Coming Clean

Episode 45 spoilers below. For posts on 44, see here, here and here.

Let me begin by saying that #45 was the worst episode of The Wire I’ve ever seen.

no good

Now that I have your attention… I’m serious. 45 was over-the-top preachy, with Prez, Sampson and co. reciting talking points instead of real dialogue in the teachers’ lounge. The moment where the one random teacher started talking about No Child Left Behind really made me want to turn off the television. How does a show that’s so good at making its critique through narrative and character and all the trappings of fiction wind up just spouting politics? And let’s not even talk about Herc. He’s not so much an example of what the show is doing wrong; he’s just so unbelievably bad at being a cop that it’s getting hard to watch. There was a moment when he and Carver were the same, but Carver has become good and Herc has just become the biggest, stupidest, oafiest oaf on the force.

bad cop

But worst of all, on 45, were the kids. You would have thought that Prez’s moment in the classroom of last week never happened for how they were behaving. And not like I expected The Wire to turn into To Sir, With Love and give us an after-school special where now all the kids just love learning and want to go to college, but a little building on his successes would have been nice. It’s so, so frustrating to witness how little they want to learn. I could turn this on Prez and say it’s his fault, but to be fair, it takes a while to become a good teacher. This is one reason why programs like Teach for America are in some way flawed: Unless you’re a real natural, it takes a few years to figure out how to be consistent with kids, how to not give in to them, how to resist the pressure to try something new every other day because you’re looking for an instant solution. And maybe my desire to see the kids turned on to math because of one moment of inspired teaching proves that I’m looking for instant gratification on the show. Maybe it does. But I feel so worn out watching the kids. Don’t they want to learn at all? These are the ones who are still showing up — you would think that they would want to get something out of it. And no, the occasional revelation that Michael does his homework does not satisfy me. Maybe this is realism, maybe I’m just having a hard time accepting The Way It Is. It tires me.


But I have a bigger problem, and it’s that I don’t understand what the show is doing with these kids as voices of social critique. Let me back up a bit: I could listen to String, Avon, Omar, D’Angelo, Bodie challenge the hypocrisy of the police, the state, the education system, all day long. I am endlessly fascinated by the cross-overs between the criminal and the straight worlds. But I do not like being lectured to by a child. When Namond stands up and starts shooting his mouth about how all the adults are hypocrites because they smoke, I just want to give him a spanking and tell him to go play with his pals. And what really frustrates me is that I don’t understand what Simon & co. are doing with those moments: Are these moments for us to realize how naive Namond (and all the kids by extension) are? Are these genuine criticisms of the state? Are these moments an indictment of our previous sympathy for the outlaw elements because they reveal the limits of the game (ie, unlike String, who made decisions and had dignity, Namond is basically gun fodder lying in wait)? What is going on? Normally Colvin cuts Namond down when he starts riding his high horse without a helmet, but the scene just ended, leaving its meaning obscure.

I guess, too, that I’m just getting a little bit sick of watching kids. The Wire has always been a very grown-up show with very grown-up themes. In some way, perhaps, using children as such main players limits the show, even as it extends its reach into the educational system. I want more Omar; I want scenes with De’Londa; I want more Carcetti; I want more Sampson and Prez (at least when they’re not parroting policy memos). I love Dukie, I love Michael (and let me here say that I was obviously wrong when I said that no way had Michael been molested — dude Jumped from Bugs’s dad), I love Randy, I even like kids in real life. I’m just starting to sour on watching them every week — especially when I feel like they’re preaching to me, dropping knowledge that they don’t even have.

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38 Comments on “Coming Clean”

  1. Arness Says:

    I wsih this all was fake, but I work in social services and there are times I feel just like these teachers. It’s frustrrating. Not only do these kids behave that way, they grow into young adults who continue to behave that way.

  2. Joel Says:

    While not the worst episode I have ever seen, I do agree that I am starting to tire of the kids and the build up to their eventual downfall. Good point on the Teach for America thing, and echoing the above commenter, I believe it takes a truly special person to be truly effective in the social services/inner-city schools.

    It is almost as if I wish the point Carcetti made about the education system being steeped in a history of neglect and failure and ignoring it/pushing it to the side (politically) was adopted by the writers…but the more I think about it, I realize that point could be a theme for the season.

