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Treme Recap: The Butt-Slapping Glories of Yesteryear

This week's Treme gives us a new view of most of our characters — it lets us see them in ways we haven't seen them before. We get to see Davis as ambitious whereas once he was only a screwup. We see Janette as a failure when we only knew her as a talented chef. We see Toni break through in an investigation that has long stymied her. And we see that Sonny isn't just an asshole — he's a huge asshole.

All this, plus Mona Sterling, Elzar from Futurama, and Mayor Nagin whackin' it, in this week's Treme recap.

Davis McAlary Is a Candidate!
It's campaign time! Davis McAlary's got himself a float, and he fills it with hotties and a loudspeaker. He's promising pot for potholes, hos for schools, and a return to the ass-slapping glories of yesteryear. Also, he's going to rename Lee Circle for Lee Allen, tenor-sax player. I'm assuming that "hos for schools" just means he wants to legalize prostitution and give the money to schools, but a part of me hopes that he's just proposing some kind of fast-track teacher-certification program for hos.

Davis and his McAlaryettes show up for the local-TV candidate's forum, and soon he's on TV offering to sing his campaign song. The killjoy hostess tells him to stick to the format. Later that night, an inebriated Davis watches himself on TV proposing "Greased Palm Sunday," a televised once-a-month session "in which the money be delivered and the deals get made." After all, TV-Davis says, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." "I read that somewhere," a delighted Davis says in the bar. He's in love with looking at himself on the screen.

Davis makes his pitch to Jacques Morial, who's supposedly "the scion of a great political dynasty." "That shit is funny," Jacques says. "'Greased Palm Sunday.'" Then he coolly brings up about a half-dozen actual issues about which Davis has clearly not thought at all. Jacques offers Davis some real public exposure — "that's if you really want to kick it up a notch." (my ears prick up! Will Futurama's Elzar be the next New Orleans celebrity to make a cameo? "Bam!") "Do you really think I can win this?" a star-struck Davis asks. "The election?" Jacques laughs. "No fucking way!"

Davis's mom is not thrilled about his candidacy; after all, he's named after Jeff Davis, even if he tells people it's Sammy Davis. ("I loved Sammy Davis," his dad says, apropos of the mention of Sammy Davis, I guess, but really apropos of nothing at all. "Candyman!" Steve Zahn gives the camera a hilarious, Jim-on–The Office type look.) Also, his parents are unhappy he's hanging out with a Morial for some reason I am sure I am not New Orleansy enough to understand. (Oh, maybe they know about this.) His drunk Aunt Mimi (Elizabeth Ashley!!) loves the whole thing, though.

Janette Can't Bring Herself to Ask
It's creditor day at Desautel's. The meat man's drinking a Barq's at the bar; seafood's pounding at the back door. Janette tells Jacques she might not be able to make payroll. She hides in the walk-in while Jacques makes excuses. "We're still putting out a menu every night that I'm proud of," she sighs later. "We're short, we're tight, but push comes to shove ... "

"You killed those chefs," says Jacques softly.

"I buried 'em, didn't I?" asks Janette, with such joy and sadness in her voice I can hardly take it.

"Oui."

Janette assembles the staff and prepares to ask them to work a week without pay, but in the end she can't do it. Desautel's is suspending operations. Time for the daytime drinking to begin.

Sonny's Hitting Some Bum Notes, and Also Annie
A wasted Sonny plays with Annie on the street, sloppy on the keys and singing lyrics of his own invention. "Learn the words, motherfucker!" someone shouts. It isn't long before Annie walks in on Sonny snorting coke at the kitchen table.

They argue about a gig Annie's been asked to do. "It dilutes what we are doing," he says. He better hope so, because what he's doing seems pretty terrible! Annie angrily points out that they're playing for spare change on the street, and he slaps her. Without a word, she leaves the apartment.

