Sunday, July 03, 2011
Treme No. 21: Do Whatcha Wanna Part III
BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.
By Edward Copeland
My deepest apologies for my tardiness with the conclusion of the season finale's recap/second season in review. The past couple of weeks I had just overscheduled myself without realizing it and while I got the first two parts out Sunday, I finally collapsed before I could finish Part III. Then I had anothe project that I had to have done for Tuesday so I couldn't get back to this until it was done. Unfortunately, fatigue is one of the biggest factors when you have multiple sclerosis and my mind still wants to think I can write as fast as I use to though my body begs to differ. Same things apply as in Parts I and II: recap is in plain type, commentary in italics. This serves as commentary for Sunday's finale (what I haven't covered yet) as well as the second season as a whole. Again, I apologize for any and all spelling, grammar or other types of errors of any kind. If somehow you got here without reading the first two parts, click for Part I and Part II.
After running into one of her rapists on the street, LaDonna and Larry pay a visit to ADA Baron and she probably feels lucky she's not on the ground like he was or LaDonna would kick the shit out of her as well, but she's gonna do the verbal equivalent. "For me to walk into a goddam bar five blocks from my own and see this motherfucker sittin' there drinkin' a Heineken like any other person," LaDonna says fiercely, staying on her feet while Larry stays seated in the background not saying a word. "It was a clerical mistake, Mrs. Williams. When we dropped the charges in the other case, the jail failed to note to detain him for your charges as well," Baron explains. If LaDonna weren't already pissed… "What the fuck is wrong with you people? You lose my brother in the damn jail for months and then you let this vicious little motherfucker go first chance you get." Khandi Alexander is a marvel to watch here. Not only does she modulate LaDonna's growing rage, her body movements become wildcat-like, as if she's stalking an antelope for supper and ADA Baron is that antelope. "We tryin' to live in this city. We tryin' to come back here but what little shit we got back together and live and all you manage to bring to that is nothin'." Alexander starts the beginning of that sentence sounding as if she's gonna break again, but she doesn't — she even bares her teeth at the end. Is that a chunk of Ms. Baron's ass hanging from LaDonna's mouth? If not, it should be. "Rebuild the house? Hell no — fill out these forms and wait. Get your child back in school. Which one? You've got three different school systems. Two of them ain't teachin' shit and the third one can only open so many." Larry is doing his best to stay serious, but you can tell he wants to grin at his wife's tirade. "Open the hospital back up? Hell no — let's tear down some more neighborhoods instead. Solve a crime or two? Oh hell the fuck no." Baron dares to speak, saying, "I don't blame you for being upset." LaDonna turns around and gets closer to her than she's been and Larry can't hold the grin back any longer. "Upset? Bitch, I'm past upset. I'm all the way to lost my fuckin' mind." When LaDonna swings open the door to the outer office, you'd swear it was going to come off its hinges. As they wait for the elevator Larry says, "Tell ya one thing — we ain't selling that damn bar. Look at you — this is who I married. You went away, no you back." "What are you talking about Larry? You hate the bar. You always did," she says. "Hate it to death, but we ain't sellin' it and we ain't stayin' in Baton Rouge neither. We comin' home. All of us. You ain't gonna be who you are otherwise. I see it now" he tells her. The elevator arrives and the spouses embrace as the doors close. Two quick minor criticisms of an otherwise glorious scene. 1: If they accidentally released one rapist, is the other one out on the streets? 2: Granted, it's an awfully quick turnaround by Larry, but I would think it isn't the easiest thing in the world for a dentist to dump all his patients in one city and start a practice over from scratch in another city. Presumably his former New Orleans patients got new dentists and can't all be expected to come back, if they are still there. Not to mention poor Mrs. Brooks who just leased that new apartment. Now, for LaDonna's season in general. Thank goodness that in the last few episodes, they made amends to Khandi Alexander for what should have been a powerful storyline for her all season long. I mentioned earlier how they screwed up the initial rape episode, but then they pretty much swept her aside for most episodes, giving her nothing more to do than sit somewhere drinking and watching TV. Then they blow the big reveal when Larry finds out she was raped by not showing us what happened when he found out and delaying any reaction until much later in that same episode and when they did, giving it less screen time than they devoted to Janette's roommate Nick describing David Chang's fictional restaurant. At least though they did finally make up for it, letting Alexander be the powerhouse she is — even giving us a knockout scene between her and Wendell Pierce. It also was great to see Lance Nichols be more than a glorified extra as Larry, showing he can deliver the goods as well. Perhaps next season if they're all coming back, he'll get a bump to regular.