    Agree again on the point about Herc and I absolutly abhorred the No Child Left Behind soapbox. It reeked of this past season on the Sopranos the writers would throw out a Hurricane Katrina reference every 2 episodes.

  3. avec Says:

    This is your problem, not the shows. You knew from the get go that the kids were what this season was about. No offense, but you’re going to have to ride it out. They’re just railing against authority figures like kids do.

    As far as No Child Left Behind and Katrina (Joel) every school teacher I know bitches about NCLB. Every. Single. One. And they don’t leave it at school. Let’s call it speaking to the reality of the situation.

  4. Lokar Says:

    I hope to watch this episode again in the next day or so, because I didn’t really feel anything was terribly preachy. Perhaps I just didn’t notice.

    I will say that I understand where you’re coming from, but the show has generally been excellent with this sort of thing. The most obvious example I can think of is Carcetti’s speech at the end of season three. It was a rousing number that seemed to nicely lay out a lot of the points of the season, which would have felt false and hokey, until Gray leaned over and completely undercut it with, “it sounds like you’re running for something.”

  5. christycash Says:

    Well, it’s definitely true, as avec says, that we all knew from the get-go that the kids were the focus of the season. But I’m tiring of them as the focus in a way I didn’t tire of the focuses of Seasons 1-3. Maybe it’s me and what I’m more or less interested in. But I’m pretty interested in education, and have written about it rather extensively in my other, non-psuedonymous writing career. So it’s not like I don’t care about the issues of this season. Maybe the way those issues are being dealt with is less organic. Not sure. I’m struggling with my own reaction to it.

  6. Shoals Says:

    i liked this quote from yglesias

    “The show continues to be utterly uncompromising in its refusal to advance the pace of the crime narrative”

    that said, i kind of agree with you on namond. yes, i think it’s significant that he’s willing to behave in this class and capable of contributing; i’ve noticed a couple of times where it followed a scene where dukie excelled. but have we seen anything in his character that would suggest he’s serious or reflective? that other kid in the special class is far more convincingly insightful about their street life.

    maybe just having that and the no child left behind spiel in one episode was a bit much. i don’t think that that one would’ve been unbearable on its own, either.

    then again, i know people who think that d’angelo’s chess speech was corny, so to each his own.

  7. christycash Says:

    Sometimes you just have to scream it, you know? Get it out there.

  8. Shoals Says:

    oh, and one more thing about namond: he really, really doesn’t get it. that’s the point of his character. so for him to be the mouthpiece of such an important bit of wisdom should either make us question said wisdom or, i don’t know, see n. as some sort of naive game idealist.

  9. jeremy Says:

    Namonds cigarettes and beer are the REAL killers speech is exactly what I’d expect from a naive kid who listens to the bullshit that his ‘elders’ are throwing around like it’s bible truth. His lil speech sounded like something he overheard Bodie say in season 1, the pit crew justifying their own existance and rationalizing their careers. Namond stored that little nugger of wisdom away and finally gets to use it to make himself look smart.

    It’s the perfect speech of a 13 year old who still thinks the world is black and white. Don’t you remember how FUCKED UP the world seemed to be when you were somewhere between 12-16 years old? How it seemed like you were the only one who saw it the way it REALLY was? When you could rail against the “establishment” without a trace of irony? Namond’s speech is exactly the sort of thing a 13 year old would say, with the expectation that after he finished proving his point something would change.

    The reason why Namond is going to be so shitty running his package is because he stills sees the world in black and white – if one of his workers fucks up, then he has to beat him down. He hasn’t matured enough to see the shades of grey, like the other kid in the class who sets everyone straight about how to run a corner. Namond is either Bodie a year or two before season 1, or he’s gonna be dead, depending on whether he can mature fast enough to adapt to the corners.

    I could totally identify with Namond’s speech because I remember when I was an idealistic 13 year old kid who could fix all the worlds problems, if only somebody would listen to him. That stage lasts more unless until you turn 15-16, things start happening (bills, girls, college, jobs or cops, corners, packages, gats – you go from life to REAL life). Time passes, you get a little older and all of a sudden you’re on the internet complaining about some punkass little kid on the TV who’s too big for his britches and then maybe later that night you have a little trouble falling asleep because the world is still totally and entirely fucked, but you don’t even care anymore.

  10. christycash Says:

    Wait, are you saying I don’t care that the world is fucked?

