'Treme' Does Mardi Gras, 6 Months After Katrina

By Rachael Brown
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HBO


Much of this week's episode was given over to Mardi Gras, which comes "almost six months to the day" after Katrina.

As the show opens, characters are eating King cake while Albert is restless in jail. "Two days to get a fucking phone call," he complains to Delmond. But he asks his son to tell his Indian crew to keep sewing. When Albert's arraignment is pushed to Wednesday, Delmond remarks to the lawyer, "Keep a big chief locked up on Mardi Gras, that's a message."

Overall, Delmond seems indifferent. While breaking the news to his father's Indian gang, he remarks of Mardi Gras, "In my opinion, New Orleans is better off without it. Why not put all that time and energy into fixing up the place?" But, ever the show's prodigal son, Delmond starts to come around, first grinning and throwing beads to some festive topless ladies, and later at a party thrown by his friend Anthony (Anthony Hemingway, Treme producer and the episode's director) where he flirts and runs into Terence Blanchard and Cassandra Wilson.

Later, he comes across a Mardi Gras Indian gang, which dances silently through the beams of his car headlights. Sitting in on a set afterwards with Big Sam Williams, Delmond tells the crowd, "Saw me some Indians tonight. I forgot what a thrill that was. I got goose bumps. Makes you think New Orleans might just make it."

Creighton is depressed and cranky. Dressed in "blue tarp couture" with Toni and Sofia, he starts Mardi Gras in good spirits, but he "just isn't feeling it this year." He bails early, eats gumbo silently with his family at home, and records a quiet, mournful YouTube video: "New Orleans was a soap bubble born on a zephyr. It had a hell of a run. But now it's done." He tears up the pages of his novel and passes out on the porch. "Pull yourself together," Toni scolds. "Do you want Sofia to see you like this?"

Sonny says he needs a day apart—"Be good, or don't," he tells Annie—and slips out to celebrate Mardi Gras alone, which means making out with women along the parade route, and hooking up and doing coke with a stranger from a dive bar. When a man mistakes him (or was it a mistake?) for the rescuer that chopped him out of his attic during Katrina, Sonny turns sheepish.

Annie ends up with a Jean Laffite-dressed Davis, whom she meets while dancing. Annie was at Mardi Gras last year, but "this one is different," Davis tells her. "This one is special." They skip from parade to party, crossing paths with a number of notable cameos, and end with a wistful goodnight—but nothing more. Annie tells Davis that she's thinking of going home to New York. "You're giving up New Orleans for Lent?" Davis exclaims. "That's radical."

LaDonna's husband and sons are down from Baton Rouge, and she's struggling to keep the news of Daymo's death from her family. She runs into Antoine, sans Desiree and baby, at the parades, and Antoine spends the rest of the day helping out at the bar while she ignores calls from home. They share a quiet kiss while cleaning up together.

The next morning, LaDonna at the mortuary, ashes on her forehead, making arrangements for Daymo's funeral.

Music worth watching for: Pretty much any time Annie picks up her violin is a treat, but her and Sonny's Jackson Square performance of Chuck Charbo's "Second Line on Monday" was a gentle, unpretentious number, and moved a displaced Katrina victim to near tears. "Lost my house. Three neighbors drowned on my block," he tells them. "But I'm home for Mardi Gras, baby."

We also enjoyed Antoine's set at the Howlin' Wolf with Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk. More on the legendary Neville family here.

What we're wondering: The episode, with a killer soundtrack, was rich in Mardi Gras references and traditions, right down to mocking the short-lived K-Ville. ("We don't really call them gumbo parties," Davis tells Annie.) The Times-Picayune wrote, "This episode expertly and seamlessly walks viewers to and from multiple Mardi Gras experiences." New Orleans natives, especially those of you who were at Mardi Gras in 2006—how did it play for you?

Past Treme responses:

'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

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2010/06/treme-does-mardi-gras-6-months-after-katrina/57771/