Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"treh-MAY" - Episode #3: "Right Place, Wrong Time"

(All photos can be found @ http://www.poptower.com/treme-pictures.htm or Wikipedia.)

Here are just some of the highlights from Episode #3: "Right Place, Wrong Time":

Trombonist Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce) is getting "better acquainted" with the stripper he met as his recent gig (See "Episode #2") at a club on Bourbon Street. Although Antoine is clearly enjoying this tryst, the stripper is just going through the motions. In fact, she chews and pops her bubblegum during the entire time. (Does anyone out there recall a similar moment in Waiting to Exhale?)

"How did you get a FEMA trailer so quick?" Antoine immediately asks the stripper while heading for his cab. "Baby, how you think I got one so quick?" she says while motioning to her toned, stripper physique.

That same morning, Antoine returns home with a bag of beignets, deliciously fried and powdered pastries, to smooth the path.

"Who you f**king?" Desiree, Antoine's girlfriend and mother of their baby daughter, immediately asks him. (I guess the beignets didn't work.)

Antoine gave a rather quick, yet convincing excuse for staying out all night: he was playing cards with the guys in the band. Desiree's a bit skeptical. When she threatens to take their baby and move in with her mother in Memphis, Antoine talks her into staying. Desiree seductively grabs Antoine's belt and gives him a chance to, shall I say, prove his innocence: "You ain't got nothin' for me now, I'm gonna know for sure."

After Desiree "puts it on him," Antoine returns to the same strip club for another gig. When the same bubblegum-loving stripper crosses his past, he does his very best to spurn her advances toward him. Meanwhile, Antoine's bandmates begin to tease him because he wasn't asked to be a part of the music benefit at Lincoln Center, alongside Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty, and trumpeter Delmond Lambreaux (Rob Brown).

Feeling a tad dejected, especially after the teasing and now having to play gigs on the "tourist-friendly" Bourbon Street, Antoine leaves and runs into keyboardist Sonny (Michiel Huisman) and violinist/fiddler Annie (Lucia Micarelli) performing on the street. Despite after having a few drinks, his voice sounds achingly beautiful when he's singing the standard, "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You" along with Sonny and Annie's beautiful playing. When Antoine stops himself and starts to head for home, Sonny and Annie both beg Antoine to stay and play his trombone. He kindly says no and then continues to head home.

As he turns away, he accidentally bumps his trombone against a squad car. Two overly aggressive officers immediately jump out of their squad car. Not only do they force him to throw his trombone down on the ground (sans its case), but they start to wail and beat him up with heavy-handed punches and blows, and then they arrest him. Although Sonny, Annie and a few others yelled out to the officers to stop hitting him, it didn't help.

Toni (Melissa Leo) arrives to bail Antoine out of prison and you can't help but notice the almost purple bruises all over his face. Worst of all, Antoine has a loose tooth--which can be a death sentence for a professional, horn-playing musician. He makes his living with his trombone and now that may be in jeopardy. "Make sure they got my trombone," he implores Toni.

Another familiar face also required Toni's help: former deejay and recently axed "French Quarter hotel guide" Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn). While standing in front of his home, Davis and a friend were talking and having a drink. Then the National Guard ordered them both to pour out their drinks and, of course, Davis vocalized his objections and that is when he was immediately arrested. The charge--drinking out of an open container. The National Guard is clearly a modern day gestapo in New Orleans and Davis, like so many others, are just plain sick of it. "I just want my city back," he says with great frustration to Toni.

Although LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) initially seeks Toni's help in locating her brother, David "Daymo" Brooks, she begins to have doubts and insists that her husband Larry contact his brother Bernard, a civil court judge, to see if he can help. Although Larry's reluctant to ask for the favor, he agrees to make the call and help her out. When LaDonna mentions that Larry's family is Creole, his reluctance suddenly makes sense. His family does not accept LaDonna because she's not Creole: "...like they're a different race."

LaDonna's emotions are understandably all over the place: one moment, she's raising holy hell over the contractors not finishing the repairs to her roof's shingles, and the next moment, she's calm and collected when she calls Bernard (after already leaving several messages) to ask for his help. And when she finally decides to visit Bernard at his office, he promises to help LaDonna--but never really makes good on that promise. LaDonna realizes that Toni's help is very much needed right now.

Meanwhile, LaDonna is also trying to convince her mother to move to Baton Rouge so that she can spend more time with her grandchildren. "What if David comes home and I'm not here?" she says to LaDonna. She's beyond upset at Toni for having the "wrong David" brought to them during their visit at the prison. However, it's clear to Toni (and to the viewers at home) who's really to blame.

During Toni's visit with Sherriff Babineaux, she insists that they perform a DNA test to prove that not only do they have the wrong David Brooks, but that they lost the real prisoner. While giving her the most insincere grin, the sherriff quickly denies her request. When she mentions to Sherriff Babineaux how prisons get more FEMA bucks for every prisoner they detain, he politely throws Toni out of his office.

While Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters) is creating a new Indian chief suit for Mardi Gras, his friend (with the hauling business) stops by to tell him about a kid (the one who ripped out newly installed wires in a renovated home that Albert beat to a pulp) was in the hospital. Without giving anything away, Albert asked if the kid would be alright. His friend is clearly unsure.

Meanwhile, Albert gets a visit from Lorenzo, the son of fellow tribesman Jesse. Lorenzo, now living in Arizona with his family, is concerned not only about their family home in the Lower Ninth Ward, but more importantly, he's concerned about his father's whereabouts for he has not returned since Hurricane Katrina. As Albert and Lorenzo look through the house, he notices a boat that's flipped upside down. When he lifts it up, he immediately recognizes Jesse's body decomposing. Both Albert and Lorenzo are choked up with emotion from the stench of the body.

Delmond is now rehearsing in New York with other New Orleans musicians, including the great Dr. John. Just as they begin to jam, Delmond receives a call on his cell phone from his father Albert. Although Delmond silences the message, it's still a powerful one: Jesse's dead and he found the body.

Once they're done rehearsing for the day, the musicians gather around eating pizza and talking about New Orleans. While Trombone Shorty and some of the other musicians are homesick, Delmond insists that their talents are acknowledged in every other city except for New Orleans: "...they hype the music, but they don't love the musicians." As Delmond lists the names of famous musicians to come out of New Orleans ("Pops," "Prima" and "Wynton," respectively) you can't help but think that there's a lot of truth in his statement. However, the other musicians will forever call New Orleans their home.

When Albert begins rehearsing with some of his tribesmen, more start to come out to pay their respects to Jesse. As they begin to chant and sing, a Katrina tour bus slowly pulls up and the driver asks the group about what's happening. "Is this your house?" he asks. "Just drive away," a tribesman shouts at him. The driver realizes his grave error and soon leaves. The group continues to stare in shock as the tour bus drives off.

Questions to think about:

- What are your feelings about tour buses and the "developers" (shout out to Donald Trump) roaming the area?

- Does anyone out there feel that the group was wrong to tell the tour bus to "drive away?"

Next week on Episode #4: "At the Foot of Canal Street":

Spoiler: "Antoine spends the holidays with his kids in Baton Rouge while LaDonna and Toni look into a local case of mistaken identity. Davis and Creighton decide to take their pain to the masses, while Sonnie leaves Annie for a gig in Texas and Albert accepts an invitation for dinner."

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