Metalocalypse

Dethklok's first season of standard sitcom-length episodes started out pretty rough; at first, it looked like Metalocalypse might fall victim to the kind of padding that hits a show that needs to fill up more time than its writers can make worthwhile.  But a few episodes before it went on break, the show seemed to find its stride, and ever since it's returned, it's really been firing on all cylinders.  It's finally delivering episodes that justify the new format.

The question of the moment leading into tonight's season finale ("Doublebookedklok", or, "The Dead Man") is:  will this really be the end, or will we be graced with a fourth season?  In one of the strangest developments in television history, Brendon Small has become so in-demand for the music he's created for his fictional band Dethklok that recording it and touring behind it is eating up the time he'd usually spend producing the show.  And season 3, while it's played as fast and loose with continuity as the first two, there have been hints of finality everywhere:  members have quit the band, been kicked out and replaced, formed their own labels, and been faced with the specter of death more often than usual.  So what can Metalocalypse do to raise the stakes for what might their last episode for a while (or forever)?  How about...World War III?

After disembarking the Dethbus to snare some junk food at a Chimaira Mart (and not bringing any jackets after being taunted by Toki, who's acquired the highly annoying habit of going punch-buggy on everyone), the group gets left behind in Edmonton in the winter.   Nathan uses his leadership skills to lead them into the forest to die.  Even though they're only out there for 15 minutes before being rescued by Offdensen, they turn pouty and resentful towards their manager for not guiding every aspect of their lives. 

They can't stay mad at him, but the reverse proves not to be the case; after spending a crazy weekend with their curiously hard-drinking Arab buddy Malik, Dethklok books a gig in Syria -- to take place at the very same moment Offdensen has booked a gig in Israel.  Naturally, this leads to an escalation in terrorism, international tension, and sectarian violence, and very well might result in global war. 

Through the hard work of their indefatigable manager -- and not a lot of help from Dethklok, who decide to run away -- the show goes off without a hitch (and is, in fact, kind of awesome; Metalocalypse has gotten great at staging concert sequences), and the day is saved.  "This is only the beginning," chants Nathan during the big number, signaling that really, no matter rumors are circulating, this isn't the end for the band or the show.  What really drives it home, though, is the sequence with the Tribunal; once, these bits were signs of a deeper narrative on the way, but now, it's more clear than ever that they're just massive, evil red herrings.  Despite the "revelation" at the end, I seriously doubt, when the show returns, that we'll see much more of it, and I seriously doubt anyone will care.

Some of the funniest bits of tonight's episode were the montages -- of the death of Offdensen's assistants, and of Dethklok's vacation in Syria -- which is a bit of a double-edged sword, since they're also evidence that the show is still relying on padding to reach its current running time.  And now that they've established exactly what kind of show they're making, dropping the pretense of anything really happening with the Tribunal is probably a good idea before the joke starts to get old.  But as long as it keeps delivering great music, visual brutality, and gags on the level of Murderface trying desperately to take a shit in the desert, it seems somewhat churlish to criticize the show for not getting any deeper.  The Metalocalypse may be as far away as the fireworks factory, but Dethklok is better company than Poochie.

Rating:  B

Stray Observations:

- "We're gonna die here, huddled together like a bunch of homos!"

- "You try not to get a boner!  From me!"

- "Dethkones.  Icy and brutal!"

- "Syria's gonna lose their mind-balls!"

- "Murderface, you're getting really, really, really fat.  That's kind of the final straw."

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