Almost every week when I’m watching Treme, I realize we are watching a microcosm of what is wrong with America. Seemingly simple problems with simple solutions made difficult by bureaucratic red tape. This episode had a number of scenes in which this type of problem was shown brilliantly. This was another episode written by George Pelecanos and leads me to think this guy should be writing episodes for more shows. He is able to lay out the issue at hand without getting preachy about it ala Newsroom. There are common sense solutions to these problems but not everything is solvable in an hour’s time.
I haven’t talked a lot this season about Antoine Batiste’s side job teaching band at a local school. His work with the kids is very reminiscent to season 4 of The Wire, in which the school system and kids of Baltimore are the focal point. This season has seen some similar issues of kids having to deal with shootings, death, and being poor but this week’s episode dealt with something very different. Antoine learns while teaching Jennifer to read music that she can’t read at all. She is an example of a child who has fallen through the cracks of the system. Antoine seeks help only to find out the school she is at doesn’t have the special instruction available. They also learn she will not be able to get into the charter schools because she would bring down their all important test scores. Its frustrating to sit there and say “How can this happen?”, but the sad fact is, it happens everyday and not just in New Orleans. Antoine shakes his head knowing how easy it would be for someone to just teach her but the system is happy just passing her along without fixing the problem. Jennifer is one of the best characters this season because she is just happy to be in school so she can attend band practice and learn about music. Her character is making Antoine’s character grow by allowing him to show her the nuances of music and is best stated when he tells her that musicians never stop learning. She asks “You too?”, his deep pause before answering yes shows his ability to finally be humble about his musical skills after the failed attempt to lead a band.
Janette’s seemingly great deal with restaurateur, Tim, has always had this underlying feeling of being a bad deal. The last couple episodes have made a point of showing Janette’s passion juxtaposed with Tim’s focus on the business aspect. This week’s episode explores this further by Janette experiencing what many of us have grown to abhor, a meeting to review company policy. A subject foreign to Janette, who explains that running a restaurant is common sense. Unfortunately she is now part of a restaurant group which is more like a corporation with standards and practices. You can definitely tell Anthony Bourdain, an occasional writer on the show, had some input in this storyline especially when Janette explains how most chefs deal with sexual harassment and firing an employee. Once again a simple task made difficult by the many policies placed on her as part of this restaurant group. You can slowly see the snowball effect of her having to run a restaurant under these conditions beginning to pile up on her. Looking forward to see where the breaking point will be.
Another big part of the episode was the up and down binge Sonny has been on. Sonny has never been a great character nor that likable until last season. His drug habits made him detestable but once he cleaned up Sonny became an interesting figure of redemption. Falling off the wagon last episode brought about the same old Sonny narcissistic and unable to cope with world around him. He seems to suffer from the same problem many movies and TV shows have explored, inability to commit to another person. Although this overly used topic seems to be dealt with very differently. Instead of speaking with Linh, Sonny wants to talk to his boss and her father, Tran. The episode abruptly ends so I assume we will see the outcome next week.
“Careless Love” was another well written and thought out episode. If this trend continues, I will be very disappointed HBO decided to cancel the series. Once again the acting is always brilliant and when coupled with decent writing it makes for great episodes.