Sunday, February 17, 2008

"The Wire," Season 5, Ep. 7: "Took."

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...

Some thoughts:

+ “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.”


Brian said...

Munch isn't just sitting at the bar, he's commenting to the bartender that he knows about running a bar! Classic little moment there, made even more so by Lewis...I mean Gus...walking by as he says it. A great wink by Simon at those of us who loved Homicide and know those characters well.

ferrethead said...

Why is Munch drinking in Charm City when he should be solving sex crimes in Gotham?
Typical f**ked up logic for the homeless aspect of the serial killing as to the police work - it's untenable to have someone murdering the homeless, but no one gives a shit that they ARE homeless, and dying on the streets every day. Open the shelter, get FEMA trailers to keep them safe from the killer...where's the concern for their day-to-day well-being? (Of course, if you kept them in those formaldehyde-saturated trailers long enough, you wouldn't have a homeless problem...)

Dennis said...

- Munch's line was something about how you can't nail a regular for his full tab all at the same time. H:LOTS was the first show that really showed me TV could be something other than a time-waster so I'm always glad to see John make the scene:)

- Anyone remember the last time Carcetti took his legal pad into the other room and looked for donations? I remember he was throwing a baseball and some darts around the room and basically didn't want to mess with the process at all. And I think he had to beg a guy to have his wife throw in some cash as well. This time the mayor had them eating out of the palm of his hand and his constituent mentioned his wife's support before his worship even had a chance to ask for it. The difference? He's as confident as **** and knows he's got something going that will play.

- Which brings us to Clay and there's a guy that knows his audience. The way he referenced Survivor, pandering to the lowest common denominator; that's basically politics in a nutshell, isn't it? At least in terms of the voting part and once again people found it in their hearts to vote for clay davis. I would've bet money he was getting off the first time we saw Bond chose to go away from the air-tight Federal charges.

- Loved how all the guys badgered Jimmy for my time with the assurance that all they needed was this-and-that and the case would "go down for sure." Yeah and the lesson there is this is how his all started in the first place. Jimmy at first was convinced he only needed a little and now everytime he goes to see Lester he's met with the news that he needs even more.

- Speaking of that, when Jimmy goes to Lester and begs for as quick a resolution as possible, did anyone else feel less then re-assured when Lester nodded? I thought it was ceremonious more than anything else. Lester's an idle guy and I think he needs to be busy as much as anything else. He was obsessed with the Davis money-trail and now it's cracking the Stanfield murders. And while I'm not saying he doesn't want to get this case done and that I'm sure he isn't oblivious to the wire that him and jimmy are walking, I think him being busy and chasing the whale is as important to him as anything else.

- Bubs is back and looking confident and assured and as much as he seems like he might be in the happy ending, I think we might be able to throw Carver into that circle as well. His progression's been well-documented but he's cracking down on knuckleheads in his own dept, he's feeding Lester with Marlo's digits and then he delivers Mike to Bunk right on time.

- I know Omar didn't get proper medical care so that break/fracture isn't healing properly and the long part of that story is that he'll have a limp forever unless he gets that fixed. Of course he has lots of Prop Joe's old money kicking around so that's always an option for him:) But, did anyone else think he might have been faking it a little bit when he rolled up on Mike's corner? Maybe he Wants Kennard and Co to come back and say that Omar's on the limp and looks vulnerable. I just remember him getting a super fast jump on Far Face Rick an episode back and it seems like he was quicker when he took down that last corner too. Anyone agree with that? And when Kennard practically spat his disappointment in Omar's disappearance, did anyone else remember the old line about how the new generations get more jaded and more violent? Spider and Mike aren't a whole lot older than Kennard but they weren't laughing behind Omar's back even if the guy was hobbling. There's Kennard a few years their junior and he isn't showing much respect for a legend. Kennard seems poised to be even more ruthless than Marlo and I think that's always been part of Simon's message.

Brian said...


Very good points about Omar and Kennard. That would be brilliant if Omar was faking the extent of his ankle injury. I remember everyone bitching last week about him recovering so quickly--he was hobbling on a crutch leaving the apartment and then barely had a limp when he blew up the SUV. The only thing keeping me from believing this is that Omar was in serious pain when he was in the maintenance closet of the apartment. If he were to be faking it, it would be a shrewd plan. He knows he's outnumbered, so make Marlo think he's weak and increase the likelihood that he doesn't hit him as hard.

Kennard is such a brazen little man. And the camera definitely highlighted the look he gave when Omar hobbled off, which spoke, "Man, I could take that punk ass bitch."

I laughed as hard as I ever have on The Wire during McNulty's crank call to "that goofy reporter." "Hey you..." soooooo priceless!!! I still chuckle thinking about last episode when Bunk said "out of respect for that goofy mother f***** Prezbalewski." I need one more McNulty and Bunk drinking session before it's all over. C'mon guys, go see if that train is still on the track.

Where the hell is Poot this season? I have a feeling that he'll show up in a significant way at some point. My heart wants it to be avenging Bodie's murder. I think if Omar falls before Chris, Snoop, or Marlo get taken down, Poot could have a role in one of their exits.

