Sunday, January 20, 2008

"The Wire," Season 5, Ep. 3: "Not for Attribution."

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.


George D from the 415 said...

I loved Lester Joining in. He justifies it well, though clearly its going beyond moral bounds we believed these great characters to stay within. But look at what they're up against. Knowing what they've had to face in the past when real po-lice work has to get done, hell knowing the obstacles for catching a real killer, you do what you have to when it won't screw with the conviction.

The way the episodes drip out is like Chinese water torture. I want it all now!

Alan said...

Two points:

1) In the opening scene, did Dominic West slip into his native accent? It seemed so to me.

2) I love the un-meet cutes. Alma looking for the first edition in the same 24-hour store where McNulty is buying ribbon.

leftymn said...

This was one of the best episodes yet. Maybe that's because it's becoming clear that the writers are "setting up on" tying off every important storyline in the entire series. As someone said before, this is like a great literary work. (Not that I would know.) I'm now totally OK with the whole make-believe serial killer angle. I might have winced at Lester's easy acceptance of it had they not done such a masterful job of showing that to us. The scene with Bunk, Lester, and McNutty in the interview room was truly great.

Tim Goodman said...

West has had a history of slipping out of accent. Happens on a lot of shows, actually. Same with Aidan Gillen as Carcetti.

up too late said...

I read in a few places that Omar was in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I'm all in as far as the serial killer story goes. Oddly, Lester joining Jimmy add credence to the whole thing for me. Lester is smart enough to make it work. As far as it being out of Lester's character, I think it works for the reasons you mentioned. He's been working Marlo for years - since S3 and has had the bosses pull the rug out from under him on more than one occasion. He was so close, in his estimation within a couple weeks (again not the first time Lester has claimed to be a "couple weeks" away from nailing Marlo), and, along with Jimmy, so arrogant, that he actually belives he can make this plan work. I totally believe it.

Other than the serial killer stuff though, there is soooo much great stuff going on. Namely, "Omar back". Actually, Omar coming back is probably going to screw up what Lester thought was going to be a two more week survaillence of Marlo. Now according to Chirs, they are going to have to "change up their pattern".

might just have to stay up tonight and watch epi4.

Voguette said...

Clayton's driver: "FOCUS! Motherfu*ker!"
God - Butchie's open "too much" seeing eyes turned up in death. I think it creeped out even Chris for a second. "Tough old man", rest in peace.
French for Marlo, Spanish for Omar. Seems right.
Candyman Omar still has kids following him in the street.
Alma not even looking up at McNulty's pull, simply keeps writing and says, "I've got a boyfriend, detective." His impotent comeback, "Is he bigger than me?"
I want 8x10 glossies of at least a dozen of Bunk's looks, especially the ones he gave McNulty in this episode.
Nice watching Michael, Bug and Dukie walking around 6 Flags with food and toys (that Batman get up, the stuffed dolphin), meeting girls, playing carnival games. They're really just kids after all.
Phew! The game is on.

Brian said...

Omar back! Isn't his lover Puerto Rican?

Lester is more of an addict to the job than McNulty is, so from that angle it isn't surprising that he's joining in on the scheme. That didn't make it go down any easier, mind you.

I read an excerpt of Simon's essay in an upcoming Esquire last night, and I can't help but see and hear him in the Twig newsroom character. I loved the little tweak about him leaving to write the Great American Novel. Also, I had to laugh while reading the story this afternoon about the LA Times editor getting sh**-canned for refusing to axe his reporter's expenditures while covering the presidential campaign. Chicago strikes again...

Great seeing the kids being kids. It makes me dread their fate even more.

It was interesting seeing Marlo out of his element. A true fish out of water in the bank, not to mention actually being rebuffed by Vondes. Is he out of his comfort zone, or is this yet another calculated learning process for him?

bdgavin said...

The Wire always takes a couple episodes to build. Every season it takes a couple to lure me in and imagine the possibilities. I always come in skeptical that the current season can match the brilliance of prior years. I can never predict what's going to happen but after a few my mind races and I can't wait until the next. I can forsee the brilliance. This year, I'm waiting to watch it on Sundays, and refuse to spoil my week and watch it On Demand on Mondays. After this episode this is what I'm thinking:

1) Poor Butchie! Someone called it on the board last week! That kill totally made me hate Chris. I understood his ruthlessness when he killed Michael's dad. It was personal for him. But Butchie? He enjoyed it. And when Snoop questions things you know things are turning.
2) Michael is either going to be this year's Bodie/D'Angelo/Sabotka or he's going to be an Omar-type.
3) I still think McNulty is aiming for a Bunny Colvin type fall. Plus, was it just me or was the song that was played when McNulty was hitting on the blonde in the bar the same song that was played in one of his drunken episodes from Season 1 or 2??? It was a deja vu moment?
4) I got chills when they finally brought back the Daniels backstory of corruption they've been building for 5 seasons!
5) There were a couple famous The Wire quotes thrown in this episode but I can't think of them now.
6) I hadn't seen the guy who played Barlow since episode 1. Was he Barlow in episode 1???
7) Daniels won't win, because he played.

George D from the 415 said...

bdgavin reminded me of the prequel about omar in th analysis of Michael becoming a new one. The way he reacted last week when he nearly had to kill a kid was so similar to the way Omar insisted they give back the money to the man who wasn't in the game. And he doesn't see the need to kill a guy for running his mouth.

A Man must have a code!

bdgavin said...

George D in the 415... USF Law? I hate seeing the end of my favorite show!!!

luckystuff said...

I still think the executive editor at the paper rings hollow. (See comments under s5e2 deco.)

talli said...

It is absolutely within Lester's character profile to be supportive of McNulty's deviation. We can't forget that Lester came back from the dead - the pawn shop department, i believe - in the first season.

Lester is not as self-destructive as Jimmy, but he certainly has as much disdain for institutional constipation. His insistence on sending out subpoena's for some of the most powerful people in the Baltimore elite is not terribly dissimilar to McNulty's actions.

Lester was promised that it's a new day in Baltimore, too, we should remember. He lost Marlo once to idiocy. What's so surprising that he refuses to let it happen again?


CasualObserver said...

This is not exactly following the thread, but it was interesting to me how Alma was able to call bull on McNulty's personal advance, but not able to call bull (yet)on the fake "homeless homicide" killer with the red ribbon. The scene with McNulty buying the ribbon where Alma searched for the paper is reminding me to look for parallels where these two worlds intersect.

As far as character motivations, The Wire doesn't usually use flash backs or flash-to-future, but dialogue. Any character that you think is not complex/motivated enough yet, watch for all the muttered words of dialogue to see if they flesh it out. This season may be more "compressed" than the prior ones.

ppage said...

The third episode of each season is always pivotal.

Is that what Snoop said? I need a translator for some of her dialogue.

Omar loves Honey Nut (hysterical) - and his connection to children. He's going to hook up with Michael.

Also loved Prop Joe's line, "It ain't easy civilizing this motherfucker".

Both Lester & Daniels have cobwebs in their closets. I find Lester's compliance totally believable. And golden boy Daniels is going down & may return to his wife. Rawls just might become the permanent Commissioner.

Love Gus. Best new character.

Lot of Scotts in all professions.

Carcetti might snap out of his political stupor soon.

Love to see all the corrupt politicians running for cover.

Simon is doing a great job pulling the series together.

Carter said...

I'm feeling better about the McNulty serial killer thing (now that it's not really gaining traction).

As for the news room... I think it's a weak story line. The dialogue feels preachy and the characters seem to be one dimensional. I just keep thinking why? What's the point of this? Why should I care?

Thank God Omar is coming back.

Tom said...
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Tom said...
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Tom said...

Tim, the way Gus got even for Scott's "deadwood" comment was immensely satisfying. Viva the Roger Twigs of newsrooms everywhere. Scott's a cancer. But somehow, because this is "The Wire," I think he'll be on his feet at the end of the series.

Here's my two cents on why anyone should care about this storyline about newspapers dying: Internet "news" is long on opinion (I believe it was the great philosopher Dennis Rodman who said "Opinions are like a--holes; everybody's got one") and short on actual reporting, which is far more expensive, since it takes time and training to make a Roger Twig. (Of course, there are exceptions, just as there are newspapers that are little more than Pennysavers.) And it's a Roger Twig that brings in the complete story, not just the McNuggets.

Simon's definitely got an axe to grind with the Sun. But I can assure everybody that the top two editors, the ones who called Gus into the office, are in newsrooms from coast to coast.

