Sunday, February 10, 2008

"The Wire," Season 5: Ep. 6: "The Dickensian Aspect."

The bigger the lie...yeah, well, it's pretty big now. And once a lie gets out of the bottle, it's hard to put back. Three people in "The Wire" are telling lies that look, for all the world, like they are going to come back and haunt them.

There's McNulty, who's homeless (sexual) serial killer story has blossomed (beautifully, by the way), from a kooky idea on how to get funded to do real po-lice work into all sorts of tragicomic turns. The original lie has now ensnared an unsuspecting liar and plagiarist at the Baltimore Sun, caused said real po-lice work to get put on the back burner while everyone chases a non-existent killer, forced McNulty to expand the lie because Lester can't get it done with the limited resources he once said he could, and has now led to a stomach-turning bout of kidnapping a mentally imbalanced homeless man. (It may not have technically been kidnapping, but there's no getting around the sadness of the act.) The only good thing the lie has done is give Carcetti an issue to ride to glory on. But that doesn't feel too good either - oily politics are just that, no matter who gets helped in the short term.

Scott's lie - check that, "lies" plural - are spinning sideways at just about the same rate as McNulty's. His are well documented, but picking up steam. Gus seems to be slowly playing his hunch that Scott is cutting corners and you can see him setting traps for Scott - and Scott steps right into them. "Star time," says Alma. But Scott looks like he's going to puke.

The other lie comes from Marlo, who tried to pin Prop Joe's killing on Omar (but most everybody else in the New Day Co-Op has a bullshit detector like Gus' and they are not buying it). Marlo's lies - being responsible for the killings of Hungry Man and Prop Joe and taken "the connect" from the Greeks while everyone else sat on their hands, has also emboldened him. But whereas the lie McNulty told has forced him to become ever more desperate, Marlo's lie comes from his belief that he wears the crown and everybody else must bow down. He's not desperate at all - he's overconfident and sloppy because he's all powerful.

No doubt the lies of all three men will guide "The Wire" to a careening, intense, intellectualy satisfying four more episodes. This is a train barreling along right now and it's a joy to watch.

Of course, Ep. 6 had other major developments as well, not just lies gone haywire. Omar lives. He didn't fly. But he survived the landing, though his leg appears to be a painful mess. It's clear that the writers wanted the legendary Omar to be hobbled in some way, to appear more vulnerable, more human and less the iconic street figure. Strange - or perhaps funny, depending on how you look at it - that they chose a near superhuman event to make him more human. "Don't seem possible," Marlo says, looking up at the balcony where Omar jumped. "That some Spiderman shit there."

I loved the opening scenes. Everybody staring up, silently, in wonder. Like, WTF?

Omar is definitely changed. And credit goes to Michael K. Williams for conveying the make-over. He doesn't have the swagger now. Coming out of hiding on the broom/crutch, he was probably the least dangerous man on the streets, more vulnerable than vicious. The writers' intent was to cut him down to size, chip away at the myth. That scenes alone did wonders - the gimpy walk. But Williams has even changed his way of speaking. Less cool, less assured. Omar now is a little bit hysterical (probably from the pain - and of course getting suckered into an ambush and nearly being killed). His voice is higher, with desperate tones in it. He's talking about how Marlo isn't man enough to come down to the streets. It's all about vengeance for Butchie (and friends) now - and Omar sounds like he's half wanting to cry in pain (and frustration) and half wanting to scream in anger. But he's certainly making the most of his injury. He's putting himself out there, disrupting Marlo's world. He's a man on a mission and no amount of searing pain looks like it's going to stop him. The question is, does he have the wits to see this through, or is blind rage making him take just as many chances as Marlo's feeling of invincibility?

Alright then. Some thoughts:

+ It's good to see Chris pissed that he failed. It's good to see him rocked. People have been waiting for this for two seasons now.

+ Marlo: “We missed our shot. Now he’s gonna get at us.” It's never good to disappoint your boss.

+ “Fuck you for tearing down the port of Baltimore and selling it to some yuppie assholes from Washington!" A great moment after Carcetti's speech about the dock renovation/gentrification.
“Who the hell is that?” – Carcetti says, after being heckled and his aide says, “Oh, it’s nobody Mr. Mayor. Nobody at all.”

+ Hell yes it's somebody. It's Nick Sobotka from Season 2! Still pissed!

+ Whiting: “Wonderful story, Scott!” Templeton: “Yeah, kind of wrote itself.” It sure did, Scottie.

+ The national news comes calling for Scottie. “Just remember you’re an ambassador for the paper,” says Klebanow.

+ “I regarded that decision as illegitimate.” – Lester on the cops pulling off Marlo because they couldn’t fund the investigation into the 22 murders.

+ “Somebody finally touched Prop Joe, huh?” – Bunk.

+ They found the sealed Grand Jury indictments at Prop Joe’s. Bunk: “Who don’t we trust at the courthouse.” Better yet, as Pearlman says succinctly to Bond: "We've got a leak."

+ “Homeless murders? How does that case tie into this?” Sydnor. “Hard to explain.” – Lester.

+ Loved the great, small acting of the people behind Carcetti when he went on a rage about the homeless killings. Rawls with a kind of, “What is he doing now” look. Daniels listening, then having his eyes roam while he thinks more. Pride welling in Norman with just the smallest muscle reflex smile on his face. Wonderful stuff.

+ Rawls tried to undermine Daniels – catching him off-guard – but Daniels rose to the occasion.

+ Randy – lost. Bigger, harder, without hope. Lost.

+ Going into the New Day Co-Op, two of the guys say that whoever has “the connect” killed Joe. “No doubt.” But Marlo pins it on Omar. Except Slim Charles ain’t buying it and wants no part of being a CEO for Marlo. Cheese jumps at it. And Marlo says that not only will there be no more meetings, if you’ve got a problem, bring it to him “or sit on that shit.” Worse, the price of the brick is going up – an extra $30,000. Cocky? When you’re the king, sometimes you don’t think straight with that crown on your head.

+ Scottie on Nancy Grace. Classic. “That makes you the Jimmy Breslin of Baltimore.” Ugh.

+ “I mean, fuck already. How many shitballs are there?” – Carcetti. He’s stressed. Very stressed. No wonder he wants a promotion out of Baltimore.

+ “Homelessness? Huh. I’ll be damned.” – Carcetti suddenly has a national issue.

+ Lester - “You’d be surprised what you can get done when no one’s looking over your shoulder.”

+ Scottie visiting the homeless and looking scared and put out. And wearing his Kansas City Star shirt…fame’s a bitch already?

+ I don’t know what was more interesting – Snoop talking about bringing toys to Chris’s kids or Chris completely off his cool.

+ Omar burns the money in the car. “It ain’t about that paper. It’s about me hurting his people, messing with his world." Message received. (Good to see the shotgun back in action, by the way.)

+ “You and Lester started some shit here. Now a DOA brings everybody in a heartbeat.” – Oscar, the Sesame Street Cop.

+ “How do I write that into my bullshit killer’s M.O.?” – McNulty, pained that he can’t get Lester the high tech stuff to land Marlo’s photo-sending phones. Lying is some complicated shit when it starts to spin.

+ “You’re a supervisor’s nightmare.” – McNulty to Freamon.

+ “As far as this guy? They’ll write it off as some fraternity prank.” – McNulty, taking a lot of desperate chances. It’s kidnapping, Lester says. But McNulty says it was an opportunity for dinner and a chat. There's a great shot of McNulty with his eyes lit, like he's just constructed the greatest ruse ever. Contrast that with the look on his face after the act is completed, just as the ending music kicks in...

+ That whole thing just leaves a pit in our stomach. How can it not? The homeless guy just evoked that sense of helplessness that made the whole thing seem sick and sad.

+ Bunk sooooo pissed off that the homeless killings are getting all the attention and diverting manpower. Especially from his DNA work. Wendell Pierce is playing all kinds of disgruntled. I love how he's washing himself clean of McNulty's ethical lapse by diving in to the row house murders with fervor.

+ “This one feels like the real deal. What I like most is that you didn’t overwrite it. No extra color, no puffy adjectives, just tight declarative sentences. And you really just let this ex-Marine tell the story.” – Gus. See Scott? Fact is better than fiction.

It's a lesson that might be learned the hard way by three people in "The Wire."


George D from the 415 said...

Is there anything more depressing than watching the final scene with the homeless man? Unable to eat the bread in front of him. My heart ached

cereal_kidd said...

Great episode... the tangled web of lies gets thicker.

Poor Omar, probably waiting for 24 hours in a broom closet with a shattered leg and his gun pointing at the door. (No blood trail to follow though?) He's definitely shifted -- emotional and not his usual subtle ruthlessness. Between him and Marlo, one of them is going to die.

