Opening Quote: “They’re dead where it doesn’t count.” – Fletcher.
It always amazes me how much quality content they get in each episode of "The Wire," when, on the viewing end, it almost seems like a story told in slow motion. Well, in Ep. 3, there was impressive movement:
R.I.P. Butchie. And a teary eyed Omar, all the way from where - Mexico? - is not going to let that pass. You know that. (Cheese outed Butchie against Prop Joe's wishes, which puts a nice spin on "Not for Attribution," even though that line has direct meaning to Scott at the Sun whose pattern of lying is getting worse.) Marlo's plan to get in good with "the Greeks" is clear. McNulty's obsession with creating a serial killer has ramped up, as has Bunk's professional revulsion at his methods. But, hold on a minute, Lester sees no problem with it? Lester's going with it? I've got to say, I had a lot of doubts about that. Still do. But as we have in the past weeks, it's probably time to talk about motivation. All I could come up with for justification is that Lester has been down and out a long time in his career, despite (or maybe because of) being "good po-lice." He has been the driving force in breaking up the Barksdale drug ring and making a case against Clay Davis. And he was the key in nailing (or un-nail-gunning) the 22 dead bodies as they build a case against Marlo who, to this point, has been untouchable. He's close. He's really close. And what does he see? More institutional failure putting a kink into his good po-lice work. He's already been shut down, disappointedly, too many times. He knows McNulty is foolish and that McNulty will always be foolish. It's just that now that foolishness might be able to help Lester. As for the old cases, the homeless homicides and McNulty's grand retelling: "Nobody cares."
I think they might. I think you might. (Just for consistency sake, a reminder that I'm good with the direction. Even, for what it's worth, Lester's inclusion. But I told you, it was going to get a little more dicey before it got more acceptable...)
So much in this episode. I loved all the newspaper stuff. I think that just as the writers on "The Wire" have been able to doggedly examine institutional failure and bureaucratic incompetence in other professions, they totally nail the world of journalism. It's scary (in so many ways).
Butchie's death was brutal. The length McNulty would go for this ruse was simultaneously disappointing and impressive. Scott's total and complete embarrassment of the journalism profession was disheartening, even in fictional form. Burrell's undoing has begun. The mayor is in a pinch and out of patience. The wheels in "The Wire" - they are in motion.
Some thoughts and quotes, odds and ends:
+ Bunk to McNulty: “Think the fuck again about what you’re doing.” And later: “You’re going to jail behind this shit, yes you are.”
+ McNutty: “Marlo’s an asshole. He doesn’t get to win – we get to win.”
+ Going out in the morning to hunt fresh papers after you’ve written something you're proud of - I’ve done that. Hell yes I have. And more than once, too.
+ McNutty: “Who the hell is going to catch me? Most of the guys up here couldn’t catch the clap in a Mexican whorehouse.”
+ McNulty, making perhaps the defining point of his mission: “Upstairs wouldn’t jump on a real serial killer – Marlo, who’s got bodies all over him – well, maybe they need the make believe.”
+ Crutchfield to Bunk, who got locked in the interrogation room with McNulty: “He fuck you?” Bunk: “He tried. But mostly he just fucks himself.” Classic.
+ That editor meeting where they announce cutbacks. Been in a lot of those over the years. Happens just like that.
+ McNutty just couldn’t conceal that smile or half-smile on his face when the coroner said his dead guy was strangled.
+ Out of town newspaper ownership is strangling the Sun. Another parallel.
+ Gus: “How come there are cuts in the newsroom when the company is still profitable?”
+ Carcetti: “It’s Baltimore. No one lives forever.”
+ Annoyed grand jury dude: “Is there any way I can go earlier.” Sure, he's told, if you're important enough. “I’m the vice president of a major financial insitution.” Response: “Who the fuck isn’t?”
+ Prop Joe: “What’s the problem?” Marlo: “I got too much money.”
+ “More with less.” The new mantra. We'll probably hear that a lot more. But it sounds less and less convincing.
+ Bunk: “You think I’m drinking with you? Go home, Jimmy, think your weak shit through.”
+ “Everything’s so serious now.” Michael, growing up way too fast.
+ McNulty looked at himself in the mirror – at the bar, natch – and didn’t seem to like what he saw.
+ McNulty flashing the badge while staying busy. That’s real po-lice.
+ “While Mr. Deadwood here is working the story, see if you can feed him some react quotes.” – Gus. Man, that’s the hero moment. A lot of Roger Twigs have been forced out of newspapers. It’s unfortunate how much deadwood is always left. And Scott, who thinks he's brilliant, has no idea that he's the deadwood.
+ $50,000 for info on Omar. “Why in the hell would I want that motherfucker back?” - Prop Joe.
+ Scott, the quote-maker, getting got. Gus: “You feel comfortable telling me where you got that?” Scott: “Not really, it being a source.” Then Scott lies again and says it came from Narese. “Twig’s not the only guy with game around here.” Pathological, that one.
+ Getting Marlo a passport to go to the Banque Populaire Des Antilles to feel his money in person. Prop Joe: “It ain’t easy civilizing this motherfucker.” No but Marlo eventually got himself a cool tropical island shirt.
+ McNulty stealing a paper. God, that kills me.
+ Headline: "Slaying of homeless men could be connected." Inside the B section. Or as Landsman said: “Back in the girdle ads.” Priceless.
+ The killing of Butchie was pure torture. Marlo seems to be letting his vengeance get ahead of his calculated manner. Even Snoop says the plan’s messed up, that Omar is going to be moving on them. But Chris wouldn’t allow any talk of doubt. That’s not now it works in Marlo’s world.
+ Lester: “It’s got to grip the hearts and minds – give the people what they want in a serial killer.”
+ Bunk, in disbelief: “Lester, what the fuck?”
+ Lester: “No one cares.” Well, I’m not sure about that.
+ Omar in Mexico? Looking relaxed. But he needs a store that has some Honey Nut cereal. The great part of that scene is Michael K. Williams welling up with tears without moving.
+ "The Wire" is out of the gates. From here on out, this is a race to the end.