We Worship An Awesome God



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.

tears of rage

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.

midnight cowboy

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.

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13 Comments on “We Worship An Awesome God”

  1. I didn’t like that the cranky Orioles fan said, “Between Barry Bonds and Bud Selig, baseball’s been ruined for me.” (Of course, that was in #52. I’m up to speed with #53 now. I’ve learned my lesson. No more spoiler complaints from me.)

    In Baltimore, the fans should be complaining about Peter Angelos, and Peter Angelos alone. Their animosity should start and stop with Angelos. Talk about a corrupt Baltimore institution… Talk about the incompetence of the bosses… Camden Yards is like a Museum of Baseball, with its beautiful warehouse wall in right field, it’s a reminder that everything inside is past, and the glory once associated with that proud franchise is nowhere to be found.

    Re: #53, I found Freamon’s line, “We need to kill again,” uncharacteristic and a little showey. In fact, while I enjoyed it immensely, the entire episode seemed rushed. The season so far seems to lack the symbolism and foreshadowing from the earlier seasons that saw soon-to-be main characters in their element before anything crazy happens. Perhaps this is a consequence of having 10, not 12 or 13 episodes.

    Finally, the villains of the newspaper: they seem to lack the depth of earlier villains. The most despicable institutional men of all, Burrell and Rawls, have each had more than one moment of softness, or moments that softened us to them. Avon’s relentless gangsterism took a backseat when Cutty cut loose, and Barksdale corrected Slim Charles: “He a man today. He a man.” But when are we going to learn to like, at least a little, Mr. Ambitious, Mr. Dickensian, and the Softer-Spoken More with Less?

  2. morewire Says:

    The Bonds/Selig guy was supposed to sound uninformed; he was clearly giving all the stupid bullshit reasons people give for disliking baseball, but continue to support the sport anyway. An actual fan’s dissent or talking about Camden Yards as you have could add color and depth, even though it wasn’t the focus of the reporter’s piece. Dude was obviously just some aging yuppie mouthing off.

    The scene helped add a little rationale to Templeton’s ultimate decision to fabricate a story; some reporters, as I know first-hand, get easily flustered when a good source doesn’t immediately present itself, so they go the easy route.

    Also, McNulty had the “We need to kill again” line, in response to Freamon suggesting that their killer needed a name.

  3. Andrew Says:

    I thought they did a good job of softening the newspaper bosses with this episode. The buyouts were clearly shown as a decision that came from above them and one that they didn’t want to go through with. Their expressions of regret seemed genuine.

  4. Shoals Says:

    The pompous guy is supposed to be pompous, not evil. I know everyone’s saying that Rawls is multi-faceted, but that didn’t come till Season Two.

  5. Brian Says:

    What Shoals said re: Rawls. We’re three episodes into our relationship with the newspaper folks. If you’d asked someone for an opinion of Rawls or Burrell after episode 3 of season 1, the word “multi-faceted” probably wouldn’t be included.

  6. Mal Says:

    One thing I loved were the few little notes of unease in the Stanfield camp. Michael has clearly been unnerved by having to hold a gun to a little kid, his going awol for a day upset his co-workers, and may well upset Chris, and Chris himself seemed wary of Marlo when talking to Slim Charles outside the meet with Prop Joe. I’m not sure yet what to make of these moments, but I sense things aren’t going to run smoothly for all concerned.

  7. Simon's bitch Says:

    One of my primary questions has always been: Why doesn’t the Bunk call anyone Bunk or Bunky? That’s how he got his nickname, after all.

  8. Joe-El Says:

    I’ve seen this mentioned here in comments and a couple of other places…but I did not feel that the scene with Slim Charles and Chris was a “bitching about their bosses” like the meeting with Norman and Royce’s aide was last year.

    Rather, based on the dialouge it seemed that they were each defending their respective bosses against veiled insults by the other? Am I wrong/did I miss something?

    Thanks – this episode and your posts have been great.


  9. Mal Says:

    Joe-El, I’d agree that Chris certainly wasn’t bitching about Marlo, more that he and slim were agreeing that while Joe is talkative, chatty, humourous when he want’s to be, Marlo is much more quiet, reserved, serious. It’s not that Chris was insulting his boss, or comlaining, but noticing that his behaviour, his way of carrying himself, is quite different from the old guard.

    Basically he’s re-iterating what has been said on here (and by other characters) before – Marlo is, in comparison to those who went before him, a cold hearted, calculating killer. Of course, from Chris’s point of view, this may be a bonus, but it’s certainly something to remember while carrying out his orders.

  10. Francisco Says:

    I’ve only watched 53 once, I thought the conversation between Chris and Slim played in a different way: it seemed like Chris was painting a specific picture for Slim to see, the underlying intent of which is still clear. I thought it tied in to Marlo’s comments to/about Slim at the co-op meeting in 51. Marlo and Chris seem to have something in mind for Slim Charles.

  11. Tito Landrum Says:

    Interesting Francisco. I’m going to go and rewatch that scene right now. When I first watched it I was howling. I took it more as a bit of a bitch session, even though we were only privy to a small portion of their conversation (I assume), and the portion we got, in retrospect, seems to be Chris complaining more about Joe and comparing Marlo favorably to him. Interesting indeed. You might be on to something.

    Speculation is fun.

  12. hal Says:

    I did not catch the final words in the episode, even after watching it twice. Can anyone provide what I missed? thanks,

  13. Mal Says:

    Hal – It was basically Omar being informed of Butchie’s death.

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