Treme: s01 e06 – Shallow Water, Oh Mama


We slide over easy into the back half of the series, a cool, laid-back episode for the most part that saw most people spinning their wheels whilst concentrating on advancing only a couple of the stories.

This feel came from the episode’s opening scenes. The open itself centred upon David McAlary and his joke of a campaign for City Council, roaming the streets in a truck, surrounded by tall, slim, beautiful women handing out copies of his campaign CD (for $3 each). Funny in its way, it was the epitome of all self-centred jerks who think that the system will crawl away whimpering and broken if they point out its absurdity, and the people will turn their iconoclasm into a raging movement, sweeping all before it, which only happens in fiction, not real-life.

Please excuse me for that rant: I really don’t like Davis McAlary, which is a testament to how well Steve Zahn plays him.

After that, we swung round several of the characters, doing nothing significant, doing things and preparations. Only three stories made significant movements this week.

The briefest of these was with Annie and Sonny. He’s getting more and more fucked up, spending more and more time high. It’s affecting his performances on the street, and his attitude is getting to Annie. Sonny’s getting ever more resentful of Annie getting gigs – real gigs – elsewhere without him. She wants to do them, she wants to play. He complains that it ‘dilutes’ what they’re doing. When she turns on him, angry at his resentment, contemptuous of the idea of her real gigs ‘diluting’ their playing in the street for small change, Sonny slaps her across the face.

Annie leaves immediately, in silence, taking her violin. She goes to an all night cafe, but in the morning she comes back. He’s apologetic, says some of the right things, says lots of the same old things, blames it on being high, it wasn’t him, promises it will never happen again. Lucia Micarelli is wonderfully expressive in saying nothing.We’ve all heard it all before.

The most devastating is Janette Desautel. The restaurant’s reached the end of the line. She can’t pay her suppliers.  She can’t bring herself to ask the staff to go one week without pay, though she manages to ask them by saying she can’t ask them. In a lesser story, they all rally round, wholeheartedly, but this isn’t a lesser story. The next day, not even Jacques is there. Janette takes a few things, leaves a call ringing, locks the door.

There are several scenes with Delmond Lambreaux, on the road, playing with his band, ending up in New Orleans. I mention these here for the screen-time he got, and for my slowly growing ability to distinguish between the cool jazz he plays, and the New Orleans jazz he avoids playing.

But the bulk of things revolves around the Burnettes this week. Toni’s on the road to Texas, tracking down the last Police Officer who might have pulled in Delmo. The guy’s quiet, polite, but he isn’t relinquishing the beer bottle in his hand. He might recognise Delmo as the guy he pulled up for running a red light but he can’t honestly say. It’s another dead end until he mentions arresting this guy on an old warrant. Toni tracks down the carbon in the abandoned police car and she has her physical evidence.

We’re starting to watch Creighton drown under too many pressures. His agent arrives from New York, not to start reclaiming Random House’s advance, but because Creighton’s internet fame has made him hot and they want to cash in. They want something contemporary, in the style of his rants – “Fuck the Fucking Fuckers”? he suggests as a title – and they want his novel, soon.

Only they want it to cash in. It’s about the 1927 flood, but they want something Katrina-esque shoehorned in. John Goodman’s massive form visibly shrinks. He’s hurt and resentful. He’s refusing, as a writer, to accept it. And it’s ever more clear that his ‘fame’ for his YouTube videos is embarrassing him even more. It’s not what he wants to be known for, he doesn’t want to be known, he wants to do it from hiding, from some form of protective covering, some immunity.

And he’s helping Sophie with her costume for the parade. They’re all going to wear costumes, identical costumes, all white, with a hood and with tails coming off their heads. Toni can’t guess what it’s meant to be, even though the viewer has got it in one, especially if he’s once seen Woody Allen’s Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex. 15 year old Sophie is a sperm. It’s to walk in front of a carriage with a giant papier-mache Mayor ‘pleasuring himself’.

Toni’s disgusted, and angry with Creighton. She won’t go along. But she does, in her own sperm costume, because when she takes the physical evidence to the assistant DA, proving New Orleans has got Delmo, an innocent man locked up for nearly six months, they won’t join her in a Joint Motion. It’s policy. So from embarrassment at having to go in Monday morning and try to talk serious business with people who only want to talk about her daughter and husband dressing up as sperm on Sunday night, Toni dons her own suit. Fuck the Fucking Fuckers.

Down in the Treme, just me and my baby…

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