Treme Recap, Season 3, Episode 4: The Greatest Love

Lindsay Beyerstein

The theme of this week’s episode is integrity: Who has it, who doesn’t, and at what cost?

Big Chief Albert Lambreaux is grappling with his own mortality after his lymphoma diagnosis. The doctor gave him a 50/50 chance of survival, and the old man is making the most of whatever time he has left, which for him means going all out for the Indians.

Albert tells his son Delmond that he’s going to scrap the beading he’s done so far and redo his Indian suit. Why not do something you’ve never done before?” he asks. When Delmond complains that they were actually on schedule until Albert called for a reset, Albert confesses that he has cancer.

Despite his failing health, Albert can still drive a hard bargain. LaDonna agrees to let the Indians hold their weekly practice at her bar in exchange for 25% of the take from the barbecue cart Albert’s friend proposes to set up outside. LaDonna, no slouch in the capitalism department herself, remarks that Albert’s masking businessman and Indian this year. As expected, the first practice draws an exuberant crowd that spills out onto the street. This feels ominous – in the last episode we saw a police officer extracting tributes” from a bar owner and beating an innocent patron. In this episode a woman recalls how the same officer beat a man outside the Candlelight Lounge for no reason.

A cattle call to staff the new restaurant visually represents the gulf between chef Janette and her partner Tim. While Janette and Jacques grill scruffy cooks at one table, Tim flirts with aspiring waitresses at the other. They are dismayed to see that Tim’s hiring the prettiest girls, rather than the most competent servers.

Janette always knew she was making a deal with the devil by going into business with Tim. His instincts run towards the crass and commercial, but she told herself that she could carve out a space for culinary excellence in spite of him. That rationalization begins to crack when Janette realizes that she can’t serve her beloved pig backbone stew tableside because the inexperienced wait staff isn’t up to the challenge. She’s going to have to make creative compromises after all.

Later Janette beckons Jacques to the walk-in fridge. Judging by his eager expression, he thinks he’s being invited for sex, but Janette only has eyes for the crustaceans in the walk-in. Her mind is on the menu. Lee Dorsey’s The Greatest Love,” plays in the background. Clearly, Janette’s greatest love is her work.

A slightly sketchy stranger approaches Delmond after a gig and invites him to lunch. He reveals that he’s a developer who wants to build a major jazz performance center to monetize the culture” – that phrase again. The developer explains that Delmond is just the man to guide him through these treacherous waters because he’s a modern jazz musician descended from Indian Mardi Gras royalty. In future episodes, Delmond will probably have to face a choice similar to Janette’s: will he try to cash in on the New Orleans reconstruction boom, or will he stand with his father and their community? As Janette is learning, it’s possible to sell out without meaning to.

DJ Davis returns to hallowed musical ground to do some laundry. As he offers up a stray sock in tribute to the musical gods, he explains to Annie that this facility – once a stop on his abortive tour of New Orleans’ largely defunct musical landmarks – used to be a famous music studio, until it got gutted for a laundromat. It’s a funny scene, but it’s a reminder that for all it’s nostalgia, New Orleans has a poor track record on historical preservation.

As I predicted, Davis is taking Annie’s touring schedule harder than he expected. We see him at a table littered with empty beer bottles, trying unsuccessfully to reach her on the road.

Nelson Hidalgo is already getting frustrated with the penny ante scale of his legitimate business. The NOAH money is a pittance and he’s taking guff from homeowners who don’t appreciate strangers fixing” their property without permission. Nelson tells his new girlfriend that he’s thinking of moving on. He observes that disasters are a dime a dozen and notes that the big money is in reconstruction, not in clean up. He says he feels shut out of the tight-knit network of local developers. He claims that he’s on the outside looking in because “[his] grandmother didn’t know the right people uptown a hundred years ago.” But if you’ve been paying attention this season, you know Hidalgo’s claim is either a rationalization or a lie. We know he could have been part of the reconstruction, but for the legal fallout from his City Hall bribes. Nelson’s sleazy past has shut him out of the real money.

A brave law enforcement source has given reporter L.P. Everett a disk with photos of a skull in the burned out car. L.P. notices that there was no record of a skull in the victim’s autopsy report.

Civil rights attorney Toni Bernette has effectively declared war on the NOPD with her newspaper ad seeking victims of Officer Wilson’s brutality. She and L.P. have started collaborating and trading information. The cops are turning up the pressure on them both, lounging on L.P.’s rental car and harassing Sofia to get back at Toni.

I’m wondering if the age difference between Sofia and her boyfriend, she’s 16 to his 27, is going to become leverage in the cops’ vendetta. The age of consent in Louisiana is 17. They’ve already seen him in the car with Sofia. Which means they could arrest him for statutory rape, or threaten to. Driving off Sofia’s boyfriend would cause no end of strife between mother and daughter. Sofia’s been warned that she could be collateral damage in her Toni’s battle against the cops, so she’ll blame her mother if the cops go after her boyfriend.

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Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://​www​.hill​man​foun​da​tion​.org/​h​i​l​l​m​a​nblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.
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