Sunday, January 13, 2008

"The Wire," Season 5, Ep. 2: "Unconfirmed Reports."

Well, there it was, the episode – and the actions of McNulty in the episode – that I’ve been talking about indirectly since I first watched. I’ll confess, no matter what kind of toss pot McNutty has become and no matter how screwed up the department, I had a very difficult time originally with the notion of him crossing the line and screwing up a crime scene. Not just screwing it up, but fabricating a crime.

In real time, as I watched, I had that sick feeling a critic gets when things go sideways. (It’s that same knee-jerk reaction that made me mock – out loud – the asinine ending to “Million Dollar Baby,” a manipulative movie that got exponentially worse in the last minutes). You get those moments sometimes. As it pertained to “The Wire,” I worried about authenticity and character motivation. To the first, I’ll say this quickly: Strange that I accepted much more easily the ethical lapse(s) of Scott, the journalist. I think that speaks to reality, not fiction. There are all kinds of Scotts who have tainted journalism through the years. And I’m sure there are all kinds of cops who have done some very dubious and devious deeds as well. I know that in reality. But fictionally – hey, this is McNulty.

Which brings us to the second element – character motivation. I’m sure people will have a lot to say about this episode, but I think it’s best to use caution in railing against the twist. One, I’ve seen the next five episodes and I’m fine, critically, with the direction. Second, it’s hard to remember (or accept) that characters change. That’s really the beauty of television. It’s alive. There’s evolution. And McNulty has crossed ethical lines before, just never this bad – bad enough for Bunk to be disgusted in ways he never thought imaginable. But there were certainly patterns to suggest this kind of behavior was possible. Also, he’s clearly spiraling in his personal life. And that goes beyond the drinking. (I’m giving nothing away there. It’s just a perception. McNulty is terribly unhappy in some way. He’s got gaping, unexplained emotional wounds. The guy’s got so much baggage he needs his own sky cap.)

Anyway, factor in what is clearly an oppressive, unrelentingly dysfunctional system of government and policing and you’ll find that McNulty has had enough. He’s disgusted. He wants to be good po-lice, but the institutions around him are failing and not allowing him (or anyone else) to effectively do their job. Welcome to “The Wire.” It’s the FUBAR/SNAFU of all televised dramas.

That said, it took me a couple of weeks to get with this twist (because things are gonna get worse, folks). But for me, acceptance was two-fold. The storyline is, dramatically, pretty damned powerful and potent on down the line. Can’t wait for the final three. And I just think that David Simon could, fairly easily, make the case for McNulty’s actions as reasonable and not as completely out of the blue as they seemed when he walked back in that row house with the gloves on.

OK, enough from me for now. Bring your theories and opinions in the comment section. But first, some gems, quotes and additional scraps from the episode.

+ Marlo on June Bug: “He’s a dead man. He’s just walking around and don’t know it yet.” Yeah, well he does now. But it was good to see that Michael couldn’t kill that kid.

+ “And I want that dick sucker. Took my money and the whole world know? Nah. He got to fall.” Marlo has put the fatwa on Omar. Anybody else think that’s a dangerous game?

+ “The crown ain’t worth much if the n-er wearing it is always getting his shit took.” Once again, Marlo is talking about that crown. But he’s right – he’s the king.

+ Kima on working a second job as a guard in a jewelry store: “Stand around some shiny shit and get paid. Work murders and starve.”

+ “There are no fucking rules. The fucking game’s rigged.” – McNulty. Anybody remember where that came from first?

+ “There you go, giving a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.” Bunk. Yet more rehashing of famous lines (which will continue all season), this one coming from the very first episode of “The Wire.”

+ “Ever notice how a mother of four is always catching hell?” – Gus, about how truisms in life pop up a lot in journalism. “Innocent bystanders,” another notes. They get it a lot too. Then, my favorite: “You know who there’s less of? Statuesque blondes. You don’t read about statuesque blondes in the newspapers anymore. Buxom ones, neither. They’re like a lost race.”

+ The uniformed cop watching McNulty get off the city bus: “Okay. Now I’ve seen everything.”

+ Bigwig editor: “If you leave everything in, soon you’ve got nothing.” And to the notion of explaining complicated stories and themes to readers: “Who wants to read that?” While it’s true that Simon has one or seven axes to grind with journalism and certain newspapers, you can’t say the guy is wrong. Everybody in this business has seen an editor like that. Or more. And remember, the whole point of Season 5, according to Simon, is that if everything the series illuminated in the first four seasons is true, then why hasn’t anyone noticed or fixed it. The onus, he says, falls on the press, which is where we find ourselves in Season 5.

+ Ah, Scott. More than one of those in the newsroom. Not wholesale fabricators, per se, but people without the talent or drive to match their ambition.

+ By the way, more than one Gus in every newsroom, too. There’s a lot of great editors who would make fabulous, multidimensional (but twisted) characters. And Rewrite Man Jay Spry – still a bunch of those lovable, totally essential barnacles still around a lot of newsrooms as well. He’s almost too perfect. I know a bunch of editors just like that.

+ “Surprise!” – Avon. But I’m told HBO already ruined that with its upcoming attractions this week. I urge you to skip those whenever possible. How they could have given that away beforehand is beyond me. Come on! Have a little faith in the power of surprises.

+ “So I tell him, hell yeah I know Marlo. Real well.” – Avon. True dat.

+ Avon has it down about Marlo aiming to get in with the Greeks. “I mean, you’re a natural businessman.”

+ Avon then asks Marlo, other than that, how’s life. Marlo: “Ah, the game’s the game.” Avon. “Always.”

+ The parallel lines of ethic violations are pretty clear now, with Scott and McNulty. A boy in a wheelchair. Goes by E.J. 13 years old. Cutting school. In a wheelchair. “Something about a stray bullet.” Yeah, Gus smells the stink on that, but Executive Editor James C. Whitting III (perfect) does not.

+ Clay Davis’ finest moment? Moments? Sure was fun to watch.

+ “As an editor, I need a little more to fly this thing.” – Gus. Outmanned.

+ Whitting: “Do you have a problem with it?” Gus: “A little bit, kinda, yeah.”

+ Snoop’s disdain after the West Coast boyz in the hood thing goes awry: “Fuck those West Coast n-ers. In B-more, we aim and hit a n-er, you heard.”

+ And McNulty, with a little too much pride in the deed: “There’s a serial killer in Baltimore. He preys on the weakest among us. He needs to be caught.” Is that enough to get the money and manpower flowing? We shall see. But we know one thing – nothing is ever that easy on “The Wire.”

+ “I’m gone. I don’t want a part of this.” – Bunk. You knew he’d never go along with that trick. Not Bunk. No way.

+ What about you?


Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

I'm an OnDemander, so I've been waiting for this post for six days. As soon as McNulty went to work on the crime scene, I knew we were seeing "The Scene Tim Goodman Hinted About." And it was scarily bad business. But I have to be honest, it wasn't nearly as big a leap as I expected. McNulty's had it ... yeah, he's over the top, but really, I wonder why stuff like this hasn't happened before. It was certainly a surprise, but I can't say it was out of character. In short, this was not like Season Two of Friday Night Lights.

pnm said...

