Review: ‘Tremé’ – ‘Promised Land’

A review of tonight’s “Tremé” coming up just as soon as I see myself as the flood control specialist…

Early in “Promised Land,” Davis exclaims, “And all the pieces matter!” This works as both an amusing wink to “The Wire” and an also an acknowledgment of how much more interconnected the pieces of “Tremé” feel this year than the previous two. The characters are still the characters, and the themes and atmosphere are the same, but there have been little touches that have tied it all together more than before.

We’ve seen Albert and Delmond much more engaged with the rest of the cast than they used to, and here Antoine even gets to chat with frequent Delmond collaborator Donald Harrison about his desire to expand his range. When Annie gets a Mardi Gras gig in Washington, D.C., it’s at the same party where Nelson is in search of the right business card, and her performance with the Neville Brothers is intercut with Delmond and his sisters watching the Katrina documentary – evidence of the storm’s devastation playing right alongside glimpses of the politicians whom the show believes don’t care about New Orleans as anything but an excuse to get drunk and party.

“Promised Land” is a bit more plot-driven than the show’s previous Mardi Gras episodes – LaDonna is silently threatened by what we assume is a pal of her rapist, and Colson warns his friend Tony about what he might do about the corruption in the Homicide unit – but it’s still largely an atmospheric about the different traditions of the day, and of the show. Once again, we have characters stepping out on their respective partners(*) for a Carnival quickie as Davis and Janette hook up. (It’s a nice mirror to season 1’s Mardi Gras episode, where Davis spent the day with Annie, to whom he now seems barely connected at all.) And there’s a lovely moment between Albert and Delmond as the father watches his son finally suit up with the rest of the tribe, and the two share a look of approval at the tradition being fully passed along. (And one that needs to be passed along, given how weak Albert is by the end of their day.)

(*) Or are we to take the  walk-in freezer scene from a few episodes ago as evidence that Janette and Jacques ceased to be a couple the moment she started the restaurant? She doesn’t even mention him when she and Davis are listing reasons why this is a bad idea.

The holiday setting also provides a more natural method than usual for the number of guest stars playing themselves. Of course Al Roker would be doing special “Today” segments during Carnival, just like the Nevilles make sense at that party in D.C. And Emeril’s pep talk to Janette about the pros and cons of making the big time was a much more relaxed piece of acting from him than on his own sitcom (which was so terrible I couldn’t even find clips on YouTube, and everything is on YouTube.)

Elsewhere, Toni is rarely one of the show’s sources of humor, but I couldn’t help but laugh at her lecturing Sofia’s older boyfriend, only to be told that she dumped him a week earlier. (And judging by Sofia’s disappointed reaction to LP’s comment about her age, my guess is she was hoping to jump from one older guy to another.) And Sonny’s scenes this week again provide support that the relationship the show is interested in isn’t between Sonny and Lin, but Sonny and Tranh, who turns out to be incredibly supportive of Sonny’s attempt to get back on the wagon.

So go read Dave Walker’s latest episode explainer on his NOLA blog, and then tell me, what did everybody else think?