  11. jeremy Says:

    No, I was referencing myself – and maybe people in general – and I didn’t mean that I/You/Whoever “doesn’t care” more like “doesn’t have time to dedicate more than %.001 of their time to thinking about how/why the world is so fucked up and how to fix it”

  12. christycash Says:

    Yeah, I think your comments are really smart, I just didn’t want to have to get all into defending myself against probably distressingly apt charges.

    And I know that there are some TV viewers who love watching kids be kids, and who revel in teen shows… I guess I’m just reaching my limit for some of the adolescent grandstanding that I certainly wallowed in myself as a teen. Trouble is that Namond’s not idealistic, he’s stupid. I could more sympathetically watch a 12 year old monologuing self-righteously about hunger or world peace or their desire for a better school than a can listen to Nay go “pop pop pop” at everyone.

  13. Shoals Says:

    jeremy, that characterization of namond makes sense to me. i wonder, though, why there was nothing out of colvin to indicate that it was bullshit. the whole show let him steal the scene. reverent tone-wise, it was a close cousin of the chess scene, or the chicken mcnuggets scene, which are like key to everything the show stands for. except the ideas therein were nowhere near as piercing.

  14. packetman Says:

    the scene with the three educators in the hallway towards the end communicated the point, which it seems is missing in some of these comments. all these guys are trying to do is get these kids to be engaged w school. they are not trying to “indicate that [what the kids are saying] is bullshit”. why knock them down a peg when they are finally getting animated?

    and i would also love to see a more complex crime story going on, but i think the morale of the story this season is that it IS about the kids. i think the only crime stuff is going to be when freemon figures out the murders, and how it affects carcetti.

    i thought the opening scene rocked actually. if a chump like prez turned these kids around so quick it would be BS.

    re: herc. he way sucks this year, never sucked more. are the writers setting him up? think chris and snoop are going to pop him? what else is going to come of this prop joe – marlo thing?

  15. Andrew Says:

    So far as Herc goes. I think I understand what the writers are doing with him. I think he’s meant to be a parable of sorts about the consequences of unwarrented promotions in the police department, which in turn explains why the department is as fucked up as it currently is. Otherwise, the idea of Herc catching the mayor getting a blowjob serves no real purpose about what the show is trying to say. Herc has been an average-to-kind of good cop in all the previous seasons. And now that he’s been given an unearned position of responsibility for somewhat dubious reasons, he’s going to royally fuck things up. That is the consequence. So I don’t think Simon and Co. are making Herc any dumber than he has been in previous seasons. They’re simply making him very much out of his depth.

  16. Kevin Says:

    This is my first post after reading for a few weeks. I apologize if I repeat what has already been said but i need to defend this episode. If you are sick of the kids, so be it, you are entitled to you opinion. However, speaking as a techer in Prezbo’s position a few years ago, let me assure you that one good math period will not cure a rough classroom of all of its problems. I have seen first hand how a glimmer of hope one day can be snuffed out the very next. I’m not even talking about a whole classroom either. I still remember the day I had a particular student follow the rules, be a great example for others and do all of his work and give me the spiritual boost i needed to justify why I was doing this job and then the very next day have him tell me in front of the whole class that he “ain’t doing that today,” and completely deflate me. So if you were wondering why the kids were still rowdy and unresponsive in Prezbo’s room, it’s because that’s what kids do in a weak-ass, first year teacher’s class.
    Regarding the No Child Left Behind conversation, I’ve heard those words spoken in every teacher’s lounge I’ve been in over the last few years. Give the writers credit for having Prez suggest that the school should be taken over, because that is something I’ve never heard from a fellow teacher. NCLB hangs like a specter over these schools and discussions of it are very common. Maybe the writers could have conveyed their point through dramatic action rather than dialogue, but that scene was very real to this teacher.

  17. AP Says:

    I think your knee-jerk reaction against the criticism of NCLB as being “political” really misses the point. NCLB, just like Comstat, attempts to impose “accountability” by reducing everything to numbers. And just like in Comstat, the people who tend to thrive within such an institution are those who try to massage the numbers rather than addressing the underlying problem. The bashing of NCLB (besides being accurate and true-to-life of what inner city teachers think, as avec already pointed out) just follows in the show’s institution-bashing tradition of such conversations as “This isn’t a war– wars end.”