Our vote for the quote “There are no fucking rules. The fucking game’s rigged.” is Bodie. Most likely said during his meeting with McNutty in the park late last season.

What do we win if we're the first to get it right? We want official TBM/TGTV shorty robes in his and hers.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this is more far fetched than, say, Hamsterdam...

pnm said...

And how classic was the line, "The whole world shines shit and calls it gold."

zoz45 said...

Well, the scene we all were waiting for. It's a tad much, but not half as bad as I expected after reading TG's warnings.

Avon - I don't watch previews, I cheered.

I read Snoop's book this weekend (if you haven't, you should), and my respect for her has climbed even more. The conversation in the car was probably one she had in her real life.

I feel that there are bad things on the horizon for Michael. I sure hope not.

The girl who spoke first at the NA meeting. Another great job of casting.

Framon on the stakeout reading a magazine about "minitures." Does that relly exist?

Bubs, "people treating me like a lamp post."

Chris, "She somewhat eager."

Snoop, "Time for y'all to earn y'alls pay n...s."

suzyq2 said...

I think a difficulty with accepting McNulty's actions is we don't WANT him to do something so screwed up. They certainly set it up well though. Even just since the season started there are many scenes of him being frustrated, fed up and yes, I agree with Tim, there's a deep wound gnawing at McNulty. I was expecting something worse too so as bad as it is, I'm relieved it isn't more horrible.

Loved seeing Avon again; Marlo is one scary, bone chilling dude. And going after Omar is never a good idea. The dialogue on The Wire is truly awesome.

I don't know if this was the first time, but didn't Bodie say "There's no rules, games rigged" sitting on the bench with McNulty last season shortly before he was killed?

My heart nearly stopped as Michael took aim, thank god he didn't shoot that little boy. It's interesting to hear Michael question what's going on--he obviously didn't think someone should die just because he shot off his mouth. I wonder where this is going to go--Chris, Snoop and Marlo will not take kindly to their decisions being questioned. Will Michael's decency save him or doom him?

This show is so dense with information, one viewing is just not enough.

George D from the 415 said...

After Marlo's proclamation of intent to get Omar, I'm worried. Not for Marlo. Omar has been built as a mythical figure, and going after him has burnt every person in the past, but the Wire is not about predictability, and my fear is the show will end (or even earlier in the season) with Omar dying. I hope I'm wrong, but that is my current fear. I went from ondemand last week to school this week so i have a two week hiatus between eps. its killing me

Brian said...

Another OnDemander here who has been waiting to say something. I too saw that coming as the scene started, but wasn't all that shocked. McNulty has been trying to work within the system for years, only to bang his head against the wall (or foor against the car in this ep). He has always had a knack for overstepping boundries in the pursuit of his obsession. I remember Lester tearing into him about setting a things on fire and just walking away, implications for others (or himself) be damned. Fully realizing the game is rigged, from the hoppers on up to the Justice Dept. made him snap. It was a totally believable step over the edge for a desperate man, but on the first viewing it did swwm forced. Now let's see how it all plays out.

-The girl at the meeting was great. Wasn't she the girl in a bar early in Season 3 that McNulty and Bunk hit on with a drunk cop-good cop routine?

-Avon! I loved how he relished the prospect of edging out Prop Joe and the Eastsiders. I also loved how Marlo caled Sergei 'Boris.' Nice Season 2 line callback.

-Chris is one of my favorite characters, and his initial reaction to being told to take out Omar said it all. He knows the score. No doubt.

-I took the editor's comments about nobody wanting to hear the whole story as both an indictment of the media as well as those dismissing/ not watching The Wire fo rthe same reasons.

-LOVED that Lester was reading "Miniatures." Yet another small detail fleshing out continuity of character. Brilliant.

-Another glimmer of morality from Michael in the car asking why someone has to die for unconfirmed shit talking, and a knowing glance in the mirror from Chris. Will his hesitance to follow through be his downfall?

Jaspergirl said...

The first person to say "The game is rigged" is Marla Cedric, in the second episode of season 1. But, Bodie does also say it to McNulty in the park, right before he dies, which is where I think McNulty is supposed to get it.

How much is McNulty's hangover supposed to justify what he did?

Also, while recently re-watching some early episodes, I caught a "I wonder exactly what you would have to do to get kicked out of this police department"...from McNulty. Did he just answer his own question?

Also, anyone think Avon is totally screwing with Marlo? Something tells me he wouldn't be taking the side of the man who filled his throne... also, with Slim now working for Prop Joe, I can't help think Avon is still on top of everything, even on the inside.

Anonymous said...

anyone know who sings the cover of that janis joplin tune that lester was listening to on the stakeout?

sueinsf said...

Anyone get a good look at the old woman who died of 'natural causes'? I don't think they ever showed her face. I am spoiler-free, just have this nagging suspicion that she's Omar's grandma and her death wasn't so natural...Anyone?

Pizzadrone said...

Anonymous: That would be Emma Franklin (Aretha's sister)

As for McNulty--I think his actions are completely in character. He's tried to push the envelope in any way possible for as long as he's been around. And while he's always been on the side of right, he's never been what I'd call a moral character. He's probably wondering why he never thought of this before....

DonySF said...

I'm going to wait and see on the McNulty storyline and see how it plays out before I reserve judgment. Right now, it seems fitting that he's setting himself up for a Bunny Colvin-type fall. Fitting because Bunny was his mentor. "Fuck the bosses," remember?

Right now, I'm more interested in the Avon-Marlo-Boris storyline. Avon is clearly setting up Marlo to fall. He was too enthusiastic to come to Marlo's aid. Yes, he got $100k for his sister, but at the same time, he seemed to be salivating in a way I haven't seen since Clay Davis got one over on Stringer Bell. Avon's old-school in the Street Game, as was Clay Davis in the political Game. He would side with Prop Joe any day over Marlo. Don't forget that Avon's one-time employee, Slim Charles, is Prop Joe's right hand man. Nothing in The Wire is predictable. I know where it's going, but WHERE WILL THE TWIST COME IN???

Anonymous said...

I believe the woman speaking at the meeting in the opening scene was the "working" girl who fended off an advance from Old Face Andre last season; saying that her pimp really loved her.

As for Avon, I think there really is something to this west side vs east side conflict. Joe has always gotten the better of him...from the basketball game in season one to the encroachment on his territory. I totally see him lining up with Marlow in an alliance of against "those East side bitches". Besides, he got Marlow to pony up 100K for his sister.

The game is the game. For real.

Anonymous said...

the actress from the opening scene is Richard Price's daughter. We first saw here in S3 as the girl buying drugs who didn't respond to the polite hopper. Last season we saw her as a prositute in Old Face Andre's store. All the same character. It's incredible how well it all fits.

I've got to think that if this season was 12 or 13 episodes, as usual, there would still be some more lead up to McNulty's actions. I mean he pulls this act in the SAME episode in which he learns that it is even possible.

- another example of how the supposedly mundane details have a major effect. It was not McNulty's turn when he took the call for the dead lady (natural causes) nor was it an actual homiced, natural causes. However, McNulty takes the call ("when it ain't his turn" - call back to the first episode) and ends up in the Medical Examiner's office, waiting on the results of the natural cause woman, where he learns about dead drug addict with the post-mortem neck wounds.

