Daddy Got Hosed

First off apologies for our infrequency of late. We don’t intend to be a letdown. I’ll be talking, vaguely, about episode #56, so if you’re not caught up, please point your brain HERE. Otherwise, continue on and get bummed out.

hobo

Honestly, I’m not sure how the Slate folks, or anyone else tring to comment thoughtfully on this show (not that I’m accusing the Slate folks of doing that), are able to muster enough energy to discuss this dizzying season. Much like our comments section, most of the discussions seem to center on minutiae, as if somehow the show has become Ghetto Lost. IS OMAR MAGIC? I know I speak for all of us at H&H when I say we’re a bit exhausted by the frenetic pace of the show right now, the feeling that every old story must be dredged up and paraded in front of us for a few minutes  even while the new stories are totally bonkers and complicated in their own ways. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for ideas to shine through. If season one was a feather floating to earth, this season is a hammer coming down fast on an anvil, and we’re in the middle. It’s all connected is starting to feel like a threat more than a promise.

strangelove

Did we really need to see Nicky Sobotka hollering to understand that the mayor was hammering yet another nail in the coffin of the docks? Like, I watched season 2 already. I get it. At least Randy has some connection with the ongoing crime story. Anyway, all these digressions just feel sort of hollow. Seeing Randy beefed up, innocence lost, cynicism front and center, fearful and bullying, was heartbreaking true, but also kind of unsurprising. Like, no shit that’s what happens to Randy. Did we really need to spend five minutes out of only around 500 this season just to see this? I thought the season about kids was last season? Remember when there were two or three narrative threads meandering through a season, and plot twists came about sluggishly, mundanely, and yielded results equally slowly, even murders, arrests, whatever. Between Omar blowing up a truck with a broken ankle (I presume), Marlo cancelling the co-op and raising prices on dope, essentially pissing of a couple dozen other DRUG DEALERS just because he’s got some clout and some muscle, McNulty and Freamon pursuing ever more ludicrous schemes to try and tarnish their careers as much as possible, it’s hard to remember that this isn’t like other cop shows. Even Bunk’s narrative, which is the most like the real police work we’ve grown used to, is now intereracting with an (albeit wittily ironized) CSI lab. When does the big chase scene happen? When will Horatio roll up on Marlo and they’ll gab about their Hummers before the Who kicks in?

Of course it’s not really like that. There are more moments of pure Wire-ness than not, even with all the extra action. What I wonder about is with all this summing up (and we’ve only got four episodes left), who will get left behind, whose narrative being unfinished will feel the most disappointing (for me, I fear it’s going to be Bubs, Cutty, and Dukie, who I spoke on last week)? It seems like a balance has been lost in the interests of re-making points that viewers will have learned long ago. Everyone has their own favorite seasons, but for me the contrasts and connections in season 2 were the most satisfying, since the docks presented such an alien world to the street, yet the grinding gears of the law kept the two linked, kept the viewer grounded, and kept the focus of the show on the ongoing, uphill process of fighting crime. As humane as the show is toward its criminals, Ed Burns was a distinguished member of the police force, and Simon has nothing but respect for anyone trying to fight systems from within (and neither wants to confuse humanity with legitimacy).

blue line

This is something where the insanity of the cop plot loses me. I suppose we’re supposed to see two great cops reduced to faking murders, creating a false scandal, and tying up all sorts of police offices with their bullshit in the vain pursuit of funding to catch one particularly nasty drug dealer. This is tragedy on a grand scale, because it comes from such a good place. All they want to do is good police work, and it’s the one thing they aren’t being allowed to do, so they’ve got to ignore the system (Lester had a great line about that to Sydnor, who flipped unbelievably easily, though who among us wouldn’t follow wise Freamon anywhere?). What gets lost, even just as a matter of airtime, is the other side of police work, the cases Bunk and Kima are working, or what the mayor is doing not related to the homeless killer. Kima hangs out with her kid once and we’re meant to understand what about that? Beadie threatens to leave Jimmy, comes to the office to talk with Bunk about it,  so now what? If we’re lucky we’ll have quick rejoinders to these questions over the last four hours of showtime. Beadie throwing Jimmy out, Kima spending the day with Cheryl and the kid, Bubs smilingly serving at the shelter, or the inverse of any of these and more (everyone shot by Marlo).

statue

I guess the most enjoyable moments for me this episode were watching Jimmy wrestle with his treatment of that homeless man, watching the sort of man we have all seen, someone who is utterly helpless, damaged far beyond repair, and yet left on his own to try and make a life among the homeless. And Jimmy picks up this man, figures him into a scheme, then drops him at a shelter without his identity card and (horrifyingly) with his real name scratched off his anti-psychotic medication, which would presumably at some point prevent him from access to… not being psychotic. It was a direct affirmation of Carcetti’s impassioned speech about the homeless, and it clearly wasn’t easy for Jimmy to cast aside even more of his humanity. It’s interesting to note that Jimmy hasn’t been seen (by us anyway) drinking as much (aside from the scene talking to the statue of, I believe, Major-General Samuel Smith), and that this could be seen to indicate that he’s so fully devoted to making these cases work that he has not time even for his vices, but perhaps also that he’s drunk on lying, falsifying, and fucking with the system, that he’s found a new, far more destructive vice. Similarly, the scene where we finally see Templeton doing solid journalism (although spending the night hanging with the homeless seems like it could be rather dangerous) gives a face to the homeless, and shows Templeton’s own struggle with humanity, connecting with those people he too is seeking to exploit for his own purposes. For him, it may also be too late, as Gus seems suspicious of his work already.

As much as I complain, I have to admit I’m giddy to see what happens next. These plotlines may be overwrought and overwritten, but they are still compelling as hell. I suppose it shows my fanhood to admit that I wish there was no end to all this, that each story, made quite real over five seasons, should have its due, have its say, be allowed to fully exhale its humanity. Hopefully we’ll get a few more stolen breaths before the end.

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83 Comments on “Daddy Got Hosed”

  1. PJ Says:

    “…it clearly wasn’t easy for Jimmy to cast aside even more of his humanity.”

    It seemed far too easy to me. Seriously, Jimmy just tossed a man’s life away, more or less. Sure, it was in a shambles already, but still. It felt to me as though the writers had shamelessly used the homeless man– just as Jimmy had.

    By and large, though, this is an excellent write-up: it captures quite eloquently many of my own feelings about this season. It’s sad to realize that the last season of The Wire will almost certainly be its worst, but hey, after the insane heights of season 4, there was nowhere to go but down, I suppose.

  2. Shoals Says:

    I agree. That “Ghetto Lost” quip was better than anything I’d had in mind, which just would’ve insulted a lot of our commenters.

    A couple of things:

    -Randy was, to me, the ultimate example of too much, too fast in that episode. He’s still relevant to the plot, but we also still care about him. He couldn’t have been used a little less instrumentally? That pushing and yelling was all the insight we wanted into his soul? I seriously would’ve rather seen more of him in the group home than. . . well, just about anything else in that episode.

    -Line of the year: “Why you so down? Let’s go buy up a bunch of toys and bring them to your kids.” For discussion: Does Snoop have sarcasm?

    -What exactly is so mighty about Marlo’s muscle? There aren’t that many of them. The Barksdales seemed to have much more of a real army in Season 1, and they weren’t running the whole city. Why couldn’t one of these zillion pissed-off colleagues (like how you have to call each other that in grad school) come at him?

    -Why is Lester’s last name spelled like that?

    -I wouldn’t really say I’m “exhausted,” or that it’s too “frenetic.” If anything, I could stand to see a lot less of Jimmy and Templeton. How weird is it that this most diverse of shows has come down to two fucked-up white pretty boys?

    -Season 4 started slow, but the acting was mesmerizing. Here, we’ve got the familiar stuff going too fast, the new stuff labored and dwelled on, with a common thread of none of the actors really shining. Maybe Bunk, but with this Jimmy thing as a backdrop for his excellence, it’s kind of like me giving the speech of a lifetime to a bed-wetting toddler.

    -I don’t really want to talk about this show just for the sake of talking about it. It’s better than that. And I like it for reasons more than just knowing what happens next. I’m watching with that in mind, as I’ve said before, but that explains my recent silence.

