They say the art of conversation is dead but I’ve rescued the drowning chat.

Shoals has had a photo meltdown, affecting not just H&H but also FreeDarko, so that’s why you’re seeing a whole lot of blank boxes on his posts. Anyhoo, for 53 go HERE, HERE, AND THERE. Otherwise you’re on to 54, and for those less familiar with the episode numbers, this season it’s really easy: 54 can be thought of as season 5, episode 4. See how easy that is?


So I normally am not the type to just post up an IM convo like it’s a bother to put together complete sentences and capitalize letters and insert punctuation, but I feel like I got to the bottom of what I felt the unreal events of this most recent episode were all about in the following exchange with Shoals. I hope this doesn’t make us both look too dumb / nerdy / lame. Actually that would be okay.

me: you must be fucking kidding me

Shoals: me? did you watch it?

me: i just finished. i’m in shock

Shoals: well, there it is

me: jeez

Shoals: read my post

me: reading it. hang on

Shoals: running out, back in five minutes
okay, back. do you see what i’m saying? it’s sad, but it’s a crime show, and joe was messing with some serious shit

me: totally. I mean they all are, all the time

Shoals: basically they had lost some faith in joe because of the stick-up.  marlo was there to say “i’m that other option”

me: well, seems to me the greeks know that they need to deal with someone, but marlo has shown them that he won’t lie down and take no for an answer

Shoals: and joe might have his flaws. . . “he’s not joe” that meant something

me: they trust and like joe, and don’t have to worry about him for the most part, but nothing is permanent, and their own business has volitility too, but theres an amount of chaos they will accept
and marlo shows that he can do what they need, cleanly, without quesion, and with respect. i think also they are kind of in a corner
suddenly this dude shows up, joe has had problems

Shoals: right

me: this dude follows directions

Shoals: he is unstoppable and hard

me: and it’s like, do we kill him or work with him?

Shoals: i can’t wait till people are like “this marlo thing has gone too far.” it’s like, how do you think people become kingpins?
I mean what did avon do?

me: right. gave away turkeys?

Shoals: we never saw it, but it probably looked like this. prop joe, what, he just niced his way into dominance? i mean, marlo is going for absolute fucking broke. gangster honor?

me: right. i don’t think that exists. there’s efficiency, and that always trumps honor

Shoals: look at the mob, they aren’t as hokey as joe. they’re like marlo

me: this is kind of the point of the show, right? what’s efficient for those in power bleeds everything below it dry. the mob is also messy. and sometimes some yahoo gets the reigns and drives the whole thing over a cliff. order may be restored, maybe not, but there’s no natural order.
marlo’s trying to be the one in charge, and he has the resources to climb higher, so why eat shit and wait for some other kid to have less respect for the chain of command than you? i do think simon can be too sentimental, and sometimes there’s an idea of gangster code in there that gets a litle too much play, like “good ‘ol days” nonsense.
it’s what we want from the criminals we like, but it’s not what they necessarily give us. marlo killed the security guard. avon had the witness killed. it’s going in different directions, but it’s to a similar end. brutality = fear = power

Shoals: yo, there’s your post

me: heh. good thing gmail saves chats. okay i have to work on this cat power review

Shoals: buh-dum-ching!


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30 Comments on “They say the art of conversation is dead but I’ve rescued the drowning chat.”

  1. Mal Says:

    OK, please, please please explain the relevance of the Alan Partridge pic.

    “I know a CRACKING Owl sanctuary!”

  2. runner-runner Says:

    The Alan Partridge pic refers to the ‘chat’ conversation. After The Day Today his first solo TV project was a TV chat show, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You (Aha….)’.

    I have to say I did see this coming (didn’t we all?) but not so soon. Maybe a by-product of the 3 fewer episodes, maybe not. While I liked Joe as a character, and though he did make conflict avoidance almost a religion, he was, end of the day, ‘just a gangster’, and no more immune to ‘that other thing’ than was Stringer.

    I need to re-watch from #53 (thanks to the magic of the internets I’ve now seen up to #57 so I have to watch what I say) before I can comment further.