How is Partlow going to bring Omar back out of retirement? I don't know, but I have a bad feeling about Butchie.

favorite line - "Fish and fucking Wild Life can't even help you".

leftymn said...

I think I liked it better when Tim was watching the show in "real time" along with the rest of us. All of the portent about the direction of the show, even if not technically spoilers, gives me the feeling that I'm getting hints that I don't want to get.

That said, maybe I'm just in a bad mood, because I was disappointed in this episode. McNulty has always been painted as if he thinks he's the only cop who truly cares about justice, but messing with a murder scene in order to retaliate against the bureaucracy seems a bit much. If a cop is going to such lengths he's probably doing to save his own ass. But our Jimmy apparently rationalizes it as part of his personal mission to right the world's wrongs.

So far this season I think I'm enjoying the newspaper characters more than the po-lice and the politicos. Maybe things will pick up when Omar returns to the story. No doubt.

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

It's been six days, so my memory isn't clear about the song, but if it was indeed "Piece of My Heart," we should add that Janis covered Emma, not the other way around.

Tweedy said...

Another On-Demander here who is happy to see the deco hit the street. The McNulty decision definitely seemed out of character to me - he is "good po-lice" after all, but it was set up well with his frustration hitting an all time high at the end of episode 1 and him clearly hitting rock bottom in general (poor Beadie). I didn't really get it until The Dive (my wife, who is almost always more savvy than me) gave me a a good explanation for his motivations (and an explanation that at least one of you have hit upon), that he is trying to marshall resources that he can use to track down Marlo. Still, Bunk's opening line for the season ("the bigger the lie, the more they believe") seems more and more appropriate, even with the irony that Bunk himself can't stomach McNulty's actions. I had trouble with this at first. but am starting to buy it, if The Dive is correct as to McNulty's intentions.
Agree with all who think Marlo might have something up his sleeve with respect to Marlo. As others mentioned, great callback by Marlo with the "Boris" line...

Tweedy said...

Um, I meant that that Avon might have something up his sleeve for Marlo. Even Marlo knows not to mess with himself. D'oh!

HowieG said...

Wow. I don't see McNulty's actions as out of whack. He's fallen of the wagon, cheating on his wife, kicked to homicide after leaving patrol duty to come back and bust Marlo. Shit the guy can even get a decent car to drive around. Cops do shit. Think about the murder here in SF a way back that was worked by E.Saunders and N. Hendrix that fell apart after it was found out they did all kind of shady shit.
I liked that Mike wondered aloud to Chris and Snoop as to why Marlo had to hit that dude. Similar to young Omar asking why they were robbing an old man at the bus stop. I wonder where that is going to go?

I am finding it strange that nobody in Marlo's crew gets touched ever by anyone. You would think by now someone would act up and do something. I'll be very disappointed if Marlo ends up ruling the roost by the end of the series. Yeah someone is always running the game but the players always end up changing as The Wire has shown us. Their line of work doesn't lend itself to longevity.

virgil p said...

Based on these first two episodes, this may be the worst season yet. Too preachy, and blind to its own sermonizing weakness. Let's rename the creator David Sermon.

When the villain editor says he wants a 'Dickensian' series, that could be David Simon holding forth on his own importance as a novelistic TV writer. Negro, please.

The parallel story lines between the ambtitious reporter willing to fabricate a teenage subject in a wheelchair and McNutty's impulsive fabrication of a crime scene is too obvious to bear.

I wish I'd never read that profile of Simon in the New Yorker last fall. His high self regard is diluting my enjoyment of what's left of THE WIRE.

Anonymous said...


Were 2 episodes in, give it some more time. I think the writers have earned the benefit of the doubt.

That being said, for me personally, I don't see much differnce between the start of this season and the start of others. I mean, obviously, the pace has been quickened a bit. But Whitting and Klebenaw are very much like Burrell and Rawls and Gus Haines is very much like Bunny Colvin. Simons seems to be channeling himself through Gus' character just as Ed Burns did through Colvin in S3 and 4.

So, IMHO, I don't see a whole heck of a lot of difference in the way the seasons are being set up. I am totally in just like I have been in every season. Ultimately, even if this season rates as the "worst" of the 5 total it'll still be better than 99% of all American TV that has come before it.

As for Simon personally, well I guess I feel he talks the talk AND walks the walk. He backs his shit up.

misha bavli said...

Could someone please clarify for me how exactly Marlo persuaded Sergei to contact Vondas? Just couldn't make out the words.. Thanks.

ppage said...

I have to agree with Virgil P. I do find this season preachy with the "dickensian" comment & the AA meetings. It was so obvious the direction McNulty was going to take after his visit to the coroner's office. Or maybe it wouldn't have been so obvious if I hadn't know in advance that McNulty was up to something. I want to see where Simon is going to take this story (always possible for an alcoholic to swing out of control in ways you might not expect).

Still, Avon's back. True Dat. Glad to see him. If he can have Stringer killed he's not going to let Marlo be king for too long.

I see bad things in the future for Michael's little brother & Michael joining forces with Omar who at least has a code.

Loved the comment the editor made (can't remember his name) about how he knows what's happening in the schools because his wife volunteers there. So out of touch.

Love Gus!

Anonymous said...

A couple of things: first, i had a bad feeling about McNutty's actions at first as well, but knowing the wire, i know to step back and let them finish the thread before reacting. And is it that much different than the scandal we had down here in Dallas, of the DPD planting drugs (fake drugs at that) on "perps" to meet their quotas? they were sending innocents, or at least innocent of the drug charges, to jail whereas mcnulty is changing natural don't give a f deaths to don't give a f murders.

second, the girl who opens the rehab meeting. has one line/one scene in three consecutive seasons. bought an eightball in hamsterdam, bought cigarettes from old face andre while tricking for maceo, and now is in rehab with Bubs. The story may have followed bubs, but they told the story of her entire decline in three short scenes.

Lastly, I loved the editing when they cut from the Sun meeting on education, where Gus talks about the need to examine the families and the economics of the neighborhoods, and the very next scene, we see Freamon in his car waiting on Marlo off-hours (what we hear later to be 3 am) and a mother throws her kid inside the door and goes back out with Trina.

The Dive said...

I was not as surprised by McNulty's conduct as I expected to be. I think he is completely lost and feels his only hope for redemption (maybe not redemption, maybe just living) is to bring down Marlo. As Tweedy pointed out, the resources pushed toward the serial murders will allow McNulty to do that. I also love the parrelel of the ethical lapses between McNulty and the reporter. McNulty is doing this to stay alive, the reporter to get ahead. Makes the reporter's actions the more distasteful. Also you have to know that a serial killer is something the press is going to lap up, setting up more of Simon's dissertation on how the press will do almost anything to avoid focusing on the big picture, the real problems, becuase they are boring and don't sell papers. A serial killer story is tailor-made to send that reporter straight to the NYT or the Post.

And I completely agree with one comment - Hamsterdam felt more contrived that the McNulty plot turn. But even with Hamsterdam, I thought there were kernels of truth there.

Anonymous said...