Brian said...

Here's Dominic West's interview with the Seattle Post Intelligencer where he discusses various scenes from his directorial effort. He implies that Omar's hobbling gimp when he came up on Michael and company was a ruse so that he could disguise himself during the day.

What did you all think of West's direction? I thought it was really good. My favorite shot was when Bunk is at the desk and in the background there's an out of focus Carver escorting Michael over to Bunk, and they finally come into focus when Bunk turns to see them. Below is the exerpt from the Seattle interview. West comments that people thought the last shot was too cinematic. That camera pans out from the room as Kima and her child are looking out the window. I can see why people thought it was cinematic, but I think it was a nice change of pace. To me it also felt a little bit like foreshadowing. Three episodes left, so you know the sh** is hitting the fan and we'll be saying goodnight to some of our favorite drug dealers, stick up men, drunks, addicts, po-po's and bums soon enough. Here's the exerpt.

"THE SCENE: Here's Omar!
Stickup artist Omar (Michael Kenneth Williams) confronts drug runner Michael (Tristan Wilds). "That was difficult because it was supposed to happen at night, when it wouldn't have been a prblem for Omar to pop out of nowhere and then disappear. But then the schedule got changed, and we had to shoot it during the day, so we had him limp along the street so that all the corner kids would think he was a homeless guy, which conveniently fit in with the whole theme of the season. In fact, that was my brilliant idea!"

THE SCENE: A Baltimore Lullaby
Epilogue: Kima soothes her baby with a gritty variation on Goodnight Moon. "[Screenwriter] Richard Price actually took that bit from his own novel, Clockers. There's a scene where the hero cop is at home, and his baby wakes up, and he says something like, "Good night, hookers.... Good night, drug dealers.... and good night, moon." Some people said the final image was a bit too movie-like. I thought it was a wonderful, wonderful ending."

PS- Anyone notice McNulty's question, "Who can I trust in the Western?" I immediately thought, he'll think he can trust Carver, but after Carver's by the book treatment of Colleccio, he better think again.

Brian said...

More talk about a The Wire movie:

Why would it have to be a prequel? Does this mean some main characters don't survive beyond the 10 episodes? In all probability, McNulty will symbolically die because if he gets caught his career as a police detective is over.

Daniel said...

We've gotten reappearances, however brief, from a few characters from previous seasons, including Nick Sobotka and Randy. Still waiting for Namond and Prez to show up, and after seeing those mysterious clocks that Lester had tapped, wouldn't this would be the perfect time for Prez to reappear and put his code-breaking skills to work?

During the scene with Dukie reading the newspaper ads, couldn't help but notice Michael was wearing a T-shirt with a crown on it. Hmmm.

I don't hate many characters on The Wire. Even the evil ones are interesting to follow. But for the love of GAWWWD, somebody please shoot Whiting so we won't have to watch any more of his scenes. I understand he's out of touch, but his character is a bit too extreme. If possible, he's more oblivious than Scott. He's writing more as an essayist? Give me a friggin break.

My first thought during Omar's scene with Michael was that it was uncharacteristically sloppy of him to show how injured and vulnerable he'd become in front of Marlo's crew, and in broad daylight. But Dominic West -- who directed this episode, by the way -- said in an interview that the scene was supposed to be shot in the dark, but a scheduling issue forced them to shoot during the day.

I say it was worth it, just for another priceless scene with Kenard. One can never get enough of Kenard. "Gimpy as a motherf**ker." That killed me.

How dumb can McNulty be to let the Sun post pictures of Larry in the paper? His fate seems too obvious now -- the national media's going to get a hold of the picture, the worker at the homeless shelter is going to see it, and she's going to ID the man who brought Larry in.


Wasn't it Omar who told Bunk, "A man got to have a code"? After killing Manny and Savino, to hell with the code.

Daniel said...

Sorry for the consecutive posts, but it's hard to remember at once all the scenes/lines/images that affected you while you watched an episode.

I thought Gus' meeting with Klebanow and Whiting was as much a defense of Baltimore as it was a criticism of bad journalism.

Loved this line. Speaking of Scott:

"He's acting like he's taking his life in his hands while he's walking the highways at night. I mean this is our fucking city. This isn't Beirut."

Clay Davis's testimony also portrays Baltimore as a "jungle," a city fit for "Survivor" and "Fear Factor."

Gus's line, combined with Kima's final scene, would've made me smile if I was from Baltimore.

Alex said...

Omar's code is that he only preys on people who are "in the game." "No more bodies" is a promise he made to Bunk (he was grateful that Bunk got him out of jail), but I don't read it as part of Omar's code. From Omar's perspective, why should a promise to a cop outweigh his determination to avenge the murder of a man who was like a father to him? And why should it rewrite the code he has lived by all of his life?


Anonymous said...

I may be alone, but unless great time has passed, it's hard to accept that Omar is faking his limp. He had no medical care after his jump (that we know of)because he couldn't go to hospital with Marlo's crew searching for him. He put himself together in a dirty broom closet.

