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.
Season 3, Episode 10: "I Smell a Rat"
"Who can you trust," sang Jack Nicholson as the Joker, and then he gassed to death all the people he had just handed out free money to. Like Pilate, but with inflatables.
This episode of True Blood made it very clear that pretty much every character in the show cannot be completely trusted. Bill lies to Sookie, Eric chains her up, Sam shot some people, Jason shot some people, the lovable new nurse boyfriend of Lafayette's is descended from wild-eyed Mexican black magicians, Arlene's gone cuckoo for Jesus-puffs, and the vampire terrorist Russell Edington is hiring hookers only to cry like a little bitch with a skinned knee until he re-enacts his husband's death with a sharp piece of wood on the dull piece of meat.
Can someone be trusted? It's a sticky question, made all the more so because nobody ever asks, "Trusted with what?" There is a line. You may trust someone to feed your fish, but not to watch your kid. You may trust someone with your life... unless they've had a drink. Can you trust someone to look out for your best interest when their own life is at stake?
When dealing with the crowd in Bon Temps, it's very important to ask yourself these questions. Could you trust the Joker not to kill everyone? Nope, but you could trust the Joker to be the Joker. The rule applies to vampires, were-panthers and other temperamental supernaturals as well.
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Can we trust Patty Griffin, whose song "I Smell a Rat" ends this episode? That's honestly a tough call. Griffin is another one of those fabulously dark country/folk voices that crop up either on Prairie Home Companion or here on True Blood. Since 1996, she's haunted us with a mix of Poe and Mary-Chapin Carpenter, then a couple of years back she decided she's had enough of the thorny path and started releasing more upbeat material.
Her newest album, Downtown Church, is an exploration of religion and her spiritual experiences. And all the songs on the album are distinctly down-home gospel in nature... save "I Smell a Rat." What does it say about an artist talking God that the one secular song she'd include on the album is distinctly about knowledge of a trusted love's deception and hijinks?
We can trust Patty Griffin to sing and write great songs, but we cannot trust her not to mess with us. Same goes for Alan Ball. We doubt the intentions of all involved.
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.