Nikki and some of the port crew cameo! Hopefully they're not all homeless like Johnny 50...

Carcetti sucks. It's like watching if Obama were to turn out to be another calculating douche bag politician.

Poor Bunk. The good cop. I have a feeling his integrity will pay off though in some way...

Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy... confessing to one of the founding fathers was it? I can understand the desperate, frustrated rationalizations... "they don't get to win" or as Lester puts it "I regarded that decision as illegitimate"... and Lester and McNulty make a formidable pair, but there is no way this is going to end well for them. Too many liabilities -- including the reporter, who Gus now knows is a fraud.

Randy. Gone.

Can't believe only 4 more eps to go. Forever.

the tap said...

Once again a master piece of an episode.

A few thoughts:

- I am not entirely satisfied with the explanation of Omar's escape. So he survives the 4/5 story jump with a broken leg that heals quick enough for him to get back on his revenge mission in no time? A bit thin..

- Love the personality transitions in this episode. Omar is a shadow of his former self. Chris is in a rage. Snoop's femininity creeps though ever so slightly. And Marlo no longer seems cool and calculating, but downright arrogant and sloppy (as Tim points out).

- I think that Omar will get killed by the end of the season, as will many others, in some sort of final showdown. My only hope is that Omar (admittedly my favourite character), does so once he has regained his 'Omarness' as opposed to going out with a whimper in his current state..

- The main thread of the season is 'the bigger the lie, the more they believe'. Mcnulty, Scott and now Carcetti's lives are being based on the same 'lie' (and as usual, the writers have done that superbly). Does anybody get the feeling that, the Wire being the Wire, they will all pull it off? Isn't that more disturbing (and sadly, more 'real') than the predicted 'doom and implosion' ending?

Daniel said...

George D:
Right there with you on that last scene with Larry, AKA Donald from Cleveland.

It seemed McNulty went through the same range of emotions in that shelter, meaning, at least for a moment, he realized how completely f*cked up his make-believe case has become. I liked that final scene, when he paused for a moment outside the shelter. Just by the expression on his face, I thought he'd go back inside the shelter and return Larry to Baltimore. But of course he didn't.

I've decided McNulty's still got a conscience ticking, but by now it's safe to say that good po-lice McNulty's a goner.

I'm starting to make the connection of why the homeless are playing such a prominent role this season. We've posted a lot about how several characters in the show didn't choose their lot in life. Most don't have the resources to start over. Their situations don't allow them to escape. Those who want out don't know how to get to "the rest of the world."

I suppose it's the same way with the homeless. And Carcetti's speech to the press sums up the mainstream sentiment when it comes to homelessness. Most of us can talk the bullshit, and we might even mean it when we say "I care about the homeless situation," but when it comes down to it, we mostly pretend they don't exist.

That theme was loud and clear to me when I saw how heartless McNulty was in his treatment of Larry in the Richmond shelter. The aid asks Larry where he's from, and he responds, "Baltimore." But McNulty interrupts and lies. No, but he told me he's from Cleveland.

McNulty treats the homeless man as if he doesn't have an identity, giving him a fake name and a fake residence. I mean ... really, who does that? Yeah, he's homeless and mentally ill, but he's still a human being.


One more thing. We've all been pretty harsh toward ol' Scottie, calling him a no-talent hack whose skills can't match his ambition. Maybe this is just me, but when he's actually attempted to do some reporting, like at the bar when he pushed McNulty to be more specific with his answers or on the streets when he pushed the homeless man to tell him more about his story, Templeton's actually appeared to have legitimate skills as a reporter. At the very least, he seems to know how to do his job. He's just chosen not to do it the right way.

There's an obvious parallel between Templeton's character and McNulty's. Both have the skills to play it straight, but out of desperation, they've turned to fabricating stories. And I guess if Templeton is McNulty, that would mean Gus is Bunk.

Bo said...

Does anybody know who was the subject of the statue McNutty was directing his soliloquy towards? It seems like such an obvious writerly device, I have to think there's some significance there.

Alex said...

I've read elsewhere that the statue honors General Samuel Smith, who led the Maryland militia which defeated the British in the battles of Baltimore and Fort McHenry (War of 1812). If so, what a perfect move by the writers. A brilliant tactician who defended Baltimore against a violent menace AND a triumphant enemy of the British? The perfect hero for a crusading Irish cop.

A question about the latest episode--when Lester talked to Sydnor about defying the department's "illegitimate" decisions, it sounded to me as though he were suggesting that his actions were a kind of civil disobedience. In other words, if the department makes an unjust policy--defunding the rowhouse murders investigation, for example--Lester, a la Thoreau in the nineteenth century, refuses to go along with that unjust policy, even if it means he might go to jail. If that's the way Lester's thinking, do you think he has a point, or is this just a weak rationalization?

Orthogon said...

The statue McNulty was talking to was Major-General Samuel Smith, who lead the Maryland Militia during the War of 1812. I don't think there is any significance for McNulty, rather it just provided a nice backdrop for his soliloquy.

Orthogon said...

Wow Alex, that sure sounds alot better thatn what I got from the statue, forget wha tI said about no significance, I'm going with Alex.

CasualObserver said...

Daniel and Alex--great posts.

Question: did Marlo in the meeting say he was "responsible" for the deaths of Hungry Man and Prop Joe because of his going after Omar, and that now they are doubling the bounty on Omar? I missed a line, and when he said "I'm responsible" I thought he was saying "I did it, don't cross me" but it sounds as if he really said, "I caused it by chasing Omar."

Omar: what is the meaning of the camera shot with the red townhouse building (window he jumped from) and the yellow building)? Is the implication that he landed on a landing/balcony/roof of an adjacent building, so didn't fall 6 stories? Then made his way to the broom closet etc.?

The scene of Snoop visiting all the area hospitals for "her brother Omar" was hilarious and chilling at once.

BTW, anybody see the story of the Labrador who survived a multi-story fall/jump? Omar does have puppy eyes, for a killer. Hmmm....

CasualObserver said...

Forgot to add, re: Randy:

He seems gone now, Bunk having failed at first to reach him because of his mishandling by BPD that ripped him from Miss Ana and put him in with the group home toughse. As per last thread, I love Bubbs and think he's already saved/redeemed--maybe the Bunk or Randy or Carver will find some redemption? Admittedly, doesn't look good. But Bunk has been the Greek chorus to the folly of the police lie, and has been most directly harmed by it.

The "otherwise good employee" temp compromising all the samples from the vacants--another hysterical and horrible at once scene.

Ben Guest said...

"The other lie comes from Marlo, who tried to pin Prop Joe's killing on Omar (but most everybody else in the New Day Co-Op has a bullshit detector like Gus' and they are not buying it)."

At the Co-Op meeting, I thought Marlo took responsibility for killing Prop Joe and Hungry Man. Did I hear this wrong? Did he pin it on Omar?

Anonymous said...

I believe Carcetti's remark is about shitbowls rather than shitballs. This is a reference to a conversation, I believe in Season 3, he had with a former mayor who explained that he would have to eat shit in a bowl many times when if he were elected mayor.

cosmo said...

I actually wept in that final scene w/the homeless man. I choose the word wept consciously over using the word cried. And was angered over McNulty's using him. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, you appeared cold stone sober the whole ep and still did that; Randy isn't as lost as McNulty is.

CasualObserver said...

Cosmo, yes. Remember when Fletcher said a few episodes back, "Wrong zip code. They're dead where it doesn't count"? McNulty thinks his fake crimes are victimless because the victims are already dead. "Larry" was his first "live" victime. But, like Scott, he is messing with people's lives--the arrogance of playing God for even a "good cause."

Even these guys who have "nobody" have somebody somewhere, who knew they were on the street and will think they met horrible violent deaths when they didn't, or that they have been "disappeared" when they haven't.

McNulty's facial expression did convey that he is not numb to what he's doing, but he can't stop doing it.

Liz said...

Tim, Re: your quotes from this epsiode - I thought Carcetti was saying "how many shit bowls are there" not shitballs.

Remember his talk with the former mayor about having to eat bowls of shit that everyone brouhgt in to him?

That's what I first thought when I heard it anyway...

T Cell said...

Am I the only one who thinks McNulty spent too long at the homeless shelter dropping off Larry/Dan from Cleland? The shelter worker will now remember the two of them, when Larry/Dan ends up "dead" in the news right?

just me said...

"At the Co-Op meeting, I thought Marlo took responsibility for killing Prop Joe and Hungry Man. Did I hear this wrong? Did he pin it on Omar?"

