‘Treme’ – ‘Can I Change My Mind?’: You can’t handle the truth!

A quick review of tonight’s “Treme” coming up just as soon as I’m previous to previous to previous…

“Why did he do it? Do you know? Can you tell me?” -Sofia

“Treme” season two starts the turn into the homestretch with various characters being forced to confront uncomfortable truths – sometimes with good results, sometimes not.

Sofia and Toni finally talk openly about Creighton’s suicide, and in the process Sofia is able to see that her mother is just as hurt and angry and confused as she is. And that realization at least for a moment bridges the huge gulf between them.

LaDonna is unable to keep Larry from finding out exactly what happened to her in the bar, and the news wrecks Larry(*), who simultaneously feels guilty for not realizing, sympathetic for his wife over what she went through, and angry once again that she wouldn’t listen to him and sell the damn bar.

(*) We’ve come to expect the brilliance of Khandi Alexander by now, and she was her usual excellent, physical self here (just check the way she braces herself for news of the HIV test in the opening scene), but boy was Lance Nichols terrific as Larry, as well. It’s such a messy stew of emotions Larry’s sitting in right now, and Nichols easily conveyed all of them.

Antoine comes to realize that he actually likes the teaching job, but that in turn leads him to confront just how badly he failed the two boys he had with LaDonna(**).

(**) Though as we know, those two and the baby with Desiree are far from the only Batiste offspring wandering around New Orleans.

Even Janette is forced – in typically gentle, saintly fashion from Eric Ripert – to recognize that she’s not really happy at Le Bernadin, and that her time in New York to date has largely been frustrating and without a clear direction. But at least she gets to try for happiness with David Chang, even if Chang himself finds the concept baffling.

But at the same time, “Can I Change My Mind?” shows characters pushing past what they thought were their limitations. Annie finally sings her song (and Davis charmingly hides down the street to watch her). Sonny doesn’t love Cornell’s sobriety plan, but he’s going along with it, and his guitar playing with the Soul Apostles seems much more inspired than previously. And Delmond starts bringing together the talent needed for his fusion of jazz and Indian songs, even slowly making some headway with his amusingly stubborn old man.

Again, you take the good with the bad in New Orleans this season.

Some other thoughts:

• There’s always been something shady about the way Nelson conducts business, and the way he learns that New Orleans operates, but the thing with the computer cables felt like the storyline veering more openly into corruption, both in how the negotiation went down and specifically with Nelson dropping a fat envelope on Oliver Thomas’ desk as a thank-you for arranging things.

• I liked the scene with Davis visiting Jacques in jail, in which we’re reminded that even when Davis is doing a good deed for a friend, there’s a part of him unable to resist turning it into a self-promotional opportunity.

• Toni gets an investigator, which could move the Abreu storyline forward (and here tangentially links Albert and Toni), but for most of this episode mainly requires Melissa Leo to repeat information we already know.

• The way Nick describes what David Chang is doing sounds very similar to what Delmond’s up to: going back to the basics, starting over and modernizing what was so appealing back in the day.

• Albert and Delmond’s bickering is pretty much always hilarious, and I loved Albert’s assessment of jazz great Ron Carter getting to play bass on the record instead of him: “He’s alright, I guess.”

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

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