    I probably don’t share your frustration with the slow pace of the kids’ storyline bc I watched the whole season within a couple of days. But of course the obvious retort is that education is a slow process, and you pretty much admit that with your “To Sir With Love” reference . But your question of “don’t these kids want to learn?” brought a bit of a smile to my face. Kids don’t go to school because they want to learn– they go because they have to!

    And yes, Herc is absolutely infuriating, but I think Andrew has it absolutely right– there’s a purpose to his screwups besides just pissing off the viewers.

  18. jeremy Says:

    RE: Herc being dumber this season – I don’t think that Herc is acting dumber this season, but in all the previous seasons Herc was working with a much smarter partner, usually under a much better commanding officers (Daniels). This season he’s the smarter partner and his commanding officer is a retard, his stupidity has free range and nobody to tell him that he’s fucking up.

  19. southeast jerome Says:

    I’m sorry you’re getting sick of watching the kids, but by focusing on how much you don’t like watching them, I think you missed a really good episode. From Carcetti’s trip through homicide followed immediately by Colvin’s breakthrough with the corner kids, #45 was about people who thought they knew realizing they really don’t. There was also Chris and Snoop’s training of the new soldiers and, of all people, Namond defering to and learning from the drunk kid in his class (re: how to handle a Lt. whose count comes up short). It’s about education, right?

    Herc’s always been an idiot, too. But he’s been able to hide behind Kima, Lester, Carver, et al. Not anymore. Jeremy’s got it right.

    Also, with respect to NCLB, the other commenters pretty much nail it.

    I think your call for more Omar, Marlo and “adults” will be answered soon. By the way, how good was it to see the old boozing, puking, real-police Bunk again? I missed him.

  20. christycash Says:

    I still stand by my post but this is an amazing conversation. As a viewer, and a fan, I think it’s important to sometimes say when something didn’t do it for you. I really did not think 45 was a good episode — and I still don’t —- but, you know, so it goes.

  21. jeremy Says:

    southeast Jerome brough up something I kinda forgot about in the episode – snoop and chris training the new soldiers. Anybody want to make any predictions about this? Is Marlo soldiering up for anything in particular? Or just expanding his employee base to match his market growth?

  22. Tom Says:

    This was a great episode. Yes it’s frustrating to get smaller slices of our favorite characters (I, for one, am saddened by the recent lack of Carver, who was acting like Frank Serpico in episode one of this year – so inspiring!) but this show isn’t about them. It’s about the city.

    I don’t really know how you can refer to the dialogue in the teacher’s lounge scene as “talking points.” The Wire is addressing the systematic problems of public education with compelling accuracy. It’s never been done on television before. As an earlier comment said, “you missed a good episode.”

    My favorite part of #45 is when Norman advises Carcetti to ignore the education issue. I have a soft spot for dead-on depictions of big city politics. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles has taken on the education issue, and my guess is that it will hurt him when he runs for Governor someday.

  23. Tom Says:

    Also, I think Herc will get his ass pulled out of the fryer when Col. Daniels reconstitutes the Major Crimes Unit.

  24. southeast jerome Says:

    Perhaps Marlo sees impending trouble from the New York boys.

    Since the Carcetti arc went from inspired by Martin O’Malley to almost exactly mirroring him in #45, I think we’ll see an escalation in violence at the end of this season, followed by the media going after him next season for failing to make good on promises he couldn’t have kept anyway (e.g. lowering murder rate).

  25. SP Says:

    I strongly disagree with this article. I am in love with this season and I really think every episode just keeps getting better. I want to address some of the points you made.

    “The moment where the one random teacher started talking about No Child Left Behind really made me want to turn off the television. How does a show that’s so good at making its critique through narrative and character and all the trappings of fiction wind up just spouting politics?”

    Our government passed legislation (No Child Left Behind) which called for a higher reliance on test scores yet underfunded the legislation. This has predictably led to situations like that on the show where schools have to alter their cirriculuum to directly improve test scores without necessarily improving the children’s understanding of the concepts the tests are supposed to test for. The show illustrates how this is very similar to other institutions such as the Police Department, which would “juke stats” in previous seasons. I don’t find it hard to believe that teachers would be against the No Child Left Behind act which has made it more difficult for them to teach in a meaningful way so I’m not sure why you find this totally unrealistic, especially when you condider that 90% of Baltimorians are democrats and would have some political bias toward the legislation. It’s a sad commentary on democracy in America when having a show mention a political issue is deemed unrealistic.