  3. Hawkins Says:

    Stringer and Joe finally see the light and know the real way for success, it’s just knuckleheads like Marlo and Avon screw it up

  4. Jason Says:

    OK, what does it say that the first time I get the relevance of all the artwork, it’s British stuff? (And I’m a native Tennessean who’s lived here his entire life.)

  5. Anthony Says:

    The confusing thing is, it seemed that Marlo was already scheming against Joe in episode 51, at the Co-Op meeting, and in 52 Avon alluded to the idea that Marlo was trying to get to the Greeks so he could knock Joe and all of the other Eastsiders out the connect. I took that to be the case. Now, it seems that all he wanted from the Greeks was an insurance policy in the event of another robbery – or was he just hinting at Joe’s impotence in that a robbery occured under his watch? It’s all very ambiguous, I think.

    Anyways, the whole Joe-Marlo thing reminded of something Shaq (I know, I know, this isn’t Freedarko) said years back when Kobe dropped 55 on MJ (42 in the first half) in their last ever meeting. “In every good karate flick, in order for the student to become the man, he has to kill the teacher.” I mean, yeah Shaq put it in it’s simplest terms, and it probably sounds more impressive stated more philosophically, but whateva. I know it’s not telliing you guys anything that enlightening, but I think that quote works here.

  6. pk Says:

    marlo started plotting against Joe in 49/50 when he started tailing the greeks. we were just fooled by how well they “got along” for a while until Marlo learned everything he needed to learn. he wasn’t meant to play the son.

  7. Paul Says:

    Marlo absorbed what Joe taught him, but also realized that Joe was too old and on his way out anyhow…
    What do you think will happen to Slim Charles?

  8. malcolm Y Says:

    I really like Omar’s character because it is so well acted by Michael Williams, but realistically he needs to get offed this season. There is no way that one person, however smart, should be able to continuously rob the biggest drug dealers in the city for such a long period of time and continue breathing. I think it would be dramatic if Marlo were to kill Omar himself, since we have never actually seen him kill, or at least be present when it goes down.

    I love Marlo’s character. He is 100% psychopathic, ruthless, gangster. He even makes Avon seem a little soft. I actually root for him to beat the cops, although I know I shouldn’t. And Snoop’s character is the realest thing I have ever seen.

  9. carter blanchard Says:

    You think it’s one way, but it’s the other.

    Did anybody actually take Joe’s “treated you like son” plea to be sincere? Joe wasn’t naive or a fool for sentiment. But what was he supposed to do? As an outright enemy Marlo would have hunted him down just the same. He was playing the odds, and probably lasted a good deal longer than he otherwise would have by playing the friendly father and imparting his wisdom, but in the end, however he tried to play it, he’d end up in Marlo’s way, which is to say fucked. All of which is to say, cosign to the “expected, but not this soon” chorus.

    The other thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately that the reference to the security guard made me think of: the discarded badge. Maybe it’s not too late to become relevant again, but the purpose we all expected it to fulfill, revealing the hiding place of the bodies, obviously never came into fruition. Looking back, I’m unsure if the makers were collectively laughing at our severely trained expectations: as in, “You really think we’re that type of cop show, that just because we linger on a frame of a badge it will be the silverbullet clue that breaks the almost impossible case?” Maybe there’s a flipside to “it’s all connected” where some things legitimately don’t mean anything. It’s tough to call, cuz thus far this show hasn’t dwelled on too many irrelavant details, but if everything has meaning, and every frame is a forbearer of another, then wouldn’t the show necessarily fall into a type of predictability it pretty steadfastly rejects? I guess that’s one reason I’m hesitant to read too much into Narese hanging onto Daniels’ folder. I’m curious how other people feel though: do the makers prey on our tendency to overread into everything?

  10. jetsetjunta Says:

    this is like how hamlet is really contrived. i mean really, COME ON.

