If dawn breaks and the sun is sleeping. . .

First off, as promised, here’s the cautionary note: this post deals will issues raised up to and in Episode #43. Check yourself as you see fit. Alternatively, proceed over here for a guide to our #42 posts.

I promised Namond last week, and lo, today I come to you ready to speak of Season 4’s single most vexing character. A few stray thoughts first: it would’ve been over-obvious for Randy to get bagged for hanging out by Donut’s latest criminal triumph, and I applaud the writers for avoiding this. That this situation could occur, both realistically and as a convincing narrative touch, either shows us just how knee-deep in illegal shit these kids can’t help but be, or how clueless Randy is. The whole rape investigation is a more somber version of this same point, albeit that does have indirect consequences.

The lack of action. For some reason I’d been expecting a real barn-burner, but instead the streets were fairly quiet and the episode hung its adrenal hit on the election results. I for one had no idea they would come come this soon; getting caught off-guard by them might’ve been why I was happy to see Carcetti walk away with it. I despise the guy if I think about him enough, but at this point he’s one of The Wire‘s most involved studies in brittle, brittle human nature. We know the guy so well, so thoroughly now, that to turn our backs would be, well, a little callous. In a show that often suspends morality, humanity can be the next best thing, and Carcetti is at this point nothing if not that.

Also noteworthy how completely unconcerned with the streets last episode was. We had Marlo punking what’s left of the Major Case Unit, and those tense, sobering moments of Omar’s descent into gen pop. But when it came time to deliver the final scene—part cliff-hanger, part money shot, part refrain—we got a skinny white guy realizing that politics had perhaps healed his sick soul. Not without its drama, or its relevance to the ever-expanding point of the program. Those who came to The Wire because of its brave new take on the procedural, or its unflinching take on the streets, now have quite a different show on their hands. While Season 3 (my favorite, incidentally) hinted at it, Season 4 seems totally unconcerned with prioritizing one element of what makes cities tick and crumble.

Early on, you got my predictable sorrows over Dukie, whose resilience is now his defining trait. Then it was concern for Michael, the golden child whose inner strength could go either way. And last week, pauvre Randy, the one whose unwillingness to bend might prove his undoing. Namond, son of Wee-Bey and heir to the mantle of broad-shouldered hustling, had settled in as this season’s resident lost cause. Everything from his pedigree and swagger to his near-comic disdain for school gave the impression of a kid meant to excel elsewhere. Most importantly, only after the failed urine caper and during his apology to Prez has Ney exhibited anything resembling vulnerability. If Michael steels himself against the pain, and Dukie rolls with the punches, Namond appeared to have long ago buried that part of himself.

Yet come to find out in #43 that Namond draw all of his attitude and assurance not from his formidable dad, but rather from his petty mother. Namond is only ready for the streets because he’s a D’Angelo-like mama’s boy; my long-ago comparison of D. and Ney only makes sense if the latter’s seen as a vulgarized version of the Fallen Barksdale. Like Brianna at the more strategic upper echelons, De’Londa gets her way in the trenches. Bodie ostensibly plays along with her out of deference to Wee-Bey, but then immediately comments on how much about Namond can be explained by this “dragon lady.” Not his semi-legendary father—a scheming, vituperous woman whose greatest skills appear to be opportunism and recognizing when she’s beyond her depth.

As that school adminstrator lady puts it, Namond is the “pick of litter” when it comes to corner boys. When it comes time, though, for him to move his own package, his entire façade collapses. His mother now puts the pressure on him, instead of applying it to others to make his life easier (if nothing else, by example); he’s gone from an entitled bully to the victim of her pettiness. He desperately tries to enlist Michael, whose stock has risen so fast in the game that I’m half-expecting Daniels to invite him onto the force. Of course, the Boy Who Would Be Cutty lets him down gentle, but the implication is clear: Ney is not the rock his pops was, and when shit gets real he’s every bit the situational vampire his moms is. It’s almost physically impossible to imagine Wee-Bey impishly lying his way out of duty, and then staring at the work like it’s a foreign object his very being has repelled.

Namond looked across his bed at that package with such a look of impenetrable dread and alienation that, in that one moment, his entire act disintegrated. Caught between Wee-Bey’s rep and De’Londa’s selfish expectations, he’s been handed terms like “duty” as if they were family heirlooms, and then raised to use them as an unimpeachable cloak for bullshit. When it comes down to it, he’s neither here nor there, parroting the actions of a man’s man while depending wholly on his mother’s venemous teat.

