I’m So Emotional I Hug the Block

So much to say. I am so woozy from the ride so far this season it’s hard to know where to begin or end in commentary. I suppose the best place to begin is with a disagreement with Shoals on the awesomeness exhibited by that boy Marlo. I am starting to think that he is the embodiment of the opposite of awesome. That he is not just the Prince of Darkness in the cold, hard stare department, but also in that he ruins the world through his malevolence.


This relates to ongoing conversations in its confrontation of the allure of the crime drama, of course, but also to the nogoodnik cousin of The Wire, the police procedural. If that genre prizes good cops and rough justice (thank you Rolling Stones for your comedy gold!), and demonizes crime in its myriad forms (including the very idea that crime might ever be justifiable, thus making Minority Report the ultimate in police procedurals), then The Wire distinguishes itself and makes the world a bit more real by considering the shortcomings of faith in police and the justice system, but also by offering the possibility that criminal enterprise can be justified, if only for the purposes of empowering the powerless.

Yet, as all systems are laid bare while we progress through this series, the system of drug dealing has been exploded too. Marlo’s steely gaze and ruthless management of even the most glib corner dealer (likening Omar to terrorists and corner dealers to airlines was pretty priceless) are perhaps admirable for adherence to g-code rules. But if g-code rules get you a hefty prison bid (Avon) and canny business sense puts you in the ground (String), there is really no more faith to be had in the system at all. Thus Marlo’s ruthless though shrewd tactics ring false to me, particularly given the positions he is being put into this season.

Five characters interacted / interfered with Marlo and were dealt with in some way in this episode.

Bodie’s unhappiness was made clear, and while his new package will keep his corner profitable and whatever protection Marlo has on offer will keep him safe, Bodie yearns for the Barksdale name, the Barksdale system, and the Barksdale faith, of which he was perhaps the greatest adherent. That thread is clearly to be continued, and I hope something develops with Bodie, as I think him to be a lynchpin of the greater narrative.


Next up is the security guard. Talk about a heart-breaker. Aced for trying to be a human being, trying to be a person and trying to be seen. “You want it to be one way, but it’s the other way.” Those are fierce words and hearing them is at first a bit invigorating, until you realize that while Marlo is right enough given his home turf, his corners, and of course given that he’s got his muscle and his organization intact, he is also living in a dreamworld.

The dreamworld is shattered, satisfyingly enough, by Omar, whose reliance on drugs for his own fortunes has not yet managed to strip any of his awesomeness away. This meeting of the two was arranged by Prop Joe (who I recently learned is Snoop’s acting coach) either as a simple fuck you to Marlo, or perhaps to establish bad blood with the uncooperative dealer and the hired (or at least hire-able) gun. In a way it feels like Joe trying to offer a lesson to Marlo that anyone can be fucked with, and that his sense of security and permanence is totally illusory.

Finally, Michael. I don’t think it’s presumptuous to proffer that the season will hinge of the fight for the soul of Michael. Marlo’s lieutenants keeping watch over him as he plays caregiver to his adorable brother (“I like math!”), smacks of being utterly sinister and a bit of dramatic foreshadowing, just as Cutty’s benevolent gesture of inviting him to the fights is foreshadowing of the tough job he may have of wresting him from the allures (or compulsions) of the game. Michael does such a masterful job of acting that it’s hard to even propose that he might be more of a symbol than a character, but I think he has a bit of the former and a ton of the latter. It will be interesting to see how he manages things, and how the Wire writers choose to break our hearts with him.



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13 Comments on “I’m So Emotional I Hug the Block”

  1. Shoals Says:

    ring false or ring hollow?

    i meant to imply in yesterday’s post that marlo had gone from chilling to psychotic, and in the process lost a lot of his iconic perfection. he’s gone from truly otherworldly to someone who bullies others with his exceptionalism.

  2. PostmanE Says:

    Re: Michael breaking our hearts. Is there no other way? I say this not in hopes of analytical focus, but just simply to say that I don’t know if I can take Michael in the “victim of the institution” role this season. I won’t be able to stomach it. What’s worse, I know it’s going to happen; it’s become a matter of when and how now.

  3. gautsid Says:

    I picture Randy to be the big victim for this season. He’s my favorite new character; the fact that he knows Lex’s killers combined with Royce denying funding for the witness protection is making my stomach churn already…

    Great site. Keep up the good work.

