Critic’s Notebook: ‘Treme,’ on HBO, Starts Its Fourth Year

November 30th, 2013

HBO’s “Treme” was an unlikely proposition from the commence. It was predicated on a organic catastrophe, Hurricane Katrina, that occurred 5 years prior to the demonstrate commenced, and that lag has constantly been awkward. The meticulous re-generation of not quite current outrages — perpetrated by politicians no more time in place of work and cops already indicted — has produced the present look to be in a weird time warp all its very own.

Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Khandi Alexander reopening her bar on “Treme.”

A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural functions in the New York region, selected by Occasions critics.

Then there’s the contradiction that can make viewing the show a marginally queasy, off-putting experience. Created as a celebration of American authenticity, it typically feels like the sort of concept park drive-by it is supposedly condemning. Here’s a bounce club, here’s a 2nd line, here’s Mardi Gras, here’s Cajun Mardi Gras. Added credit history if you know that Toni the attorney retains all her conferences at Li’l Dizzy’s. With its earnest ethnography and hipster aspirations, the demonstrate can seem to be like a online video guidebook for Japanese or German visitors.

The news — great news if, like me, you are a admirer of the demonstrate, regardless of its foibles — is that these tendencies have receded nearly completely into the background as “Treme” starts its fourth and closing season on Sunday night. In these final episodes, there’s a noticeable decrease in the lecturing and hectoring, as effectively as in the identify-dropping and movie star cameos.

“Treme” has constantly been a unhappy as effectively as an indignant show, but this coda has a decisively valedictory tone. Battles are nonetheless fought, as Toni (Melissa Leo) and the excellent cop Terry Colson (David Morse) preserve pushing for the reality about the police department’s put up-Katrina atrocities. But for most characters, it’s now about shifting on. Antoine (Wendell Pierce) settles into his new position as audio instructor and unexpected part design LaDonna (Khandi Alexander), recovering from her brutal assault in Time two, gets the bar working yet again Albert (Clarke Peters), mortally unwell, attempts to reconcile with his son, Delmond (Rob Brown), and get ready his chief’s outfit for a single previous Mardi Gras.

It’s to the credit of the show’s creators, David Simon and Eric Overmyer, that these characters have turn into so familiar and alive in only thirty-plus episodes. But it is mainly a tribute to the 3 actors, Ms. Alexander, Mr. Pierce and Mr. Peters, who have produced “Treme” a have to-watch collection, irrespective of how you felt about its politics, its purity or its poky storytelling. Ms. Alexander, in specific, with her ability to merge fierce depth and kittenish vulnerability, practically in the identical second, has been riveting throughout the operate, and that proceeds in Period four.

Not each position or story line is as transferring or reliable. The struggle of the Cajun fiddler Annie (Lucia Micarelli) to continue to be real to her musical roots is nevertheless primarily a bore, and you wonder why we experienced to adhere to her trajectory fairly than that of her former boyfriend Sonny (Michiel Huisman). But the battle of the chef Janette (Kim Dickens) to open up yet another restaurant has a rueful allure, aided immensely by the deficiency of atrocious cameo appearances by celebrity cooks.

“Treme” outlined New Orleans, and organized its very own narrative, along a few poles: corruption, meals and tunes. It is always accomplished ideal by the music, and the recurrent renderings of performances by a panoply of New Orleans bands, filmed on location in the city’s clubs, have been a remarkable bonus. It feels as if there are much more songs than at any time in the closing five episodes, from BeauSoleil, Trombone Shorty, Aurora Nealand, Zachary Richard and on and on. If you simply cannot get pleasure from that kind of get together, well, “Girls” will be back quickly.

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