I'm wondering, where's Reynaldo? and was Clay mispronouncing the mythical gods--remember Omar loves myths--an indication of Omar's fate?

On another bit, I don't think that the shelter worker recognizing the Larry character would happen--she sees many folks a day and has little time to read newspapers. But Bubs knows everybody.

I am refraining (yet) from watching ahead, so it's all just musing.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Omar has more than stuck to his code (drugs in the toilet - money doesn't matter). We get even to hear him think out loud, "ok you didn't pull the trigger… but what would you have done to stop them had you been there…" he knew the answer and holds anyone on Marlo's side accountable for M's actions. Call me a brute but I'm right with Omar. Who had time to notice the limp, I was just holding my breath for Michael since I certainly used to like him, now I'm on the fence and having attempted to off Omar, he was on the brink. Was I the only one howling at Kima's IKEA experience - talk about painful reality! If I never see another evil Allen wrench and mono-language instruction guides again it'll be way too soon. Prometheus huh? In text and on the show - McNulty is getting too hot and too close to the sun, he's gonna fry pretty soon. For all those who claimed that Simon was being too hard on the Press, I'd have to say that they weren't patient enough. This episode strongly shows both sides of the coin - great reporting and shady antics (which exist in any workplace or industry). So now there's talk about a movie? Interesting. I mean sure I'd go and see as a fan but the funny thing is, this is a show that I'd rather see turned into a novel / series of novels. I'd love to have oodles more backstory and flashbacks from all of the characters and obviously a single movie, while could be fun, could never do all that. For that matter, I can't recall ever wishing a TV series would get turned into a novel series - yet another testament to the amazing quality of the Wire. *Sigh* All good things must come to and end - just wish it wasn't so…

Anonymous said...

Great moment when Clay Davis has to peek at the cover of the book to know the author, and then even mispronounces 'Asillyus' (Aeschylus). That's high-pandering.


Anonymous said...

But I'm still wondering what all this season will have to say about the media, its purported theme. Sometimes it seems to say that it can't adequately cover stories because of budget cutbacks. Other times it seems to point out merely the double-edged, agenda-filled nature of news and sources (McNutty uses them, Narese withholds info for future potential use, etc).

But a subtle point might be that stories follow the money (ie, there's an economics to story-telling). Scottie makes up the stories that his bosses (or, in his case his boss's bosses) want to hear (although, no one at the WaPo wants to hear). McNutty, of course invents stories to fund real police work. He learns the lesson, a callback to Season 1, that managers exist to apportion resources to the jobs at hand, and that it's the resources and not the authority that garners respect.

But that leaves aside the question of failure. Why isn't the media sufficiently covering the story of urban decay? (Else why is The Wire necessary?) If it's simply that resources got cut, then that implies that the media used to cover this story back in the day. However, I see no evidence of that. Institutional failures are, by nature, institutional.

Recently, we saw young reporters need stories of 'what life is like.' Are journalists coming from backgrounds (say, suburbs) sufficiently cut off from the urban centers on which they report? Is that the unbridgeable gap? Is it simply that 'real' stories don't sell and/or are too expensive to uncover? I don't know. Hopefully the next 3 eps can hint at answers.


Anonymous said...

Tim --

I hate to sound pedantic after reading your excellent comments on this episode, but I think Kima says, "Goodnight, fiends," not "Goodnight, thieves."

Anonymous said...

I know you had the first 7 episodes before the season started. Are you going to get the last three ahead, or will you be watching in "real" time?

detroitnewsie said...

I can't help but feel this clock thing is going to be so simplistic-we are talking Marlo here, and he understood with a nod in a brief moment.

I think Clay's comment of thinking short is going to be echoed over and over in the last episodes; we've seen 4+ seasons of band-aids and the danger in not committing long term. People want to feel good-Clay makes them feel good; why doesn't news tackle serious problems in depth-because there areno easy solutions and it makes us feel bad. Go shallow, offer a simplistic happy ending, it's all good, now let me get back to Survivor......

Anonymous said...

OK, I completely missed the conversation that was going on in the bar. Obviously it was following up to catch up with Scott's lies but I didn't catch the question about the fingerprints and such. Can someone enlighten?

lifeisgood67 said...

I've always liked Carver, but this season I have a full-blown crush. If he's not the hero this season, I don't know who is.

I loved the Ikea furniture metaphor for the McNulty/Lester Marlo tactics: it seemed like it would be a cheap and easy solution, that it wouldn't take too long and you'd have something functional & sturdy, but it never quite comes together, there's always a piece missing, and you end up thinking "why the hell did I go this route?"

Trixie said...

Good to see the smile on Michael's face while he and DuQuan practice their exotic dance moves. Although it's followed by a preview of two more probable fates - 1) escorted in handcuffs to the police station, and 2) Omar's gun to the back of his head. Wonder if it will be any sort of wake-up call.

DuQuan looking for a job and thus, a way to get from here to the rest of the world. He's trying.

I agree, Kenard is one scary little dude.

McNulty having to remind Scottie of his own lie: McNulty: "Did it sound like the same guy?" Scottie: "What do you mean?" Keep up, Sparky.

