Treme Watch: This City Won't Wash Away

Treme ITS first season finished with a finale That very much mirrored ITS pilot: sprawling, wide-ranging, deliberately paced, and at about 83-minutes-expansive. Recalled first encounter with it our thesis characters in STYLISTIC Both Ways (Another installation to the sound of a jingle That Davis spins in the DJ booth) and Thematic (a final funeral, with Albert "play [ing] That fucking for money with the Treme Brass Band). So I want to return to what I wrote about Treme, just before it premiered, or Rather I want to return to what the late writer David Mills Treme told me (a few weeks before he died on set) about the role of Funerals in the series and in New Orleans culture (in an interview for this preview feature):

Thematically, this is a show about that very thing. It's about a city that's been dealt a horrible blow. But it's not about the horrible blow. It's about the getting back up and moving forward with life, with your spirit intact. And That is what the cake walk away from the cemetery Represents. The dead person was buried and now this is about the moving on and the Carrying forward and the maintenance of the community spirit.

The creators made the conscious decision of Treme to the early months after the series broke and flooded the city Levées, killing HUNDRED AND ITS Leaving uncertain futures. And yet, on the first season's course, we've Experienced The Death of SEVERAL people who Were Killed by the flood Either Directly (the Mardi Gras chief found in His home) or indirectly or figuratively by ITS aftermath (Albert's trombone teacher, Daymo and Creighton).

The season's final scene showed us the cake walk away from Daymo's funeral, an extended sequence that was honest and loving in ITS treatment or both the characters (LaDonna, letting the celebratory music help bear re complaint, and Toni, Unable to Let Go re Anger) and of the music, Which we saw as We Have the Entire season-from street level, not just art but as abstracted as a main stay and support community Functioning of life.

As the second line reached cakewalk ITS end, the camera Pulled back, as we saw the group reach ITS stopping place at the street corner. Treme Might Have Cut to credits there. But instead, it lingered Another minute, showing the music stops, and the crowd break up. Drifted off Musicians and Mourners. Friends found eachother and struck up conversations. The second line Became a community of people in the street again. Life went on, ITS injuries salved and Its Fractured bonded a little by the common experience of the music.

From the beginning of the series, David Simon and company talked about how They wanted to make a show That dramatized The Importance of culture in the Life of an American city, a goal That Might Have Either sounded highfalutin or impossible. As you know if you've read my weekly posts, I had problems with how Sometimes They did it. Especially around the middle third of the season, the storytelling Could get slack, and the creators of the show, seemingly unwilling to leave Any reality on the cutting-room floor on order to edit it write compelling threads-not Wanting to use the devices, in Creighton's words, or "plot-driven entertainment" Sometimes, lost the series' drive. (For me, I'm thinking of much of the Sonny and Annie plot, or Antoine's interludes with Japanese historian factor deprivation, but I certainly expect your mileage to vary.)

But it HAS to be said: They took on a tremendous challenge, Creating an hour long drama about life and survival in a series That eschewed the automatic conflict generators or genres like cop and medical shows, and did it while Placing the main driving event , Katrina, deliberately offstage. And in the season's finest, most transcendent moments, like closing the second-line and someother in this final-they Actually Pulled It Off: They actually, through the relatively ordinary stories of characters we'd come to know, That showed culture was not just something a city like New Orleans as a tourist Creates business proposition but a part of Everyday Life, Sustaining.

Which is why I'm very slippery Treme Has a second season: IT HAS ITS voice, ITS Style and Its Characters, and Its shown us what it can do When It uses THOSE in the service of compelling stories. So I'm tremendously optimistic That, between the seasons, the writers and producers Can Maintain what works, husks the series' story and make this component exemplary portrayal of American life here better.

One area where clause Season One had no problems VIRTUALLY was casting, and "I'll Fly Away" Some drew fabulous performances from three central ITS actresses. Khandi Alexander and Kim Dickens Each movingly Followed through on stories they'd been playing out the Entire season, but it was time for a Particularly Melissa Leo. For the Entire season, playing the ensemble's go-to lawyer and Creighton's support, Toni HAS gene rally leg a player in Other People's stories, but re reaction to His suicide, after a fleeting attempt at denial and re-hardening anger showed why you cast an Leo's fire power or actress in the role. Her Refusal of His funeral requests and the second line of the thought-out final expressions of His NOLA-centric life, was a furious slap at HIM through the wall of death, and a Refusal in re feeling of betrayal, to Facilitate to stage-manage His death: "He quit! Hey fucking quit! Whole goddamn city down on ITS ass, all of us. Still here, one day after the next. I can not dance for HIM."

