Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Treme Season 1 Episode 9- "Wish Someone Would Care" review

Teleplay by George Pelecanos
Story by David Simon & George Pelecanos
Directed by Dan Attias

"There is no closure in real life. Not really..."- Creighton Bernette

We're at the penultimate episode of the first season and when I read that George Pelecanos was penning the episode (as he did with all penultimate episodes of every season of THE WIRE), I was elated and worried that the axe would fall on one of our beloved characters. After all, Pelecanos is the talented but heartless scribe who has killed some of the most characters on THE WIRE- including Wallace, Frank Sabotka, Snoop and Stringer Bell. As brilliant as the man, George Pelecanos can be cruel in the way he just snatches the life of a character you've grown to care deeply about. However, since TREME is less dark thematically than THE WIRE (which was modeled after a Greek tragedy to begin with), I was beginning to think that the Pelecanos tradition might not carry over to TREME.

In the end, the tradition did carry over that made this still feel like Pelecanos but tailored for TREME as Creighton, deep in his post-Katrina depression, finally succumbs and jumps from the railing on the ferry, to the water below. I wish I had known when I watched the episode that the book that Creighton was having his class read ("The Awakening" by Kate Chopin) ended with the heroine, Edna Pontellier, allowing herself to by engulfed by the water of the Gulf of Mexico. Another clever piece of foreshadowing. But in the end, Creighton was absolutely despondent- seeing him with that blank screen was heartbreaking (I think him typing enthusiastic gibberish in order to feign productivity to his daughter may have been even more painful now that I think about it).

I read somewhere that although the character of Creighton is based on late blogger Ashley Morris who died in 2008 due to a heartache and also loosely based on filmmaker, Stevenson Palfi, who committed suicide after the storm. I didn't realize how many suicides and the post-Katrina depression that plagued people afterwards. I'll miss John Goodman's portrayal of Creighton, which made it painful to watch the things that led up to his death. When, he was so cheerful in the morning and told his daughter she was beautiful (and told Toni to, "Kick a lil' ass today."), I knew he was saying goodbye. And watching him request for Annie to play, "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" was also tough- because even though, the audience was aware of what was going to happen, you were captive and following Creighton around on his last day on Earth. And what could we as the audience do about it? Absolutely nothing but brace for the moment where he takes his own life.

Damn you George Pelecanos, you've done it again. I can't imagine what will happen with Toni and her daughter now. I can only guess that the "work in the office" that Creighton was talking to Toni about was his suicide note.

Other than Creighton, there was plenty going on in this episode. The Annie/Sonny storyline has come to a head with Annie asking Sonny if she could play with other musicians, which Sonny did not take too well. In Sonny's mind, that is the biggest slap in the face, which leads to Annie leaving Sonny's apartment. When Annie meets up with her saxophonist friend, I love her friend's understanding of Sonny's anger at Annie wanting to play with others: "Fucking is fucking but music...that's personal."

And, I must say, I think I felt empathy towards Sonny for once. The whole blow-up with Annie might have opened his eyes finally. He's now trying to original songs and trying to focus on the music as opposed to getting high. Now, how long that lasts, I am not sure. But, it was good to see more layers to this character.

As the season has progressed, we are witnessing how the pressure of trying to regroup after this calamity is making people drown (Creighton literally and Janette figuratively). The pain on Janette's face as she realizes her guerilla cooking on the road is just a gig- no different than Antoine's gigs as he tries to live hand to mouth. When there was a downpour, you could see the defeat in Janette's face as she now is ready to leave for the cozy confines of New York. Davis, being the advocate of New Orleans, desperately tries to plead for her to stay, reminding her of all the beauty that New Orleans has to offer.

Dejected Janette can only respond, "They're just moments. They're not a life."

I sincerely hope that Davis can convince Janette to stay. She's been fighting this whole season to not only keep her restaurant but the thing she loves the most afloat. You can tell that it's overwhelming her, but I hope she can hang in there.

Davis, has completely won me over. I love that his requirements for his bash at his place were "musicians" and "hot women". Davis, you are a man after my own heart. And, also nice bit of continuity in having Davis encounter the stripper neighbors of his- which one of them ( Tara Brewer, a local New Orleans native) sung a wonderful rendition of, "Wish Someone Would Care". I also liked the brief scene with Davis' gay neighbors- where one of them admitted that he did call the police on Davis earlier in the season over the music. To which, his partner was appalled at how anyone can call the police on anyone playing music in the Treme. Vindicated and full of jubilation, Davis tells them not to worry and that it's all water under the bridge.

Nice to see Antoine being the father figure as he brings his daughter along with him to his gig (love Davis' line of the daughter being "Done up like a porkchop"). I really do like Antoine's baby mama now. In the first few episodes, she came across as a user in ways- but now, I can see that she is supportive of Antoine and quite frankly, he's not the easiest man to love.

Picking up from last week's episode, Antoine and LaDonna did have sex which leads to one of my favorite lines of the episode: "That nonsense last week between you and me, that was a Mardi Gras fuck, that's all. We in Lent now. The legs are closed." I feel that even Antoine is doing the right thing in trying to help LaDonna in trying to bury her brother, that somehow this is going to bite him in the ass if his current girlfriend finds out where the money is going to. Nice to see Arnie the Texas bouncer assist in fixing the roof and in delivering a great line in, "No, disrespect, but ya'll got a defective work ethic down here." Khandi and Wendell's expressions after that line is comedic gold.

Albert is also bracing himself (and his people) for a possible collision with law enforcement following Albert's arrest. When Lieutenant Colson tries to convince Albert to diffuse the situation fast before police officers try to take potshots on Albert, you could see the wheels turning in his head.

"They gonna do, what they gonna do. Me? I'm going to be heard," Albert assures. It looks like there is going to be some confrontation between the Indians and police. I also enjoy the continuing development between Albert and Darius. In many ways, the boy is becoming a surrogate son to Albert.

One more episode left this season but this last episode has knocked me for a loop. I cannot wait to see how Toni is going to respond to Creighton's death, and I'm curious to see if these characters can try to keep their head above water, as things seem so hopeless.

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