BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.By Edward Copeland
We finally see Annie (Lucia Micarelli) doing what she does best — playing the hell out of the fiddle with her band Bayou Cadillac on “Do You Wanna Dance” (with French lyrics, no less) on a Lafayette, Louisiana stage. When the set ends, Annie gets a big bear hug from Michael Doucet, founder of the band BeauSoleil, whose group had an album that bore the name Bayou Cadillac. He tells her he loves the name of the band and while Annie worries that he might take offense, Doucet assures her he takes it as a compliment. She tries to spread her exuberance to her manager Marvin Frey (Michael Cerveris), insisting it’s the best show ever and wishing they taped it or the concert in Mobile for a live album. “You might even sell a few copies in Lafayette or Mobile or even New Orleans,” Frey responds unenthusiastically. As Frey and Annie watch Doucet take the stage and Annie imagines being that big in a few years, Frey walks away. “Why do I get the sense that you are trying to tell me something?” Annie asks her manager. Frey tells her that in the music industry, it’s getting harder to survive on the margins. Her album did what it did but once they get north of a certain point geographically, it goes nowhere. “Doing rock ‘n’ roll dance hall tunes en francais in Lafayette?” Frey poses. “What the fuck Marvin? We’re in Lafayette,” Annie replies. “That’s right. You’re in Lafayette. I just thought you were hungrier than that,” Frey tells his client.
Terry (David Morse) looks quite comfortable reading the Times-Picayune sports section in Toni’s living room as he complains about the Atlanta Falcons who will face off against the hometown Saints with a 4-4 record. He fears he’s boring Toni with the football talk, but she surprises him with her pigskin player knowledge. Sofia breezes through the room, as she prepares to return east to school, and notes how comfy Colson seems in the house, asking if the living arrangement is permanent. Her mom informs Sofia that the city demolished Terry’s house. “I was too late getting started. Mold and rot had its way with everything,” Terry tells Sofia, who asks what she should call him now — Terry? Detective Colson? Colson suggests The Tall Guy. Colson inquires of Toni if she’d mind if he’d spend Thanksgiving with her and Sofia in New Orleans. He’d already asked his sons in Indianapolis and they approved, though Colson realizes he should’ve broached the subject with Toni first. Toni insists that both she and Sofia would love to have him there. (Morse has been so great in so many roles since his first splash on St. Elsewhere, that he truly was a welcome sight in his recurring role in the first season, even more so once he became a regular in Season Two) Annie seeks advice from ex-boyfriend Davis about Marvin’s advice that she dump Bayou Cadillac in favor of Nashville studio musicians. “I should tell him to go fuck himself, right? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to say?” Annie asks McAlary. While Davis agrees with her problems with Frey, he also admits that his relationship with the Lost Highway record label beats any local label, including his own. Annie thanks him for lending her his ear. “What else are psychically wounded ex-lovers for?” Davis replies before hopping on a bicycle and heading to his own label. He asks Don B. if his Aunt Mimi might be on the premises, but Don says between the two of them, most days he feels as if he’s holding down the fort by himself. He then gives Davis his paycheck, which McAlary complains will go to more than $800 in repairs for the pothole debacle. He also asks Don to admit that most days Bartholomew would pay to keep Davis out of the office. Before McAlary scampers off, Don gives him a demo of “the next big thing” that will come out of New Orleans, which turns out to be a new work by Trombone Shorty.(Micarelli, the only regular cast member who came to the show with no acting experience, truly grew in her acting prowess over the course of these 36 episodes. Her musical abilities always were present. I wonder if she’ll return exclusively to the world of music or she’ll continue to pursue acting work. I hope she does.) Nelson returns to the Big Easy to check on his remaining investments there and to see if any opportunities remain that might help him rebuild his losses. He checks in with banker and business partner C.J. Liguori (Dan Ziskie) to see if he took a hit, but Liguori admits that most New Orleans businessmen always act more conservatively. In fact, he appears to be channeling the late, Creighton Bernette (John Goodman), despite the vast differences in Toni's late husband and C.J.'s political leanings, when he responds, "Hold the Corps accountable. Down here in New Orleans, we've lost our naiveté. We're several years past believing anything but spit, chewing gum and dumb luck keeps anyone high and dry." Liguori tells Hidalgo to relax and reminds him that most Mid-City properties should turn over soon and he holds pieces of that and that he wouldn't bet against the jazz center, the plans for which sit on Mayor Ray Nagin's desk. C.J. suggests Nelson get a good meal and a few drinks, but Hidalgo asks if there is anything immediate he could do for Liguori. C.J. informs him of a community meeting in the Treme about the jazz center that he could monitor for them since he'd be less likely to be recognized.
