Treme: s04 e03 – Dippermouth Blues


An odd, almost dangerous episode, to run as the midpoint of a season of only five. With time as short as it is, it was a perverse yet entirely typical step to base an entire episode around New Year’s Eve to Twelfth Night and immediately after, with all the steps tiny and private ones, leading towards no conclusions, final or temporary.

We begin on New Year’s Eve, with Davis alone in a fairy-light decked studio, playing and talking seriously about jazz. He’s more his typical self when the bar he’s supposed to play, enabling him to quit music (again), is closed down without warning, a victim of noise control licencing that threatens to destroy live music on Rampart street and which, through Toni Bernette, Davis hopes to challenge.

Janette’s out of champagne, and customers, by 9.45pm, unable to get credit for more. She’s out of her mind too, taking Davis back into her bed, and she’s shit out of luck on her contract with the egregious Tim Feeney: maybe she could call her restaurant ‘Janette’s’ her old-fashioned parody of a bow-tied lawyer suggests.

Antoine’s concerned about Jennifer, who’s gone missing since Cherise was killed. He and Desiree go hunting for her, finding her dreaming outside a club in which a band of young girls play. With the thought that if she trains she could be one of the Chosen Ones herself, the Bapistes tempt her back to band practice.

Antoine gets two moments. In the second, he has twenty four hours to teach a young white actor how to look authentic playing the ‘bone to ‘Dippermouth Blues’, written and recorded by the man this kid of an unknown is playing. A black musician, from New Orleans. A message sent, and received.

We’re nearly halfway through when Terry Colson walks into the squadroom to find the Feds raiding the place. Everyone’s blaming him, and why not? His FBI connection won’t use him on the stand, much as Terry wants to testify, to drag his own career down if he has to: he manufactured evidence to set a trap: he’s tainted. Toni will support him: she’s still following the case of the lad who died in episode 1, a wholly preventable death, a pattern of destruction. How far will things go? I doubt we’ll see. The response to Terry is a dog turd on his car bonnet and a spray-painted ‘Snitch!’ on his car windows.

Annie T gets a warning from her manager, who doesn’t turn up when he should, but instead sends a little girl in his place, an enthusiastic young woman, younger than Annie, eager to meet her. The choice must be made: either accept his advice, sack the band, move on, move up, or sack the manager and start again.

LaDonna has become accepted in the Lambreaux family, for her devotion to Albert, who’s still the stubborn bugger we’ve seen from the very beginning. Albert’s holding out for Mardi Gras. He’s gonna walk. But the signs are not good that he will last to do so. Who will lead the Indians? Tradition says that goes to the Wildman, but the Wildman reckons that Albert will want another this year, if it can’t be him. Delmond faces up to the shock of what may be asked of him.

Slow steps, tiny steps, advancing no whit ways. The middle of the end. Soon, a Black President will be inaugurated.One of the two remaining episodes is bound to show that. Which one, I wonder?

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