[Contains pubic puppet-strings and SPOILERS!!!]
Despite professing to be a fan of The Heart, She Holler in the past, I somehow failed to notice the show’s third season airing all the way back in December (2014)! Gah! Self-flagellation aside, this horror-sitcom’s surreal and sinister backwoods absurdity is probably better suited to the current Halloweeny season, than the Christmassy one it first infected… right?
There were another couple of casting changes this time around, with Patton Oswalt bowing out as ‘Hurlan Heartshe’, and Scott Adsit swearing in as the town’s ‘Sheriff’ (replacing Joseph Sikora from S1-2)… though thankfully my fave character/cast-member combo, Heather Lawless as ‘Hambrosia Heartshe’, remained unaffected and as awesome as ever. Hurrah!
The season’s major story arc involved the apocalyptic “Comening” that monstrous matriarch ‘Meemaw’ (Judith Anna Roberts) publicly prophesises, partly to screw with the townsfolk’s heads, but mostly to bring about her own much-delayed demise… and, consequently, the destruction of the entire universe as they know it. Uh-oh! This builds to possibly the silliest/funniest sequence the series has ever produced, when Meemaw tricks Hambrosia into going on a “compassion spree”, using her lethal mind-powers to ‘splode everyone in town, to spare them the supposed torment and tribulation to come(ning). To ensure that she gets the job done in time, Hambrosia smashes the hourglass containing the remaining sands of Meemaw’s life, and snorts them off the bedside table, so that she can whizz around town at super-speed… which leads to a blood-soaked Benny-Hill-esque romp, complete with “Yakety Sax”-style soundtrack! Sadly, she hesitates when faced with the prospect of “saving” her cheating husband, and he takes the opportunity to shoot her in the head… which the deluded doormat adorably (mis)interprets as a merciful act of love on his part, rather than self-centred opportunism. Boo, again!
After this all-out carnage in the penultimate episode, the season finale was a deliberately jarring change of pace, taking place largely in a single location, as the Sheriff sits in church alongside his doppelganger and a few other duplicated locals (who Hambrosia presumably missed before Meemaw passed?), watching an abridged video of Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (circa 1974) for ten minutes straight. There are a couple of incidental gags around the edges, as the audience squirm, snack, and applaud in a strangely stilted, filmed-backwards-but-played-forwards kinda-way (ala “The Black Lodge” in Twin Peaks)… and a second TV is brought in halfway through to provide a slightly delayed echo… but otherwise, the episode is a showcase/soap-box for the former president, and his belief that eco-friendly conservation is not only common sense, but also supremely patriotic!
In various interviews that Adsit gave before joining the cast, he insisted that there was a lot more going on, intellectually and thematically-speaking, beneath the show’s grotesque surface than casual viewers (or non-viewers) might assume… and I really think this final episode bears that out. Despite the distorted sound and incongruous visuals, Carter’s words still hit home hard… while the presentation implies that America has become a distorted echo or shoddy imitation of what it was meant to be… or could be, maybe…? Either way, it was a thought-provoking broadside and a thunderous “mic drop” for the series as a whole.