Marlo says that by him taking his shot at Omar and failing, he was indirectly responsible for Joe and Hungry Man's death (i.e. Omar killed Joe and Hungry Man because he couldn't get to Marlo)

leftymn said...

"The Wire" is a fine show, my favorite, but in this season authenticity has given way to drama. In real life police don't engage in misconduct in the name of justice; they do it for personal gain. Yet this season we're supposed to indulge the writers while they have now three detectives putting their asses on the line in the name of doing the right thing. It's good drama, but it ain't real.
Same thing with Omar and his "Spiderman shit." I love this character, and I even like the way they're making Omar appear as a kind of superhero. It's great stuff, just not authentic.
Contrast that with the attention to detail in the scene where Bunk is looking at the report on Randy. If you pause the feed just when the camera pans the report, you can actually read the details of how Randy was a material witness in Lex's murder. They got it right down to the typical cop/military style of writing in ALL CAPS, and they even included a misspelling ("nearbye") for good measure. Now that was authentic!
Anyway, I'm not saying "The Wire" has jumped the shark, because this may be the best season yet. But they've gone away from reality with the homeless murder storyline.

dellwhistler211 said...

This episode was overwhelmingly good. So much to chew on. I'll definitely have to watch it several more times to digest it all. Anyway, a few thoughts:

- "My heart pumps purple piss for you" - Bunk. I laughed out loud at that line.

- How great was it to see Randy. Sorry Bunk, but after he's gotten his azz kicked for the snitch label for over a year now, you want him to willingly step open that wound again. To quote another Wire alumni, "Shieeeeeeeeet!".

- I enjoyed the scene between Lester and Rhonda and his sly remarks re: her intrusion ("she couldn't have known" and the other quote Tim pointed out "over your shoulder")

- I like to see Scott and Gus interact. Gus jabbing him ("This feels like the real thing"). I have a question though. When Fletcher is telling Gus about the "fraudulant sister" and he brings that up to Scott, was that really related to the death of the old lady or just Gus laying a trap for Scott to help him justify his feelings that Scott fabricates most of what he writes?

- I knew Marlo was going to raise the price of "brick" once he got the connect (wanted to bring that up last week). Remember in an earlier episode, he raised the price on one of his customers simply because he could. When the dealer said that that would cut into his profits, Marlo tells him quite frankly "pay your people less". I, like many of you, feel that Marlo takes his percieved position for granted. He's creating a very dangerous undercurrent for himself and I think it's going to swing out of control for him (here's to hoping).

- I enjoyed seeing Chris out of sorts and frustrated this episode. Is it me, or at the beginning when Chris brought the situation to Marlo did he not seem very dismissive of the repercussions and Chris' plight. There was a definite contrast in Chris and Marlo. I think Marlo feels insulated from "vengence incarnate" (no doubt). Another nod to how he view himself and his position. Nothing to lose, everything to gain. Everyone around him definitely doesn't see it that way.

- I like how Omar is putting insults/disparaging remarks on the grapevine for Marlo to get wind of. He's attacking an obvious chink in Marlo's armor - his vanity. Marlo's already getting sloppy because of it. Shouldn't take too long before the "snake show his head".

- Lastly, I see alot of you think that Omar is driven by rage and emotion at this point and is not as calculating as need be. I thought this about his pursuit of Monk. I thought it wreckless of him to just attack in a manner that he was warned Marlo & crew would expect. Maybe he thought too highly his own "skill set" to think anything of it (subtle nod to his vanity). The approach he's taking now was what I expected his plan of attack to be from the start.

Whew...4 to go...damn it!!!!

Anonymous said...

What McNulty did with Larry technically IS kidnapping, and by crossing state lines the crime went federal and will carry a severe penalty if McNulty is caught. That, of course, in addition to his tampering with crime scenes, and running an illegal wiretap -- he and Lester up in some shit.

One of the very clever dramatic tensions here is the realization that whichever world -- Scott's or McNulty's -- implodes first might become so distracting that the other fraud goes undetected. I'm guessing David Simon won't give us the satisfaction of seeing both Scott and McNulty held to account.

Tom said...

Great comments, everybody. But then I knew this was an audience that pays attention and thinks about it.

-- Does Nancy Grace realize she was being played by being the real-life person to interview Scotty? No, probably not.

And whaddya know: In the process of mostly failing at propping up his lie, Scott finds a real story to tell. Contrary to what he said on Nancy Grace’s show, THIS is what we do. Or at least what we’re supposed to do. You’re absolutely right, Daniel; when Scott calms his throbbing ambition for half a second, we’re reminded that he’s a reporter of the caliber that could make the move from Kansas City (as his Kansas City Star “homeless” T-shirt mockingly reminded us) to Baltimore.

-- Norman, to Carcetti: “In the Pentecostal church where I was given religion, it would have been said that the spir-it was on you yes-ter-day.” Reg E. Cathey slays me.

-- It’s good to see McNulty have an attack of conscience about what he’s done to Larry. It’s not just the already-dead you’re messing with now, Jimmy.

dellwhistler211 said...

To leftymn..."the bigger the lie, the more they believe"...the personal gain you imply for real life police seems to be of a monetary basis. To me, the personal gain these officers are after is closure on a case in which they've invested so much of themselves. It may not be enough of a motivation for you (if you were/are real life police), but in the constructs of The Wire, it's enough for them. "To get so close time and time again, and have the rug snatched out from under me...I had to do it" - McNutty

I thought the "Spiderman $#*+" was a clever nod to the fans of The Wire and what we all would be thinking re: Omar's flight.

Alex said...

What was Bunk thinking during his meeting with Randy? Did he really believe he could get information from the kid by saying (in effect), "I'm a very important man, a homicide detective, and you are just dust under my chariot wheels. Give me the information I want or you will get hurt"? In light of what he's been through, Randy had every right to get offended and storm out of the room (wish he hadn't taken it out on that little kid, though).

Say what you will about McNulty, but he has shown a real ability to have genuine, two-way conversations with people raised in the inner city (Snot Boogie's friend, D'Angelo, Bodie, and others). Bunk is usually much better at this kind of meeting--after all, unlike Jimmy he's from inner-city Baltimore and is basically a pleasant, likeable guy. And yet he totally blew it with Randy. Plus, he disparaged Prez for no good reason and didn't consult with Carver, who knows Randy's whole story. I'm not in the habit of criticizing Bunk, but that scene showed an unbelieveably arrogant and incompetent side of his character.

Tom said...

It’s all about the details, and it’s all connected:

-- Loved the return, if only a cameo, of Nicky Sobotka. What the dockworkers knew was looming in Season 2 has long since arrived at the port and laid waste. It’s even in the shadow of the same abandoned building where Nicky and Frank talked for the last time.

-- Loved Bunk diving, with determination, into the 22 case files. The homicide cops don’t make declarations to each other about being “murder po-lice” lightly. Bunk saying it to Jimmy, then returning to the 22, ranks up there with the amazing moment from Season 1, when Rawls, while first calling him a “gaping asshole,” consoles a devastated Jimmy by telling him he didn’t do “a single fucking thing to get a police shot.” (Kima, of course.) Not on emotional impact, of course, but in significance.

-- Sad, but unsurprising, to see that Randy’s developed a hard shell. I’m sure it’s what he had to do to survive that place. For him, it's not fool me twice, shame on me; it's fool me twice, I'm dead.

-- The death of Bug's pederast/molester stepfather becomes the opening Bunk needs? Wow. But I have a feeling that what Michael and Bug's mom did to save her own skin could be bad for her, or Bug, or Dukie, or all three.

-- When Omar jumps Rick, he fools him by putting a Heineken bottle to the back of his neck. I so desperately want it to be an empty from the Heinekens Lester was knocking back on the hood of the car with Jimmy.

Anonymous said...

It was nice to see Omar in a more human light -- and I couldn't agree more that Michael K. Williams is now playing the character differently and for the better. Omar is a little more afraid - certainly now angry - and his motivations have changed. This in not entirely the same Omar who asked Prop Joe to repair his clock.

One palpable irony is that the way the audience now sees Omar is altogether different from the way the street now sees him. We see him hobbled and vulnerable. But on the street surely now rumors abound about Omar's "spiderman shit". And with each in-the-flesh appearance he now makes Omar is putting the fear of God into his victims more than ever before.

"The bigger the lie, the more they believe". The fact that Omar jumped four stories and lived to terrorize Marlo's stash within mere days is only gonna make corner boys run faster when they see the duster w/ do-rag.

"Omar comin'!"

Tom said...