  3. Andrew Says:

    I really have no problem with how the episode used Nick and Randy. I think you’re overestimating the amount of time that was given to them. Nick was only there for like 30 seconds and Randy was only there for two minutes max. Both appearances came in ongoing plotlines, so they didn’t disrupt the narative. Nick’s appearance came in a scene that was primarily meant to establish how most of the media’s attention is currently on the homeless killings, and Randy was a stop in an ongoing investigation. I’d have been more bothered if the show randomly cut to Nick’s home or something to show how he’s doing and never explained, but they found a way to give a quick nod to season 2 while still serving the current season’s story.

  4. Collins Says:

    I don’t think the scene between Bunk and Randy was done for Randy’s sake. I took that it was meant to show how Bunk is working to bring down Marlo through real, old-fashioned po-lice work (rather than McNulty and Freamon’s holy-grail Wire). Randy’s just a bonus there–the last time we’ll see him, I’m sure.

    As far as Templeton goes, I get the feeling that despite Gus’ suspicions Templeton will probably come out on top, either heading to a top-market paper or just moving up within the ranks of The Sun. I think Gus is far more likely to be the one getting the short end of the stick when this is all done.

  5. Janet Says:

    Snoop’s list – that is such a girl thing. Chris got his humanizing scene and Snoop got her’s.

    The look on Bond’s face when he saw the sealed indictments….leaker!

  6. Shoals Says:

    What list?

    Also, can someone remind me what case those indictments were from?

  7. Sydnor Says:

    … then I saw the wiretap and just looked at Freamon like, “what the Fuck am I doing in this unit?!”

  8. Sydnor Says:

    ps. LOL to the title-rip from the verizon commercial with the Honorable Clay Davis.

  9. ryan Says:

    The list Janet was talking about was of all the hospitals she went through to find Omar in the open. At least, I think that’s what she was talking about.

    This season is in such a rush this year as compared to last season. I feel like during the buildup of season four it was detailed, small snapshots and as the camera panned away in the final two episodes, the picture comes into focus. Much like, well, like seasons 1-3 too.

    Maybe it’s the 10 episode season. But it’s extremely frantic right now.

  10. Dat RoRo Kid Says:

    Yea, gotta say: Something about this season seems awfully rushed and I could also do with a little less McNulty. It’s obvious that Freamon and McNulty’s plans are at a bit of an impasse (or certainly were prior to McNulty’s homeless man abduction) and there was a real lull in activity for a minute there that was very unnerving to me. It seemed even the writing for the actual show – not just the serial killer case – was wrapped up in too much bullshit. However, I was somewhat relieved (though only after the fact) to not have 56 end on a cliff hanger like 55 did. It’s good to see them ‘slow their roll’ and not make every down-the-stretch episode conclude in an extraordinary manner. However, I tend to think things are REALLY going to speed up from here on out. That was the last pit stop.

  11. Shoals Says:

    okay, can we agree: rushed and rote with regard to everyone but mcnulty, templeton, omar, and marlo, who they are dwelling on way too much.

  12. miguel Says:

    I’m torn about the end of the season – on one hand, i’m a sentimental fool and want to see that Six Feet Under montage. On the other hand, that’d tear apart a lot of what i hold dear on this show.

    And as someone who chose advertising over journalism because I liked writing a more interestingly anecdotal story to the truth, on some levels, I empathize with Templeton. Watching him talk with the vet and see that you can occasionally find both the interesting anecdote and the truth in one package was pretty cool.

    Will do my best to cast

  13. miguel Says:

    Will do my best to put cast members into my commercials. Snoop in a Wells Fargo ad? Marlo for Call of Duty? Why not.

  14. carter blanchard Says:

    I actually really liked 56. I felt like it was the episode that finally made me turn some of my sympathies that had been developing through the first half. I mean, the “Templeton has humanity and can be a good reporter if he tried” scene was sort of obvious, but I do find myself coming around a little bit on the guy, which I wasn’t sure could happen after the first couple. I think Carcetti deciding to run on homelessness was one of the more interesting developments wrt to McNulty’s scheme. The Nicky cameo did seem cheap, but if they actually returned to his character for something meaningful I think I’d be in favor. And personally, I loved the Marlo co-op speech.

    Anyway that was sort of rambling and entirely personal reactions and not at all analysis. Maybe I’ll check back at some point after I rewatch it with something more coherent.

  15. Simon's bitch Says:

    The pacing of this show has always been somewhat controversial. Some people have complained that it seems very slow. This didn’t seem true to me until season 4, which we watched without on-demand. Then it seemed to almost crawl. Watching it again, recently, on dvd and several episodes at a time completely changed my perception of how the show seemed paced.

    Having said all that, this season seems wildly inconsistent. Some moments seem needlessly dragged out (Freamon and McNulty playing with Special Agent Fitzhugh for one example) and others seem like they speed by like a bullet train.

    I liked that they gave the grainery redevelopment to Carcetti and it was great to see Nicky Sobotka again. I hope we see a little more. These drop ins and revisits and continuing background characters are some of what I love about this show.

  16. jetsetjunta Says:

    i think this is, in part, my point. analysis seems futile with so much going on and so much of our collective likes or dislikes or feelings of balance and imbalance being determined by personal viewing reactions. perhaps that’s just the accumulated weight of five seasons finally bearing down on us, or perhaps it has something to do with the density of the juggernaut we’re faced with packed into an hour of television. at any rate, it’s still thrilling, but also exhausting. i never felt before like i was missing so much, or needed to draw so much on dozens of little plotpoints. in part it feels masterful, like rooting through a mystery, but at the same time it feels a bit like chaos. this isn’t the murders in the rue morgue. we know this stuff is going to end badly, with misdirection, abjection, and despair.

  17. Paul Says:

    by the way…price of the brick goin up…

  18. The Hypnotoad Says:

    in fact i aint one for these meets no-how….

    i don’t mind the cameos from previous seasons stars, cmon its the final season! Serge was my favorite cameo: “Hieinsmiener…Ganngbanger!”

  19. Joe-El Says:

    I still like it…look forward to watching it the second I get home from work on Mondays. I dunno, guess I would have just liked to see a S5 revolve around MCU going after Marlo rather than this homeless plotline. Media stuff could’ve dealt with their coverage of certain stories (pertaining to ongoing plotlines) as well as anything resembling the way a mordern newsroom deals with THE INTERNET – the biggest factor in anything a newspaper does nowadays.

    I hate making comments like this and have refrained from it thus far, but like Shoals said, I don’t really have much to expunge upon. It is what it is…right there in front of you. No discussion necessary.

  20. Joe-El Says:

    …and no, i don’t think Snoop is capable of sarcasm. Monk definitely, though.

    JE

  21. bchurch Says:

    Wasn’t the complex that Carcetti was ribbon-cutting the one that Sobatka Sr. was trying (vainly) to put a stop to back in Season 2? I felt like it was perfectly appropriate for Nicky to be there, and appropriate for Carcetti to be clueless about what Nicky’s problem was. The little slices of Nicky and Randy’s life fit in to the storyline pretty naturally I think. Not contrived at all. If we were omniscient viewers to our own lives, I’m sure we’d see some random, brief connections pop up between the supporting cast (and the bigger the cast, in this 5th season, the more likely you are to start seeing some connections develop).

  22. Frank Hague Says:

    In general this has been a bad season. There have been a couple of good episodes, but overall the major plot lines have made little or no sense. I think Simon’s basic premise that corporations destroyed the daily newspaper is false. Technology destroyed the daily newspaper. In all of the episodes with the reporters there is rarely a mention of 800 pound gorilla in the room, the internet.

    Television requires the suspension of disbelief in many instances, but the phony serial killer plot and Omar’s fall and subsequent minor injury go past the normal suspension of disbelief. Even the most unhinged and desperate police detectives would not fake murders. Even the toughest guy in the world could not jump through a window, fall 30 feet, only sprain his ankle and then a day or two later be up and about shooting people and blowing up cars.

    The forced cameos are growing tiresome, we can almost guarantee the re-appearance of some character from a past season in the next episode that has little or nothing to do with the plot . Do the creators want to make sure as many actors as possible get a cut of the season 5 DVD sales? Other than that I can see no reason from some of the scenes that have put in this year.

    It is always disappointing when a great show goes off the rails, at this point I see little chance that this season can be redeemed by the final episodes.

