Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Down In The Treme: Episode 8, “All On A Mardi Gras Day”

tremePNG[3] 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 8. Spoilers ahoy.

Rob: Hey Jordan! Guess what! Underneath the seemingly carefree hedonism of New Orleans, there's a current of moral despair!

Jordan: Oh, you mean as so subtly indicated by the last two minutes of the show? As opposed to the other fifty-eight minutes, which was pretty much like every other episode! Except maybe with more partying.

Rob: I sense gnawing dissatisfaction! Here's my issue: when Delmond stumbles across the abundantly-feathered Indian parade, we're in the heat of Mardi Gras. This is the High Holy Day of New Orleans. But all I could think about was how limpid and weak it seemed compared to that scene in episode one, when his father, Albert, dressed in an Indian costume to begin assembling his entourage. You know, the one where a huge turkey-like mass of feathers comes trotting down the street, singing its Indian song loud and proud?

Jordan: You know, that was actually one of the parts I liked most in this ep. It seemed, to me, triumphant in its very existence. The fact that these people in these beautifully-rendered costumes were out there at all did make me think, as Delmond said, that "this city might actually turn out okay." I saw subtlety where you saw ignominy.

Rob: I mean, it was definitely one of the episode's higher points. I guess it just made me realize how much more I liked the show back when it started. It was more concept when Albert broke out his canary-yellow plumage; it was a lavish sense-of-place tableau that seemed content to potter about without any real plot, direction or momentum. We're eight episodes in, and I think "Treme" is starting to sound like a single note sustained a bit too long.

Jordan: I'll leave the metaphors to you, Mr. English Honors. I'll just say this: while "The Wire" was as taut a piece of storytelling as has ever been put on the small screen, "Treme" is full of dead ends and wasted opportunities. Slow-burn storytelling has been sacrificed in favor of, as you said, one-note plot threads and characterizations. We get it: Sonny's a douchebag and a cokehead, Antoine is a lovable fuckup, and Davis is an asshole. In fact, everyone on this show is a bit of an asshole. I'll come out and say it: I think the first season of "Treme" is a spectacular sophomore slump for Simon and co.

Rob: Spectacular is too strong. There's still a lot of subtlety, richness and soul in "Treme." I still enjoy watching it, and I'll enjoy watching it until the first season wraps in a few episodes. We've toyed with the thought of "Treme" as a music video before, but I think the idea has some actual credence to it now. I mean, it isn't really a TV show, is it?

Jordan: Sadly, it is not. I get bored about a minute in to most music videos, and, frankly, I looked at my watch about six times during this episode. If Simon doesn't make it clear in next season's premiere that he's actually going to make a TV show, I'm done with this show.

Rob: I have enough invested in the show to see it through. But I'm with you; if the season manages to end on a sweet note, I'll be all too happy to leave it at that - a short, artful interlude. A nice daydream.