Tim rightly calls attention to the work of Reg E. Cathey and Michael K. Williams in this episode. They're two of my favorites. But I rewound, to watch again and savor, when Marlo cocked his head quickly (for Marlo, anyway) to his right to look at Chris as they pondered the "Spider-Man shit." For someone as cold-eyed and calculating as Marlo, that's the equivalent of freaking out. Great work by Jamie Hector in a single moment.

CasualObserver said...

Guys: watch the scene with Randy and Bunk again. Bunk perhaps doesn't know all of Randy's back story (due to Herc's last-season screwup of not giving Randy to Bunk first)--but he has an inkling, the way the scene plays.

I think this isn't the Bunk who won the other interrogation game with the fake lie detector on a young perp. I swear Bunk's eyes teared up like Omar's did (on learning about Butchie) when the detective saw that it's apparently too late to reach Randy.

Ian said...

Leftymn stopped short of saying the show has jumped the shark, but, as Omar would say, there is no doubt that it is verging on something similar.
Maybe a new term, jumped like Omar?
As unbelievably insightful and unique as this show has been, its getting harder and harder to take seriously as it verges on parody with over the top characters and plot developments.
Kidnapping a homeless person?
Jumping from a high rise, surviving and healing within days?
A newsroom filled with the most idiotic editors/reporters?
Many of you have done a great job of pointing out the show's highlights (and there are still many) but to ignore it's move farther and farther away from thought-provoking realism into TV-drama seems to miss a lot of the discussion.

bdgavin said...

Nice to see Randy. "You gonna make me do time?" He's doing time already, Bunk.

Loved Bunk's reference to last year: "that goofy motherfucker Prezboluski."

I'm hoping that Bunk and Omar have another scene together before it's all over. Just for closure. Could Omar give give Marlo up to the cops like Marlo did to him last year? Doubtful. Omar has too much pride for that and obviously wants to resolve matters in the street. His pride will be his undoing this year.

Even though Rick knows that Omar didn't kill Prop Joe or Hungry, I doubt any of this will take away Marlo's power at the co-op. He's got the connect. As long as he has that leverage nobody will be able to touch him or talk back.

EyesRight said...

Who is the leak in the DAs office?

bdgavin said...

That's a link to a blog complaining of the storylines and quickened pace of this season.

I can understand how people might not buy into the storylines from this season because everyone has their own sense of what would or could happen in reality. I also agree that the pace this year is quicker because of the 10 episodes and need to tie up storylines.

I do not agree at all with the complaints this blogger and others have made about how characters from previous seasons are all of the sudden pop up now that the show is nearing the end. I love seeing characters show up that haven't been there in a while. Nick Sabotka wasn't out of place at all. It was true to his character. Simon and Co. created an abundance of great Baltimore characters that they should feel to pluck in whenever they want. Just because someone hasn't been seen since Season 2 doesn't mean they stop existing in The Wire. That's what I love about it. These characters will go on.

Hopefully Simon and Co. revisit them in a new season 5-10 years from now. I'd prefer that over a movie any day.

Christopher said...

I think people need to let up on the realism of the Omar jump. I have seen people survive and walk away from some pretty serious falls.

Tv is peppered with video shows of people surviving crazy A** S**t. Skydiving, parasailing, extreme skiing. Just this last year we had a window washer survive a 47 story drop. He didn't walk away but he survived.


Tom said...

casualobserver, I think you're right about Bunk's reaction when Randy heads back upstairs. He remembers a kid who seemed like he was willing to step up, and was hoping that kid wanted to see Lex avenged. But he realizes, as Randy heads up the stairs -- knocking a smaller kid over on the way -- that that kid is long gone.

bdgavin, I agree about Marlo and the co-op. None of the other dealers is ready to take him on. If he's going down, it won't be at war with the other dealers.

luckystuff said...

two things:

Randy might be the only character to see through the theme of the season: 'all y'all do is just lie to people like me' (address it to the police, the media, the politicians, whomever), but he's lost, and trapped, and negotiating from a position of weakness. He's got to bully smaller kids, so bigger kids won't mess with him.

Any chance the leak is the Judge Phaelan? Would that explain why he was so pissed about the off'ed witness in Season One? Or is the leak just some front desk admin asst?

Bo said...

Leftymn - you claim that in the real world, law enforcement officers don't commit crimes to further (some twisted notion of) justice, but for personal gain.

Not true at all. Look at the Ramparts scandal - LAPD cops framing known gang members, sometimes ambushing them and planting weapons, to put them away. The community was ecstatic for a time at the "progress".

Or more recently look at The Riders, a group of four rogue cops in Oakland, California. They went around framing people with long rap sheets to get them off the street, and got away with it for years. They were only caught when a new officer they were training refused to lie in a written report - the rest of the department treated him so badly for blowing the whistle, he ended up having to become a sheriff's deputy in a neighboring county.

Oh, and the Riders - two or three of the four went on trial, as I recall, and at least one is still a fugitive.

Both of these cases are from California, just in the last decade. Real po-lice do sometimes frame people, and they don't do it for personal gain, they do it because they figure the person is guilty of *something*, and if they can't catch them for what they did, they'll get the next best thing.

Note I am not defending such behavior - it's heinous, and results in juries who let guilty people go free because they don't trust the police (cf. Orenthal Simpson). But it does happen, that isn't (just) drama, that's reality.

Oh, and a big thank ou to Alex for explaining the statue, that's really cool.

Sam said...

It has struck me since the season opener how many times the lab has been mentioned and the problems, I was wondering if anyone else has seen it as a not-so-subtle, biting critique of the CSI shows? (Tim any thoughts?) The mistakes at the lab, lack of funding and backlog, the "otherwise good employee" temp who contaminated all the specimens-not to mention the lab itself-is in a sharp contrast to the CSI comely super genius-super cop lab techs on CSI (not to mention the lab is one only Jerry Bruckheimer could have created) seems like the kind of show that would just infuriate Simon and Burns-curious if anyone else thought that.

PS-I posted a late comment to ep. 4-did anyone pick up on the WashPost interview-the Post editor while praising the Sun asks Scotty if he had anything to do w/ a series the year before-did anyone pick up on what it was? The vacant murders or something w/ the port? Just wondering if it was a reference to a previous season.

Tony said...

I have serious issues with the Omar fall and it bugs me so much beause I feel it is the first time the series has veered from it's realness. "jumped the omar" is a very appropriate term.
1) The door Omar hobbles out of is locked from the outside, so unless he had a key, I don't know how he got into the building.
2) I don't care how hard Omar is, if he fell all the way to the ground and broke his leg so severely he would have screamed in pain. That is a reflex action that can't be quelled by will power alone.
So, the "explanation" as it stands so far is that Omar survived a 40-50 foot fall, breaking only his right leg/ankle without screaming and somehow quickly moved out of view without disturbing the ground he landed on then pulled himself through and into a locked door of an apartment building.


Anonymous said...

I thought it was odd that Nick Sabotka showed up. Last we saw, weren't they talking about putting him in witness protection in exchange for his testimony about the Greek? What's he still doing hanging around the docks?

Anonymous said...

Controversy, controversy. Some people love the scandal of tv writers messing with their perceptions as to what something should be. I mean come on people, Omar is Omar, he should not have survived this long, who says he landed on the ground, who knows for sure how he actually fell or jumped.

Is it incredulous? Yes. Is it necessary for this story? Yes. Let that lie and worry about the bigger picture, the Wire is ending and you are all sad. As am I. And you lash out at trivial things. A lot of this "jumping the whatever" is a load of crap. This show is no Fonzi waterskiing in leather! Never will be. There are aspects of legend involved and some might say magic, about things left unsaid and I think as The Wire leaves us, its creators want us to have some lingering impressions to build upon. As will the people of this imaginary street, we have to cope with things that are unbelievable on the face and if you know the details you say to yourself "Wow, weird, but Wow".

And ultimately if you don't feel more reality biting you in the ass from the juxtaposition of an Omar story line and the pure destitute nature of Larry's sickness (and the resultant one of our own as a society) then you are paying attention to the wrong details.

Anonymous said...

One thing about the Omar jump and how realistic it was or wasn't: If you're in a gun battle, fighting for your life, you get some serious adrenaline going. Fight or Flight. That much adrenaline can get you through the pain of a broken leg, at least temporarily.

detroitnewsie said...

Last night left me breathless-I have yet to view again, but I didn't catch how Bunk picked up the murder file of Michael's stepdad in relation to Marlo-I thought he was looking for any past criminal activity on Marlo, perhaps under a different name then found a juvy file....

There are so many layers of folks I would like to see revealed over the next four episodes-I actually thought when Bunk went digging we would get some backstory on Marlo.