  23. Mark Says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to say that this season is growing on me. I will agree that the season is definitely different, but we have to cut some slack; if this show was on any other network, we probably wouldn’t have even seen Wallace get shot. Kudos to HBO for renewing the fifth season based on four’s reviews alone. As others have mentioned, this season is rushed–but it has to be, they have only 10 episodes. Like everyone in The Wire, Simon and Co. are being forced to do more with less.

    Now, thats not to say criticism isn’t necessary. The serial killer plot is certainly the most outrageous thing that has ever been drawn out in the series. But, I think it might be necessary–or at least fair–to wait and see what the season does when all is said and done. The past couple episodes, while certainly moving faster than those in the past, have slowed down a bit. Perhaps by putting the early exposition on the fast track, the serial killer plot has come across as even more ridiculous, but the writers are aware of that, and I think the way the way the repercussions are flying way out of control is a nod to that very fact. And sure, there are a lot of plotlines going on, but the show has A LOT of stuff to tie up (and again, in only 10 episodes). Maybe the cameos are a bit tiresome, but its nothing the show hasn’t done in the past: when characters brushed shoulders before, no one exclaimed it was just shoved in there then (I think of when Prez saw Bubbles at school in S4).

    I guess all I’m saying is that Simon has never done us wrong before, lets at least give this season a chance to finish up before we abandon everything now.

    I know I’m alone on this, but thats at least my two cents.

  24. T.J. Otto Says:

    I don’t see any problems with the cameos. I think they sort of explained what happened to Omar. I know I’m not supposed to like Templeton, and I was just as disinterested with the port, at the beginning, as I am the newsroom right now. However I ended up loving season 2. I end up seeing humanity in characters I know was hidden from us in the beginning. I also know that although we love commenting episode by episode, we are not actually supposed to take the season like that. It’s about the whole and I do have faith in Simon and his crew. My biggest problem with this season is the way cats like McNulty and Avon seem kind of like charactures of themselves. We never saw McNulty actually drinking on the job before, before that little clip before the season, now he is always lit. Avon talking to Marlo didn’t even seem like Avon, but a dude playing “Avon Barksdale” pounding his chest at the end. Although I did love the westside acknowledgment and I like watching drunk Jimmy. I guess my point is that although there are flaws, hopefully taken as a whole we can forget all those and appreciate how difficult it was for the writers to wrap up this entire world, and a new one of the media, into ten episodes. And if everything ends up being real shitty, I’ll just go buy a bunch of toys and give them to my kids.

  25. Phil Says:

    People seem upset about the McNulty/Freamon fake homeless killings plot-line. Why is it any more outrageous/unbelievable than the Colvin drug legalization plot line from season 3?

  26. BEC Says:

    I couldn’t disagree more with people who think the show has gone off the rails or jumped the shark. This season reminds me a lot of season three – which I thought was fantastical in conception with a premise not grounded in reality. But they pulled it off and it was a great season.

    I’m having the same reservations about the serial killer plot (it seems McNulty could have pushed the 22 bodies back into the media with better results) but I have faith in the writers. With Simon’s five season plan, it’s not like they’re making it up as they go along.

    To me, each episode has improved on the prior episode and I thought 56 made some great connections. This is indeed the most absurd season which is absolutely no mistake.

    And my pulse was pounding watching Marlo’s crew search for Omar.

  27. Janet Says:

    Joe showed Marlo a sealed indictment (last season, I believe) to demonstrate his connect with the judicial system. If I recall correctly this was one of the perks Marlo saw about joining the co-op. I don’t recall if anything Joe had necessarily pertained to any of the cases in any of the seasons.

    It’s a shame that Marlo was so careful to get the package connect before he laid waste to the conduit for the legal (other than Levy) connect…unless he was getting them from Levy…I do not know.

  28. Bradbury Says:

    stop whining like a little girl.

    I think the Nicky Sobotka cameo HAS to come up later, the guy is supposed to be in witness protection right now. Them Greeks would have killed him long ago.

  29. Tito Landrum Says:

    I agree with BEC. IMHO, each episode of this season has gotten better as we are totally building up to what should be an incredible conclusion. Episode 5, I thought, was one of the most action packed episodes of The Wire ever. Episode 6 wasn’t as nearly fast moving, but made up for that with all the nuggets we got in plot and character motivation.

    Lester could have been speaking directly to many of the people not enjoying this season when he said, “If you have a problem with this, I understand completely”.

    I, personally, am loving EACH story line this season and if I had to make a guess at this point in the season I’d say that after episode 10 airs I would rate the 5 seasons of The Wire in this order (from favorite to least favorite – but with least favorite still being far better then anything else I’ve ever seen) S4, S3, S5, S2, S1.

    IMHO, the show, generally, has gotten better each season because it has added more to the story each season – a new institution to examine and learn about. You take everything you learned from the previous season(s) and you carry it with you, which makes the subsequent season that much better.

    This season has really had very little to no let down for me. I’m loving the newsroom. I love that I’m learning so much about the way the newspaper works (maybe I’m not learning as much as I think I am?). The newspaper, like so many other institutions, cares more for their bottom line then the product they are putting out. As much as Klebinaw and Whiting seem like one dimensional monsters, they (as Andrew pointed out over in the comments at Sepinwal) were right and Gus was wrong about sending Scott out to spend a night with the homeless. Scott brought back a good story, and it was real. Dropping the school story to examine the homeless issue, Whiting’s call, is not a bad call. I think Gus’ problem with Scott and the homeless story is that he knows Scott will make up some more bs. Whereas with the school story he’ll be working with a veteran and Scott might not be able to make crap up and he might learn a thing or two.

    I LOVE the way that McNulty’s lie and Templeton’s lie have merged together.

    I LOVE that the wheels seem to be falling off McNulty’s and Lester’s plan just as Bunk is possibly making some progress doing real police work.

    Randy’s story arc ended last season (same with Colvin, Naymond and Prez – although I’m sure we’ll get to say good-bye to them too). We got to say good-bye to him and we got to see how the system took a great kid and fucked him up. Heartbreaking – but I have no complaints with the story at all.

    How is Bubs going to manage to live his life? He needs some purpose. I trust these writers. Everything they have done for four prior seasons give me confidence that the conclusions of these storylines will be great.

    Michael and Dukie. I mean, I find thier stories fascinating.

    Kima hasn’t had a whole lot to do this season. I wish we could get a little more of her and where she is going? Not as much Landsman either. I wonder he hasn’t moved up the ladder a little bit, not even an LT or something? I love where Carver and Herc’s characters have gone. I’m worried that Carv’s doing the right thing actually might have ruined his career.

    I like the direction that Daniels’ story is going. And I really like the curveball we just got with the sealed indictments and the court house leak. Is there enough time left in this season to look more at this?

    Overall, I love the themes that this show is tackling. Homelessness, and why we (as a society, in general) don’t care. Certain people get murdered and it matters more than when others get murdered, and we don’t care. The institution who is supposed to be watching over all of this mess and reporting it to us is not doing it’s job (maybe it’s a chicken and the egg argument). Addiction and everything people will do to feed and overcome thier addictions. The obsticals imbeded that make it soooo difficult for a person to get to the “rest of the world”. And lastly, just the pure enjoyment and entertainment value of watching Omar go after Marlo and his people.

    Sorry for the long comment, especially since I am aware that none of the information I posted is anything deep or meaningful. But, I felt some of us needed a reminder of why this show is so great. The Wire is incredible entertainment (don’t forget about the Dr. Strangelovieness of this season), yes, but it is also extremely important and I can’t forget that part. Preachy? Absolutely. But I guess with me, I don’t care as much because Simon is preaching to the choir. Also, with a show like The Wire, I don’t know if it is fair to completely judge it until the season is over.

