Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston.
For some reason, Art Attack has spent the last decade completely convinced that Dinosaur Jr. was from Texas. We have argued rather vehemently with many prominent local music personalities about this subject, and of course we've never bothered to look up the information like a good American. No, Dinosaur Jr. is from Amherst, Massachusetts, and we apparently owe many, many people an apology.
Why do we bring this up? Well, J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. started a band called Witch in 2005, and it's a song from their 2006 self-titled album that gave this week's episode of True Blood its name. That song is "Soul of Fire."
Now, we had a mixed reaction when we found out that the song was a Witch song. On the awesome side of the scale, Danzig has a song called "Soul of Fire," which would have stomped the colons of the three parishes. On the other side of the scale, HIM has a song called "Soul of Fire," and if it had turned out to be that song, we would have quit this column and gone to the beach.
So while we wish for Danzig, we'll certainly settle with Witch.
Despite the fact that J. Mascis went all anti-Dave Grohl when he went from stringman of Dinosaur Jr. to drummer for Witch, "Soul of Fire" is still defined by those half-Black Flag, half-Cheap Trick guitar lines that really elevated Dinosaur Jr. The song itself really served as the perfect tune to take us out of the episode, and frankly we wish they had played more of it.
At first we had a hard time identifying the song because we're used to hearing the drawn-out intro before we move into the frantic Cult-like energy, which is a nice reversal of an episode that we're going on record as saying was the best episode ever.
When we left last week, our sympathetic vampires had decided to dress in black, acquire military-grade weaponry and prepared to storm a magick shop in order to end this witch war once and for all. They were accompanied by a song so bad that our condemnation of it led to the most unpopular True Blood report of all time, which we'd worry about except that we honestly have nothing to say to Used fans.
Still, the buildup paid off in a big way.
Honestly, watching the episode was not unlike following what's happening in Libya. On one side is Team America, represented by the vampires, and on the other is a fascist regime full of innocent people coerced by a charismatic leader. There are negotiations, attacks and finally a showdown that should be definitive but leaves enough room for doubt as to whether or not a situation once escalated can ever return to peace.
It's amazing that this episode is the second to last of the season... not the least because the last time they limped along after a dramatic confrontation in Season 2, it was for all intents and purposes a pointless waste of film. Still, by having the disembodied, vengeful spirit of Marnie take up residence in Lafayette's body, it does set the stage for one last, grand showdown.
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In the end, the pacing, the confrontations, even the inexplicable sidetrack of watching Andy boinking a faerie in the woods, were all wonderfully paced. The final conformation between Marnie and the vampiric forces, and even between her own self, was such a perfect sum-up of the kind of gray area that always seems to lead to war.
Yes, the vampires made a mistake by threatening the witches over their necromancy, but has all the blood they've shed in response really been justified? In the end, both sides have spent so much time, energy and lives trying to outdo each other that they have progressed far beyond good and evil, and instead have become merely us vs. them.
There's a moral to that somewhere.
Be sure to visit the Loving True Blood in Dallas blog, where Jef With One F will be a semi-regular contributor to the podcast this season.