Monday, May 02, 2011
Treme No. 12: Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky
BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.
By Edward Copeland
It isn't just tombstones that Albert does painstaking touchup work on. As this episode opens, we find him on a ladder restoring a face high on the wall of a house undergoing renovation. Below, a woman thanks a man for having his crew work so long so close to the holiday. On the radio, DJ Jeffy Jeff (John McDonnell) says what he just played reminds him of Woody Shaw. We switch to the studio and see that the DJ is interviewing Delmond, who's in town for Thanksgiving and promoting his Walkup CD. DJ Jeff asks about sales and Delmond laughs, dismissing it as "jazz, man." He tells him he knows of two smart, beautiful women who got a copy and he sent one to his father, "so that's like three or four copies that I know about." DJ Jeffy Jeff reminds his listeners that Delmond's dad is Big Chief Lambreaux and knows that he made it back for St. Joseph's, but asks how he is doing and if he's back to stay. "He's hanging in there," Delmond tells him and when asked if he's back in his house, Delmond responds, "Like most folks, he's still waiting on his insurance check and now, like most people, he's probably going to be waiting on Road Home money too." The DJ says they have time for one more track and asks if there is anything he'd like to send out to anyone and Delmond decides he'd like to play a few notes for his dad in case he's listening because it's the first thing he ever taught him to play. Delmond pulls out his trumpet and begins to blow. Back at the renovation, while the radio still can clearly be heard, either Albert wasn't paying attention or didn't care because he leaves the site in the middle of his son's musical tribute.
The second episode of Treme's second season is the first to offer us a script from co-creator David Simon and a very recognizable name in the director's chair: Tim Robbins, no slouch when it comes to film directing with Bob Roberts, Cradle Will Rock and Dead Man Walking, which earned him an Oscar nomination as best director, to his credit. When we return from the credits, Lt. Colson, with Sgt. Bechet at his side, is wrapping up his morning roll call to the police force. "Lastly, I want to refresh your memory about what New Orleans police are justifiably famous for," Terry says, pausing to add, "I said famous, not infamous. This is a good thing, this is something we do right. Every day, every night, every minute, in the life of this city, some asshat undergraduate from shit-for-brains state college or some polyblend-wearing conventioneer from Des Moines staggers out into the French Quarter looking for rum and happiness. Three hours later, they are wearing their own puke on Bourbon Street and waving beads at some topless progeny from some Arkansas trailer park. Let Bourbon Street be Bourbon Street, ladies and gentlemen, because there is nothing there that requires our reform short of actual sex or human sacrifice in the street." One Officer Landry (Chris Bailey) interjects, "But his pants were around his fuckin' ankles!" Colson tells the officer that he understands, but that his shorts were still on, even though Landry insists you could see the crack of his ass. Colson maintains that while the pants may have fallen, there was no indication that the man could have been involved in an act of fornication or self-pleasure. "In any other city of Christendom," Lt. Colson orates, "this man was indecently exposed but in our bailiwick he was, I would argue, momentarily underdressed." Colson tells them once again to let Bourbon Street be Bourbon Street and not to take themselves off the streets for unnecessary arrests when they could be needed elsewhere. Terry asks Sgt. Bechet if he forgot anything, but she says that about covers it. "Have a safe shift," Lt. Colson says before sending the officers on their way. Whenever I decide that I want to do recaps of a series, it's because I really, really love how they speak to me and I hate how long the recaps get and how at times it seems as if I'm just transcribing or writing a Web version of a Cliff note for an episode, but when you hear the beauty of dialogue such as Simon wrote there delivered so well by David Morse, how can you not want to share it verbatim instead of summarizing it? In the end, the scene might prove extraneous to the arc of the season as a whole and I could have summed it up in two or three sentences, but I want to read it again and again and I live with the hope that there might be other Treme fans out there who feel the same way.
Outside the station house, Percy asks Terry if he's heard about Mike Hunter. Robbins directs the conversation between the two cops in an unbroken take as they walk, beginning from the moment they step outside the building, as they navigate parked and moving squad cars and pedestrians. He doesn't leave the two-shot until the very end. The lieutenant tells Sgt. Bechet that the rumors coming out of headquarters say that Hunter and the other officers face grand jury indictments for lying about what happened on Danzinger Bridge. "(Orleans Parish District Attorney) Eddie Jordan's on the hunt, ain't he?" Percy says. "He can't bring a damn murder case to court, but on this Danzinger mess, he's right up our ass. Either him or a runaway grand jury." Colson tells Bechet that he was there when the "shoot to kill looters" orders came down. "'If you can sleep on it, you can do it,' that's what they told us," Colson shares. "I know they put that out there even if they won't admit it now." Colson goes on to tell his sergeant that it was a bad shoot, so why lie about it? The officers should tell the grand jury they were given that order and they followed that order. "Anything that happened after that, it may have been bad police work, but it wasn't illegal," Colson declares. "The storm was a mess, you know, and I don't doubt some bad shit happened, but was there bad intent?" Terry asks, almost rhetorically. "We can't look back. We need to deal with the here and now."
