<i>TAP</i> Talks <i>Treme</i>: Shame and Shallow Water

Joel Anderson: As my wife said, any conversation that starts with "Hey, white boy" is bound to end terribly. Davis is really lucky he walked out of there with only a busted mouth.

Aminatou Sow: Davis pulled a John Mayer! He absolutely deserved that punch and maybe now he'll finally learn to be a good neighbor.

JA: Maybe it's a wake-up call for him because, really, I had to rewind the DVR when I watched that scene. I couldn't believe he felt that comfortable.

And it's telling that no one came to his defense. Because really, there is no defense for that.

Alexandra Gutierrez: The neighbor's response was one of the realer moments of a mostly unreal episode. Davis' neighbors have already proved that they're as authentic as Davis is -- and given what a low bar that is to clear, they're probably more authentic. Here, they proved to Davis how truly invested in the community they are. "You guys brought me in," says Davis, half hungover and half shocked. "We're your neighbors." Exactly.

And Davis is just starting to understand what that means. When he finally dismantled the stereo system that he had been using to irritate his neighbors, it really felt like he was starting to grow up, even if only a little.

All that said, Davis' anti-Bush City Council campaign theme song was just an utterly painful cliche of a protest song.

Tim Fernholz: All that fake Davis-related bonhomie was worth it to see the pained expression on his face when Kermit called his youthful musical efforts "triflin'."

AS: Japanese jazz fairy godmother! Celebrity chefs! We're introduced to so many outsiders this week.

TF: I'm really enjoying this interaction between Antoine and his Japanese benefactor. Reminds me of Haruki Murakami 's memoir about opening a jazz club.

AS: The smile on that Japanese jazz fan's face when Antoine played Kid Ori is one of my favorite moments to date and serves as a simple reminder of New Orleans' power over us.

Why is Creighton scared of his agent coming to town? He's a YouTube celebrity, and surely they've heard of him even in New York City. (I can't look at John Goodman and not think of this website. His "Dear YouTube" bits are becoming endearing.)

JA: Even at that point, neither Creighton nor the rest of us had much clue about the reach of YouTube. I think he's just concerned that he's going to have to give that advance back to his publishing company.

And rightfully so. I mean, storm or not, he's still taken six years to finish that follow-up book.

TF: But they're clearly not going to ask for the advance back, right? This is definitely going to be a request for a Katrina-themed book to leverage his YouTube fame. Did the real YouTube monologist this character is based on write a book?

TF: This post-pawn shop discussion of the problems of the police force is pretty revelatory -- 60 percent of the force gone, unappreciated, living in conditions just as terrible as everyone else and clearly totally unprepared for the return of real crime.

AG: Yeah, that moment was pretty upsetting. And while it doesn't excuse what those two police officers did to Antoine or his trombone, I feel for the good cops who remain. The uptick in crime is definitely going to become a big deal next season, if not in the few remaining episodes.

JA: Five months later, five years later, George W. Bush still isn't off the hook for the federal government's sluggish response to the storm. And I'm totally OK with that.

It's nice and really important that we have Treme to revisit those months of recovery after Katrina. It shows how silly that "Obama's Katrina" meme that has emerged in recent weeks really is.

***

JA: So we were right: Creighton's agent came to town to bring him good news, and he's the "spokesman" for the city and/or the show's writers.

Also, no one thinks Davis is serious about running for office, right? This has to be merely a forum for incoherent rants and selling some CDs.

AS: The "Davis Can Save Us" campaign must die. His self-promotion knows no bounds. He's in it to sell CDs and get his name out there. "Greased Palm Sunday" ? Are you kidding me? But according to the indispensable folks at Nola.com there is a real-world precedent to Davis' shenanigans.

TF: As absurd as Davis is, you have to love the slogan "A Desperate Man for Desperate Times."

JA: Memo to Annie: Leave!!!

AG: Watching Sonny and Annie interact just gets more and more brutal. Sonny's demonstrating all the key traits of an abuser, and it looks like it's only going to get worse.

AS: So far we've seen the good and bad side of everyone except Sonny, who is a Category 1 asshole.

AG: Treme's writers might also be drawing inspiration from the story of Anders Osborne (his song "Meet de Boys on the Battlefront" was the title for episode 2) and Theresa Andersson.

The two were Swedish musicians who moved to New Orleans together and became French Quarter staples. Then, Anders started doing copious amounts of drugs and generally behaving like a difficult human being, much like our favorite Dutch scumbag.

Theresa finally broke up with him at a show, throwing her violin through a window and launching a solo career. So! There may be redemption for the pair after all. And man, would a scene like that be satisfying.

JA: That is the best news I've heard all day!

Looking back on it, I read too much into Sonny's brief interaction with those tourists from Wisconsin in the second episode. That wasn't indicative of anything other than him being, as you put it Alexandra, a "difficult human being." In fact, Annie was very kind to them.

Also, though I don't envy Annie in the least, I am jealous that she was enjoying a café au lait and beignets at Café du Monde. One of my favorite places on Earth.