  11. Mike B Says:

    Malcolm Y: I don’t know, I reckon Omar has always involved a suspension of The Wire’s realism. He’s always been allowed to get away with it, and he’s used as the avenger. He almost has magical status. His plot arc is a hook, it lets in a little bit of classic heroism, Robin Hood, the Count of Monte Cristo.

  12. BA Says:

    re: not seeing Marlo kill, he shot the girl that was scheming on him at the bar that was sent by Avon or String in Season 3? I think?

  13. Anthony Says:

    carter blanchard makes an interesting suggestion about the closeup of the security guard’s badge, and Daniel’s dirt folder in the hands of Narese. I think of it in terms of Omar spying Marlo and his crew from the abandoned building last season, and telling Naldo “Man, he just a kid” at the sight of Michael as he sat down to make his deal with the devil. On a show that pays such great attention to detail, we have been conditioned to hang on to every word and every frame, and suspect that, as blanchard put it, “it’s all connected.” Thus, many take this scene as being a potential forebearer to the death of Omar at the hands of Michael, a person whom he disregarded as “a kid.” But on a show as intelligent as “The Wire,” would it be beyond the writers to play with our expectations and go in a completely different direction than the one they coaxed us into anticipating? I thinks not.

  14. Ty Keenan Says:

    My one major philosophical beef with the show is that it too often presents information and events as “all connected” in terms of cause and effect. Basically, I think they tie things together too well in a thematic sense to necessitate some of the crazier plot contrivances. (On that note, jetset’s right — plot contrivances happen in some of the greatest stories and this is all a bunch of nit-picking.) But reading Carter’s example and things like Nareese throwing the Daniels file back at Burrell (I know she kept it, but I really hope it doesn’t come back) makes me think that I’ve overlooked a lot of examples where things don’t tie together, which would mean that Lester’s “all the pieces matter” speech is only true when you’re looking at the pieces that do fit together.

    This is also why I hope Rawls being gay never gets brought up again.

  15. Adam Hoff Says:

    Yes, Marlo shot Devonne outside of her home in Season 3. I just watched that season over again and it actually kind of surprised me to see him do his own dirt, because I’ve gotten so used to Chris and Snoop doing it all for him.

  16. James Says:

    Think about it: that was season 3. Marlo was much younger – and therefore less experienced – than he is now.

    Having Snoop and Chris take care of his business shows that he has learned a lot during his rise to power, and is perhaps the smartest and most careful/cautious (albeit ruthless) kingpin we’ve seen thus far.

  17. carter blanchard Says:

    Cool tidbit found while strolling through the HH archives from this linked Q&A with Norris about the real life Commissioner’s sentencing:

    “The third count alleged that he had lied on his mortgage application, stating that approximately $9,000 he received from his father was not a gift—as was stated in the loan papers—but a loan. This final count carried a possible 30-year sentence.”

    Isn’t that what they’re getting Clay on?

  18. Mal Says:

    Pretty sure that’s exactly what they got Clay on. His look of realisation while being grand jury’d (juried?) and when standing outside with Freamon was priceless.

    Amongst the other plot threads people have mentioned above, I’m hugely intrigued by Omar’s willingness to let Slim Charles live – especially Slim’s line that “If Joe had done Butchie like that, I’d give him up, hell, I’d join you”. Could it be we’re going to see a battle between Marlo and Omar, with Slim choosing sides being a deciding factor? There is clearly an underlying distrust of Marlo amongst some of the old school, and while they may despise Omar, is it possible some may consider him the lesser of two evils?

  19. Shoals Says:

    I forgot which post Jim’s comment was originally on, since I deleted it. So I’ll put this two places: DON’T POST SPOILERS. NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THEM. IT DOESN’T MAKE YOU SMARTER OR MORE PRESCIENT TO HAVE WATCHED AHEAD.

  20. Brian Says:

    Could it be we’re going to see a battle between Marlo and Omar, with Slim choosing sides being a deciding factor? There is clearly an underlying distrust of Marlo amongst some of the old school, and while they may despise Omar, is it possible some may consider him the lesser of two evils?