While Davis McAlary might seem as if he's a world class slob to someone who doesn't know him well, to anyone who has ever known a person with a particular obsession — music, in Davis' case — they also can be anal retentive when it comes to organizing their treasures. Annie finds herself learning that as she and Davis sit on the floor of his apartment surrounded by gigantic piles of CDs with McAlary attempting to explain his complicated system to his girlfriend as they try to merge their collections. When Annie finds that they have two copies of The Wild Tchoupitoulas and she suggests ditching one, Davis replies, "Negative." Annie sees that as a sign that Davis doesn't believe in the longevity of relationships but, as Davis sees it, "No, this is where you are exactly wrong. Every household in New Orleans should have two copies. What if one gets scratched up?" Annie suggests they would simply buy a replacement. "And go without it for how long? What if it's the middle of the night? What if we're having a party and it's 2 a.m. and we need to hear 'Meet De Boys?' Are you willing to take that risk?" he asks her. She then finds a Kermit Ruffins CD and asks why it's in the R&B pile instead of the jazz pile. Since Davis' system could never be that simple, he clarifies that isn't the R&B pile, it's the "musicians he doesn't like" pile. Annie objects, stating (as any faithful Treme viewer would as well) that Davis loves Kermit. It turns out that Ruffins' drummer, Derrick Freeman, has been "a dick" to him, so Davis alleges. "So, because you don't like Kermit's drummer, you are going to file Kermit's stuff under musicians you don't like," Annie says, a very perplexed tone in her voice. Davis just nods. Annie asks if that really means if she's in the mood for a certain Kermit Ruffins album she has to first remember that Davis and Kermit's drummer are pissy with each other. McAlary whispers a weak, "Yeah" while Annie can't help but laugh at this man who has become her boyfriend. She points at him, "You are such a freak." True, but better than Sonny, I'd say. The couple kiss and fall to the floor, sending several CD stacks into disarray.
Toni's new assistant Alison finds Toni hip deep in her continuing efforts to organize the new office when Alison informs her boss they have a walk-in. Toni goes out to see what he wants. Toni introduces herself and the man says he is Vincent Abreu (Ned Bellamy). Toni tells him that she's not sure what she can do for him at the moment, since she's just getting situated in the new office and can't really take on new clients at the moment. Mr. Abreu tells Toni he saw her name in the paper connected with the Danzinger case. He's there because of his son Joey, who died during the storm. Toni offers her sympathies and Mr. Abreu says everyone says that, but he's come all the way down there from Boston and now everyone wants to send him somewhere else. It's hard to stop Toni, who asks for a minute to clear off her desk so Mr. Abreu can come back to her office. When they are seated, Toni looks at the wallet-size photo of Joey Abreu's high school graduation picture as Mr. Abreu tells his story. First notification he received of his son's death was from the Louisiana State Police. They gave no details other than how to contact the mortuary. Apparently, he'd been left on the ground for awhile. Toni asks when this happened and Mr. Abreu tells her September of last year (2005, Treme time). Mr. Abreu says his son and three friends came to New Orleans about four years ago for Festival, but the others returned to Boston while Joey decided to stay. "You know, Mr. Abreu," Toni says, "there was so much unaccounted for after the storm that it is entirely possible, even understandable, that no one knows what happened to your son." Abreu says that's what they told them a year ago, but it didn't sit right, especially with his wife, so he called the mortuary back and got the name of the cop, Lt. Dennis Prioleau — called him five or six times — but he never returned the call. "Finally, a sergeant calls, I forget the name, says Joey's body was found on the street. That's it," the father says. Abreu tells her he called the sergeant back, just to ask what street he was found on, and he couldn't even give him that information, said he'd need to talk to his supervisor. Finally, the lieutenant who never called him back phoned with the street and told Abreu that his son "was killed by the other looters, that's all he said to me." Toni takes notes and repeats what Abreu said, to make sure she got it right. Abreu repeats what Prioleau said: "Your son was killed by the other looters and we're never gonna find out who did it." Abreu adds that he mentioned there were drugs and something happened that shouldn't have and that's the whole story. The father obviously doesn't buy it and it looks as if Toni has grown skeptical as well.
Delmond locates Albert and his friends Franklin and Memphis Ronnie (Walter Harris Jr., Eddie Vanison) sitting around a card table sewing. The son is slightly peeved as he exits his latest taxi and asks his father when he was going to tell him that Poke had come back and pushed him out of the bar. "Nice to see you too," his father responds, barely lifting his head from what he's working on. They appear to be set up in front of an open van so Delmond asks if this is where his dad's staying. "Nowhere else to hang my hat," Albert answers. Memphis Ronnie tells Delmond that they have the house pretty well cleaned out and a tarp over the roof. "This is crazy," Delmond says. "The bar was one thing, but this went from bad to worse." "Awww, don't fret none," Albert mutters, continuing to concentrate on his sewing. "Now that insurance has landed, we'll have this place fixed up in no time." Delmond asks with surprise if he really got the insurance check and Albert removes it from his shirt pocket to show his son. "$495?" Delmond reads aloud, obviously realizing that doesn't amount to squat. Delmond can't believe that's all he got after the appeal and going to the insurance commissioner. "It's payment for the carport only. The wind damage," Albert tells his son. Delmond asks his father if he plans to cash it. "I figure like if I do, I'm saying it's alright what they doing," Albert responds.
