The end is inevitable in “Hostages,” indeed, it’s baked into the concept of hostages itself.
Album: Bleed Out (2022)
My favorite line on Bleed Out is in “Hostages.” In the third verse, the narrator tells us “there’s a team up on the rooftop” and follows up with “good luck to the team.” Out of context it’s uninteresting, but from someone taking hostages it has multiple potential reads. Is this a sneering, sarcastic nod to your enemy or a boastful brag about your own plan? It’s neither, you see, because the verse follows with “when you know you’ll never make it out alive // you kinda get to live out your dream.”
The snipers are going to get you if they don’t rush the doors. You are going to surrender or kill the hostages, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. “Hostages” isn’t about any one movie, but it calls to mind a million of them. You may picture Dog Day Afternoon, but I think of Wanda, if only because I just saw it a few weeks ago. Taking hostages buys you time, but that’s generally all it does.
The narrator in “Hostages” is clearly in charge and clearly not going to make it, but they seem to have faith that some of their crew will. That works better as a larger metaphor, but I love it literally, as well. So many Mountain Goats narrators seem prepared to meet a grim end, but I can’t think of many that offer even this grim hope for their conspirators. Whether or not that faith is misplaced is another question, but they’re going down with the ship either way. Good luck to the team.