  4. Shoals Says:

    this should probably be its own post, but fuck it. . .

    i’ve been trying to figure out whether i think it’s too predictable to have one of the kids end up in a bad way. lambs to slaughter from the day they came on the show. at the same time, that’s the way things work. it would be no less misleading to make sure that all of the leading characters emerged unscathed.

    michael, randy, and dukie are all in jeopardy. michael and dukie’s roles in the narrative are largely based on the possibility of tragedy. is this manipulative? maybe. but is there any reason to believe that this is unrealistic, or dishonest? since i think we’d agree that the answer is “no,” suddenly it makes very little sense to talk about this aspect of the characters as problematic from an aesthetic standpoint. having these kids facing what they are is not all that different from the grown gangsters always likely to get shot or locked up.

  5. Shoals Says:


    (i’m tempted to propose an all-out ban on predictions, since in a world where some people are waaaaaay ahead this opens the door to all sorts of conversational decay. in restrospect, i just meant that this outcome would be the most frustrating way of retelling the pit crew’s story)

  6. cc Says:

    It’s ChristyCash here, I’m on my laptop where I haven’t logged into wordpress before and I don’t remember my password. Talk about tragedy.

    Interesting that Gautsid brings up Randy, because after his big role in episode one we haven’t seen as many heavy moments from him. Was talking last night with Jetset about Randy and the scene in the principal’s office with Cutty. He argued that it presented Randy as soft — as somehow not worthy of Cutty’s time and attention. But I disagreed. I think that so far we’ve seen Randy as just a kid. I didn’t feel like we were supposed to judge him any one way for telling on the tagger — He’s what, 12? He acts 12. It’s unnatural, or at the least unusual, for a 12 year old to act like Michael, to have to carry responsibility far beyond his years. All these kids have the potential to be tragic: with Michael it is because he is almost unbeliefvably good already; with Randy because he’s like Wallace, a regular kid; with Dukie, because he’s already beaten down. And I agree that it’s not manipulative: it’s just a necessary part of the plot.

    Speaking of Omar shattering Marlo’s dreamworld, I loved it when Omar said, “Money ain’t got no owners, only spenders.” I think I giggled.

  7. Shoals Says:

    not to get petty, but my entire monday post was based on that reading of the randy/cutty scene.

  8. jetsetjunta Says:

    yeah, and i’m not trying to downplay your post in relation to randy’s significance. i do think all those kids are significant, though namond was suspiciously absent from this past episode. randy versus michael might be another dominant theme as we move forward, in showing how they succeed in various ways. one thing i have wondered about is whose math prowess was shown in the scrap prez picked up after his first lesson? i don’t even think michael is in his class, and randy is too concerned with getting those hall passes and pretending to be younger (which i think is another interesting character point. he’s not just got some hustle, he’s also changing into the clothes of a younger child, perhaps reflective of his yearning to stay young). so it is dukey? he certainly exhibits the inquisitive and intelligent nature of an oddball / savant. then again, perhaps the scene was just to show that kids pay attention sometimes no matter what. anyway, i think we’ll see this shake out in lots of ways, not all heartbreaking, but perhaps painful still (that boyz n the hood photo was no accident). predictions are meaningless, but i suppose randy’s soul is up for grabs too, and like michael, there are those who will want to take it.

  9. Shoals Says:

    i like the idea that some of our photo selections are totally accidental.

    weird that michael seemed the strongest of them, but is also now looking like the one most likely to end up deep in the game. and that point about randy trying to stay young is absolutely brilliant (also reminds me of wallace with his toy).

    they’re saving namond. no way that his lineage doesn’t end up being huge later on. colvin seemed to recognize the name in the “scenes from the next.”

  10. jhoshea Says:

    sorry to add redundancy to redundancy but the whole tattling/snitching school/street child/adult dynamic is way too fascinating. funny the whole bewildering shit storm may come down to one simple glitch – these are children being asked to be adults.

  11. anna_a Says:

    My wire-watching partner was saying maybe Michael was molested. Evidence: the way he bolted out of the car with cutty/ flinched away from him/ asked if the other kid was coming to the fight before he said yeah/ talked up girls (in a reallly fake way) at the fight. Thoughts?

  12. jetsetjunta Says:

    i read michael’s response as an unwillingness to expose cutty, who is a positive role model and someone he both respects and is seeing respect from, to his dismal home life. although i have to say that i also thought for a moment that he might be worried about being alone with a strange man, and that such defensiveness could come from abuse. who knows. i haven’t seen any other indicators of abuse in that house, and really i think the facts that his mother is a junkie and he is forced to take care of his brother completely are enough problems to handle. now that i consider it though, i can’t think of any cases of molestation on the show, though with the focus on children this season it would happen now if ever.

  13. nbavvkjzbg Says:

    baseball poker rule

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