Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Treme Season 1 Episode 3- "Right Place, Wrong Time" review

Story by David Simon and David Mills
Teleplay by David Mills

"Without that horn, I can't make a living."- Antoine

The third episode of Treme is setting things in motion beautifully and first and foremost, I saw the opening credits and felt sadness when I saw that this episode was written by the late and great David Mills. RIP David.

LaDonna is still one of the most fascinating and strong characters on the show. With all the things that she has had to juggle simultaneously, it's a miracle, the woman is even able to stand upright. She has to deal with keeping her bar afloat (not to mention the roofer still refusing to finish the work she paid him to do), finding her brother, taking care of her mother, and being a mother for her own children- it's just a miracle that the woman keeps going. And Khandi can portray that toughness beautifully whether it be a look (which she gave the secretary at Bernard's office) or through the bitterness in her voice when she called Bernard (I love how she was able to play up her sugary side on the phone, then without missing a beat, hangs up the phone and mutters, "Motherfucker!"). So far, the search for her brother, Daymo, has been fruitless, but she at least, can trust that Toni is trying to help her.

For whatever reason, Larry seems hesitant to help his wife out. LaDonna states that Larry's family (including Bernard) looks down on her. Could Larry be trying to save face for his family? Does he share in their sentiment? More than likely, he's trying to avoid any possible shitstorm being created by having LaDonna keep distance from Bernard. But, LaDonna is persistent to say the least. And next week, it seems like Anwan Glover (aka Slim Charles from THE WIRE) is in another episode of TREME, so perhaps, he is going to be recurring in this world somehow. I look forward to seeing how he is connected to this storyline with her missing brother.

The women of Treme are very compelling and in many ways stronger than the men on the series (quite a contrast to the male-dominated world of The Wire). I am really enjoying the storyline with Janette, who like LaDonna, is trying to survive after the devastation. First, her meat supplier, has heard that she is on tough times financially, and is cutting her back to week-to-week payments, and then, Janette (after a beautifully played moment of deliberation by Kim Dickens) decides to have sex with Davis again. Whether it was the dinner or the pain forcing her to fill the void (I would say it was a little of A and lots of B), Davis reaped the benefits of spending his check on Janette.

It was nice to see Davis have a one on one with his neighbors regarding his treatment of them. He discovers that his assessment of them is off-base- they are as steeped in the history of Treme as he is. And as natives, they know about the music and culture. But, Davis, can't accept it- and in a moment of pomposity, refuses to mend the fence. He alleges that they are calling the police about his music, which they deny. I believe the neighbors, and I think it's someone else who is tipping the cops off.

Although, I do think Davis' arrest was completely justified. As Albert said in the last episode to Delmond, it's about how you to talk to people. Davis' main problem is that he has no semblance of tact whatsoever. Like Toni stated, you don't tell the National Guard to fuck off. And, it was nice to note that Toni informed him, that they busted David but let his black friend go. So, it's not a simple clear-cut and cliche case of race or class bias.

However, Antoine's arrest was completely unwarranted. Speaking of Antoine, it was nice to see Wendell Pierce open the episode up being the charming Lothario he is, showing the stripper at the club he's playing at, why the refer to his musical instrument as "the bone". And I guess, Antoine had a little left in his tank when Desiree called him out to prove his fidelity by forcing him into another tryst. The look on Antoine's face was comedic gold.

But, there is a beautiful moment when Antoine runs into Sonny and Annie and starts to sing with them. Antoine, in a moment of drunken clumsiness, accidentally bumps into the NOPD squad car with his trumbone, and gets a pummeling for it.

The quote from Antoine about finding and needing that trumbone resonated in me. That instrument is a part of him. It in fact, makes him who he is. Without that trumbone, he won't be able to survive or have an identity. Sounds dramatic perhaps, but I really connected with Antoine's sense of desperation and sense of urgency.

Again, this episode draws the line beautifully of the people who want to stay away from New Orleans (Larry, Delmond) and those who pride themselves in their home and refuse to leave (Albert, LaDonna's mother, LaDonna).

Speaking of Albert, it was nice to see the beating he administered to the kid in the previous episode was referenced through his conversation with Robinette. He seemed concerned for a second about the boy's condition- before turning his focus back to finding a member of his tribe ("Wild Man" Jesse Hurd) and not revealing that he was the one who beat the kid like that.

I knew that Albert and Lorenzo would stumble across Jesse's body. For a second, I had a flashback to the murders in the vacants in season 4 of The Wire. Thankfully, no Chris or Snoop where to be seen. And, I also thought we were going to watch another Albert beatdown on a kid, but sends the boy away after seeing that he was using the place to have sex with his girlfriend. There is a great Clarke Peters moment, when the boy's mother comes to him asking if he can work for Albert. The look Albert gives the boy when his mother isn't looking is priceless.

Sonny and Annie show that their relationship is on very fragile ground with Tom McDermott taking an interest in Annie, and inviting her (and not Sonny) to play at a charity gig. The image of Sonny chugging down the birthday bottle of wine by himself is incredibly painful. And I also like Sonny continuing to entertain anyone within an earshot with false tales of heroism during the hurricane to the easily impressed.

I cannot begin to describe the greatness of Creighton delivering the eyefuck of the century to Davis. Both men seemingly have so much in common, yet are so opposed to each other. Although, I can understand why Creighton doesn't want Davis in his daughter's company.

Speaking of his daughter, I have to remind myself that the series takes place around 2005, when YouTube was in its infancy. Toni's embarrassment over her daughter's obscenity-laced rant of Baton Rouge, is perfectly balanced by Creighton's pride and joy of his daughter embracing her hometown.

The ending was definitely tied to the title of the episode, "Right Place, Wrong Time" (which is from a Dr. John song I believe). The tourist bus wanting to see the homes and tragedy of those ravaged by Katrina interrupt the farewell ceremony to Jesse. Before the bus driver, apologizes and drives away, the passengers are able to snap some photos for their own curiosity. I wonder is that how Simon and company felt that most Americans (not from New Orleans) were when Katrina happened? We as the audience witness the entire event, but the joy and beauty of the ritual is ruined by the invasion of the tour bus. Everything was completely soured.

Next week, not just one but two Wire alums, Anwan Glover and Jim True-Frost. I'm there next Sunday.

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