Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Down In the Treme: Episode 5, “Shame Shame Shame”


Two Charge Shot!!! writers duck into New Orleans for a taste of David Simon’s new show, “Treme.” Hit the jump for their take on Episode 5. Spoilers ahoy.

Rob: Can the proverbial 'other shoe' start to fall in a city that's already been screwed sideways by a hurricane?

Jordan: In David Simon's world, I guess it can. I was just settling into a groove in Simon's NOLA. Around the forty-minute mark, I even had my angle for this post mapped out. I was going to talk about how "Treme" was beginning to morph into a slightly edgy travelogue. Davis' recording sessions, Janette's special meal for the big-time chefs; the whole thing was starting to feel almost safe.

Rob: And then, in the middle of the first post-Katrina Second Line (parade), some body opens up with a handgun and shoots three people.

Jordan: I was going for a slightly subtler segue, but anyone who listens to the podcast knows that ain't yo style. Yeah, some dudes get shot. And I'll be damned if Mr. Simon doesn't know how to create some truly traumatizing violence. Juxtaposing it with documentary-style footage of people reuniting at the Second Line made the whole thing feel unnervingly legit.

Rob: As you said, the shooting happens in the last 20 minutes of the episode. Things were looking pretty sunny before that, with everyone getting a little much-needed break. Davis McAlary cuts a campaign EP for a freshly-hatched, potentially harebrained, run for city council; some famous chefs drop in Jannette's struggling restaurant and sing the praises of some tasty-looking shrimp dish; Ladonna gets to personally tie a civil suit on the contractor/charlatan who never fixed her roof. And the Second Line, before it went all "Wire," was a thrill to watch. When it's good in NOLA, it's good.

Jordan: Sorta. But the great thing about "Treme" is how Simon hints at all that rage simmering just beneath the surface. Like the scene where Albert goes to confront the NOLA politician who refuses to reopen the housing projects? I got chills when he put his hand on dude's chest. Lambreaux's got some serious shit behind those tired eyes.

Rob: Or the guy who decks McAlary. Turns out, living in the Treme doesn't give a trust-funded white kid the right to drop the n-bomb. I'm wondering if his council run is actually going anywhere. Simon's too much of a realist to shuttle McAlary into City Hall in his present state. Plus, it runs the risk of being insufferably corny. Like you said last time - Simon has a talent for letting people not change.

Jordan: So big picture. Is this the sign of a sea change for the show? Is this shit really going to hit the fan now that the criminals have figured out they can still rob people? Or will "Treme" get back to its enjoyable, if not particularly Earth-shattering, groove? And, perhaps more importantly, which way do you want it to go?

Rob: This hasn't been a show of sea-changes, or even directions. That's what I enjoy about "Treme" - it's more a tableau, a sense-of-place exercise. That said, it needs to go somewhere. This is, after all, TV, and a show can only be so plotless. As Prof. Creighton Bernette notes, we're nearing Mardi Gras season. Go we down the shitter or go we to the stars, we're going to Fat fucking Tuesday.