  30. padrock Says:

    Is anyone else noticing Omar getting sloppy? Or maybe not sloppy, just not as cool-headed as he once was. Even after we saw him break down over Brandon, he still went after the Barksdale crew in a cool, collected manor (though maybe he could have been a little more on his game when he went after Avon). But here we see him clearly in pain, clearly fueled by rage and emotion. Sure he gets the drop on Marlo’s crew and gets to blow up the cash, but that was mostly on fear, not any creative planning. It just seems to me Omar’s starting to come apart at the seams, finally buckling to the unstoppable system he’s spent so long trying not to be a part of. It would be hard to see the one man we could always count on to uphold a code, to stand for something in spite of all the bullshit around him, to get crushed by Marlo’s empire. Especially after all the recent talk of the show elevating him to superhero status. This season doesn’t seem to want to let anyone get out alive. We already lost Prop Joe, McNulty and Lester are poised for a fall (ready to take Kima with them), I’m not hopeful for Michael and Dukie, Bubbles is walking despair, and nothing good is going to happen to Daniels, I know it. This show has never pulled any punches, but this season feels especially foreboding. But…if anything happens to Carver…I don’t think I could take it.

  31. Chip Says:

    I also see reason to have faith in the writers. The best criticism of the serial killer plotline have come from the writers themselves in the words of Bunk. Last week I must have read a half dozen complaints about Omar’s jump that said it was too much of a “Spiderman” thing, so I had to pause the show this week I was laughing so much when Marlo said the very same thing. I guess we fans are very predictable!

    From the conflict McNulty felt when he dropped the homeless man off in Richmond and the preview for the next episode, it looks like even McNulty realizes he is really fucking up. Several people have mention how Hampsterdam was disconnected from reality. Of course, reality caught up with Hampsterdam by the end of season. I don’t see any reason to think that this season will be any different.

  32. Sera Says:

    Too much Templeton & McNulty.

    Not enough Dukie, Michael & Randy.

    Sorry, but I just don’t care about Scott Templeton. He eats up too much screen time. It annoys me that they spend so much time on this new guy. Who gives a phuck about him? I sure don’t. He’s the least interesting addition. Maybe it’s miscasting or poor acting, I don’t know, but I can’t be bothered. It irritates me whenever he appears on my screen. They should keep the media stuff to a minimum. They are the Greek Chorus. Not the “stars”. Keep them in the background, please!

    I want to see more of the character that I care about. I’m still emotionally invested in the fate of the kids from last season. What will happen to this new generation? Is there any hope? It saddened me to see Randy this way. I wish we could have seen more of him.

    Cutty is a great character. I’d love to see more interaction between him and Michael too. He is a good mentor and a positive role model for young black youth.

    I didn’t like how they ended Dukie’s storyline in the last episode. He asked an important question. “How do we get from here to the rest of the world?” It’s question worth exploring. However I fear instead we will only get bleakness and misery.

    McNulty is just a drag. It was bad enough when he was mutilating corpses. But kidnapping a homeless man? He’s gone too far now. I find him entirely despicable. In fact, I hope he dies. This storyline is disgusting and unbelievable. I know people were freaking over Omar’s jump last episode, but McNulty’s kidnapping strikes me as far more ridiculous. I was horrified when he abducted that mentally disabled man and dropped him off in another state. It’s grotesque!

  33. Venjamin Jenkman Says:

    The trouble I’m having with the serial killer plot mostly results from problems I had with the set-up. I actually quite like this storyline now that it’s matured–like how we saw a limited inversion of McNulty and Templeton as representatives of duty and opportunism last episode. Unfortunately, McNulty’s quick turn into corruption so strains credulity that you can’t help but get a kind of whiplash, which I think mutes the power of the inversion. In retrospect, it looks like McNulty was poorly positioned coming into this season (not the writers’ fault, what with West’s schedule, I know). I could see McNulty going corrupt eventually, it’s not like traces of this streak haven’t always been with him. Coming on the heels of a season where he was largely absent, however, a season where the show could really breathe…I don’t know. It just seems like he didn’t start the season where the writers needed him, and now he’s racing to his fate. You could make the case that McNulty is subconsciously doing just that, and I might believe you, but in my opinion the cliches that have described his downward arc (drinking on the job, the beadie scene, etc.) are more gestures towards believability than the ends in themselves.

    Shoals:
    I think “Couldn’t have he been used a little less instrumentally?” is the perfect question to ask about Randy. He was once again being used as an instrument in a police investigation. Wasn’t that the whole point of his story in S4? So now he’s learned that lesson, and he’s adopted an attitude similar to all the other uncooperative witnesses we come across (say, Michael’s mom). I think seeing his transformation into an instrument in Bunk’s investigation just brings home how heartbreaking a case Randy is. It was a brief appearance, but that’s the role to which he’s now been reduced.

  34. Allday Says:

    Nicky and Randy’s scenes felt alot like the prequels that aired before the season (which I didn’t like either). Characters that I care about, and that the show had taken great pains to develop, get the disservice of being summed up in 30 seconds. Or maybe it’s just the fandom talking – I want to see these stories told, not just get the Cliff notes. Regardless, the Wire has always respected its audience’s intelligence, and it feels unnecessary for it to remind us that waterfront condos are bad for stevedores, or that Randy’s life in a group home would suck.

    With the newsroom characters, I feel like I’m watching the same scene over and over. Templeton makes up some bullshit, Gus is skeptical but the bosses eat it up. I get it.

    The season does realize some of its upside potential in Snoop’s screentime. Can she be sarcastic? The only time I could think of was last season when her and Chris toss the nailgun into the harbor and she tells Chris he owes her eight hundred dollars. Then again, maybe she actually wanted the money.

  35. engorged Says:

    “Homelessness? Who knew?”

    Carcetti delivered one of the most powerful, full of irony lines of The Wire. As the camera stayed on Carcetti, I felt sick to my stomach. How could he say that after making such a passionate speech to the press? I couldn’t have been a more sad and ashamed and dejected tv viewer than I was at that moment.

    It makes sense that McNulty’s poor, lost homeless soul will unravel all of society’s institutions that have failed him. Who better to blow down the house of cards than the most needy person in Baltimore and the only character on The Wire who makes Bubbles look like he has his act together? Everyone will gladly exploit him: McNulty to get Marlo; Templeton to make national news to get to a better paper. (btw he didn’t want to go down to skid row at first, editorial made him); The Sun’s brass to get themselves some national press wtf!?! ; Carcetti and his spin doctors to get him man elected to a higher office. Noone really gives a shit about the homeless. Ask Jay, he’ll tell you.

    But the most helpless person in Baltimore is going to be everyone’s undoing. I can’t wait to see how they do it.

    There’s nothing wrong with this season people. It is magic.

  36. Mal Says:

    For heavens sake, I get the feeling there are some people on here with really short memories. So much “I don’t like this character – too much of him, not enough of them, kill him off, that wouldn’t have happened, I want this to happen by the end”.

    If any of the people saying this can honestly say that at the end of s4e1 they were saying “Hmm, I really like these kids, they interest me and I want to follow their development rather than the MCU vs Marlo plot” then I’ll be amazed.

    If people want to talk about what should have been done AFTER s5e10 has aired, fine. Until then, surely you should know that Simon et al will always twist the story round. These parts that focus on ‘boring’ characters, that don’t go exactly how YOU want, may well turn out to have huge significance later. In fact some parts will certainly reveal their relevance later on. The only problem is, we don’t know which bits, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    (btw, I’m not criticising the blog – discussion is vital. Just put it this way, when you’re halfway through reading a book, you may want to criticize the writing or the characterisation, but you wouldn’t criticize the plot.)

  37. Hawkins Says:

    I had no issue with the Sobotka hat tip, because it also demonstrates the coda to the Season 2 where politicians were promising the docks would come back and we all know, they won’t.

    I have to think a lot of the “boring” comments are more people who got into the show due to the drug war/gangsta culture it showed rather than what the show’s about: the slow decay of a city.

  38. Simon's bitch Says:

    If David Simon produced the reading of the phone book, I’d watch it. I’ve got no real problem with this season (okay, a little with Lester being on board with McNulty’s bullshit, it just seems so out of character), and I’ve got total faith that, whereever they are going, it’s going to be worth the ride.

    Of course you hate Templeton, you’re supposed to hate him. Of course we’re outraged at McNulty, we’re supposed to be (and didn’t everyone first think he might be planning on KILLING that guy? and wasn’t the kidnapping a relief?).

    I’ve been worried for Omar every single seaason. He seems more and more vulnerable. Same can be said for Bubbles.

    I’ll be positively bereft when this season wraps up.