Kudos to all that figured the cell activity was a picture-I really didn't think Marlo could pick up on tech that quickly-the burners they used earlier were low-end pieces with few features.

I don't agree that the street guys are just going to roll over for Marlo-they know once they do there is no end to far they will have to bend over. I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of them plays a key role in a final Marlo-Omar showdown.

Carcetti looked very much like the little boy in his big suit as he headed into the press conference-I was happy to see his passion reignited, even if it was quickly subverted. Great chiding of the press-if only our politians would talk straight like that all the time.

Anonymous said...

RE: PS-I posted a late comment to ep. 4-did anyone pick up on the WashPost interview-the Post editor while praising the Sun asks Scotty if he had anything to do w/ a series the year before-did anyone pick up on what it was?

Sounded to me like he asked about the "ground rents" story, which was a series that the real Baltimore Sun did on an aspect of real estate law that was screwing inner-city Baltimoreans. It has been mentioned a couple of times in the coverage about Simon taking shots at the Sun as an example of good, hard-hitting recent investigative work by the newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Can't speak to the locked door, but I defy you to hear ANYTHING on the ground after as much gunfire as had just been uncorked in that apartment.

February 11, 2008 11:02 AM

tony said...
I have serious issues with the Omar fall and it bugs me so much beause I feel it is the first time the series has veered from it's realness. "jumped the omar" is a very appropriate term.
1) The door Omar hobbles out of is locked from the outside, so unless he had a key, I don't know how he got into the building.
2) I don't care how hard Omar is, if he fell all the way to the ground and broke his leg so severely he would have screamed in pain. That is a reflex action that can't be quelled by will power alone.

George D from the 415 said...

First off, I also practically wept for Larry. but for me it wasn't because of McNulty, it was seeing the man in the homeless shelter as no one but Nutty noticed how he couldn't even eat the food he was given. The woman then comments as to how people usually don't notice them, and even she wasn't helping Larry, or noticing him, which i think will keep Nutty safe from them picking up on it.

detroitnewsie Bunk was searching all known associates of Marlo's from the old task force's detailed records. He was looking for anyone who had any tie to any thing in all of the databases.

Sam said...

Sorry for the second post but thx anonymous on the sun story-I really need subtitles for the Wire (and Deadwood).

Just to chime in on the Omar piece-and just to add to industriousboy-what I liked about the jump besides that I thought it was a great scene in which for the second time in the past two seasons we saw Omar scared and very vulnerable. I also liked that it would add to Omar's street legend-he can fly! You can almost hear the story being expanded on each time (remember when Barksdale's crew tried to kill him w/ his grandmom and broke the sunday truce-and how they described how it all got blown out of proportion by the street grapevine)-imagine this story-not only did he beat 4 shooters (probably 8 within a week) but he dove out the window to who knows where. Omar becomes the boogeyman of B-more street hoppers (ala Keyser Soze-better keep the count straight or Omar's gonna get you).

Was it over the top, yes but does anyone remember the Springer-esque jury when Omar testified against Bird? As much as I loved Omar's outfit, his middle name, and the tie-that was a bit much-esp. when Bird jumped and started screaming at him-just struck me as typical bad tv writing for a court scene but it was Omar so I let it go.

And I think TG is dead on with the description of the hobbled, vulnerable Omar. Almost wants Marlowe to know that he is hobbled and still calling him out.

bdgavin said...

What was the song McNulty was listening to as he was driving Larry to DC? I think it was The Pogues? Anyone know? I want to download it on iTunes.

Anonymous said...

Bunk looking into the death of Michael's step father...remember last season after Chris finished the beat down he spit on him and Snoop questioned his actions....if they ever get the DNA processed, Chris is finally linked to a murder ny Marlo's crew.

Anonymous said...

"What was the song McNulty was listening to as he was driving Larry to DC? I think it was The Pogues? Anyone know? I want to download it on iTunes"

Turkish Song Of The Damned

detroitnewsie said...

I still don't understand how Bunk sees a link between that murder and Marlo-did Chris and Snoop move the body into a rowhouse afterwards? If so, from the looks of the picture, they didn't use the lime, it looked pretty fresh.

detroitnewsie said...

I still don't understand how Bunk sees a link between that murder and Marlo-did Chris and Snoop move the body into a rowhouse afterwards? If so, from the looks of the vic's picture, they didn't use the lime and the body looked pretty fresh.

That Guy said...

detroitnewsie: bunk was searching every name he had in relation to Marlo and co. Michael Lee's name came up. He searched it. It led to the murder of his step dad as Michael's name would show up on the report being his step father. Being diligent/desperate he follows this thread up talks to Michael’s mom and well the rest is in the episode.

All in all its proving to be the amazing show it has always been.

Jesse D said...

That little pawn bitch device strikes again. The use of the most defenseless people, homeless people, corner kids, blue-collar dock workers, to further the cause of someone bigger reigns. Even bottom-feeders like Scotty get a piece of the action. Also, our man of the people mayor may be able to use it to move up. McNutty can use it to fuck himself (sorry).

I miss the school aspect but I love two things mentioned in passing in this season. One is the test results of 3rd graders up 14%, (watch out China!) with additional funding. And the mention of the DNC rep telling the mayor to avoid schools. All in the game. Bitches.

Anonymous said...

I think Slim is the wild card. He was with Barksdale, ready to hit Marlo when Barksdale went down. Then Prop Joe took him in. Omar had him until he was convinced that Joe and he had nothing to do with killing Butchie. So Slim is absolutely sure that Marlo lied when he said that Omar had killed Prop Joe. After all, Slim was Joe's enforcer, and if Omar had been after Joe, he would have taken out Slim first.

I think that meeting was Marlo's big mistake.

day-day said...

What is the meaning of "my heart pumps purple piss?" and where does line come from

leftymn said...

bo--While my comment about the motives for police misconduct was overly broad, I think it was valid for purposes of what they're depicting in this fine show. The Ramparts and Riders scandals don't compare to what's going on here.
On another point, someone mentioned that Nancy Grace might not have been aware that she was being "played" when she agreed to be in the TV interview scene with Scottie. I thought the same thing. She either has a great sense of humor or (more likely) she didn't recognize that she provides the perfect example of the ridiculousness of cable television news programs.

Shamrock said...

It wasnt a aid who tells Carcetti that "it was no one Mr Mayor, no one at all" it was Andy Krawchek a pretty regular charector over the years(was present when Stringer Bell was killed)

Anonymous said...

Great seeing Slim Charles decline CEO; he knows which way the wind blows.

Criticism of the fanciful Omar storyline is largely undeserved. The show does have some entertainment purpose, and, judging by the posts, it's safe to say the realism of the leap is debateable.

Ironically, we're complaining about the realism of Omar, when the realism surrounding Larry was thoroughly unnerving and believable. That sequence at the end with McNulty is probably the most thought provoking depiction of homelessness that I have seen in ANY medium.

Simon gets props for depicting homelessness in a way the paper, movies, and even charities can't convey adequately.

I mean my God even McNulty felt his conscience.

Anonymous said...

C'mon - Nancy Grace knows what her appearance means to this show. Big Deal. Daniel Baldwin didn't get 'played' when the Sopranos cast him for what he really is - a B-list actor. The Baltimore Sun didn't get 'played' when it consented to have the Wire use its name this season.

This isn't Da Ali G Show.

nice dolphin said...

How about Monk as "officer Smith" at the open. "Is the woman ok?" who knew marlo's people had ties & sportsjackets. The End game is shaping up. I still think Clay will skate. Wouldn't it be just like the wire for Bunk to break open the vacants case by some good old fashioned police work, while Lester & Mcnutty fabrications end in their own demise. No good dead goes unpunished!

Anonymous said...

And McNulty's righteous anger that judge Phelan won't sign a wiretap warrant on a case McNulty knows is phony.

Anonymous said...

I have a question....Omar mentioned something about a Blind Man...then when Chris and Snoop were in that room towards the end, and Chris mentions that "if Omar knew about the Blind Man, he knows about me" I am missing something...Who is the blind man, and what is he specificially referring to?

The only thing I could think of was the guy in the Rim shop in last weeks episode which I did not know was blind.

George D from the 415 said...

Anon at 4:08: Snoop said how is [Omar] going to find out about chris' people and Chris' response was "How'd we find out about the blind man" referring to Butchie

Anonymous said...

the blind man is Butchie.

Anonymous said...

Blind Man = Butchie...Thank you, OK, I misunderstood the quote from Chris....I understand now. I thought perhaps there was something else they were referring to.....

Daniel said...

Just throwing this topic out there for some nice coffee talk.

Michael's clearly become one of "them" -- someone who won't hesitate to pull the trigger if he has to -- but it's just as clear that he's got a weakness, and that's his little brother, Bug.

