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.