JA: I guess we're going to have to forget about the fact that the Chief killed or nearly killed a kid in the second episode. You can only respect his demand that the city reopen those public-housing projects, even it seems driven mostly out of self-interest (preservation of his tribe).

I'm all for re-imagining New Orleans and the ways the city should reabsorb its residents. There's no real way to romanticize the projects.

AS: He's seemingly a father figure to everyone, a chief gathering his tribe, but when it comes to being a supportive dad to Delmond, his paternal instincts are off.

Also let's give it up to Albert for turning down that FEMA trailer. The city just wants to shut him up, but they don't know this man is on a mission to get all his people back.

JA: It's hard not to think Albert and others -- Davis' mother among them -- have a point when they point to the government's sluggish response as a way of discouraging some people from coming home.

TF: It sounds like the Indians are singing about Obama. They probably aren't.

TF: You get a little more humanization of the police here on this trip to Port Arthur, especially the reference to the officer who killed himself after the storm. And yet the former officer Toni visits is still so callous about the whole situation. Do we get the sense that he's hiding something, or just doesn't care?

AS: I don't think the officer was hiding anything. He is done with New Orleans and NOPD. Detective extraordinaire Toni is amazing at what she does. This was a nice procedural touch from Simon & Co.

Speaking of, Toni was so incredibly disappointed when the prosecutor wouldn't file a joint habeas motion. You would think that after all the things she's seen and being married to Creighton, these things would not surprise her anymore. She actually believes in the process, she thinks that with this tangible piece of evidence the prosecutor will have no choice but to join her in righting a wrong.

JA: Yeah. Toni, unlike Creighton, is actually getting to experience firsthand the failure of the government and its institutions. If anyone in the Bernette household has a legitimate claim to frustration, it's Toni.

She's actually out there, working tips, chasing down sources, getting doors slammed in her face. She's seen the law-enforcement agencies actually try to justify their malfeasance in the wake of the flood. And she's regularly dealing with people who have borne the brunt of some pretty shitty circumstances.

In my opinion, Toni is authentic in all the ways that Davis and even Creighton wish they were.

TF: That rings very true, and it's not just Toni. Compared to the men in the show, Davis, Sonny, Creighton, certainly Antoine, who are forever complaining about the problems of the city and its culture, the women of the show -- Toni, LaDonna, Janette and Annie, for instance -- are not only a lot more committed to seriously rebuilding New Orleans in their own various ways but also a lot more responsible about how they go about it. They do the real work while the men spend much of their time engaged in empty gestures and indulging their vices.

AG: Yes! How tough are all of Treme's women?

Not only has LaDonna really persevered in finding Daymo, she seems to be doing a great job of supporting her mother and rebuilding her bar. And how fantastic was it watching her serve her delinquent contractor? Serious victory for anyone who has ever struggled with home repair. All four are working to keep their lives together and are rebuilding their families, businesses, and communities in the process.

The show's men, however, are just various shades of disappointing. Even the sympathetic ones! Between the bathrobe and the misanthropy, Creighton is pretty much a morph of Walter and The Dude from The Big Lebowski. He's only really started showing some joy in his life in the past couple of episodes, and that seems to be because people are stroking his ego. Davis is an immature twit. Antoine's kind of a cad -- albeit a lovable one. Albert seems to be the only one who's effectively working to repair his community, and he can be downright brutal.

JA: This has me thinking about LaDonna and Antoine, and why they're probably not together. We all know that Antoine is lovable in his own way, but he's also a loafer and extremely irresponsible, as we saw when he went off on that solo riff with that Carnival ball band.

If he's having trouble finding steady gigs, that might have offered a clue as to why.

He can't even really be trusted to be a good dad to his children. Which is sad because it seems as if he'd make a particularly fun father.

LaDonna is indomitable and relentless. She doesn't suffer fools lightly. You could easily see her tiring of Antoine's games.

TF: Is there really an airport band in New Orleans?

JA: Yes, a band actually does play in the baggage claim area of Louis Armstrong Airport. Or at least that was the case a couple of years ago when I last passed through there.

AG: The Krewe du Vieux stuff was OUT OF CONTROL. And in a good way. The club and parade scenes continue to be my favorite parts of the show.

The "Buy us back Chirac!" sign featured in the carnival was lifted from Ashley Morris' mime gag back in 2006, where he went all Marcel Marceau and begged the French president to initiate a Louisiana Re-Purchase. A photo of him from that parade -- themed "C'est Levee" -- is still featured prominently on his blog.

Also, since Krewe du Vieux kicks off carnival season, we should only expect episodes to get a little wilder in this regard.

JA: It's hard not to be drawn in, no?

Even Delmond, who is trying hard to fight the lure of home, couldn't resist giving in a little at Albert's tribe practice.

Also, why is Creighton mad at Nagin again? Is this just general rage? Or did he have a specific reason?

Because if any high-profile public official seemed legitimately troubled -- angry, even -- throughout Katrina and in the days after the flood, I'd have to vote first for Nagin. I'm not even sure there is a second.

AG: Also, just want to plug this single-purpose Tumblr: http://songsfromtreme.tumblr.com/

It is making my work day.

AS: A final bit of good news: Mystikal is back.

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