Tom said...

The part that I loved most about the kids at Six Flags? Dukie hitting it off with a pretty girl. After all the abuse he took last season, it was nice to see him get a slice of ordinary teenage life.

Lester joining in doesn't surprise me. (Thanks so much, Newsweek, for spoiling me.) He's at the By Any Means Necessary stage, too, because he sees a greater good (taking down Marlo) as worth betraying po-lice principles.

R.I.P., Butchie. Oh, you will definitely be avenged. Brilliant acting by Michael K. Williams upon hearing the news.

Loved Prop Joe's line about civilizing Marlo.

Did you guys notice how Clay Davis was all out of bluster in front of Carcetti? He knows he's done.

Alex said...

This McNulty plot is really amazing -- and more complicated than it seemed at first. It's a matter of self-destruction, definitely, but it can also be read as a matter of self-sacrifice. Look at how much Jimmy has lost in this latest crusade of his. He was doing well back in the Western district, he was sober, he was happy with Beadie, he was even making a good impression on his ex, who had never seen him so healthy and mature. And now he's giving it all up, in a futile effort to make the Baltimore police department effective! It's not going to work. Bunk seems to think it's going to end with Jimmy in prison. I bet it will be even worse than that -- I think it might cost McNulty his life, and one of the last scenes in the series will be one of those detective's wakes, with McNulty laid out on a table, and all of the other detectives drinking and singing those Irish songs.

Lester knows a lot about self-sacrifice (his determination to be real police cost him 14 years and three months), so I'm not too surprised that he wants to join McNulty.

ferrethead said...

- The look on Bunk's face when he realized that Lester was chastising McNulty's methods, not his actions - classic!
- Gus knows Scott is lying, but ran the quote?
- Will Michael be the undoing of Marlo? It seems he may have introduced a little conscience into the mix of Chris and Snoop.
- Butchie is the only person who has reacted in a realistic manner to being shot. It hurts, and you scream and/or cry. Last season, when Cutty got shot, he barely winced...
- I pegged Omar and Reynaldo being in PR, too. It seems much more likely for East Coasters to go there than Mexico.
- Cheese, Cheese, Cheese...

Alan said...

Fresh Air on NPR is interviewing Clark Johnson (Gus) and Michael K Williams (Omar) today and tomorrow. The interviews will show up on the Fresh air web page ( by the evening of each day.

Tim Goodman said...

Ferrethead: Gus only has a hunch that Scott is making up quotes. He's got no proof. And Scott told him the Daniels quote came from Narese. He's not knowingly running fake quotes at all. It's a gray area. You have to trust your people. And even though there are checks and balances in place, it's also daily journalism. Breaking stories don't wait. It's the nature of the business but also how problems crop up...

Tom said...

ferrethead, I loved Bunk's reactions in the McNutty/Lester scene, too. Lester was his ace in the hole, he surely thought.

ppage, you might be right about Rawls. His survival instincts are as good as anybody's. He doesn't need a weather vane to know which way the wind blows.

Speaking of callbacks to previous scenes ... I really enjoyed seeing the return of Valchek and Vondas from Season 2. You can just tell that Valchek thought he was presenting a workable scenario to Carcetti as he graciously offered his services as acting commissioner. And I always liked Paul Ben-Victor as Vondas, the epitome of the strong, silent type.

Anonymous said...

Actually, both Valchek and Vondas were in season 4 also.

Vondas was there once, after Omar robbed Prop Joe's package (or rather shipment), and Marlo wanted to meet Vondas. That's when he started tailing him.

Valchek was there more than once I am sure. He was proud of his Irish/Italian (?) to be mayor and fed him information more than once during the elections.

Anonymous said...

A thought about how the end of the series will play out: I thought Marlo was going to have the run of things, but now I think we are seeing that he is just a thug and will run afoul of his own inexperience. Prop Joe has to show him the complexities of the business and I am wondering if in the end he will be the one standing. Marlo is no Stringer Bell, not even an Avon Barksdale . . . he doesn't understand how complex the business is. He is willing to throw himself open to risk for a personal grudge (Omar) that Joe is smart enough to let be. I wouldn't be surprised if at the end, Barksdale is out of prison and running the west side, with Joe in the east, everything back to where it started.

Anonymous said...

Omar is indeed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s worth noting that he’s staying in a neighborhood just as bad as the one he left in Baltimore. It’s literally in the shadow of El Morro, the 500-year-old fort that’s as big a landmark in old San Juan as the Golden Gate is here, and it’s right next to an old graveyard. (If you look carefully, you can see the fort up the hill behind Omar and his lover as they’re walking home.) Though it’s just a stone’s throw from the touristy section of the city, unless you live there, you’re best off staying the hell out of that neighborhood.

Tim, you’re so right about the authenticity of the newsroom scenes. I left the business in the early 90s, mostly because I saw where the industry was headed. I worked for 13 years at a 300,000-circulation daily that was owned by a large chain. Things have only gotten worse since then. I used to hate those damn “gather around” meetings. Only twice in those 13 years was it good news – we won the public service Pulitzer! – but the rest, always some sort of cutback. And always carefully worded to give the impression that the paper was losing money, while in fact we just weren’t keeping up with the ridiculous profits the stockholders demanded. (I almost stood up and cheered when Gus asked that question!) Luckystuff, I have to agree with Tom. The executive editor is a little broadly drawn, but he’s not as far off the mark as you might think. Gus and Roger, on the other hand, are my heroes. (Loved the scene when Roger effortlessly recited Daniels’ bio off the top of his head!)

Carter, there are lots of reasons why the newsroom scenes matter. Like the series said last season, “It’s All Connected.”

Pizzadrone said...

I had to pause the TV and take a minute when Lester got on board with McNulty. I'm still not sure how I feel about it--(I didn't have trouble believing McNulty would go there at all--but Lester?) I'm putting my faith in Simon and Burns though--they've never done me wrong before. I loved how Bunk's arguments against it were much more based on the practical ramifications than on the moral ones. Lawn chairs. Brilliant. And I loved McNulty trying to bring that red ribbon up every five minutes until he could get a bite. Chanel No. 5 indeed.

Anonymous said...

//The look on Bunk's face when he realized that Lester was chastising McNulty's methods, not his actions - classic!//

Lester: Jeezus McNulty, that shit actually goes through your mind?

McNulty: smiling proudly, nodding


Jesse said...

I'm dying to find out this thing with Daniels' past that my embarrass him, Marla and the department and wreck their careers. They referred to it in season 4 with Burrell mentioning to Carcetti? "I know for a fact he (Daniels) is no angel".

In thinking about it, I can believe Lester joining in with McNutty. He, like McNutty and so many others on the show believe that nobody gives a f@#$. Meaning, that under the failed bureaucracy they serve, they are almost completely free to run amok, like Bunny Colvin, or Burrell, and elsewhere, the reporter Scotty, Omar, etc. etc. until it all comes crashing down -- "It's all connected." Funny thing, nobody feels connected, they all feel isolated.

Also, poor Dookie and his Dolphin. They will never get a chance with the suburban girls now. What a parallel with how other children live. I love this show.

CasualObserver said...

Tim (and others feel free to join in): This is going to sound funny coming from me, but then we never had a chance to "watch ahead" on "On Demand" until this season, so:

Could we figure out something that would keep spoilers out, maybe by toning down our own urges to speculate on future plot points?

I am watching ahead, and trying not to put any spoilers on the blog, but it's hard to keep straight what plot points happened/will happen in which episode.

One of your competing columnists has a TV blog that allows and separates the watch-ahead commentary into a different topic thread and clearly states that he'll remove plot spoiler discussion from the current episode topic.

I inadvertently committed a mild spoiler (no surprise to anyone) by referring to McNulty's falling off his multiple abstinence wagons at once (from homicide po-lice work, sexual conquests, and booze). Episode 3 showed that, but I posted under episode 2's by mistake.

Anyone who reads McNulty knew it would happen, but I felt bad about referring to it. It gets far worse when we're discussing characters that will or will not form alliances/make it out alive/get arrested.

Anonymous said...

For me Lester joining McNulty was not to hard to accept. Think about it, Lester is always plotting and planning as soon as Jimmy told them the plan in his mind he already had another plan to move it forward.

But I did love how Bunk thought that Lester would talk sense into Jimmy. Also Bunk has not been apart of the special detail that Jimmy and Lester share so he wouldn't really know their level of frustration.