"You got the right Allen Wrench? Well, what kind of Scotch are you using?" The Ikea comedy relief was perfect. Kima had some great scenes in this episode. Having to bear the emotional brunt of McNulty's case by interviewing the families of the "victims." The Ikea melt down. "Gotta run. Got shit to assemble. You didn't tell me that part of it, did you MF?" The Goodnight Moon scene.

Bubbs leading a real or at least earnest reporter into the homeless encampment. Just write how it feels.

Seeing Clay Davis spin and win his case in court reminds me that even if Freamon can make a case against Marlo (based on ill-gotten wire taps), it still has to go to court.

Anonymous said...

I seem to be having ID problems, and it seems like I'm not alone from all the "anonymous" here.

Anyway, to answer someone's question: the gist of the trap Gus talked about was: Scott said that the woman was innocent, that someone else kept getting arrested for scams and giving her name.

The first time someone is arrested, they are fingerprinted, and they may give a fake name and cause a lot of grief for the innocent Repeated arrests may however (depending on where and what for)mean giving a DNA sample as well as being re-fingerprinted. Thus, a scam on an innocent is not theoretically supposed to work for long "unless she carried her sister's hands around in her purse" was the joke.

There have been many cases of people giving a fake name when arrested, so the scammer sister could have given someone's name the first time. Gus's source was just saying that the ruse was not likely to last.

Of course, maybe he didn't know how far backed up all the resources were.

Since Gus's source said that what Scott supposedly found out from all the neighbors (sister of deceased is the victim of a frameup)is bogus, he suspects Scott of making it up, or at least failure to use due diligence to find the truth.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and, is it just me or does anyone think that someone very close to the illegal wiretap scam is working undercover police corruption sting? The net of who is being brought in is too wide even without the kidnapped guy's picture....

Anonymous said...

Please tell me how Gus figured out Scott was lying. Did he set a trap?

Alex said...

"Where the hell is Poot this season? I have a feeling that he'll show up in a significant way at some point."

Good question, Brian. Is Poot the last man standing (not dead or doing a long stretch in prison) from the Barksdale gang as it appeared in the first season? Slim Charles lives, but aside from Poot, and Avon's sister if you consider her part of the gang, I can't think of another first-season Barksdale who has survived. In fact, I had no idea Savino was still around until he came back (to die) in this episode.

I liked your observation about Bubbles, Trixie. What a great teacher he would have made, if he ever had the opportunity. The man lights up every time he has a "student" or two and some street knowledge to pass along.

Anonymous said...

I heard this episode's drug name as "Troop Surge" instead of "Truth Hurts." As short term bandage that won't fix your bigger problem.

The highlight of the night for me? Clay Davis offering to get himself indicted on Federal charges so his lawyer could get more publicity. If only the lawyer would make a small donation to his reelection fund.

suzyq2 said...

Dennis, very good observation about Lester, it feels true. The chase is as important to him as the capture. He is in his element when he's busy, either up on the wire or making his miniatures. Some people just don't do leisure well. . . I think the clock faces may have something to do with amounts of drug shipments and the time/date they get delivered. The pick-up places are probably already established. And I agree, it has to be a simple code as Marlo did understand it immediately. That's the problem, Lester is probably making it harder to figure out than it is. But unless they have some stakeouts they won't be able to figure it out quickly. The clock shown in the photos will be the smoking gun.

I thought Dominic West did a stellar job directing this ep. I didn't know he had when I watched last night but I do remember admiring the direction of many scenes. And as for Omar exaggerating the extent of his injury (which I believe he is), it is quite brilliant. It allowed him to sneak up on the corner kids to deliver his message and will cause Marlo to underestimate him. And as for Dominic's comment about having to shoot that scene in the daytime rather than in the night time, it goes to show not every little detail is thought out ahead of time, but some great stuff comes out of being forced into a corner creatively (no pun intended). The look in Michael's eyes as Omar had him from behind was priceless. He was truly afraid. Will this brush with death make any difference in the direction of his life?

It was great to see Munch. I think it's a little tip off that Simon is taking great care to provide a satisfying conclusion to this great tale. Not a happy ending mind you, but one that will not leave us feeling cut off in mid-

Anonymous said...

One more thing (for now anyway!). When McNulty was making his phony call to Scott, who was the guy on the red lighthouse type thing (?) that put a phone in a silver bag, came down the stairs and flashed a badge. And what was he doing there? I do hope the answer is not embarrassingly, laughably obvious (cause I do try to pay attention) but I didn't recognize him and just can't figure out who he is.

I think I'll sign in as "anonymous" just in case :)

Trixie said...

Anon at 10:46: That was Sydnor at the lighthouse who is in on it with Freamon and McNulty. He and Freamon were the 2 left behind to work the Clay Davis case. Freamon re-routed the cell phone so that the GPS would pinpoint the device that Sydnor was holding. He then appears to be the first one on the scene before the squad cars, helicopter, etc.

jrepka said...

