Treme, Season 3, Episode 4: “The Greatest Love”
Written by David Simon (Story), Mari Kornhauser and Chris Yakaitis (Teleplay)
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Airs Sundays at 10pm (ET) on HBO
This week, on Treme: LP feels the heat, romance is in the air (or it isn’t), and LaDonna’s is the place to be on Sundays
After last week’s character survey, which featured significant moments and decisions for many of the main cast, “The Greatest Love” pulls in closer, focusing on relative newcomer LP Everett’s investigation into police corruption. Much of this episode centers around LP, who’s been relegated to the fringes for much of his time so far on the show. We finally get the particulars of the case he’s working, of which the negligent homicide of a New Orleanian by a group of NO police officers is just the beginning. After a few weeks of somewhat poorly drawn interviews and inquiries, it’s great to be let in on what’s happened, to be able to follow LP’s conversations more fully and connect with his journey. Perhaps everything we see this week has been mentioned previously, but in a show as fragmented as Treme usually is, the writers putting everything together into one conversation, like LP’s with Toni, is incredibly helpful.
The issue of police malfeasance and corruption is not a new one to the series, but the focus it seems to be getting this season, with LP’s arc in particular, makes it feel increasingly urgent. The show has toyed with the topic before, bringing it up as a serious concern of the city, but we haven’t seen anything actually come of our more civically-minded characters’ actions. Hopefully, by the end of the season this will have changed. Putting LP, Toni, and Sofia’s law enforcement headaches together, in the same car, allows for more thematic and efficient storytelling. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen of dinners at the Bernette household.
This particularly holds if we get more scenes with LP and Sofia’s useless boyfriend. It’s nice to see someone address their age difference, even if it’s Sofia, feeling a little insecure, and LP’s reaction to this loser of a guy and his pretensions, his combination of disdain and indifference, is hilarious. Another comedic gem is earlier in the episode, when Antoine receives a bad forecast for his bands’ likelihood of marching in the parade only to have one of his students score the moment perfectly with a descending saxophone line (think Sad Trombone).
Antoine continues his shady dealings, though they now at least come from a good place. The man will never be fully respectable, it seems, but it’s nice to see his relationship with his students develop. Also developing appears to be Terry’s love life, though whether his encounter this week recurs or is a one-time deal remains to be seen. The show may have teased potential for Terry and Toni to get together, but given her emotional reaction to the beautiful, painful take on Waiting for Godot we see briefly, she still isn’t healed from her husband’s suicide, despite her exterior poise and recovery. Melissa Leo is always fantastic, but her quiet reactions in this scene are devastating.
Other relationships are somewhat in flux this week, with Annie on tour in Austin (with Fringe’s Michael Cerveris, who’s happy to feed her his Texas barbeque), leaving Davis alone in New Orleans, and Janette utterly focused on her new restaurant, pushing Jacques increasingly back into their previous relationship dynamic of Chef-Sous Chef, to his disappointment. Annie and Davis feel unavoidably headed towards a painful split. We like both of them, so their potential breakup promises to be messy for the audience, unlike Annie and Sonny’s in season one. Perhaps the problem is that Davis feels far more invested in the relationship than Annie. Steve Zahn is so likeable, in general and as Davis, that it’s hard not to immediately dislike anyone causing him heartache. Treme tends to avoid the cliché path, however, so hopefully they’ll go another way.
Sonny sits this week out, as does Nelson, practically, with just two brief scenes. Trimming down, or out, these characters is a welcome change. This series is the definition of sprawling drama, but it’s remarkable what a difference cutting out a storyline or two has. The extra time is devoted to LP’s story, integrating him more fully into the action with the more established characters, as well as to musical performances, particularly the absolute highlight of the episode- the Indian practice at LaDonna’s.
The practice with Albert, Delmond, and the rest of the Guardians, is charged, full of energy and intensity. We’ve seen moments here and there of the group performing, as well as scads of mentions of “practice”, but it’s great to finally experience it. The strength exuded in the vocals of these men demands attention, draws the audience in, and won’t let go. The showdown of the two Chiefs adds even more significance and, by the end of the sequence, you feel almost voyeuristic, privileged to have been allowed a glimpse into such a unique and incredibly personal tradition. This is the show its best, these moments of transcendence and culture. This is why you should be watching Treme.
What did you think of the episode? Anyone else pleasantly surprised to see Anthony Anderson back on a good show, however briefly? Whose love life are you most interested in? Think the show can top the Big Chief’s performance? Post your thoughts below!