Davis can save us…
Shallow Water, Oh Mama
“Fuck those fucking fucks.”
— Toni Bernette
In this episode, it is once again reinforced how working within the system is ultimately fruitless. We see this most explicitly in the character of the cop who simply quits after working for 8 days straight; we see it in the futility of both Toni’s attempts at playing by the rules of the bureaucracy (even with proper paperwork, nothing’s going to happen), and in Albert’s getting a trailer, when all he asked for was for his crew to return to their projects…which weren’t flooded or damaged. I think we also see this in Janette’s refusing to ask her staff to work for free. She realizes that she could probably systemically convince her employees to work, but that ultimately it wouldn’t change anything. Her storyline (which as my friend Daniela points out, is one I haven’t commented on too much) is incredibly poignant and heartbreaking. And I’ve avoided it largely because it’s so perfectly written and acted that I find myself having trouble saying anything interesting about it. Kim Dickens’s performance is so perfect and her character so impeccably fashioned that I find myself drawn completely into her world. It is interesting that both her and Annie find themselves returning to men who are completely not good for them (in this sense, of course, Sonny is much worse than Davis…and we finally see Sonny accomplishing everything we all thought he would). In Annie’s case, I think we can see it as a fear of being on her own, but in the case of Janette, I am not sure—curious to hear the thoughts of others.
To return to the broader point, the two mavens playing most outside of the system are, of course, Creighton and Davis. And they each show the pitfalls of not taking yourself seriously enough and taking yourself too seriously. They’re playing the same game, outside of the same rules, but but can’t seem to meet each other in the middle. Davis is too silly, while Creighton is too serious, but both fail to realize the opportunity that they have. Creighton finds himself in the strange predicament of wanting to have a voice while not wanting speaking for anyone (quite the impossibility as Stanley Cavell has demonstrated), while Davis wants to speak for everyone without really having anything to say that’s his own. It’s as if the two men are mirror images of each other and it is so fascinating to see how Creighton consistently dislikes Davis: it’s like matter seeing anti-matter (or whatever the appropriate physics metaphor would be here).
In a sense, their brand of humor becomes the only viable means of resistance within the world of Treme. It is the only successful action (in that one can execute it without fail) in the face of what is going on, but ultimately it too is ineffective. It comes down to pretty much just saying, with the Creightons, “fuck you, you fucking fucks.” And maybe, sometimes, that’s enough.
Or maybe not…I submit that Albert, then, will be the interesting test case in this scenario as he seems to share the sentiment, but also manifestly seems to be not only a man of action, but a man of little humor. I am curious to see the directions in which his character will go.
Until next week,