Unquiet on the Battlefront
There were two fronts in this week’s “Battlefront” episode. The first was obvious: the battle every single character was going through to survive. So many characters was was forced to deal with the “kneeling dread,” that fear of having to bow down: Antoine and Janette to their parents, Delmond to his father after his bust, LaDonna biting her tongue when her new husband says “our life is here, in Baton Rouge,” Antoine playing in the strip club. I’ve probably missed an example but it’s been a long day on the road there’s more work to do so fill in my omissions if you will.
One character stood out in this: Albert Lambreaux. When his tools were stolen he not only got them back, he went out and tracked down the petty thief and beat him within an inch of his life, one way or the other. While everyone else scrambled for money or roofers or just some damned respect he showed the heart of steel that’s expected of a Mardi Gras Indian, and even more so of a chief.
You probably found the scene disturbing (my wife did) but I though it tremendously important, a window into a part of New Orleans I am sure we will see as the series unfolds: our chronic violence. There is a root of the violence in our city that doesn’t occur to some of us because we didn’t grow up around it. Others, too many of us did.
Stop here for a moment and read this post by Cliff of Cliff’s Crib from a while back: The Land of Misguided Soldiers.
You back? Good. If you didn’t read it, either go back, or just skip to the next post. I hear there are more pictures of Davis’ butt being posted.
I didn’t grow up in Cliff’s situation. I grew up in the rather sheltered, white-as-a-loaf-of Bunny Bread Lakefront. There were times when a person had to fight (but I dodged most of them. I guess I’m either a natural born coward or too smart; you’ll have to decide that for yourself). Lambreaux’s situation is much closer to Cliff’s than anything I experienced. And that’s probably true for most of the viewing audience. I think Cliff’s post gives those viewers (myself included, but my moment came a year ago when I first read it) some understanding of Lambreaux’s action, of the dark side of what it really means to have “a heart of steel,” of the roots of CNN’S Beirut on the Bayou.
Watching Lambreaux first turn his back on his blood family in Houston in favor of staying in New Orleans, and then that horrific scene of violence: now we are seeing the sketches roughly drawn in the first episode filled in, made complex as Simon gouges out the first stark details in the clay.
As Ray pointed out in another post, Treme is unfolding slowly and there are hints as well of where the show’s story line will go, the “character arc” Simon frequently speaks of in discussing how his shows are built episode by episode: some broad like this week’s prominent and to all post-storm Orleanians familiar battles over money and shingles and pride and place, and some more subtle like Albert’s dark moment.
— wet bank guy