Agree with leftymn. Even if they're not spoilers we're given too much info here. Tim, we know you've seen 7 episodes because you tell us that in every post. I think the deco suffers from it. As I was watching last night I kept on waiting for the big decision that McNulty was going to make....

Anonymous said...

"The game is rigged" is from 1.02 is it not? Daniels' wife.

luckystuff said...

echo: "Fish and fucking Wild Life can't even help you".

But on The McNulty Question: I think it's contrived. Hamsterdam didn't seem as crazy; maybe because Colvin thought he had immunity, or because he saw empty corners or something.

As someone else said, McNulty was supposed to be going after justice, not just turning names to black. And then there's how Bunk turned away distastefully; you'd think McNulty would have a little of that in him too.

I mean, I get the fake-reporting parallels. I get the whole deceit machine critique in Season 5. It just seems out of character. But they need a little motivation. Randy turned hard to survive; Chris turned hard to survive. Carver is maturing. All those make some sort sense. Going around f'ing with dead bodies... that's just deranged.

(And where's the leftover from Bodie's death? I would've thought McNulty would've been a little affected by that.)

And where's the outrage against Carcetti. He takes that money, and the whole BPD is less crazy.

Carter said...

I'm willing to wait it out but I've been thinking all day about what McNulty did at the end of the episode and it makes me sick to my stomach.

I just can't believe where he's seems so far out of the realm of truth.

Also, the newsroom stuff has been weak. I'm disappointed in the dialogue and everything feels preachy.

Like I said, I'll wait it out, but I'm bracing myself for disappointment.

Ryan said...

McNulty's decision I can live with. He's clearly self destructive and willing to work around the system. Yes, this is a bit further than he's pushed it before, but he seems to be in worse shape than before.

What worries me is Bunk. If he keeps his mouth shut, particularly once this hits the media, I'll find that hard to believe.

Tim Goodman said...

For those who may be disappointed that I said McNulty will take a debatable action, that didn't come from the deconstructions, it came from the review of the series in the Chronicle, and without mentioning that in the review I wouldn't have been doing my job.

B-More Wire Head said...

"We will be brief with all you motherfuckers - I think you know" - Snoop (last week's episode).

Just thought I'd throw that out there. I loved that line.

Great to see Avon again in the story line. I kinda missed the ole drug dealer. And talking about getting it right...As previously mentioned, I'm from B-More and that westside - eastside thing is soooo real. I've seen some serious altercations jump off because of geography. And people of like tribe do stick together.

Shameless family plug....My cousin, who plays Officer Aaron Castor got some quality face time, when Kima came to inspect the scene of those murders. However, I will say that his acting in that scene left a lot to be desired.

Of all the stuff I witnessed on The Wire, I was actually physically ill watching McNulty do something as "un-po-lice" as alter a crime scene. But I saw it coming when he took great interest in all that post mordim death talk.

Good to see Michael having a crisis of morals. He has a little brother and saw his little brother in the boy he was supposed to kill. Unfortunaterly it might ultimately spell his demise in Marlo's crew. Employees of Marlo can't have scruples.

Lastly, I want to send a big "F-You" to Comcast and HBO for not having the episode on demand last week in my area. I had to wait a whole week like the rest of the Mopes. ;o)


ferrethead said...

I'm sure a lot of you know more about the media game than I do, but if I had been that reporter, I would have written about how I went out to get one story, and came back with an entirely different one. Obviously, if they had originally planned on going with a story on McGwire, they weren't shying away from the negative - why not show how the changes in the game have changed the fans? Lazy reporting - not exactly newsworthy.

My question is: How did Marlo know to call Sergei "Boris"?

McNulty's fall (as it were) - desperate times call for desperate measures. I don't think it's EVER a good idea to take your career advice from Jim Beam.

Probably the best 12-step share I've ever seen depicted - "That bitch is trying to kill me!" That's some real shit, there.

Anonymous said...

Tim, you do mention McNulty's decision in your Episode 1 decontruct:

You said:

"I’ll say this: My biggest concern, as I said in the review, is a decision that McNulty makes in future episodes. I think it’s something that takes a lot of thinking on because it goes to character motivation. It’s important to remember that motivations change. That’s why great television storytelling will always trump movies. Characters are living, they evolve. Our perceptions of them and our beliefs in what they will or won’t do need also change, even reluctantly. I’m OK with that particular storyline right now, regarding McNulty. And it may end up being a real piece of genius."

Virgil P said...

I have mixed feelings about Tim's review/warning the McNutty goes off the rails. I would've preferred seeing it for myself instead of anticipating it. The upside: I was expecting something less credible, so Tim's warning softened the impact, and kinda helped me get past it.

For all my complaining about David "Sermon" in the previous post, there was one nice touch in the scene where McNutty tampers with evidence (and I wonder if it was written or improvised by the actor)-- just before McNulty chokes the corpse, he takes a drink from his flask and then crosses himself. True dat.

Anonymous said...

I saw it on Monday, sat on it a little bit and can say I would be shocked that they can get me to swallow it over time. We are in shark jumping territory. My favorite aspect of the wire is that is was Anti network tv cop show and that it was more than loosely based on real events. The rogue cop creating a serial killer to get funds to fight crime? They are treading into sensationalism.
Other shark related, the critical acclimation from all media outlets but few you can trace back to Season 1 EP 1, like TG and Sepinwall.

My biggest issue right now is Carcetti as the single point of failure. He has turned down State Funds for the Schools and Federal police for the Row House murders, both because he wants to make a run for Governor with two years of Mayor under his belt. He's not too far removed from being an meager councilman.

Don't get me wrong, it's still favorite all time. I guess I have enough time invested to quibble here and there. Right?

DLowe said...

While perhaps not an the same level, McNulty broke the law in Season 2 when he knowingly had Omar perjure himself in the Gant trial.

lieber said...


I think a • works better than a + for The Wire.

wisertime said...

I'd really like to participate in this season's Wire De-co's but the switch to the kindergarten commenting layout provided by Blogger gives me a headache worse that any McNulty hnagover.

Sessie said...

Most heartbreaking, heart-rendering moment: Bubbles washing the pans in the kitchen--not a word of dialog, but oh so very much "dialog" on in his face and body language...

MJ said...

I'm still not on board with McNulty's behavior but maybe if I have a few weeks to let it sink in, I'll be ok. Unlike some of the other posters, I didn't find this the same as his prior list of ethically challenging actions. He's always been, at his core, a cop and the fabrication of a serial killer (implying McNulty intends to keep this up for a while) is just...I have no words.

lefymn said...

lieber--how do you make those bullets?

pnm said...

A warning:

Do not read The Wire message boards on the Entertainment Weekly site.

Some worthless piece of shit is posting spoilers; I read the first post before I realized what I was reading.

leftymn said...

On the girl speaking at the 12-step meeting, I think I've watched that scene five times. I love her. Of course, she's softer than my image of a dope fiend who "tricks" to support her habit, but maybe that's because she's in recovery.

CasualObserver said...

Great comments all. I am OK with the McNulty decision/actions, but I had to watch multiple times to discover all the reasons why.

As far as Bunk's reaction, I understand it completely. He's screwed if he turns in his buddy for this, and screwed if he doesn't. He went from disbelief in what he was seeing to shock and left the scene as soon as he could--but already too late.

ferrethead said...