At Homer A. Plessy Charter School, Desiree thinks she spots a familiar face in the hall. She gets up to check and greets her old friend Linda. Desiree asks Linda if she's working at Alcee Fortier High School, where they used to work together, but Linda asks if she'd heard they fired everyone. "They just let everybody go. Didn't even try to open it up for debate," Linda tells her. "Just put us all on the street. Every damn public schoolteacher in Orleans Parish." Desiree nods and "a-ha's" everything her friend says, almost as if she's Linda's own amen corner. Linda continues: "I'll tell you something though — they ain't chasin' me away. I came back. Made sure of that. Wasn't the teachers takin' that money." Desiree finally adds her own words, "School board." Linda informs her that the FBI is investigating the board as suspects, not the union. The two friends spot two young white teachers strolling through the hall. "Why hire one of me when you get two of them for the same price?" Linda asks. Desiree asks if Linda is going to come and teach there and she says she will, but she has to take a test first. "Can you believe that? Thirteen years in the classroom, teacher of the year twice and I have to take a goddamn test to come back," Linda complains. Desiree commiserates, having lost all her seniority when she was allowed to come back to work. Treme bears only superficial resemblances to Simon's brilliant series The Wire, but in just two episodes of its second year we've already seen the introduction of two of the same institutions the other show always had or added: the police department and the school system. We've even had a brief reference to New Orleans' importance as a port, drug dealing in Sonny's apartment and hints of political machinations at work. Can a Times-Picayune newspaper reporter character be far behind?
As Janette shows up for work at Brulard, the saucier (Adrienne Eiser) greets her with an article in GQ ripping on New Orleans' current culinary state and critiquing its cuisine as overrated in the first place. "You are going to read this and go batshit. This guy levels your town," the saucier says. Janette starts reading portions aloud, growing angrier with each bitchy sentence. "I'm not certain the cuisine was ever as good as its reputation in part," Janette quotes the article by food writer Alan Richman, "because the people who consumed, evaluated and admired it likely weren't sober enough at the time of ingestion to know what they were eating." Some of the other kitchen workers giggle, but no traces of a smile can be found anywhere near Ms. Desautel's lovely face. As Janette keeps reading, the poissonnier gives voice to one passage, "Supposedly Creoles can be found in and around New Orleans. I have never met one and suspect they are fairy folk like leprechauns." When Janette gets to the portion where the writer trashes two of whom she considers the best chefs in New Orleans, including Donald Link, who was one of the first to return after Katrina and served free food on the street, she's about ready to go ballistic. "Holy shit. The town's just barely on its feet and this son of a bitch has gotta come down and re-evaluate whether we were ever any good," Janette burns as she tries to get back to work. The grill man, who got tortured by Brulard in last week's episode, dares to speak, saying, "The guy's got a point about the cooking down there. The last time I was in New Orleans —" He doesn't get any further than that when Janette shuts him down. "Fine. He doesn't like the food. He thinks it's heavy or he thinks it's shit — I don't care. It's a service economy. They're fucking hurting. He's got to write this now? Tell people to stay away from New Orleans? Don't come down. Don't spend your money in restaurants." Dickens perfectly registers the exhaustion, both mental and physical, that Janette must feel at that moment as her tirade ends and she just leans on the counter, staring at the various utensils. As with Morse's speech earlier, what pleasure it must give the actors to get a juicy Simon pseudo-monologue such as this and, as she proved time and time again in the first season, Dickens handles them better than most. She's also a most fortunate actress, having had the chance to speak the even more challenging dialogue of David Milch when she was on Deadwood. Joanie Stubbs may have had one of the cleaner mouths on Deadwood when it came to profanity, so it could be possible that Janette Desautel actually cusses more on Treme than Joanie did, believe it or not. Part of me longs for her to get sick of Brulard's ways and call him a cocksucker. I can dream, can't I?
LaDonna tries to comfort her youngest son Randall, who's in Baton Rouge, via cell phone while she stands outside of Gigi's. The kid apparently is in tears over missing her and wants to see his mom right then. She attempts to soothe him, using her pet name of Jelly Roll but making little progress. She tries to explain that Thanksgiving Day will be there soon, so it's not that long a wait. Finally, she strikes a bargain: Stop crying, she'll stop using the name Jelly Roll and that gets Randall off the phone. Her bartender (Deon Davenport) comes out and lights LaDonna's cigarette for her. LaDonna laments that they are going to have another dead night and they've been having too many dead nights. He tells her that there aren't enough people home. He says the barbecue on Thursdays has been bringing in more customers. "Turkey necks on Tuesdays sure ain't," LaDonna counters. She tells him that she's been considering adding live music, but there's an upside and a downside to it. "What's the downside to it?" he asks. "Musicians," Antoine's ex-wife answers.
