Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Down In The Treme: Episode 9, “Wish Someone Would Care”

tremePNG[3][5] 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 9. Spoilers ahoy.

Rob: Your enjoyment of Episode 9 - indeed, your ultimate opinion of "Treme" - might now hinge on a single question: did English Prof. Creighton Bernette need to die?

Jordan: YES, OH LORD, YES. In fact, I was this close to predicting last week that he was going to kick the bucket. I thought he'd have a heart attack, but suicide and natural death are pretty much equivalent in the moving pictures. The last day spent doing a bunch of NOLA shit was just more poetic.

Rob: Your foresight is impressive, but I found Creigh's death kind of pointless. So he's under the gun by his New York publisher for a few timely books about New Orleans; so he's sad about his city. But NOLA is still there, and still vital, and even if it weren't, he has a nurturing, honest family life. I don't buy his tortured-artist's soul. From where I stand, Creighton didn't have suicide in him, and his disappearance off the side of a ferry seems like a desperate attempt to inject meaning into a floundering narrative.

Jordan: You may be right but, for me, it sorta worked. I actually do think that they've been adequately sowing the seeds of Creigh's demise for quite a while. While others saw his YouTube rants as triumphantly pissed-off, Creighton himself didn't seem to relish them. The anger was almost impotent, and Creighton's suicide was the ultimate signification of his powerlessness. Then again, when "Treme" needed him to be happy, he was ebullient. So maybe his death is indicative of "Treme"'s problems overall.

Rob: Fictional suicides should feel inevitable - otherwise, you risk turning your characters into mere plot devices. I saw no signs of Creigh's demise, and when he tipped over the gunnel, all I could think was: cheap. I'm not sure what the show means anymore, and sadly, I don't think the helmsmen do, either. It's as Janette says about New Orleans, just as she's about to skip town: NOLA is full of great moments, but "...they're just moments. They're not life." Hate to say it, but that almost sounds like a white flag.

Jordan: Uh, I felt worse for Simon and co. when I heard Janette deliver that line. I thought the death was less than cheap, but certainly not the optimal use of the show's resources. It felt like they thought, "Oh crap, we can't make our actual plotlines interesting, so let's kill off a major character played by an actor that's too big for this show. He's gonna get another job anyway."

Rob: It's almost like they were apologizing, right? And all the stuff about The Awakening: This is a book without a beginning and end, yadda ya. It's weird to hear a TV show start hedging its bets. I'm not sure if I've asked this already, but: would "Treme" make a better miniseries? I say yes.

Jordan: I can't believe I never thought of that! Simon's show-running experience prior to "The Wire," after all, is all miniseries. Yeah, I honestly can't see where this thing's gonna go. Unless they introduce a cast of drug-dealers and have Antoine Batiste give up music to pursue law enforcement, people are going to stop watching this show. Is anybody watching it now? I feel like white people who wanna seem cool are the only ones.

Rob: I plead the fifth. Here's the thing: I still enjoy watching "Treme." I like the characters. I like the setting. I like the music. I'm never bored. I can nitpick the show to its bones, but "Treme" has yet to really let me down. Really, what more can we ask of this show?

Jordan: "Treme" has given us a bunch of stuff, but it hasn't given us a reason to keep watching. And that's pretty much all I ask of any show.