I have no idea if Namond saw what I did, or where he’s headed next. I can’t help but suspect that his imminent encounter with Bunny Colvin will have a say in the matter. I do know, however, that if Namond once seemed destined for the corner in, umm, a “good,” Bodie-esque way, now he too has been laid bare as just another intersection of competing misfortunes.

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30 Comments on “If dawn breaks and the sun is sleeping. . .”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Let me just say thanks for putting up a spoilers warning. Stephen King (warning spoilers) could learn from you as he put a major spoiler in a review her wrote. Of course he gets all the “preview” disks of the seasons.

  2. shoals Says:

    funny how this show is being saved by critical buzz, but said buzz has likely fucked up the viewing experience for a lot of people. i stand by this.

  3. D Says:

    Finally, place to blog about the best show ever…..I am late comer.

    But has anyone picked up on the Spider not coming to the gym…and Michael not wanting to touch by Dennis…..Dennis comments about being locked up….could it be that his habits in jail (down low) have follow him on the outside……maybe I am looking to deep.but it is quite strange…

  4. Shoals Says:

    i thought spider had stopped coming around because cutty was boning his moms.

    i’m not ruling it out, but if cutty were a molestor wouldn’t there be some rumor out there? if the neighborhood knows where chris and snoop are stashing their bodies, wouldn’t there be something? and if michael knew, why would he even hang out there in the first place? plus wouldn’t that “you’re a good looking guy” comment have been a little too obvious?

    for those teens, there’s already enough weirdness surrounding male role models to explain spider and michael’s hesitancy.

    and isn’t there still that matter of rawls’s sexuality to tend to?

    clearly i just really, really don’t want this to be the case.

  5. Chris Says:

    One thing I don’t understand. Namond seems like a fuck-up, for sure, but I’m not sure he is the “pick of the litter” of the corner kids. That seems like a stretch to me, or it could be on a comment on how many kids have already been lost.

    I dunno.

  6. Lokar Says:

    I think the key to Namond is his Xbox360. I can’t imagine Wee-Bey had anything approaching that nice when he was 13 or 14. Namond is full of pride he hasn’t earned. He’s been pampered by his mother, so he’s never had to work for what he’s got. He’s proud and boastful with his clothes and everything, but he only got where he is because of his father’s name. Giving him his own package is dangerous, as I don’t think he’ll have a clue what to do with it when things get rough. In some ways he’s a bit like Ziggy. Making their way through life on nepotism. Okay, perhaps that comparison ends there, except maybe that they’re both stuck on pride and assumed abilities and they’re getting in over their heads.

  7. JP Says:

    There was an interesting throw-away line there that I’ll be interested to look for follow-up. Brianna told Namond that his interests have been looked after, as if it was separate from what De’Londa has been getting. De’Londa dismissed it later by calling Brianna a lying bitch, but I wonder if she may have squandered a “trust fund” in his name.

  8. ok dudes i’ve seen up to ep 9 now and i think it may have ruined me for this blog – i can’t remember what happened when – so no more predictions from me then. uh, it did seem like de’londa spent more money than she’s letting on. she’s really gross huh. it’s like yr parents hassling you to do yr home work when yr a kid, except she’s telling him to do something foul that’ll likely end him dead or in jail. what mindfuck shitstorm. (no spoilers here)

  9. like bay is supposed to be namond’s role model here? dude is a mass-murderer serving life w/o parole. WHY DONT THEY SEE SO SIMPLE WTF?!?

  10. christycash Says:

    I think it’s pretty clear that De’Londa spent all the money Brianna gave her. Brianna’s a lot of things — and I’ve gone on the record on this blog as not liking her a whole lot — but she’s never been a liar. And now De’Londa is sending her 14 year old kid out to hustle for her. Why doesn’t she get a goddamn job? I hate that woman. She is pure evil. The “duty” on the table here is not an honorable duty. Asking an eighth-grade child to “provide” for his fat lazy mama is not asking him to fulfill his familial duty or be a man. It’s abuse.

    Also, it’s interesting to think about just what a “corner boy” is, esp. in the eyes of the teachers. Nay is a “corner boy” in the sense that he’s disruptive in class and impossible to teach, and in the sense that he idolizes the streets and fancies himself a hustler. But in terms of Actual Trouble, it’s Randy who knows about a murder, not Nay. He’s the “pick of the litter” because he ACTS like a corner boy, not because he really ever gets into trouble. As Lokar said, he just wants to play his xbox.