Sonny actually seems enthusiastic as he plays his keyboard on the street that night, singing a rock classic by Bill Haley and the Comets as sort of a change of pace. "Well I saw my baby walkin'/With another man today/Well I saw my baby walkin/With another man today/When I asked her 'What's the matter?'/This is what I heard her say," Sonny sings. Despite his mood, do the lyrics indicate Davis and Annie on his mind? He gives a good-natured nod as someone drops a tip in his glass jar marked karma. He doesn't seem to notice the approach of two young boys staking him out from opposite sides. "See you later alligator/After 'while, crocodile/See you later alligator —" At this point, one of the boys disconnects his amp from his keyboard. Sonny tells the kid to put it back, but the boy just smiles. When he gets up to do it himself, the boy on the other side moves in to make off with Sonny's tip jar, yelling, "After 'while crocodile" as Sonny makes an aborted pursuit before he turns back, just in time to stop the second thief from making off with his keyboard. "Fuckin' streets," Sonny swears. So much for that mood.
Off the streets, Nelson Hidalgo finally gets to see some real live New Orleans music with his cousin Arnie instead of just listening to a jukebox as Antoine joins Kermit Ruffins on stage for "When I Die (You Better Second Line)" at Bullet's. Nelson can't believe that his cousin has never been there to hear this great music before, but Arnie claims he's too busy working. Kermit takes a break for a special message from their U.S. representative who's facing a runoff, William Jefferson. For obvious reasons, he could not play himself, so Michael Hill plays his role, even though the actor looks way too young for the part (The real Jefferson was 59 in November 2006). Jefferson thanks the voters for their support in the General Election, but reminds them of the runoff Dec. 9. He says his opponent supports the Green Dot plan, which would break up New Orleans communities, but his constituents know where he stands and they need to vote for him so they can come back to their New Orleans. Nelson applauds politely for the Democrat though all his contacts we've seen him with or talk about have been Republicans. Kermit whispers his reservations about Jefferson, who already was under federal investigation then, to Antoine. "About the fuckin' feds?" Antoine says incredulously. "Please. Like you never forgot about $90,000 in your fuckin' freezer." They both laugh heartily before Kermit starts playing again and for the second time, Antoine takes to the mic for vocals on "I Got a Woman." Wendell Pierce may be (along with Clarke Peters) the actor who's smoothest and most at ease with Simon's words, but both men had five years of practice on The Wire. The key difference between the actors is that Pierce acts the way a musician plays, delivering his dialogue rhythmically. Peters does that too to some extent, but his greater strength, shown even more as Albert than when he played Lester on The Wire, is that his silences speak volumes.
An exhausted Janette picks at a cut on her finger while riding the subway. Before she knows it, she's fallen asleep and missed her stop. Is this a sign of Janette merely being tired or is something more serious afoot, given the brief scene of her drinking alone in last week's episode. Back in New Orleans, Antoine plays with Honoré in her playpen when Desiree comes in and he can't wait to brag about how he "knocked the audience dead" with his vocals and rattles off some of what he did, including some James Brown. "You're doin' James Brown now?" a disbelieving Desiree says. "Actually sorry I missed that." He floats to her his idea for a band of his own. He's even worked out a name: Antoine Batiste and His Soul Apostles. Antoine offers to meet her downtown with Honoré because he has to meet some people. Desiree nixes that. Antoine wonders why, since there's no school that day. While that's true, Desiree tells him, there is Parents Night that night. Antoine groans. "I don't like it any better than you. A bunch of bake sales and teacher conferences for parents who never bother to show up," Desiree complains. She kisses Honoré goodbye and taps Antoine on the nose. "And later for the not-so-hardest-working man in show business," she says as she leaves. "That's sex machine to you, girl," Antoine declares.
After being the victim of thievery on the streets, Sonny becomes more determined to move his music indoors and posts a note on the bulletin board at The Music Exchange for a pianist/guitarist seeking band. Toni heads to the department to try to find out something for Mr. Abreu. The PIO sergeant (Brian Stapf) she speaks to isn't being much help, saying he can't be sure Joey Abreu's death is even a homicide. "Here's the problem," Toni tells the sergeant, "This guy is sitting up in Massachusetts getting different information from different people who probably don't know what they're talking about and this guy's bouncing off the walls. He drives down here, just looking for someone to talk to him. Talk to him, OK?" The officer seems thoroughly unmoved by Toni's plea, but he asks who the detective assigned to the case was. Toni tells him Dennis Prioleau and the sergeant agrees to call him.
With Honoré in his arms, Antoine tries to describe to a man sitting at the keyboards at The Music Exchange the vision for his band. "The horn section is going to be movin' together and they're gonna be in powder blue tuxes like this," Antoine demonstrates, bouncing side to side, Honoré in his arms, as the keyboards join in. "I like that shit right there," Antoine announces giving his seal of approval. Without a fade or a visible cut of any kind, we've moved to a new locale, where Antoine recruits more possible band members. Four men listen, though the man behind the drums appears to be napping much like Antoine's daughter. "We're talkin' old school," he tells them. "The kind of shit that made Donny Taylor proud." The seamless montage returns us to the Exchange where the keyboardist still plays and Antoine joins in on a phantom trombone, using Honoré's fist as the horn and making the sound with his mouth. Then we've moved on to somewhere else where the baby girl drinks from her bottle while her daddy drinks something else. "The music that don't get played no more but people wish they did because you can shake your ass to it," Antoine sells as he and two more men raise drinks in unison. "Yeowwww! Girl!" he lets out back at the Annex before we are on a sidewalk where singer Wanda Rouzan admires his daughter in her stroller. "You know, I've got my own gigs now," Rouzan tells Antoine. He tells her she can keep those, but "You gotta have a woman's voice in there too, for balance," Antoine tries to charm her. Rouzan, however, is a bottom-line lady. "How much?" "Ahh Wanda, come on," Antoine says. I don't know if the montage came straight from the script or was Robbins' input or someone else's contribution in the collaborative process, but it's superb — one that will go down as a Treme classic.