It was great how Dookie was able to remind Michael what it is like to be a kid. In the previous episode Dookie told him that the d-boy ploy wasn't him. It will be interesting to see how the Michael/Dookie story line plays out.

Whatever Burrell has on Daniels is going to come out, but as his ex mentioned, he doesn't even need to have something just "smoke". I also loved that Daniels had to discuss this with Marla as he recognized she had something to loose too.

Tony said...

I have no problem with the motivations of McNulty and Lester, as their penchant for running afoul of protocol has a long standing history for both men forged carefully in earlier seasons. I loved it when McNulty said, "We have to kill again." That was the ultimate contradiction to his statements at the end of season 4 when he told Beadie he was going to stay "clean" and get to do real police work with the major crimes unit. Now he is having sex with a woman on the hood of a car outside the bar in a drunken stupor. I don;t think we are even close to the bottom of the hole McNulty is falling into.

I love how Marlo was painted as not only unethical, but completely uncivilized. I love his complete struggle to communicate in the offshore bank with the teller, but the gleam in his eye said it all when she said his name. It's all about the name and reputation to Marlo. He cares for procedure and rules just about as much as McNulty does.

So many great things in this series. The look on Bunk's face when he read the first pages of McNulty's cooked report to Landsman was priceless.

George D from the 415 said...

bdgavin: Nope, Georgetown Undergrad (I stayed up hella late to post on this)

With Regards to everyones attitude on the journalists, I just naturally accepted the world Simon has created on face value. I caught up this past fall so I didn't have much of a layoff between season 4 and season 5. To me it flowed naturally.
It's all in the Game.

pnm said...

I've loved The Wire this season, so far, and fully embrace McNutty's "serial killer" tactic. I also think Freeman getting on board so quickly rings just as true. The homeless bodies are dead and forgotten by the po-lice, the government, the media, and society in general. What Jimmy and Lester are doing may (does) constitute desecration, but if this creates more money for the department to solve future cases, they believe a little corpse-strangling is worth it. No one is getting hurt by this except the truth…

My question, however, is wouldn't Prop Joe have an issue with Marlow going to the Greeks, especially with a chunk of money? Wouldn't he at least get an inkling that Marlow may be attempting an end-run against him? And wouldn’t Vondas warn Joe about Marlow? Both are old time friends and players of the game and they know something fishy is going on.

Alex said...

I think you're right about Marlo, pnm. Apparently he believes that he can force Vondas and the Greek to do something they don't want to do, scheme more effectively than Prop Joe, and ambush Omar--all at the same time. Yeah, sure. No wonder some of his troops are beginning to raise questions about his judgment.

novelera said...

Someone commented about the children running to Omar being the same as in the U.S. Maybe it's my faulty memory, but I don't remember that. What I do remember is, to me, a contrast. I remember Omar walking through the street in his silk bathrobe to get either Honey Nut cereal or "Newpo's" and having the children running as if a lion were loose. In Puerto Rico they are all running TO him.

George D from the 415 said...

Hey TG,
I know this might sound crazy, but what the hell, on you're old decos you put a quote from the episode, usually one which captures the mood perfectly, whereas now you've been using the episode titles. Why the change?

George D from the 415 said...

Sorry to clutter up the board, but I'm rewatching it now and just caught a great line: "Tu-what? Speak English, I'm just a police reporter." remind you of anyone saying "Me, I'm just po-lice"?

ferrethead said...

george - THAT was the part I wanted to mention. That the editor would be 'engorged' if they had won the Pulitzer. Too funny! Gus is rapidly becoming a favorite...

Just me said...


No way Michael ends up on Omar's side. Remember the hate in Michael when he thought Cutty was "too nice" so he had to be gay (and therefore a sexual abuser like his stepfather)?

Rebecca Lisanne said...

I was crushed when Lester joined in. I'm still having trouble with the motivation even though I'll admit we all know Lester has a cynical side (remember how we first met him, when he was basically buying time and working on furniture at his desk, having initially gotten beaten down and reassigned for being too good a po-lice in the homicide unit). But still...Lester...I just don't want him to go to jail. I could care less if McNulty goes to jail; he's a self-righteous prick and always has been. But Lester was still rising above it...not anymore.

sueinsf said...

Man you guys are good. Just a few random thoughts to add:

+ McNutty: “Marlo’s an asshole. He doesn’t get to win – we get to win.” That's it, I'm in. I wasn't completely sold on McNulty's motivation, that one line and the expression on his face said it all. And Lester? That's him in a nutshell.

Where's Randy? That kid really got me last season...I'm almost afraid to see how the last 1+ years have treated him.

Omar back. Just feels good to say it.

CasualObserver said...

Oh boy, sorry for the multiple posts but one of my fave lines was Prop Joe saying that the drugs sell themselves but the money, "there ain't enough mattresses, now, is there?" I like Prop Joe and Cutty (last season, miss him this season)because I know real people who talk like them.

Just Me said...

"Marlo doesn’t get to win – we get to win."

Remember when Carver shouted something similar from the hood of a car last season?

suzyq2 said...

I caught part of the interview with Clark Johnson on Fresh Air this morning and it was great. You can also download it as a podcast from itunes. Can't wait to hear from Omar tomorrow!

As for Ep. 3. so much in so little time. The scene with Butchie and Chris and Snoop was one of the most chilling I've seen in The Wire. The looks on Chris and Snoop's faces said it all as Butchie cried out. They are completely numb to torturing and killing human beings. All in a day's work.

I was wondering about Randy too, and I'd be surprised if we don't see him before the end. Speaking of which, this show is like eating the last box of the most amazing chocolates on earth--with each glorious, satisfying bite, you're coming closer to them being all gone. Forever.

I was initially caught off guard with Lester's reaction but then it did seem perfectly in character. I too remembered when we had first met him making miniature furniture, bitterly biding his time until his po-lice time was up. He's got the smarts and subtlety to make this ruse work and while McNulty's self-destructive tendencies may bring him down, I don't think Lester's gonna go with him.

Loved it when Gus said "No doubt"--can't remember to who or why but it was classic moment. He's a great character who has established who he is immediately and vividly.

Seeing the carefree fun Michael, Dukie and Bug were having at the park, my heart ached they had to return to their dark life.

I totally get why the emphasis is on the press this season. We've been privy to this heartbreaking, brutal tragedy of humans suffering and causing suffering as a fly on the wall. So this season asks the question "why doesn't anyone tell these stories to the public" and "why doesn't anyone care?"

petey-wheat said...

Cutty's reaction to being shot last season seemed fine to me. Dennis Cutty Wise is an ex soldier and boxer who can deal with pain.

Some of my fav lines:

"You's have to be a cheap motherfucka!" - person to McNutty as he steals a newspaper

"What nigga?"-Michael smiling
"Six Flags be open."-Dookie smiling

"And here's McNulty's ripper"- John Goodman pointing to the weak story

"Nice dolphin nigga!"-Marlow's thug to Duquan

B-More Wire Head said...

I'm probably late on this one. Especially given the fact that there are 47 responses ahead of me (lol).

But I believe Omar is in Puerto Rico. His love interest from season 4 was Rican for sure.

Also, McNulty has slipped into that British accent throughout the episodes this season. And it actualy bothers me hearing it.

Also, Tim you grabbed all the best quotes. Great job.

spearchamp said...

The Lester/McNulty alliance makes perfect sense to me. While they had some skirmishes in the past (in particular to being loyal to Daniels), Lester has his own way of playing the system (one of my favorite scenes from S4 was a bemused Daniels listening to an infuriated Rhonda relating how Lester got the sopenas (sp?)against Clay et. al. through). Agree that Bunk's reactions throughout this episode were fabulous - another tribute to Wendell Pierce's great acting abilities.

In reviewing the quotes from the various posts and Tim, I think that y'all have covered at least 50 per cent of the script! But they are all great . . .

bdgavin said...

This is a foolish question but I'm bored and this was bugging me. I haven't seen Season 1 or 2 in a while, but I remember Butchie would often give Omar advice in ways that seemed like he could predict the future. The blind guy that could see more. Was he just giving insightful advice or were we meant to see him as a little psychic?

Anonymous said...

Omar on vacation/ laying low Puerto Rico? (the Fort was a give away. He is so cool. While the rest of West Bmore is looking for him, he's searching for Honey Nut Cheerios in a local store. Hilarious. Then suddenly, Omar's back! They should have let him be gone. Can't wait to see how he gets his payback.

ppage said...

justme, Marlo is one motherfucker. He has no mercy for anyone so when he gets wind of Michael's shortcomings he's going to want to kill him & his brother. But I think Michael will escape crushed & scared shitless with no one to turn to. Enter Omar. Could also be a way for Simon to return to Micheal's abusive past. He seems to want to wrap up every story line.....We'll see.

sfnrh said...

