Treme Review: “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say” (Season 3, Episode 5)

Christmas brings families together, and is generally seen in the culture as a time of peace and harmony. But the wheels of progress don’t stop for the holidays, and this episode of Treme illustrates just what our characters are fighting for, what they have to endure to reach those goals, and what they stand to lose should they fail. The speed with which this season is progressing is breakneck when juxtaposed against the last two seasons, and since this is the midpoint of the season, we can look forward to a lot more to come.

The episode begins and ends in portentous images of destruction, each signifying a different danger in the City That Care Forgot. Desiree and Antoine are both at work when Desiree gets a call from her neighbor and races out of the office. Antoine is working on his band students’ coordination with the Cupid Shuffle and dodges the call, but when he does get a chance to call back he gets the bad news. “They did it, Antoine. They fu**ing did it,” Desiree says as she stands in front of her mother’s home, which is being destroyed by the city. The image of her standing powerless in the road as the house is destroyed is a powerful one, and sets the tone and theme for the episode.

And what is that theme? That the city as an organism is at war with itself and its heritage. Davis runs another tour through some lesser known historic spots with a larger group than before, and runs into Del, who is visiting another Indian chief. The happenstance meeting results in Del and his hosts joining the tour, learning a little more about the moldering monuments to the musical history of the city they love.

Davis rides high on the surprise additions, and his jovial attitude butts up against Annie’s own joy over her recent good news. She’s been signed to Lost Highway, and her career continues to move forward with great speed and hype. She’s glad, and Davis is as well, but it doesn’t seem as though either can help but feel as though their continued paths might be drawing them apart. There have been no outbursts yet, but the strain can be seen in their eyes.

Of course this could just be concern over their families finally meeting. Annie kindly deflects her mother’s vague reticence over her daughter’s career path, and through a course of two different gigs wins her over. Her father, meanwhile, is enthusiastic from the beginning, and watching him help to bring her mother around was a small joy. As was the tense dinner conversation in which Davis’s enthusiasm for local culture crashes against his mother’s preconceptions about the urban poor in the Treme. That’s not the only issue she has, though, pointing out that in New Orleans the key statement is always “There use to be…”

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