  39. Scott Cropper Says:

    Damn. The bottom line is most people just can’t enjoy something unless they are complaining about it. This season is going just fine. Be thankful that we even have a Season 5. The Wire is about life so its not going to be all tied up in a nice little package at the end of the season. Things don’t always happen like you might want them to, just like in life and especially for the characters in this show. Certain characters pop back up because they are relevant to the overall story. The lives of all the characters go on and it will be up to each of us to think “I wonder what happened too…” just like every other show or movie that ends.

  40. sheeeeeeeeit Says:

    The “I wish we didn’t have so much Templeton” comments don’t seem that useful. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but it’s about as productive as wishing D’Angelo or Bodie were still around. Or that Season 2 didn’t concentrate on the docks. Or that any number of things that you wanted from the show came true. But Simon et al gave you something else each time. And that’s his job: to come up with something you wouldn’t have. Have some faith.

    I’m not frustrated at all. The Wire has more to do this season than in any season that preceded it. Beyond juggling every storyline the show hasn’t resolved, and all the strands within each storyline, they have to bring closure and resolution to each. They also have to do so in 10 episodes and not 13.

    Sometimes, you just need to do more with less…

  41. S Says:

    I’d like to do more with LESS Templeton!

    I think one of the reason I loved Season 4 so much was the absence of McNulty.

    They better bring Avon back again! That would definitely redeem this season.

  42. jetsetjunta Says:

    For the record I don’t intend my writing here (and nor do any of us) to be a “complaint” but rather a critique, which is the whole point of this site. If we just wanted to cheerlead, well, that would just be a waste of time. I think discussions with all-or-nothing viewpoints are a little thin on actual constructive results, and the mentality that you have to simply accept a work of art on its own terms at all times no matter is insane, and wouldn’t yield a lot of intellectual discourse on art, music, film, or television.

    At any rate, I think the quality of the writing is just fine this season, but the fast pace and stuffed storylines mean that the show itself is doing more with less, very much more, and that chokes out a lot of the more qualitatively languorous sequences and narrative arcs, at the same time putting up a bit of a wall in terms of ideological dynamism. Marlo’s plotline is fun, and McNulty and Freamon’s escapades are wild, but what is this saying about the nature of criminal enterprise in underclass communities or the effectiveness of police departments in decaying urban centers? Not much, at the moment (or at least not much that we don’t already know), which is fine, but also makes this cops and robbers show feel a little like other cops and robbers shows (this is something that HLOTS succumbed to in various ways, strikingly with the sniper plot, as I recall), certainly not in terms of quality of intent, but in richness of sociocultural content.

  43. engorged Says:

    “If David Simon produced the reading of the phone book, I’d watch it.”

    Funny.

    True.

  44. wirefan Says:

    I’d be interested to know what people’s take on David Mills’ assertion that this season is to have a ‘Dr. Strangelove’ quality to it and if anyone feels that the last six episode has illustrated that.

  45. Adam Hoff Says:

    If nothing else, this season seems to be very polarizing – people shouting it down and others shouting THEM down for doing so. And while the Omar storyline has pushed the bounds of realism, that has long been true. Same with the “forced” cameos – again, that storytelling device has long been a Wire staple.

    To me, it is the McNulty story that is pushing people to the extremes. Yes, it harkens back to Hamsterdam, but even during S3 Bunny was always shown as rationale and fairly noble in his attempts. Plus, the premise was rooted in real life, as a past Baltimore mayor saw his political career go up in flames for suggesting it. Whereas with McNulty we are watching someone losing a grip on reality, acting out of impulse, and operating with impaired judgment.

    I happen to think that is the whole point. We’ve gotten to know McNulty over the past four seasons. We’ve seen his disdain for the bosses, his cocky attitude regarding his policing abilities, his issues in relationships (and with fatherhood), his insecurities about his place in the world (highlighted in S3 by his ill-fated relationship with D’Agostino), and his drinking problem. He’s a very developed character that seemed happy and well adjusted in S4, only to get sucked back in by the 22 bodies. Now he’s chasing the only thing that has ever really fulfilled him, which is a great case. Except that the bosses won’t let them work it, so he’s flying off the handle. Yes, he’s out of control. Yes, kidnapping a homeless man is deplorable. Yes, his whole scheme, rationale, and general behavior are ridiculous. But that’s because he’s a flawed human indulging his worst instincts. And who among us hasn’t seen this happen with people we care about?

    When it does happen to people around us, do we enjoy it, relish it, and want to see more of it? Of course not. Nobody wants to see someone they “know” (whether in reality or in the form of a TV character) disintegrate before their very eyes. Yet that is what is happening to McNulty. He’s the lead character who has embodied so many important themes over five seasons of this show – from the minor victories to the constant, crushing losses that come from operating within a flawed institution. And now he’s coming apart at the seams, which is really the natural outcome of everything that came before.

    I think we are disappointed in what we see because it too closely mirrors the way people really let us down and I think we are defensive because we are likewise defensive of people we care about. If anything, for better or worse, this season is tapping into deep, important human emotions.

  46. Matt Says:

    Great analysis Adam. I agree that McNulty’s descent into madness is completely plausible given what we know about him from season’s past. McNulty has always had a tenuous hold on his life, but police work kept his eye on the ball enough to depress the drinking and womanizing. What we saw in season 4 was an upswing, with his relative sobriety and contented walks on the beat. Now he’s clearly on the downswing, working (as Bunk says) “murders that don’t even exist”. The scenes with his ex-wife and with Beadie have been incredibly hard for me to watch. Before, McNulty’s fuckups were laughable, flaws sure, but not fatal ones. This time though I think he’s gotten his mind into a place he can’t return from.

    I thought the Nickie Sobotka cameo (along with the rest of the dockworkers) was excellent and pointed. Those condos mean less dock jobs, that means more workers are going to fall through the cracks — like we saw with the now homeless dockworker. One part of Baltimore does not rise without another part (often the least powerful, the least politically connected) falling.

  47. MJ Says:

    Dr. Strangelove quality? Then McNulty is Slim Pickens riding the bomb down, yelling all the way. Sacrificing himself in an effor to make the thing work! Eyes wide open.

  48. Sera Says:

    McNulty, I understand. His behavior does not surprise me in the least. I always hated his character. Dominic West’s British accent is a source of annoyance too. I just don’t care about him. Period.

    It’s Lester Freamon who has jumped the shark. He used to be a good cop – patient, meticulous, by the book, intelligent, rational. There is NOTHING in Lester’s history that would explain his recent spiral into insanity. This is completely out of character for him. Obviously Lester has been replaced by a pod person. Who is this person?


  49. It’s been said, but I’ll repeat: Lester’s role, while jarring, is by no means out of place given what we know about his history. (Busted down to pawn shop unit for some form of insubordination, insistent upon following the money and the subpoena business against Pearlman’s judgment, etc.) Just because he’s played it relatively straight — as long as he’s had the proper resources at his disposal, or at least nobody looking over his shoulder — doesn’t mean he’s without an “independent streak.” As said McNulty: “You don’t strike me as the patrol type.” There’s probably whole lot we don’t know about Lester. Just having him do a 180 out of nowhere would be dishonest storytelling, but that’s not the feeling I get at all; it’s a shock, but there seems to be a definite precedent.

    Also, I think it’s entirely appropriate that Nick and Randy resurfaced in the same episode — “The Dickensian Aspect,” no less. I feel like they’re pretty similar characters in a lot of ways — smart, crafty, ostensibly close to finding a way out of the system they were in. But, ultimately, they ended up as the forgotten, literally removed from whatever was familiar and comfortable, and now they’re here as a couple of grizzled, older nobodies holding well-deserved grudges.

    I’ll offer that that description can probably apply to several thousand of the show’s characters, but nonetheless. If there’s one thing The Wire does well, it’s parallel plotlines.

  50. Tito Landrum Says:

    Sera, I very much respect your opinion, however, on Lester I have to agree entirely with Jordan. What did you think of Lester’s explanation of his actions in episode 6?


  51. Lester’s not the patron saint of good police. His big humanizing character flaw — which isn’t terribly obvious, as none of the other characters have never explicitly called him out on it, and it’s hidden beneath his wise-grandfather shell — is that he thinks he’s smarter than any criminal. This is consistent over the show’s entire run; it’s a sort of arrogance. He’s convinced that there is no tactic or code used by his targets that he cannot crack, and that given sufficient resources he can catch any crook. If he didn’t have this blind spot, he would have realized that Marlo was a step ahead of him, and he’d never have gotten on board with McNulty’s crazy plan. Lester’s behavior is not at all out-of-character for him.