I came in a smidge late last night - what was the opening quote?

PK said...

The old woman who died of 'natural causes'? Looked sort of like Lex's mother whom Bunk finally got to talk so they could pick up Chris and Snoop at the end of Year 4.

Anonymous said...

Opening Quote - It ain't Aruba, bitch - Bunk.

How Marlo persuades Sergei - It was something like this. Why don't you talk to Vondas, if it is nothing, it is nothing. But if it is something, then you are the man who made it happen.

pnm said...


The opening quote:

"This ain't Aruba, bitch. - Bunk"


Voguette said...

To say this is the worst season ever hardly matters when you say it of a 5 season run of the best ever show on television.
I knew something was up when McNulty got the post-mortem info, that he'd use it somehow. So I knew what he was going to do as soon as he told the uniformed cop he could leave the scene. But what won me over was his making the sign of the cross just before he mutilates the corpse. Not just the solid RCC action of course, but Dominic West's face of horrific agony and desperation. Poor, desperate Jimmy.
As noted, Michael may be in real danger simply for questioning his boss. Immediately after Snoop tells him off and Michael sighs and slumps back in the carseat there's a quick shot of Chris studying him in his rearview mirror. Sent chills.
I nearly felt sorry for Clay Davis squealing like a pig to the commish.
In the surprise meeting with Avon, I think it's the first time I've ever seen Marlo look a bit ruffled. That actor is so refined in his facial expressions, his nods are articulate! Wasn't much, but I enjoyed that he squirmed a little bit.
I love love love Gus. Merely love the way he speaks.

ferrethead said...

Thanks! Great quote, as usual. I loved the whole scene in the bar, from 22 black deaths to 300 total deaths, to 300 white people, to one dead blond college cheerleader on vacation. Again, where is the priority? Are we as a people so shallow as reflected by the media? I listen to talk radio all day, and they play CNN radio news 'blurbs' at the top of the hour. I kid you not, one day last week the lead story was the cancellation of the Golden Globes!!! To paraphrase a comment from "Homicide": Are we stupid because of the news we watch, or is the news stupid so we *will* watch?

Anonymous said...

Simon puts no scene in without a reason. I can't help but come back to the scene in the car with Michael, Snoop and Chris, where Chris is talking about "Job preparation", and says , "I like to show up an hour early. I don't want someone setting up on me while I'm setting up on them." We've seen Omar set up for DAYS, and you know, at some point, "Omar coming."

Alex said...

Early in the series, Landsman explains to Rawls that McNulty is an addict when it comes to his work. I think that conversation is very relevant to this latest episode. A recovering addict begins the episode by saying that her "disease" could make her do ANYTHING, even things she swore she would never do. And then at the end of the episode, McNulty's addiction drives him to do something that he probably would have considered out of the question earlier in his career. If you think of McNulty as an addict whose supply has been cut off, his fabrication doesn't seem so far-fetched.

wpbooks said...

A development Re:The Wire that has been overlooked this past week is that a soundtrack to the show has finally been released which includes 4 of the 5 versions of "Down In The Hole" (sadly no S5 Steve Earle version) and the end credits theme, as well as many great dialog bits and other songs featured throughout the series. Hate to sound like an ad for this item, but it's a pretty good supplement to the show that's taken a long time to rear it's head. There's also a "Hamsterdam" collection out there that I haven't heard but do look forward to checking out at some point.

Eric said...

There may not have been a kid in a wheelchair at the ball park, but there was a wheelchair and I bet it was an Everest & Jennings model - or the writer used or has pushed an Everest % Jennings wheelchair with that big E & J embossed on the footplates.

lieber said...

sueinsf, my first thought was that it could be Omar's grandma; it would have been a good way to lure Omar back. but then I thought Omar's gran would have more fight in her, there would have been signs of a struggle.

pizzadrone, the drive, and alex (thanks for putting it so eloquently), I'm in your all's camp. I'd add that if McNulty and Lester hadn't taken one last legitimate step by reaching out to the FBI, McNulty's actions would have been a bigger leap for me.

leftymm, on a mac, option + 8 = •

Tim, I'm looking forward to hearing you on KGO tomorrow at 11, but I'm kind of wondering if there'll be much to talk about.

catester said...

The version of Piece of My Heart was Erma Franklin, big sister to Aretha. That was the original version; Janis's was the cover.

The Other Ann Miller said...

I never worked for a newspaper but the only phony character during the entire 5 year run of the Wire is the Sun editor. He seems just like a character on a network show. An actor whose character is to act like an idiot boss. Gus calls the guy on the obviously embellished 13 year old in the wheelchair story and the idiot boss overrides Gus and goes with it? With the made up stories in the times and plagerism charges recently one would think no big city editor could be that oblivious to possible charges of false reporting. One bit of nitpicking in 5 years of a TV show is not bad though....Omar better show up soon though.

leftymn said...

alex--Really liked your explanation of the tie between the opening "inner addict" scene and McNulty's addiction to his work. That made sense of things for me.

lieber--thanks. One more reason to get that new iMac.

ppage said...

I wasn't disappointed to have known about McNulty in advance. It just gave me a different perspective while watching episode 2 for the first time.

Jeff Shell said...

I want to know more about what happened in the year since S4 ended. McNulty's actions in this episode didn't surprise me. At first I thought he was trying to get the full Vacants investigation going again by making it look like a new set of bodies was falling in the same way. But in any case, it's obvious that he's pissed. The whole force is pissed. Carcetti totally fucked everyone over with his own damn pride and ambition. If he had taken that money from the Governor to cover the school deficit and deliver on all of his promises to the police force, I imagine that he maybe couldn't run for governor in two years, but in four? six? If he really gets the crime rate down, he could have really shined his shit into gold and looked like a Giuliani type figure who brought this big city around... But, anyways...

I think McNulty feels justified in fucking with the murder scene since the city obviously doesn't care - they can't get him a car to get to murder scenes; crime lab and coroners office are woefully backed up; he finally had major crimes working on a substantial case that I'm sure he thought nobody could close down and it was taken away by the larger city situation; he's a soldier, like Bodie, and he saw what happened to Bodie. After a year of everything slipping away, why not fuck shit up? Hell, his scheming mind may even figure that if he gets caught, the public outcry about detectives manipulating crime scenes will force the city government to step up and prove that they support "good solid detective work"

I'm much more surprised at how far out of control he was as an angry drunk, after seeing him so happy last season. But it seems like the long, drawn out, no-bust major crime cases have such an effect (season 3 started off on such a case, and he seemed fairly out of control at points that season). Even though life on the patrol boat may not have been his kind of police-work, he didn't seem nearly as distraught and destroyed then. Well, I think that's how it happened. It's been a while since I've watched the first three seasons.

... Anways, if Carver can morph into good police, can't McNulty turn into bad? After fighting so hard to get anyone to care about all of the dead girls in the shipping container, and then watching the Vacants case and its 22 bodies get tossed to the wayside, I can understand him being pissed (and drunk) enough to think that what should it matter what happens to this body? It's not like the city is giving them the resources to do real investigations anyways, so what are the chances of there being any justice?

I'm anxious to see where this all goes.

