Treme: s04 e05 – …To Miss New Orleans


One last time

Of course it ended with Mardi Gras. And with the song that gave the final episode its title, played over a montage that took place some time in the future, showing the fruition of certain things, showing that life never really ends.

Everyone was here. Sofie Bernette returned from college to drag her mother out to Mardi Gras. Sonny, happy and resolved with Linh, was led back into street gigging again by a wife who understands him and loves him. L.P. Everett made no traction over New Orleans. These were our minor players today, showing their faces so we could see them one last time, and say our private goodbyes in the knowledge that their lives continue to develop.

There was no place for Clarke Peters, except in a photo of Big Chief Albert Lambreaux, in costume, the prettiest, behind the bar at LaDonna’s bar, where the Indians rehearsed for Delmond’s walk as Big Chief: over his reservations, he stood in his father’s shoes (or boots), just once.

There were departures. Terry Colson got his transfer back to the Eighth authorised but, as he said, too little, too late. He testified before the Grand Jury then handed in his papers, to preserve his pension. He’d rendered his job untenable, burned his boats in New Orleans, went to Indianapolis, where his sons are, breaking up his brief relationship with Toni, who threw herself back into her work.

Nelson Hidalgo signed himself out of his contracts in New Orleans, to go to Galveston, but not without a goodwill gesture on departure: knowing that the National Jazz Centre was dead, dead, DEAD, he conned Feeney into accepting an exclusive on restaurants there in return for his letting Janette off the hook about using her own name.

Delmond Lambreaux half leaves, returning to New York where his music plays, but keeping a foot in New Orleans, promising to bring his child up in the tradition. You knew Big Chief Albert would be honoured.

And Annie has moved on and upwards, towards the career her talent demands. She had to make compromises along the way, accept being prettified with expensive dresses and short skirts (that was a real handicap) and the glossy look, but she insisted on only making her own compromises to her music.

Davis McAlary turned serious now he’s forty, intent on becoming a sober citizen (don’t laugh). He even told Janette he loved her, which she was wise enough not to repeat back to him. She’s not in love with him anyway. I doubt anyone ever truly would be. It didn’t last. Still, he’s mellowed, so we’ll have to settle for that.

Antoine got the schoolband a rehearsal space through the good auspices of a fellow musician. He got his boys living with him to get straightened out. He got called on to play with Dr. John. He got a wandering eye at Mardi Gras, but only the eye wandered this time. LaDonna got scared when gunshots were fired, but she and her boys escaped unscathed.

Have I left anyone out? The series didn’t. Only Clarke Peters and John Goodman were missing, and though I wondered if an accommodation would be made, especially for the former, there was no trickery, no dream sequences or flashbacks. The dead stayed dead and we missed them.

And their lives go on. Nothing ended except our ability to be with these people. The music went on and we closed on ‘…To Miss New Orleans’, and I will, and I’ll miss my weekly incursion into this musical gallimaufrey thaat’s already led to me buying a Lucia Micarelli CD…

The closing shot, after which all was silence, was of Davis’s pothole, decorated New Orleans style. Some things will never die.

This city won’t ever drown.

Treme: s03 e01 – Knock With Me – Rock With Me


New Boy

Rollin’ back on into town.

We’re six months on from the end of last season, twenty-five from Katrina, and as the new credits demonstrate, there’s a lick of paint brightening things up in New Orleans. This made for a relatively light tone to a lot of the episodes, as things seem to be going well for many of our cast, with only a few cloudy horizons being delved into initially.

Those for whom gloom is developing are Antoine, LaDonna and Terry Colson. And Nelson hidalgo’s still on the outside and looking for a way back in that isn’t opening as quickly as he would like. Our main trombonist is feeling hemmed in by his job, by being a houseowner, by having a wife who expects him to start acting like a damned grown-up. Particularly galling is how he gets arrested at the start for throwing the Police a finger when they bust up a night session honouring a dead musician, yet two guys whose charges are dismissed at the station become the ‘Treme Two’ and get all the publicity, and the gigs.

