New Orleans, 38 months after Hurricane Katrina: Barack Obama has just been elected to the White House, giving this battered, majority-black city reason for optimism. Yet for every entrenched resident who hopes to improve his or her lot – or just return to a sense of pre-Katrina normalcy – others are intent on capitalizing on the city's vulnerability and suffocating its culture.
Created by David Simonand Eric Overmyer, the Peabody Award-winning drama series TREME returns for its five-episode conclusion SUNDAY, DEC. 1, 2013 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. Beginning in Nov. 2008 and culminating at Mardi Gras 2009, the new season revisits the musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians and other familiar New Orleanians who continue to rebuild their lives, their homes and their culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane that caused the near-death of an American city.
Heightened by a historic presidential election, the promise of economic and cultural recovery in New Orleans is tempered by sobering economics, continued police corruption and the ongoing specter of violence and crime. More than three years after the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina, nothing in the civic firmament seems to work as it should. New Orleanians are subject to corrupt and brutal law enforcement, a fragile school system and economic priorities that almost willfully exclude the people who need help.
But one thing works: The culture.
In this improbable city, which is responsible for some of America's greatest cultural gifts, the protagonists of TREME can rely on little, other than a sense of what they can, and must, create that gives life in New Orleans power and value. Here, the multiculturalism that has created and sustained the Crescent City – a blend that is French and Caribbean, Spanish and African-American and American – is a value embraced and understood by those who can't imagine living anywhere else. By such currency, New Orleans keeps its people committed to it, despite the odds.
This season, as one major character bravely faces his mortality, others look to make headway in careers, relationships and artistic endeavors, all amidst hope that an Obama administration will bring renewed attention and financial aid to New Orleans. The results are mixed, as opportunities end up in the hands of outsiders looking for quick financial gain, while the guardians of the flame struggle to make their voices heard over the din of construction and local politics.
The ensemble cast of TREME includes: Wendell Pierce as Antoine Batiste; Khandi Alexander as LaDonna Batiste-Williams; Clarke Peters as Albert Lambreaux; Rob Brown as Delmond Lambreaux; Steve Zahn as Davis McAlary; Kim Dickens as Janette Desautel; Melissa Leo as Toni Bernette; Lucia Micarelli as Annie Tee; Michiel Huisman as Sonny; David Morse as Terry Colson; Jon Seda as Nelson Hidalgo; India Ennenga as Sofia Bernette; and Chris Coy as L.P. Everett.
As ever, TREME will feature live performances of New Orleans music in its natural environment, the clubs and streets and homes of the city. Musicians featured in season four include John Boutté, Kermit Ruffins, Michael Doucet, Davis Rogan, Don B, Guitar Lightnin' Lee, Ellis Marsalis, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Terence Blanchard, Aurora Nealand, Corey Glover, Ed Gerrard, Christie Jourdain, Jon Cleary, Donald Harrison, Jr., Kidd Jordan, Dr. John, Jon Batiste, Charmaine Neville and Tom McDermott. Culinary guest actors this season include David Chang and Emeril Lagasse.
Episode #32: "Yes We Can Can"
Debut: SUNDAY, DEC. 1 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 1 (11:00 p.m.), 3 (11:00 p.m.), 4 (10:00 p.m.) and 5 (2:15 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Dec. 2 (10:00 p.m.), 6 (8:00 p.m.), 7 (11:00 p.m.) and 14 (10:00 p.m.)
New Orleans celebrates the election of Barack Obama; Desautel opens her own Bywater restaurant; LaDonna rebuilds Gigi's bar; school band director Batiste gets invested in his students' lives.
Episode #33: "This City"
Debut: SUNDAY, DEC. 8 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 8 (11:00 p.m.), 10 (11:00 p.m.), 11 (10:00 p.m.) and 12 (1:30 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Dec. 9 (10:00 p.m.), 13 (8:00 p.m.), 14 (11:00 p.m.) and 21 (10:00 p.m.)
Lambreaux learns his cancer has spread; Delmond plays with Terence Blanchard in New York; Annie wins song of the year for "This City"; violence strikes one of Batiste's students.
Episode #34: "Dippermouth Blues"
Debut: SUNDAY, DEC. 15 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 15 (11:00 p.m.), 17 (11:00 p.m.), 18 (10:00 p.m.) and 19 (3:40 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Dec. 16 (10:00 p.m.), 20 (8:00 p.m.), 21 (11:00 p.m.) and 28 (10:00 p.m.)
McAlary and Desautel spend New Year's Eve together; Batiste picks up a movie job; LaDonna comforts Lambreaux; Colson offers to testify, and the NOPD retaliates.
Episode #35: "Sunset on Louisianne"
Debut: SUNDAY, DEC. 22 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 22 (11:00 p.m.), 24 (11:00 p.m.), 25 (10:00 p.m.) and 26 (2:50 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Dec. 23 (10:00 p.m.), 27 (8:00 p.m.) and 28 (11:00 p.m.)
McAlary celebrates his 40th; Bernette gets a break in her case; Annie dumps her band; Lambreaux insists that Delmond carry on as Big Chief after he's gone; Everett returns to New Orleans.
Episode #36: "To Miss New Orleans" (series finale)
Debut: SUNDAY, DEC. 29 (9:00-10:15 p.m.)
Other HBO playdates: Dec. 29 (11:15 p.m.) and 31 (11:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdate: Dec. 30 (10:00 p.m.)
Colson is offered a transfer; guardians send Lambreaux home; Batiste takes his sons to a Dr. John gig; Hidalgo returns to Texas; McAlary revisits his pothole, now decorated.
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