I think this is going to be the key to Chris/Marlo's downfall -- that Bunk will use the threat of taking Bug away in order to force Michael to give up the dirt.


CasualObserver said...

Kind of off-topic, but worthy to ponder as we lurch forward worrying over which plot detail is or isn't "realistic": Seems to me there is realism (or lack of it)that can exist in a TV show's tone, in dialogue, in plot devices, and in character (makeup/development). And probably in a few other categories that escape me at the moment.

As another poster said, whether we consider something "realistic" depends on our own life experiences that we bring to the show. ("My brother is a policeman and it's just like that," etc.)

And whether or not we perceive a lack of "realism" (however defined) to be a deal-killer for a drama with black comedy elements depends again on what we bring to the show.

Worth thinking about for the next few weeks.

lifeisgood67 said...

Am I the only one who thinks it was absolutely heartbreaking to see what's become of Randy? To see him push the smaller boy on the stairs, it was just so *literal* I almost couldn't bear it. That might just be the sadest thing I see all season.

The greatest line of the show: Lester, "I regarded that decision as illigitmate." The system screwed me, so I'll screw the system. I could just hear so many others uttering some similar line to justify their actions, or lack of: Marlo (on Prop Joe being the only connect), Randy (for not telling bunk what he knows), the guy in the lab (for being so behind on processing trace, and screwing what was processed).

And then to contrast that line with my two favorite scenes from the show.

*New Day Co-Op Guy to Omar, while Omar still holds a gun to his head, "Did you kill Prop Joe & Hungry Man?" Omar laughs. "Didn't think so." So matter of fact, the old school code - where people's actions seem to make sense and there's no 'senseless violence'. It comforts me somehow.

*Bunk, after being told his legit trace -- the first new case that may bring down Marlo's crew --had to get in line for processing behind Jimmy's illigit homeless murders, mumbles under his breath "the homeless murders". And a taste of just how big and damaging this lie has become. And how agonizing it can be to "play nice" in the system.

detroitnewsie said...

Daniel, I think Michael is "one of them" solely for the purpose of self-preservation and for Bugs.
He takes no pleasure in using a gun, being feared or any of the power that comes with his position-he does what he has to in order to stay alive. He resisted Marlo for so long, even rejected his offer of money for school clothes. I think he has nothing but disdain for Marlo, and he doesn't think much of Chris and Snoop's unquestioning loyalty either. If he were given an out (protection for he and Bugs in exchange for testimony) he'd be on it; I believe he would even be willing to go to jail if it meant Bugs was guaranteed a safe haven-something that unfortunately the broken social system cannot supply.

I have no doubt that Bunk will use Bugs with Michael; I just hope he is less strong-armed with him than Randy-these guys know how broke the system is and how powerless the police are to protect them and they have more to fear from the street.

Anonymous said...

Close to the start of the comments, at least one person mis-identified the statue to whom a drunk McNulty addresses his remarks as General Samuel Smith. According to The Wire episode guide on HBO, the statue is actually General Armistead. A small matter, I realize, but it's The Wire.

Bo said...

Daniel, I think your comment on Michael's "weakness" being Bug coud be right on the mark. Michael is the one person in Marlo's top level crew who still has a conscience, and that is a crack in the armor.

Still, I'd like it to be Marlo's arrogance that brings him down. Don't want him to get killed, just off to prison. He can swap tales with Barksdale.

At the end, you know we'll see Marlo fall, and the Greeks just continuing to do business as usual with whomever replaces him. The King is dead, long live The King.

For Leftymn, I still don't think the idea of the police creating a phony serial killer is so far fetched. Some people think Jack the Ripper was really a creation of reporters to sell papers, stringing together unrelated but brutal homicides, until a copycat entered the picture (after the Dear Boss letter) to kill prostitutes in an effort to scare his girlfriend out of tricking. The last victim, the only one killed indoors - in her own room, and the killer locked the door on the way out - is thought to be the girlfriend he couldn't keep off the streets.

If so, then this drama is telling a very old story indeed. I have said before McNulty's ultimate blowback will be when a copycat killer shows up, committing real murders inspired by McNulty and Freamon's work of fiction.

Bo said...

Leftymn -

Many people feel Jack the Ripper was a creation of the newspaper reporters , at first. String together some brutal but unrelated murders and sell some papers.

Then a copycat entered the scene, a guy who wanted to get his girlfriend to stop working as a prostitute. Killed two of her prostitute friends, then killed her as the final victim (the only victim killed indoors, in her own room in fact, and the killer locked the door as he left).

I've been predicting that the McNulty/Freamon fictional killer would lead to some copycat popping up, committing real murders, and that will just break McNulty.

So perhaps this drama is telling a real story, a very old one indeed. The first recognized serial killer tale retold in modern form.

Trixie said...

Wonder if we will finally learn the relationship between Cheese Wagstaff and Randy Wagstaff?

My sense is that the fabricated homeless killer story has become so important to so many people (most recently to the man who wants to be the next Governor of Maryland) that if the truth is found out, it would likely be covered up. I see McNulty and Freamon being quietly given their retirement papers rather than a public criminal trial. Taking away McNulty's po-lice badge, and thus his identity, wouldn't be a happy ending for him.

Sam - I love your thought on CSI. Yeah, just whip out some Q-Tips, a black light and that spray stuff that detects blood. That would solve the row house murders on CBS. Contrast that with budget cuts resulting in a temp who doesn't know (wasn't trained) on what et al means.

Is anyone else reading the newspaper a little differently these days? Not in terms of falsehoods, but in priorities (what warrants three graphs on page 5 of the local section, etc.).

ferrethead said...

Whew! So many great posts... I finished watching Season 4 right before this season started, and on one of the eps, the kids did the commentary. "Randy" kept talking about how he couldn't eat this or that anymore. I think they wanted him lean for this year, to show that the 'soft living' that he enjoyed with Miss Anna was just a memory. What I wouldn't have given to see that beautiful smile once more.

Lester and McNulty both should have some shame about Larry. Lester asking if he'll be able find his way 'home', basically signing off on displacing this mentally ill man. This act, more than the fake serial killer, has turned me off to their 'cause'. Okay, that and fucking Bunk's good po-lice work with their bullshit case.

Which, of course, goes to Carcetti's sin - remember, he only let them open the doors to all those vacants because they would go on Royce's watch. He feels no responsibility to the community or the police to take this real life killer off the streets. Last year's headlines won't get him to Annapolis - needs a new cause. (Special to ceral_kidd - I don't know about douche bag, but Obama is just another politician, you can count on it.)

I don't have the exact line, but I enjoyed Sydnor saying he didn't want to go to jail over Marlo's fucking lunch order. That's what I tune in for every week...

suzyq2 said...

Lifeisgood67, no you weren't the only one who was heartbroken at the appearance of Randy. At first I was thrilled to see him, it's Randy! It's Randy! I had so hoped we would learn of his fate this season. But I was quickly in tears. I should have known, how could he have turned out any other way? In a way his story is the saddest of all. Namond got saved, Michael made a choice to save Bug, but Randy got totally screwed over when he had a chance for salvation in his life. This is just a tv show I know, but Randy will haunt me for a long, long time.

Loved the shouts ringing out of "Omar", "Omar" "Omar"as he was intercepting Marlo's money--no doubt the stories of his feats are taking on a life of their own on the streets. And yes, we sure are seeing another side of Omar, kudos to The Wire writers, who would have thought Omar would have undergone this arc of character development?!

I simply can't believe there are only four episodes left. For those who are decrying "too much drama, not enough whatever," all I can say is shiiiiiaaat, this has been building for 5 seasons over seven years, if it can't be dramatic now, nothing can.

Dodiad said...

Just a random thought that struck connection to this particular episode:

Has anybody noticed how much B'more politics resemble San Francisco's? I mean...

Carcetti = Gavin Newsom

Royce = Willie Brown

Narese = Kamala Harris

Any other parallels? Think about it...

luckystuff said...

"I thought it was odd that Nick Sabotka showed up. Last we saw, weren't they talking about putting him in witness protection in exchange for his testimony about the Greek? What's he still doing hanging around the docks?"


spearchamp said...

"I thought it was odd that Nick Sabotka showed up. Last we saw, weren't they talking about putting him in witness protection in exchange for his testimony about the Greek? What's he still doing hanging around the docks?"

Alan Sepinwall, who writes an equally fine "Wire" blog for the NJ Star-Ledger, states the following:

"For those wondering why Nick -- last seen entering Witness Protection after taking his uncle's deal to testify against Vondas and The Greek -- is back hanging with his port buddies, I asked David Simon, who said that Nick, like lots of people who go into Witness Protection, eventually left the program because he missed his old life and family. (And since Vondas and The Greek were never caught or brought to trial, I doubt the feds kicked up much fuss at saving that expense.)"

panraven_fan said...