Colson arrives at a crime scene where a man lies shot dead in his front yard. He summons one of his detectives, Cappell (Dexter Tillis), to discern what they know. He isn’t happy to learn that neither the young detective nor the silent Detective Silby (JD Evermore), seen at a distance, have bothered to canvass the neighborhood for potential witnesses. Terry notices a surveillance camera above the street. Cappell tells him that it’s unlikely the camera even works. Colson orders Cappell to start knocking on doors while he checks in on any possible security footage. When Colson gets to the office that monitors the cameras, the officer on duty watching them (Carl Palmer) confirms that the camera in question no longer works, as is the case with most of the surveillance equipment in the 6th District. “Why am I not surprised?” Terry sighs. The officer suggests that even though the cameras don’t work, they still serve as a deterrent, adding that even if all the security cameras worked, understaffing would prevent monitoring all of them. Colson asks how many continued to function. The officer guessed that in the 6th District, perhaps 10 to 12. “Out of how many?” Terry inquires. The officer gives him the total of 38. He suggests that Colson talk to the head of IT in Nagin’s office, if he wants to make any progress, but he thanks him for dropping by. He doesn’t get many visitors apparently.
Albert works as part of the team rebuilding GiGi’s for LaDonna. She also allows the Guardians of the Flame to practice there, which they do when the rest of the tribe arrives. LaDonna asks Big Chief Lambreaux how late they plan to rehearse, hinting that she’s thinking of other activities, though both she and Delmond watch the Indians go through their paces. Antoine arrives home and tells Desiree about Robert’s STD and Cherise’s boyfriend. Batiste admits that he didn’t sign up to be a father figure when he took the job. Sonny stopped for a quick drink at B.J.’s but when he has to take a leak, he finds the bar’s bathroom out of order. He steps outside to relieve himself but gets promptly greeted by the flashing lights of a patrol car. Sonny insists he consumed a single drink, but that doesn’t concern NOPD Capt. Jack Malatesta (Tony Senzamici). “Son, you can flash your titties if you have ‘em. You can lie down in the street in your own vomit, but one thing you cannot do in the City of New Orleans is pull out your pecker and piss on our hallowed ground,” the officer declares as he shuts the patrol car’s door on Sonny. (One of the great pleasures of Treme always has been its dialogue, especially when it allowed itself longer speeches. I don’t know if David Simon, Eric Overmyer or George Pelecanos gets the credit for that line, but I love it.) Shortly after his arrival in lockup. another man (Garrett Kruithof) get shoved in the holding cell, promptly collapsing, asking for help or a doctor and telling Sonny that he needs his inhaler for his asthma. Sonny calls a deputy for help, saying the man needs a doctor. The law enforcement official asks Sonny if he is a doctor, which Sonny obviously replies in the negative. “Then what the fuck do you know about it?” he spits before walking away, leaving the man writhing on the cell floor.
Nelson visits Desautel’s on the Avenue, disappointed that his favorite dishes prove M.I.A. Tim Feeny stops by and glad-hands him and Hidalgo pretends he’s enjoying the pork loin he’s consuming. He asks Feeny if “chef” might be available for a brief chat and Feeny says “he” is. Nelson inquires about Janette, but Feeny just mentions the new chef being a great hire from Atlanta. When Feeny asks the woman serving behind the bar about how long Janette has been absent and she tells him about two months. Nelson pushes the rest of his meal aside and finishes his drink. Colson goes to Deputy Chief of Operations Marsden (Terence Rosemore) and demands a transfer, which Marsden refuses. Terry’s anger grows and he tells Marsden that he’s documented all the attempts to screw him over and jack him up, but he’s not going to quit. Marsden suggests that Colson take his pension and retire. He also reminds him that for all the years Colson served in the 6th District, he can’t quite call himself a virgin.
When Toni gets Sonny out of jail the next morning, she senses something happened. Sonny tells him that nothing to him but shares the tale of the neglected asthmatic. He tells her EMTs eventually showed up after he wasn’t breathing and was blue and tried to revive him, but they were too late — the man was dead. Davis brings a box bearing gifts of liquor to Janette for that night’s opening. “How many times will I get to see you open a new place in my lifetime — six, seven tops,” McAlary proclaims. Janette welcomes the present. She can’t obtain credit from any liquor distributors to make running a full bar possible. She offers Davis a free opening night meal, but McAlary opts for a rain check citing his interest in the community meeting concerning closing the live clubs on Rampart in order to make way for the jazz center followed by Trombone Shorty’s big show at the Howlin’ Wolf. Toni makes a date to talk with sheriff’s department Capt. Richard LaFouchette (James DuMont) to learn more about the man, whose name she learned was William Gilday, who died in his department’s cell. LaFouchette shares the list of in-custody deaths, but Gilday’s name doesn’t appear. Toni asks what the hell is going on over there. “It’s jail, Toni. Shit happens,” LaFouchette responds. (It’s always easier to play a villain, but Melissa Leo amazes with her ability to play such a force of good as Toni as spectacularly as Leo throughout the run of Treme. Of course, as with the rest of the talented cast and show itself, she received no Emmy recognition just as she failed ever to be nominated for her great work on Homicide: Life on the Street. Perhaps that Oscar win for The Fighter and her recent Emmy win for her great guest spot on the hysterical Louie takes the sting out, despite entertainment awards being honors and pointless simultaneously. Speaking of Louie, while Dan Ziskie always displays a dry wit as C.J. Liguori, since I started watching Louie late I can’t help but picture C.J. as the Southern lawman who requests Louis C.K. reward him with a kiss on the lips for saving him from some thugs.)