But all it takes is the length of one opening episode and the next night the Police turn up to escort the parade. Go figure.

LaDonna and Larry are staying with in-laws whilst they find a place in New Orleans to double as home and his Practice and that is not going to last. LaDonna’s sister-in-law looks down on her from a great height and you know LaDonna will always piss up. The tension is rife.

And Terry’s feeling the blues. He’s on his own out there in Homicide, the corrupt Captain’s gone, the detectives all hate him, the Deputy Chief won’t transfer him back, he hasn’t got Toni’s friendship any more, and his ex-wife ain’t letting the boys come visit whilst he still lives in a trailer. Colson is in isolation.

And Nelson still isn’t being let back in the game of FEMA money, not whilst the erstwhile Councilman Thomas is in Federal Prison and can yet drop a dime on him. So he tries to find another way in but his fresh-faced, boyish charm cuts no ice with the steely Mrs Mortensen, who cuts him off at the balls.

So these are our current losers. Everyone else looks like they’re on the up. Annie T. has her own band, is going down a storm, and she’s so gleeful she’s jumping Davis at 6.00am in a seriously shortie nightie which makes me seriously jealous (and I mean jealous, not envious) of Steve Zahn, who’s composing a Poverty Opera and getting Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry involved.

Janette’s going down big in New York and jumping Jacques’ bones in New Orleans, whilst breaking with the grand television tradition of women having sex by not keeping her bra on.

Toni and Sofia are on a much more even keel. Mom is still working the Arbrea case, and is finding a new ally in investigative journalist L.P. Everett (Chris Coy, new to this year’s cast). Sofia’s got a boyfriend, the musician guy outside the coffee shop whereshe works, and Toni’s cool about not having met him yet.

Delmond’s CD has been released to good reviews and decent advance sales. Albert’s proud of it, he’s even smiling, but he’s coughing a bit too.

Sonny’s going out with Linh, though her father still isn’t give in them enough leeway for much more than, say, half an hour’s kissing. He’s cut his hair, looks clean too.

Have I left anyone out? No, the show’s back on the road, the lives have resumed, but we are now nearer to the end than the beginning. There is now a time limit on what I am watching and I was oddly conscious of that from the beginning. Rock with me.

Treme: s02 e03 – On Your Way Down


Her episode

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.

Treme: s02 e01 – Accentuate the Positive


Hero or Villain? Or Mr In-Between?

So it rolls on. An oddly subdued, quiet and moving open set the scene, fourteen months after, seven months on, St Joseph’s Day in the graveyard, people visiting stones, Antonie Batiste playing at the stone of his mentor. Mostly silence around them, the first sounds of cars speeding up the day. Down in the Treme…

So where are we? We are where we always are in life. Some things are the same, some things have moved on, on being a direction that can be positive or negative, though the episode title, and the song itself, which pops up, invites us to accentuate the former, even as the City of New Orleans and what is happening to it, or rather not happening to it, nudges us very firmly in the direction of the latter.

David Morse, as Lt Terry Colson, and India Ennenga, as Sofie Bernette, have stepped up into main cast whilst there’s a new but old face in Jon Seda, of fond Homicide: Life on the Street memory, as newcomer Nelson Hidalgo, from Dallas, here to sweep up as much as he can get of that dinero that is undoubtedly lying around on the street for that sharp-minded guy who can seize the opportunity to make New Orleans the model 21st century city, eradicating crime, drugs and poor education. Or, in a word, White.

Let’s roll round everyone. Antoine and Desiree finally revisit their old home, like so many places irreperable. Antoine’s still gigging, but they need more money, regular money. Antoine’s starting to consider forming a band.

LaDonna’s mother’s moved up to Baton Rouge to live with them, but LaDonna’s still running the bar, and William’s even more urgent abut getting her to sell up, move out, come home to him. LaDonna’s heels are firmly dug in.

