Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Down in the Treme: Episode 7, “Smoke My Peace Pipe”


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 7. Spoilers ahoy.

Rob: None too soon, the "Treme" has found its legs. Prior to now, the series felt like a sense-of-place exercise - it had more flavor that nearly anything ever broadcast on HBO, yet it felt adrift. Now we have some answers - Ladonna's brother, lost in the New Orleans juidicial system following Hurricane Katrina, is dead. Janette's long-struggling restaurant folded, but she has opened up a charming, hardscrabble, genuine-article eatery. Albert Lambreaux's demonstration in a barricaded housing project made him a folk hero. Not only are we moving, we have direction.

Jordan: Creighton's finally started on his book, though he isn't really getting anywhere. Sonny continues to be a dickbag, I think so much so that it's starting to impact Annie's playing. How did you interpret her musical E.D.?

Rob: It's almost like the show telling us her Dutch, piano-playing boyfriend isn't a total jerk. Also, I kind of like that she can't play the fast pace and polka-ish rhythm of Cajun fiddle music. It says something about her character - she's more suited for smooth, sensuous music. Maybe that's my sex drive talking.

Jordan: Ugh...reminds me of that scene from Bruno. Wait, why did you feel like her musical troubles exonerated Sonny?

Rob: He's not exonerated, but for once, we get to see her fail a little. Like the show's more implausible plot lines, it's showing a little balance - Davis never really had a shot at council, and he'll gladly take a get-out-of-jail-free card as a bribe. Creighton, an unwitting mouthpiece of Katrina discontent, is straining under the demands of the American imagination. In short, we're staring to see a TV show emerge from a polemic exercise.

Jordan: I thought the end of Davis' council run was such a cop-out. I really hope Simon's going to continue that plot line, maybe with Davis' political council lambasting him for selling out. Otherwise, that felt mighty anticlimactic to this guy. What'd you think about the Antoine scenes? The death of his mentor didn't hit me particularly hard because I didn't really know who the guy was.

Rob: I know! I felt like a shmuck, standing at the funeral and being like: who's this guy again? For once, the music takes a backseat to the political drama. I mean, this episode's jam-out took place in New Orleans International baggage claim.

Jordan: That's not your fault. The show just didn't tell us much about Antoine's mentor or give us much reason to care about him. I haven't mentioned this yet (for fear of sounding like a broken record), but I still feel like this show ain't going anywhere. I'm glad that they're starting to resolve some of the running plot lines, but they never built up much steam in the first place. I never particularly cared about LaDonna's search for Day-mo and was only moderately moved when they found him dead. I actually found the most disturbing part of that scene (and the whole episode) to be the shot of LaDonna looking around at all the trailers full of bodies. That was a great shot in what, for me, is starting to be a not-so-great show.

Rob: And clever them - as she's hunched over outside the trailers (mobile morgues), fighting off waves of nausea, the air-conditioning units kick into high gear, filling our ears with droning and buzzing. No melody. No harmony. No music. I thought that was a nice touch.

Jordan: Again, the show's full of brilliant scenes. But when Howard Hawks said that a good movie is "three great scenes and no bad ones," he obviously wasn't talking about "Treme." At least not in this reviewer's opinion.

Rob: I, for one, have renewed faith in "Treme." But right now, the show still needs to make the case for a second season. I believe the plotlines have futures; I just can't say what they are. I need a little bit more.