'Treme': As a Season Ends, So Does a Life

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In the penultimate episode of Treme's first season, Creighton assigns Kate Chopin's The Awakening to his freshmen and delivers what might be interpreted as a warning to viewers anticipating the season's finish. "I want you to take your time with it," he cautions. "Pay attention to the language itself. The ideas. Don't think in terms of a beginning and an end. Because unlike some plot-driven entertainments, there is no closure in real life. Not really."

It's a fair point—in many ways the show suffers from the lack of a unifying conflict or narrative—but Creighton's nudge towards close-reading is a not-so-subtle hint that Treme creator David Simon is trying something a bit different here, and we'll have to wait to see if it works.

In this week's episode, it seemed many characters are reaching their breaking points. Annie tells Sonny that she needs to take a break from playing with him, and he reacts with anger, kicking her out of the apartment. "Without me, you've got no frontman," he protests. "You don't sing much. All you've got is a fiddle."

Toni pushes LaDonna to conduct an independent autopsy on Daymo, suspecting foul pay at the prison, but LaDonna balks at the prospect of more legal dealing. "Boy's dead," she counters. "It stays wrong for us no matter what else happens."

After a freak thunderstorm that wrecks her guerilla chef gig at Bacchanal's, Jeanette is also ready to call it quits, despite telling her parents earlier in the episode that she would "rather have my head dipped in duck fat and shoved in a French oven," than to give up on cooking in New Orleans. Jeanette takes refuge with Davis, telling him that she wants to move to New York. "This town beat me. Much as I love it, I'm not trying to fight with it anymore." Davis, fresh from his "epic" throw down—which did look like a great party—pleads with her to reconsider. "Would you rather have a Macy's Day parade? With fucking Bullwinkle floats?"

And Albert, out on bail, is readying his Indian gang for St. Joseph's night. Community relations police come to the bar offering a warning, given the ugly clash between the Indians and the NOPD the previous year. "You know damn well that when Indians put those suits on and go out in the street, they ignore everything police tell them," the officer says. Albert takes offense: "You saying your people coming for us?" "I'm saying that I'm worried," the officer responds, and asks Albert to guide his gang to "step past the fight," invoking the memory of Big Indian Chief Tootie—"Tootie wasn't looking for a battle that day. He was looking for some other way." The men seem to understand each other. (For more on the 2005 St. Joseph's conflict, and Chief Allison "Tootie" Montana's death, read this.)

But the episode, ultimately, belongs to Creighton. Almost from the moment he assigns The Awakening to his students, you get a sense of what's coming, and as each subsequent detail of his day unfolds—the long kiss with Toni and the gentle moment with Sofia, the bowl of gumbo and the BBQ shrimp po'boy, the $20 tip to Annie as she plays "Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans"—it becomes increasingly plain what he plans to do. The moment itself, on the ferry, is artfully played; you imagine that the man who bums him a smoke is also aware of what's going on. But as the episode ends, we're left wondering why? Despite Creighton's signs of depression, it seems a stretch to imagine that he really believed his life wasn't worth living.

What we're wondering: See above.

Music worth watching for: Lots of Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers this episode, and the two numbers from Davis's party—Tara Brewer covering Irma Thomas's "Wish Someone Would Care," (the song from which this episode takes its name) and John Magnie playing piano with Dr. Jimbo Walsh on bass during "Agent 00 Soul."

Past Treme responses:

'Treme' Does Mardi Gras, 6 Months After Katrina

'Treme': Death Comes to New Orleans

'Treme': Post-Katrina New Orleans Gets Complicated

'Treme': Desperately Seeking a Story Line

'Treme': Tough Times in Post-Katrina New Orleans

This Week's 'Treme': The Cliches Come Marching In

This Week on 'Treme': Well, That Got Real

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Rachael Brown is a writer and analyst for Bellwether Education Partners, a nonprofit organization working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students. A former Atlantic editor, she has written for The Guardian and Smithsonian.com, among other outlets. She is also a former public high school teacher.

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