OK this is a couple of weeks late, but I had a friend over last week to catch up on a few episodes, and at the end of episode 5, when Omar makes his leap from the window, there are a couple of shots in sequence: a close-up of Chris, Snoop and Michael walking out to the balcony, a more distant shot of them looking from the balcony toward the ground, and finally a shot from their perspective of the lawn showing that Omar is not there...

The cut-away is quick, so that I didn't notice the first couple of viewings, but when I saw it last week we ran it back: in the middle shot, of the balcony from across the street, you can see a shadow moving in the stairwell (or is it a fire-escape?) just to screen right of the 4th floor balcony (1 floor below Chris et al.).

At first I thought it was the shadow of one of the three shooters, but it seems to be the wrong angle -- I think that Omar managed to somehow catch a railing and swing down one floor, injuring himself in the process but never leaving the building (and certainly not falling 5 floors).

Anyone else spot this?

Anonymous said...

Duh! Thanks Trixie. Now I get it. For some reason I completely blanked on Sydnor.

Andrew said...

Episode 7 plays like the calm before the storm, and anyone who has seen Episode 8 through HBO On Demand can confirm that. Episode 7 is like the rollercoaster ascending the largest hump on its track, and Episode 8 leaves you with that feeling you get when you're heading down, like gravity has pushed your stomach up to visit your lungs for a little bit.

I hate that this is the last season.

Anonymous said...

In Episode 6, Phelan the judge denied a wiretap on Scottie's phone, right? Scottie faked the original call from a public phone, right? So if the tap wasn't on Scottie's phone at the beginning, what phone is being tapped???

Anonymous said...

Although this has been pointed out before, I love it when different characters on The Wire use the same lines in different contexts. Last night, Michael said "What the F*** did I do?" when Carver came to arrest him, which is a classic McNutty line. Just brilliant. Also, can anyone familiar with Homicide: LOTS tell me if that bar where Munch was, Kavanaugh's I think was the name, was regularly used in that show? And whether Clarke Peters' character from Homicide worked with Munch? Thanks.

Dennis said...

Suzyq2: Just consider what Lester does for a friggin' hobby!:) I don't know anyone who does it but the construction of miniatures can't be anything less than painstaking, right? The guy's up for the challenge all the time and I get the feeling he'd be just as happy if it took two months to catch Marlo than it would two weeks. Put him in virtual seclusion in that old warehouse and he's happy. I love his character and I have since he was the guy who first tracked down a pic of Avon but something just struck me last night when he did a head-nod that appeared more perfunctory than anything else.

As for Omar and Mike, I never really grasped the scene as the pitting of two of my favorite characters as I think I've tried to do my best to steel myself to the potential realities of both characters. I'm worried about the kids as much as anyone else and I swore when Randy's chance at normalcy was destroyed but now I'm to a point where I'm resolved to heartache on at least some fronts;) I'm a cynic/realist with all the wire eps under my belt so I know how it's going to end; I just don't know to whom. And considering that Nay landed in a nice home with some real direction, what are the chances that the other three are gonna wind up with the same happy ending? How many eps have we spent listening to the police dept talking about stats? Do you think Simon would attempt to juke them when it comes to probabilities for real people?

Don't get me wrong, I think there's still hope for Mike to Want to get out but after that scene between Cutty followed by Dookie reading the paper, you can see just how hard it is for him to Get out. When he first questioned Marlo's motives before those multiple murders and then refused to eliminate the young witness, we saw that Mike hadn't turned all-bad. And when Omar let him live last ep, Mike's reaction was more fear than it was how he'd get the jump on Omar the next time he had the chance. He's just a kid and he hasn't yet chilled his blood to the extent of Chris and Snoop. All that being said, just how does he exactly get out? Dookie's smart enough to read those ads without messing up any of the words but he's still young and sheltered enough to not really get their meaning; by comparison Mike's even more clueless. Mike's got a substance-dependent mother and a kid brother to look after. He might be a guy who never crosses all the way over but he knows which side of the line he has to operate on.

As for Omar's code, that's all out the window once Butchie was shot. The first time I saw real emotion from Omar was when he was jacked up on that fake charge last year and he begged McNulty to help him out. He was legitimately scared of going to prison and we get that considering all he enemies he's made over the years. He called that favor via Bunk and felt obligated to honor his word once Bunk came through. But Butchie's family and we know how that changes everything.

I watch The Wire here in St. John's NF and it's via TMN which is The Movie Network. They carry a lot of HBO gear but I never get previews for the next ep. Anyway, I went to You Tube to get the previews for ep 8. Do we discuss previews here? I'm just checking before I get into it.

brueso said...

Loved seeing Munch. LOVED Clay's scenes- both when he pulled in his atty ("Fuck you? I'm going to MAKE you..."- and then that look of glee on Clay's face cause he knows he's still got it)- and then Clay in front of the jury, showing his empty pockets, Ronnie and the D.A. DYING cause they know he might be moving the jury. Just brilliant. And basically, Clay gets off and is handed a license to steal from the jury- you don't know where you cash goes? That's OK- we believe you're spending it on the people.

