Just a Little Overcome
We’ve talked a lot about verisimilitude here. Indeed, a whole lot of talking about that word.
In those discussions, I haven’t usually had a lot to offer, since I don’t share NOLA citizenship or a Katrina experience. Unencumbered as I may be of the latter, and jealous as I may be of the former, it is what it is and it certainly hasn’t kept me from bonding with the story. I would even venture a bit farther and say it frees me up in a way to simply take it in without simultaneously scanning for the V word. The other day Ray offered me some dvds as background material and I took a rain check because I want to preserve that clear channel and just hear the story being told, relate to these characters through my own lens.
Which brings me back to verisimilitude. “At the Foot of Canal Street” wasn’t my favorite episode so far, though it was certainly serviceable in setting up for future developments, but there was one scene that just about cracked my heart open, it was so real. Watching Antoine and LaDonna’s late night tête-à-tête at the bar, it didn’t matter whether or not I knew the real people they might be based on or what street the real bar is on or what happened to the real Tommy Tate or whether people really eat white bread with their red beans and rice. That didn’t matter because I recognized those two people in that scene.
As with the scene in the first episode that it echoes, the chemistry between the two characters is there, and it’s deeper than before even. I could feel that couple, know their history, they were lovers once and they were on fire for each other. That worked for a little while before they failed each other and damn, it was something. Something that still amazes them when they remember it. You can see that when they look at each other, and it’s a rarity to catch that real emotional and physical connection on-screen, even in film much less television. It’s not as simple as filming people kissing or touching or fucking. It’s more layered and complex than that. The first line in this scene wasn’t put there by accident: “You’re my lifeline, baby.” Sure, Antoine can live without her, been doing so for probably longer than they were even together, but it’s never been as deep and real as it was before. Watch him as LaDonna turns her back to him to reach for a bottle. He’s not just looking at her ass, he’s remembering how good they were together, how well they fit each other. It’s hot. And a little funny. Also, sad.
Antoine will most likely never make enough money to put in their boys’ college fund. He’s not that guy, the careful, safe, planning provider. He’s the guy on the B-side of the record. The man with a big heart and an even bigger appetite for music, food, booze, sex, pleasure. Always for pleasure. Not for nothing, the A-side of the Ollie & the Nightingales record in question was entitled “I Don’t Want to Be Like My Daddy.”
As for LaDonna, there’s something going on here we have not ever seen. Almost every single time we’ve seen her previously, she is trying to make something happen, make people do something, whether it’s the damned roof, the Daymo investigation, or simply getting Antoine’s ass on the bus to see his kids, she is one busy woman. She is getting shit done.
We can infer that this is who LaDonna is, how she’s survived so far, not just the storm but the first marriage, running a bar, the girl from around the way landing a husband from a different social class, looking out for her kids and her mother. Someone here said they thought Khandi Alexander was overacting. I disagree. I think we are supposed to see that it’s LaDonna who is acting. She plays the wifey-wife, the mother, the dutiful (then petulant) daughter, the take-no-prisoners businesswoman, the wheedling sister-in-law. We see her get all up in NotDaymo’s grill because that’s the language he understands. Compare that to her confessing to Toni that she’d gone behind her back, had doubted her. There’s a little touch of her hand, a quiet apology. She’s soft, polite, speaking Toni’s language. Still trying to make something happen, though. People like LaDonna are the people who survive shit. Because they get back up and keep on going, they never stop moving.
But here, late at night in the bar after he’s obviously come here for solace after the ER, LaDonna’s let down her guard a bit. She’s open, her body language is slower, her face is younger, she’s got such a soft spot for this man, she can’t help herself. She likes the way he makes her feel. At least at first she does, then the walls go back up. No more touching, no more listening to his “Cry Me a River” self-pity, she’s back to getting shit done.
At least she gets his ass to Baton Rouge.
The Nightingales, featuring Tommy Tate:
Vodpod videos no longer available.