The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Whatever comes next is just a dream of what used to be…

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All on Mardi Gras Day

First of all, massive props to the writers up to now and director of this episode for not making Mardi Gras the last episode of this season. It was a bold, unexpected, and ultimately rewarding move.

I’m going to focus for a moment on Sonny. As much as pretty much everyone dislikes him (and rightly so), there is something fascinating about his character. Note that a dimension is added this week in which we see that perhaps his story (about rescuing people) was actually true. His attitude to the man is ambivalent enough that perhaps it’s not (and here Huisman’s acting chops need to be commended), but it also could be. If it is, it makes a great parallel to the theme of the episode, which is roughly that New Orleans after Katrina takes on an uncanny air (more on this shortly). We see that at a particular moment, Sonny became the man that he wants to be (and that we want him to be)…but it’s a fleeting moment, much like the constant triumphs in Treme (and in pretty much every show ever created by David Simon). Once he returns to his life, to cocaine, and so forth, that man disappears and is really just “a dream of what used to be.” This is the theme that unites pretty much everything that happens in this episode, from the meeting of Davis and Annie (a nice couple, but one that’s not quite right because both are in relationships that haven’t quite lived up to what they should, but haven’t quite broken down enough for them to forward), Ladonna and Antoine (we know that that wasn’t meant to go anywhere and was a mistake, albeit one that Antoine was perhaps looking for), Creighton and his daughter (where she used to appreciate and be amused by his venom, she is starting to dislike the fact that it is omnipresent), and so forth. (There is, of course, the exception of Delmond, who seems to have had a homecoming of sorts that parallels, inversely, the experiences of everyone else, including, most poignantly, his father.)

With all of that said, the broader theme that I took from episode and that it seemed to me to capture so well is the general tone of modernity, for which I take New Orleans to be a stand-in: “It’s sad, but it’s pretty…like New Orleans.” Everything in the world takes on a certain ambivalence after Katrina, but Katrina is again also more than Katrina, as Creighton’s excursion to the various calamities that have befallen the city throughout its course seems to illustrate. This isn’t a new thing, not for New Orleans, and not for us as moderns. Everything is ambivalent, doesn’t quite live up to its aspirations, but falls short of them in ways that are often hard to delineate in the sense that we are unsure whether the instantiation or the concept itself is what’s failing (and here, the government lawyer’s quip about “just doing her job” takes on a distinct light). Every once in awhile, we all can’t but help leave the “isle of denial,” and sail away on Woodford Reserve, cheap cocaine, or frantic sex…but the next morning we can’t but help wake up, ashamed and confused like someone wearing a blue tarp.

Remember you are dust…and to dust you shall return.

Only two more two go, unfortunately,


Written by Martin

June 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

One Response

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  1. Agreed re making NOT making Mardi Gras the final episode. Simon’s never one to take the obvious route, so I shouldn’t have so surprised.

    I used to be a bit of a apologist for Sonny but, hero or no, I don’t think I can get back to that. There was something subtly off putting about him when he put on his mask. I can’t put my finger on it, but it definitely didn’t belong in the “fun” of Carnivale.


    June 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm

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