Friday, June 11, 2010

Treme Season 1 Episode 7- "Smoke My Peace Pipe" review

Story by Eric Overmyer & David Mills
Teleplay by David Mills & Davis Rogan
Directed by Simon Cellan Jones

"Man you could hide a dead hooker in here and no one would know."

That quote from Jacques Morial may by favorite line in the episode. It was just so well-timed and perfect in its execution.

The title of the episode comes from a song by the Wild Magnolias, and things in the credits that I noticed was that the late great David Mills was involved in the writing of this episode (RIP Undercover Black Man). Also, the director of this episode is Simon Cellan Jones who did amazing work for David Simon on "Generation Kill". Also, Davis Rogan was involved in the writing of this episode- who happens to be the basis for the Davis McAlary character.

Having Tim Reid (from "Frank's Place" fame) reprise his role as Judge John Gatling- and deliver a scathing criticism on how the Department of Corrections were relying on the flood aftermath as an excuse for losing track of Daymo, was perfect. In that rant, you could hear a lot of David Simon's frustrations and I see another connection to "The Wire" (that carried over into "Generation Kill" as well), in the ineptness and failures of institutions.

Albert Lambreaux was a central character to this episode and Clarke Peters was as remarkable as he always is. I think Albert is probably one of the strongest characters in the series. I think what I love the most about this character is his strength and his determination to not bow down to others. He has a strong moral compass guiding him- and taking up residence in the projects sends a message. And perhaps, the most moving thing was the other squatter- following the Chief's defiant stand- and placing the "My Home" sign outside. Even though the representative of the Community Relations Division tried, his words had no effect on Albert. The man is proud and it was painful to watch Albert get beat down by the police, upon refusing to leave the home.

As a writer, the scenes with Creighton hit incredibly close to home. Watching him become so frustrated with what he writes is pretty damn accurate and I think my favorite scene with him was telling Toni that what he has written is complete shit, and upon her asking to read what he wrote, his exasperated query, "Why would you read it if I just told you it's shit?" is something I have said several times to friends who are just trying to offer encouragement.

Nice to see Steve Earle again as Harley Watt. I really have come to love Steve Earle's music at the insistence of my aunt- and also learning about him after I saw him as Waylon on "The Wire". And he definitely is a positive influence in Annie's life right now- and the support she needs, because she's not getting it from Sonny. I think of all the David Simon characters he's created throughout the years, Sonny might be one of the most deplorable. Even though Sonny gives Annie the okay to play with the Cajun musicians, he does begrudgingly. He's just a truly miserable wretch, and incredibly destructive. I hope before this season ends, Annie wakes up and finds a supportive person in her life, because she is going to be stuck in the same quagmire with Sonny. I enjoyed Harley's look to Annie when she was trying to insist that she couldn't play on the Cajun musicians' level. It was one of those looks stating, "You could...if you have more faith in yourself."

It's good to see Davis still growing as a character. Even though he was not on the same page with Jacques Morial ("Nothing really rhymes with infrastructure..."), it was nice to see the evolution of Davis with his generosity he displayed to Janette. After seeing her restaurant closed, he brings gifts to try to brighten her up. When she states that they are friends with benefits, I love McAlary's response:

"With or without."

And after witnessing Davis help Janette out as she cooks- what can I say? I'm a solid member of Team McAlary now. The man has won me over. Davis is a guy who is learning, he might not always say the right thing, but he means well.

Wendell Pierce did a magnificent job showing the sadness that Antoine felt losing his mentor and I love the brief scene in the hospital with him playing "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say" in the earbuds so, he (and Danny) could just have a moment to enjoy the music. And, it's nice that Antoine was insistent on Danny's son keeping the trombone.

And definitely the most painful part of this episode that was full of pain- was the resolution to the Daymo storyline with LaDonna. Khandi Alexander knocked this episode out of the park- and I have said this once, and I will say this again, I'm glad that Khandi has a role this well-written that she can sink her teeth into. She is that damn good of an actress. The moment where she recognizes that it is Daymo in the body bag is heart-wrenching. And, also I have to give credit to Melissa Leo's performance as Toni, as she expresses her bewilderment at how Daymo could die in custody and not be identified properly in the morgue. Again, there was a lot of David Simon's anger in those lines.

Right now, LaDonna has a lot of weight on her shoulders. She doesn't want to deliver the news to her mother right now- especially considering her mother's failing health and wants to wait after Carnival to deliver the news. At the end of the episode, you can tell the grief and pain is eating LaDonna up and she seems that she might crack from any moment from the stress- but LaDonna is somehow holding it together.

A stellar episode and with only three more episodes left in the first season, "Treme" is hitting on all cylinders. All the storylines are moving towards their conclusion and I am very excited to see how this season wraps up.

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