Thank you David Simon for working "96 Tears" into this episode - great tune. Classic how the girl on the hood of the car pulled on McNulty to keep going once he flashed his badge and before the cops pulled away. Chris and Snoop season five body count to date: 6

Day-Day said...

Focus Mutha f**ker focus

Dennis said...

Waching Gus toss out, "no doubt" was a thing of beauty, no? The Wire's unique in so many ways but has there been another serial that uses part of it's focus to recycle quotes from old seasons and in the process excute it so effortlessly?

Butchie: can't remember if it was ever said if Butchie was Omar's blood or just an adopted uncle, but the way he went out indicates that he either was Omar's kin or else there's a reason why they were close. Butchie didn't sign and when Chris told him to the effect that it "didn't have to be messy" but Butchie said he didn't see "how it could be any other way", I knew he wouldn't crack and I had a feeling the last scene would involve Omar.

Lester - he's working on the Davis case but still finds time to do off-the-clock and docket surveillence work on Marlo and Co, so it's no big surprise from this end that he was far from chastising of Jimmy's plan.

Mike/Omar - I think it's too "neat packaged" for Simon and Co to somehow align these guys at arc's end but then again, how can it really end for Mike? We've now seen two blips from him in the last couple of eps, ie questioning the motive for the hit and then leaving his corner unchecked, and if Chris mentions the first infraction to Marlo while also informing him of the second, now we've got a pattern and Marlo's not gonna take mess like that. So, how can it all end for him? There's no way he's going to enroll in school again and if he did, where would he live? And if he keeps slipping up, he's not gonna be around to look after a corner.

Finally, for those that have seen ahead to ep 7, can you tell me if you've as of yet seen Nay or Randy? Also, I thought I read that we'd get a little glimps of Nick Sobotka as well. Has any of that come to pass?

George D from the 415 said...

My personal possible new theory (i'm at ep three at this point) Omar dies going after Marlo, Michael becomes the new Omar. Could be absolutely wild speculation, but with The Wire, You NEVER know

Tim Goodman said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa - for both anonymous and doug: No forward spoilers here, please (HBO is doing a good enough job of that on their own with the promos...gotta skip those...). A lot of people don't have On Demand which is why I don't put the post up on Monday nights (plus, I'm plenty busy). The earliest I might put it up is sometime at the start of the weekend. But listen, I don't have the time to separate future eps from On Demand from the deco that I do. And if someone were to have seen well ahead anyway, I wouldn't want them saying who they'd seen...I've only deleted one spam comment so far, but would have to cut anything with future spoilers. There are PLENTY of sites that have spoiler or trip up and reveal info. I'll say it again: Television has precious few real surprises. Why would I want to ruin that for the reader?

Anyway, careful out there...

Tim Goodman said...

I meant Dennis, not Doug. Sorry to any future Dougs...

Brian said...

Well, it was good to put Future Doug on notice just in case he happened to stop by. Imagine his surprise when he starts posting spoilers and sees you're already onto him. That's some prescient blogging there, Tim.

In regards to Butchie, he always reminded me of Danny Aiello's character in Leon:The Professional. That character provided a safe harbor with his restaurant, while also acting as a father figure, bank, and touchstone of reason in his lone wolf friend's bloody line of work.

Christopher said...

I told my brother after episode 2 that Lester was using McNulty. He kept tugging on his strings. Dropping hints. He knew that he could wind McNulty up and was just waiting to catch the wave. I completely bought it.

Anonymous said...

wow. i just finished watching 5 ep. 4 moments ago. no spoilers, just swings of emotion i can't recall in any single other it's a bit difficult to come back and read this ep.3 blog.

love the direction, when mcnulty sees himself come out of the men's room and the signature Wire slow pan, turns the backwards "men" into a "me" as mcnulty's head blocks out the "n".

marlo and the corporate pyramid. he's the embodiment of psychopathic corporate personhood, which by law is only interested in "growth." For Marlo, it's just the law of "the street." so many parallels already at work, i'm fully prepared for some serious levels of brilliance in writing.

the last thing people always need to remember, this is a novel. we can talk all we want about verisimilitude, but at the end of the day, characters aren't meant to be "real." they are meant to be symbols and agents as part of the bigger picture the writers are painting. the verisimilitude just gives us a reason to watch and a reason to care about the point the writers are making, which is the primary reason i have no qualms whatsoever with mcnulty and now lester's actions.

with that said, they started planting this seed with lester driving while they eff'd with the fbi agent. i think they're suggesting lester sees a lot of himself in mcnulty, probably not to the extent, but there exists similar amounts of frustration with trying to do real po-lice work while getting buried by the bosses. the two have both had enough.

furthermore, they are trying to make a point that to get the press, and in turn, "us" as media consumers to pay attention, it has to be completely sensationalized and over the top until we do. otherwise, we don't care. this is the writers' point and this is where the mcnulty and freemon have to go to get that attention. they aren't defining the limits, we (and the corporate press) are defining that point.

Muga said...

How about all of the clutter in Prop Joe's shop when Marlo comes to him to talk money? A hairdryer? A waffle iron? Prop Joe is the criminal mirror image of Lester - both have a near supernatural ability to see the big picture, while both love tinkering with the details of life: Lester and his miniatures, Prop Joe and his minor appliances.

Prop Joe showed Marlo how corruption has even reached into the churches supporting Katrina victims. Katrina is just another opportunity to guys like Prop Joe and Marlo.

For those of you who can't get enough of David Simon from The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, etc., he's got a nice opinion piece on the death of newspapers over at The Washington Post:

Andy Asensio said...

I'm of the opinion that Freamon's acceptance of McNulty's plot is not just merely acceptable, but downright natural and appropriate, for reasons that go way beyond the specific Marlo case.

Bunk brought Freamon in because Freamon is seen as this font of wisdom. But how does Lester express this wisdom? As a storyteller. Think over the course of the series, or for just a short-term example, Lester's conversation with Sydnor about the grand jury case in the previous episode. Lester's dream case, the sort of case he loves chasing and the sort of case that'll allow him to die happy, is a complex story in which you can show all the interlocking pieces, show how everybody at so many different levels is complicit in the crime and violence ravaging the city.

Lester's a storyteller, first and foremost. In another world it'd be him accepting a Twigg-like early retirement to go write The Great American Novel, something where he can show all these problems. So if you present Lester with the chance to tell a story explaining the problems of the police, of city politics, and of public interest? That's too good a story not to tell - even if it's fiction.

Peeeet said...

I know Tim and others don't like the spoilers in the "scenes from next week" but if you do want hints, and have the capability to pause, check out the newspaper headlines in the opening credits.

Most have already appeared, but there's still some interesting stuff in there.

YogiBarrister said...

Congratulations to Amy Ryan for her Oscar nomination.

Voguette said...

Besides the camaraderie of Wire fans, I appreciate reading a phrase like "psychopathic corporate personhood" (posted by anon. at 9:54pm, Jan. 21). Love all the literary takes on teevee as novel.

LE said...

One thing that struck me was this week was the portrayal of the media, how it has been defiled – it’s become no more than a playground for the powerful and influential and imparts little real information to the reader to enable him to understand the world around them.

This week we see the following people eagerly thumbing through the paper:
(1) McNulty looking for his planted serial killer story
(2) Mayor’s office planting leaks on the BPD shakeup
(3) The crooked reporter looking for his made up quote in the react piece
(4) The cub reporter looking for her 1st front page.

For better or for worse, the newspaper is just a narrative of the competing ambitions of those with access... hmm... on second thought, maybe the media IS showing us the real world, only between the lines

g-ma said...

Tim, no mention of Gus' "tumescent" quote? I, for one, learned a new vocab word...

Christopher said...

A Deadwood episode title sums up how I feel the rest of the season will go.

"Tell Your God To Ready for Blood."

Omar is coming home.

Rebecca Lisanne said...

Christopher, nice parallel with the Deadwood ep. Another amazing HBO show that I've missed as much as I know I'm going to miss The Wire.

shantiquax said...

After - well, during - Butchie's torture scene I kept hearing S1 McNulty telling S1 Omar about how badly Brandon had been beaten. "Kid had heart." Omar engenders some fierce loyalty in his companions. Someone mentioned Butchie going all Miss Cleo while talking to Omar. Omar says something like "what do you see, Butch?" it's just about the only false moment for me in the history of this series. Thank God that got dropped.