Davis meets Aunt Mimi for martinis at the French 75 Bar at Arnaud's Restaurant in the French Quarter. McAlary remains glum from all the recent encroachments on what should have been his glory. "Davis, you yourself said he was a better guitarist," his aunt tells him. "He is, definitely," a defeated Davis admits. "But you're still singin' or rappin' or whatever it is that you do," Mimi reminds him. "Well, I can see there is nothin' I can say to crash your pity party but" — Mimi lets out a little chuckle as she opens a checkbook, tears out a check and hands it to her nephew. — "this is for you." Davis takes it and asks, "What's this?" Mimi says, "It's just half the proceeds from sellin' Lil Calliope's contract to this other local label called Cash something." She can't quite recall the label's actual name, but Davis knows. "You sold Calliope's contract to Cash Money for eight thousand four, five," Davis stumbles on the math, but Mimi interrupts anyhow. "Of course not. I sold it for thirty thousand dollars which means I am already in the black from this wonderful little adventure and we haven't even released the sampler yet. Woo! I love the music business," Mimi proclaims as she takes good swill of her martini. "OK. If you sold that for thirty thousand, why is mine four thousand?" Davis asks. "Davis, you are aware that you've been charging a variety of expenses to my credit card for the last several months. Honey it goes without saying —" Davis stops her before she can finish. "Never mind. I got it," he says. Sazerac strikes again. "Calliope. My band," he sighs Mimi corrects him. "Not the band. They just wanted Calliope." She can tell her nephew still looks beaten. "Don't look so glum. You just make yourself a new band. That's easy for you. Listen — you do what I do and I'll do what I do and everything will be peaches and cream, won't it?" Mimi tells him as she taps on her empty martini glass and asks for another. Elizabeth Ashley is just a hoot. I worried that too much Mimi might kill her charm, but it really hasn't. As for Davis, I've never understood dating back to the first season why there seemed to be such an anti-Davis/anti-Steve Zahn faction out there, because I've always enjoyed him. I thought he had some of his best moments this season, especially when he came to Sofia's rescue at Tipitina's and spoke to Toni afterward. I think his relationship with Annie has matured him to some extent, though it's an ongoing process that sometimes feels like one step forward, two steps back. With these series of blows here at the end and the way it plays out, perhaps he's finally recognized that he isn't what he thinks he is and he won't ever be. If Mimi stays the business side and Annie really starts writing songs, perhaps their label will release her first record and Davis will find that he belongs behind the scenes, not in front of the mic.
In a scene that's the closest that Treme has come to anything resembling a scene from The Wire, two cars pull alongside each other in the dead of night for a clandestine meeting. FBI Special Agent James Collington (Colin Walker) asks Terry, "So what's so secret you won't even come to the field office?" Terry replies, "They still make you sign in at the front desk, right? Or is the FBI doing away with formalities?" "That bad?" Collington says. Terry hands him a file. "That's everything we have on the Danziger shoot. You might as well start saving string when Eddie screws up the state case." He hands the agent two more files. "Also this kid Abreu from First District and another one, Seals." He passes some more across the cars. "A couple more as well." With this pile of files in his lap, Collington asks, "And?" Terry responds, "All of it's been dumped. Every case. Witnesses blocked. Evidence missing. No followup. No real investigative response. And all of 'em, I'm beginnin' to believe are police involved." The agent says that's in Terry's opinion. "Let me tell you what I just did. I fuckin' lied to my captain. I told him I had spent casings that could link two of those cases — Abreu and Seals. I told him I had a witness saying the shooters were police and you know what happened — they lost one of the casings. They lost it on the way over to Jeff Parish ballistics lab," Terry tells him. "What do you mean?" the agent asks. "It didn't get there. They disappeared the motherfucker. And the funny thing is it wasn't from Abreu. I lied. Both casings were from Seals. But they thought I was going somewhere with it so they disappeared the shit like they've been doin' all along, the motherfuckers. Jimmy, you guys have to come in and clean house," Terry tells the agent. "I'll do what I can," Collington says.
