By now, ongoing readers are aware of my interest in the use of Leonard Cohen’s music in movies and TV. Thus, it will be no surprise that I am intrigued by Leonard’s “Treaty” from You Want It Darker, the sing-songwriter’s last album released while he was alive, appearing in Showtime’s Your Honor (a limited series adapted from the Israeli TV series Kvodo, which premiered Dec 6, 2020).
Here’s the premise of the show:
When the teenaged son of a prominent New Orleans judge accidentally kills another teen in a hit-and-run, the judge urges him to turn himself into the police, but changes his mind when he learns the victim was the son of a local mafia kingpin. The judge’s attempts to dispose of the evidence leads to tragic consequences for another teen.1
What makes this employment of a Leonard Cohen song special is that Episode 3 of Your Honor opens with the protagonist, Judge Michael Desiato, played by Bryan Cranston, sitting in a New Orleans dive, drinking whiskey, listening to “Treaty” by Leonard Cohen (playing, believe it or not, on a jukebox at that New Orleans bar), and talking to Leland Monroe, the only other customer in the joint. Leonard’s lyrics (in red) blend with the dialogue (in bold black) between the Judge and Leland Monroe, the barfly, while the visual scenes comprise a mixture of the bar, the crime itself, jail cells… And, just to top things off, the segment ends with a Dylan Thomas joke.
Ah, the fields are crying out–It’s Jubilee
We sold ourselves for love but now we’re free
I’m so sorry for that ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real and that was me
I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything
And I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes this bloody hill
I’m angry and I’m tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty between your love and mine
[coins clink into jukebox; Treaty begins playing again]
I’ve seen you change the water into wine
I’ve seen you change it back to water, too
I sit at your table every night
[Judge Michael Desiato:] He got better.
I try, but…
[Judge Michael Desiato:] Closer to the end, the better his voice.
[Leland Monroe:] You got that right. [chuckles]
Raging against the dying of the light.
I do not care who takes this bloody hill…
[Leland Monroe:] “Raging against the dying of the light.” Who said that? Somebody said that, right?
I’m tired all the time…
[Leland Monroe:] Don’t think I’ve seen you in here before.
I wish there was a treaty between your love and mine…
[Judge Michael Desiato:] Unhappy ending?
[Leland Monroe:] Hmm?
[Judge Michael Desiato:] Your marriage?
In the street, it’s Jubilee
[Judge Michael Desiato:] Two more here.
[Bartender:] You got it.
[Judge Michael Desiato:] Dylan Thomas. [Referring to Leland’s query re who said “Raging against the dying of the light.” “Rage against the dying of the light” is a line from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas]
[Leland Monroe:] Leland Munroe. Good to meet you.