This week’s Season 3 opener typifies the underlying current of Treme – post-Katrina, sometimes nothing changes and sometimes everything does.
It’s been 25 months since Katrina and, as the episode begins, we see Antoine Batiste, still clutching his trusty trombone in the back of a cab and still arguing with cabbies. Some things never change.
Then immediately we see the police break up a memorial for Kerwin James following a noise complaint. Forbidden from playing instruments, those gathered for the memorial square off with the cops, singing defiance in their faces. The ‘ringleaders’ – Glen and Derrick – get arrested. We learn, as the episode progresses, that the whole city is in a disgusted uproar over this infringement on New Orleans tradition. It’s just not done in NOLA. As Antoine put it to the unflinching cops, “Anybody with complaints about music in Treme, they in the wrong place altogether.” Sometimes everything changes.
The rest of the episode continues in this same dichotomous way.
Things that haven’t changed:
Davis is still determined to make it big in the music biz. This season? He’s writing a musical/opera – “Katrina. And opera. And blues. And fun.”
Toni Bernette is deep into her civil liberties, bailing Antoine out and still avidly pursuing a resolution in the Abreu case.
Janette is still stuck in the throes of “house stuff”, working in New York but travelling down home often. She’s also still in the throes of a friends with benefits ‘relationship’ with Jacques.
Delmond Lambreaux’s music still goes underappreciated and misunderstood by the jazz aficionados and critics.
Terry is still dealing with the fallout from helping Toni with the Abreu case. Every detective in his unit hates him, and it’s impossible for him to work with them. He wants a transfer but is turned down. He bargains for a limit on secondary hours (i.e. the amount of time detectives can spend working as a regular police officer).
Sofia is working at the coffee house. She has a musician boyfriend who hangs there.
Antoine is shut out of another band because of bad timing – this band has suddenly achieved huge success because the main members, Glen and Derrick, were arrested at the memorial and then shamed the NOPD into releasing them. Antoine was arrested after the memorial so he just missed out on that legendary status. And success.
NOLA is corrupt as ever, with a big contractor out of Florida – Miss Mortensen – taking funds from New Orleans Affordable Home-ownership (NOAH) but not putting them into actually renovating houses.
Can’t keep a good neighbourhood down. Despite the cops’ interference the first time around, the NOLA musicians are planning to hold a second memorial.
Things that have changed:
Annie has a new band – Annie T and the Bayou St John Playboys. They’re starting to tour and this is their New Orleans debut.
LaDonna, Larry and the boys are living with Larry’s brother and his wife.
LaDonna has a stage/performance area in Gigi’s.
Toni gets visited by a reporter from Berkeley who’s interested in a story about vigilante justice in Algiers during the immediate post-Katrina haze.
Albert Lambreaux is vocally proud of Delmond. And of himself.
Things that are neither here nor there:
Janette has a ‘stalker’ at the New York restaurant (Sam Robards, Gossip Girl, The West Wing). Except he’s not. He’s from New Orleans and he wants to offer Janette a job. (Or something. Hard to tell. He still hasn’t spoken.)
Davis is running a really shit musical heritage tour – half of the stops are closed or gone and the other half were made up.
Sonny is still working the fishing boat and dating the Vietnamese girl with the bizarrely strict family.
As Derrick puts it, Glen must have really shamed the NOPD – a cop car shows up to the second memorial, but not to arrest anyone. It’s there as an official escort. Aww! — K
“Another month or two of this shit and I really will go ghetto. LaDonna will choke a bitch.” – LaDonna
“Dreamers. Dreamers and drunks.” – Terry’s ex-wife, Kay (Laura Cayouette), on why she never liked New Orleans.
“Like others before, he’s come to poach my prize cook and offer fame and fortune back home. So go talk to the mook. I can’t handle the suspense.” – David Chang (himself)
“Winton would say that but he don’t get the last damn word on what jazz and what ain’t. I been listening to and loving jazz since before that boy was a thought in Emerson’s mind. If he gave them songs even half a listen he’d know that you and me done broke some fresh fucking ground. Dem songs is going to stand, son.” – Albert Lambreaux
“Don’t ever change.” – Terry, summing up the entire premise of the episode for us.
Have a Preview – “Saints”