Immediately following the brilliant musician recruitment montage, we begin a short tracking shot of Nelson and Arnie crossing the street where Antoine, Honoré and Wanda were. It's just long enough for the cousins to walk to Hidalgo's rental car as Hidalgo tells Arnie they are heading up to the FEMA office. Arnie asks who he knows there. "A friend of a friend." Arnie has started to get annoyed. He called Nelson to come back him on his roofing business. "Big picture, cuz. Big picture," Nelson says as he gets in the car. Albert and his friend Paul Robinette (Davi Jay) are wheeling supplies they've gathered for Thanksgiving dinner with Delmond tagging along, arguing with his father. "I don't take no money from my children," Albert insists. Delmond tries to tell his dad it would just be a loan since he's got money coming in from the CD and tour dates coming up. "You sellin' jazz?" Albert says mockingly. Delmond tries again, bringing up what he and his sisters can give Albert, but the elder Lambreaux cuts him off. "No. I'm doing this right here so we can have dinner like you want," Albert lays down the law. Delmond replies that if it were like he wanted, they'd be having dinner in Houston or in Atlanta with Cheri and the kids. "Do you think I want to be having Thanksgiving dinner out in a damn driveway?"
Nelson gets his meeting with the area's top FEMA official (Tony Bentley). He tells Hidalgo that New Orleans kicked it to FEMA who kicked it to the Army Corps of Engineers who handed it off to the contractors. "What you need is from the contractors or one of their subsidiaries," the official tells him. While the FEMA official exudes negativity, Nelson reaches into his suit coat pocket. "Understood, but I was told to introduce myself here and a phone call could be made on my behalf to one of the contractors," Nelson says as he hands the man a card from The Liguori Group. Suddenly, the FEMA official's demeanor turns bright and sunny. "A phone call's no problem," he tells Hidalgo. "That's good," Nelson responds. "I suppose it is. Give me a day or two on my end. Call this fellow in Florida," the man says, handing Nelson a card. "There shouldn't be any issue going forward." Nelson thanks him and as he exits the building he claps and shadowboxes, announcing to Arnie that they are now subcontractors. Arnie still frets over his roofing jobs. "Would you fuck the nickel-and-dime roofing jobs already?" Hidalgo tells his cousin. "I just pulled a $200,000 contract for demolition and debris removal." He tells Arnie they'll need four crews and do three to three-and-a-half city blocks a week. "What the fuck do you know about demolition and debris removal?" Hidalgo tells him they have this company in Florida that will hook them up. Arnie reminds him they don't have trucks or crews either. Then Seda starts showing some of those qualities that annoy me about him as a performer as he does a god-awful Stallone impersonation after doing more shadowboxing and asking, "Rocky, do you believe America is the land of opportunity?" I think we're supposed to dislike his opportunistic, GOP-leaning character. I just hope he doesn't have a conversion later in the season, because Jon Seda doesn't have the acting chops to pull it off. Can we can get Sonny to abandon music for demolition and debris removal because I'd take more Michiel Huisman if it means less Jon Seda.
Despite Desiree's prediction that no one ever shows on Parents' Night, the school's auditorium is packed. She stands at the back of the room with a secretary (Adella Gautier) listening to the complaints. The principal, Dr. Jason Frasor (Marcus Lyle Brown) tells the crowd that they still are having problems with bus routes and he understands how frustrating that can be. One man in the audience (Raymond Sweet) speaks up and says it was frustrating but, "Now it's just ridiculous. Are you telling us that this school is having a hard time securing toilet paper and hand soap in November?" Frasor replies that, "It is not perfect, not in this school or any of the other charters and certainly not in the Recovery School District. Everyone is dealing with the same issues." He then recognizes a woman, who unlike the man, actually behaves as if she's back in school and raises her hand before speaking. "My concern is the classroom," she says. "It is my understanding that your geometry classes aren't giving out any homework because there aren't enough take-home textbooks." The audience applauds. Desiree turns to the secretary. "Now they see how everything is all messed up," Desiree says. "There is one thing different though," the secretary tells Desiree. "I've never seen this many parents at a Parents Night. I mean ever."
