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Treme, Ep. 4.03, “Dippermouth Blues” starts preparing audiences for the end

Treme, Ep. 4.03, “Dippermouth Blues” starts preparing audiences for the end

Treme S04E03 promo pic

Treme, Season 4, Episode 3, “Dippermouth Blues”
Written by Eric Overmyer
Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO

This week, on Treme: Albert worsens, Janette runs out of champagne, and Antoine teaches a crash course

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.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Albert may be coughing a lot, but he also gets pretty for a New Year’s out with LaDonna and the rest of the family to watch Delmond perform. It’s great to see a spark of pure happiness and excitement in him; he’s been too reserved for such displays in the past, but this reviewer could watch a gif of his seated dance moves forever. He seems to have come to terms with his fate and is doing his level best to enjoy the moments he has left. LaDonna remains a perfect match for him, helping him prepare his suit, and it’s nice to see their relationship out in the open, at least to his family. It would be very interesting to see what LaDonna would do after Albert’s looming death, whether she’d go back to Larry or move on with her children alone, but given that we only have two episodes left, it seems likely that particular event is set for the finale, leaving little time to see the longer-term emotional fallout (barring an “X Months Later” montage). It’s hard to see Albert coughing this week; the finale will likely destroy us.

Davis is an interesting case as well- could he be headed for maturity? His conversation with Janette is shaded by an awareness that they’re getting a bit old for unexamined hookups, as fun as they are. Davis knows he ruined a good thing with Annie by not being present and may have even, shock and astonishment, learned from that mistake, not wanting to take what could be something good with Janette for granted. Those of viewership shipping Janette and Jacques may prefer a different development (yes, even Treme has shippers), but it’s hard to root against Davis. Steve Zahn’s too darn likeable.

Once again Davis functions as the glue of the show, tying the restaurant world in with the most disconnected of the arcs at the moment, Toni and Terry’s struggles with the police. With Sonny nowhere to be found, the mantle of Least Interconnected shifts to our crusading couple, who continue their efforts this week against police corruption and misconduct. It seems like an unwinnable battle though, making their scenes a harder sell. How much more disappointment and frustration can Terry take? How much can Toni? It would be wonderful for at least one of them to have some success, but that doesn’t seem in keeping with the tone of the show. We’ll see- there are two episodes left. Maybe David Simon and co. will surprise us.

That’s the underlying thread in this week’s episode, and throughout season four. Each episode feels very aware of how little time is left, adding vitality to each precious scene. We seem no nearer a tidy conclusion than we were at the start of the season, making the final two installments all the more intriguing, but tidy has never been a priority on Treme. In an odd way, Simon and Eric Overmyer seem to be preparing the audience for the show to end. We don’t want to say goodbye, and presumably neither do they, but change and loss are staples of life and much of this season seems to be about acceptance of that fact. Why dread and fight the series’ conclusion? Let’s take a page out of Albert’s book and dance our way to the finale instead.

What did you think of the episode? Are you excited for the finale, or dreading it? Which characters would you like to see one more time before the show wraps up? Think our leads will get any breaks before the finale? Post your thoughts below.

Kate Kulzick