Train Kept A-Rollin’
Well, we have arrived at the beginning, the slow build to the climax of this season. It feels good and sickening too, like the excitement of reaching the crest of the first hill on a rollercoaster. You can’t wait to be set flying, but you also kind of wish you could back down and savor it more, and at the very same time you are regretting ever getting on this ride because your stomach feels like it’s about to do something neither it nor you has ever witnessed before. If your stomach is not ready for #46 spoilers, please look here for a listing of last week’s posts.
Herc’s bumbling idiocy would be bad enough, and poignant enough all on its own. The foolishness of his advancement and empowerment is beginning to turn into sour tragedy. But the one-two of watching him taunt and accuse Randy, mishandling and mistreating a child witness, and then fumbling his time with Lil’ Kev in an altogether different way – actually giving up information to the suspect – was sickening. He may well turn into the most evil character of the season, and being unconscious of that malignancy will make it worse for its dramatic irony. Bubbles’ seeming invincibility is beginning to show large, worrying cracks, also made worse by Herc’s total lack of integrity or care. I think all viewers at this point are steeled for something dreadful to happen to one of the kids, but if Bubbles were to suffer some real calamity, well, I would prefer to hope not. As mentioned elsewhere, one of the hallmarks of this season is a seeming inevitablity to the tragedy coming down on one of the kids, whereas in past seasons, there may have been clues to catastrophe, but there was also always an amount of real shock.
To remain on Herc for a moment, the bad counsel and the blind acquiescence of his white co-workers stands in interesting opposition to the incredulity of Carver and the exasperation of Sydnor. In some ways this mirrors the die-hard focus on efficiency and results seen in the work of Daniels versus the increasingly weasely strategies of Rawls. This is not to suggest that black cops are presented as doing better work, particularly when we have the legacy of McNulty and the looming presence of The Bad Cop (though, of course, the camera lingering on his hands at the wheel, Marlo’s ring on his finger, puts some blood in the water), but it is interesting to see this racialized split. One thinks of Prez, his inability to serve and protect, and his continuing struggle to reach out across race lines.
Old Face Andre’s demise was a sort of no-brainer, but smarted nonetheless. Not that he was lovable, exactly, but no one deserves to be treated like a pawn. Marlo using him, then using him again, and then killing him for what he knows constitutes something cruel and unusual. It seemed like the Gulag. You rely on your crew, then one day they ask you to do something, then you get taken away, then your crew puts a bullet in your head. The calmness seemed the same, the rationality (making it quick and painless) and the lack of menace were all there. We have mentioned before how Marlo’s operation, to say nothing of his paranoia, functions like totalitarianism. He is a young Stalinist, and the bodies pile up. It doesn’t matter that they simply disappear. People know. Comrade and crew become absurd terms.
One more moment I want to bring up is when we see another teacher, a colleague of Prez’s, wandering in front of the school lamenting that she thinks her car has been stolen. In the next scene, the predictable punchline is delivered when Donut rolls up in a new car, clearly the teacher’s. While this was, in the moment, clever and amusing in a “kids steal the darndest things” sort of way, it now feels very unfunny. It’s one too many car boostings for Donut for it to seem cute anymore, if it ever really did. That teacher wandering around the street looked pretty helpless, and coupled with Prez’s tooth-grindingly frustrating experiences trying to reach out to his students, it felt like a real sucker punch. These students don’t care, and they can’t even be blamed for not caring, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch Randy get interested in math for the sole purpose of hustling candy to his classmates, or Donut steal a teacher’s car for a cheap thrill. It’s turned the corner from being ambivalent yet vaguely hopeful to a hard kind of hateful that covers nearly everything and everyone.
There is so much more to discuss, but I want to leave some topics for my own comrades. Randy’s dice-playing was fun, though it would seem a bit foolhardy to play with grown men for hours, taking their money out in the open. Then there’s Bunny Colvin’s dinner experiment with Zenobia, Darnell and Namond, which seemed a kind of cruel way of exposing the hopelessness in these kids’ lives. And of course Michael has made a decision, and chosen who he can rely upon to help him in his time of need, and where once there were endless options for his destiny, now there are very few left, and all of them are blue, blue blue.
UPDATE: Nice little post today on music site Idolator concerning the show and that bit of Baltimore house that managed to get some out-of-towner’s wig split.