'Treme': Death Comes to New Orleans



Last night's episode of Treme was framed by deaths and funerals, for both people and places. Toni and LaDonna's long search for Daymo is concluded when a judge orders the city to produce him—a victory that turns to grief when his body is discovered in an improvised morgue of refrigerated trucks. LaDonna plans how to keep the discovery from her mother—"I am not bringing this news home during Carnival"—while Toni is furious. It's worse when you remember that Daymo shouldn't have been arrested in the first place. Daymo's method of death—an accident after falling from a bunk—also sounds suspicious.

Antoine's long-time mentor, Danny Nelson, has also died. His daughter tries to give Antoine the new trombone he had only recently given to his teacher, but Antoine refuses to take it. "It's the last one your daddy played," he protests. "That's supposed be in the family."

Jeanette, having closed her restaurant indefinitely, negotiates with New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh to take her supplies and freezer. Her insurance check has finally arrived, and she uses it to buy a trailer with a range. "I'll do the guerilla chef thing for a while," she tells Besh. "A pirate on the high seas." Jeanette sets up outside the NOLA wine shop and venue Bacchanal, cooking while Davis manages the register.

And Albert, furious that the city has refused to open the public housing projects, begins to squat in the locked B.W. Cooper, but only after calling the media. "The reporters first, and then the police," he tells his Indians. "What sense does it make for the government to be sitting on all this housing when so many people can't get home?" Albert is arrested after ignoring orders to vacate the apartment. When told to kneel by the police, he refuses. "Won't bow. Don't know how," he states calmly, invoking his Indian self, which is enough for the arresting offer, who beats him into submission. "Fuck that Injun shit."

There is a desperation growing among the residents. "Times are not good here," Creighton, reading a letter by the 19th century New Orleans writer Lafcadio Hearn, tells his students as he lectures in a science lab. Still, he continues, it is better to live in New Orleans "in sackcloth and ashes, than to own the whole state of Ohio." Creighton has resumed work on his novel, although it's unclear if he is taking his agent's advice and reworking it to consider Katrina. "I'm sorry if I'm making a pest of myself here," he sarcastically tells YouTube in his newest video. "I would hate to exacerbate any sense of Katrina fatigue."

The issue of who is being welcomed home—and who isn't—is also spilling into the upcoming elections. Davis, polling at 4 percent in his council race, is under pressure from Jacque Morial to step it up. "Why won't the feds move?" he schools Davis. "Because if New Orleans gets whiter, the state slides from purple to red." Davis misses the point. "So... nothing really rhymes with infrastructure," he quips.

Davis seems more focused on his career than his platform. "I've never sold a thousand of anything," he tells a friend at The Louisiana Music Factory, an independent record store that's run out of his campaign CD. But LaDonna's brother-in-law, the judge, talks Davis into standing down, as he's pulling votes from a preferred candidate. He offers Davis a get out of jail free card for the next time he's in trouble. "And you being a musician, we know there's always a next time." "A bribe!" Davis exclaims. "Sweet!"

Music worth watching for: The moving solo of "His Eye is on the Sparrow," sung by the incredible Danon Smith at Danny Nelson's funeral. And Antoine's band, playing their gig at the airport, are joined by Trombone Shorty and his brother James on "Ooh Poo Pah Doo"—a catchy song that was recorded by Andrews's grandfather Jesse Hill in 1960. The number is made more memorable by watching Antoine's unease—Shorty's home from the Portland jazz festival, and the Dr. John gig Antoine had hoped to land.

What we're wondering: Did Davis really sell out the council race that easily, for a get out of jail free card? (We know it came in useful for Omar, but still...)

The dialogue during Annie's audition with The Pine Leaf Boys was laughable in its sentimentality. "It's not about the notes; it's about the feeling of the music," the band leader tells her as she struggles on "Homage a Poullard." "I'm just guessing about this, but you've got trouble in your heart?"

But overall, I've appreciated how the show treats musicians like professionals, rather than getting caught up in the mystique of moody artists. Antoine's bandmate, who worries that the checks will be split nine ways when Trombone Shorty and his brother join in, seems more realistic, a reminder of Antoine's "Play for that mother-fucking money, boys," from the pilot. Or is it that the musicians who are truly making a living—or least getting paid for a three week tour in Canada and nominated for Grammy's—have the luxury to consider things like playing from the heart? (And why is Annie still with Sonny?)

A special shout-out to the clarinetist from Antoine's airport band—only the second female instrumentalist we've seen on the show so far...

Past Treme responses:

'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