    “And let’s not even talk about Herc. He’s not so much an example of what the show is doing wrong; he’s just so unbelievably bad at being a cop that it’s getting hard to watch.”

    I think what they’re trying to show with Herc is that he is just not at the mental level of those he is competing against. He’s moved up far past where his experience warrants so he is getting burned. Marlo and Chris are really intelligent at what they do and Herc thinks about them as gangsta stereotypes rather than bosses of a large criminal organization. It takes someone like Lester who seeks to understand them in order to compete, yet our police departments don’t always reward people like Lester.

    “And maybe my desire to see the kids turned on to math because of one moment of inspired teaching proves that I’m looking for instant gratification on the show. Maybe it does. But I feel so worn out watching the kids. Don’t they want to learn at all? These are the ones who are still showing up — you would think that they would want to get something out of it. ”

    I think the question you need to be asking yourself is why aren’t these kids interested in learning what the majority of what they’re trying to be taught. For kids that have never left West Baltimore, why does it matter if you know how long it takes you to drive to another city? These kids are more interested in learning things that directly relate to what they need to survive, things like dice or learning the proper place to shoot someone. You wonder why a lot of the kids keep showing up, but I think it really ties back to what Bunny was being told by one of the teachers earlier in the season (can’t remember her name, Cutty’s ex-girlfriend). School is essentially an escape from the street. Also, even Namond’s mother makes him keep going to school, so I’m sure that many of them have parents that do the same.

    “But I do not like being lectured to by a child. When Namond stands up and starts shooting his mouth about how all the adults are hypocrites because they smoke, I just want to give him a spanking and tell him to go play with his pals.”

    Your criticism of Namond is that he’s young so he can’t possibly understand how the world works, yet you don’t provide counter-arguments for what Namond was saying. He was essentially laying out the hypocricy of living in a world where corruption is rampant among those in power and people are making billions of dollars off of some drugs that kill far more people than illicit drugs, yet those drugs are arbitrarily deemed illegal and people’s lives are thrown away because of this. I’m not sure if you agree with this or not, but you say “Are these moments for us to realize how naive Namond (and all the kids by extension) are?” showing you think his criticism is naive. I would hope that watching the Wire has given you an idea into the substantial costs of our war on drugs and that it isn’t necessarily benefiting our world, and definitely not benefiting the societies which pay the heavy costs. I don’t think it’s naive of Namond to understand that in a just society he shouldn’t be paying that cost. All of the people in the game understand that.

    “I’m just starting to sour on watching them every week — especially when I feel like they’re preaching to me, dropping knowledge that they don’t even have.”

    I’m not going to preach to you because you obviously don’t want that, but I will let you know that I’ve generally found that everyone in this world has knowledge. In my own life, I’ve learned a lot after I made the decision that I would consciously try to understand everyone, even people who’s lives I don’t agree with. If you want to get something out of watching these kids, just try to understand them. There is so much there when you consider how their lives at home, school, and the street intersect.

  26. christycash Says:

    Hey, I’m quite familiar with NCLB, as well as the ills of the urban schools, as well as what it’s like to be a child, as I myself was once one. And I don’t love The Wire any less than anyone else who’s reading this blog, or watching the show. I’m interested not in why Namond acts like a chlid, but why the show’s directors set him up and gave him the authority of that moment. Like Shoals says, why did the scene end with him, thereby bestowing moral weight on him? And I think it’s important not to forget the fact that The Wire is television. It’s not real life, regardless of how closely it mirrors it, and in some ways, documents it. And sometimes it’s more or less successful dramatically. And just because it’s true-to-life — ie, teachers talk this way, kids act that way — doesn’t mean it’s good television 100 percent of the time. Clearly I love it — I write on this blog, after all. But can you imagine actually watching real teachers teach? Not good drama. So the idea that it’s good cause it’s accurate isn’t one that I completely buy.

  27. gotcha Says:

    I disagree with this posting as well, and I wish I had more time in my busy day here at work to collect all my thoughts. I’ve been working in one capacity or another in the inner-city of Philadelphia, whether it be in the school system, in people’s homes, or in mental health facilities. This season of The Wire is the closest thing I’ve seen to capturing the real-life dynamics of inner-city life, and their intersection with school politics. The corner boy vs stoop kid mentality is very evident in our work. I actually used a few snippets from this season in a Cultural Competency training at my work, and I’ve gotten nothing but positive responses from it.

