We take a different approach this week on the podcast, …
Treme finished its four season run this week with “… To Miss New Orleans”, an appropriately reflective and celebratory hour. Unlike last year’s potential series finale, “Tipitina”, this episode focuses on each character’s journey not to a specific place, but forward in their life. Surprisingly, and happily, this episode leaves each character in a good place. Not everyone winds up in New Orleans, but they’ve all made positive motion in their lives and are surrounded by people who understand and support them. Davis has a responsible job he’s good at, but still finds time to still write a new Godzilla vs. MLK single. Antoine may still be fooling around on Mardi Gras, but he’s involved in his sons lives for the first time in the entire series. Terry and Annie leave town, but Terry gets to be with his children and Annie continues to blossom as an artist. Everyone gets a win in some way or another this week and this fond, perhaps overly sunny farewell is more than most viewers will have hoped for.
The reflective tone of last week’s episode is crystallized in “Sunset on Louisianne”, as characters ponder their legacies and impact while Big Chief Lambreaux quietly passes. Viewers expecting a dramatic, emotional goodbye for Albert may be disappointed, but they shouldn’t be surprised. Treme, like The Wire before it, prizes honesty over melodrama and an expected, comparatively peaceful death while sleeping is much more in keeping with this than the tearful goodbyes, waterworks, and last minute revelations of so many other cancer-related deaths on television. Over the past few episodes, Albert has grown increasingly tired and has started to fade.
Season four continues along its bittersweet track this week, with everyone holding on for dear life as they say goodbye to 2008 and hello to 2009. Albert’s health is deteriorating, Janette continues to struggle with her new restaurant, and Terry feels the consequences of his season three evidence swap. Antoine reconnects with Jennifer, who’s drifted away from band after the death of Cherise, but he also gets a startling reminder of a certain portion of the population’s thoughts on race and history. At the moment, Treme looks like it’ll be going out not with the triumphant coming together of the season three finale, but a more sober statement on endurance. It may not be as much of an audience-pleaser, but it’s a fitting and honest choice.
Treme returns this week in glorious fashion, kicking of its final mini-season with “Yes We Can Can”. With more shows being produced with each passing year and a current frustrating sameness to much of this fall’s programming, it’s wonderful to get to spend even a few more weeks in this unique world. From the characters to the music to the cinematography, this is a show that feels like no other and just hearing the theme song makes any fan of the show feel instantly at ease, welcomed back to the colorful, inspiring, and occasionally harsh world of Treme.