Sirens wail in the background, but Toni remains so engrossed in the papers she is reading, they don't seem to get her attention as she walks through the open door to her house. Suddenly, she does stop and looks back outside. She goes to Sofia's bedroom door, knocks and calls out, "Sweetie." No response. She opens her daughter's bedroom door and finds the room empty. She calls her name more loudly to the rest of the house. Again, no response. Toni dials Sofia on her cell phone. We see that Sofia is fine — sort of. The 16-year-old girl sits at a bar and when she sees that it's her mother that's calling on her phone, she ignores the call and sticks the phone back in her purse. She then carries three beer bottles to a table at The Chocolate Bar where her friends are waiting. At a neighboring table, Antoine is interviewing trumpet player Terrell "Burger" Batiste of The Hot 8 Brass Band, who tells Antoine he loves the type of music he is planning and he wants in as part of the band. The show begins to start and Antoine says he has to move along. As Mem Shannon & The Membership begin to perform "Who Are They," Sofia ignores another call, presumably from Toni, and chugs a beer.
In New York, those eyes one dare not gaze into belonging to Enrico Brulard have fixed upon some plates with entrees ready to be served. One of the servers tells him that the customers at Table 7 are getting up to leave. "Let them go," Brulard says dispassionately. "I'm thinking." Brulard turns and scans his staff. It's unclear who his target is or, indeed, if he has one. Brulard walks behind the poissonnier and places his left hand on the man's neck, slightly turning it so both are looking at Janette simultaneously. "You know, the salmon can be a beautiful animal — wild and free. Honor his death," Brulard tells her as more beads of sweat appear on the poissonnier's head and neck as he grows increasingly uncomfortable. "Listen to him," Brulard continues in a flat monotone that's nothing like the chewing out he gave the grill man last week. "You rushed him to the pan. You destroyed him, squeezing out proteins, flavor, everything — the life substance that makes him what he is. You don't want to do that, do ya? Of course not." Brulard tells Janette to slow down and "listen to your fish." He gets out a pan, holds a piece of salmon, almost caressing it, before he places it in the pan followed by a square of butter which he spins with a spoon before letting both simmer. In interviews, David Simon basically has given credit to Anthony Bourdain for creating and writing these restaurant scenes, so kudos must go both to Bourdain for inventing Brulard and Victor Slezak for bringing him so marvelously to life. I know Brulard won't be a permanent fixture on Treme, just as I knew that Brother Mouzone would not become a regular on The Wire, but both limited appearances (I'm assuming in Brulard's case) will be two of those series' most memorable characters. Kim Dickens plays Janette just right as Slezak does his dance. Her face doesn't appear to move — she knows this is his moment and she lets him have it. Paul Fitzgerald gets some nice, quiet comic bits as the poissonnier caught in the middle as well.
Davis and Annie are eating breakfast Thanksgiving morning as Davis contemplates getting different acts together for a recording project. Currently, he has his eye on Cheeky Blakk. He suggests that he could act as Svengali. Annie informs McAlary that Svengali was evil. He manipulated Trilby in the novel. All of this is news to Davis. "There's a novel? Who is Trilby?" he asks. For dinner, Annie suggests that they go to Popeye's, but Davis pauses, saying he's due at his parents' house — it's a yearly ritual. Annie suddenly looks sour. "So I'm on my own for Thanksgiving." Davis tries to tell her it's not like that, but has a hard time getting the words out. Annie assumes he just doesn't want them to meet her. He tries to explain that it's them, but McAlary finds himself at a loss for words, perhaps for the first time ever. "They can't be that bad," Annie says. "I introduced a girl to them once and only once," he finally gets out. She asks how it went. "She now resides out of state." "How far out of state?" Annie wants to know.
The woman Davis presumably referred to when he said she met his parents once and now lives out of state wakes up in her New York bed with yet another one night stand (Lyle Brocato) lying next to her. Janette rises, saying she's got to get ready and that the coffee already is set to come on. In the living area, her roomies Nick and Chas seem to be performing their own morning ritual: eating cereal and getting stoned. Only this day, being Thanksgiving after all, they've added watching the Macy's parade on TV as first Nick, then Chas declare in fried amazement, "Bullwinkle!" While Janette makes a quick trip to the john, her fling quickly gets dressed and helps himself to the cash in her wallet. She's surprised when she comes back that he's already almost out the door, telling her he has somewhere to be. She notices that Chas has improvised a bong out of an apple. "Let me guess...out of paper?" she says. "Yep," Chas answers, "but it's cool this way. Nick starts rambling about when you're stoned whether the color you are seeing in the cereal comes from Crunch Berries or blood from the roof of your mouth. Janette returns to her bedroom where she discovers the theft from her wallet and falls backward on the bed clutching her head.
Colson finds himself slightly annoyed when Toni comes to him trying to get help for Mr. Abreu. "Toni, I said I would help you out when I can," Terry says with his arms crossed, "but when did I become your go-to guy every time you can't pry a report out of an NOPD unit?" She tells Colson she doesn't even need a report or really anything from anybody other than to call this guy and tell him when his son was found dead and what's known. "That's all he wants," Toni insists. Colson asks if she went to PIO. "Yes, but they said the case was still pending and that's bullshit. Nobody's working this," she tells him. Colson picks up the phone but tells her that if Prioleau hears he's asking questions, "he's gonna know I'm your bitch."