And then yes the ending scene with Kima "goodnight po-po's"- probably the sweetest scene in all 5 seasons of the show!

Like a friend said- this is a book you LOVE and you want to read those last chapters SLOWLY cause you don't want it to end!

Dennis said...

Yes, Gus Johnson's character, ie Meldrick Lewis, Munch and Kyle Secor's character, ie Tim Bayliss, those three all had ownership in the bar.

Nice Dolphin said...

As predicted Clay gets over. I had no idea he would do so as quickly and easily as he did but it was fun to watch. Bond isn't looking so mayoral now is he. Narese has stockpiled everyone's dirty laundry and been the true power broker from the jump. Now she is looking quite mayoral. I also think Kenard will factor in in the end game. His transformation from last season getting busted up by Michael to not even fearing Omar speak to how hard these little runners get growing up in the Game. The younger generation not respecting the legends in the game...much like Marlo didn't respect Barksdale..

Favorite line of the week. "What type of Scotch are you using"

Have a feeling that was Mcnulty's last time making me smile on the wire..all tears from here on out

Brian said...


I couldn't agree with you more about Ep 7 feeling like the calm before the storm. I haven't seen nor do I know anything about Ep 8, but I am certain it won't be pretty. Kima's "Goodnight Moon" scene was the most peaceful moment I've ever seen in The Wire. It reminded me of the scene in S4 where Randy sits on the stoop in front of his house before Miss Anna calls him inside.

leftymn said...

I understand that this isn't a documentary, and that pure authenticity would surely get in the way of the story. But that courtroom scene with Davis was just horrible. In any scene even remotely resembling real life, a witness (Davis) wouldn't be allowed to make a speech, and the prosecutors wouldn't be sitting their on their hands, making clear with their expression just how defeated and embarrassed they feel. Ridiculous.

Other than that, the plan to photograph the kidnapped guy, and McNutty's full encouragement to publish the images, insults our intelligence. (Or does it? These are cops, after all.)

That's my nit-picking for this week. Overall, of course, it's a fine show, but the fawn-a-thon by TG and most of the bloggers becomes a bit rich after a time.

Anonymous said...

The first time the cell photo was used was just after Omar was ambushed, but the code there could have been 12:00 good, 6:30 bad.

But the clocks and now the frequency may be the count or re-up? I didnt take particular view of the clock times and dont have Tivo, but it would have to be simple, because these are products of Baltimore's education system.

suzyq2 said...

Dennis, I don't watch the previews anymore and I'm liking it that way. We don't usually discuss previews or anything in advance of the ep we're on. Thanks for asking.

If others feel differently and previews end up getting discussed, please put "SPOILER ALERT" at the top of your post so those of us who wish to avoid knowing what's coming can.

Anonymous said...

So who gets to Marlo first, Bunk, McNulty, or Omar? Someone is gonna end up disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I do watch the previews, but I don't think this is a Spoiler. In the previews last night did anyone notice the "New" sunburst graphic on the upper right side of the screen? It wasn't shown all the way through the preview, but it was shown over a couple scenes. This graphic seemed strange and out of place. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

leftymn, I think that you are wrong about The Wire insulting our intelligence. Those courtroom outbursts do happen. Usually a prosecutor objects quickly, or a judge reprimands, but the damage is done. Also, grand jury vs. regular trial procedure varies in different jurisdictions.

I think that we know that Ronnie would have objected, but Bond hadn't tried a case in forever, and he was lead on this--she is his assistant, even after her promotion. The Wire didn't have to show us arguments/counterarguments, cross-exam and re-direct for us to get the idea that an outburst by a Clay Davis character, while procedurally wrong, has swayed a grand jury/regular jury on occasion. You know, don't think about a carrot.

Remember, whatever happened they don't teach in law school.

Google John Ford sometime. A Clay Davis type with more lives outside the can than a domestic shorthair.

brueso said...

Re the courtroom scene- sure it might've pushed reality a bit. But as others have noted (including Simon?) this is a work of fiction, not a documentary so they can bend the rules a bit. Actually, Clay's attorney was doing a great job tossing him softballs "But Senator, what happened to the money?" For me, it was such a delight to see Clay do his thing that I just focused on how much I was enjoying it!

Anonymous said...

I too thought Clay Davis on the stand was a plausible courtroom scenario. Generally, witnesses aren't allowed to stump and must keep their testimony within the scope of the question posed to them. That said, it's solely within the judge's discretion whether to advise an examining lawyer or witness to question & answer properly, and then only upon objection from opposing counsel.

Here, even if Bond had objected to Davis testimony as being 'narrative', it's plausible the judge would have granted Davis some leeway in light of his status as an accused voluntarily waiving his 5th Amd rights by taking the stand in his own defense.

Bond should have objected to Davis's narrative answers. But the idea of a charismatic defendant or lawyer casting a spell over the courtroom and even the judge is not implausible.

In all I rather liked both the courtroom scene and the opener in lawyer's office. It was a thing of beauty to watch the slimy Defendant as politician work his magic in a way separate and superior to what his lawyer was doing.

Anonymous said...