Anonymous said...

Love this show! But...I have to say I'm disappointed with the fake serial killer. I know tv is fake but one of the main reasons I love this is show is how real it is. If you talk to cops, teachers or politicians from tough neighborhoods - they'll all tell you that it's very real. This fake killer stuff is totally fiction. No cop would really do this.
I think Michael is going to kill Marlo and Scott is going to fall right as the Post offers him a job. I haven't seen any leaked episodes...just my guess. I hope Omar kills Snoop and Chris but makes it back to PR w/ his boy.
Honey Nut Cherrios is from a couple seasons back too. Remember when he's holed up in the apt but has to leave to the corner store with his giant gun because he's out of Honey Nut!
I saw ep. 4 yesterday and it is GOOD!

Anonymous said...

//...This fake killer stuff is totally fiction. No cop would really do this...//

I could not disagree more. Everyday people are pushed to the brink in their job (witness Wall Street). People make sheeet up all the time. Police are no different.

talli said...

"These are murder! Ghetto murders, but still." - McNulty

My Wire watching partner, Bunk to my McNulty, is a photog stringer for Newsday here in NYC. I can't tell you how many times we've been watching The Wire when his crime pager (the modern journalist's equivalent of the Batman spotlight) announcing some shooting in the projects of Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens.

And every time it does, he looks at the readout, puts the pager back down and goes right back to watching the show.

The situation the Alma finds herself in is absolutely accurate, as is a lot of the other things brought up in this season. We've seen Twig get fired and the foreign desk bureaus get shut down. How accurate is this? Consider these two facts from Newday, a Tribune paper.

* Newsday shut down its Beirut and Karachi bureaus last year. Oops.

* Newsday has one court reporter covering all five burroughs!! One!! Unless this reporter can fold time and space to be in multiple places simultaneously, that guarantees doing less with less.

On another point, there is a running email exchange between a couple of Wire-heads over at which is really interesting. They've been complaining that the scene with Alma driving around the city is phony because if she really wanted to see how her story came out, she could have hopped on the web at 2AM. That's not right.

First of all, the web doesn't give you an idea of placement on the paper. Everything goes up, but you don't know what prominence the editor gave it unless you can see it's location relative to page and fold. Secondly, until we can manage to become disembodied, sentient electrons, we all like to hold our creations in our hands.

Oh, and did anyone notice what story bumped Alma off the front page?

"Skyding Company Takes Flight"


spearchamp said...

talli, sometimes I'm not sure what show "The Slate" guys have been watching - they've got McNulty drinking Jim Beam, were clueless about the potential skelton in Daniels' closet - but love to bloviate about the lack of realism in the newspaper storyline.

jimmy-c said...

Bunk is the one that doesn't ring true. Other than West's postal-rate acting this season, the character rings true, as does Lester's.

Bunk is too smart to be pissed off about McNulty's gimic. I could understand being "unsupportive" but he shouldn't be pissed off about it once his conscience is clear. Also, he ran a rally to get McNulty back drinking and into being police last season.

I hope for a scene where bunk secretly smiles after admonishing McNulty.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have theories if they're going to make use of the nano-scene from a few seasons back with Rawls in the gay bar?

Sebastian P. said...


Most newspapers, including the Sun, post a PDF of the front page (or more) online around 2 a.m., which she absolutely would have been aware of. If she was really that excited about seeing her article, she would have checked there first.

There is some truth to the accusation that D. Simon is out of step when it comes to the modern newsroom.

Anonymous said...

If anyone thinks that even in this modern age, a young reporter wouldn't be excited enough by her first front-page buyline to drive down early and get a home final coming off the presses, well you don't know newspapers and what still brings young people to them at all.

many of us have done precisely this. seeing it on a computer screen -- even paginated -- means jack. holding it in your hands while the presses whirr overhead? newsprint may be dying, but for a first byline off the front, there isn't more of a thrill.

maybe guys writing for an on-line magazine don't get it. but newspaper people do.

Tim Goodman said...

Honestly people, this is a real no-brainer for journalists (especially newbies who are really, really excited to see their first efforts get in the paper): You want the paper in your hands. Period. As noted, the online version gives you no sense about placement or what art was used.

As far as Simon being out of touch, the only element that holds true is that he left before we were all being forced to write blogs or most newspapers even had a website. Do I think the verisimilitude of this fictional Sun paper lacks something because David Simon never blogged - so he didn't bother having a character say, "I'll just blog that" - no. Who cares. And as for whether it might have been more "real" to have, say, Gus shout out something about getting a late-breaking story "online," well, sure. That might be feasible. But people forget that at MANY newspapers, the online element is TOTALLY SEPARATE and they often do not like each other or work well together. For many papers, it's not like you push a button and it pops up online.

I find so much of this media navel-gazing about whether Simon got it right to be pointless parsing. While engaged in that argument, they often get the rest of the series developments wrong.

CasualObserver said...

Bravo, Tim.

I think there's also a class/ethnicity thing going on with Alma. Her husband/boyfriend said they should have the paper delivered, to which she responded, "Why get it delivered when I get it free at the office?" I'm betting that if you need to save money on home delivery, you might not have a computer at home either, no?

Anyway, all that nitpicking misses bigger pictures. Alma is a real reporter who tries hard to get things right. Nevertheless she may be being misled on "homeless murders" because her source (Jimmy) is making it up. She contrasts to the guy who IS making it up, ruining lives in the process.

In parallel structure, 2 cops, Freeman and McNulty, are going along with making things up on fake murders in order to get the resources to solve real (Marlo crew)murders.

If you've ever worked for long anywhere, you've seen idealistic people reduced to violating ethics after too many years banging against the bureaucracy. Or just for thrills--case a couple of years ago of firefighters setting fires, remember?

Anonymous said...

Two things, yes, I think Dominic West accent does slip, this last episode with the 'homelessman'. Also, the matter-of-fact closing line from McNutty "we've got to kill again" was fantastic

ChicagoJen said...

Bravo Tim. Bravo Anonymous who also gets it.

Of course Alma wanted to see the actual paper! For her, it was her first murders. But any reporter who still gives a damn wants to see the actual layout of the print edition of a story they sweated over. True, not all stories can be clips--nor should reporters always be writing with their clip file in mind--but reporters who care enough about this sort of stuff? These are the folks you want in newspaper.

One quibble: Would the Sun be a step up from the Sun Sentinel? I wanted her to come from a smaller paper, say a 50,000 circ.

Congrats to Amy Ryan (Beadie Russell) on the Oscar nom!

Sebastian P. said...

Tim, chicagojen et al: Every day, there is an actual PDF of the front page of the Baltimore Sun available online well before the paper is delivered to stores like the one Alma visits for her copy.

Placement, art, it's all there. Most major newspaper web sites do this - NYT, LAT, etc. Can't find such a link on the Chronicle site, though.

Yes, she might have wanted to hold a copy in her hand. But if she was really that excited - as she should be, I imagine - she would have checked that PDF first. And then the first scene never would have happened (not in that way, anyway).

It's true, it's a small point - I noticed, however, that the Slate reviewers were also being criticized for lack of attention to detail.

But to Tim's main point re: larger issues in the narrative. Okay then. Personally, I find the newsroom plot to be crushingly disappointing. How so?

1. Characters are extremely one-dimensional. Everyone gets an archetype - Perfect Yet Slightly Grizzled Protagonist (there's at least three of these guys), Endearingly Ethical Ingenue, Dastardly Ambitious Jackanape, Corrupt Plutocrat, etc. To add to these cliches, we get...nothing.

Compare Rawls to Whiting, Landsman to Klebanow. It's painful to say the least. At least McNulty was chasing women and booze at 2 a.m. - Gus wakes up in the middle of the night next to his (no doubt adoring) wife from a fact-checking night terror! Oy! If I wanted to study saints, I'd have joined the clergy.

2. Every plot turn so far has been achingly predictable. Oh look, the exec. editor is squelching Gus's complaints about the school-bashing story. Oh look, the exec. editor is squelching Gus's concerns about Scott's baseball story. Oh look, Roger Twigg knows what brand of mustard Daniels used on his roast beef sandwich last week, while Scott probably doesn't even know what the words "police department" even mean.

