Would voting participation rates increase if John Boutte sang outside all the polling places? This season opens on election day in 2008, when we all had a sense of history being made. In Treme, Albert gruffly tells his son that his one vote won't change anything, but he ends up going, and makes chills go up and down your spine as he watches Obama's victory speech later that night. Antoine runs back home and gets his trombone so that he can play with John Boutte, and Sofia tells her mom as they run to the next street celebration that it's stupid to vote in Connecticut when you could be dancing in the street in New Orleans. But as Kermit Ruffins plays and winds his way through the crowd, he sees the police cruisers lined up just outside the merriment, ready to knock heads if things get out of line. Same as it ever was.
So is this season going to be about hope, like the Obama campaign? Only in the sense that Treme has always been about hope in that stubborn New Orleans against-all-odds sort of way. Written by David Simon, Eric Overmyer, and George Pelecanos. Directed by Anthony Hemingway.
Davis submerges his car in the mother of all potholes, and knowing the city response will be slow if it comes at all, sets up a scarecrow as a warning to other drivers. This is not the only grown-up thing he does, for as he finishes a set for a "packed house-at least 15 or 20 people" he tells his group that perhaps the opera has run its course and it's about done. That becomes apparent especially in contrast to the album that Don from his label leaks to him--Trombone Shorty's Backatown, which cemented Shorty as a national act. (Remember the Canon camera commercial?)
A lot has happened with LaDonna since the end of last season. She and stalwart Larry are in the process of divorcing, and she's trying to get the new bar off the ground so that she can bring her kids back to New Orleans. As they sit on their Baton Rouge porch talking in their private school uniforms, it's clear why she tells them it's better for them to stay put, especially for now. They just have more opportunity outside the city. And sure enough, LaDonna and Albert have consummated the flirtation of last season. "Let me take care'a you," she says to him. He's still coughing, but he's got his hair back and is looking pretty hale and hearty.
Alcide and Randall are better off than Robert, who's caught himself a dose, and has no dad to help him out. Antoine takes him to the Musician's Clinic, where Sonny has found himself working. (A bit of a stretch to tie characters together, but it could happen…) He'll have to go to the Sisters of Charity, but at least he can get some treatment. Sonny's still on the straight and narrow, although still trying to get out from under his father-in-law's thumb. Antoine's the head band teacher now, so he's teacher, nurse, and dad all rolled into one, whether he's ready for it or not.
Always ready for the next disaster is Nelson, who has landed in Galveston after Hurricane Ike, saying whatever needs to be said in order to get that next "piece of the pie." (Hi Cousin Arnie!) He drops in on his banker buddy in order to still be in mind for the jazz center, and gets sent to a community meeting to take the temperature. Davis finds him there, and takes him to see Shorty at the Howlin' Wolf in order to get a real education about the music. "Music lives where it lives, brah," he tells him, as he shows him that famous picture of a 4 year old Shorty with a trombone bigger than he is. Nelson looks forward to eating at least, but is disappointed that Desautel's has a new chef that isn't as good as Janette.
She's moved down to the Bywater, where Davis brings her a case of wine, probably ill-gotten although he says it's from Bacchanal, and vows he'll keep coming to her openings, all "six or seven." It's an interesting scene, because Janette keeps trying to get him to stick around, but he doesn't bite. It's all very Blanche in "Streetcar". Later on, Jaques comes by with his new girlfriend and Janette's loneliness is apparent. She's got no partner like Feeney undermining her at every step, but she's profoundly on her own. She can't even use her own name for the restaurant without a qualifier, and finally decides on "Desautel's on Dauphine."
Annie's still struggling with her partner Marvin. She's thrilled to be playing with the Bayou Cadillacs (Red Stick Ramblers) and lighting the crowd on fire in Lafayette, but Marvin thought she'd "be hungrier" and be going national like Shorty. She goes to Davis for advice and he lets her vent without getting too much in her business. At some point she's going to need to dig her heels in, make a choice, and deal with the consequences.
More willing to break free is Delmond, who plays a set with the man who puts the grand in grandfather, Ellis Marsalis. Woodrow is pushing a little more gently for him to get back into the New York scene, but they seem to have come to an understanding. Delmond agrees to take a short term gig as long as it's just a couple of days, because he wants to ensure Albert is totally out of the woods. But with a baby on the way, it looks like those roots are growing pretty strong.
Also setting roots is Terry Colson, who's pretty much moved in with Toni, making Sofia a little prickly. He's still making enemies at every turn complaining at work and screaming about a transfer. His statement about hoping somebody comes in to clean house foreshadows the later DOJ actions, but right now he's not doing anything to make his life easier. He is on the side of the angels, though, because after getting dinged for public peeing, Sonny witnesses a death due to the negligence of OPP, and sets Toni on the trail. She's on it, but the paperwork hasn't shown up, surprise surprise. There's a lot of things you can overlook, but a completely avoidable non-violence related deaths isn't one of those things.
Same as it ever was, and same with Treme. This premiere isn't going to convince a non-watcher that it's the best show on television, but those who already enjoy it are going to settle in with old friends and see what's been going on since we last came together. I'm noticing the micro-scenes that Edward Copeland wrote about, and even though I'm more forgiving than some, I'm starting to get tired of certain repetitive story lines, like Annie's. But I do want to see what happens with Antoine and Albert, as well as LaDonna and Janette. And remembering what it's like to hear Shorty's "supafunkrock" for the first time along with Davis, well, that's all right.