Greetings, fellow Soul Acolytes! Our main man Keith Phipps is busy tonight putting together a horn section the slow way, so I’ve been tapped to join you for a little laissez les bons temps rouler. Unfortunately, at the point we’ve hit tonight, les temps are none too bons. Not at all. In fact, let’s just go ahead and call them les brutale temps and see how heavy they roll.
Actually, I’ll go ahead and tell you that this episode didn’t really work for me. While Treme does not tend to linger over scenes, the pacing was far too quick for me to register what was happening in any scene before the next was upon us. The main exception was in the attack on LaDonna. When that scene lingered past the one minute mark, I immediately knew that she was going to be hurt, and it, unfortunately, sucked a lot of the tension out of the moment.
I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. As a viewer and a human being, I don’t particularly want to linger over a scene of a woman being overpowered and raped, particularly when the women is arguably the toughest character on the show. But her attack was the emotional heart of the episode, and it should have more effect. The song playing as she shuts down the bar was the one that gives the episode its title, Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down.” The refrain of that song says: “The people you misuse on your way up, you might meet up/On your way down.” As much as her long-suffering husband and kids might disagree, LaDonna hasn’t misused anybody. No one deserves to be raped, and despite the moral thrust of the track, it isn’t commenting on her situation. It’s a misfired cue, much like the misfired cue of sticking with her for far too long after the thin-sliced scenes that precede it. For a show that incorporates music so well, they dropped the beat on this one.
The rest of the action was mixed. After providing the soundtrack for the opening montage, the lovely Annie was on the sidelines for the rest of the episode, aside from one short scene with a few different possible meanings. She wanders around an art gallery showing photographs from the storm and stumbles onto a picture of Sonny, pulling a baby through a hole he just chopped into someone’s attic. I’ll tell you that Michiel Huisman is a fine actor, but I don’t care about Sonny or his stupid arc. Still, he looks heroic in this picture, and I don’t know how to read Annie’s reaction. Is she missing him? Surprised that he was actually saving lives during Katrina instead of (as I - and, I would guess, Annie - had assumed) doing smack and making up stories?
Also mostly sidelined is (ex-)DJ Davis, who has only one scene where he discovers thieves breaking into Janette’s house. This is enough to bring Janette down from New York, though, which isn’t bad. Given that a) her boss is a pretentious dick who calls her character into question for daring to want to deal with her burgled house and b) she could not get the Road Home bureaucrat to cut her or all of the other nice people in the waiting room a break, she will likely be even more incorporated into the New Orleans story in the near future.
The other two major stories from the episode are Antoine’s (which is fun, as always) and Sonny’s (who is, mindblowingly, still a drag). Antoine has put together a band and is now discovering that being a bandleader is about as fun a job as being a ringleader in a circus made of cats. Cats who won’t blow in the right damn key. He characteristically bitches and moans about it and, even more characteristically, blows off a job interview that his girl Desiree has insisted he attend. Sonny just misses being home during a police raid on his house. Rather than exulting in his good fortune, he complains about losing his keyboard and guitar (and doesn’t even consider that the police force was doing a public service there). Anyway, it looks like Sonny will be auditioning for Antoine’s band in the next episode. Given their joke about white guitar players and given that Sonny has shown no aptitude for the kind of funk/jazz/soul guitar they are surely seeking (and given that he’s going to be playing a plonky Danelectro instead of a slick Tele, which is like bringing your Andy Griffith DVDs to your girl’s place on Valentine’s Day), well, that ought to be fun for those of us who hate the character. If he aces the audition, then something’s gone horribly wrong. However, if he gets in the band because that baby belonged to Raymond Weber, then that may make a little more sense. But not much.
Quick roundup of everyone else. Hidalgo: still sleazy. Soundtrack to Hidalgo being sleazy: “Mack The Knife.” Albert: still unengaged and grumpy, but maybe feeling better after his meeting with the Road Home people. Toni: still chasing the police for answers and still hated by certain police for being a lawyer. Del: learns about the Internet; fires Prez.
“Fools making it up as they go along.”
“City of music, and I can’t even find a tenor sax who can transpose keys in his head.”
“White boys with bad hair playing them cowboy keys”
“You can either own the boat or end up cleaning it. It’s up to you.”
I don't know who the guy playing piano at the beginning or the lady who sings in Antoine's band are, although I feel that I should. I do, however, always consult Matt Sakakeeny's blog Sound Of Treme after each episode to see what I have missed.