[Spoiler Alert] This season, Treme has pitted the characters’ little worlds – whether physical or mental – against the real world of conflicting priorities and values that returned in 2006, and the results haven’t been pretty. LaDonna has spent this season dealing with the consequences of having her little world, GiGi’s, no longer feel like her haven, and last night she couldn’t even go into it.
Davis fancies his band as a modern New Orleans version of Funkadelic, but like George Clinton, he discovers that people prefer the good times of the Lil’ Calliope-led Parliament to his theatrical political satire. Antoine’s desire to be big-time leads him to take his band out of the neighborhood bars that were filled with regulars to Frenchmen Street, where he faces the real musical world and a lack of a built-in audience. How does he solve the problem? The way he too often does – shortcuts, in this poaching Kermit Ruffins’ audience, even though Ruffins propped him up last season when he was down on his luck.
Hector faces is own version of this dynamic when he leaves the halls of power and tries to buy people’s property door-to-door, finding people resistant for reasons that have nothing to do with money.
It’s harder to read Lambreaux’s story this season because the character’s so bottled up. Is he depressed or angry because of post-Katrina circumstances, or has he always been a hard man to deal with? Is he a fish out of water in NYC, or is he just an arrogant prick? That ambiguity makes him fascinating, and the scenes with him in the recording session are really uncomfortable, lightened by the bemusement of Dr. John at the whole scene.
Most dramatically, Annie is forced into the real world with the shooting of Harley. The cameras stalking Harley and Annie as they walked said something was about to happen and made his performance of Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” poignant. The scene made perfect sense (hate to disagree with Maitri at Back of Town), down to Harley’s slightly superior but well-meaning final comment, “You’re making a bad mistake, son.”
But his death will likely force Annie to own her song and her art, and it will likely put the wheels in motion to end her relationship-of-convenience with Davis. She split from one man who watched out for her in his fashion in Sonny, and she’s had her second musical mentor taken from her. As she slowly embraces her need to take responsibility for herself, she’ll likely see how little Davis brings to her life and move on.
I usually restrict myself to observations that Dave Walker doesn’t make at Nola.com, where he’s encyclopedic in his rundown. Here are a few quickies:
– That is Peter “Spider” Stacy of the Pogues busking with Harley and Annie. Stacy is currently a Bywater resident.
– The episode ends with Allen Toussaint’s “Tipitina and Me” from the benefit album Our New Orleans. The track is Professor Longhair’s “Tipitina” played in a minor key, and according the producer Joe Henry, the track became his inspiration for Toussaint’s The Bright Mississippi album, which Henry produced:
“It sounded old world, it sounded classical, deeply rhythmic like tango, with New Orleans rhythm but also had a deep blues tonality,” Henry says. On a cross-country flight, he scoured his iPod for songs that might similarly showcase Toussaint’s rich musical voice, even though a jazz album seems counterintuitive as a follow-up to The River in Reverse, which celebrated his songwriting.