more time, I'm going to smack him. Sean seems like he's developing a backbone. Violet is amusing, but it's sort of freaky how she sounds like a thirty-year-old smoker. I'm really hoping John doesn't die because I like Dylan Baker from Happiness. Ellie provides me with two things I like: red hair and cleavage. And Mr. Bright! Not how I imagined him when he was going to be played by Nicholas Lea, but this spin on him also works in a completely different way. Down-home, folksy evil is good fun. And I love that he's obsessed with his PowerPoint.
I also love the driving scenes; I think they achieved the effect they were going for. They're always so exciting with the fast cars and the camera fucking flying every which way. And then you can get shenanigans like Rick's awesome trucker trap and Alex inexplicably driving three hundred miles an hour and overtaking everyone in the main cast to the tune of "Leave You Far Behind" (cute, huh?).
And as a fan of riddles and shit, I like the clues and stuff, even though I'm not sure how easy or hard they're supposed to be; I hope for more clue-based plots where racers misinterpret the clue and end up in the wrong place or ones that are particularly difficult that require them to work together or something. I also like that they can have a sense of humor about it ("Let me see, he gave us a ticket with an address. I think that's our clue." / "'Admit One'. You think this is a clue?").
Right now, my main confusions are with the Race itself. I have no problem buying that these people were coerced for whatever reason into doing this Race. I do find it implausible that our main characters appear to get to the checkpoints at around the same time yet are slower than the dozens of other racers who are already there, but that's TV. I don't quite get how the Race works, though. For starters, while it's bad to be last, there doesn't seem to be any actual point in getting to the checkpoint first. So I don't quite get what all the racing is about if the only point is not to be last. Then there's the issue of, like, the fifty-thousand operatives that our racers run into. Seriously, are these people allowed to run into ANY perfect strangers? Because if everyone they meet turns out to be part of the Race (or, say, a bounty hunter), it's not a surprise! It's kind of a cool idea, yes (Tim did say the show was part The Game), but I'm already getting a little annoyed with it! Because it's going to make the characters look stupid if they keep trusting random people they encounter.
And, finally, the biggest question of all: WHY? Why are the people in charge even holding this Race? Why are they choosing these specific people? It looks like Corinna's parents were just about to cross the finish line when they were just run off the road and killed. Is this Race run by sadistic fucks, is that it? Does anyone actually get to win and take home the $32 million?
I know I'm in good hands, however, so I'll just enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. When the latest episode ended and the title showed, I exclaimed, "Oh, you fuckers!" I want another episode right now, and that's a good sign.