On Mardi Gras, everyone keeps reminding us during this week’s Treme, you do what you wanna do. Some of our characters wanna have fun. Some of our characters don’t wanna have fun, but have some fun anyway. And one of our characters doesn’t wanna have fun, doesn’t have fun, and wakes up the next morning on his front porch with an angry wife and a pile of ripped-up manuscript pages. Let’s survey the damage.
Sonny and Annie, neither of them natives, sing about the Second Line to an appreciative crowd, including a bald guy in a suit coat enjoying it most of all. Are we allowed to admit that we tune out a little bit when the songs come on? As your recapper, we’re grateful for them, because we can pretty much just write “They play some music” and then tap our toes for two and a half minutes, but as a viewer, we don’t feel like they’re doing a lot of dramatic heavy lifting. On the other hand, they’re always good. Anyway, after the song’s over, the bald guy tells them he lost his house, three neighbors drowned, and he’s been stuck in St. Louis — but he’s (sob!) home. “Happy Mardi Gras, honey,” Annie says kindly.
Credits! It’s amazing how now all those mold and water stains look like overhead shots of the oil spill.
Albert in a jumpsuit, stuck in jail for his occupation of the projects. “Two days to get a fuckin’ phone call!” he fumes. Delmond’s across the Plexiglas. Albert tells him to make sure the boys keep sewin’.
Antoine gets dropped off at a gig, promising the cabbie the balance if he comes back to pick him up. The cabbie reminds him he still owes $6 from the last time. Antoine laughs cheerfully, and the cabbie laughs mirthlessly right back at him. Hey, Antoine got a gig with some Nevilles! “They play some music.”
Sophia wants to know when Creighton’s moving back in from the shed in the backyard. Toni hopes Mardi Gras might cheer him up.
Janette thanks Davis for their assignation. “I needed a real day off,” she sighs. “Uh, that’s pretty much a normal day for me,” Davis replies.
Creighton and Sophia on the waterfront. Creighton’s pointing out everything that once was. “This is good,” he says. “We got to get off the isle of denial for a while and see that most of the city’s still destroyed.”
Albert’s Indians sewing away. Delmond delivers the bad news that Albert’s hearing has been postponed until after Carnival — as a message, surely. He tells Lula that he wishes New Orleans spent all the time, energy, and money devoted to Mardi Gras on fixing up the city. She is unimpressed.
Antoine at another gig. “TPSM.” Soon this show will run out of jazz songs! How many could there be? Antoine greets a luminary or two (plus Davis) and then runs into Mr. Toyama! They trade music trivia, then Antoine tries to explain his old ‘bone, but Toyama already heard about Danny Nelson’s death: “It was big news in Japan.” “Shoulda been bigger news here,” Antoine grouses. When he tells Toyama that he gave the trombone to his teacher’s grandson, Toyama brightens: “Very Japanese!”
Creighton and Tony debate the uglier racial aspects of the parades — the hooded riders, for example. Creighton isn’t from here, Toni says, he didn’t grow up with the racism. She’d be happy to do away with that part.
Sonny tells Annie he wants to spend Mardi Gras apart. “Do what you wanna,” he says. “That’s what the day’s about.” “You just want to get high,” she retorts.
Creighton, Toni, and Sophia head out the door in some sweet royal blue regalia. Creighton leaves his favorite Mardi Gras song playing on repeat. Ladonna, Larry, and the boys head out. Mama’s waiting at home for David. Davis dresses in a totally ridiculous costume and grabs his Get Out of Jail Free card. Sonny puts on his carnival mask and a wicked smile. Annie dresses in a pirate costume and leaves the apartment alone.
Albert in jail, suffering. Delmond watches off a balcony as some bare-titted revelers wave at him. Well, yeah, he’s gonna throw ‘em some beads. Maybe Mardi Gras isn’t so bad!
Davis drops by his parents’ party. He’s dressed as Jean Lafitte, but his Aunt Mimi points out that Lafitte was a slave trader. “He was?” Davis groans. “I’ll do my research next year.” Then they all sing a song and tell some jokes. “Y’all are incorrigible,” his mother says, which may be true.
Janette and Jacques, together, working a food truck on Mardi Gras morning. Creighton and Co. order some crawfish beignets.
Ladonna, off on her own, runs into Renee, the state’s attorney. Renee apologizes, sort of, and says she hopes Ladonna finds her brother soon. Ladonna looks stricken. This seems weird — wouldn’t Renee know?
Antoine and Desiree are cooking out and making out, until Desiree has to take the baby home. But she gives Antoine his Get Out of Jail Free card: “It’s Mardi Gras — go and have your fun.” “You sayin’ what I think you sayin’?” Antoine asks. “No,” she replies.
Sonny gets kisses and beads from a couple of foxes in fox costumes.
Delmond at a party, impressing a girl with his Nolita talk. Oh hey, it’s Terence Blanchard and
Chandra Cassandra Wilson, natch! Terence on Albert: “That man got a heart of steel.” Delmond: “Head, too.”
Ladonna, boa’d and beaded, is accosted by a drunken Riley the roofer (with the Texan bouncer in tow). “Fuck you!” Riley yells, but Antoine comes to the rescue with a chipper “No, fuck you, motherfucker.” Ladonna heads off to Gigi’s, and Antoine follows her, adventure making his nostrils flare. Uh-oh. WARNING! CUCKOLDING IN PROGRESS!