Nelson and Arnie have met for drinks at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse located inside The Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Currently performing are Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses, but while Nelson usually grooves to about anything he's not musically inclined tonight. "I'm fucked," he tells his cousin. "I come to town, make friends, got a kind word for everybody, doin' what I do, makin' what I can, get it done. Now, cuz, I could go to fuckin' jail," Nelson rants before taking a big drink. "What? Why?" Arnie asks. "Don't you get it? The Feds rolled somebody up on Oliver Thomas, the councilman I was working with. Now Thomas, he could roll me up," Nelson explains. "With what?" a confused Arnie presses. "With bullshit. I gave the guy a little cash for the cable thing, remember? I did right by him," Nelson insists as he sucks down more liquor. Arnie asks his cousin if that's the way his business works in Dallas. "Everywhere, cuz. Everywhere," Hidalgo semi-belches in response. "Nelson, let me ask you somethin'. What do you do?" The inebriated Nelson looks puzzled, either that he's been asked or that he can't really give a good answer. "I do deals. I make money," he finally comes up with as a response, but that doesn't satisfy Arnie who asks again, "But what do you make? What is it that you do?" Arnie goes on to say that when he's working as a bouncer, he knows what his responsibilities are that come with the job and when he's working on a house, he's putting on a roof. "I do a deal. Something gets done," Nelson says. "This real estate thing, I'll let you in on a secret. They're gonna build a hospital. That's why we're buying up houses." That's the first specific mention we've heard of the hospital that's been speculated on ever since C.J. drew on that map. Arnie asks him about the hospital everyone tells him about that they won't re-open. Nelson snickers. "OK. Well this will be a new hospital, better hospital maybe." After Arnie makes a suggestion and compares what he thinks Nelson should do to what Arnie does as a roofer and Nelson gives him that sarcastic applause and Arnie takes off. Nelson raises a glass to his mouth.# Back at the Jazz Playhouse, Nelson continues to drink alone while Aurora Nealand and her band have switched from the instrumental tune they played before to a song she's singing. Nelson puts his coat on and tries to leave, but it's not an easy walk and he almost falls on another table. We could tell Nelson was blotto before and the scene is so short that Arnie could have left and Nelson could have stayed a little longer if we needed to see him stumble. The band could have been doing that number earlier. Again, it's a short scene that I'm not objecting to because of its length but because it's needless.
At The Lucky Peach, David Chang lowers a drink from his mouth and covers his eyes. Janette approaches. "I can't believe I've got to ask this, but I have to go back to New Orleans for a couple of days," she says. I don't know why. I thought that was part of any job she had in a New York kitchen — she's allowed to have time off to return to New Orleans at a moment's notice whenever she wants. "Back to New Orleans," Chang repeats, rubbing his hands together. "I know — I'm an asshole," Janette declares. Hovering in the air over her left shoulder, Chef Ripert unfurls his glorious wings and emits a blinding white light in Chang's direction. "Doin' this to help out your sous chef, you're doin' what you have to do," Chang tells her. "On the other hand, if you're going back home because there's some dudes who are trying to poach you from my kitchen and help you set up your own shop, then yes, you're an asshole." "Maird! The cynicism is too strong in this one," St. Ripert exclaims before vanishing in the bright light. "You heard," she says. "It's a small world, chef," Chang tells her. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, a stranger enters the office of C.J. Liguori. "Hello sir. My name is Enrico Brulard. I heard there are some properties up for auction in your Central Business District and I'm thinking of relocating my famous New York restaurant here. It seems we lost a lot of business when Alan Richman gave us a scathing review because a native of your city through a Sazerac in his face while he was there to review us and I hear she's coming back here to try launch her own eatery." "I don't know if I'm gonna jump — I really don't. I'm happy here. In your kitchen, I am, I'm happy," Janette tells him. "But homesick," Chang says. "That too. Look, this guy wants to show me a couple of locations…but I don't know what I want to do, I really don't," she admits. Chang pours himself another drink and Janette one as well. "Well, if you go home, go with God. I'm sure you'll not be back, but if you stay here," he says as he flips her off with both hands, "be happy with your work. By the way, I'm holdin' on to that chicken dish. Cheers." He raises his glass to Janette and she returns the gesture and they clink glasses. I've spent so much time complaining about this storyline that I forgot my biggest one: What a waste of Kim Dickens' talents. In those first four episodes with Brulard, she had something to do, but since then, nothing. Hopefully, next season she'll get Grade A material again as she did in Season 1. I sensed something sinister about her new restaurant's backer, so perhaps there will be conflict there. Hopefully, he'll have a name before next season begins other than Backer.