Kermit Ruffins blows his trumpet to start the horse races at Fair Grounds (adding a little flair at the end of course). Nelson, who is attending with C.J. Liguori, excitedly relates that he saw Ruffins play at a club the other night. Hidalgo tells C.J. that his man in Baton Rouge made it easy, hooking him up with a big Florida contractor. Liguori thanks him back for sponsoring repair of the stained glass at his parish church and opening his corporate accounts at his bank. Hidalgo tells C.J. he raised as much as he could in Dallas for C.J.'s preferred candidate in the runoff against Jefferson, but after seeing Jefferson in the club and hearing that his opponent supports Green Dot, it may be tough. "Yeah, even with the federal investigation, Dollar Bill may pull it out," Liguori admits. Nelson asks who they are looking at for the future. C.J. says that since Blanco's numbers have tumbled since the storm, their best option may be a guy named Bobby Jindal, an Indian fellow. The really with-it Hidalgo asks if C.J. means Indian as in Native American, only he doesn't say that but mimes a war chant with his hand. Liguori corrects him that he's Indian like the country. "You've got an Indian American congressman in Louisiana? First Cubans, then Mexicans, now Indians — who says we're the party of white folk?" Nelson says which makes C.J. laugh.
Davis grooves away to Cheeky Blakk & Rebirth Brass Band's "Pop That Pussy" at the radio station when his boss Darnell bursts into the booth so suddenly it startles him. Darnell demands to know why he's there so early. McAlary explains that he switched shifts with another disc jockey who hates Thanksgiving as a concept. Davis says he actually hates the holiday as well, but he's obligated to attend his family's dinner each year so the time slot switch worked for him. "No more bounce Davis, not this early," Darnell tells his DJ who just grins. "I'm fucking serious." After Darnell exits the booth, slamming the door behind him, Davis spins in the chair and flips the bird at the display window of the booth which Darnell almost sees. Back at the race track, Nelson returns after collecting some winnings. "You see that fella by the rail," C.J. asks. "That's Oliver Thomas, president of the city council. Probably the next mayor if he wants it. He's a decent guy. Certainly an improvement over Nagin." "Democrat I'm guessing," Nelson says. "Someone's gotta be," C.J. responds. "This is a purple state and Orleans Parish is blue. It pays to work both sides of the aisle." Liguori urges Nelson to go down and make a new friend. Back at the radio station, Annie knocks on the booth's window, bearing a suit and tie for Davis to change into. Davis turns the airwaves over to Bob "Gentilly Jr. Campbell, but not before sending a special song out to his station manager and then dancing out of the station with Annie to that music.
The same music plays us into the turkey montage, as we watch various feast preparations. We begin with Albert, hauling a huge turkey hanging on a metal contraption which he lowers into that large metal drum they salvaged earlier that's now boiling with light brownish water so it can be deep-fried. That leads us to a more conventional method where a potholder and an oven mit remove a bird from an oven. As it comes out, we see the hands belong to Antoine and Desiree smiles as he places the turkey on the kitchen counter. A waiter takes Toni and Sofia to their seats at a restaurant where someone else will be responsible for serving their holiday meal. During their walk, the music's lyrics kick in. It's a variant of the episode's title "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky." There are many versions of the song with many different spellings by many artists, but this is "Everything I Do Gon' Be Funky" by The Dirty Dozen Brass Brand featuring Dr. John on vocals. Meanwhile, back in the montage, many people and children start arriving at Albert's outside gathering. Desiree begins slicing pieces of the turkey off and tasting it for herself and feeding some to Antoine. Everyone holds hands in prayer around the table for the final Thanksgiving at Mrs. Brooks' home. The servants deliver the various parts of the meal to the attendees at the McAlary home, which includes Annie and a return visit from Davis' delightful Aunt Mimi (Elizabeth Ashley) while Davis keeps his face buried in his hands, waiting for it all to be over. Someone must have said something out of line because Davis rises long enough to give the time out signal. With the praying over, the eating begins with LaDonna's family. Since he's on duty, Lt. Colson, has a paltry-looking meal alone at his desk out of paper cartons. Now that the eating has commenced outside Albert's, the Lambreaux patriarch sort of stares absently. LaDonna's children find renewed energy as the pie comes out. Sofia looks completely disinterested in the slice that she's been served and Toni seems concerned. Aunt Mimi, who apparently had a martini glass permanently attached to her right hand, tries to engage Davis in conversation and it looks as if Annie is enjoying herself. The same cannot be said for Albert, who gets up from the table without a word and goes inside his empty house. Honoré has fallen asleep in her height chair at the table while her mom and dad share some kissing in the kitchen.
Davina Lambreaux (Edwina Findley) makes her brother Delmond squirm by asking his date Brandi (Brandi Coleman) when they met. She answers last Mardi Gras and Davina says with an evil grin, "Oh, you're from down here. I must have got confused." Robinette announces that something is ready on the grill and Brandi leaves for it. Davina asks Delmond if Brandi is his "down here girl" and he tells her to cool it. Davina questions Robinette about that woman her father had been seeing, Lula. "I don't know. She must have had an opinion," he replies. Delmond expresses concern about Albert. Davina thinks he's just tired, but Delmond says he seemed more than just tired to him and asks Robinette if he's called practice yet, but he hasn't. Delmond suggest they call George and tell him Big Chief's calling practice and try to get Albert "to think about masks and Indians and shit," Delmond says.
