The best episodes of Eagleheart begin as a gratuitous sendup of Walker, Texas Ranger and then take a left turn into a completely unrelated plot that parodies another genre of television. Tonight’s episode did that model one better, taking a final, surreal turn, revealing the most inauthentic group of blues musicians ever assembled to be nothing more than ghosts in a minivan.
“Blues” opens with Monsanto flying off the handle, beating up one perp attempting to surrender, and then taking a surprisingly present table saw to sever the arms and head of the second suspect trying to steal stem cells. Most of the offhand violence is played for laughs, but this sequence is even more over-the-top, going for Kill Bill-level slapstick gore as Monsanto quips one-liners about a guy's brain being “kosher for bash-over” while Brett tries to hold him back and Susan apologizes to the other criminal for Chris’ bloodlust.
But then the plot takes a 90-degree turn, into an origin story about the worst kind of white-boy imitation blues music conceived in a horrifying corporate studio; the kind of lounge blues that exists in newspaper listings only to fill space; the kind of bluesmen who believe the origin of their music is at a chain restaurant in Orlando, Florida.
Dean Norris is fantastic on Breaking Bad, but he really shows his comedic chops here, letting loose as the leader of Deke and the Growlers. Pantomiming harmonica or guitar, he sells the idea that Eagleheart is more interested in the fake, Walker version of “freedom” than previously encountered. This fake blues is so incompetently inauthentic that it stretches the bounds of reason. Chris joins Deke and the Growlers as they make their pilgrimage to the chain restaurant, but they reject the authentic blues man as a terrorist and terrible musician. Emphasizing the awful musical taste brings the show in line with the kind of blatant homerism inherent in Walker, Texas Ranger and other syndicated propaganda pieces.
I never thought that Eagleheart could reach the kind of tempered, patient intricacy that Childrens Hospital was able to achieve on Adult Swim, but “Blues” shows precisely the peak that the show can aim for. A ridiculously violent opening scene, giving way to a secondary plot outside the marshal investigations, with a third right-angle into surrealism. That’s the best this quarter-hour show can offer, and when it runs on all cylinders, it’s a laugh riot.
- Brett’s idea for a novel: “Sir, you can’t stand in the gorilla cage—unless you win the big dance competition that is!”