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.
The sixth season of True Blood gets better with each episode, and has successfully re-engaged interest with a scaled-back, more personal season that really cuts deep. The heart of this week's outing was the introduction of the character Niall, played to the hilt by the impossible brilliance of Rutger Hauer. We were led to believe that he was actually the vampire Warlow, murderer of Sookie and Jason's parents. That would've been the greatest Buffy the Vampire Slayer joke ever, but instead Hauer brings to life easily the best fae figure from the books with a scene-chewing charisma that bodes very well for the future.
But the real standout performance belonged to Jessica and Bill. Bill is semi-catatonic, inwardly wrestling with the spirit of Lilith that possesses him as the first stage in humanity's war against the vampires escalates with high-tech weaponry. We've developed silver, UV-emitting bullets and contacts that repel glamouring. Bill begins to see the future through his new powers. Thousands of vampires being tortured and murdered as he sits powerless in his chair.
Jessica does her best. She brings Bill an escort. Unfortunately, he telekinetically breaks every bone in her body before sucking out every drop of blood in a stream from her mouth without ever moving. Apparently Alan Ball is a fan of Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen. Good to know it's not just me.
As the episode closes, Jessican prays to Bill, believing that he may actually be the vampire god. It's a weird look back to the religiously abused beginnings of her character as she, with naked innocence, humbly asks for blessings to the entire cast of characters. It's a moving moment that proves Deborah Ann Woll is a treasure, and maybe the best scene since Sookie watched Godric walk into the sun.
Speaking of the sun, it's The Naked and Famous that get featured this week as the credits close. "The Sun" is an album cut off of 2010's Passive Me, Aggressive You. You couldn't want for a more darksome and strangely upbeat group of musicians that New Zealand's great white sad hype, and they fit into True Blood like a fang in a sheath.
Since Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith formed their band in 2009, they've put out an unbroken stream of excellent albums and EPs that should be required listening to anyone that wants to explore what post-punk does to people who listen to it at an early age. They've been pistol-whipping the charts Down Under, but still haven't quite exploded over here yet. Maybe this will help change that.
"The Sun" is a perfect complement to the episode. A lot of fan interpretations of the song center that it's about rape, either a woman who has been drugged and awakes to such terrible knowledge or a man who has committed the act and can't face himself in the light of day. It's certainly got that kind of vibe to it.
In the context of the episode, I think it's about faith. There's this killer lyric, "I will lose what I said in the sound of the words and the numb that it brings." That existential crisis of Jessica's is a throbbing reminder of just how much scripture of any kind can alter you. She went from a human girl with a human god to a vampire worshiping a vampiric deity. Through it all, she is clearly still seeking for that warm connection to a happy higher power, and her head is full of the half-remembered cultural spirituality that you pick up down here in the South.
Looming over all that occurs is, as The Naked and Famous puts it, the unavoidable sun. The light of day that banished vampires from human life, the fires of war that threaten nova, and the exposure of light that is coming for the weres and the shifters. "The Sun" lets us know that soon there will be no place to hide because the face of God isn't a bolt of lightning.
It's an unavoidable star that no one can stare at without going blind or burning.