Treme Review: “Promised Land” (Season 3, Episode 7)

Carnival time in New Orleans has a popular conception of being a week or so of hard partying, letting your troubles go, and generally excusing yourself from average social norms, walking the line between sin and vice. On this episode of Treme, however, Carnival time turns into a kind of crucible, applying heat and pressure to situations that have been building over whole seasons in order to bring us to a brand new turning point. At the same time, it sets up a number of plot lines that will no doubt carry us toward the season finale and beyond.

The biggest dangling thread from last week, and the one that I was most looking forward to seeing a resolution for, was Sonny and his reconciliation with Linh and her father. While not as large a part of the episode as he was last week, we get just enough in this episode to let us know that things are progressing nicely. Sonny is attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, back working on the boat, and Linh’s father actually seems to understand the kind of toil that Sonny is in for. He and Sonny talk openly about Sonny’s options for the approaching Mardi Gras festival. He gives Sonny orders, but as a partner and support, not as a wronged party looking for revenge.

Michiel Huisman has done amazing work with a character who spent most of the first season as the show’s main source of derision. Of course in the first season most of the problems with the character were issues the audience was supposed to feel. He was full of himself, selfish, and a user. Now that he has finally hit rock bottom and accepted real help, I think that we can only continue to see more growth and empathy for Sonny. Especially given his actions this week with the temptations of Mardi Gras. He spends all day in an NA meeting, listening to the sounds of reverie outside, and even beats Linh’s father to the boat yard the day after.

There’s less to be proud of or happy about where Davis, Annie, and Janette are concerned. Davis is struggling with keeping control of his opera, especially after his aunt and producer try to take him off the front of one of his songs. This disillusionment and frustration boils over into his relationship with Annie when it turns out that she won’t be available for Mardi Gras. Davis and Annie spend the night together, but the moment the celebrations start, he is out on the street.

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