“At The Foot Of Canal Street”

The latest episode of Treme was back to a purposeful form after the drift of the previous one.  I’ve focussed on the character of Sonny before, because he has been an irritating cipher, but now we’ve gotten some important details about who and what he is and where he’s going; he’s a poseur and a dilettante, and he seems to be aware of it, along with being a junkie – none of this is a surprise, and in retrospect it’s skillful storytelling that introduces him then takes a bit before taking him outside his own context, busking and being a snob, and putting him alongside the New Birth Brass Band, John Boutté and Joe Krown at a jam session.  On opposite side, his girlfriend and musical partner Annie is more and more shown as a superior musician, jamming with the Harley Watt (played by Steve Earle) and Justin Townes Earle, and later with the Jazz Vipers, where Sonny sees her and perhaps can hear what she really is.

Now that Davis and Creighton have met each other, they also turn out to be an appropriate pair, both essentially wandering around inside themselves, trying to find a purpose, a way to constructively respond to what they see around them.  Now that Davis has politics and Crieghton YouTube, perhaps they’ve discovered their métiers.  The pairing up and pairing off continued with Batiste and LaDonna, two of the most interesting characters and finest actors.  Khandi Alexander is dominating on the screen, and the combination of LaDonna’s determination and Batiste’s desire to avoid responsibility is great to watch.  Her search for her missing brother looks like it’s turning into one of the key elements, the atavistic, Kafkaesque nature of what is supposed to pass for civilization in political America.

The other main pair is Albert and his son, although what that is about is still an intriguing mystery.  Albert is trying to rebuild, physically and socially, but there’s a sense in the way Clarke Peters plays him that there’s something very much hidden.  Delmond seems to be sent circling around his father’s center of gravity, via New Orleans music. which he seems to be trying to stay away from.  Nice cameos from Ron Carter, Stanley Crouch, Nelson George, McCoy Tyner and others, although having his girlfriend be a Village Voice writer is a little too cute; it’s been a long time since the Voice had anything knowledgeable, constructive or honest to write about American music.  Like the previous episode, there was a little less music integrated into the show itself, which was a little disappointing, hopefully it’s just temporary.

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