    I don’t know, getting tired of watching these kids all season seems to speak to a number of things…what do people think the intentions/goals of The Wire are? What exactly is The Wire trying to convey about human nature? In my opinion it is the interplay between the vast disparities between inner-city culture and the rest of America, while at the same time providing a humanistic angle to the whole thing. Yes, these kids are getting caught up in some ill shit, but at the same time, they are still being portrayed by the writers as regular, which I think is of upmost importance. Secondly, I think maybe people’s tiredness has less to do with the actual objective subject matter, but more so with the affective bases of the show, i.e. this season is by far the most depressing of the four (and those who have seen the whole season already I’m sure can attest that it keeps going downhill). Its almost equivalent to a learned helplessness on the part of the viewer – you know these kids are going to end up in dire straits, and you don’t want to watch it, so it’s rationalized to other reasons. The reality is that this IS reality, and for a show that has tackled inner-city politics in multiple facets, this is a necessary and integral piece of the puzzle.

  28. gotcha Says:

    i think y’all are jumping the gun on Namond’s role in this season. Have a little confidence in the writing!

  29. SP Says:

    “I’m interested not in why Namond acts like a chlid, but why the show’s directors set him up and gave him the authority of that moment. Like Shoals says, why did the scene end with him, thereby bestowing moral weight on him?”

    You’re making the judgement that he doesn’t deserve that authority, but you’re not stating why. It’s like my asking why you have the authority to write an article on this website. It’s because you’re a real person with real experiences, and you have the human right to convey that experience.

    Namond made an argument about what he sees in the world. He sees a world that is based on corruption breeding power. He sees corporations that are causing much more harm to the world than anything an illicit drug dealer does, yet corporations rake in billions while he’s threatened with the ending of his freedom and life. If you disagree with his message that our society is hypocritical in that regard, state the reasons why.

    Regarding the directors’ ending with his statement during that scene, maybe it’s because they agree with his argument. The scene did a very good job of showing how a 14 year old can have a clear view of the world around him because he can see the obvious.

  30. Shoals Says:

    namond brice and “clear view of the world” don’t exactly go together hand-in-hand. i’m not saying that no young person could ever have those views, but that that particular character having them, and the writers lending him the first authority he’s had all season, was a little jarring. if you do buy, it, it’s a turning point for his character; i guess only time will tell if that interpretation makes any sense

  31. Sheriff Gonna Getcha Says:

    I think the frustrations with Herc, the kids, the stalled shakeup of the Police hierarchy, and the sometimes glacial pace of the plot was really the point in the last episode. It feels like things just don’t change. You may have a great police chief to promote, or make strides in reaching your class one day, but overall the problems are so entrenched that it feels like nothing can change. For example, take Carcetti. He goes on a ridealong and sees the Eastern District plainclothes roughing up nobodies for bogus stats; he’s motivated and “empowered” to make the right changes. He has the right people set up – Rawls, Daniels. But you can already see the foreshadowing that he won’t be able to. It’ll just be a parade of silver bowls of shit. I think that’s what resonates with me the most. Living here, you look a the really entrenched problems – drugs, jobs. Then you see the secondary problems they have caused – poor schools, no money in the city, animosity toward the police, destruction of the family unit…you start to wonder how anything will ever change. This show, telling the story of a City, really gets that feeling right.

  32. jetsetjunta Says:

    Good points all around, as I think it’s most important the people think and speak on all this. That is why we are here. after all. I would submit that while I agree that all the entrenchment shown in the episode, as well as the varieties of soap-boxing, certainly illustrated hard truths about the show’s general subject matter, the dramatic capabilities of the show – to shock, to heartbreak, to quicken the pulse, to disgust – are on haitus in these mid-season episodes as the writers collect these bits of hubris and pathos together for the eventual tumble that should begin in the next three episodes. It will be interesting to see how we feel about these episodes in hindsight, and how much more we may find ourselves looking backward at them when intrigues unfold.

  33. Simonsbitch Says:

    Interesting debate. I actually thought #43 was the weakest so far (Bodie calling D’Londa a “dragon lady” and saying it gave him “insight” into Nay….c’mon.). The glacial pace of this season is also discomfiting (when, o when are those bodies gonna be found?).