Big Chief Albert Lambreaux’s nose is firmly pushed out of joint. That bar he took over? That he made habitable and turned into his domain? The owner’s finally back and it’s his and the silent, resentful Albert has to find a new place.

Toni Bernette’s still crusading. She’s collaborating a lot more with Colson now, who’s job is being made worse by the rising street crime: a shooting in a bar where the increasingly drowning Sonny is drinking, a dead blonde on the street after a mugging. Sofie is still severely depressed over her Dad’s death, over the stasis in N’Awlins, the endless, ongoing struggle just to live a life. She’s followed in Cray’s shoes with a YouTube blog. Toni’s very worried.

Some people are out of town. Janette’s in New York, saucier in a restaurant with a genius chef of the explosive temper, this-is-not-fucking-good-enough, fuck you over to show that I can fuck you over kind.

Delmond Lambreaux’s career is advancing. The critics want to praise him for transcending New Orleans, for completely obliterating all trace of it from his music, and it is seriously pissing him off. It’s true and it’s only what he’s said himself, but Delmond still thinks of himself as New Orleans, even if he doesn’t know that yet: he can say that sort of stuff but they ain’t earned it.

And just as Sonny is falling downhill, musically at least, Annie’s ascending gloriously. She’s on a tour with The subdudes (they of the glorious a capella harmonies on Shawn Colvin’s version of ‘Tenderness on the Block’), a rising star, and her singing’s coming on too. She’s living with Davis McAlary now, and seriously impressed that he cleaned his pad for her homecoming, though she hasn’t seen the gloriously funny ‘cleaning’ taking place: thank the stars that we still don’t have Smell-o-Vision.

As  for Nelson, well, let’s keep our eyes on him. He’s there to make money in property, in redevelopment. He’s a smoothie, flirting with LaDonna at her bar, and she flirting back. Which side of the increasingly easy to see line are we talking about here?

Down in the Treme, just me and my baby. It rolls on.

Treme: s01 e10 – I could fly


Utterly magnificent. Treme has always been a thing of parts, co-advancing but without links beyond those of the natural interplay. When a creation is deliberately made that way, we look for the sum of the parts to exceed the whole, a phrase that automatically categorises the individual parts as weak, unsatisfying. But this first series has from the first been one where the whole equals the sum of the parts, and each part in itself has been magnificent.

This extended (80 minute) first season finale was a things both of endings and beginnings, but the endings predominated, and Khandi Alexander as LaDonna Batiste-Williams and Melissa Leo as Toni Bernette were superb as women struggling with loss, and having to stay in control. We began with Toni, trying to contain her fear, reporting Crei as missing, and not being allowed to continue in denial long, as his body was lifted from the river. Toni’s innate intensity burned all the stronger, the more so for having to allow daughter Sofia to scream, deny and mourn.

Midway, there was a scene where Crei’s abandoned car was found, in the car park. The Police moved in, but the sympathetic Lt Colson gave Toni time, privacy and permission to take anything personal.

Even before she got into the car, found Crei’s jacket, and his wallet, Toni was close to cracking as each and everyone of us would. Melissa Leo incarnated the pain of loss, the utter confusion that lies beyond it as you struggle to imagine what it even could be like without them, and to find in that wallet Crei’s last message, was beyond bearing, and she ran because there was no other choice betwen that and falling apart.

LaDonna was different. LaDonna had already experienced her loss, her brother’s death in the system. She’s been in control throughout, has had to be. Someone always has to be, to steer the ship onwards, do the things  that have to be done whilst everyone else gets the release of grief, helplessness, even hysteria. LaDonna elected herself into that role, the price of which being that you can’t crack up, you can’t just give in to loss and pain. You enable everyone else to do that, but you have to be strong and hold your emotion in.

It’s part of why she won’t authorise the second autopsy on Damo, won’t dig deeper into why he died, who was responsible. LaDonna’s carrying the eight for everyone and at the funeral, we see her struggling, and how hard a fight it is, to keep composed, to be the one around everyone must circle, and not to collapse because you can’t bear it an instant longer.

