I’d hesitate a long time before calling any episode of Treme a flop, but this is the first so far which failed to convince me completely. This was an hour of rolling, following the experiences of our cast, but it was too much an extension of the season-opener, last week, in passively standing by and letting things move slowly.
Not that there wasn’t any movement at all, it just felt as if it was only in inches. On one level that’s good, it’s what David Simon (who wrote this episode) has always aimed for: real life, in all its awkward refusal to conform to dramatic presentation. On the other, it’s not always good to watch. With only eleven episodes in total in season 2 (the longest season), time has to be considered as a factor.
What did we see? Antoine’s got the bug to set up his own band. He has a vision, of the music, the clothes, he’s talking to people, getting a line-up. It’s maybe a foundation, but for now it’s just building work.
The same goes for the newly-arrived Nelson Hidalgo, already into the hustle. he’s plugged himself into a network, got his first commission, is hiring crews to do his first job. Easy and smooth, all smiles. Early days yet, but the suspicion lingers: why is it so easy, why are rich white males making it so easy for a johnny-come-lately Latino with nothing behind him to claim a share of the pot? Is the pot that damned big that everyone can dip in and there’s still more left? Or is there something waiting in the background, some hook to reel in Nelson’s money just as he thinks it’s his?
We get scenes from the life. Sonny gets robbed on the street by two enterprising young boys playing the classic dodge, one to distract and one to run off with the money jar. Annie and Davis are settled in together, and her sweetness and all-round Annie-ness (yes, I know, but I really love how Lucia Micarelli plays her) is rubbing off on him. It doesn’t stop him getting fired by his altogether shit of a station manager, but he’s no longer screaming self-entitlement and privilege. And she goes to his family for Thanksgiving and gets on with them far better than he does.
In contrast, Toni and Sofia are not doing well. There’s no talk, not from Sofia (India Ennenga makes no dialogue very effective). Toni’s taken on a new case, a guy from Massachusetts who just wants to know the name of the street on which his son died. Maybe it’s another cause, like Delmo, we’ll see. But Toni’s getting seriously worried abut her daughter, who’s now started sneaking out, dressing up to look more than her age, and drinking.
Out of town, in New York, Janette’s still having a shitty time of it. A well-respected food critic savages New Orleans, the city and its over-rated cuisine. Chef Broulard (who doesn’t care if people leave because the food preparation takes too long) singles her out for treatment that, whilst it isn’t savage, angry, full of f-bombs, is worse for being patronising. Then the guy she’s brought home to fuck empties her wallet before leaving to do this thing he gotta do. Come home, girl.
Delmond’s in town for Thanksgiving. He has a new CD out. Big Chief Albert though is going through depression. Clarke Peters has built Albert as a rock, completely certain, unwavering. But he’s lost the never-his-but-still-inhabited bar he’d made his and the Tribe’s base, the insurance check for his losses is a joke, and when Delmond calls Practice, Albert diesn’t show.
Have I missed anyone out? Only LaDonna, whose bar is slowly dying. She’s thinking of live music, Eric is(silently) thinking of shutting the place and selling.
But it’s all just building blocks, with little in it to invoke enthusiasm now, only in a future that we trust to unroll over nine more weeks. Not a flop. But not great either. In episode 3, I trust.