Not all characters know each other in the Treme universe, but eventually some do cross paths. In the final season’s premiere, Nelson Hidalgo meets Davis McAlary at the community meeting concerning the idea of shutting down the live clubs on Rampart to make way for the jazz center. After Nelson makes a few comments, Davis realizes that Hidalgo plays for “the other team.” McAlary determines that Hidalgo needs re-education that only D.J. Davis can provide. He takes the Texas businessman into the crowd outside the Howlin’ Wolf awaiting Shorty’s show, where he introduces him to Antoine as “a corporate succubus who has set up shop in our quaint little village with the intent of harnessing its essence for fun and profit.” Davis attempts to begin his work on Nelson by offering him a joint, but Hidalgo declines and instead offers to get drinks for Antoine and Davis, who kindly oblige. “Why’d you go and call that man a suck-your butt?” Antoine asks McAlary. “He seemed alright to me.” (As I said earlier, Pierce’s Antoine always has served as the heart and soul of the series, but it’s great to see him and Zahn in comic routines with each other or anyone else. It’s not exactly true to the spirit of the definition, but Antoine and Davis function in a way as the yin and the yang of Treme, except neither truly exudes pure darkness or negativity.)
After a gig with Ellis Marsalis, Delmond’s agent James Woodrow (Jim True-Frost) inquires about Albert’s health. Del informs him that the Big Chief’s cancer has gone into remission, so Woodrow asks if Del plans to return to New York anytime soon. Del expresses hesitancy, since Albert needs to remain cancer free for three years. Woodrow balks at the idea of that long an absence, but asks if he’s free to travel to NYC for a few days. Terence Blanchard wants to use him on a recording. When Del gets home, he greets his girlfriend Brandi (Brandi Coleman), who presses Del as to when he plans to tell Albert about his impending grandchild. Delmond admits to being superstitious — “circle of life and all that,” Del says.
Antoine greets Troy Andrews aka Trombone Shorty backstage following his final set with Orleans Ave. Andrews asks Batiste how he’s been and Antoine replies, “Fine until after this last set.” Shorty interprets this as Antoine disliking the direction in which Andrews’ music is heading, but Batiste clarifies. Andrews’ new music makes him uncertain where Antoine Batiste is going and considering whether he should pawn his bone right now since he’ll never catch up. Shorty tells Antoine he might have some upcoming gigs he could toss his way, including one on an upcoming film set to film in New Orleans about old-time jazz pioneers. In the club itself, Davis shows Nelson photos on the wall of when Trombone Shorty was a child prodigy. Hidalgo admits to wondering about the name, but misses the larger point of McAlary’s visual illustration. “He is who he is because he comes from where he comes from, not some conservatory of music or performing arts center. He comes from the streets, the second lines, from the funerals and later those shithole three sets-a-night clubs. Music lives where it lives. You can’t fuck with that. You don’t want to fuck with that,” McAlary imparts to Nelson. (Another great piece of dialogue.) As hinted in the last episode of Season 3 when Albert and LaDonna went AWOL during the fund-raiser for GiGi’s, the two definitely became involved and the relationship proves to be the catalyst behind Larry and LaDonna’s impending divorce. LaDonna starts to put on her coat, ready to return to the Residence Inn, but Lambreaux urges her to stay since Davina took a trip out of town for a few days, so LaDonna accepts. She asks Albert if he’s tired, but Lambreaux admits to only being tired of people inquiring if he’s tired or how he’s doing. (Khandi Alexander and Clarke Peters prove to be such a great pairing that it’s a shame it didn’t occur earlier. Alexander plays every range of emotion well, but few do fiery and pissed off as well as she does. In contrast, Peters says so much simply with his face. Albert raises his voice from time to time, but it’s his stoic stubbornness that makes the character so fascinating.) Janette bids Jacques good night and she prepares to lock up Desautel’s on the Dauphine. She has managed to keep Jacques as a faithful sous chef, despite Eric Ripert’s advice, but you see the sadness in her eyes as Jacques climbs into a woman’s convertible and gives her a big kiss before they drive away. Janette pours herself a drink and sadly imbibes alone, reminiscent of her early days in New York. (Kim Dickens stands as another in this series’ ridiculously talented ensemble who conveys so much without saying a word. The humor and pathos she’s milked so brilliantly from this chef’s journey truly stands as a remarkable achievement.)
BLOGGER'S NOTE: Full recaps of the remaining four episodes seem unlikely, so I'm aiming for an overall appreciation to run after the finale.