Jazz Fest has officially arrived and Annie and Davis are trying to plot out their day on the schedule. Davis wants to make sure he catches Deacon John and then he's curious about this show Donald Harrison is doing with the Guardians because he's heard rumors they're working on an album together. Annie wants to make sure she sees the subdudes, who she toured with at the beginning of the season. Davis has a panic attack when he realizes that he forgot to bring any weed.
At another part of the various venues, Antoine, Desiree and little Honoré wait in line for a show when Antoine greets Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. Andrews looks at how the baby hits at everything and comments, "Looks like we got a little drummer here. Look at her go — hittin' everything on the one like a little Willie Green. Antoine says he was hoping for piano. He asks Troy if he's playing Jazz Fest, but Andrews is just catching some shows before he rolls out to Japan. Seems he's touring with Henry Butler like Antoine had the chance to but didn't take.
Toni brings what she knows about the Abreu and Seals cases and possible coverups to the Feds including the same FBI Special Agent Collington that Colson gave the files to as well as a first deputy U.S. attorney (Trey Burvant). "Needless to say with the open investigations and exclusion of public records, I can't go any further, but you all can," she tells them. The deputy U.S. attorney says they certainly will review her allegations. Collington asks if the witness she's identified would be willing to testify before a grand jury, "If it's clear you guys are bringing a real investigation and can ensure his safety, I think he will come forward," Toni tells them. "At this point, anything we say further would be premature," the deputy U.S. attorney says. "You know, this office has a lot on its plate and this is the first we're hearing of any civil rights issues involving the NOPD." Toni gets up to leave. "Maybe after the next election," she comments, passing photos of Dubya of Cheney on the wall as she exits.
Albert gets his big moment in the spotlight, taking the stage at Jazz Fest with Del, Donald Harrison, Harrison's musicians and the Congo Square Nation. Albert has been smiling so much the past couple of episodes, he doesn't even resemble the man at the beginning of this season. In the audience, we see James Woodrow, Dana Lyndsey and her cameraman shooting more footage, Annie and Davis, who seems to be enjoying it despite lacking any marijuana intake. The whole crowd seems to get it, despite any worries with one enthusiastic audience member doing a spirited dance in the front row. Albert Lambreaux's storyline doesn't need to have a straight-line, season-long story arc because he's fortunate enough to be played by Clarke Peters and watching him do anything usually proves to be more than enough. Whether he's being kicked out of Hoke's, doing odd jobs, denying that he's depressed, getting screwed by the bureaucracy again and again, losing faith in the only thing that matters to him or finding renewed life in a musical project that brings him closer to his son. Getting laid with a much younger woman probably isn't hurting anything either. Sure, he's a stubborn son of a bitch at times, but with a wink he'll let you know that part of that demeanor is just for show. Peters can be just as great with silence as he is with words and, much like his fellow Wire alumnus Wendell Pierce, you don't see any Lester Freamon in Albert Lambreaux (except maybe when Albert concentrates on sewing you can picture Lester with his models) as you don't spot signs of Bunk Moreland in Antoine Batiste. Peters' talent can be so subtle, sometime you just take them for granted because he isn't showy and unfortunately too often that's where the bias falls in acting awards falls. I never remember who said it about the Oscars, but it applies to all awards: The prize usually goes not to who acted the best but who acted the most.
Sofia greets her mom — and sounds friendly doing it for a change — as she sits on the porch. "Oh, first day of Jazz Fest, eh," Toni says since they can hear the music from their house. "Shame you're grounded," she adds as she sits next to her daughter. "I did what I did," Sofia says nonchalantly. Toni asks where the blue streaks in Sofia's hair went, admitting that she was sort of getting used to it. Sofia admits that Oliver Thomas' situation saddens her. "He would have been a good mayor. Then again, he did take the money," the teen says. "Seems so," her mom sighs. There's a moment of awkward silence between the two, then Toni restarts the conversation. "Folks just doubt ourselves. Sometimes we're better than ourselves, sometimes we're worse. Sometimes we please. Sometimes we disappoint. I don't know. I guess we're not really talking about Oliver Thomas anymore," Toni declares. "I still love him." Sofia says. "I always will. But I can't forgive him." Toni nods slightly, almost like a shake. "I know. Yet anyway," she manages a smile. Sofia closes her eyes and nods. Melissa Leo illustrates what I was just saying about Clarke Peters. She's nothing short of magnificent on Treme, as she was on Homicide: Life on the Street, the recent HBO miniseries of Mildred Pierce and her Oscar-nominated performance in Frozen River. While she also was good in The Fighter, the film that won her the Oscar last year for best supporting actress, it differed from those other roles in that it was a chew-the-scenery, over-the-top turn. Awards voters usually want to see proof that you are acting before they hand you a prize. Subtlety and humanity of the type Leo displays so beautifully and remarkably on every episode of Treme usually escapes their notice. Idiots. As Toni, she can crack you up or break your heart, often in a short span of time. I've praised her so much all season long, I almost feel as if there isn't anything to add. As for India Ennenga, I have to admit that my jury hasn't returned a verdict. I don't think she's bad in any way, I just can't decide if she's exceptional. She can play bratty and not bratty, but often to me it seems as if those are the only two keys she has. I'm reserving judgment for now.
Wanda has hit a stage at Jazz Fest with her own band, A Taste of New Orleans. Antoine watches from the crowd with discouragement and Wanda blows him a kiss.
The Capt. John returns to dock in Chalmette. Linh's father invites Sonny to get a beer.
Davis has a new look when he shows up for a gig with The Brassy Knoll. He looks quite preppy and sports a green sweater wrapped around his neck and holds a martini in his right hand. I wonder who he picked up that affectation from? The band asks what's up with the outfit and he ignores that question, instead ordering a big change in set, calling for James Brown's "Sex Machine" in G. Davis addresses the audience. "It has come to my attention that someone of my disposition cannot in fact bring the funk. There are those that say, 'Davis, are you not aware that you are from uptown? Well then, in my final performance with The Brassy Knoll, which will no doubt go on to great things in my absence, please allow me to offer the following in my defense." He sets down the martini and begins a nerdy rendition of "Sex Machine."# After that brief layover, we're back and Davis has gone into full Godfather of Soul mode now, spinning wildly on stage. He drops the sweater to the ground and then aping Brown, Calliope picks it up and wraps it around him like Brown's cape, only he doesn't lead him off stage because Davis isn't done yet. In the audience, Mimi and Annie laugh. Davis sings some more lyrics and then says, "Good luck to Calliope and The Brassy Knoll…I'm DJ Davis and I am out." He jumps off stage and hugs Annie and Mimi. Don B. leaps on stage and he and Lil Calliope begin "The True."
At Cafe Trinh Quyen, while other members of New Orleans East's Vietnamese community eat, talk and enjoy karaoke, Sonny and Linh's father look as if they are having a serious discussion over beers. How many episodes has Linh's father been on now. If they knew he would figure this prominently into the story, why not give the poor man a first name? Sonny spots Linh walking in first, then her dad turns and notices. He crosses his arms and looks stern, but nods. Sonny goes and joins Linh while her father points two fingers to his eyes and then aims them at Sonny.
Antoine picks up Robert at his house and his mother (Shirley Pugh) insists that he be home by 11 p.m. Batiste assures her that won't be a problem. As they walk off, Antoine tells Robert they'll have to rehearse all day first.
On the second day of Jazz Fest, Jacques wraps his arms around Janette as they dance to The Iguanas playing "Oye Isabel" on the Fais Do Do (English translation: Cajun dance party) Stage.# Jacques and Janette keep dancing to The Iguanas for a few more seconds of screentime, though they've miraculously had times to switch songs to what might be Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" but I can't be certain since the only line you hear is "How does it feel?"
On the Acura Stage, Lucinda Williams sings her far mellower song "Crescent City" which Davis and Annie swoon to appropriately.# The Iguanas had time in that short span to finish one song and get well through another, but Lucinda Williams still is singing "Crescent City," a song that runs three minutes. In contrast, "Oye Isabel" runs 4:32 and if it is Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," that whopper goes past the six-minute mark. Davis tells Annie that it's amazing that Williams wrote "Crescent City" before the storm. Harley taught Annie well as she tells him, "It's universal. That's what makes it great."
As Jacques and Janette walk along a line of vendors, she tells him it's not really Jazz Fest without a bowl of Crawfish Monica, which she's currently consuming. "Janette," Davis yells as he runs up and hugs her. She and Annie finally are formally introduced. Davis asks why she's back and she tells him she's looking at restaurant properties. "You're punchin' a little bit out of your weight class, aren't you Davis?" Janette says. "I always did," he responds. I believe she's referring to Annie, but I also thought she might be making a reference to him gaining weight. Was it just me or in the "Sex Machine" scene in this episode did Steve Zahn look as if he had a noticeable paunch that he didn't have in any of the other epiaodes this year? I know from my interview with Kim Dickens that they stay in New Orleans to shoot a season for seven months and I wonder if they had breaks to wait to get the Jazz Fest scenes Zahn may have gained some weight for another role during the hiatus.
Antoine assembles Robert and other students from the class band on a spot on the street with their instruments. They start to play, but he stops them, saying they forgot something. Robert opens his instrument case. "There ya go," Antoine says. "You gotta seed that shit some." Batiste tosses some bills and coins into the case. The kids start playing and immediately earn tips and spectators. Denard comes running to join them, showing up late in sunglasses. "Denard, I'm gonna fine ya, son," Antoine tells him. Then Antoine joins the kids and plays himself as well.
Davis and Annie are in bed and she starts mumbling as if she's having a bad dream again, but she doesn't wake up this time, only Davis does. He kisses her on the cheek.
Even though she's grounded, Toni takes Sofia to The Maple Leaf to hear the Rebirth Brass Brand. The woman at the door questions Sofia's age, but Toni promises she won't be drinking. Mother and daughter are holding hands, almost skipping. Sofia tells her mom that she's going up front to be closer to the band and Toni nods OK and they hug, Joining the band on stage is trumpeter James Andrews.
