Wednesday, April 21, 2010
"treh-MAY" - Episode #2: "Meet De Boys on the Battlefront"
(All photos can be found @ http://www.poptower.com/treme-pictures.htm or Wikipedia.)
Here are just some of the highlights from Episode #2: "Meet De Boys on the Battlefront":
"Why don't you play the next cut on that CD as I summon the spirits?" New Orleans musician Coco Robicheaux slyly says to deejay Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn) during their interview at the radio station. Robicheaux is holding a rooster in one hand and a knife in the other, pressing it against its neck. An alarmed, yet intrigued, Davis pretends not to know the fate of that poor bird: "Are we entering some sacrificial realm here?" he asks with trepidation. After the opening credits pass on, you'll notice the huge spatters of blood on the walls. Yes, rooster blood! Davis feels beyond proud to have witnessed a truly unforgettable moment. Not too long after Coco's ritual at the station, Davis gets fired.
He now has to beg his parents (father's a doctor) for a loan. They promise to help Davis out only if he accepts the position at a fancy hotel, located in the "tourist-friendly" French Quarter. Davis reluctantly accepts the position. His main job is to be a "friendly" guide and highlight the many great things there are to see and do in New Orleans--but only within the narrow, yet "safe" confines of the Quarter. Squirming around in his hotel uniform, it is obvious that Davis won't last long in his position. When he sends three "church volunteers" off to "Bullet's," a restaurant/lounge located in the 7th Ward (far away from the Quarter), Davis pretty much signed his "letter of resignation." "Crime's all gone to Houston," he assures the wide-eyed, youthful trio of the neighborhood's safety. Fortunately, the volunteers return unscathed, but not until the next morning and, of course, they were completely hungover and covered in tattered, feathered boas and Mardi Gras beads. They immediately thanked Davis for showing them the "real" New Orleans.
"A gig is not a job," Desiree incessantly reminds Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce). A wonderfully gifted trombonist, Antoine's flaws unfortunately are more evident in his private life. When ex-wife LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) pays Antoine an unexpected visit at his home, not only are she and current girlfriend Desiree now face to face, but LaDonna discovers that Antoine has a new baby daughter with Desiree. In addition to his two sons with LaDonna, there are [at least] three children that Antoine has fathered. "I'll tell your sons they have a new half sister...another one," says LaDonna, just before she takes off. Desiree turns to Antoine, "What she mean by 'another one'?" Clearly he's not going to win any father or husband of the year awards.
What Antoine really lives for are his "gigs," especially a gig that gives him the opportunity to perform with great musicians like trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. Although for certain gigs, particularly those in the "tourist-friendly" Bourbon Street, Antoine feels as though his integrity as a musician is being tested: "There's pride left on Bourbon Street," everyone tells Antoine. "Well, that's what I hear," he says with skepticism. Antoine certainly enjoys the "perks" of the working musician's life: smoking, drinking and of course, women. In fact, there's a very flexible stripper who immediately catches Antoine's eye during one of his gigs.
When LaDonna returns to her bar, Gigi's Lounge, she's upset to find her roof in the same horrible condition as she left it, after having paid even more money to a local contractor to fix it. But when Toni (Melissa Leo) arrives to tell LaDonna that they found her brother, Daymo, LaDonna's anger over her shaky roof quickly disappears. She warns LaDonna that the process may take a lot longer due to the fact that the parishes get more FEMA money for every O.P.P. prisoner they hold.
LaDonna, her mother and Toni all eagerly wait in the visitor's area of the prison for Daymo's arrival. When the guards finally walk into the area to meet them, they bring David Brooks over alright--just not "their Daymo."
Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters) is also trying to rebuild--literally. Albert's son, trumpeter Delmond Lambreaux (Rob Brown), insists that he spends the upcoming holiday season with his family in Houston, thereby forcing him to leave New Orleans. But Albert just can't say goodbye--especially now when his home is now in its most vulnerable state.
While working on the repairs for one of the local houses, he discovers that his tools have been stolen. As the episode spoiler suggests, "Albert is forced to take the law into his own hands." And that he does, questioning everyone that he can think of to return his tools, which are now considered priceless in a city that has been hit by so much natural (and man-made) devastation. Finally, someone returns the tools back to Albert and he admitted that he bought them off some young kid nearby. When Albert tracks the young man down, he was set to confront him for stealing his tools, but then he discovered that the kid was ripping out the copper wires that were just installed in a renovated home. Albert forced this kid to acknowledge what he was doing, especially so soon after Hurricane Katrina. Needless to say that the kid, perhaps blinded by his youth, was ignorant and stubborn. His ignorance enraged Albert so much so that he proceeded to beat him to near unconsciousness. That anger, that hurt was not just Albert's, but it was for all of the people in New Orleans who felt abandoned and in utter disarray.
Now it begins to go deeper--that is called great writing and first-rate drama!
The music was, once again, a prominent feature in this episode: cameos from Coco Robicheaux, Trombone Shorty, Galactic, the New Orleans Jazz Vipers, and of course, the great Kermit Ruffins.
Next week on Episode #3: "Right Place, Wrong Time"
Spoiler: "While Davis trades piano lessons for his freedom, Albert makes an unnerving discovery and Annie gets a gig on her birthday."