We Worship An Awesome God
AS ALWAYS, WE’RE UP WITH THE ON-DEMAND SCHEDULE AND ON TO ALL THINGS #53 NOW, SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW, DON’T KNOW.
Bunk. The Bunk. Detective William Moreland. Named for a real Baltimore cop who really did and said plenty of what Wendell Pierce has recreated so beautifully these past four seasons (in part from spending some time and, perhaps more significantly, garnering the approval of, the real Bunk). He’s got no superhuman crimesolving abilities, he rarely catches a break, and he has ended up moaning in some woman’s bathroom, a pink robe in place of evidential clothes he tried to burn. He’s remarkable. Yet while in all our lives moments come when we must look the other way, the real Bunk probably never had to turn his eyes away from two friends and colleagues as they conspired to fabricate a serial killer in order to secure funding for the purposes of solving a real, shelved string of murders.
Omar. O. Homothug stick-up wizard. Also based on, though cobbled together more by stacking attributes rather than mixing, real Baltimore stick-up legends and fiends, Omar is perhaps the most fantastic of the Wire‘s characters. He’s already survived more showdowns than most real-life stick-up artists ever live to see, but he’s the show’s cowboy, the wild card that stirs the pot when all the smart dealers just want to chill things to a whispering steep. Escaped from the bullets and grudges to a paradise in the shadow of San Juan’s ruined fortress (apologies if my eyes and memory of San Juan decieve me), wearing a tropical getup that I could never in a million years have dreamed up, Omar gets some bad news, but his burgeoning tears seem obviously the harbingers of serious retribution.
So here we are, just three episodes into the final season, with a scant 7 to go (this is gonna be tight!), and between one of the most grounded characters and one of the most outsized, we have the makings of a dramatic climax that feels, at the moment anyway, out of step with everything we have seen before. Bear in mind that I thoroughly enjoyed #53, but that my brain’s own private devil’s advocate hasn’t shut up since I watched it. The serial killer strategy, Marlo’s seemingly neverending bloodlust (to say nothing of two trips outside not only the mid-Atlantic but indeed the continental U.S.; something that a CSI show wouldn’t blink at but that to this realm is only slightly less surprising than if Brother Mouzzone showed up on the moon), Omar’s virtuous impending return, and of course the fantasies of certain newspeople more concerned with hanging on to their job than the truth; All these things are more than just a reminder that this is a cop show, that this is a fictional dramatic representation of social truths, that this is a form of fantasy not bounded by, but bettered by its tribute to verisimilitude. But what? Is the central thrust of failed institutions going to be brought home by smashing up those institutions in the most dramatic and stupendous ways possible in the Wire universe? Will Jimmy and Lester end up on trial for falsifying evidence, while Omar and Marlo’s crew engage in an epic slow-motion showdown…inside a burning warehouse…where the Greek, some union guys, a couple teachers, some kids and a few corner boys are all tied up and hanging over a vat of molten steel?
I will say that the fantasies of Templeton’s Orioles fans and City Hall crabs refracted through similar fictions propogated by real police on a show in part concerned with the honor in real police work is amusing, and I am excited to see how it develops, particularly given the inevitable linkage of Lester and Jimmy, two cops who have consistently attempted to lead principled careers as investigators and seem the system kick them down the ladder time and time again precisely for their good works. It’s like they’ve been searching for one another for so long that once they finally find each other it’s far too late for them to work rationally on real cases. Instead, they’re so far on the other side of reason (due to forces inside and out) that the only thing to do is invent situations that could fool the powers that be into allowing the right thing to happen.
Perhaps another way to enter into this increasingly manic, sinister, and cartoonish climax is through the lens of Michael, Dookie, and a batman be-hooded Bug, piling out of a run-down station wagon after a day of pure fun. While their superiors were binding, torturing and killing an old blind man, Michael and Dookie were flirting, riding the rides, smiling. Christycash pointed out to me that, of course, the fun may be innocent but the cash Michael used to hire the private car and get them all into the park was drug money. Stepping up to the corner at the end of the day was a reminder not that escape is fleeting, but that escape is impossible and the wheels keep turning, sometimes to your disadvantage, just when you think you’re finally getting a moment of freedom. When it comes down to it, through all the investigations of systems, the machinations of power, and the handling of truth, the show’s whole point is that theose with the least power, the least money, the least say are the ones that matter most. Whether McNulty ends up parachuting from an exploding airship or not, the corner culture’s not going anywhere, not changing much, and sucking more lives up every day. All the rest is just different ways of understanding that singular immutable tragedy.