Everything comes together on tonight’s Metalocalypse. This is the season finale, because Breaking Bad had its season premiere tonight, and Sunday night TV can only contain so much awesomeness. I don’t know if the show will come back for another season, but clearly Brendon Small and Tommy Blancha want another season, and if they don’t get it, they’re prepared to punish the universe by leaving us all hanging. Remember the final episode of Soap, which was completed after the producers knew they’d been cancelled, and which ended with multiple never-to-be-resolved cliffhangers, with several characters on the verge of being killed? That was nothing.
Last week, the “half-man” Salacia finally pitched open warfare against the band, in the process killing the head of their record company, Roy Cornickelson, a major loss to the band but one that the show itself will probably be able to process. While Nathan works on his eulogy, Murderface and Skwisgaar contemplate the future: Can the band still patch up its difference and get back together? It’s a question that boils down to whether Nathan can overcome his “apology problem” and tell Pickles that he regrets having destroyed their album and let a dumb ol’ girl come between them. No one thinks this is likely. “If he were to apologize,” Murderface speculates, “his body would shut down and his organs would rupture.” Skwisgaar agrees that it’s not a possibility to bet the farm on.
Against this backdrop, Offdensen does his best to bring the band up to speed on just what’s been going on around them, in the process connecting many dots that longtime fans of the show might never have guessed would someday be the subject of a massive late-term exposition dump. Offdensen takes the boys to the Church of the Black Klok, presided over by a bearded old man with troubled eyes and a familiar voice. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for some time,” says Werner Herzog, celebrating the fact that he’s finally got a character design of his very own, from which his words can emanate, instead of just floating around the images in an omniscient fog. He is the high priest of the Church, where Offdensen was nursed back to health at a time when he was generally assumed to be dead. Having been dead renders him invisible to Salacia, a condition which has served him well as a spying tool.
The high priest carves a surprisingly lucid narrative out of what, in previous episodes, had seemed to be an impressively random tapestry of events. Nathan destroyed the band’s long-awaited album because of messages he was receiving from a whale—“a sea prophet,” Herzog calls it—that recognized the importance of the band’s conveying “the right message,” one that the album failed to do. The album they’ve been gearing up to releasing in its place is closer to the mark, but there remains the task of adding one more original song to the track listing. Nathan, no surprise, balks at this; the band members aren’t heroes, he insists, and anyway, they have no way of producing another song because they’ve broken up and aren’t even a band anymore. Herzog, who provides one of the highlights of this TV year so far just by actually saying the word “Metalocalypse,” begs them to reconsider: “You are the chosen people,” he cries. “Does that mean we’re the Jews?” asks Murderface.
Whatever you think of a line like that, the truth is that it barely registers in context; the entire episode is such an explosion of lovingly rendered mock-Wagnerian imagery—the stuff of double-gatefold vinyl jacket covers from the dustiest recesses of the metal section, with a little prog-rock thrown in—that it sweeps along in a way that makes the jokes seem like padding, even when they’re funny. (The funniest joke is seeing Nathan try to tell one when he delivers his eulogy. After he gets done, he observes, “Much like our friend Roy Cornickelson, that joke died.”) Metalocalypse will never win an Emmy, because it's just a rowdy little in-joke for geeks sitting dazed in front of the TV in the middle of the night. It's also a visionary labor of love.
- This show in a nutshell, via the first half of a line from Offdensen: “We’ve got so much more to tell you about the end of the world, but…”