This week’s episode of Treme pulled a dirty trick on us right at the start: Toni Bernette’s in her kitchen and a male voice is singing and she follows it to the dining room and it’s Creighton, large as life and twice as cheerful, in Hawaiian shirt and panama hat, with garlands round his neck, and the scene is superlit, and it’s obviously a dream, and Toni is acting like he’s only been in Hawaii all this time, and Sofia’s dressed up for the parade and she’s smiling and talking to her Mom,and we know it’s a dream, and Crei pops a hat on Toni’s head so that though she’s in pyjamas and dressing gown, she’s costumed, and they’re out through the door and dancing and it’s oh so bright outside.
And Toni’s in bed and there’s a smile on her face, until she wakes from her dream and then it changes. And it’s heartbreaking, and my heart breaks again.
And from there on it’s pretty much more of the same as last week which, though I don’t mean to denigrate the series, makes it difficult to talk about. There isn’t the same sense of urgency as in season 1, the sense that everyone in their different stories, are part of the same thing. There doesn’t seem to feel to be the same degree of interplay between characters.
Some of this is the introduction of Nelson Hidalgo, taking us across ‘the line’ and onto the other side, among the forces that everyone was struggling against. Equally, the promotion of Terry Colson to cast is doing a similar job, by placing us amongst the NOPD and giving us a sympathetic character, trying to do a better job.
And Janette’s removal to New York, and the fact that she’s beginning to mingle with Delmond – who manages to get Albert to come to NY for a couple of days – is splitting the focus and furthering the feeling that there is no connection between the characters (even as I just said two of them are now moving into each other’s spheres!), and that only place connects their stories.
But that isn’t borne out by the actuality. Some stories are overlapping. Sonny was doing good with Antoine’s band until his lateness, after a warning, cost him his place. Antoine’s appointing a straw boss, someone to do the admin, and the first fine is his, for missing a gig to sit in with Henry Butler, who’s practically auditioning for a world tour that could see Antoine in Japan. He’s also starting to take over his music class, expanding the curriculum, so to speak. Big Chief Albert’s definitely giving up. Not going to do Mardi Gras this year. Delmond visits him in Houston, tempts him to New York, where he’s been sewing. Albert’s his usual, self-contained, don’t want nuthin’, don’t need nuthin’, certainly ain’t gunna ask for nuthin’ self only worse, though we see he’s touched by Delmond having sewn – and sewn well – something for the Big Chief’s costume.
Sofia finally realises, or learns, from one of her schoolfriends, that Crei’s death was suicide, driving an even deeper wedge between her and Toni. Toni’s having a nice lunch with Terry, and inviting him to the Pigeontown Steppers Parade: smacks of maybe not a romance but something personal there, which maybe isn’t that comfortable for Colson. The Pigeontown Steppers get the money they need to march off Nelson, tipped off by Councilman Oliver Thomas. Nelson’s getting tips from people.
LaDonna’s equilibrium is shattered again when the Police arrest a couple of thugs and she identifies the photos. Janette’s back in New Orleans for the second time this season, flying down to help Jacques who’s been threatened with deportation as an illegal immigrant (a contrast in Chef’s as Picard lets her go graciously – but then this does involve a sous-chef!).
Annie’s spending more time with Harley at the moment than she is with Davis, whose starting to slip back into his really-wish-I-was-a-black-rebel mindset. She’s still trying to learn how to write songs. He takes her to see John Hiatt, and she analyses, quite perceptively, in terms of New Orleans’ current circumstances a song he wrote twenty years earlier; “that’s what makes it a great song,” Harley concludes. The girl might be going to get there.
If she does, it would get her out of there. If Antoine tours, it would get him out of there. LaDonna’s not going to come back from Baton Rouge just yet. Treme‘s toying with an exodus it is deliberately not advertising. Interesting.
We’re halfway through season 2, Treme‘s longest season. Where are we going? With the flow, people, with the flow.