  52. Matt Says:

    Part of the reason I think some are unsatisfied with the cameos from Nicky and Randy is that there is much more to tell there: it isn’t so black and white as jaded Randy and Nicky. But in the limited run of 10 episodes, like many have said: the Wire is doing more with less.

    Part of the reason I like those scenes, especially the Nicky one, is that the Wire has always rewarded the hard-core viewer for their investment in the characters. Watch each episode enough and the more “inside” jokes you can pull out, the more subtle hints and clues and minutie you clue in on. As a Wire fanatic since forever seeing Nicky in that scene added to an already impressive sense of verisimilitude.

    The Wire doesn’t dump people, that’s not what they do.

    As for Lester, this guy was never a house-cat, he spend 13 long years buried in the pawn shop unit where he spent more time with doll house figurines than case-work. Suddenly things changed and eventually it got too good to be true: “Lester, for all I care you are the Major Crimes Unit”, says Daniels, in no uncertain terms.

    Lester has become drunk with his sudden power, he’s cocky and arrogant now — besides being the smartest guy in every room Jimmy McNulty isn’t in.

  53. Simon's bitch Says:

    Thirteen years, and four months!

    I don’t know if the conviction that he’s smarter than any criminal is really such a blind spot….doesn’t that conviction pretty much drive any good police? “You do not get to win.”

    “Drunk with sudden power”…now that makes some sense. Thank you, Matt.

  54. jay Says:

    Marlo isnt one step ahead of Lester, the game is…

  55. The Great Man Mannie Fresh Says:

    With all that being said, I’d still give this season, through 6 eps., a B+ (w/r to the rest of TV) – it’s about on par with season 3, which really had no real memorable moments (or at least moments that I can recall – hence, memorable) besides String getting offed and the Bunk/Omar sitdown.

  56. The Great Man Mannie Fresh Says:

    Ie., for all that everyone is bitching about screen time/ lack there of, and pacing, there’s no way that anyone is taking their eyes off the screen.

  57. cgist Says:

    You’re on the money Jay, about the game being ahead!
    And Matt is right as well. Lester is drunk with the power that he and Jimmy have acquired with the moves they made because he “regarded that decision as illegitimate” in reference to the bosses ending the chase of Marlo’s crew for the bodies in the vacants. His explanation to Sydnor should make it clear to the doubters that his actions don’t run contrary to who he is at all.
    His story line runs parallel to Marlo this season in that he wants that crown just as badly as Marlo so he’s willing take it by any means necessary rather than stay in the boundaries waiting for the higher ups to give them what they need to solve the case. Same as Marlo killed Joe and took the keys to the kingdom rather than “play the son” and wait for an inheritance. Check the grin on Lester’s face when they got up on fake wire. Surprised he didn’t ask Jimmy “do it feel like a crown on your head” and ask him to go to AC. Of course he wouldnt’ do that but thing is, Lester’s become so drunk and blinded by power that he’s forgetting what he knows so well about those who are inebriated with power….they always get sloppy…..those are his words yet his own mistake. Ironically, like Jay said the game is a step ahead and while Lester is making moves to take the crown,maneuvering off the make-believe murders, Bunk is actually being a “natura po-lice” and coming closer than anyone to actually solving the murders.
    Kima fired Bunk up by asking him “what would McNulty do” but it’s because he is not McNulty/Lester and not chasing the crown that he can look within the limited means that he has to find the answer rather than letting the limitations frustrate him into creating a pyrrhic victory cause “they don’t get to win”.

  58. That Honey Nut Says:

    I’m also not a super huge fan of the fake serial killer plot–I think most people here would agree that the shortened season has taken a toll on the execution of many of the storylines–but complaints that it is uncharacteristic of McNulty and Freamon are, I think, off base. Sure, a line here is crossed in that this obvious tampering crosses the line from a mere disciplinary infraction into a criminal act, but I think there’s ample precedent on the show over its run for those characters coming right up to that line, and even slightly crossing it.

    Think about it: the series has shown these guys going outside the chain of command repeatedly, which, while not a criminal act, is definitely an act in violation of proper procedure. The reaching out to the FBI on several occasions has always been sub rosa, as is Lester taking the “head shot” on Clay Davis directly to Bond–no report filed with a superior, no clearing it with anyone. Matt and Cgist are definitely on to something with their characterizations of Lester’s own ego trip, which has only been exacerbated by being placed in the position he is currently in: as part of a unit with a commander (“how’s that house coming along? Great, that’s great” guy) who doesn’t figure into things, Lester has been placed into an Omar-like role. As Lester’s circumstances have given him freer and freer rein–albeit with limited resources–he has become more of a free agent. His only limitations are in what he can and can not procure from the brass.

    And let’s not forget how they got that tap on Stringer’s phone in season 3: by giving him an Arabic middle name on the affidavit in support of it. That’s a serious transgression. These guys have been inching towards this point for a long time.

  59. That Honey Nut Says:

    also, so long as we’re shoehorning in glimpses of past characters into this season, Bubs’s visit to the clinic was a totally missed opportunity to give us what we’ve all been secretly yearning for: a glimpse of Poot and his ever-receding hairline

  60. Mal Says:

    Honey nut – your posts have set me off on several tangents, as all the best posts do. I feel so happy to have found this blog, because it really adds to my understanding of the show – that said, my memory of a few events leads me to a slightly different reading of Freamon.

    Firstly, while the show has shown the men going outside of the chain of command, it hasn’t always been as simple as disobedience. For example, each time McNulty passed info to the judge, the instruction on how to deal with this information was passed down from the judge to Burrell -> Rawls -> Daniels etc. I’m pretty sure the ‘Head Shot’ went through Rhonda, and I know the feds were the ones who called Stringer ‘Ahmed’ (and i’m pretty sure the only reason they were persuaded to was because Daniels reminded Fitzhugh that he was responsible for Sobotka’s death).

    I know these are minor points – I guess what I’m trying to say is that they have always been willing to go outside the direct chain of command, but only when they felt the standard procedure and bureaucracy had failed or was incapable of dealing with a change in situation. For example – McNulty only went to Judge Phelan when the standard hierarchy failed to provide the means to properly track D’Angelo, even though a state witness was killed. Daniels only used the feds to shorten the time it took to get the phone company onside when they had already stopped him from doing it through normal police channels – even with Rhonda on board.

    In the same way, I feel McNulty and Freamon feel that what they are doing is, in terms of their relationship with their bosses, not that different. The promises of more funding have turned into a deficit, and when the Clay Davis fight gets chosen over the 22 bodies, they decide strings need to be pulled, but even then the plan is only to try and bring the city police more money. Think of the plan as initially detailed to Freamon – take a couple of already dead bodies, link them to inflate their importance, and when the money comes in for that, divert a little to cover a couple of weeks on Marlo. If this plan had worked in the same way that Stringer’s psuedonym or getting the useless Major Crimes commander to sign off on subpeonas did, there would be no need to go further outside the chain of command.

    While it could certainly be argues that McNulty is getting ahead of himself, taking on the mantle of the great protector and giving his ego a stroke, I still feel Freamon is focussed on doing ‘good policework’. It’s just that after all the obstacles put in his way by command – Marrimow is just one example – he feels he needs to cut out all the red tape and focus his mind one on one against Marlo, much like a chess game. The problem is that, as with any large bureaucracy, many of the annoyances we find unneccesary do in fact offer a level of protection. Without his commanders, Freamon is, in terms of his crime fighting at least, pretty much on his own, and as the initial plan spirals out of control with the increasing interaction of the media, he will stand or fall on his ability.

    The telling moment(s) for me have been when they finally got the wiretap running again, only to find Marlo had changed up, Freamon was confused, disheartened even, but seems sure that he’ll be able to overcome it in 56, with just a litte more time. I see what you’re saying about Lester acting as a free agent, but I never feel he does so arrogantly, I really get a sense that he does so only because *in this instance* he feels the chain of comand are powerless to help. Jimmy on the other hand always seems to think that if you’re not with him 100%, you’re holding him back.