Dennis Lehane writes the next episode. He also wrote the following episodes:

Episode 28: Dead Soldiers
Episode 41: Refugee

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Clay Davis trial scenes, was that Tony Serra playing his attorney? I can't find an actor credit, and that would be just about perfect--definitely a TS type, that defense attorney....

panraven_fan said...

I haven't watched ahead and I'm so swamped that I cannot write a more insightful set of comments tonight. However, I spent sometime trying to "crack" Marlo's code. I suspect that it represents GPS coordinates (did anyone already guess this?) To me, that would explain why the seconds hand is included in each of the clock photos. It would also explain how Vondas was able to quickly show Marlo how the code functioned. It's actually funny, since Lester et al. were using GPS tracking to coordinate the fake abduction. Just an idea.

panraven_fan said...

Oh, I forgot one more thing. My girlfriend and I were discussing the potential for the "CitiWatch" cameras to play a role in McNulty's downfall. This would fit with the initial Season 1 perspective of surveillance as part of everyday life (recall some of the scenes shot from cameras around the buildings and city).

The other reason is that circumventing the system was something that Snoop did in the home invasion while McNulty grabbed the guy off the street in broad daylight. Surely, that can't be good.

Further, during the closing scene with Kima, the blue CitiWatch light seems prominent. Finally, this light is featured in the opening credits of every episode.

Something to consider.

Byron Nevins said...

“Good night moon. Good night stars. Good night po-pos. Good night ** fiends** not thieves.

How do I know? I use close-captions for half of the show!

B-More Wire Head said...

Late to the party, but at least I'm here. Great de-cons everybody.

I only saw one person's comments that correctly guessed the genesis of Kima's "goodnight" spiel. It is from the children's book "Goodnight Moon". I read that book myself as a child.

Both Gus and Bubbles used the line, "Just write what feels right."

I loved the identical dynamics between the newspaper's "war room" and the police dept.'s "war room."

A good insider nugget...the REAL Jay Landsman (Homicide Sgt.) originally read to play himself in the wire. However, Simon didn't believe him as Jay Landsman, so they cast somebody else. In this last episode the REAL Jay Landsman played a bit role. I haven't figured out which character he was, but I saw his name in the closing credits.

I agree Kenard is one scary little dude.

The McNulty hoax is out of control and is only going to end very, very badly. You just cannot fake a serial killing. And get away with it.

What I really want is a major shoot out between Omar, Snoop and C. Partlow.

I can only dream... ;o)

Brian said...

The real Jay Landsman has been a recurring character for the last couple years. I believe he's in the Western. He was in the bar talking to Gus, telling him that he thinks someone is jerking the paper's chain about the serial killer mess. He was under Bunny in the Western during Season 3 and then under Daniels in the Western in season 4.

Alan said...

Jay Landsman plays Lieutenant Dennis Mello from the Western (most prominently in Season 3 working with Colvin). In this episode, he was the expert in the bar taking with Gus Haynes about whether Townsend's rationale of fake identities made sense.

You can find casting information (and detailed episode synopses) on the HBO website.

ferrethead said...

I'm pretty sure that Mello got Bunny's job when the Hamsterdam s**t hit the fan. When we first met him, Mello was doing roll call - just like Carver is now.

I think some of us may be overthinking things a bit. We are giving WAY too much credit to the police to catch ANYBODY in a lie. They are stretched so thin, I don't see them as having the wherewithal to catch McNulty .
Nice to see I was wrong about Kima's motives. I liked that she referred to the little one as 'my kid'.

brueso said...

from what I read, the guy playing Clay's attorney is an actual Balmer defense attorney (it's not Tony Serra). Dominic West said it actually turned out to be alot of work cause they had to go line by line with the guy.

Anonymous said...

There have been tons of prior-season references this season. I think it was in season one that McNutty himself bought an IKEA bunkbed for the kids, then flipped out trying to assemble it. I laughed my ass off when Kima asked him where to get kid's furniture.

straight outta silver spring said...

anon February 18, 2008 6:04 PM,

Clay's lawyer was a non-actor playing himself: Baltimore lawayer Billy Murphy.

Anonymous said...

Definitely the calm before the storm... I thought we would have seen a lot more to wrap up story lines. Should make the last 3 very exciting.

detroitnewsie said...

panraven_fan, I noticed a clear shot of cameras on the condo buildings (balconies) when Omar left the janitor's closet and thought for sure they would play a role-Anyone notice if there were cameras when Marlo, Snoop and Chris were looking up because I was originally thinking Marlo installed them after the jump. Maybe this is another nod to dysfunction-city/businesses take money/time to install these things then don't have the funds to maintain/review them.

Snoop said...

Message to Richard Price (transcribed from voice mail):

Damn, boy, you writin' betta than a mah-fucka. Them Wires you wrote? Shit's the bomb f'real, y'heard?

ferrethead said...

I watched "Half Nelson" over the weekend. Tristan Wilds (Michael) and the they actor that portrayed Donut (the car thief) both appeared in small roles. It was a trip to see them since the movie had some parallels with S4 - except that I don't remember Prezbo smoking crack. ;-P

cca_gma said...

