There is a wonderful feeling as you're watching Ep. 7, and it's the knowledge that whatever creative devices and dangerous angles the writers took at the beginning of Season 5 are beginning to pay huge dividends as a television story arc. And that, more than anything else, is the main purpose of any show. Tell a story on television. Make it as great as you can. That's a daunting task for anyone, even the most creative in the business. A television series, as I've noted, is not a documentary. Pure authenticity is a fine goal but it's not even in the same solar system for most series just trying to serve the story. That "The Wire" has brought viewers so close all the time to this notion of institutional failure - the bleakness of the mission at hand, where victories are few and far between and forgotten almost instantly by yet another daily atrocity, is a real miracle.
But a television story has many other masters to serve first before utter integrity and pure authenticity. You need compelling action, real drama, maybe some comedy in your violent world, motivation that suits the characters but fuels the story and a premise that is alluring, that keeps people coming back instead of surfing for something easier or more enjoyable. If you can't make compelling television, nobody will be there to see the greatness that you really want to show. More than anything, the coming together of all of the storylines on "The Wire" is an impressive feat. That they did it most notaby in the 6th and 7th episodes gives us some hope that a full stride run at 10 episodes will be enjoyable if not, as I suspect, completely definitive as it pertains to the characters and their lives as we've come to know them over 5 seasons.
Oh, we'll see some endings. We'll get hints at future directions - and that should be satisfying enough. But do you think it will all wrap tight? It seems less and less likely even when the pace is electrifying and entertaining.
What I liked about this episode is the notion that ambition for personal gain is almost always met with defeat in "The Wire." It may take some time, but it's a lesson dished out. The parallels here between Bond losing so spectacularly to Clay Davis' outsized personality - with all the internal implosions we could see Bond experiencing - is not unlike what McNulty is going through (and undoubtedly headed toward) as he plays God and puppetmaster in his elaborate homeless death ruse. Both Bond and McNulty wanted to make the grand gesture, to be the hero. But it went terribly sideways in one case and appears headed that way in another.
Anybody else in "The Wire" experiencing maximum hubris? Yep. Marlo. Three more episodes to make that lesson. Of course, the definitions set forth here on the hero/hubris thing would probably also apply to Omar. He came back looking for revenge. Will he be the one who survives when God - or some Great Force - slaps him back for the whimsy of wishing to be omnipotent. After all, he did survive getting set up on by Marlo. Or is Omar's fate also just a matter of course? Again, three more episodes.
Sorry for the late post. Went off to the wine country. If the option is to sit up at Bella Vineyards and drink some poetry in a glass while looking at open valleys, surging mountains and row after row of grapevines - or stay at home and be on time for a blog post - well, hell, you know where the answer is there...
+ “That was him. Again.” – Scottie. Subtle. And funny.
+ “They thinkin’ short when they should be thinkin’ long. Shameful shit.” – Clay Davis. Shold this be everyone's new motto for 2008? Or just the Giants new marketing slogan?
+ “He’s using you.” –McNulty. Scott: “I kind of resent that, actually.” McNulty: “Well I don’t know. It’s kinda working out for both of you, isn’t it?”
+ Carcetti soliciting money instead of mayoring. I like that he's a weasel with good qualities. He so perfectly personifies why I hate politics.
+ Well, the homeless murders, or should that be faux murders and a kidnapping, have finally snapped the napping, inefficient, creaky bureaucracies of Baltimore into action, from the mayor’s office, to the po-lice, to the Sun.
+ Loved how the storylines came together. The bigger the lie…
+ “Man, you ain’t even been to no dentist.” Michael to Dukie, who's probably not going to get that receptionist gig.
+ Were the corner boys, in their endlessly creative ways of naming the drug at hand, saying, “Truth hurts, come and get it.” Man who doesn’t love this show?
+ “I don’t believe in much of anything at this point.” – Bunk
+ “They turned on the fucking tap, Jimmy. They’re finally paying for police work again.” – Landsman.
+ “Ikea.” – McNulty on where to get kids furniture. True dat.
+ “Shame on ya’ll. And I mean it.” – Bunk. Still mortified after all these episodes.
+ “Go with God,” – McNulty, before the power of being "boss" finally started to strain him.
+ Scotty out with the homeless in their "darkest hour"? Gus doesn't like the first person, the pandering and the falseness. “He’s writing more as an essayist.” – Whiting. Oh, well, I guess that makes it just fine.
+ Gus knows Scott has barely put the time in. “It ain’t exactly Studs Terkel.”
+ Daniels is cut. But the dude needs a burger in the worst way.
+ “Media’s going crazy. City hall, too.” – Daniels. That's just the buzz of a good, dramatic storyline, Cedric.
+ “If Marlo has a code, we can break the code.” – Freamon. What? Marlo has a code? Nah.
+ “This shit’s bigger than I ever thought it would be.” – McNutty. Understatement of the year, first ballot.
+ “Get me out of this Lester, as fast as possible.” – McNutty.
+ Clay Davis. "Prometheus Bound." Fucking classic. “I can not tell you how much consolation I find in these slim pages.” Oh, that is rich.
+ “I get a road car and expenses, I can put it down.” – Norris (the second, but not the last, to come calling to Jesus). And the look on Bunk’s face – priceless.
+ “Ain’t you the little king of diamonds.” Bunk to McNulty.
+“Shit, half the neighborhood be up in here a week before check day.” – Bubs, asking the reporter why the newspaper always goes to soup kitchens looking for homeless, when the soup kitchens are a safety net for the whole ‘hood.
+ Perhaps my favorite cameo yet on “The Wire” – Richard Belzer as Det. Munch, just sitting in that bar.
+ Gus is back being a reporter – tracking down the dirt on Scotty.
+ “Whose gonna complain? Guys are working cases – and getting paid.” – McNutty, perhaps not thinking it all the way through. As usual.
+ “That’s Omar? Gimpy as a motherfucker.” – Kenard. He’s a tough little bastard.
+ “Maybe prosecutor O’Bondma can enlighten us. But in my world, it’s strictly cash and carry. And I AM Clay Davis. My people need something, they know where to find me.” Who needs facts when you've got feelings.
+ “What the fuck just happened?” – Bond. “Whatever it was, they don’t teach it in law school.” – Pearlman.
+ Kima can’t assemble the Ikea (anybody who has been through that particular bit of hell could relate) and she can’t, apparently, stock her fridge better than a college student.
+ “Good night moon. Good night stars. Good night po-pos. Good night thieves. Good night hoppers. Good night hustlers. Good night scammers. Good night to everybody. Good night to one and all.”