What has distinguished the Wire from other cop/crime shows of recent times is its focus on the complex, noble humanity of its characters, even when struggling with problems that literally cannot be fixed given the state of our society. When I see the reporters and editors Simon and Burns have put in front of us, I see hollow tools created to prop up an increasingly tired and obvious set of lectures.

jimmy-c said...

I'll dogpile on the kudos for your response, Tim. Not that you need any backup, but in my former life as a print ad rep I actually got up early and bought a paper when I knew the first ADVERTISEMENT i sold was running...

Question for all:

Does anyone else feel that Bunk's reaction is out-of-character. Meaning, at least the degree of his disdain? He was always my favorite character, but I'm not feeling him right now. Of course, maybe that speaks to my morals, or possible lack thereof...

jimmy-c said...

Sebastian, as to the PDF/print issue, I think you are looking at it as if Alma simply wanted to see "where" here article ended up -- but she wasn't. Not only did she (seemingly) rightfully assume that her story was page 1, she probably was told as much by Gus. She just wanted to hold that paper in her hands and see her byline on page one. There is a mystique about the paper, as discussed by Twigg and Gus at the bar (Gus's dad's 15 minutes and the smartest man on the bus).

And for what it's worth, I think the newsroom characters ring true, and in fact they are the same characters that have existed in each institution throughout the series. But, maybe they seem less developed simply because they are the newest. The 4 kids seemed undeveloped 3 episodes in season 4. Give 'em time.

Sebastian P. said...

jimmy-c: not sure I see the difference. I know that I'd have jumped at the first chance to see my name on the front page, which meant the PDF. I think Alma was acting with that in mind, too.

Re: the kids from season 4: I completely disagree. Randy, in particular, had acquired more depth by the end of the first episode than all of the newspaper reporters have been given through the first four episodes. And as for "giving them time," there is no more time. This is the last season. We have approx. 40 other characters with current storylines to wrap up. Given the quality of the plot, the distraction of the newsroom is an unwelcome one.

Anonymous said...

Paper in hand as opposed to seeing it online is the same as dollar slots paying real silver dollars as opposed to racking up "credits".

Butchie "looking into future" no differant than any older, wiser and more experianced person making predictions based upon his opinion.
Political pundits do it everyday.

panraven_fan said...

I've got very mixed feelings about this season so far. Perhaps part of it is a bit of disdain at HBO's late (yet helpful?) promotion of the show while subjecting it to all the things that make other productions so pedestrian. To wit: shortening of the season to 10 episodes gives each episode enough speed to feel like the entire season is rushed. I think this is the thing that's nagging me the most and perhaps is a contributing factor to the lack of depth in the newsroom characters. Then again, some of the missing depth might be an attempt at respectful distance by Simon for fear of upsetting his remaining friends in the business. Not likely, but possible.

That said, Episode 3 was enjoyable and heartbreaking in only the way that The Wire can deliver. Butchie's death was foretold after Omar's last heist. Butchie to Omar: "It ain't over. You do something like this and they GOT to come back." I fear that Mr. Little will not make it out of this one alive. An Omar death would be in keeping with the realism of the streets, since stick up guys are probably harder to insure than skydivers.

Lester is quite believable as one who would help McNulty in this surely ill-fated plan. For many of the reasons stated by other people here and because Lester has often shown a little bit of the wink-and-nod in him. Think about his relationship with the ex-stripper and his shenanigans when he was selling the "burners" through Bubbles' connection. Consider also that he's made more from doing miniatures than many police make in salary and OT (paraphrasing from S1 or S2). This is a man who is really not worried about his future; a man who probably believes enough in the incompetence of his department to think that such a ridiculous plan can work. After all, people have been "juking" stats, getting away with incompetence (e.g., shooting their own police cars), intentionally halting or retarding investigations (22 murders, accidental murder of State's witness, etc.) for years with little or no repercussions. The Department simply keeps lumbering along, with priorities dictated not by what's right but by the political priority du jour (remember, "Kintell Williams...this unit is about the bodies" and other similar situations?) Lester's probably at the end of his rope. Only, I think this rope will be used to lynch McNulty and Lester - in the worst ways possible: they will probably lose the case against Marlo AND lose their badges as a result of their fake serial killer.

Regarding Michael, there has to be a showdown between him and Marlo because Michael still has some semblance of a moral code while Marlo cares only for power and money. I can see Marlo's organization easily falling apart for lack of a core uniting principle that transcends money. The "old" heads who had been in the game understood that there were rules. (Slim Charles: back in the day, a young 'un like Marlo steps out of line and he'd find himself in the back of a trunk on the way to Leakin Park." Marlo doesn't respect the rules. Chris is a loyal soldier who advises but never questions. Even Snoop is a bit appalled at the beating of Butchie (I think) and is certainly concerned with the Omar revenge plan. Marlo's got cracks in his organization of which he is not even aware. I can't call it on this one, but it seems plausible that he ends up at odds with Michael. I'd originally picked Michael and Randy to be the new Avon-Stringer but it doesn't seem like this will happen. Ah, I'm rambling at this point.

Some questions on my mind, though:
What about Namond?
Did Omar kill his lover from Season 3 (the one who gave him up to Mouzone?)
Will Omar actually get caught for the bodies that he will amass in his war with Marlo (recall the promise to Bunk: no more bodies)?

There are other questions on my mind but I'll try to save them in case they are answered by the next episode...
Anyway, thanks Tim and all the commenters for giving me a community within which to share this experience called The Wire.

jimmy-c said...

sebastian -- I guess it's all a matter of perspective. You're right about Randy, and the other kids couldn't be developed because they WERE developing.

Even though the Sun characters ring true to me for what they are, they really ring true in how they parallel the other institutions in the series (I would love to see Tim chart out parallel characters, btw, just like Lester on the board).

Gotta love the Wire, though, for giving us all something to examine this deeply. In my mind, if this season is a let down, that only speaks to the quality of the whole.

You gotta love any show that brings out this much i

George D from the 415 said...

Personally, I did what alma did repeatedly when my college paper came out with an article I wrote in it that I was proud of. I could see it online, But i wanted IT. anyone can put things online, not everyone's in a newspaper

ppage said...

Jimmy-c, good call re.Bunk. He was pining for the drunken & reckless McNulty last season & now he's morally outraged by all of his actions.

And Anonymous, I forgot about the Rawls gay scene. Maybe Rawls & Omar hook up! (Kidding) Or Rawls lets Omar off for his season 5 killings because Omar could out him. I just wish someone could find Omar some Honey Nut Cheerios.

I just love this show & this blog

sfnrh said...

Well said Sebastian. After reading all of the recent interviews with Simon (and various 'reacts') it is safe to say that the entire newsroom storyline is him refusing to drop a decade old grudge. He fails to even mention the dramatic decline of Baltimore's population and brushed over digital media - less people, less stories, less circulation, less of a need for a huge staff. How about somebody with years of experience in the classifieds department with the ability to match the intellectual capacity of Craig Newmark's simple plan. That person doesn't exist.

You pegged how predictable each of the Sun characters are after just three episodes. Enough of that crap already...the newspaper riff should have been wrapped up when both Rawls and McNulty tossed the Sun in the trash. Just be grateful that this nonsense didn't get shoved down our throats in the first four seasons. The newsroom focus is like Willie Mays on the Mets - never happened.

Funny how we never had dealers, users, attorneys, stevedores, cops, politicians or teachers chime in here but now we get flooded with newsies verifying character authenticity. No doubt there is a doubt. Hmmm...

jimmy-c said...

sfnhr -- this is completely serious, and funny as hell, at least to me. perhaps it's just sad. Not only do I have some newspaper experience, but I am also a lawyer and in recovery. For what it's worth, the lawyers and the dealers also ring true to me. And the brief NA scenes are probably the best I've seen, especially Steve Earle's character. In general, the show could probably only be more realistic if Carcetti was racking up lines with Clay Davis in city hall, or maybe that'S just SF rubbing off on me a little bit...

Anyways, good post, and the same to Sebastiah. Some good points that make me re-examine my gut instinct...

jimmy-c said...

I take back my diplomacy. One negative about recovery is that it castrates your will to argue. But resentments against narrow-minds are more dangerous than anything...

sebastian an sfnmghjf I respect that neither of you care about the print paper, but it's narrow-minded to assume that the characters are not real because they do.

Just because you are powered up and don't want ink on your fingers, that doesn't mean NO ONE wants ink on their fingers, and it's just f--ing stupid to assume that those news characters aren't real.

I'm with Twig, I think the guy with his perfectly folder paper on the bus is smarter than the guy next to him with the laptop out.