    That said, I liked this episode. Rawls to Carcetti, that whole white guy to white guy nod nod wink wink comment about affirmative action and then watching Herc flail about was vintage Wire.

    The bigger brains on this board can maybe speak to this better than I….but at what point is the fact that we’ve been trained to expect the worst get in our way? I’ve had the feeling this whole season that something is missing/wrong/different…..and I think it’s me, but maybe not.

    Does knowing that at least one of the four boys is probably gonna die prevent our becoming more attached to them? Or is that part of the whole set up?

    Not really sure what I’m trying to say here. Just that Season 4 feels very different to me from seasons past and I don’t know why or what is going on.

  34. Shoals Says:

    sb, my “bleak to a fault” post addressed just that, as did the ensuing comments. would link to it but am kind of rushed.

  35. Simonsbitch Says:

    Shoals, grasshopper here still doesn’t get it. My moniker says it all…H:LOTS, The Corner, The Wire from the get go….so I’m a bleak, fatalistic viewer from way back. Wallace surprised me, D’Angelo and Stringer did not. I knew Hampsterdam and Bunny were fucked from the beginning; the only question was how fucked.

    I read the “bleak to a fault” post and was going to put my…whatever it is…there. My point is that, between “bleak” and “coming clean” resides my inchoate and thus indefinable feeling. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so…..

  36. christycash Says:

    SB, I share your feeling that this season is not the same. Personally I think that it’s “not the same” in a bad way. Readers/viewers may disasgree (and oh, have they ever), but the slow pace of the criminal plotline (the bodies), for me, is a disappointment. The Wire is a crime show, or it has been, until now. I don’t want to start a whole debate here again, but I do think that this season lacks some of the thrills of earlier seasons. Maybe purposefully so. It’s an interesting experiment, televisually speaking, to do what simon did and make the kids the forefront of the plot. It hasn’t totally worked for me, but it has for others. I don’t think it’s just about the bleakness and the preordained doom: we’ve talked about that on this blog since the very, very beginning. I think the writing and the plotting of the show are different. The emphasis is not so much on the thrill of unraveling a crime or bringing down a syndicate. The emphasis is on observing the destruction of innocence. Which is, um, a downer.

  37. Simonsbitch Says:

    Season 2 was a downer as well, but I don’t remember feeling quite this way. Partly, as Christy says, it’s the pace…..there are a lot of threads out there that are usually being pulled at by various characters by now that simply aren’t, and I’m so impatient with the pacing that maybe that is exactly the point.

    I have lots of faith in Simon and Co, so I’m sure this is all going to become obvious in a brilliant way. But I keep seeing the characters act in ways that don’t seem in character to me (I still can’t believe that Prez would go to Daniels instead of Lester for Randy, for instance), and the aforementioned sloooow pace….dunno, it’s just bugging the crap out of me.

    Also, knowing that other people are one step ahead of me (with on-demand and bootlegged copies out there) also bugs me.

  38. Jay Says:

    I’m sure this won’t be read, given that the last post was almost 2 years ago, but who knows:

    CC, while I found the original post interesting (though I didn’t agree with it), I have found your reactions to critical comments to be disappointingly defensive.

    For example, when someone commented that the teacher’s lounge scene was not preachy and inauthentic but actually indicative of real teachers’ lounge convos, you answered that that doesn’t matter, that authenticity “doesn’t mean it’s good television.” In fact, it was you who said it was inauthentic and preachy, so the commenter was simply refuting your point.

    Similarly, Namond’s speech seemed completely in character to me, as well as being revealing. While it may be a hollow justification of the street–justifying his self-image if not his own reality–it also shows a glimmer of hope, that he is capable of real thought. Saying that the fact that Bunny let it stand must mean that it comes straight from the writers is, frankly, a stretch. Why would Bunny snuff that out when Namond finally shows a spark, aleit a misguided one?

    I guess my point is that, since I respect you as a writer, I was disappointed to see you respond to critiques by saying “well it just doesn’t work for me,” rather than really engaging them. That brings the argument down to the level of “i found it entertaining” vs “i didn’t find it entertaining,” which precludes all discussion and is, I think, beneath this blog.

    So why did it drive me to comment on a 2-year old post? Who knows.

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