True Blood: Zeppelin Take the Wheel
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. Much thanks to True-Blood.net, who has offered to help us with tracking down the songs of True Blood post-episode.
Summer makes me think of death. Not in a happy goth way, but in an actual "Everything that is shall become was" sort of way. There's something about living under the worst of the Texas sun that just reminds me of dying.
In many ways, this season Alexander Skarsgård has turned in the best performances of his life as Eric; I'm being particularly charitable after watching him in Battleship over the weekend. It's sometimes hard to catch, though, as he has often moved in the shadows, playing for the background. Nonetheless, this season shows just how amazing and versatile an actor he can be.
My favorite bit is what I've come to call Undercover Eric. Twice this season, Eric has donned disguises to infiltrate the vampire concentration-camp network, first as a whooping-crane activist and then as a guard. Both times he has gone to amazing lengths to portray these almost laughable stereotypical characterizations, but he tints them all with his personal undercurrent of humor and menace that all his power still shines right out of the ruse.
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It's like he's had to channel his joie de vivre through deadly espionage because the world has become so sad and dangerous it's the only outlet. All that came crashing down this week as his beloved sister Nora succumbed to the government-engineered vampire plague Hepatitis V. It's a heartbreaking scene where Eric recalls meeting her when she was a royal concubine who left the king to tend the sick in another plague.
All those wonderful facades Eric has been playing at this season come tumbling down as he holds her in his arms during her last minutes. It's amazing to see something so horribly open, the stripping of all but the raw nerves alive with pain. Skarsgård has never been better than he was in this moment.
And it was perfectly summed up with Led Zeppelin's "In The Evening" as the song of the week.
I assume that I have no need to explain who Zeppelin is, so instead I will make a confession; I really don't like Zeppelin. I acknowledge their incalculable contribution to rock and the world of music in general. I understand exactly why they are legends. I do not like to listen to them personally, and only do so casually whenever Zep comes on Houston radio.
I bring this up to make the point that when I say a Zeppelin track was perfect, you know if has to be good for me to mean it.
"In the Evening" started out as part of a soundtrack that Jimmy Page was working on for Kenneth Anger, at least in the early stages. Mostly it was what happened when Page and John Paul Jones would come in late at night and just fuck around.
Then Robert Plant came along and laid down these absolutely phenomenal lyrics about how you can have everything in the world and still be vulnerable to all kinds of danger and ruin. The only thing that can save you from that is love. Real love.
You have to understand how incredibly difficult that message is to pull off for a rock star of Plant's caliber. Think about Nickelback singing "Rock Star." No one could give two poops in a carton of custard about literally anything that Chad Kroeger could complain about.
Plant, though, takes what would sound like out-of-touch whining in the mouth of almost any other singer and makes it a prophecy about the cyclical nature of winning. Nothing could have tied up the fall of Eric this episode better. He's spent a thousand years almost carefree, well-off, handsome, a rock star in every way.
Then some racist with a little power took away the only part of that that ever really mattered. There are few absolutely perfect musical moments in True Blood. This was one of them.
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