For all of its sprawling nature, by necessity certain characters take center stage in Treme, and how much you enjoy an episode is of course greatly affected by how much you like them. And for that reason, Treme has always been a bit more mixed to me than The Wire, in which pretty much every role speaks to me in some way. Sonny has gone through a huge arc since we first met him in season one, but he still doesn’t have much personality, and his stories tend to be so pat and easy to predict that it’s hard not to sigh whenever he comes onscreen.
Sonny doesn’t overwhelm “Careless Love,” but he’s the only one whose story isn’t just developing; it’s going through major shifts and sets the tone for everything else. But Sonny’s story of bottoming out, missing work and having sex with a stripper is exactly what we’d expect to see from him, and while sad to watch, it’s not revelatory. I do care much more for Sonny than I did when he was abusing Annie, certainly, but I also know the beats, and for all the great acting and directing of his sequences, they largely just rolled off me. His story of redemption is important to Treme thematically, but I feel like the show just hasn’t been able to pull it off.
Fortunately this was the only part of the episode that really stumbled, and even the ongoing investigation managed to pique some of my interest—they found people who were willing to testify, so the repetition we’ve had since season one may finally be winding down. That’s long been my main frustration with Treme, that for various reasons good and bad the show gets same-y. This has been the problem with Nelson this season. Last season he was a mover and shaker; this season he’s just been mired in frustration at New Orleans, so we’ve had half a dozen episodes of his stagnation.
But despite the few performances, “Careless Love” had a great number of wonderful scenes. Davis’ meeting with Fats Domino was definitely a highlight, as was actually hearing some of his opera being made. I have no idea whether the project will get completed, but what we heard thus far is entertaining, so I certainly hope so. His latest interaction with his boss at the radio station was perfect, too. I really love that Davis understands their relationship while the boss is completely baffled by the way he keeps letting Davis return.
And of course, with the revelation that Albert will be foregoing chemotherapy until after Mardi Gras came another rehearsal at LaDonna’s bar. LaDonna’s eyes on the dancing men tell us that she certainly has no regrets about letting them practice there, and what’s more, we get another fantastic dialogue between her and Albert.
One more storyline I certainly can’t miss out mentioning was Antoine and Desiree’s quest to get help for an illiterate student Antoine has been mentoring. Once he realizes she can’t read, they do everything in their power to help her, but of course the school system is set to keep illiterate children that way. Charter schools want to protect themselves from low test scores by keeping special needs children away, while public schools don’t have the funding to offer the one-on-one help she needs. At least for now, she’s stuck, though I’m guessing that having Antoine in her corner won’t mean she’s down for good.
•”Some of it’s… even good.” – On Davis’ opera..
•”Assert herself” is a frustratingly awful euphemism, one of those that’s all about blaming the victim.
•”Do something else with your last two hours.” – How many hours long is Davis’ show?
•Fats Domino sounds exactly the same as ever.