Annie walks into a diner late at night and orders cafe au lait and beignets. She rests her head on her violin case, just for a second, and wakes up as her order arrives. The next morning, Sonny is apologetic, and Annie is dubious at best.

Ladonna's Mom Is Having Breathing Trouble, and Ladonna Has to Come Back From Baton Rouge to Look After Her
That's seriously all that's happening on the Ladonna front.

Antoine Doesn't Have a Tux
Antoine brings the new trombone to his old teacher's trailer. "This must've cost a fortune!" the man marvels, but Antoine points out he didn't buy it; Superfan Japan did. Having done his good deed, Antoine needs a gig; a call to Dr. John in his hotel in Chicago ("Rebennack! Spelled like it sounds, shit!") yields nothing, but Kermit hooks him up with a gig at a Mardi Gras ball. At least it'll be lively, Antoine sighs. Kermit asks if he has a tux. "Ladonna bought me a tux" for some long-ago gig, he says. "Must be in a box somewhere." Sartorial hilarity ahead!

Antoine gets his old teacher a gig, but then claims he needs to get a check-up first. They head to the doctor, who tells Antoine his teacher's depressed. Tonight's David Simon Thesis Statement, delivered by Antoine, is admirably to the point: "Ain't we all?"

Desiree and Antoine just finished up a quickie and are flirting like crazy, but Antoine needs to get to his gig. "Where's my tux?" he asks. Then: "Why's this tux all wet?" Then: "You washed my tux?" But what the hell else could she do, Desiree demands; how else was she going to get the old barf off the front?

The gig, far from being a wild bacchanal, is a staid and boring fancy-dress ball. Antoine's the only one not in black tie. Soon Antoine, stung by the angry stares from the bass player who apparently disapproves of Antoine's suit, stands up for a raunchy solo that has the ladies in the back cheering. "That's how we do it in the Treme," Antoine mutters.

Delmond, Donald, Darius, and Albert
It's the New Orleans spirit tour, heading through the southwest, and Delmond stands next to sax player Donald Harrison, listening to some roots music. The tradition Delmond cares about isn't New Orleans — it's Bird and Dizz and Mingus. Donald wants to play a New Orleans encore, but Delmond isn't interested.

On the next stop, in Houston, we see the two of them hard-boppin' the night away. They sound great! But no, not very New Orleans. It should be noted that Rob Brown is doing his best, but it turns out it's a lot harder to fake a rhythmically complex trumpet part than it is Antoine's trombone. Delmond grudgingly agrees to play "Iko Iko" as a hilarious encore.

Meanwhile, back in New Orleans, it's looking more and more like Albert is going to be putting up his whole gang for Mardi Gras. No one has a place to stay anymore, and Albert hasn't heard anything from the Councilman Singleton about opening up the Calliope projects. Albert heads out to the club for Delmond's homecoming show, but spends the whole first set talking at the bar. Onstage, Donald suggests finishing up with some home cooking, but Delmond isn't feeling very at home; he suggests a little Coltrane instead.

"Big Chief Albert!" "Big Chief Donald!" (Donald Harrison is, in some ways, a model for Delmond's character — in real life, he's the son of a legendary New Orleans Indian chief.) Donald wants to know if Delmond is playing at Mardi Gras this year, and Delmond essentially says, Hell to the no. His dad ditches before the next set but says he'll see him at practice the next day.

Lulu and Albert work on costumes, Lulu saying that her nephew Darius has been really interested in Albert's rehearsals. Being an Indian isn't for everyone, he says, "but it can make you strong." Darius joins in Indian practice later that day, and Delmond walks in to see the two of them whooping it up, Albert pitching in to teach a young boy whose bond with his dad Delmond can only envy. Soon Delmond joins in, too.

Singleton's assistant stops by the bar and offers ... a FEMA trailer. For Albert. Strings have been pulled, but nothing has been accomplished. "Y'all want me to put my gang in one FEMA trailer?" Albert growls. "Get the hell out this bar."