Trixie said...

There actually were two songs and 2 stakeouts - Freamon said he went twice - the second time after 3 am. The song playing during the second stakeout (when he spots Marlo's crew) was "Don't Cry Baby" by the amazing Etta James.

I loved McNulty and Freamon acting like little boys in the parking lot goofing on the FBI guy. That, and McNulty limping off the bus.

I'm siding with those guessing that Avon is setting up Marlo. That was my gut reaction, but I'm no good at figuring out what's going to happen, so there you go.

And yes, Alex - well done.

Only 2 episodes into Act V - I have no problem going along with McNulty's big plan. I know I'm in good hands. The same goes for Tim's writings - good hands. Tell us whatever you feel you need to, Mr. Goodman. There's soooo much to digest.

Bubbles washing the pot - wow. His storyline has been a major focus this season. I'm hoping we're witnessing his redemption, not the opposite.

2 episodes. 2 Bunk opening credit quotes. An all-Bunk quote season??

Anyone catch the story about the new list of celebrities tied to steroids? It was reported that Mary J. Blige was having packages shipped to her under an alias: "Marlo Stanfield."

Tim Goodman said...

The Other Ann Miller - I can assure you that editors in newsrooms across the country are still making dumb ass decisions and that the fictional executive editor of the Baltimore Sun in "The Wire" is dead-on in soooooo many ways. It's no secret that Simon has some serious issues about journalism and the Sun in particular (and LOTS of editors). He's getting some revenge here. He's got an upcoming Esquire article here: detailing many of his gripes and remarking that a near legendary editor knew about three instances of seriously shady journalism. You'd be surprised...

There are some great comments here and I want to duly note something: I agree that, in retrospect, the whole Hamsterdam thing with Colvin was a much bigger stretch than McNutty's ethical lapse in Season 5. No series runs 5 seasons without missteps, not even the best one ever made. I think what's great about "The Wire" is that the writers and actors are almost always able to make you believe or get you past those times. I don't see the characters in the newsroom as being phony at all. Also, I disagree on the preachy thing. Listen, at some point all shows have preachy elements. Grand statements or gestures. The Wire has had a ton of them - this week in the bar, Bunk, Freamon, McNulty talking about the black/white issues of the killings and the Arubu thing? Well trod territory. I didn't DISLIKE it. But the series is rarely that obvious. That said, speeches or "preachy" behavior comes from passionate people. The cops want to get it right. The journalists want to get it right. A newsroom is, on an almost daily basis, a very righteous place. We self-criticize a lot (or whisper about the deadwood and the hacks). Hell, if you go to Romenesko, it's like a bible of righteous self-doubt about our industry. So maybe I'm just used to "preachy" stuff. But I've gotta tell you - I've worked in a lot of newsrooms. Those editors are real.

A great show to talk about. Long live "The Wire."

CasualObserver said...

Let me pile on by complimenting Alex. McNulty is obviously an addicted personality on many levels. Remember when he was sober and patroling the Western and in a stable relationship with Beadie? Just a dry drunk away from his addictions to booze, po-lice work AND sex, and here he's fallen off all 3 wagons at once.

A word about Hamsterdam being a stretch: yes and know. Anyone familiar with SF policing knows that small instances of this go on every day. The biggest stretch was when they told the hoppers what they were doing, e.g.: sling here all you want but if you sling over there we'll bust you. It's usually done more subtly: you can sling in the Tenderloin for a while, then we crack down and you go to another place. There's an area around 16th and Mission that seems pretty close to permanent Hamsterdam.

If you mean it was a stretch for Colvin's character, he continues to show complexity.

CasualObserver said...

Er, that should be "yes and no" obviously.

Tom said...

casualobserver, I know you're talking about slinging as opposed to individual usage, but I knew SF had a different attitude about pot after my brother, who lives on San Bruno, told me that a cop in uniform at a party said to him "Would you mind putting out that joint?" (It was actually a hand-rolled tobacco ciggy.)

Sorry, back on topic ... I've been in newspapers for 17 years. Not at Chronicle-sized papers, but FWIW Tim is spot-on about the executive editor. Bosses who can't, or won't, hear the legitimate, fundamental concerns of their desk editors about a story because they're too busy thinking about how good that cover will look. So I respectfully disagree: He's as real as any other character in the five seasons.

Tom said...

More comments here than last week. Excellent. This is a fun place, Tim. Thanks.

I, too, was relieved that Michael didn't shoot the kid. Frankly, I needed some reminding that Snoop and Chris are vicious killers. Kima finding the other child hiding in the closet and wrapping her arms around him/her (couldn't tell; not sure it matters) just broke my heart. I was starting to like Chris and Snoop a little too much; I needed reminding that it's not just people in The Game getting killed.

jaspergirl, you may very well be right about Avon screwing with Marlo. In retrospect, he was maybe too eager to help a former rival. Can't wait to see what's up with that.

I loved the "Boris" callback, too.

I agree with the commenter who said Marlo going after Omar doesn't bode well for Marlo.

Bunk's reaction tells us that Jimmy has crossed, for a po-lice, an uncrossable line. Personally, I see what he seems to be doing as akin to Hamsterdam: Someone, trapped in a thoroughly messed-up system and city, breaking the law in pursuit of a greater good. What's more dangerous to the people of Balmer: Jimmy McNulty tampering with a dead body, or an ordinary day of activity for Marlo, Chris and Snoop?

k.papai said...

THE WIRE is always the best, but why not subtitle the gang bangers please? Even TRAINSPOTTING in ghetto Scottish accent had subtitles.

Anonymous said...

last season, didn't Tim have access to all the episodes, but held off watching them until we could as well? i think that's a much better approach. i also can't tell how much of knowing what was coming when McNulty was in the morgue came from Tim's dire advance warnings. I guess it's too late now, but maybe he can go back to that approach for the last 3 he hasn't seen yet...

YogiBarrister said...

WPBOOKS, Steve Earle's version of "Down in the Hole" is on his latest album, WASHINGTON SQUARE SERENADE. The reviewer for Rolling Stone Magazine hated it. I had to register on their website just to set him straight.

Bubba said...

Re: McNulty -- I think that it all comes down to the whole arc of the series and that it all becomes a bit existential in the end -- basically here's teh absurdity of it all. And the line between what's real and what isn't becomes blurred. B-more in season 5 is like a slice of hell... or a war zone ... and in war, bad stuff happens and people make weird decisions and revert to their inner animal... look at Abu Ghraib... People do weird stuff when they are put in inhuman situations.

George D from the 415 said...

Realizing that at the 73rd comment, not many people are probably still reading, but something that was said when i was going over the other comments sparked a memory. In "More With Less" Marlo ups the price on a dealer because he can, a nice contrast to Avon, who rewarded his people for solid work.

Tom said...

I check back all through the week, george d. Good point about the Marlo/Avon contrast. It makes me think even more than Avon is trying to set up Marlo.

Tom said...

"even more that Avon is trying to set up Marlo." Sheesh.

suzyq2 said...

I check back through the week too. And I had started writing this earlier but had to go out.