    And no no no way is Cutty a molestor. Michael is just super suspicious of grown-ups and probably has been abused. Also being gay, or having gay sex, or being forced to have gay sex in jail, does not translate into pedophilia.

    I am interested in the Nay/Ziggy comparison. It would be like Nay to buy a diamond collar for a duck, wouldn’t it?

  11. Shoals Says:

    the only thing that could possibly make that kid crew any more awesome would be if they all got matching ducks. or if donut hotwired THE DUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Lokar Says:

    Cutty as a molestor?? Did I miss something?

  13. jetsetjunta Says:

    There was some sense from Michael’s bugging out of the van for no good reason that he may have been afraid to be alone with Cutty, and not just worried about being dropped off at a house where drug addicts live. I think we’ve put that to rest, but I don’t think Michael’s actions have been fully explained. He certainly doesn’t trust adults in any way, which stands to reason, and for which I feel his slight digs at Cutty in 43 are making their relationship as coach and rising star worse and not better. Perhaps Marlo will get through to Michael because he’s so young himself? Who knows.

  14. Shoals Says:

    let’s also not underestimate cutty’s unfamiliarity with the mentor role. he may have authority with these kids, but it’s not clear he’s totally adept at talking to them about anything past boxing.

  15. mercury Says:

    I think there’s definetely a sexuality issue with Michael — I don’t know if it’s necessarily limited to Cutty or not. Remember the scene where Cutty takes them to the fights, and Michael and Spider (I think) discuss how “cut” one of the boxers is; after an awkward pause Michael adds “I bet he got a REAL fine girlfriend, real fine!”

    This was just before He bolted from Cutty’s car. Is it a distrust of older men and his own sexuality?

  16. Shoals Says:

    astoundingly good call. i think that got lost amidst all the questions of why he bolted from cutty’s car

  17. christycash Says:

    I think we know why he bolted: he’s ashamed of his family, and he’s scared to let Cutty get too close. But I think reading sexuality into it is going a bit too far. We’re jumping to conclusions. It’s like when watchikng 43 and one of othe homicide cops makes a joke about “Unclenching his asshole” in Rawls’ spresence and I was like, omg, he knows Rawls is gay! Before remembering that he was just talking about getting metaphorically fucked.

  18. Marcus Wellby Says:

    The vibe I get is that Michael was molested at some point as a child. His distrust of Cutty and the way he protects his younger brother seem to point to something happening to him when he was younger.

    Cutty is by far one of my favorate charachters and I don’t see any hint in his storylines that he is/was a molesting anyone at any point. The Spider storyline could change all this — if and when he shows up. But it would be a shocker for sure.

  19. christycash Says:

    does the wire ever give us sudden shocks? besides rawls being gay, i mean. i would be very surprised indeed if all of a sudden we got a big shock like that. it would be like if McNulty had been secretly buying keys from Avon to support his coke habit.

  20. Jay Phenom Says:

    Anyone who has seen that behavior before knows that at some point an adult violated Micheal in some way. If it wasn’t overtly sexual, then it was/currently is neglect (i.e. his moms).

    With that as the backdrop, wouldn’t you be suspicious of a man who recently got out of prison and spends most of his waking hours in close proximity to sweaty boys….and takes great joy in it?

    I know it sounds obtuse, but to young Micheal all adults are hazardous, they either get too close with an agenda…or they leave you alone when you are most vulnerable.

    I pray that he finds a reliable, solid adult who shows him respect and love (maybe Bunny Colvin?) but alas…

  21. packetman Says:

    of course analyzing if cutty being a molestor or not is a pointless debate as its all fiction and we only have as much info as the writers are giving us. i do think its apparent that mr. simon has intentionally planted the seed, since everyone is discussing it. it could be that its just a story about how hard it is to fall into a mentorship role in this environment. the parallel story of marlow’s assasins approaching michael certainly stresses a general distrust of adults with agendas. but i think this episode definitely introduced a pedophile undertone, and the wire never shys away from the fact that homosexual behavior may be more prevalent than people think.

    the way its revealed is whats interesting. there was no indication of this early on. first you are wondering what michaels deal is, and then all of a sudden you are like whoah is cutty a boy toucher?

    remember the scene early on where the mom is yapping him up and all he can do is stare at michael hitting the bag? you start to question that. even question his motivation to open a gym and scenes from last season. if he was a pedophile though would the deacon be wise enough to recognize it by now?

    i really hope that the writers have not set cutty up to be a surprise pedophile as he has been one of the hopeful parts of the show. but they do love to squash hope on the wire, dont they.

    if it ends up just being michaels wrongheadedness, id say its amazing writing because mr. simon has actually made the viewers FEEL the suspicion michael is feeling with barely any direct dialog at all.

  22. Shoals Says:

    much as i think randy forces the viewer to suspend their fantasies about the streets, the writing around cutty has temporarily caused us to squash all of his complexity. like we’ve forgotten just how hard it is to truly figure out the actions of a “legendary” soldier who spent forever inside and has now stumbled into the role of community beacon. i agree with jsj that the jogging scene did somehow bring this back home, which can only make me think that we were supposed to have lost sight of it.

    it’s like we’re being exposed to how michael sees the man. we the enlightened, wire-trained audience might want him to see the big picture and appreciate the man’s experiences, but such is a luxury not allowed for in warzones.

    oh and re: marlo and chris as adults. someone at some point needs to generate a semi-fact-based chart of how old everyone is, especially on the street side of things. if cutty predates avon, is he in his forties? his landscaping boss and he had that talk about maximas. . . wouldn’t that mean he was at his peak in the eighties? how long was his bid?

    i’ve already said that i thought marlo calling bodie “boy” was weird, since i don’t think of them as that far apart, age-wise. maybe marlo’s 24 and bodie’s 20?

  23. jetsetjunta Says:

    just the other day i was thinking to myself about cutty’s age. he was inside for 14 years, so that would put him in around 91, and figuring he was maybe 25, that makes him about 40 now.

    i want to see this chart.

  24. Shoals Says:

    i don’t know if i can handle this alone. . .might call for a wiki.

  25. packetman Says:

    i’ve already said that i thought marlo calling bodie “boy” was weird, since i don’t think of them as that far apart, age-wise. maybe marlo’s 24 and bodie’s 20?

    could just be like mild disrespect. they dont need to be too far in age at all. just marlo’s perception of status difference. i doubt they are even 4 years apart in age. its just like bodie was grinding for a larger organization while marlo went for his earlier.

  26. Kevin Says:

    Watching the show I got the impression that Michael after looking at where the other kid lived when Cutty dropped him off jumped out because he did not want him to know where he lived. It is almost like he knew Cutty would come to his home to look for him and he did not want that. Maybe he did not want Cutty to see his addict mother since Cutty likes the women. It seems like Michael made it obvious that he nor Spider have respect for Cutty since he sleeps around with all their moms.

    I loved the way Naymonds father acted when his mother called him up as he was laying in the cell. It was like, “Even in prison I can’t get away from her.”

  27. Shoals Says:

    pm, as much as it pains this bodie fan to admit it, you’re probably right about the status thing. i’d had 22 for marlo–24 is hardly young on the streets–but changed it out of deference to brodus.

    makes sense that the kids would lose some respect for cutty if he slept around with all of their moms, given the whole “dear mama” thing in the inner city and the ways in which it marks him as a sleazy, unfaithful male/mate/father figure etc.

  28. packetman Says:

    pm, as much as it pains this bodie fan to admit it, you’re probably right about the status thing. i’d had 22 for marlo–24 is hardly young on the streets–but changed it out of deference to brodus.

    i have heard david simon say that the wire is really a show about organizations and how they let people down. i think the dynamic between bodie and marlo is touching on this — how believing in the barksdale organization let bodie down. like people working for GM getting their pensions taken away. bodie bought in, the company blew up like enron and now whats he got but an off-brand corner. even gotta go 60/40 w marlo!

    im sure he is thinking that he has the chops to be what marlo is, if only he went out more on his own earlier. entrepreneur envy. cant wait to see what moves he makes this season as i am a big bodie fan too.

  29. pyrex chapman Says:

    slightly off topic, i find that simon et al usually impart a choice quote somewhere in the episode that sort of unifies the storylines. in this week’s installation, i believe it was bunny’s “this is solitary.” examples of this theme: naymond staring at the packie, randy finishing the election flyering, cutty running through the neighborhood election fracas unable to vote, carcetti concluding election night by himself, and, most obviously, omar in literal solitary confinement.

  30. pyrex chapman Says:

    in regard to my last post, i can’t recall if bunny said “solitary” or “the hole”. either way, i think it stands.

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