For those of you who had high hopes that Blood & Oil was going to be in the vein of the iconic ‘80s primetime drama Dallas, you may be on a path where all your dreams come true. One drama is set in Texas and the other is in North Dakota. One revolves around the business endeavors of Ewing Oil while the other is Briggs Oil. And although J.R. can never truly be replaced, there’s one man who will certainly try to fill those very large steal-toe boots. And his name is Don Johnson.
Hap Briggs (Johnson) is the Baron of The Bakken — a huge oil play in North Dakota. Rock Springs is the epicenter for this North American boom and Briggs’ rigs line the horizon like little beacons of light announcing their billion-dollar production. North Dakota is a place for opportunity. For Billy LeFever (Chace Crawford) and his wife, Cody (Rebecca Rittenhouse), it’s a place where they can start their life over. If you’re assuming Billy is going to rake in the dough by roughnecking, think again. His family’s future is in coin-operated laundry mats.
Unfortunately for the LeFevers, totaling a truck with a load of washers and dryers before they even reach Rock Springs is not in the grand plan. Their entire investment is now at the bottom of a picturesque valley and the only option left is to hitchhike the rest of the way with all of their possessions. Thank goodness Billy and Cody are young whippersnappers and experienced zero whiplash when their truck tumbled down a grassy embankment. The weary travelers make it to their final destination just in time to take in the sights of a modern-day version of an old western town.
This place has everything: neon lights, strip joints, bars, rowdy cowboys, and one idiot who unwisely shot a white moose. The idiot’s name is Wick Briggs (Scott Michael Foster). Wick is the good-for-nothing son of Hap who does moronic things like angering the local Native Americans by killing innocent spirit animals. Needless to say, Wick spends a lot of time in jail and shooting a white moose and then bragging about it lands him in the clinker. Again.
Wick is an embarrassment to Hap. Because he has no regard for the well-being of the family business, Hap decides that the best way to educate his son is by sending him to work on a rig. Wick scoffs at his father, blaming this sudden exile on “the bitch.” Hap’s cold, hard stare was something to behold. J.R. would be proud. He challenges Wick to keep talking about his wife. Don’t mess with The Don. It’s time to get on board with the new step-mommy.
Since every person in America looking for work has slowly made their way to North Dakota, the challenge of scoring a room at the local Super 8 is slim to none. People who are hard on their luck are instructed to take refuge at a place called Patchwork Hotel. And by “hotel” I mean a bunch of tents and travel trailers packed together in a parking lot with some whimsical twinkly lights strewn above. Billy and Cory befriend Kess and Ada, who are saving money to open a restaurant in Rock Springs. Kess also knows someone in the oilfield who can get Billy a job.
Meanwhile, Cory tries to find a place to live. It just so happens that local bar owner Jules Jackman (India de Beaufort) also has her fingers in local motel chains. A single room dump easily goes for $2,000 per month. You show Julia the money or you let her rent to the next yahoo coming over the bend. It’s your choice, but you have to choose fast. Suddenly, an old travel trailer parked at the Patchwork looks a lot more cozy and less expensive. Thank goodness Cory was able to land a job at the pharmacy to help pay for their little rust-stained dwelling.
The next day, Billy slops through the mud as Wick stands by, wondering why this guy is putting so much energy into his work. When Billy learns that Wick is Hap’s kid, he’s impressed by Wick’s willingness to learn the business from the ground up. Wick does not find his enthusiasm the least bit flattering and decides to quit, right there on the spot. What makes him commandeer a water truck as his getaway car is beyond me, but the aforementioned idiot backs straight into a few wires that results in a million dollar rig crashing to the ground. Whoopsie.
Wick blames Billy. Bill is immediately fired and storms off in the rain. Wick smiles and turns to find Hap with that cold, J.R.-inspired stare again. He saw the whole thing and berates his son for not paying attention. Hap stalks away and pulls an impressive wrestling move when Wick tries to attack him from behind. Thanks to that little stunt, Wick is officially cut off from the Briggs gravy train. No cards, no cash, no clubs.