Here's a real question: since tech is obviously "winning," why do new media people get so defenseive.

But what do I know, I gave you enough ammo about me in the last message for your predictably self-centric response.

And again, it's not that you're wrong about tech being more convenient, but as me and several other posters here show, there are people who aren't like you. Get over it, or blog it, or whatever you do.

Alex said...

About Bunk -- do you think he's appalled because fabricating crimes is morally wrong, or because he thinks McNulty's self-destructive impulses have gone too far? Lately Bunk has sounded very paternal concerning McNulty -- "I'm worried about the boy," "Listen to Lester, he's got all the wisdom you need, boy." The two of them are very close; in fact, Bunk may be the only character on the show who actually loves McNulty. It's hard to believe Bunk is so upset because McNulty is violating professional ethics or disrespecting the dead. Hell, Bunk just got a suspect to confess by rigging up an elaborate deception he has used many times before, and he once scowled at a dead body and said, "Don't even think about coming back a murder, you mouldering motherfucker!"

CasualObserver said...

Alex, I think Bunk's reaction is partly out of guilt and defensiveness, and partly because strangling the already dead is a worse violation than tricking a murderer into confessing via Xerox.

Bear with me. When Jimmy was on the wagon from booze, Bunk missed the congeniality of their getting a buzz together, and tempted him (there was that scene where he stuck to mineral water and went home to Beadie, S. 4). But when Jimmy was lured back to murder/Marlo work, he started fooling around on Beadie, drinking at all hours, not just after work, and breaking a dead guy's neck.

This is the same Jimmy who pulled him back from outrageous behavior in a bar a couple of times, now running way past anything he would do. I think it's horrified guilt.

sfnrh said...

I didn't say that all of the other professions were not portrayed accurately in the last sentence; rather that we didn't have people from all of the other professions outside of newsies verifying their authenticity here on this board.

I believe that the characters at the Sun are portrayed accurately, but the simpleton development and personal Simon issues have made the mere existence of the storyline far inferior than the rest of the ones that we've been blessed with.

It pains me to even have questions about his motive and it is just an opinion formed on being such a wirehead and wanting more background. Consider this: there was little or no criticism about all the other seasons (many doubted but all embraced the education theme on Prezbo's first day). We were all riveted by the unfamiliar worlds of the corner and the docks. Now the final act is here and several people are indifferent to the newsroom for a reason.

Neither a technophile/phobe. On one hand, I have an appreciation for what Gus and Twig were glorifying at the bar. On the other hand, it isn't 1995 and everybody had (has) the chance to make the internet enhance their business.

detroitnewsie said...

The newspaper storyline isn't grabbing me despite my preference for the printed page and a newspaper background. I really believe the forced pacing of this season is a big factor. I remember how the slow evolution leading to Prez's first day in the classroom lured me into the school storyline. Tiny little threads pulling us in. Now it feels like we are being dragged into the Sun with a heavy rope; we are getting more info about the newsroom before we are hungry for it. Face it folks, we have been spoiled and I think HBO's unwillingness to go for thirteen episodes (so sad after having committed to the previous four seasons) has sold us all short.

spearchamp said...

I think Detroitnewsie has it right - having to rush the story line due to a lesser number of episodes has been detrimental to this season in general and the newspaper story line in particular. Much more expository dialogue this year than in the past.

Despite that, I think that most would agree that this show remains among the best ever, if not the best. I have a sneaking suspicion that by the end of episode 10, a lot of these early season nitpicks will be forgotten.

wirewatcher said...

That was a good point about Bunk and guilt... I'm still waiting to see how all that plays out.

In this season I'm really enjoying the mention that so many of these characters know each other from way back. They went to High School together... they came up in the same neighborhood.

Circumstances and character differences produced different trajectories.

David Simon, as much as the rest of us who are so hooked into this series, wants to know WHY stuff is the way it is... people who want to "fix" things always do.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing... just a true thing.

Simon is going to want to try to show a few "why's" (causes) in this last series. He, all the writers, directors, actors, - and us - want things to change.

I think "The Wire" is a little different from series like Rome, Sopranos, even Deadwood... in how - and why - it hooks viewers. Maybe I should add WHO (tho' I watched all the above and esp. enjoyed Sopranos and Deadwood).

When we watch The Wire, it is a different kind of "escape" than watching Rome bec. what is going on in that series is what is going on in teh world, and for some of us, very much OUR world.

There is an urgency, I think, for all who love the show, whether they are helping to create it or watch it.

I hope this series does make a difference.

I msut say, I did read the articles about Gavin, renewed violence, the call for stepped up beat patrols in the Bayview and Hunters Point, differently bec. of having watched teh Wire.

I have expected Carver to start complaining about what workign tht beat was going to be like with no back-up.

The show has given me more perspective on both City Hall and police politics adn dynamics.

Not that The Wire is a totally accurate rep of everything... but it's given me more context for understanding what is going on for the parties involved.

The ed stuff I already knew from having worked in ed and grown up around teachers working in tough neighborhoods. My sister-in-law works as a school psych is very tough parts of LA. She won't watch The Wire and I don't blame her. She sees it every day at work.

And I live in a part of the City that is not the toughest but is def. on "that end" of things... where violence - on the street with plenty of good viewing opportunities - has happend down the block and in front of my window.

The newspaper stuff I'm aware of thanks to comments that TG, Jon C, and others make... plus just watching it all happen.

Anyway, this is kinda disjointed...

my main point:

Everyone involved in The Wire is really doing a good thing... for that I have to believe there will be some result.

It's the ol' starfish story (wherein the child says, "I know I can't save all the starfish stranded on the beach, but I'm saving this one)... which I do believe in.

The world changes one starfish at a time.

Dennis said...

Tim: I haven't seen ahead and I don't even have On Demand so I'm working on one Sunday at a time like most people here it seems.

So, I can't think of anything I said that would indicate spoilers. Sure, I might've asked if a couple of characters appear and I also threw out Nick Sobotka's name but I think it was actually in your space that I first read the "brief Sobotka" sighting rumblings. I might be wrong about that but it seems like that's where I first picked on on it.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that Bunk's reaction is because of his concern for Jimmy. Bunk knows he's a sometimes drunk and whore but I just thought of a scene from the second ep this seaosn when Jimmy's talking about a headache and Griggs mentions he's wearing yesterday's clothes and Bunk scoots across the room and gently asks, "You catching hell from Beattie."?

Tim Goodman said...

A couple of quick things (proving, of course, that I do read the comments even late in the week...). As much as I want more than 10 eps., I don't buy the rushed thing at all. Detroitnewsie, it's important to remember that Season 1 was 13 eps., but Season 2 and 3 were both 12 eps. Season 4 got 13 eps. HBO was originally looking at 12 again this year. I'd like those two back, but I don't find any rushed pacing. Also, it's only natural that people read things elsewhere and absorb them or believe them. Apparently some other boards were hot on the idea that there's more exposition in the newsroom scenes and now everyone is picking up and mentioning it. Don't buy that, either...And we should all remember that characters get fleshed out over seasons. They change. They grow. They get more lines - we get to know them better. This is mostly true of the cops and the drug dealers. Season 2 (he weakest, I think) and Season 5, as it will turn out, had the least chance to leave a lasting impression. Most of those people were never (or will never) be seen again, so comparing them to someone like, say, Carver, or Bodie, just isn't fair. Season 5 will best be judged after it ends - period. Anything short of that is unfair, but also expected. People want to talk about it in the now. I'm already on record as saying this is the best television series ever and I do love it very much, but it's not flawless. To say there was little or no criticism of past seasons (or even of the actions of characters or storylines IN SEASON) is just not true. From the docks to Hamsterdam to bits of dialog to inconsistent acting - there's been plenty to get nitpicky about.

But in the end, there's always one truism: "The Wire" will out. Be patient.

suzyq2 said...

No doubt.

luckystuff said...

re: Sebastian and Tim

I'll say it again. Right now, I'm with Sebastian: the newsroom characters look stereotyped. For my money, Gus might as well be wearing a White Hat. Every other main protagonist in The Wire is flawed or complicit in some way, but Gus comes across as the purest angel who can do no wrong (even when he worries he messed up the roll-on/roll-off numbers, he didn't). He's that good. That's what strikes me as ringing falsely. And I don't see the comparisons to Bodie or Carver as quite right; in season 1, they had bit roles, but Gus (and to a lesser extent the executive editor) are major characters/forces in season 5, and yet they seem to have no... personality or something. Humanizing touch, foible, or whatever.

