Review: ‘Tremé’ – ‘The Greatest Love’

A quick review of tonight’s “Tremé” coming up just as soon as I sacrifice a sock to the music gods…

As Delmond watches Albert work on his new costume, the big chief asks his son, “Why not do something you never done before?”

The idea of stretching past your limits and doing something new has been a theme all season, and it’s particularly apparent in “The Greatest Love.” Janette starts to set up her restaurant (albeit while discovering that her new partner Tim isn’t quite as perfect as he appeared when they were in the wooing stage). Delmond is offered a chance to help create a new jazz center for the city. Antoine gets more invested in his students’ lives, and even gives his utility bill money to one of them because she needs heat badly, and he knows he can talk the utility company into a payment plan for himself and Desiree. Toni tries to take her campaign against Officer Wilson to the next level by petitioning citizens to testify against him (in a montage entertainingly cut together with Janette’s depressing staff interviews), all the locals start warning LP to be careful with what he’s doing, and even Terry Colson is able to leave his usual stoicism behind and enjoy a night of sex with his friend the hotel manager.

The part of this episode I really want to talk about – besides the unexpected appearance of “Guys with Kids” star Anthony Anderson(*) as one of the actors in the “Waiting for Godot” production that Toni, Sofia and LP attend – is another first: Albert’s first Indian practice at LaDonna’s bar. Not only is the first Clarke Peters/Khandi Alexander scene (a “The Corner” reunion!) as much fun as I had hoped, but the Indian practice, and the way it turns into a raucous showdown with a rival tribe, is one of those magical “Tremé” moments where the show doesn’t bother to explain what’s happening, but trusts the acting and directing to convey what you absolutely need to know. I don’t understand the logistics or specific traditions of Mardi Gras Indians, but the emotions and atmosphere of that encounter were so primal, and the energy of the actors so high, that I got everything I needed to out of it. So cool.

(*) Anderson, you probably don’t recall, was one of the leads in “K-Ville,” a short-lived FOX drama that was also about post-Katrina New Orleans. This being a broadcast network show, it was of course really a police procedural with an interesting backdrop, and that had a much shakier grasp of the local details than “Tremé” has. (I still remember Dave Walker – whose episode explainer should be up by now on his NOLA blog – detailing all the phrases on that show that he had never heard in all his years of living in New Orleans.) 

What did everybody else think?