Toni Breaks the Case, Creighton Gets an Offer, and Sophia Is a Giant Sperm
Toni knocks on a door in Port Arthur, Texas. When a man warily opens it, she introduces herself; when he tries to close the door, she says, "It's not about NOPD." Jim Dietrich is one of two cops who were working the 12–8 shift in the second district the day David disappeared. The other, Dietrich notes, ate his gun a month after the storm. Dietrich tells Toni hid did pick up a black guy David's age, but there's no way he can I.D. him — "It was five months ago."

Back at home, Sophia shows her dad Davis's campaign CD. "That bozo's running for city council?" Creighton asks. He takes a dim view of a campaign that makes everything a joke. "Like Krewe du Vieux?" Sophia asks shrewdly. "That's political satire," Creighton blusters. "It's a long tradition." The next day he picks up his fancy-pants New York agent (Talia Balsam, a.k.a. Mona Sterling!) at the airport and asks her to level with him. She assures him that she only has good news.

Toni asks Dietrich what he's doing now. He says he's gonna work on an offshore rig. Look for him in Treme, season five: The Oil-Spill Years. She's about to leave when she thinks to ask why he locked up someone just for running a red light. "For the warrant," he says, then sighs. "Guess we're not done."

Creighton's agent tells him Random House wants the novel, but they also want something contemporary, based on his YouTube rants (sorry, "passionate editorials"). They're hoping he can set part of the novel in post-Katrina New Orleans. He says he'll finish the novel, in a month or six weeks. "But it's a novel about the '27 flood. That's what they bought; that's what I'm writing."

Dietrich left the arrestee, whoever he was, at OPP, and the paperwork was soon under ten feet of water. But the carbon of the traffic ticket still exists — it's in his squad car, which he drove to Lake Charles after eight straight horrible days of post-Katrina duty. He left it with the Lake Charles PD so he wouldn't get in even more trouble for taking it across state lines.

Soon Toni's in the Lake Charles police lot, where a testy officer tells her, "It's about time they sent someone! We've been calling NOPD about this car for months now. " Toni nods and does not mention she is not from NOPD. The Lake Charles guy bitches about how New Orleanians are all candy-asses about a little water while he leads Toni to the car. Keys are inside, he says, have a nice trip. She digs through the detritus of a week's worth of post-Katrina scavenging and finds a summons book ... and inside it, a traffic ticket for David M. Brooks. When the cop asks her why she isn't taking the car, she tells him, "I'm from document retrieval. Vehicle retrieval will be here and get that car, no problem." Then she leaves, summons in hand.

Toni comes back home to find Sophia wearing her costume for Krewe du Vieux — she's a walking sperm. The centerpiece of the parade, apparently, is a float of Mayor Nagin lying on his back, masturbating, so sperm will lead the way. A horrified Toni says she wants no part of it, although they're making her a costume too.

The state's attorney looks abashed to see the summons, especially when Toni tells her that the warrant that got David locked up in the first place was wrong — a computer error. Nonetheless, she won't file a joint habeas motion — she tells Toni it's policy. "Policy?" an incredulous Toni asks. "An innocent man, lost in the system for six months?" Rather than meeting her eyes, the state's attorney takes a drink.

It's Krewe du Vieux! "C'est Levee," one float declares, and revelers in masks poke fun at everything under the sun as crowds cheer. Antoine plays and marches and meets old friends. Sophia, dressed as a sperm, hands condoms to Davis and his still-drunk Aunt Mimi. The centerpiece, as promised, is Mayor Nagin, hand down his boxers, whackin' away. Creighton marches as a sperm alongside his fellow-sperm Toni.

"May I ask what changed your mind?" he says.

Toni grins. "Lots of fuckin' fucks."

Other Recaps:
Dave Walker at the Times-Picayune gives great context, as usual; much like the fictional Davis, there was a D.J. named Davis Rogan who ran for the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2003.

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO