Objectively, there was little about episode 3 that was any different from episode 2, but my response to this was completely different. In part this was due to the elements in this episode, the individual storylines, starting to firm up, to take more distinctive shapes, but a larger part of it was me: the place I’m in in my head right now isn’t a good place to be, and I was grateful for the chance to be in another place, to immerse myself in the culture and milieu of a completely different place and time.
There was another of those brilliantly effective opens, the genius of which you don’t really understand until it’s done. A sweet, low-key violin theme, underpinned by piano, meanders like the images do, silent snippets of early in the day, people being the people they are. This leads us to a Gallery, an exhibition of photos of Katrina, of New Orleans under water. A piano/violin duet are playing for the visitors, and of course the violinist is Annie.
Thhere’s not much more of her this week. She leaves her pianist to improvise whilst she looks at the pictures, and she finds one of Sonny (I was ahead of the camera there), on a roof, helping get a baby handed out. A weird moment for Annie.
But that was it for her, and there was a theme among the stories this week, and it wasn’t a very nice one. Davis has been checking Janette’s house for mail and discovers its been robbed, very thoroughly indeed. Janette flies back from New York to try to resolve everything in one day, having been lectured very patronisingly and demeaningly by Chef Broulard about commitment, and character.
Sonny’s slide continues. He’s getting nowhere and the rate accelerated when his pad was raided by the cops and he got away by not having gotten home quite early enough. But the cops left the door open and when he did venture back, the place had been robbed and trashed. His guitar had been taken, his keyboard just smashed, like everything else, because those who don’t give no shit don’t give no shit.
But worse, far worse, was LaDonna. She was closing up the bar, on her own, but there’s some mumbling guy outside, seeking directions hedoesn’t seem that eager to follow. The Police won’t come out: it’s not an emergency, at least not yet. But when LaDonna figures it’s finally safe to go outside, it ain’t safe at all, and there’s two of them, and they’re inside…
The ‘R’ word is never mentioned but enough is done, in terms of examination, treatment and medication at the hospital to exclude any doubts, without any sense of hedging round things. All there was was the determination not to be melodramatic, to be human. But above all, there was Khandi Alexander. Anybody who knows her only for CSI: Miami saw her operating on maybe one-tenth of her ability. Here, in the complete change in personality that follows the assault, the utter brokenness of the woman, she told us everything we needed to know just in who she became.
The ever-growing lawlessness of New Orleans was also a theme of Toni Bernette’s part of the mix. Pursuing the issue of the dead Arbea boy, with a degree of help from the ever-sympathetic Colson, Toni learns that the circumstances of his death were radically different from those few, empty words told to his father: his body was found inside a looted bar/hall, shoot through the head, with bullet casings on site. The evidence was memorable: lacking paper, the officer wrote his report on a paper plate he found within.
But that evidence went only so far and then vanished. Toni’s still pursuing, though Colson’s backed off this one. Toni’s also concerned about Sofia. Her YouTube rants are still channeling Crey, but she’s even more unresponsive to her mother. The best option seems to be an unpaid internship at City Hall, get into politics. Toni’s got an in with Councilman Thomas.
Which is more than Nelson Hidalgo has. It’s the first set-back to Nelson’s sweeping plans, and it’s everything to do with Thomas correctly identifying him as a carpetbagger, an out-of-stater here to siphon off large chunks of the money meant to aid New Orleans. There’s also an ambiguous scene where Nelson offers to take on his best demolisher – the builder guy LaDonna was trying to get fix his roof in season 1 – to work for him as Vice-President in charge of Demolition. The money was 5% plus any of the work the guy allots to himself. The man’s suspicious and I couldn’t work out whether he’d said yay or nay to it.
Who else? Antoine Batiste and his Soul Twisters were in rehearsal much of the episode, and real fun we had with them. Desiree is less impressed: if they want to get a mortgage, they have to have two incomes, which means Antoine’s got to get a Job. She’s got him an interview at a school so he’s got to wear a suit. Unfortunately, the appointment’s at going home time. Antoine emerges from his taxi, looks in horror at the dear little boys and girls enthusiastically milling around, and gets straight back into it.
Delmond’s on the road, playing to acclaim, but not to audiences that show wild enthusiasm for him. His CD’s sold 2,300 copies, but he’s not even aware of the internet, of Facebook, MySpace, web-pages, and when his manager (good old Jim True-Frost) shows no enthusiasm either, Del sacks him.
And to round things of and draw a ring, Big Chief Albert’s finally got his appointment at the insurers and all his paperwork is in order. He’s sat next to Janette… who hasn’t got an appointment, is due back in New York tomorrow, and who I predict will shortly have all the time in the world on her hands.
Shapes. Patterns. A little more focused. A little more kinetic. An hour in New Orleans with other people’s lives. Just what I needed.