I thought there was more subtle commentary on the media in season 4 (I think), where the campaign manager lady was watching the talking heads, McNulty flipped around until he got to the History Channel, and Dennis Wise was watching local news, and finally, the youngun turns off the tube and plays Halo.

And Tim, I'm willing to give them some more leash, but I gotta say I'm worried. It's a short season, so it is even more important that characters don't seem thin, right? (And I'm trying not to just nitpick, or critique something for no reason; I really, really want this to be good (as good as it's been in the past)--I'm just worried is all.) And when/if the writers deliver, maybe I'll even take it all back.

Alex said...

Your point about guilt is interesting, casualobserver. Bunk tried hard to get McNulty to backslide last season. His comments were pretty manipulative at times--he let McNulty know that he seemed weak ("You're drinking like your ass is candy") and fake (the great scene where they appear to be talking about Lake Trout subs, but in fact are discussing McNulty's life with Beadie). McNulty just smiled and didn't let Bunk influence him. It was his desire to work on a spectacular case again that motivated McNulty to get back on the road to ruin. In other words Bunk tried to "pull him back in" and failed. But, on the other hand, Bunk encouraged McNulty to run wild for years, so in a sense he should feel guilty.

ferrethead said...

Remember how Ep 2 started in the 12-step meeting, and the woman was listing all of the things she thought she'd never do. Left unsaid, was the fact that she was finally faced with *something* she wouldn't or couldn't do, and that's how she ended up in recovery. I think we have found the limits of what Bunk would do. Keep in mind, he hasn't turned his job as homicide po-lice into a crusade against evil, like Jimmy has. Bunk cares, but only when it's his turn. So, while he's experienced the frustration and anger at the deficiencies of the department, he hasn't suffered the same soul-crushing 'defeats'...

Anonymous said...

whoever is saying Baltimore's population base is declining is simply and utterly wrong -- whether it be that fella on Slate or the poster on this site.

Baltimore city's population has declined significantly over the last twenty years. The Baltimore Metro Region -- which would be The Sun's circulation area, they sell most of their copies in the surrounding counties of Baltimore, Harford, Carroll, Anne Arundel and Howard -- has grown dramatically in that period.

The argument that Simon's complaint has no validity because the Sun is serving less of a city is in fact wholly wrong. Baltimore as a region has gained population and yet the Sun saw its circulation highs in the mid- and late-1990s utterly eroded.

Secondly, the the critics only people conflating Simon's depiction of a newspaper beleagured by the internet, advertising falloff and staff buyouts and his other complaint about the willingness of management to Pulitzer-sniff rather than do the hard work of seriously examining urban problems in their complexity -- problems depicted on The Wire.

Is it conceivable that both things are true at once and that neither is a direct function of the other: That newspapers are losing talent and money and endangered by new technology and that they are also preoccupied with a prize-culture that does not produce the best and most serious journalism?

Seems to me a straw man has been set up here. And who's doing it? Media folk in denial about what the actual critique might be?

Christopher said...

I am not really having a problem with the reporters this season. I worked for the CC Times and my uncle was an editor at the SF Chronicle. I have met those people.

Tim is right, we just are not going to have another season to flesh them out.. Season 2 was the weakest but now some of those characters resurface and we feel like we know them. I will be sad when the show is off the air but can't wait to see how they blow it up.

CasualObserver said...

Alex, in addition to the guilt Bunk may have, I think he's a pragmatist with things/a life to protect. He doesn't think that Jimmy can do the fake-serial-killer thing and not get caught and jailed. He himself runs the risk of being brought down just because he knows about it and hasn't so far ratted Jimmy out. His knowledge makes him an accessory to these misdeeds.

Ironically, I think "the bigger the lie, the more they believe" was Bunk's own line when the "Xerox aslie detector" ruse forced the confession in episode one.

Seems like he has backed away from that belief. Low tech stuff like coercing confessions and planting evidence has a chance to succeed, because it has before. Jimmy and Lester are making a lie "too big" not to risk discovery--maybe.

George D from the 415 said...

Not advocating the practice of it, nor am I suggesting you do it, but if I know you Wire Junkies you'd jump to where Tim is in a heart beat, or at least in the 4 hours it'd take you to watch the next 4 eps. They're up as torrents FYI.

IF you do do this, do not NOT post any sort of spoilers on these boards

Rebecca Lisanne said...

In response to a few questions folks here have raised, my two cents:

--As for the quick scene of Rawls in the gay bar from a few seasons ago, I hope they don't do anything with it. I love the fact that they showed that with no "let's hit our viewers over the head with this" -- they just moved right along. One of the reasons why we love The Wire is the fact that it assumes its viewers are smart and its characters (the cops and dealers anyway) have sides to them that have been hinted at but not explored. They are complex like real people. Not a lot of TV does that these days.

--What about Namond? I have wondered about him, but my guess is that he's not one of the ones we should be wondering about. He got out and has a chance with Bunny, so I think his story is over as far as this show is concerned. It's Dukie and Michael and possibly Randy who we are wondering about.

--Omar and the bodies and his promise to Bunk: I too fear that Omar isn't long for this world. Everyone loves him, and so they probably will kill him off. But if he dies trying to kill Marlo, I think Bunk will forgive him the bodies he will rack up as he does that.

YogiBarrister said...

For those of you who are worried about Omar, I suspect he will survive. I was surprised to learn that his character is based on a real person who is still alive. This guy is supposedly married to the real inspiration for one of the characters in THE CORNER.
I've always considered Omar, Brother Mauzone, and Lester to be mythical, immortal characters.

esarde said...

When this season's over I'll start all over again with season 1...There was one quote that I'm surprised wasn't mentioned, McNulty (McNutty?) saying something like "We may have to kill again"...

Anonymous said...

Read the above post about the torrents for episodes 5-7...i've seen these episodes via torrent and don't recommend it...episodes are great, it's the waiting 4 more weeks that kills it for me

panraven_fan said...

After re-watching Ep. 3, I've realized that the newsroom characters are neither stereotypical nor is the portrayal of the newspaper lopsided. While there are many who seem to have their own criticisms of David Simon (I recently read one in The Atlantic or Harper's - can't recall since I typically read both together), I think that the criticisms seem a bit unfair. In fact, I think that the portrayal is somewhat balanced. Newsroom management is acknowledging readers' lack of interest in stories with depth. Whether this is a supply or a demand issue remains to be seen. The fact is that shorter format news is getting more readership and more ad revenues. They also note the emergence of the Internet and it's impact on revenues. Further, the newsroom's management team is being affected by the "out of town" forces alluded to by another post above. They have elected to manage the decline as best as possible. Their response is no different than countless other management teams that I've seen in traditionally profitable businesses facing new competition and expectations of higher profits. I don't know, just some thoughts. Can't wait until 9 p.m. tonight! I'm trying to keep myself from watching ahead but it's killing me!!!

Anonymous said...

//...This guy is supposedly married to the real inspiration for one of the characters in THE CORNER. //

David Simon was a member of the wedding party and the NYTimes carried the story. Pretty cool stuff, really.

D'Angelo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calinks said...

Yep, its me again. The man who posts a year after everything's been said. Gotta say, I'm surprised hardly anyone mentioned McNulty's "We have to kill again!" line. That seemed so cheesy when he said it. Maybe it was due to him being somewhat inebriated but is seemed like some scene straight out of a Frankenstein flick.

I really appreciate how there are no spoilers in all of these comments. I have been making a huge effort to avoid spoilers while watching and man, it is tough.

I had to find a place where I could get further insight though and I am very happy I stumbled upon this. Unfortunately I think I may have had one thing spoiled for me by freak chance but so far it hasn't come up.

Calinks said...

I also have to say that I'm shocked how far McNulty has gone. It was bad enough with the one guy but he has gone back and really manipulated some of these deaths. We-writing your deceased friends report also strikes me as disgracful.

I am alone in saying this here but I have to admit. I actually feel bad for Burrell. The man is a jack-hole and he has done some dirt but he looked so damn sad the last episode when he was stanidng in his office.

I really felt bad for him, lol. It reminded me of the time I saw Omar in season 1 standing in that womans home overlooking what Avon's crew was doing to his "home" and van. He just looked so lonesome and sorrowful to me.

Speaking of Omar. I really hope he gets his vengeance. Snoop and Chris has crossed the line in this episode and there aint no crossing back with me. They gots to fall. No doubt. I love the character of Marlo but I hate the man with a passion. He better not survive all of this.

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