Tim, your opening paragraph similarly echoed my thoughts. All throughout ep 7, I kept thinking... "is this whole homelessness ruse compelling enough to run as an entire 10 episode arc? They've got 3 episodes to do or die and while my enthusiasm for the show hasn't waned much, I wished this was a smaller 2-3 episode plot line because the inevitable just feels too ominous with all the loose ends, such as McNulty's god complex or his lack of foresight allowing the publishing of homeless guy's photo. The Wire's had their fair share of somewhat neatly wrapped endings, but I can't see this one going down smoothly.

Additionally, there's too much suspension of disbelief required on our parts, moreso than in previous seasons: Omar surviving the fall... (I'd easily round out my point with two other examples, but I'm trying to be tight and declarative but ultimately, c'mon-- the dude fell multiple stories and has the power to go around sticking people up w/ one arm clutching a former mop handle.)

Ondemanding ep 8 this week.

Luther Mahoney said...

Lt. Mello is acting commander of the Western and Sgt. Carver is the acting shift lieutenant. One can assume that neither was up for promotion, to Major in Mello's case and Lieutenant in Carver's case. However, the need to fill those positions existed in the Western, hence their acting titles. Also, note that Carver wears lieutenant's bars on his uniform with yellow epaulettes underneath them, which no regular lieutenant has been seen wearing. I imagine that this is indicative of his "acting" rank; power of a lieutenant, pay grade of a sergeant.

novelera said...

Found an interesting interview with Michael K. Williams:

Anonymous said...

Be careful with the link from Novelera above. If you read it through page 4, there are comments left after the interview that indicate they have watched Ep 8!!!

novelera said...

Anon. at 3:04 pm. Thanks for the warning! I did not even look at the comments.

Anonymous said...

When I saw Kenard giving that attitude post-Omar encounter I thought, "Kenard's gonna be the one to take out Omar."

I hope that's not how it plays but it just feels inevitable.

cooter said...

I too thought that the citywatch camera might have picked up Mcnulty. especially after in the Sun, they cold recognize where the homeless man was photographed on the street. it would plausible to say figure out what day it was shot by the a Sun paper cover sitting in a newspaper machine or other background information.

I also loved the losing shot of Kima.
Very nice directorial debut

brueso said...

another comment re Clay working his attorney to get him to agree to represent him. When Lyndon Johnson used to work people, they called it The Treatment. Like George Wallace came in while LBJ was President and was going to represent the Civil Rights Bill. LBJ said "George- this really doesn't mean much to you and me, cause we're going to be dead when the changes really happen. And what will they say about us, George? There might be a big monument for everyone to see- with big letters that says "George Wallace- he built schools! He built highways!" Or there might be some scraggly little piece of wood overgrown with weeds and it says "George Wallace- he HATED". Wallace said he had to get out of that office as soon as possible, otherwise LBJ would've convinced him to come out in FAVOR of the Civil Rights bill- not just agreeing to not oppose it! And when you've got a character like Clay who's so obviously corrupt, you've got to see an example of how he convinces people to do what he wants them to- and in that scene with his attorney, we finally got to see a brilliant example of that!

Anonymous said...

One additional wink of the eye in the Gus-in-the-bar scene: he passes by the pontificating Munch (is there any other kind of Munch?) and sidles up next to Lt. Mello, played, as we know, by the "real" Balt. detective Jay Landsman. It was this real Jay Landsman that Simon originally based the John Munch character on.

Also, has anyone ever mentionedthat "Marlo" is an anagram for "Omar L"?

Anonymous said...

A little nit-picking, but one of the anonymous posts confuses the Prometheus myth with the Icarus/Daedalus myth.

Anonymous said...

isn't carver SIC, as in Sergeant-In-Command?

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying The Wire and really have been enjoying the blog. But I've lately had trouble with log-in, and with understandably excited speculation. I think I may have to abstain from reading Tim's wonderful take on episodes, or at least the blog comments that follow, until after the series finale.

It's a 2-edged sword, as I myself watch one episode ahead and then rewatch in regular time with my household. It takes that to absorb details and dialogue. I'm afraid that I'll get the episodes mixed up and spoiler something myself.

I'm also enjoying that New Jersey guy's blog, but he does have a watch ahead section and is having trouble controlling violators in the real time section.

Catch up a little later. It is no spoiler to say that I expect episodes 8, 9, and 10 to be both darkly funny and to break hearts.

Casual Observer.

k.papai said...

The clock:

The second hand is the Street number, and the Hours and Minute hands combine for the address #.

George D from the 415 said...

Advice to ALL: Step lightly with regards to reading anything Wire based. I think I stepped on a huge spoiler on Facebook's Addicted to the Wire application while taking a wire quiz. I hope it's not though

straight outta silver spring said...

Check out this new interview with David Simon. S5 is the topic.

mark said...

Is it possible that Lance Reddick has it stipulated in his contract that he appear shirtless or in a wifebeater a few times a year? This isn't the first time I've been freaked out by Daniels' turtley physique.

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