This led to a confusion in one viewer: mid-ceremony, a mobile phone rings as we focus on LaDonna, a phone  out of nowhere that no-one seems to answer. It’s not immediately clear but this ushers in an extended flashback, to the day of Katrina, the hours before Katrina. The division between present and past is deliberately blurred from the outset by having Janette arrive home at her parents, having seen her leave in the present before this begins.

For this flashback is mainly the run-through of everything Toni and LaDonna learned about Damo’s fateful day, but it expands to show everyone else we know, preparing and not-preparing for something that will change everything. These are our cast of characters, before they were affected, and as we see these glimpses of Before Disaster, we get time to recognise them as the people we already know. We are who we are, our natures don’t change that much after experiences like Katrina.

But LaDonna are Toni are not the only one in this episode, and there are indeed some endings, and maybe-beginnings, among this departure.

Janette is going back to New York, despite all Davis McAlary can do. He demands a day off her, a day in which to persuade her, by giving her N’Awleans in all its irreproducable glory, to stay. It’s a glorious day, and we find ourselves starting to like Davis, which I wouldn’t have bet on nine weeks ago. He goes back to work at the radio station, accepts and follows the rules, to raise money to record a CD of his music, he spends all  this time and effort to keep Janette here, not for his own selfish and lustful reasons, but because he genuinely believes in New Orleans as no better place to be, and in Janette as someone who is in place here.

It’s fun, but it’s all in vain. Janette’s booked her ticket before the Day. Jacques delivers her to the airport. Delmond Lambreaux’s there too, returning to New York now that St Joseph’s Day is done and the Indian Tribe under Albert has performed, without incident (more or less), and we see her back at her parents, but this is with Katrina brewing, so has she left or have we been fooled?

We like Davis even more by the end. Annie’s had to move out of her lodgings because the girl whose place it is is coming back. She goes back to Sonny, only to find a naked, tattooed girl in their bed. Sonny has to pull on pants to run after but she just walks away, back to him, not listening, not looking back. They have coffee later, try to sort out their relationship. Annie makes clear to him that she needs to play with whoever she wants, and he must accept it. We’ve already see her just chatting to the character Steve Earle is playing, whilst he’s writing a song. She’s putting herself down, a player not a writer, fearful of trying to sing her own compositions, but spontaneously she provides a couplet, sung sweetly. In the cafe, Sonny admits she is the better musician, and that’s she’s leaving him behind. “I wasn’t,” she says, and the past tense ends the conversation: he gets up and leaves.

Later, we see him composing, until frustration and rage causes him to smash his portable keyboard. He hits a bar, scores and sniffs cocaine, is last seen stumbling around at night, a calamity looking for somewhere to happen.

And Davis comes home after his Day for Janette to find Annie sat on his porch, his Party flyer in her hands. He said to come round anytime, can she crash. What did I do right? Davis wonders rhetorically, and you know I’m wondering about that too. He has a sofa. He can sleep there, she can have the bed. Endings. Beginnings.

All endings are beginnings unless you die. The Indians marched, in all their marginally compromised finery. They marched, in abandoned areas, with few followers, doing their traditional thing with due pride and dignity, into the night. And then three patrol cars, lights flashing, pulled up before them. Trouble was brewing, the threatened trouble, Albert the marked man. But a sergeant appeared, sent the cops home. Respect. Dignity, for once on both sides.

Albert achieved his goal, of marching on St Joseph’s Day. It’s an ending, but only for what was wanted. There is more to do, more to bring home.

The only one for whom this closing episode had no even temporary resolution was Antoine Batiste, spending most of it rehearsing and playing a gig with/for the legendary Alain Toussain, and not even in New Orleans. The music went well, but Antoine developed an itch for poker, and lost most of his $1,000.00 fee to his fellow players.

