Treme Review: “The Greatest Love” (Season 3, Episode 4)

The season arcs of Treme often depend on the accumulation of moments and ideas toward a greater design in the last few episodes. This season, however, seems to be building a real and palpable momentum with every single episode that goes by. The thing is, this thematic and narrative acceleration easily registers in the lives of the characters, and it wouldn’t be hard to conceive of the rest of the season dealing with the fallout from too much forward motion coming too quickly for some people to handle.

If the stress of rapid progress is truly testing anyone in a palpable way just yet, it would probably be Annie and Davis. Annie and her band are doing a showcase in Austin, and while her star is rising, the increased demands on her to continue to gain exposure keep her away from Davis. Their time together is so spare that Davis even helps her during her turn on laundry duty just to spend time with her (though the fact that this was the old J&M records we saw in the first episode might also explain his willingness). Of course, Davis has his own endeavor to tend to, but despite the financial sacrifices he and his aunt have made, things remain slow.

Likewise, Janette is only just now setting down the path toward opening her restaurant, but already some small bumps have appeared in the road. Her and Jacques are set on hiring the best possible workers from the plethora of displaced restaurant workers in New Orleans, while their benefactor seems to be focusing on beauty over all else. This will restrict their ability to serve complex dishes. However, Janette is all passion and fire, and seems capable of creating an effective solution to the problems, conceiving of new dishes that can bring classic New Orleans flavors to a slightly higher plane of culinary regard. This keeps her from treating Jacques like a lover, however, which grates on him visibly, even has he seems completely happy for Janette’s success.

The other prominent pairing in this show – Ladonna and her husband – were in a similarly rocky position for quite a while, but seem to be back on track. Ladonna hammered out a suitable business arrangement with Chief Lambreaux in one of the episode’s best scenes, and after a series of dismal house-hunting defeats, she and her husband may finally have found their perfect new home. This house-hunt is intercut well with Janette’s search for a wait staff, mirroring the scene of the contract negotiations last week.

Chief is happy about the new practice space for his Indians, but he’s on the verge of making some changes to his costume and possibly his routine. Del finds this sudden reversal strange, until the moment his father comes clean with him about his recent lymphoma diagnosis. I was wondering how long Chief would keep this a secret, but it appears the broken bridge between father and son is fully mended now, especially after Chief says he doesn’t want Del’s sisters to know. This doesn’t sit right with Del, though he does convince his father to sign up for a fund that is there to help musicians and “culture-bearers” get the help they need – an act of near-charity that would have been unthinkable for the Chief not long ago, though Albert still scoffs at the idea, not quite comfortable having to “bear culture,” as he puts it. (He’s not the only one benefiting from charity of a kind, though. This week’s episode has Antoine helping out a student whose family can’t pay the heating bill).

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