With “Motherklok,” Metalocalypse continues its allegorical recounting of the global financial meltdown. In the Dethklok universe, the catastrophe was triggered by the loss of the long-awaited new album by an internationally popular heavy-metal band, which is one of the more obvious ways in which this show’s version of recent events differs from that of Frontline’s. Last week’s episode ended with a strung-out Nathan destroying the master version of the record just as the only extant copies were lost at sea, plunging the world economy into utter darkness. Tonight, the band is performing live when the carnival attached to their concert goes haywire. People being spun around upside-down by cables attached to their gonads, the workers attending to a fat fryer the size of an Olympic swimming pool, and the luckless bastards at a cat-petting zoo all come to a terrible, fiery end that would challenge the descriptive powers of the newsreel reporter on the scene of the Hindenburg disaster. There’s no question that last week’s ending depicted suffering on a grander and more resonant scale; however, tonight’s carnage is way more rock ’n’ roll.
Dethklok is giving this show—a one-group Lollapallooza from Hell—to kick off a series of free concerts intended to repair the damage the band did to the economy, the world’s spirits, and its own image. (The papers are calling the global downturn the “Dethcession.”) The inaugural concert takes place in Pickles’ hometown of Tomahawk, Wisconsin. The first sign that the band may have misread the mood of the audience comes at the press conference announcing the venue, where Nathan is greeted with cries of, “Get off the stage and get us a job!” (The crowd may not have reacted as expected to the promise of such treats as “a pirate ship with Somali pirates that’ll threaten to kill you” and “an $80 million Ferrari-wheel, a Ferris wheel made out of Ferraris.”) Nathan’s suggestion that “if you guys are so pissed off, why don’t you collectively kill yourselves” is no better received, but the general feeling among the band members is that it all went pretty well.
The dissenting opinion comes from Pickles’ mother, whose long-standing disapproval of everything he does has taken on a political tinge since his band broke the economy. She tells him that he’s never done an honest day’s work in his life and that he’s spoiled. “I’ll tell you who’s spoiled!” Pickles sputters. “My servants. Those guys are assholes!” But in fact, his mother’s criticism cuts him to the quick, and he all but abandons Dethklok to pursue a career as “a scheming, deceptive realtor.” The inevitable illustrated lecture explaining the psychological issues behind Pickles’ self-willed “social demotion into the repugnance of reality” may be a series high point. But to Pickles’ credit, he’s not good at his new trade. He does not lie fluently in this particular arena, and lacks the ability to apply lipstick to pigs. (“Don’t worry about that dog shit, that’s from the previous owner. That comes right off your shoes.”) In fact, he might never be able to achieve his dream goal of becoming the most successful realtor in the area if he didn’t realize, while in the throes of a psychedelic vision, that he has the money to sell a limitless number of houses to himself. (“Mother! The sleeper has awakened!”)
It’s in the wake of Pickles taking his eye off the ball that the free concert goes so wildly awry. The connection seems to be implied: Is Pickles supposed to be in charge of inspecting the band’s carny rides and making sure that they’re all securely bolted down? Speaking from personal experience, it’s asking a lot of a metal drummer that he just keep his solos below the six-minute mark. If Pickles is somehow to blame for the bone-charred nightmare going on around him, he’s able to keep his contrition well under wraps; he’s seen playing during the concert, going at his drums like a tranced-out warrior. It’s only after this moment of re-affirmation of who he is that he’s emboldened to tell his mother to go screw herself, which everyone who has a dog in this race agrees he badly needs to do. Dethklok might not be the people who should be in charge of the financial system, but as it turns out, neither were Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulson. Perhaps that’s the message of “Motherklok”: While it’s a sin for the head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to fiddle while Rome burns, a metal drummer pounding the skins while his fans burn is kinda rad.