A few observations:

Nick Sobotka was in witness protection, at least while they thought there was a case against the "Greeks." Unfortunately, the police and FBI lost the trail, which probably meant that witness protection was no longer needed. Also, it's even more likely that the budget cuts affected funding of witness protection - a subtle but effective use of irony since Carcetti "got elected over that." (Remember the State's witness who was accidentally killed by the smokehounds using potatoes as silencers - Kima's "soft eyes" episode? Carcetti was able to sway the vote based on his outrage at the lack of funding for important things such as witness protection, in addition to Royce lapses like "Hamsterdam).

Regarding Bug being used as a pawn to get Michael to roll over...I'm not so sure that this will be effective, since Michael's still a juvenile. Unless Bunk can find a "body" on him or something serious, he's probably scot-free.

The other question is one of motive. Without a motive, how can they make a case for Michael's involvement in the murder? Sure, his mother (a heroin addict who can't care for her children) told Bunk that Michael knew of the death before anyone else did. However, this is not witness testimony. Further, we know that Michael (more directly, Snoop and Chris) have ways of keeping witnesses quiet...

Now, Chris is another issue. If the crime lab can manage to do it's job in a halfway competent manner, there is likely to be DNA evidence available. Given that Chris has a gun charge and a prior record (felonies?), it's likely that they'll trace the murder to him. Then, the question of Levy's competence as a wily defense attorney becomes an issue. Hopefully, McNulty and Freamon's nefarious activities don't contaminate the State's case against Chris. Unfortunately, I think that McNulty and Freamon will contribute to some or all of any charges against Chris being dropped. That is, unless Omar doesn't get to him first!

Speaking of Omar, wow. What an amazing transformation as others have noticed. His voice, the tremors in it, the posture and furtive movement; they all speak of a certain furious desperation. He has transformed yet you see evidence of the "cool" Omar of before when he's leaving Fat Face Rick (yes, that was Fat Face Rick, the same one of the Narese property deal fame).

Fat Face Rick now reminds me of the whole newspaper storyline. Gus is brilliant in the way that he laid the trap for Scott. Scott really is a Jayson Blair proxy. I mean, the talent is there but the ambition leads to desperate measures. It's almost as if this whole season is truly about desperation.

Every major storyline is infused with a sense of desperation by players who know how "the game" works but are seeking to transcend it - with probably tragic consequences. From McNulty to Omar to Carcetti to Scott, there is a strong theme of desperation.

Similarly, it seems that there is also a theme of resignation, noted in Bubs, in the homeless man (SO heart-wrenching), in Dukie, in Cutty, and in a few others whom I've probably forgotten. These are players who have seen the game for what it is but see no alternative but to continue with their existence. Even Phelan, who has a pile of prescription pills on his desk to rival CVS, seems a bit resigned to his fate within the game.

This brings me to what seems to be the third great theme: hubris. Marlo, Bond (who is ridiculous to think that he can match Clay Davis in the courtroom without any Federal help!), to Carcetti in his bid for the State House, to even Daniels. These people somehow think that they have mastered the game but they are really novices with much to learn. In fact, each of them seems to have "jumped the line" (to paraphrase Narese during Carcetti's Mayoral bid) and will suffer a great fall as a result. Some Biblical proverb (I think) says, "pride goes before the fall." I think we will see this, as intimated by the trailer that HBO released before the season started.

I wish I'd paid more attention to "them Greek myths" back in school. I'd probably sound a tad bit more educated in my comparisons!

Anyway, those are some things on my mind after seeing this week's ep and reading Tim's post along with the many excellent comments here.

Oh and one other thing: I think that the leak in the DA's office will somehow be tied to the returned campaign contributions that Pearlman received when the subpoenas were sent out during Season 4. I'm guessing that the leak is probably not someone like Phelan but I could be way wrong on this one...

ppage said...

Yes, there are many similarities to SF (Newsom, etc). Always thought his gay marriage initiative (while the right thing to do) was just a political ploy. And slick Willie? There isn't enough space in this blog to adequately comment on his shenanigans.......I see many Bubbles when I drive through the Tenderloin. Cecil Williams could have had a nice cameo appearance even though he's not from Baltimore. And the ever ranting Chris Daly could inspire many characters.

Sigh, so sorry it has to end. But I'm confident Simon will give us a challenging yet satisfying ending.

CasualObserver said...

Re: the police making a case for Michael's involvement in the murder of Bug's father: it must come from their (the law's)knowledge of why Michael wanted to have his stepfather killed (his motive), plus the statements, if any, of Michael's mother, who at first is not credible because of her character, but may tell the truth once in a while.

Remember, involvement isn't necessarily pulling the trigger (or fists or knife). It is ordering the hit, helping hide the body, whatever "accessory" aid is given.

Michael would be vulnerable both on the facts, and on his love for Bug (or Dukie or anyone in his "adopted" family).

Speaking of which, does any regular watcher remember where/if it stated that Miss Anna died from her admittedly serious burns from the firebombing? I knew that Randy was taken from her because she was hospitalized and unable to continue her responsibilities, but I don't remember it being spelled out that she died.

If she lived, could she play a role like Bubb's sponsor in saving him, and could he be one of the saved?

Looks extremely unlikely and bleak, but Randy who knew the love of a foster parent was a much different boy than what he's had to become to survive. It broke my heart; I'm looking for an "out."

Anonymous said...

Andy said...

I don't think Randy is lost... when he walked out of the room and you saw where he was and knew if he handled the situation any differently he would have been picked on all over again. It's all about survival for him. Can't believe we only have four episodes left.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Templeton is about to go down for cutting corners by Gus (the whole back checking story incident)... I don't think McNulty is going to get caught.

Alex said...

I think you're right, Andy. Randy seemed genuinely defiant, but he also seemed to be putting on a show--making sure his defiance would be seen and talked about--so nobody would accuse him of snitching again.

A couple of questions:

Do any of you think Gus's career is in danger? He is responsible for supervising Scott's work, and his bosses seem to find him irritating at times. As Bunny Colvin used to say, life can be tough for middle-management.

And what happened to the novelists on The Wire's writing staff? I don't think I've seen the names Price, Lehane, and Pelecanos at all this season. Are they out of the rotation, or is Simon saving their work for the last few episodes?

Anonymous said...

Price co-writes the next episode.

The Watcher said...

Just wanted to co-sign 100% with Industriousboy and Detroitwise. I find it amazing how much some people will punish something of high quality for relatively small (perceived) trangressions. The Wire has dropped four of the greatest seasons ever seen on tv, held it up into a fifth, and now haters say it's "jumped the shark". Sopranos was far guiltier on that front - if the cash hadn't nearly doubled when it hit ratings, we all know they would've wrapped it up long before season 6... not to mention the ending! The Wire's case is almost exactly the opposite - we're getting blessed despite a relative lack of viewers, and it doesn't look like lifetime fortunes being made. And of course bearing in mind that it's been unavoidably condensed to 10 episodes, I think if anyone deserves some slack, it's David Simon et al.

As for the Marlo situation, I'll stick my neck out and agree with Detroitnewsie, for all the reasons I gave in a long post at the end of the ep 5 comments... But let's have some perspective here people. There is no doubt that in terms of writing, acting, characterisation and social comentary, we've been witnessing some real "spiderman shit" of our very own over the past 5 years.

k.papai said...

Until I read all of these comments, I thought McNutty was basically doing a good thing for the insane homeless man -- gettnig him out of B-more and into the confines of a nicer place in DC. However, McNutty hung aruond the shelter much too long.

I still wanna know how Omar escaped and how his leg healed so quickly.

ferrethead said...

I'm curious about the passage of time. When we were introduced to the newsroom, they were working on stories for Opening Day - early April. Now they are talking about working on the homeless story til the end of the year. How much time would you say has passed from Ep 1 to 6?

Daniel said...

Some past quotes from The Wire that have been reused in Season 5.

McNulty: "He [Marlo] doesn't get to win, we get to win."

In Season 3, a few scenes before Colvin gives his "paper bag" speech about the pointlessness of working small-time drug cases, Carver stands on top of a patrol car and yells to random cornerboys: "You don't get to win. We get to win."

Carver also says in his little "speech" that he'll do whatever it takes to win, and like McNulty this season, has the mentality that the end justifies the means.

Here's another one, and I'm sure this has already been much-discussed. But hopefully I can contribute something new.

