“Why you even care?”
Lot of agreement here and elsewhere that Carnival Time is the best ep of Season 2 and one of the best of the series. It’s really a sprawling, pulsing, gorgeous piece of television, isn’t it? As mentioned in the comments last night, due to the onscreen revelry and accents, I didn’t catch a lot of dialogue, and that didn’t even matter much. This episode really wears its heart on its sleeve. “I know your heart,” Annie says that to Davis specifically but it’s emblematic of the larger theme. It is a hard episode not to love because almost everyone is at their best.
We see characters being generous, charitable, acting from their hearts, not simply taking the license of the season for largesse. Cornell intervenes for Sonny, Davis rescues Sofia, Larry turns back to keep an eye on LaDonna, Ripert gives Janette the day off and comps her to a meal, she in turn shares it with her roommate. Antoine … well, Antoine has to be pushed a little with a well-placed wifely cockblock but he still mans up, playing Daddy and teacher all day long. Sonny may not have been able to get very far, but rather than try to bolt from Pointe à la Hache, he accepts Cornell’s well-intentioned gesture in the spirit in which it was given, gracefully. We know Lt. Colson’s not very indicative of NOPD in general, but it’s plain that his concern is about more than just policing and stats.
After all the crime and hardship that’s come before, there’s a palpable redemptive, or maybe just reparative, flavor to these individual actions weaving through the larger texture of Mardi Gras. If there’s something that ties all the acts together, it’s that nobody has to do them. Maybe each person is a bit more aware of their interconnectedness than before? Maybe that’s what faith is. Even if everyone in our story is just a pawn on the chessboard of the Ligouris up in the glass towers, they still retain the belief that their actions can make a difference, are not futile.
When Dave Walker talked to bloggers at the start of this season, one of the questions he asked was inevitable but worthwhile: “Have you noticed Treme is not The Wire?” My answer was that no it’s not, but both are stories about America, both are stories about extirpation. In The Wire, nothing much is left. Giving a crap about anyone but oneself is pretty much beside the point, and actually pretty risky. The need for a code is not shared by anybody other than Bunk and Omar and it’s not certain their lives are the better for it. The episode where Omar’s grandma’s church crown is shot off, and ultimately replaced, is a sadly ludicrous demonstration of just how little remains sacred in that world.
In Treme, we’re watching a fragile but still somewhat intact slice of the world still hanging in the balance. There is a still-breathing discernible culture that is borne on the shoulders of our characters, who simultaneously depend on it to keep them anchored. If they manage to keep the faith, there might still be a future in New Orleans for that kid with the trumpet. Then again, there might not.