    On a totally different note, I really feel like Bunk’s casework is building to something. Maybe he doesn’t solve the crimes and lock Marlo up, but perhaps he sets off a chain that turns Michael against them or something similar?

  61. doje Says:

    random observation: did anyone notice that the white chick in the back of the car getting an 8-ball in hamsterdam in S3, ep. 8 is the same chick who gives the speech at the NA meeting at the beginning of S5, ep. 2?

    another great implementation of past figures returning, and how they’ve developed (inevitably, downward)

  62. playerpaul Says:

    While I share the viewpoint that the season feels rushed and the writing somewhat compromised (i.e. chunks of expositional dialogue that do not sound natural), the Wire on its worst day is head and shoulders far above anything else on television or movies. And moments of excellence continue to present themselves – for example, the homeless vet’s story was quite poignant and beautifully written by Ed Burns.

    While the fake serial killer plot and McNulty/Fraemon’s transformation into bad po-lice – (face it, that’s what they are – I don’t care how pure their motive is to take down a ruthless thug and make a dysfunctional system do the right thing) – does strain credulity, it also is true to the show’s fatalistic view of human nature and institutions. What we’re seeing in this final season is the Wire universe’s descent into evil – the consequences of the characters’ relentless self-interest and quest for power at the expense of the most vulnerable and powerless amongst us – the urban poor, substance abusers and homeless.

    While a few “good guys” make vain efforts to fight the good fight (see Bunk, Kima), they are largely powerless. I fear Omar may join this group before the season’s out – to me, he remains the one last character to avenge this evil – the only good guy left who still has some power. I know this show is explicitly not about justice and the afore-mentioned cynical fatalism argues against any such hope, but, goddammit, I can’t help but keep hoping.

  63. the missing camera Says:

    Lots of great commentary on this thread.

    I can add only a few favorite moments:

    Marlo’s scene with the co-op was great. It ended well, with Cheese’s smirk as he got up to leave with Marlo and Monk.

    Bunk was speechless, helpless with frustration, when his request in CSI on a killing he’s now linked to the 22 bodies case (wait, Kima made that 25, now 26) went nowhere because the priority is the homeless men killer. Here the plotting to keep the wire going has become counter-productive. The Wire itself is a drug that the cops can’t afford. Look, Bunk is free to pull out the files and re-open those cases. He’s top-notch murder police. Why couldn’t McNulty and Freamon do that too, with the time they’ve wasted plotting and illegally wiretapping? In today’s environment, the dangers of relying on illegal wiretapping are especially pertinent.

    And, as noted above, a truly terrifying moment, a series high point, was wondering whether McNulty was going to kill a homeless man. That way, he could work the crime scene with his red ribbon and false teeth, before the murder po-lice arrived. Then they could keep their illegal wiretap going. The Wire has come full circle.

  64. JT Says:

    Desperation is a powerful, powerful humanizing force.

    Almost every character has that at the core of their being in Season 5, and I love the way it’s playing out so far.

    Some will get their comeuppance, some will not; much like life, not everyone with dirt on their hands gets a chance to come clean.

    I am really enjoying Season 5. Serious kudos to Heaven and Here for keeping the dialogue open.

  65. Andrew Says:

    Lost in all this discussion of the plot of this episode is one of my favorite exchanges of the series.

    Tommy: Remember what the DNC folks told me two years ago? What I needed to do to take the state house?

    Mike: Build something downtown and stick your name on it, get the crime to go down, and stay away from schools.

    Tommy: And keep my boyish good looks.

    Norman: One out of four ain’t bad.

  66. jaywest03 Says:

    that makes no sense…

  67. jaywest03 Says:

    “Bunk was speechless, helpless with frustration, when his request in CSI on a killing he’s now linked to the 22 bodies case (wait, Kima made that 25, now 26) went nowhere because the priority is the homeless men killer. Here the plotting to keep the wire going has become counter-productive. The Wire itself is a drug that the cops can’t afford.”

    The “CSI” backlog has nothing to do with the illegal wiretap, its the result of the same budget cutbacks that the wire was designed to circumvent.

  68. That Honey Nut Says:

    Mal-thanks for clearing up some of the factual inaccuracies in my post, and for walking down the path I was on. What you wrote helped me clarify my own thoughts on some of these issues, and I think that basically what I was trying to say–but didn’t really succeed in saying–is that many of us Wire viewers have perhaps been looking at the serial killer plot from a perspective that is too narrow. The fact is that we are all here talking about Season 5 of The Wire, which, though it is the final part of long narrative, is still its own discrete entity, and one which we are watching and discussing as it unfolds. And so we look at what’s going on with this plot and we think, man, this is really coming out of left field, what is up with this, this is sloppy and unprecedented. The fact that everyone here knew going into it that HBO cut down its episode order from 13 down to 10 probably set up an assumption that things would at the very least feel a bit rushed and at worst that the show’s quality would suffer.

    But like you pointed out in listing all the times that the characters in question have gone outside the chain of command-and their reasons for doing so-it just really brought it out for me that we have to approach this while taking all of the series into consideration. Whether he has been overreacting or not, what we have seen McNulty dealing with from Day 1 of the series has been the problem of a power structure blind or willfully ignorant of problems besetting it or how to solve them, and time and again the only way that he has ever gotten anything accomplished has been by tossing aside the rulebook to some degree. He isn’t making up a serial killer because they took him off of Marlo’s 20-odd bodies; he’s doing this because they took him off those bodies, and because they let the original wire on Marlo die in the first place, and because they put him on the boat for making them face the Barksdale problem, and for all the other times they’ve let him down, whether or not it’s been his fault.

    Now, I realize that this is exactly how Simon probably wants you to view this plotline, but for whatever reason, that is not the way I had been experiencing it. I saw episode one of season 5, with that final shot of McNulty pissed, and then a couple of shows later he’s fucking with a crime scene, and my reaction was “this is silly, why is he all of a sudden doing this, damn them for making this season 10 episodes.” I was looking at the serial killer plotline as what they’re doing in season 5, like the newsroom is what they’re doing in season 5; once I started thinking back more thanks to a lot of these posts about all that’s gone on before, and started seeing the plotline (which I still have problems with, given that the whole serial killer story and how McN and Freamon are putting it together seem bound to fail) as part of the whole of the story the show has been telling for all these years, I came to accept it more openly.

    One more thing:
    I still don’t care too much about the newsroom stuff. It’s ok. I like Gus (I was just watching some old Homicide episodes the other night, and the actor who plays Gus played a homicide detective on that show, but played him in exactly the same way that he plays Gus; it was interesting to see), but overall I think it unarguably suffers from the shortened schedule. Think about Season 2 and all the screen time devoted to the dock characters. We got to know Frank, Nicky, and Ziggy way better than we’ll ever get to know Templeton, Gus, and Alma. The fact that the cast has gotten as large as it has, with so many storylines to wrap up, means that the newsroom stuff probably never had a chance to be examined as thoroughly as other areas the show has looked at. Which is a shame, but it is what it is.

    Also, I hope none of this is taken as an attack on the show. I think it should just be assumed that everyone in here, unless they state otherwise, is pretty much of the opinion that this show is head and shoulders above most of the other stuff out there. Griping about little things is just a good way to discuss all this stuff, is all.

    Also I hope that Omar makes it back to Puerto Rico. It’s really nice here, and Costco sells the Honey Nut in bulk.

  69. DocRich Says:

    Janet asked:
    >Joe showed Marlo a sealed indictment (last season, I believe) to demonstrate his >connect with the judicial system. If I recall correctly this was one of the perks Marlo >saw about joining the co-op. I don’t recall if anything Joe had necessarily pertained >to any of the cases in any of the seasons.

    The “sealed indictment” Joe showed Marlo last season pertained to a raid about to be staged against a dealer named Berman (first name . . . . Charlie?). I believe this character only existed off screen. Prop Joe told Marlo that since Berman was not part of the co-op, he did not really have a reason to give him a heads up. Curiously, in episode 56, Bunk said something about Berman going on “the wing” before the indictment was served, and that he hadn’t turned up yet. So I guess ole Prop Joe must have found a reason after all!