After Stringer Bell tricks Omar by saying it was Brother Mouzone who murdered Brandon, Omar busts into Brother Mouzone's motel room and shoots him. With Omar's gun still pointed at him, Brother Mouzone tells Omar he was given bad information, then says, "Do what you will."

Omar's sneak attack on Slim Charles, including the circumstances surrounding it, was strikingly similar.

1. He sought vengeance after someone close to him was brutally murdered.
2. He went after the wrong guy first and discovered the true target in the process.
3. Slim Charles echoes Brother Mouzone's "Do what you will" remark.

We know Omar teamed with Brother Mouzone to take out Stringer. This seems like a perfect setup for Omar to team with Slim Charles to take out Marlo.

Anonymous said...

ferrethead, good question about the passage of time.

I know (based on the end of S4 at Christmas time with Bubble's suicide attempt/vomiting on the Christmas tie) and the fact that in S5, ep. 2 he said he'd been clean for @15 months, that about a year and a quarter had passed "off screen."

It seems to me there are indications of time passed in either the dates of newspaper headlines, the timing mentioned in the sobriety sessions, or at least the changing clothing of characters. I'm just not sure what they are. Anybody?

The progress of building the grand jury case against Clay is not something that would happen overnight, and even real, active serial killers don't kill every other day. Everything seems to indicate jumps in the timeline.

I'll try to watch for that. There is so much to watch for. The passage of time and the built-up frustrations of various characters is an important part of character motivation in the po-lice, for sure.

brueso said...

A couple of thoughts- it's always great to read everyones' insights.

1) McNutty and Lester and the 'serial killer' lie: this isn't much different to me from Bunny and Hamsterdam. Finally being at a place where they'll bend the rules cause they can't see any other way to accomplish their higher goal.

As far as cops only being 'dirty' when it's for personal gain, Simon early on has talked about cops working hard sometimes not cause of their sense of justice as much as their refusal to let the bad guys outsmart them and win. McNutty said it recently "Marlo doesn't get to win". This goes back to episode 1 of Season 1 when after McN tells him about the Barksdales, the judge asks "Why do you care?" And McN said "Who says I do?"

I do love when McN got it at the end of this episode after displacing the homeless man that this charade has real consequences for real people. That man may have been out of it, but Baltimore seemed to be familiar territory to him- very important to someone in his state. Who knows where this serial killer plotline will go- will it create a copycat? What if (godforbid) Bubs was attacked? If McN's serial killer campaign comes undone, he might survive if the Suits and the Mayor think it would be too embarrassing if word got around it was all b.s.

I love that the past few episodes- via the serial killer plot- has focused on the homeless with a grim reality. Seeing Johnny the old docks guy as newly homeless underscored that. Another example of the fantastic breadth of the view of urban reality that Simon has given us.

I love that Dukie and Randy- just in how the actors themselves have aged, now seem to reflect the transitions they're going in even more. Randy in season 4 was like Prop Jo in the prequel almost- now cause the actor has gotten taller and leaner, he looks meaner.

My hope is Dukie ends up somewhere else. If Michael threw enough money Dukie's way, Dukie obviously could excel in a good high school and college. Re the code Marlo and Co are using- makes me wonder whether the old code breaker Prez will make a cameo return to the unit!

It would be great if, as someone suggested, Bubs ended up in a better situation. Maybe that child crying is foreshadowing that he'd finally get involved with someone and have a more regular life.

Re Omar- yeah, the Spiderman fall is a stretch. As far as his future- to me, it would actually be more like Simon to have Omar go out with a whimper. Simon just LOVES to play with our expectations!

By the way, I know that Simon has been working on a miniseries about the war- it wouldn't surprise me if the vet Derrick that Scott talked to was a future character from that, like the way Bunny turned up in Season 2 and then became a major character in Season 3.

I've seen ep 7 and I won't comment except it made me even more aware how upsetting it is that there are too few episodes left to go!

brueso said...

whoops- didn't read everyone's post on this episode before I wrote mine- I wasn't the first one to think of the copycat killer possibility!

brueso said...

I've been re-watching these episodes. I know it's something we old Homicide fans have said, but it strikes me time and again how GREAT it is to see Clark Johnson again.

Anonymous said...

About the cops not caring about justice: everybody here acts from real, human, mixed motives. Of course a detective would think, "Marlo doesn't get to win--we get to win." A homicide detective without a competive streak wouldn't be a very good puzzle solver. That's one reason BPD's shifting of personnel around is so counterproductive, budget restrictions or no. What it takes to do good community policing is different from what it takes to be a homicide detective, or whatever.

Some talented professionals can do anything, but my point is that a homicide detective without a desire to win would be like a quarterback who doesn't really care if his team wins.

r3w said...

Hey, Dead Meadow is playing the Great American.

barbara74 said...

Remember in S3, the co-op was formed to get a "volume discount" from a single supplier. Now that Marlo has raised the price, there's no financial incentive to buy through him. And his supplier, The Greek, is really only one of many suppliers/importers- think of the size of drug business in this country.

Also, watch The Wire "one minute" videos on youtube. They are cleverly edited 60 second summaries of each season. They are very entertaining and a good way to fact-check the past.

Highlandtowner said...

I live in Baltimore city, but that bias aside, I think each episode confirms that this is the best show on television (although this season still has a ways to go to beat Season 4, for me). No other show has inspired me to change the way I feel about and act toward certain people that I may have had preconceived notions about; from drug addicts, the homeless, the po-lice, to kids that act like Randy...even politicians (in a negative way though). Love the show, still love my city, and definitely love this blog.

Now, question for the masses...Can anyone break down or explain the trap that Gus set for Scott? I watched again last night and I couldn't really pick up on it. I know it had something to do with a Scholarship fund and some lady was supposed to be a scam artist, etc, I see that it seems to have given Gus an idea that Scott lies....but how? I couldn't follow. Sorry, feeling a bit slow on that one.

brueso said...

re the Co-op- I don't think it was just a price stabilization thing: the Greeks have the "good dope"- high quality, and what the Barksdales had was lower quality. So even if Marlo raises the price, the other dealers are apt to stick with him because of the quality.

Anonymous said...

highlandtowner: There was a woman who allegedly died from a seafood reaction, and a scholarship was set up for her surviving kids (I think). Her sister was to administer the funds and was a scammer, and the kids never got the money. I don't want to go too far with this because I'm "watching ahead" and don't want to spoil, but Gus asked Scott to recheck his story. It is implied (and it's spelled out why) he SAID he rechecked the story and found out that the sister of the deceased was innocent of the scam charges. Gus (through his contacts) learns that the explanation Scott offered simply doesn't wash.

Again, I don't want to lay out specifics, but he sets a trap and Scott falls in. Scott isn't doing the thorough work he's being asked to do.

highlandtowner said...

To anonymous...after seeing Ep 7, it all makes sense now. Thanks for the response and for the restraint in the details.

k.papai said...

Minor Spoilers for final episode 60 (from

Running Time: 93 minutes

In the series finale, Carcetti maps out a damage-control scenario with the police brass in the wake of a startling revelation from Pearlman and Daniels. Their choice: clean up the mess...or hide the dirt. With his leads predictably drying up, McNulty asks Landsman to pull police off the homeless case--until a fresh homicide ramps up the investigation.
A frustrated Haynes finds his concerns about Templeton falling on increasingly deaf ears.

Convinced he has the upper hand but caught in a legal quandary, Levy plays a cat-and-mouse game with Pearlman. Bubbles debates whether to greenlight a newspaper story about his life; Dukie seeks out an old mentor for a loan; Marlo oversees a new co-op order as he maps out his next move. As the officers stage an Irish wake for another dearly departed officer, the seeds of the future are sown throughout Baltimore.

Calinks said...

Man I loved that opening. Marlo's crew are some diligent mothers. They had someone at the police scene, they had Chris and some henchman checking vacants, they had someone posing as a Police asking nearby neighbors, they had Snoop pulling a Terminator and checking around for Omars at hospitals.

All of that and he was no where to be seen. The Omar myth LIVES ON! I love it. When they were all looking up at that balcony they were like, "How the hell!?!" definitely one of my all time favorite wire openings.

Calinks said...

Also, everyone assumes Omar's leg is broken. Couldn't it possibly just be a severe sprain? I mean I know that was a high height but we don;t exactly know where he landed or jumped to and although unlikely, experts in Parkour can safely land from dangerously high leaps and in many acts of survival people made jumps from similar heights to Omar's and even fared better. I just saw a special the Hindenburg blimp a few months back and they were talking about how one of the passengers leaped out when the blimp was very high, close to 40 feet off the ground. He claims to not even have sprained an ankle.

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