Jean Lafitte Davis meets Pirate Wench Annie. She doesn’t remember him AT ALL but he doesn’t mind, of course! Davis offers his arm and they dance away.
Creighton takes off his mask and says he’s just not feeling it. He takes off home. When he gets there, he turns off the stereo and sits on the couch.
Janette and Jacques close up shop. She changes in her truck into a fairy-princess outfit, then leaves a note under her wipers: TOO DRUNK TO DRIVE, GONE TO MARDI GRAS, PLEASE DON’T TOW!, smiley face.
Antoine and Ladonna work the bar at Gigi’s, a well-oiled machine. In another bar, Sonny eyes a cute girl, but he’s interrupted by a guy who asks if Sonny remembers him. He says Sonny saved him from his roof during the storm! Wait, Sonny wasn’t bullshitting about all that? That is an interesting surprise. The girl mouths something to Sonny, who totally gets it, because coke addicts can read lips.
As they watch the parade, Davis is distraught to hear that Annie has a boyfriend, but he astutely asks where that so-called boyfriend is. “You know,” Annie sighs. “‘Do what you wanna.’” Outside, a sign reads, FEMA SAYS THE BEADS WILL BE HERE IN APRIL.
Janette makes an entrance at the same party Delmond was at, just missing him as he leads his girl upstairs.
Ladonna tells her husband she needs to clean up. Antoine’s the only one in the bar. DANGER! DANGER!
Davis invites Annie over for gumbo, but can’t stop himself from being a dick when she calls it a “gumbo party.” Meanwhile, Creighton glumly eats gumbo with his family.
At a party, Tom McDermott plays piano with a horse mask over his head. Davis meets someone with “My negro!” leading to this awesome exchange between two French speakers nearby: “Quoi?” “Il pense qu’il est noir.”
Janette drunkenly sings “Iko Iko” and waves her magic wand at cars, trying to turn them into taxis.
Ladonna and Antoine have not heeded our warnings. Slow blues play on the juke. Ladonna holds her shoulder and looks beseechingly at her ex-husband. Antoine chuckles and comes up behind her for a massage. “Damn, Ladonna,” he says when he touches her shoulders. “You carryin’ it all right here.” And she is, and he’s the only one who can tell, so she nearly weeps in sorrow as he takes off her beads. Her phone rings but she turns it off. They kiss.
Delmond and his girl in a cab. “That was fun,” they agree. As they’re stopped at a light, a passel of Indians dance through their headlights like specters.
Sonny and the hottie do some coke off a mirrored table. “Is there more where that came from?” Sonny asks. “First, let’s fuck,” she opines.
Annie and Davis listen to Delmond sitting in with the band in a bar. “Indians on Mardi Gras day,” Delmond says, moved. “Makes you think New Orleans just might make it.” TPSM.
Antoine comes home to Desiree asleep on the couch and sneaks past her to the bedroom.
“That’s what NOPD is good at,” Davis tells Annie as the cops shoo them up the street. “Crowd control. Best in the world. Stroke of midnight, it’s over.” Annie thanks him for the evening, and leads them to the next place.
Ladonna opens her front door and sees her mama awake, fingering her rosary. “You know I don’t sleep,” mama says. She asks if everything’s okay between Ladonna and Larry. “Everything’s fine,” Ladonna answers.
Creighton listens to some sad music, blue-lit by his computer monitor, late on Mardi Gras night. He records a new video. “Sad but pretty like New Orleans,” he says gloomily. “Hate to see it come apart at the seams. Carnival’s done. Farewell to flesh and the land of dreams.” New Orleans was a soap bubble, he says, and now it’s popped. Tonight’s David Simon Thesis Statement: “Whatever comes next is just a dream of what it used to be.” He clicks stop and rests his head in his hands.
Davis and Annie, after midnight, sit on the steps outside a church. There’s no midnight mass, but he rubs ash on her forehead anyway, and she does the same. It’s a nice reverent, erotic moment. Annie’s thinking about moving back to New York.
Creighton sits on his porch, crumpling up manuscript pages in a rage.
Davis and Annie stop on the sidewalk, stare at each other with a little charge. She’s giving him a look: Do what you wanna do. He opens the door of a cab for her and says, “Good night,” corrigible for once in his life. She kisses him on the cheek.
A bathrobed Toni pads through the quiet house and finds Creighton asleep on the front porch, surrounded by garbage. “Get up!” she hisses. She’s furious and afraid. “You want Sophia to find you like this? Pull yourself together.”
Janette, in church, receives the ashes. “Remember that you are dust,” the priest says, “and to dust you shall return.” Janette says, “Thank you.”
Albert and Delmond leave the jail, Delmond telling his dad about how great his Mardi Gras was. “Met a girl, sat in on a gig, saw some Indians.” “Were they pretty?” Albert asks. “Real pretty,” Delmond replies, opening the door to his car, “but not as pretty as y’all woulda been.”
Ladonna smokes on a porch, a gray cross on her forehead. The mortician opens the door and says her name. She ashes her cigarette and walks into the funeral home.