Monday, December 09, 2013


Treme No. 33: This City

BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.

By Edward Copeland
Albert (Clarke Peters) seems unusually upbeat, pacing about his doctor's office, glancing out his window and commenting upon the unusually warm December day. He even tells Dr. Powell (Cordell Moore) that he feels as if he's overflowing with energy, but the doctor insists Lambreaux sit down. He describes Albert's mood as the "Indian Summer" effect and reports that the latest scans indicate that his cancer has spread to his liver. Albert shuffles out to the lobby where Davina (Edwina Findley) waits for him. She senses that her father didn't get good news, but Albert stays silent and gives his daughter a pat and a grin as the leave the building. (The credits give the first onscreen indication of the final season's cost-cutting measures as India Ennenga who plays Sofia and Michiel Huisman who portrays Sonny don't have their names present in the credits since they don't appear in this episode.)

Antoine (Wendell Pierce) to find all the students gathered in a circle and chattering. Robert (Jaron Williams) informs him that Cherise's boyfriend was shot and the teen girl (Camryn Jackson) was with him at the time. Batiste asks if her boyfriend had been involved in anything bad, but Jennifer (Jazz Henry) tells him that Cherise said no. Cherise isn't in class, hiding at home and frightened. Antoine urges the class to take their seats.

After the trip to the doctor's, Albert makes Davina drive him to some of his old haunts from growing up, beginning with the Seventh Ward, though he tells his daughter that no one called it that. "Some called it Creoleville…There were whites here, blacks too. Folks with Choctaw Indian in 'em, French blood too. High yellows," he tells her. Davina asks if this preceded segregation and he answers in the affirmative, explaining it really got bad in the 1960s when a white friend sat with them at the back of the bus and set off the driver who threw them all off. In the middle of Albert's tour, the show interrupts the flow with Toni (Melissa Leo) arriving at the home of the Gildays, the parents of the man who died in the Orleans Parish jail. A short scene of Toni at the door before returning to Albert and Davina. We do return to the Gilday home where Toni convinces Mr. and Mrs. Gilday (John Joly, Julie Ann Doan) to let her launch a wrongful death inquiry, including bringing in an outside coroner for an outside coroner. "We can't rely on the coroner's office, not in Orleans Parish," Toni tells the Gildays. This episode, "This City" (written by George Pelecanos, directed by Anthony Hemingway), repeats the exact bizarre cutting technique in the sequence that follows. We see Antoine knocking on Cherise's door, but — instead of just going in and seeing the scene where he talks to the girl and warns her to be aware of her surroundings — we cut to the shortest of scenes where Janette (Kim Dickens) and Jacques (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) shop for produce at a cart and Janette gets served a cease-and-desist order from Tim Feeny, ordering her not to use Desautel's in the name of her new restaurant. (Granted, drive time might have been needed to account for the different sites Albert points out to Davina, but it's pointless to show both Toni and then Antoine at separate doors and then play the short scenes in the entirety later. The Janette scene really sticks out. She could have been served anywhere, anytime. In fact, the scene isn't even necessary. The information gets conveyed completely in a scene at the restaurant with Davis later. These quick, separated scenes occur a lot in this outing but I'm ignoring them here on out in this no-frills recap. Thankfully, of the final five episodes, "This City" happens to be the only one reminiscent of the worst of Season Two.)

Delmond (Rob Brown) travels to New York and records with Terence Blanchard, who offers the younger Lambreaux more upcoming work on his tour for the album, but Del hedges, given the latest news on Albert's health and his impending fatherhood.

Annie (Lucia Micarelli) attends the Best of the Beat Awards held at the House of Blues on Decatur Street and wins best song. Marvin (Michael Cerveris) congratulates her, but Annie brushes it off as being fortunate while Frey tells her hard work earned her that honor. He also brings up the subject of dumping Bayou Cadillac for his Nashville musicians, insisting that Annie's band will understand. "I'm gonna make this record my way. That's why you hired me," Frey declares when Annie resists firing the musicians before taking the stage to perform "This City" in memory of Harley.

In that scene I referred to, Janette informs Davis (Steve Zahn) of Feeny's legal move and the two (mostly McAlary) unleash new, creative vulgar phrases for the businessman. They also discuss the costs with removing Janette's last name from the restaurant's sign, its menu and even her chef's uniform. Janette makes Davis smile though when she informs him that she's going home with him that night.

When Del returns to New Orleans, he finds his sister quite upset. Albert won't take any more chemotherapy, intent instead on concentrating on his outfit for Mardi Gras and the impending birth of his grandchild, which he insists will be a boy. Davina can't understand why Del isn't more upset, but he tells her that the doctor told them further chemo might not help much and they should honor Albert's wishes. "We should start preparing for what's inevitable," Delmond says as he takes his sobbing sister in his arms. Antoine stops by GiGi's to give her some child support for Randall and Alcide, but asks LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) why she still gives him that suspicious look now that he holds a regular job. "I've had a habit of doubting you for a long time. Maybe too long," LaDonna admits. As they talk about overcharges for the wiring, a tune playing by Gary Walker and the Boogie Kings and how Larry has carried the load for far too long when it comes to caring for the boys, LaDonna confesses to Antoine, "I like you better now than when we were married." Antoine smiles. "I had a growth spurt, I guess," he responds as the two do a little dance to the "Who Needs You So Bad?" with the bar separating them. During another meeting with LaFouchette (James DuMont) about the high amount of deaths in the Orleans Parish jail, Officer Billy Wilson (Lucky Johnson) stops by to taunt Toni (Melissa Leo) over her inability to nail him in the death of Joey Abreu.

(One thing I love is when series with disparate casts — or castes — create situations where these characters interact. My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks stand as just two examples of shows that do this well as does Treme, which creates one of the best in the scene that follows.) Nelson (Jon Seda) takes C.J. (Dan Ziskie) to lunch to meet Davis, proposing he might make a good liaison for them between the local music scene and the jazz center project, though he admits he's rough around the ages. McAlary does his best to be on his best behavior, citing his record label, disc jockey job and musical heritage tour as qualifications. He warns Liguori that he speaks his mind, but C.J. tells him he would expect nothing less. The banker then recalls McAlary's quixotic political campaign (in Season 1) when Davis planned to renamed the New Orleans Hornets the New Orleans Mormon Tabernacle Choir to shame Utah into returning the name Jazz back to the team. Davis also reminds him of his plan of Pot for Pot Holes. Unfortunately, Davis remembers who C.J. Liguori is as well — the banker who is one of the biggest GOP fund-raisers in the state and was involved in the Greendot program. Davis admits to boycotting his bank for 10 years. "I was wondering where that three hundred dollars went," C.J. comments drily while continuing to eat.

Hey Twin Peaks fans, a club exists in New Orleans called One Eyed Jacks and Annie goes there to see Lucero perform (in front of red curtains no less) before hooking up with her occasional boyfriend, its lead singer, Ben Nichols.

Nelson finds Janette's new place, where Davis happens to be, and remarks how much better her food is than what's being served at her old place. She fills him in on the Feeny details and how she's going to try to appeal to his humanity to use her name. McAlary asks Hidalgo how he thinks his chances for being a community liaison for C.J went, but Nelson admits that he thinks Liguori plans to go another way. Davis gulps when realizing he lost a $30,000 job.

Murder never stops in New Orleans and when Colson (David Morse) arrives at another crime scene to discover his men fiddling about he also learns the victim is Cherise.

Toni tries to get FBI Special Agent Collington (Colin Walker) interested in the Orleans Parish in-custody deaths, but he admits to a full plate. Toni can't contain her anger since no movement has happened on the Abreu case she gave them. "Sphinx move faster than you fucking feds," she spits.

No humanity can be found in Tim Feeny (Sam Robards) who tells Janette that he plans to sue over a Times-Picayune article where she extolled fine cuisine over chain-style dining. She can forget about getting her name back as well. He even lets her pick up the tab.

"That sweet girl," Antoine says when Colson and Detective Nikolich (Yul Vazquez) question him about his meeting with Cherise two days prior. It turns out her boyfriend had been wearing one of his older brother's shirts and was killed by thugs he had a beef with from the Iberville projects. Nikolich offers the visibly shaken and upset Antoine that if it's any comfort, they've identified the killers and just have to locate them to arrest them for the crimes. "No sir, that's no comfort at all," Antoine responds. (Pierce brings to the table whatever is needed, even if that mostly ends up being Antoine's more comical side, but when he shows us Batiste's other layers, especially in this dramatic scene of devastation, he's even more of a wonder to behold. While so many members of this talented ensemble deserve award recognition, this scene reminds me that Pierce might be the most glaring Emmy oversight in addition to the series itself. Perhaps next year a going-away present.) LaDonna cooks Albert a dinner at his house as the share a dinner date alone. Later, the talk turns to mortality as Albert reminisces about many of his old friends, all gone, and even his late wife, who he admits LaDonna reminds him of in many ways. "When you get right down to it, death is an ordinary thing," Lambreaux admits while lying on his sofa, his head resting in LaDonna's lap.

Terry returns to Toni's house to find her doing the dishes. He tries to ask about her day, but she brushes it off, though he tells her about Cherise's murder and tells her they know the killer, but just have to find her. Toni erupts, asking if they'll lose the evidence and screw it up. She finally admits being shaken up by Officer Wilson's taunt and the snail-like crawl of the feds to take any action on the Abreu murder among other cases she gave them. She brings up the Orleans Parish in-custody deaths, but Colson trying to keep the situation calm says precisely the wrong thing by explaining that's the sheriff's department and not under his department's supervision. She blows up and storms up. (After all these years, even when Toni felt scared enough to send Sofia away when the NOPD harassed them, she still maintained her optimistic faith in justice winning out. Toni appears broken. (In the 33 episodes of Treme so far, Melissa Leo always has proved spectacular, but in this brief scene, seeing that tireless champion Toni Bernette break down and admits she feels the system is rigged beyond repair, Leo delivers another amazing piece of work. Morse, who stands calmly and lets her vent without trying to quell her fears or say she's wrong, performs at her level as the sounding board who knows to stay out of her way. One other note: The school Antoine teaches at, Theophile Jones Elie, was called an elementary school when introduced in the second season. The school still bears that name, but I wondered about how the school systems break down in New Orleans, since it seemed odd that 14- and 15-year-olds still would attend an elementary, but Colson describes Cherise as a middle school student. Still unclear, but who knows?)

Larry (Lance E. Nichols) carries a below-freezing demeanor when LaDonna shows up to give him Antoine's money for the boys. He balks when she suggests taking Randall and Alcide with her. Larry asks if she means to the Residence Inn or the room above the bar. They're best with him and unless she wants to talk about coming home. LaDonna asks him to tell the boys she was there and leaves.

That night, outside Theophile Jones Elie, a candlelight vigil takes place for Cherise and all the other young people slain on the streets of New Orleans. Young Jennifer even speaks on behalf of Cherise and all the other young people. "We love this city, but it hasn't loved us back," the teen tells the crowd.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: I almost got this no-frills update up last night, but my stamina and fingers failed me. Health circumstances this week make a recap of this season's third episode unlikely, but I'll try to return for the fourth episode and the finale.

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Excellent recaps of Treme! I appreciate the episodes so much more after reading them.
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