    As far as the cameos are concerned, I feel that the appearance of both Nick and Randy fit right into the storylines being unfolded. And I agree with whoever said that the popping up of the old characters is one of the things we love about this show. Oddly, when the camera scanned the crowd at the waterfront, Nick wasn’t the first stevedore I recognized – it was the guy on his left – Little Roy, or Little Willie or something like that. But Nicky’s shouting out a big “Fuck you”, to Kralczyk was hysterical – and a great parting shot.

  70. B Says:

    Omar has definetly crossed over some line with his rage and anger. I suprised no one commented that he swore in this episode, calling Marlo a bitch. That had always been against his code.

  71. Phil Says:

    I have been trying to work out where I saw that girl from episode 2 from, previously on the Wire – thank you!

  72. Adam Hoff Says:

    B – good point. I told my brother that the Chris’ fear about Omar going near his kids was unfounded because it went against Omar’s code. Chris should know Omar well enough to know that. But he pointed out that Omar seemed pretty prone to breaking said code. The profanity seemed to confirm that and lend weight to your larger point, that Omar has crossed a line.

    In many ways, this whole season is about characters crossing lines, big and small. McNulty – obviously. Scott and Lester – likewise. Randy – small but unavoidable, probably. Carcetti – every day. Marlo – killing Joe to wear the crown. Now Omar. It makes me wonder (and fear) what is coming next.

  73. Brian O'Nolan Says:

    First and foremost, thank you for this site. Great, thoughtful posts by many and great, thoughtful comments by all.

    Part of me feels all this is, in some way, just a complicated but severe case of separation anxiety. I know, for me, each time the end credits’ music kicks in, no matter how I feel about a particular episode, part of me is sad ’cause it means one fewer episode left.

    Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and this site would be somewhat toothless if it was nothing but cheerleading, but I think we can all agree that a)even on it’s worst day, “The Wire” beats everything else on TV and b)Simon, Burns et al. (not to confuse a temp crime lab tech or anything) deserve more than the benefit of the doubt. They deserve our absolute allegiance and blind faith.

    Regarding the serial-killer plotline, I think a distinction should be made between what a character does that isn’t credible, and what a character does that we, the audience, just really, really don’t want them to do. For me, though the points about the faster pacing of this storyline are valid, it’s much, much more that McNulty and Freamon are DISAPPOINTING me at this stage. I can understand and empathize with their frustration, and I can buy their willingness to start manufacturing a case that will lead to them building a case against Marlo. But I want to reach out at each step that they take towards recklessness and illegality and grab them, stop them. Even McNulty’s actions Seasons 1 through 4, which to me do set up this season’s behavior, weren’t so out of line and morally wrong that I couldn’t support them. I can’t support what he’s done this season, and that disappointment is with HIM (and Lester), not with the show. I mean, Lester agreeing to go along with McNulty is believable as the actions of a man who’d rather get stuck in the Pawn Dept than back down, but man, it’s like finding out your dad is cheating on your mom.

    Given that it’s clear from this thread that I wasn’t the only one genuinely worried McNulty was going to murder an innocent homeless man, it seems like he’s lost to us. Before he was just an a$$hole, but a likeable anti-hero. Now he’s as bad (worse) as Templeton, who we’re SUPPOSED to hate. That, in and of itself, is not a flaw in the show.

    Complaints about the cameos, I reject. Nick’s cameo is a payoff from Season 2; Randy’s may not have paid off tonight, but it still may. Even if it doesn’t, I’d rather “loose ends” be tied up with a brief scene than simply in any montage that happens in the finale.

    To me, these final episodes are gifts. But perhaps it’s understandable to snipe at something that’s leaving you.

    Sorry for the long post – again, this site is fantastic and a must-read for all “Wire” fans.

  74. brent Says:

    I think I’m probably coming at this one the tail end of this thread, but I think this is worth saying:

    In 73 comments thus far, the word “novel” has not come up. While each season has focused on a different social element, the 5 seasons exist as part of a larger narrative. Thinking of each season as an entirely distinctive unit is contrary to the holistic nature of the series.

    Most of us are familiar with the difficulty the creators had in bringing the show to air and then keeping it going. It is after all, a TV series. And TV series are divided into seasons for reasons less creative than fiscal. While the five distinctive seasons have helped maneuver the story in fascinating ways, I have to believe that construction was in some way dictated by the requirements of making a viable TV series. In other words, it was a stupendously creative solution to an unavoidable dilemma.

    The point being, when considering the appearance of a Sobotka or Wagstaff appearance, remember they are not part 2 or 4 cameos in a part 5 scene. They are intrinsic parts of the 5 part narrative.

  75. preiser Says:

    Regarding the woman who showed up in Hamsterdam and the NA meeting in episode 2. I re-watched season 4 the other day and she shows up in one of the later episodes, Corner Boys I think. The episode when Bunk is investigating the murder at Old Face Andre’s Stash House/Corner store. The woman walks in to buy cigarettes or something. Bunk has an exchange with her and we find out she’s a hooker. So in season 3 she’s using, season 4 she’s hooking, and then we see where she ends up in 5. Btw, this site is really great.

  76. Rachel Says:

    -Why is Lester’s last name spelled like that?

    I suspect that this is an homage to Tyreeka Freamon, who Burns & Simon wrote about in The Corner. She was the mother of DeAndre’s child.

  77. ninety_nine Says:

    I think a lot of the criticism has to do with the extra-textual fact of the show ending in four episodes. This creates anxiety outside the actual plot (what about Poot? Where is Bubs this ep! etc.) What will happen to Dukie? We will never know, since there are about three weeks of plot time left and he’s barely into his teens. Characters like Cutty we can make reasonable assumptions for from a Wire-style cameo. But life goes on.

    Regarding ‘cameos’, I think that’s a poorly chosen word. It’s sometimes jarring, but isn’t it also amazing that they could conceivably cast many scenes, all filled with people who we know, even if they don’t get speaking lines.

    Oh, and a catch no one has mentioned. When Bunk is looking at the old file that leads him to Ricky in 56, Felicia Pearson is one of the names in the write up. Is it possible that was the character’s name of the ‘girl in the park’ that Ricky told (Lex?) about? that would be great.

  78. ninety_nine Says:

    Sorry, I meant to say ‘Wire-style coda’ above. At this point all of episode 60 would have to be Steve Earle singing for 45 minutes while we tie up all the loose end.

  79. range Says:

    I think it’s too bad that this will be the last season. There are so many storylines. It could easily last another three or four season before they all play out. Nevertheless, there are only four episodes left. How will they wrap everything up?

  80. Mal Says:

    ninety-nine: Felicia Pearson is Snoop. The girl Lex thought he was going to meet was Patricia.

  81. DavyJ Says:

    I hope it has not been lost on anybody that the core of all the dismay and misery in this show is goverment. Not the evils of capitalism, or simply “institutions” but goverment. Over and over and over again until everything is destroyed.

    Be it the war on drugs destroying the lives of everybody it touches.

    Be in the beurocratic nightmare of the police, rewarding political pull over good police work every time.

    Be it the *public* school system sucking the life out every idealistic teacher and failing to teach its children anything at all.

    Be it the social worker with a monopoly on power, denying Carver the ability to save Randy’s future.

    Be it Clay davis, manipulating the masses and using his power to steal and defraud.

    Be it carcetti or royce spending the millions they never earnt on things they know nothing about, often based purely on political or egotistical reasons.

    Be McNulty’s upcoming destruction, Sobotkas death, Duquan’s situation or Wallace’s demise, these characters have all fallen victim to the incompetent, unearened authority of the biggest institution of all–The very idea of Goverment. I doubt anything can change until we, as a people develop the courage to ask the question for real…

    Can Goverment EVER do a damn bit of good for anyone? I submit, it cannot.

  82. ninety_nine Says:

    I Felicia Pearson is Snoop — I don’t have Season 4 yet to check to see if they ever gave Patricia a character name. I guess it would even be more meta if that was an actual copy of an actual arrest report of Pearson’s, but I also don’t think they would blow a prop that bad. We were watching, so we didn’t stop long enough to read the entire thing. Makes me want to go back and look at other paperwork for the hell of it.

  83. Mal Says:

    ninety-nine: You’re right that Felicia Pearson is the Actress who plays Snoop, but it is also Snoop’s full character name – http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/snoop.shtml


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