I knew it was coming, and I watched the pieces lock into place throughout episode 9, even to the point that, when it was imminent, I knew how they would play it, and so they did. But Creighton Bernette’s suicide, though the dominant element of this episode, was not the only story bearing the sense of a closure.
It was there from the outset, an open of Annie and Sonny, sat by the river, breaking apart. It was only that Annie, for a while, wanted to play with other musicians, extend herself. Temporarily. But Sonny, demonstrating that horribly male instinct to want to control, made it about them and threw her out.
Naturally, he rapidly decides it was all a mistake, starts trying to build bridges back, but it’s like that first punch: nothing can ever really be trusted afterwards. Annie drifts from street gig to street gig, Sonny, when she decides to make peace, has already built a band round himself. I feel no fear for Annie, she’s far too obviously talented, and she arouses the instinct to care for her, look after her.
But, at least for a moment, Annie and Sonny’s path has forked and their joint story is at an end.
So too, it would seem, is Janette Desautel’s. Her parents are down from New York, to see the wreck of her restaurant, to plant the seed of her coming home, giving up being a chef. She rejects the idea, not wanting a future of marrying a lawyer and pumping out grandchildren. The guerilla chef business is going great guns, that is, until the outdoor gig she’s catering very successfully dissolves in torrential rain.
The roof’s fallen in on her apartment, she turns up at Davis’s to find the end of a massive, post-Mardi Gras party (for musicians and hot women, one of whom is not only amazingly gorgeous but is a stunning singer), to which she was not invited.
They spend the night in bed anyway, but in the morning, Janette talks about leaving, going back to New York. She loves New Orleans but it has beaten her.
LaDonna and Antoine did indeed fuck last week (don’t look at me, that was LaDonna’s exact word) but it was purely a Mardi Gras thing. She’s got Toni Bernette pushing her to agree an autopsy, pursue Damo’s death, find outwhodunnit, but she won’t take it no further. What does it matter, finding someone to hate, this is hard enough as it is? A guy from Texas, a roofer, turns up, set to fix the bar roof, and in two days too, with no extra payment. True, the family mausoleum has been ruined by Katrina and it’ll take $2,000 non-insured cash to fix it. She’s got $1,100 and won’t borrow the rest for her husband. At least, until Antoine lends her money, at which point, rather than be indebted to him, she phones up Larry.
Not all storylines, or should I say current concerns, are being put to bed. Big Chief Albert Lambreaux is preparing for the Tribe to march on St Joseph’s Night. Community Officer Lt Colson comes round to try to broker peace. This is the first we learn that the Tribes and their parades aren’t necessarily a blessing: last year, massive trouble was caused. The Indians do as they please, they don’t get Licences, they march through traffic, they ignore Police suggestions. But Colson can see nothing he’s saying will change Albert’s mind, even though he’s a marked man. That one’s for next week’s finale, with Albert commenting that sometimes the most important battles are the ones you know you won’t win.
But throughout all this is the rising, or descending arc of Crei Bernette’s ending. We see him in the lecture hall, trying to get an audience of young men and women interested in an important and vital book from the end of the Nineteenth Century. John Goodman exudes a massive calm and patience in the face of their complete indifference and unwillingness to understand what he’s saying. The book is beyond their experience as 21st Century students, they try to deal with it by pigeonholing it in modern terms, they don’t want to know.
At home, Crei manages two sentences of his novel, not even a line, then deletes them. He types rubbish when Sofia appears, to call him to dinner, so that he looks like working. Later, we just see a lit, blank screen.
It’s all there to see. Then one final day: an extra cheerful farewell to Toni, with a long kiss. Telling Soofia how pretty she looks. Wandering and drifting, savouring New Orleans. $20 in the hat for Annie’s playing. Taking a ferryboat ride across the river. Bumming a cigarette, telling the guy he gets it from to never let anyone tell him to quit. Standing by the rail, taking deep drags as the boat moves away from the dock. The guy with the pack looks across to him, moves away for a few seconds, returns. There’s no-one by the rail. Toni and Sofia are getting worried. Crei’s car is the only one left in the car park at night.
Crei’s story is over. It’s the second of two stops in Toni’s story in one episode, but this one is also a beginning. Life after suicide: how much did Crei really care about his wife and daughter that he puts this on them? We have one more week in which to find out and then it’ll be season 2.
But there was music in this episode, lots of it, live, hot, alive, keeping the flame burning even in an episode in which flames were going out.