NEXT: That’s a lot of zeros.[pagebreak]
One person who will probably be thrilled to hear Wick has been kicked to the curb is Hap’s wife, Darla (Amber Valletta). Amber is industry smart, extremely beautiful, and probably crooked. She has the Oil & Gas Commissioner in her back pocket and a plan to drill on the Four Bears Indian Reservation. Hap tells her that Junior shot one of the Four Bears’ moose and will more than likely be unwilling to play ball. Darla is unfazed. All they have to do is get the rights to the adjacent McCutchin Ranch and drill horizontally into the reservation. Problem solved.
Now remember, Rock Springs may be busting at the seams with industry workers, but it’s still a tiny town. Which means new pharmacy assistants can eavesdrop on her patient’s phone conversations. Cody reports back to Billy that the Briggs want to buy a particular parcel of land. If they want it, there must be a good reason. Billy decides to get a loan and go after the land himself so he can upsell to Hap. Welcome to the oilfield, Billy. You’re a natural.
Only one man stands in the way of Billy and his dream — Clifton Lundegren (Barry Corbin). Billy tries to convince Clifton that he wants to buy his land to build a car wash. Clifton isn’t buying on the story level, but he is willing to toss out a number: $70,000. Billy counters and the price goes up to $75 thousand. Billy borrows from Peter to pay Paul and comes home to the tin can with a bag full of Benjamins. Cory greets him with excitement, trepidation, and a positive pregnancy test. It looks like the kitchen sink is going to double as a bassinet. Let’s do this!
Billy heads to Clifton’s house the next day. Naturally, he tells Billy that Briggs’ man has offered him a better deal and he’s going to take it unless Billy can come up with $100 thousand, as well as cutting him in for 25-percent of the take. Billy heads home defeated, only to find Cody freaking out. She’s going back home so their baby can be born in a hospital that has more than one doctor. Billy is desperate, so he heads to the bar to drown his sorrows. He tells Julia about his troubles and she offers to invest. Cody shows up and hands over her platinum and diamond heirloom necklace as a down payment. She’s in this, for better or for worse.
Billy hops in the car, driving like a bat out of hell to beat Clifton’s noon deadline. Of course he crashes on the way. I fear for the safety of his wife and unborn child. He books it through the prairie, mud puddles, and a herd of buffalo, busting through Clifton’s door just in time. The land is his.
Hap invites the LeFevers over for a little chat. Hap tries to buy them off, but Billy reminds him that without access to their parcel, their land is worthless. Darla icily reminds them that they have all the time in the world to wait them out. Billy sweetly reminds Darla that mineral rights can transfer to the next highest bidder — that’s the law. If they want to be partners, the Briggs are going to have to cut him a pretty big piece of the pie. And it just so happens that the piece of this particular pie is 1 million dollars.
Hap and Darla take Billy and Cory out to one of the rigs. Hap respects Billy for his wildcatting ways and even commends him for playing hardball. Once they roll up to the rig, Hap notices a truck where it shouldn’t be. He immediately knows something is wrong and instructs the others to get back inside the vehicle. He crawls up into the cap of the big rig and grabs the keys, taunting the thieves that they should come out with their hands up since they have no way of escaping.
Hap notices that the masked thieves were siphoning oil and a huge puddle begins to collect on the ground. One thief runs for the hills. The other pulls out a gun. What kind of person would do this you ask? Why Wick the Idiot of course! He’s resorted to stealing from his old man and threatening him with a gun. Billy tackles Wick linebacker style and both wallow around in the oil until everything starts to move in slow motion. A single cinder casually floats down toward the puddle. Hap’s eyes widen in horror when the cinder lands beside him. Suddenly, everything is engulfed in flames.
Will Hap and Billy figure out that the masked thief covered in crude is Wick? Will someone get third-degree burns? Will Hap die? Will it be revealed that it was all a dream in episode 2 and Hap is still alive? We shall see next week.