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 fifth season of True Blood continues to underwhelm as a whole, but there were some real bright spots this time around that have re-galvanized my interested. First, things I don't care about: Tara is a vampire and throws a tantrum until she gets used to it, Terry is haunted by an incident from the Iraq War, Sam and Alcide and caught up in wolfpack politics, and Jason is kind of lost.
Got that? Good. Moving on.
The best parts about the second episode are Eric and Bill being hauled to the fabled Vampire Authority to be tortured and killed for their actions last season in the war with the witches. Throughout the episode, we get a fascinating look at the internal workings of vampire power, and even though it is mostly lifted straight from White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade, it's still very entertaining.
Seriously, I'm pretty sure I issued a proclamation banning using the mythological character of Lilith as a vampire. It's like nobody respects the Gothic Council's work.
The main issue in vampire politics is actually a heated religious debate. The have their own Bible, the Original Testament, and kudos to the fangs for going the prequel route unlike the Mormons. In the Vampire Bible, Adam and Eve were created simply as breeding stock for dinner, and vampires were set to rule over them with Lilith as the chosen child of a Vampire God.
The Authority inner council is an absolutely hilarious series of pop-culture jokes. Laura Bush is on it. They don't call her that, but it's clearly her. HBO apparently hasn't learned their lesson from the backlash from the whole "W's head in Game of Thrones" incident.
Then there's a small child vampire, an obvious homage to the whole Anointed One storyline from Buffy, and a vampire called Dieter that is a dead ringer for Liam Neeson's portrayal of the immortal Batman villain R'as Al Ghul.
In the end, Bill and Eric bargain their lives as bait in a plot to kill returning villain Russell Edington, who is still burnt to shit but getting stronger every day. It looks like I'm going to get that vampire/buddy-cop flick I've been wanting for so many years.
At first, I rolled my eyes at the choice of song this week, a cover of John Mellencamp's "Authority Song" by New York rockabilly musician Bosco Delrey. Not because I didn't like the tune. It's one of my favorite Mellencamp tracks, and Delrey does it a fair amount of justice.
It's just that the song is yet another classic-rock suggestion, and that shit didn't fly last episode.
Then I looked a little closer and listened to the second verse, which I'd never really paid attention to before. It's all about a man asking a preacher to help give him strength to keep on fighting the man, and the preacher telling him to grow up instead.
That is a really brilliant tie in with the episode. Bill and Eric are caught in what is basically a religious war, and they're concerned only with living their lives. The authority they're standing up to is not only the Authority, but anyone who is standing in the way of them simply conducting everyday business.
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And yet, the Authority is actually pretty cool. They recognize that existence with humans is the only option, if nothing else because we massively outnumber them, and they're mostly mad at Bill and Eric for jeopardizing that. Bill and Eric believe in their mission, but they still make it clear that they want control over their own lives.
So like the song says, "I fight authority and authority always wins," but in the end Bill and Eric are still walking away. So we'll see, won't we?