Treme, Season 3, Episode 10, “Tipitina”
Another season, here and gone, this one easily the most disappointing of the three and yet there still managed to be moments during tonight’s episode when I longed for more with some of these characters. That’s the best I can say about it.
-Pity LaDonna. She’s the show’s punching bag, sadly used again and again and again to suffer the slings and arrows of life’s outrageous fortunes. Not only was she left to clean up the disaster of her burned out bar, and not only did she suffer the indignity of being visited by the man who has been shaking her down for money (“You suffer a little misfortune and that means I don’t get paid,” he says, before she chases him from the bar), but her rapists are let off the hook by a jury that can’t decide on their guilt or innocence. Later, I’ll get into Davis’s repeated and inexplicable successes; as much could be said about LaDonna’s repeated and inexplicable suffering. Her brother, the assault, and then losing her business.
-The community surrounding GiGi’s though steps up: all of the show’s musicians, led by Antoine, go in on a fundraiser to support LaDonna. Everybody’s there -- Delmond, Janette, Nelson, Albert, Desiree… -- and everybody has a magical time. Big time musicians show up too. It’s Antoine at his best: arranging, hustling, supporting. Early in the show, he pays a cabdriver a full fare plus a tip, baffling the man behind the wheel as he is so accustomed to Antoine’s legendarily cheap treatment. Later, he explains to his boss at the school that he wants to create more opportunities for the kids in the band, offering to form a group to play music on Saturdays and later doing so, drawing a substantial level of participation from a group of young musicians whom we remember being profoundly disorganized.
-Albert and Delmond continue their back-and-forth with the developers, eventually becoming so sick of the process that they return the $20,000 consulting fee that they’d been given. Albert’s treatments continue and sits, starting on another suit while enduring a chemo treatment. There’s no quit in him. Meanwhile, Delmond remains in New Orleans, not having knuckled under to his managers demands that he go to Europe to tour his album.
-Sonny was featured very, very briefly,
-Terry Colson gets the opportunity to shine in various moments. First, he mercilessly beats the detective who was with him when he caught his own beating, the detective who functionally Serpico’d him. Second, he sniffs out a naked conspiracy by his fellow officers to frame him for drug possession. Third, he again asks for and is again refused a transfer. Finally, he consummates things with Toni, an outcome everybody has been expecting since he came to her house in the aftermath of Creighton’s suicide. The best of this though was seeing David Morse sad-dogging it around Toni’s house the next morning, slunk over in a gray t-shirt and striped boxer shorts. He goes downstairs for juice and runs into Sofia, home from Florida and slightly taken aback at the new man in her house. They exchange pleasantries and he looks the way you’d expect a 50ish year-old man to look when he’s been caught in the hen house.
-And finally Toni, who shows backbone in getting the federal investigator to swear that he’ll resign of sufficient evidence doesn’t result in charges against the officers responsible for Abreau’s murder. We’re reminded of what politics can mean when we see Barack Obama being elected at the end of the episode, an election that resulted in this.
-Annie’s CD was released. It was a huge (?) success, enough to justify a party in New York City, enough to justify an apparent one-night stand and an abandonment of Davis. Maybe the character won’t come back next season. And at least she didn’t mangle the already-not-so-good “This City.” So there’s that I guess. At the end of the episode, she leaves Davis, who looks inexplicably sad, and she looks sad too, and nobody cares because nobody cares.
-In three consecutive seasons, Davis has had what appeared to be substantive musical success and in each successive season, he hasn’t changed a whit. I don’t expect his sudden success during tonight’s episode to have changed him when next we meet him; he’ll no doubt be the same man-child that we’ve come to endure. Still, it seems baffling to believe that this guy can keep having success again and again and again while other musicians on the show seemingly don’t. It’s an odd thing. Maybe we’re meant to take away something about the inherent unfairness of the music industry, but all I can ever think is, “Bullshit! AGAIN?”
-And finally, Janette, who threw one hissy-fit after another after realizing that her having a financial partner in her restaurant meant having a boss, something she’d been repeatedly warned about and something that she repeatedly ignored. She declares that she’s done making her signature dish (a baffling complaint); she fires one cook and threatens a hostess; she insists that she won’t offer Sunday breakfast, even though there’s good money to be made. We’re apparently meant to be on her side? I can’t imagine how that’s possible -- and we see at the end that in fact, she’s had none of her demands met -- but what are the writers thinking? It’d be one thing if she was being reasonable. Firing her chronically late kitchen staffer and dismissing the hostess made sense, but refusing breakfast service and insisting that she’ll no longer make her most popular dish? What, is the restaurant supposed to intentionally lose money? Come on now.
-I do not know where the show will go during Treme‘s next and final season. We know it’ll be half a season. We know that there remain open story lines. We know that Simon has shined in creating compelling mini-series. Hopes are high, despite this show’s obvious short-comings. I still like to imagine the show we’d get if Sonny and Davis and Annie were no longer involved, and all three of those characters could easily be abandoned without anybody noticing. Their arcs ended tonight: Davis’s last great hit was called “I Quit”; Annie’s album took her to New York City and represented the end of her musical journey; Sonny found a wife and sobriety on the fishing boats in Louisiana’s Vietnamese community, a community that we’ll sadly never get to explore.
Meanwhile, the show’s more compelling characters? Albert has his ongoing treatments; Antoine has his Saturday band; LaDonna’s rebuilding GiGi’s; Toni (and Terry) have the Abreau murder. There’s gold in them hills. I hope.
-Thanks to Erik, for allowing me to publish this recaps here. Thanks to The Venetian Blond, who linked here every week. Thanks also to Dave Walker at the New Orleans Times-Picayune; he linked here too.