Me too for Alex--point very well taken, it all fits. I think an addict is usually trying to avoid feeling some real emotional pain and if he/she can't get his/her "fix", that pain starts bubbling to the surface. McNulty's never dealt with whatever underlying issues he's got going on so since he can't get that "fix" from being good po-lice he's been trying to drown his pain in booze and seek oblivion in sex but obviously it's not been enough. His frustration at the game being rigged is very understandable.

The wordless scene with Bubbles spoke volumes. Here's hoping he's finds a way to deal with his pain that doesn't include going back on dope.

I do think Avon is messing with Marlo. It will be fascinating to see how that plays out. And the Omar angle too. We're in for a wild ride folks.

wirewatcher said...

Good point about Hamsterdam being more far-fetched than McNulty's turn.

My real point in posting:

It's all starting to blur... the kid in Oakland shot while getting a piano lesson... the anti-violence activist gunned down during his daughter's half-time... crap in the neighborhood where my daughter attends school... crap in the neighborhood where we live... the massive budget cuts hanging over our necks... the ever-thinner Chron which I keep subscribing to even tho' I can read it online for all the reasons that are so clearly laid out in the current season but also because







not to mention Don Perata getting carjacked by the Grand Lake Theatre...

I mean was that an episode from the Wire?

Or was that just what happened in between episodes?

And all that creams together

with Snoop and Omar and Carcetti and Bunk and McNulty's grinding downturn that was a great shot of him flashing his badge as he flashes his ass

which I guess is why the Wire is such a good show but

is also why it can be the wafer-thin-mint that pushes me over the edge when it's late at night and I'm watching it over on On Demand again

into deep


of discouragment


and despair.

But you gotta get up.

You gotta have a code.

Which, in the end, is what I'm thinking is most interesting to Simon.

Human beings fail.

They also achieve.

Both rather splendidly, as a matter of fact.

What keeps the planet on its axis is those systems and those individuals who have a code

and follow it.


like Gus and damn I'm forgetting his name but he advises Carcetti

not pure

but able to see the difference

between turning a trick

and playing one.




Deep Voice Guy who advises Carcetti.

Four imperfect players in four imperfect systems but all four have a "code"

the essence of which reflects

respect for humanity.

Simon knows we can't have a perfect world.

He's interested in what keeps it going

versus what turns it back on its ass

into a grinding spiral of self-

The Shifting Shiva Trick.

Anyway, it's thought.

And it's a great damn show.

And like everyone else here I have laid there and cried and watched it again and cried and wanted everyone everyone to see this show and do Do DO something about

all the kids getting shot while getting piano lessons

and all the kids never getting piano lessons

(who want them, anyway)

and all the lessons we just



to learn.

wirewatcher said...

I'm adding to my list of imperfect people in imperfect situation or imperfect systems but who are trying to follow some sort of code:



you could go on and on with this one...

lieber said...



I hope there are other loiterers like me and george d and tom and suzyq2.

jbmv said...

I guess it speaks to my character flaws, but I didn’t think McNulty was as over the top as Tim did. Wrong, yeah, but understandable. He thinks he’s been screwed over by his department, and to him, the ends justify the means. He wants to finish up the investigation of Marlo and the dead bodies, but he knows without a white body no one will allow it. Ergo…this was the only choice he thought he had. And of course Bunk wouldn’t go along.

To my thinking, best scene in the episode was McNulty arriving to a homicide on a city bus. Boy, does that say it all.

I love having Meldrick Lewis back in a major TV role. Oops…sorry, Clark Johnson.

Definitely off to a great start for the final season

Voguette said...

I check in too. Wirewatcher, real nice, befits the subject(s).
Being 60+, and from Detroit, I've seen, heard of, or read about everything on The Wire. All too real, down to yesterday, today and tomorrow.
But, be careful. You've obviously watched episode 3. Most people don't want spoilers. (I get on-demand too but work at not spoiling).

jbmv said...

Nope, I haven't watched episode 3 yet. Maybe I'm clairvoyent! Would never, ever,ever, give spoilers. And like Tim, I never watch previews.

George D from the 415 said...

Wirewatcher, I believe you were looking for the name Norman, the man who advises Carcetti. By the way, I'm incredibly frustrated by how few people watch "The Wire". I keep saying Sheeeeeiit but no one knows what the hell I'm referencing, or any other great quote from the show

jimmy-c said...

I see a different parallel with the McNulty issue that rings more true to me. When he said "Marlo's an A-hole, he doesn't get to win, WE get to win," that spoke to a comparison with him and Marlo.

When Marlo wanted Omar gone, he had Chris shoot a civilian to frame him. If a (criminal) mastermind like Marlo can construct that to take someone down, why do a lot of people here have a problem with a (po-lice) mastermind like McNultry fabricating ways to get after Marlo?

CasualObserver said...

george d from 415 (or Tim G or anyone): I have wondered this about the actor who plays Norman: I can't find verification on the net, but I could swear he was the actor who played a small part on the Sopranos as a man who along with Tony Soprano and the corrupt Congressman was involved in a housing scam. Anyway, what a great voice, delivering great lines.

Tom said...

casualobserver, are you thinking of "OZ"? Because Reg E. Cathey ("Do NOT try this shit at home
") was the (morally challenged, IIRC) Warden Querns for a lengthy stretch there, but IMDb says he was never on "Sopranos." I saw every episode of "Sopranos," and there were so few prominent black characters on that show I like to think I'd remember him.

george d, it's a damned shame that so few people are watching, isn't it? I am fortunate to have a workplace "Wire" buddy. We say "Sheeeeeeeeitt" to each periodically. (I loved Clay Davis' scene; Isiah Whitlock Jr. must have fun playing him.)

CasualObserver said...

Tom: According to the web, I am thinking (I finally found it after I asked here)of a different actor, Vondie Curtis-Hall. It's been so long since I saw the HUD Sopranos episode, I don't remember what the actor and character sounded like (the actor playing Norman brings a wonderfully distinctive voice to his role) but the type of personality/ironic comments and some other qualities made me think it was the same guy. It's been a few years, and I was wrong.

On "The Wire" there are a few black actors I've seen in "The Corner" and I think the John Sayles movie "Lone Star."

Anonymous said...

The thing I don't understand is why Chris doesn't take out Marlo and run everything? He is does all the heavy lifting and he understands the game. It just seems to make sense to me.

Tom said...

casualobserver, I couldn't agree more about Reg E. Cathey, who plays Norman. Great voice, great gleam in his eye when he gives it to Carcetti straight. He knows he can get another job someplace else if he has to.

anonymous, I'm not sure Chris has the inclination to lead. He's smart, but I think he's content to be Marlo's right-hand man.

He's not Stringer, in other words.

wirewatcher said...

Sorry if I gave anything away in my ranting it about it all.

My bad. Won't repeat.

Also neglected to that I like to read a paper

on paper.

Have since I was a kid and read the funny papers while waiting for the shower to get hot. Holed up in the Bathroom with the paper and hot water. Nothing better.



What's the L stand for?


Simon is a writer who wants to believe in something

as opposed to a writer who is bitter about losing what s/he believed in

so he won't leave us with an entirely "unhappy" ending.

Someone will have a triumph of sorts, even it's only in the wry comment, i.e. a demonstration of human intelligence/cogniscence/humour/
greatness of spirit over smallness of mind/uh did you know that i can't cogniscence?

