treme season 2 ep 1 'Treme' Season 2 gets a slight retool, music sounds just as sweet

When “Treme” debuted in 2010, the David Simon follow-up to “The Wire” had everything going for it: an enviable roster of acting talent, the sumptuous New Orleans backdrop and, quite likely, the greatest vehicle for musical performance of any scripted program ever. The only thing missing, according to some viewers, was a linear storyline.

But the series about change in the post-Katrina city switches gears, quite appropriately, in its sophomore year.

Season 2 of “Treme” picks up seven months later, with Toni (Melissa Leo) struggling to raise her daughter after her husband’s suicide, Janette (Kim Dickens) finding life as a New York chef unfulfilling, Antoine (Wendell Pierce) still unsuccessful making ends meet as musician and LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) trying to maintain her life in New Orleans while her family carries on without her in Baton Rouge.

And that’s just a small sampling of the arcs in place. The cast and storylines remain as meticulously scattered as before, with a heightened sense of urgency to their respective plights.

Season 1 seemed to pride itself on the slow, thoughtful development — but Creighton’s (John Goodman) death may have unintentionally raised the stakes. Crime is on the rise after the initial shock of the hurricane and most of the ensemble is forced to finally confront the new landscape.

Amid all the reacquainting with familiar faces, an ambiguous new character arrives in New Orleans. Nelson (Jon Seda), Arnie’s cousin from Houston, makes his first appearance in the season premiere as a would-be player in the city’s effort to rebuild. He’s obviously out to enjoy what the city has to offer (music, food and women), but he seems like a potentially menacing presence — even during that admittedly cute dance break with LaDonna.

This being “Treme,” not a whole lot happened during its first outing in months. Sonny (Michiel Huisman) and Annie (Lucia Micarelli) seem destined for a reconciliation, which is just fine considering Davis’ (Steve Zahn) heart is in New York with Janette. Terry (David Morse) also got his first dose of increased screen time, tending to the noticeable boom in crime.

But if you’re still watching at this point, you likely don’t need any of the melodrama. “Treme’s” carefully drawn characters and gorgeous musical asides continue to make it one of the best series TV has to offer — and the very definition of destination Sunday viewing.

Posted by:Mikey O'Connell