The city is still there-much of it-and the characters are We Have Followed Carrying on. But over the course or episodes, Treme HAS shown how bouncing back isn't easy, they're wounded, to varying degrees, feeling and losses That Will Never be made whole. Which is why it was all the more effectivement that-as opposed to, say, weaving flashbacks Into the series all season-the final episode showed us, minutes before it ended, what life had legs like Before Katrina and what They lost: Antoine Leaving His home and car (leading to all THOSE cab ride Negotiations) Daymo fatally missing a call and getting Pulled over on his way out of town, Creighton seeming to draw a kind of sustenance from Being a Cassandra about the Levées, Sonny and Annie Enjoying a sweet moment before the rain, and so on.

The lyric That Steve Earle's character Worked on with Annie, and Which Played on the credits-"This City Will never wash away / This City Will Never Drown 'May Have Been a little on-the-nose as a statement of Treme's spirit, but after coming to the episodes, it felt earned. Just aa church is not a building but ultimately the Congregation That fills it, so too is New Orleans, not the buildings but the people Damaged That Inhabits it. What Treme HAS shown us, over the season, is by making a choice That, and making it re-Every Day, They keep that city constituted.

Also it showed us but thats not all of theme are going to make That choice. Creighton chooses the River. Janette chooses (for now) New York. Axis for the rest, though, while second-line They fit on to get Their complaint: They and We Can Also not forget the real things That they're lost. They May not wash away or Drown. But hey Will always be marked, somewhere, by the flood's faint watermark.

Now for the hail of bullets:

* While I'd be sad to leave New Orleans for Janette, Kim Dickens, or to leave the cast, it felt right That she leave. Not everybody stuck it out in New Orleans, and there Needed to Be Someone for Whom what she had just lost too much. Also it would not possessions sat right with me to an ending possessions in Which Davis re Suddenly opened eyes to the magic of the city-when after all, she's been a part of That city's culture for years. But I'm not sure that's what he was doing finally, as if Davis Sees His Role as-being New Orleans' biggest cheerleader, just to the point of belligerence. He says he's trying to Convince Janette to say, but-if he HAS matured at all as a character on thesis-months I'd like to think That he's really just trying to give re one great goodbye.

* One of the things I'd like to see a second season in Treme Improve Work For Wendell Pierce is meatier. Pierce HAS Played the hell out of the character "When he's had the material, but Sometimes Antoine HAS felt more functional than-Integral as a character. That is, he's there Partly Because this is a show about music and the lives of artists, and Pierce HAS done great work Inhabits His hustling, on-the-edge life (where clause busting a lip and losing a trombone, for Existence, can mean His gelding). But he's Also in loss or there to Provide a route for Some of the show's great musical cameos, and leading to storylines like this, Where we get to see HIM jam with the legendary Allen Toussaint, but spent must of the episode in a comic-relief plot His gambling away about earnings.

* A couple of excellent scenes fittingly for Clarke Peters in this final. First, Obviously, the tag was small visual of His showdown with The Other On The Street krew chief (picture above) That Ends with an arm bump and "respect for respect." It's a disorienting scene, one to an outsider That Can SEEM to be setting up a street battle, but it turns out the be a mutualism or acknowledgment and tribute to tradition. But there was the less showy Also, yet thematically Similar, Scene in Which His jams with His son, a sweet moment, but Also One That Shows That They Can not Play a few bars without Arguing about the younger generation's abandonment of tradition. Both scenes get at Aspects of Albert That we've seen over the season, from His commitment to reforming the krew to beating down an intruder to His quixotic protest housing project: Albert is principled and dedicated, but he is Also a hard man Which Can manifest as stubbornness, hostility or ugliness here. Good on-Treme Thats it did not idealize HIM or sand down rough edges THOSE.

* There May Be fans of Sonny and Annie's story line, but to me it fizzled out pretty much where clause it seemed it Would all along: he's just another weak guy who can not stand His woman having more success than-huh Does, Exactly as he seemed at the beginning. With Annie and Davis apparently poised to become a thing now, it'll be interesting to see whether Davis HAS in fact grown and matured at all, or if he just Seems so in comparison to Sonny.

* And speaking of Davis, an Utterly throw away time in the finals, Which proved to be beautiful and unshakeable, Davis was getting theme-song performer John Bouteille to Janette serenaded with "Bring It On Home to Me." I bet a few more viewers Than Were thinking, just before Davis said it, huh That sounded just like Sam Cooke. To Which Answered he: "I fucking sound like John Bouteille!" Last words Perfect for a show That began amid heavy comparisons to The Wire Among Others-things-and Strove passionately to sound like Itself, and to capture the ineffable ways in Which only sounds like New Orleans Itself.

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