Down in the Hole -

what is that poker expression?

an ace in the hole?

i.e. saving something
for last?

Thank you for reminding me it's


Which is O-M-A-R + N

I couldn't watch the re-up to this season. The school season left me feeling like a blood donor to a hemophiliac.

That's it, I think.

I am enjoying the posts here and

Tim's deco

which is D + E + C + O

which doesn't spell Omar.


ferrethead said...

But D + E + C + O = Code, and that's what a man has to have

brueso said...

Simon has said over and over again that he refuses to let his characters follow the wishes of the fans. So, we're seeing McNulty not continue to be the virtuous guy he has seemed to be.

Heck, Simon is probably getting a chuckle out of knowing so many fans are so disappointed in Jimmy now- he's like the scorpion taking a ride from a frog across the water. "You won't sting me, will you Mr. Scorpion?" "Of course not, Mr. Frog" but then half way across, the scorpion stings the frog. Right before the frog dies, he says "Why'd you do it, Scorpion? Now we'll both die" and the scorpion says "I can't help it- it's just my nature". That applies to Jimmy McNutty, too.

brueso said...

PS I meant that Simon is that scorpion- he just loves to shake you up when you think you know where things are going. And maybe that's why he understands Jimmy so well, too.

ferrethead said...

Well, it looks like I have OnDemand at my house now. I turned on the tv and there it was. Now, I am facing a dilemma - to watch in advance, or wait. There's a sense of community, thinking of all of my TBM or TGTV brethren all in front of our tvs at the same time. Plus, I'd hate if I ever slipped and spoiled anything. But, the devil on my shoulder is like an addict chasing that greenhouse gas - I want it NOW!!! Damn you, Comcast!!!

Anonymous said...

Probably obvious to everyone but it took a day to hit me. Omar was retired to the tropics after his big heist. Now they drag him back in. I can't wait to see who gets got.

Trixie said...

Ferrethead: Here's what I (fellow On-Demander) do. Watch The Wire ahead of time because I can't know it's out there and not watch. Then watch it again on Sunday night when many others are seeing it for the first time. Then say what I have to say before I watch the next week's episode. After watching the next episode, abstain from posting because, yes, accidentally spoiling would be B-A-D, bad.

Mike@PVL said...

I wonder if there is something wrong with me for not being upset with McNutty. I mean, the guy was already dead and yeah he tampered but as we've been told over and over again the game is rigged. Look at the rules he's broken over the years: gone to a judge behind the dept.'s back more than once, worked all night to prove that a body came from Baltimore - thus putting names on the board under someone else's name, let hampsterdam happen, and threated a prominent real estate developer. (oh wait, that last one was Baylis) So I don't even see this as THAT big of a change for him.

With Tim's warnings and Jimmy's descent back into depression I was more worried that he was going to drop Marlo himself and get dropped by Chris and/or Snoop five seconds later.

I think he's learned from Avon and Stringer - he worked that case hard and he got nothing in the end except to know he never knew shit about String in the first place. He also has to know they never caught anyone real in season 2. Remember that moment in S3 where he ends the episode saying "big fucking joke". Well he's just done being the butt of that joke.

What's he is doing is good po-lice and totally sticks to his burn the bridges fuck you guys i'm going to speak for the dead nature.

Anyway the newspaper thing isn't anymore preachy than the school stuff. Listen up, kids got to learn more than how to calculate the probability of rolling an 8.

CasualObserver said...

I have no "insider" newsroom experience, but judging from what was just announced as having happened at the LA Times (firing an editor who refused to go along with cuts from the Chicago parent company)and at the NY Times (the whole Jason Blair thing)nothing surprises me.

luckystuff said...

Tim (Mr. Goodman) -

As to whether the show gets 'preachy' and whether or not the fictional executive editor is phony, I'm going to disagree, and I'd like you to hear me out.

For me, and from what I've seen so far, the journalism angle is a bit one-sided, and that goes double for the executive editor/owner combo.

Every other villain, every other institution is layered in it's depiction, humanized, and for the institutions, every agent within is complicit in some way. Rawls is a hard-ass, but also power-hungry, gay, closeted, and a bureaucratic infighter. He also straightened out McNulty's self-guilt after Kima was shot (S1). Police managers had their faults, but the street cops had their own faults as well: lazy, ignorant, violent, etc. For gangsters, Avon was king, but he also gave money to the boxing ring, because he used to be a boxer; all this rings real because Avon has a past.

All these shadings are what make the Wire work in seasons 1-4. And, for my money, that's exactly what's missing so far in season cinco. So far, the executive editor is one-dimensional. And that one-dimensionality extends to the journalistic institution as well. All the ills facing the newspaper are 'new,' and supposes a age of glory where newspapers were untainted in any way. The executive editor is some new wave of economic pressure; the young reporter is equally some new brand of worker-bee the likes of which never before despoiled the sacred newspaper. What strikes this off even moreso, is that Gus, and the rest of the copyeditors, are portrayed as supremely dedicated craftsman without fault or frailty. If Gus has a weakness, it's the weakness of speaking his mind; if the veterans have a weakness, it is apparently the 15 minute smoke-break (for either taking a break, or for smoking, I'm not so sure). So, unlike the rest of the Wire, where things are never tied up in neat little packages, the newspaper is practically gift-wrapt, with a neat little bow on top. This black/white stance is what makes it feel preachy.

Now, whether or not executive editors like him exist or not is at this point, simply beside the point. The Wire doesn't simply have to reflect reality, it has to live up to its own standards. The Wire presents us a Baltimore of various gray-tones, full of moral complexity (English major BS I know), where everybody has some dirt on him/her somewhere, and there are no angels. The only adult victim (if there has to be one) is the City itself.

So when I say that the executive editor is phony, I can't rely on a newsroom, as I've never been in one. But the executive editor rings hollow with the fictional world of Baltimore I've come to know.

That's my piece. Thanks, and good day.

Leigh said...

Interesting so many found this ep preachy. Not me. The NA scene and all scenes with Bubs were riveting. Brutally honest. Not preachy. Real. It just so happens that viewing the reality of addiction in real time does feel like a cautionary tale. It should. It's hell and most don't survive.

McNulty's choice did feel a little incongruous. But, in my opinion, so did Hamsterdam. Until now, I thought Hamsterdam was the weakest story line in the Wire. I just assumed it was because the show is at its absolute best when the writers are telling the truth and writing about their actual experiences. HAmsterdam felt like a fantasy and so does McNulty this season. But, even at its worst, The Wire is still better than any other tv.

RotoJeff said...

*Really* late to the party here, but good catch by those who said Marla Daniels. I kept thinking "the game is rigged" came from D'Angelo talking to Bodie, with the "King be the King" speech.

Calinks said...

LOL, you thought you were late to the party? Then what does that make me? Anyway, I have been reading these decons of the wire post-mortem so to speak and have enjoyed them thoroughly. For the last month I have been watching the entire series.

Throughout I have been cautiously looking for a place to go where I could get some feedback just like this blog but I have been so worried about being spoiled that I stopped searching.

I am so happy that these post and decons are still up. They are really adding to my already thrilling experience with this show.