Davis looks on in horror as his mom retrieves photo albums of him as a child to share with Annie. "Davis," Aunt Mimi says, martini glass still glued to that right hand, proceeds to share tales of her days of driving from the LSU campus in Baton Rouge in her "1958 Mercury Monterey" to the French Quarter corner of Dumaine and Dauphine "in 42 minutes flat on a Saturday night." McAlary tells his aunt he imagines she was a hellion back in her college days. "As cruel as you were beautiful," he compliments her. Mimi says the song about LSU boys was correct: Go in dumb, come out dumb too. Annie and Mrs. McAlary (Ann McKenzie) sit close together and laugh at that one. Then Mimi whispers, "But Auburn men..." Davis' mom says Mimi is only saying that to get his father angry, but at the moment Dr. McAlary (Marco St. John) sits passed out in his chair. "I believe my father is past the possibility of anger," Davis comments. Annie asks Mrs. McAlary how in the world she got Davis to wear a bandleader's outfit and that's when Davis announces that it's time to flee because they want to catch a show at a club. Amazingly, Annie wants to stay and enjoy herself with his family. "While I go to the show alone, you are going to stay here with my mother? This is the plan?" Davis asks. Mimi chimes in and tells Davis that if he really requires an escort, she's more than game. Mrs. McAlary tells Mimi to act her age but Mimi asks why on earth she'd want to do that. "You and me at a bounce show?" Davis says to his aunt, slightly stunned. When they get to the nightclub, Mimi has switched hands and her glass has been swapped for a plastic club as she and Davis take in the show. Drag queen Katey Red stops by and greets Davis, who introduces her to Aunt Mimi. Mimi gets up close to Katey Red's face so she can hear and says, "My God! I would kill for those shoes! They are to die for." Katey Red tells Mimi she's going to introduce her to the owner of a downtown store who could hook her up. Mimi takes her hand. "You just lead on, girlfriend."
Arnie stands silently as Nelson does the talking, explaining the offer to Robinette and some other men. "That's 25 thou each for 7500 cubic yards cleared, but you've got to make that number in three weeks. Questions?" Hidalgo asks. Robinette wants to know why he picked them and not some other haulers. "I don't even know you," Robinette says. "Well, to tell you the truth, I asked the sub they put me under for licensed guys who were already getting FEMA money who had five or six trucks' worth and he gave me you. If he's wrong, I'll ask for other names," Hidalgo tells them. Arnie gives each of them a card and Nelson tells them to call when they've made the number and he might have a bigger piece of the pie for them. He also tells them he doesn't want to hear about any problems because he doesn't care. The contractor next to Robinette wonders what Nelson is making if each of them is going to get $25,000.
A cab drops Antoine outside a club where he sees an out-of-breath man (Anthony Bean) who says that he just got robbed inside, telling Batiste that a boy put a gun right in his face and keeps running while Antoine watches him flee. Inside the club, the music goes on as The Hot 8 Brass Band perform their post-Katrina anthem "New Orleans After the City." At the radio station, DJ Jeffy Jeff has taken back the airwaves but through the booth's window, he can see Darnell and Davis arguing. A cab brings Delmond to Poke's where tribe members sit silently. Delmond asks if Albert knew and he's told he knew about the practice and that Delmond was coming, but he hasn't shown. Back in the DJ booth, Jeff turns his head the other direction and sees Davis packing his things. Yes, the station has fired him once again. Davis picks up his box of belongins and tosses in a stapler in a final act of defiance and Jeff gives him a quiet nod of solidarity.
After their performance ends, Antoine tries to talk Ben "Big Bennie" Pete of the Hot 8 Brass Band into letting Terrell join Antoine's group, but Ben doesn't know if he can spare any men, referring to the time the police killed trombonist Joseph "Shotgun Joe" Williams and how he's even thought of packing it in altogether since that was the third member the group has lost. He also mentions Katrina scattering members and Terrell losing the use of his legs. "I'm just tired," Ben admits. The band's snare drum player Dinerral "Dick" Shavers joins Ben and Antoine at the bar and asks if they heard about Jamal. It seems he got jacked leaving the club. Some kid just put a gun in his face, Shavers reports. "If the hurricane ain't enough to wake these knuckleheads up..." Shavers says, "I mean, live the life and have fun but if you're from New Orleans, act like you're from New Orleans." Antoine tells Ben he can find another trumpeter, but Ben tells him not to worry. It's OK if Terrell joins him.
Sofia lies in her bed on her side, just staring. Toni looks in on her and calls her name, but gets no response. She asks aloud if she's asleep and when she again receives no answer, Toni turns off the light and shuts the door. Poke turns off all the lights at his bar and closes up. Albert's drums remain untouched.
Thanks to Rosa and Diego for taking time out of their work days to research character and performer names for me, not only for Treme, but for Mildred Pierce as well. A very special thanks to the ultracool WP for helping me with some information relating to character names and musicians this week (and that's no bunk) and for directing me to Lolis Eric Elie and his Inside Treme blog who personally and graciously helped me fill in more blanks.