There's always something to love about "The Wire," but many times it comes back to how it doesn't pander. Early in this episode Chris tells Marlo - without using any names: "Sat outside of Monk’s all night. Left before morning, though. They’ll be back – no doubt.” What he conveyed, which was totally opposite of what the camera had been conveying for two episodes, was that they had already set up on Omar. When Omar thought he had the jump on them, he didn't. They were waiting for him. So the camera could catch a great line where Butchie's friend says, "Most likely, they're expecting you to make a move." Omar: "And here I am. How about that." It gave viewers what they wanted to see in the anti-hero Omar - that he had rode into town and his revenge was just about to happen.
But it didn't. Marlo had set him up. And the defining moment of that ruse was established in the middle of a scene with no garnish whatsoever. A network drama not only would have spelled it out for you, it would have beat you over the head with it. That's a pretty big development to all but bury.
And, of course, that led to the biggest moment in this episode, probably (though there were many others). That is - Omar can fly.
He certainly escaped death very narrowly in the apartment. The question is, did he survive the jump? Did he really jump. My guess is the HBO previews for next week probably gave that away (did they?) but it was a great moment no matter what.
We are now exactly halfway through the final season and I have to say that this was the episode where the conceit with McNulty and the dead bodies - stretch or no when it happened - has culminated in a wonderful strand to carry the rest of the episodes. The writers fully engaged the paper storyline with the cop storyline and let two lies stand as one. I mean, the look on McNulty's face when he realized Scott was lying about getting the call from the serial killer was a thing of real beauty. And then Scott's look when McNulty - who's the one in charge of all sides of this lie - says the killer called earlier. "He made another call?," Scott says, stunned. And that it all leads to a wire tap - illegal or at least manipulated - is another fine twist. It gets Lester back on the wire tap where he does his best work. It lets McNulty feel better that his ruse is paying off for some real po-lice in the face of the budget stagnation. And Scottie finally has his story with legs.
But there were plenty of other meaty moments as well. Clay Davis' drive to stay alive is lovely to behold (and listen to). Marlo's fascination with wearing the crown has him in business with the Greeks and wanting to celebrate, but the introduction of the cell phone and the interference of Herc (who passes the number to Carver, who passes it to Freamon, who in one call about pepper steak knows he's got the king cornered) makes everything that much more interesting.
We got a cameo from Cutty. And Royce. And Callie Thorne! And Beadie in uniform. We've got dirty journalism and situational ethics at the police department. We've got Bubs worried about serving people because he's convinced he's got AIDS (and what a negative test means for what he now has to confront - life).
And oh, yeah. What's really going on with Omar? Dead? Alive? Love it. Here's a few thoughts and quotes from the episode:
+ “Is the killer now sodomizing homeless men?” – Alma
+ “You’re gonna need a statement. Nothing too joyful. You don’t dance on Clay Davis’ grave until you know the motherfucker is dead.” – Norman to Carcetti.
+ Dookie’s beat down. He’s just not a fighter, that one. And Cutty knows it immediately. Hope and wishes. That's all anyone can give Dookie.
+ “Joe gave him to us just in time.” – Levy, because he knows the cell phone is going to be the downfall of Marlo.
+ Good to see Cutty, isn't it. I wish he'd get some more roles on TV.
+ “How do you get from here to the rest of the world?” – Dookie. “I wish I knew.” – Cutty.
+ “We need something with a twist.” – Scott. “A sexual serial killer isn’t enough?” – McNulty.
+ “He’s a biter.” – McNulty.
+ “Embracing the hard choice. It’s one of the burdens of command.” – Carcetti to Daniels.
+ “A gift from your one true partner.” Herc gives Marlo’s number to Carver, with echoes of Prop Joe’s salute to Butchie.
+ “Think I’m gonna be the scapegoat for the whole damn machine? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.” – Clay Davis.
+ Dookie finds out that fighting will lead to more of it, guns will lead to more guns. He needs to get out. He doesn't have a map for that, however.
+ “Dead Meadow? What the hell is wrong with the Ramones?” – McNulty to his two sons, who are way past caring that he’s not there.
+ Royce and Clayton at the rally. Classic. Just classic. And timely in all sorts of ways.
+ “Yeah, well, 10 minutes ago I would have said this whole thing is complete bullshit. Shows you what I know, I guess.” – Gus. You knew, Gus. You knew. You just couldn't have any idea how fucked up it all is now. And how much weirder it promises to be.