So Treme ended, for a season, in the only way it could end, without endings, just temporary pauses and not necessarily pauses either. I’ll be starting to watch season 2  next Thursday. That’s seven days of disciplining myself not to check imdb or Wikipedia: has Janette gone or not? Please, no spoilers.

Treme: s01 e09 – Wish Someone Would Care


Negation

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.

Treme: s01 e08 – All on a Mardi Gras Day


I make no apologies…

Something that I’m not immediately able to define has taken over me at the end of this episode, something that in a single instant stilled all the warmth and buoyancy of what came before. Not merely stilled it, but undermined it. A moment of chill, a moment of emotional shift that ran backwards across everything and everyone there had been, and left the feeling that it had always been there, and had been the only true underpinning of the day.

For this was Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the first Carnival since Katrina, and everyone’s going to give themselves up to the day, because it’s Mardi Gras, because it’s what New Orleans is. Little snapshots of everyone preparing in their own way.

Not everyone. Big Chief Albert Lambreaux’s going to miss it. Vindictively, the Police are keeping him in until Ash Wednesday, as punishment for last week. Delmond’s not into it, arguing that the effort and energy should be going into clean-up instead of something he’s emotionally distant from – though it doesn’t stop him getting laid.

LaDonna’s bearing the burden of her secret, but her face is growing ever more drawn, and before the day is out she’ll need support from her ex-husband, Antoine, protecting her from the angry builder she sued, helping stock the bar, massaging her tense shoulders, kissing her deeply.

And Creighton Bernette’s not feeling it. He takes Sofie for a walk, shows her some of the disaster areas, injokes The Big Easy (an Easter Egg I had to have explained for me). The Bernettes dress up in blue, costumes, masks, wigs, it’s all fun, but Crei can’t feel it. He’s going downhill massively. He has lost faith in New Orleans. It is dead, and it’s future is to be a ghost of its past.

Annie wakes up to find Sonny about to go. They were going to do Mardi Gras together but this is do what you want day, and he wants to do it without her. He wants to get high. And he does, and he gets a fuck. Annie goes alone, in costume, a pirate wench, and I know I say it every week, but she looked gorgeous and had I been at that Mardi Gras I would have followed her around all day just to enjoy the sight, except she bumps into Davis, who’s dressed as Jean LaFitte, and they spend the day together, and have a good time, and he isn’t an arsehole once (and I couldn’t believe it either) and sees her off in a taxi, alone, after midnight, with no more than a goodnight kiss.

And there is a treatise to be written about the sexist assumptions that create scenes like that, where the woman is the good one, who retains her purity, preserves her relationship-virginity in the face of her man shagging about unheedingly, a bit of a cliche in itself, but it would not apply here because we already have a sense of Annie as she is, and this is not simplistic good girl and bad boy, Annie as she is, as the person we understand her to be, and what we foresee happening.

Janette splits the day between work and play, her mobile grill going great guns then a change into white, tight fairy-top and short skirt, purple tights and wand, and bouncing around getting drunk, until she’s singing ‘Iko Iko’ at night, but she’s still on her own.

Antoine gets back late. What happened in the bar, after? Crei reads all his recent writing, rejects it. He gets pissed and sleeps on the porch. Toni has a cow at him, in case Sofia sees him. Albert gets released. The music’s been hot and loud wherever you go. It’s been a small Mardi Gras, but it’s been Mardi Gras, without defiance or bluster, at least so it seems. New Orleans is still New Orleans.

And we close on LaDonna, a close-up, first thing Ash Wednesday morning, the Catholic mark on her forehead, smoking. First thing. Carnival is over. At the Mortuarists. A body to reclaim, to bury, a secret to be shared. And that one undemonstrative moment on which we fade is the moment of all that dominates this episode and casts everything in the minimal light it throws.

I wish I didn’t have to wait,under the terms I’ve set myself. I wish I could binge the last two episodes, here and now. Get it over with. I am dreading what is to come.