Davis wanders into the booth at WWOZ where DJ Jeffy Jeff is barely awake while working the late shift. Davis tells him he can't sleep, but Jeff says he's dying for a nap. "How's the band?" Jeff asks. By Davis' look, he gets his answer. "You think Darnell takes me back on?" Davis wonders. "When has he not?" Jeff replies. Davis tells Jeff that if he wants to lie down on the lobby's couch, he'll spin a set for him and the disc jockey takes him up on it. Davis takes to the air. "That was — actually, I'm not sure." He looks around the desk and sees a CD case. "Kidd Jordan, I think. But this is DJ Davis workin' relief for Jeffy Jeff. Anyway New Orleans, we're all still here. A few more alone every day." He removes a CD from its case and prepares to load it. "And even if it isn't as it should be, even if they make it hard, where else would we go? Who else would have us? Yeah, you right. Let Pops tell it." As "Wrap Your Trouble in Dreams Begins," so does the season finale montage. It looks as if Desiree finally got Antoine to get her that house and they are moving in. Annie is writing a song, not certain if it's completing one of Harley's, but it's titled "Dauphine Street." GiGi's is back in business and LaDonna, with a cute, short haircut, serves Larry a hot dog at the bar. This requires more explanation: Terry is back in uniform. This doesn't: He bumps into Toni coming out of a coffee shop and she gives him a dirty look and ignores him. The Backer Without a Name takes Janette on a tour of one of the potential sites for her restaurant. Nelson stares through the barbed wire fence surrounding the vacant Mid-City site where the hospital will rise; Sonny shares beers and laughs with Don and the other oystermen. At her job, Sofia reads The Times-Picayune story on Oliver's guilty plea and resignation. (This montage must cover some span of time since the story was ending in late April but Thomas didn't plead guilty until August.) Del helps Albert with some of his home repairs. Harley's memorial on the Washington Square fence is there, but has deteriorated with lots of litter on the ground below it. Crime tape cordons off another murder victim and Prioleau and another detective already are having a good chuckle before they even get to the body. We see various scenes of desolation that still remain this long after Katrina. A guitar stands for sale at the musician's union for $60 or best offer. I wonder if it's Sonny's or could it be Davis'? A hand grabs a tip. What looks like Mardi Gras beads hang from a tree. The song ends and we're back to Davis, who doesn't seem to notice it stopped playing."Sorry for the dead air, but that one got me," he tells the listeners as he plays another track and the Rebirth Brass Band's "Do Whatcha Wanna" runs over the credits.
I'll cease with the italics now, since all of this is commentary and there won't be much since the majority of it has been sprinkled throughout this post and all the recaps this season. If you'd like to consult any of the old ones, go to my handy Treme index which can be found in the Television index in the left-hand column of the front page. Earlier this year, I addressed a lot of my criticisms in Time for an intervention. It's hard to deny that by most measures, the second season was weaker than the first. Last year, nearly every episode as a whole was superb. This year, with the exceptions of "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky," "Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get the Blues?" "Feels Like Rain," "Carnival Time" and "What Is New Orleans?" (and honestly, I'm being generous with all but the first two and "Carnival Time"), most episodes were great moments surrounded by filler and missed opportunities.
While I've concentrated most of my criticism on the microscenes and scenes we leave only to come right back to after an interim, that problem boils down to this season having severe structural problems. Some episodes really did play as if that week's scenes were thrown up in the air and then edited into a random order. I know that David Simon likes to speak of a philosophy where each character is of an equal importance, but that hasn't even been true this year. David Morse was absent from an entire episode and in the season's most misdirected, poorly arranged installment, "On Your Way Down," when LaDonna's rape occurred, Annie appeared for 70 seconds total and for a seven-minute stretch, it alternated between LaDonna (whose story we cared about) and Sonny (whose story we didn't). No other character appeared in this time. It's also possible to have a large cast drama and get everybody in without resorting to tiny scenes. Hell, Hill Street Blues did that 30 years ago and they had to work in commercials. Treme doesn't.
When writing season three, everyone who works on Treme needs to remember that the best moments of this season, the ones we remember best, are the ones where their talented cast was allowed to flourish. "Let Bourbon Street Be Bourbon Street"; the Thanksgiving montage; Toni and Sofia talking openly about Creighton's suicide; "Listen to your fish"; Dinerral's funeral; Antoine's regret while lying in bed; LaDonna tearing into the ADA; Albert at Christmas dinner, etc. I will remember those a year from now. I won't recall Sofia gets on an elevator; Toni wakes up on a couch; Colson slits open the bottom of an evidence bag or many other scenes that ran less than 45 seconds, sometimes as short as 15. There is one short scene all season I will remember: When Antoine gets out of the cab for the job interview at the school, sees the throng of kids and retreats back inside the taxi and drives off. That's good use of a short scene. It's funny and accomplishes what it needs to do. It needs no more, no less. So many of the other scenes were either expendable or needed to be fleshed out.
I still love the show, I just find myself yelling, wishing that somehow I had access to their post-production facilities so I could stop them before they mistakes. Treme has a great cast, great writers, employs great directors — there's nothing stopping it from getting better and better except for these bad structural decisions. You've got the third season — these problems are very fixable.