    Maybe. With Joe gone, Charles is certainly in a tough position. He was muscle for hire, which Marlo clearly doesn’t need. I don’t know if he’d go so far as to decide to join Omar (or whether Omar would have him), but his choice will (I think) be a pretty important factor in deciding how things fall.

    On the other hand, he could sit this one out and never come up again. I really don’t know.

  21. Jeremy Says:

    Speaking of gay Rawls, did anyone else see the preview for next week’s Law & Order? It’s about a closeted gay politician, played by none other than John Doman, aka Rawls.

    The missus and I had been having a discussion about how the episode we were watching, about racial tension and gentrification, was like Wire-lite. You know, a messed-up urban situation that places people at odds because of their economic situations in an unsolveable way, only with clearly identifiable heroes and villains and justice done in an hour. Tristan Wilds (Michael) played the son of the shooter. And then Rawls shows up in the preview for next week, and then the shocker is that he’s closeted… well, it gave us the giggles.

  22. Bergen Says:

    Stringer, Joe, damn, Michael Corleone, even. All those G’s thought they were bigger than the game. Going to extend themselves. Carrying on like bizarro MBA’s, and look what that got them. Marlo entertains no such illusion. He embraces the game. He’s not trying to Gatsby his way out of nothing. To use the phrase, he a real nigga, yo. Ain’t giving a thought to real estate, unless it be to hide the dead who crossed him.

    I love Omar. “I’m gonna work him. Sweet Jesus, I’m gonna work him.” Chris, Snoop, Marlo, and his lieutenants, are no match. No match. No way those knuckleheads take down a man in a duster coat.

  23. Sahu Says:

    i also think that the greeks saying “he’s not joe” in that joe might have gotten too comfortable and started scheaming on the greeks…with someone as inexperienced as marlo they can make more money or margin.

  24. Mal Says:

    Brian – I very much doubt Slim would ‘join’ Omar, but Avon didn’t have to ‘join’ him to drop Stringer, if you catch my drift. But I get the feeling that if he doesn’t join Marlo he’s a dead man, and if he does, he’ll have Omar back on him.

  25. Nathan Says:

    Hello, this is my first comment on this most excellent and sophisticated blog and I apologize for the following somewhat banal observations.

    What bothers me the most about Marlo is how he, as well as Snoop and Chris, seem to have much more confidence and violence than respect for their adversaries. The rise of Marlo seemed marked by events that suggested he wasn’t cautious or prudent enough to last very long, but his downfall was constantly postponed by events completely unrelated to him.

    The first shadow of this came when the police looked up his file and found out he was nearly put away on a murder charge but the witness inexplicably returned to the west side and was murdered. Then of course there was Vinson’s rim shop, which was already discussed. Throughout the fourth season, when Snoop and Chris where putting bodies in the vacant houses, I thought that this was a foolish and temporary way to avoid the law. In my mind, it was only working because major crimes had been gutted, and once the bodies were inevitably discovered, they would all be linked by the M.O. and there would certainly be evidence, and the Marlo era would end. But Marlo has remained lucky with respect to the past and has become more intelligent in how he runs things now. Maybe this is just like how Avon rose to power, because if Marlo gets away with the vacant house murders, his arrogance will be justified.

    Also, does Marlo still hang out at Vinson’s rim shop? Might Slim Charles pass this on to Omar?

  26. Joe-El Says:


    Nobody is saying that. It’s clear to anyone that understands the show that Marlo is a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to eliminate anything that could pose a threat to him and his expanding territory.

    The question, in regard to your statement, is, if this is indeed “how people become kingpins,” how the hell is Prop Joe, who likely became a kingpin through similar measures, not recognize that Marlo was coming after him and his connect? This hard-ass, wise, seasoned gangster is all of a sudden going to give away all the secrets of his trade to this young thug (of the same generation he admonishes Cheese for being a part of)… all the while being called out at his own meetings, being deliberately disobeyed and causing problems for business re: Omar, and being told to give up his good dope connect?

    All of a sudden the smartest, most efficient kingpin in Baltimore turns mush over acting like a father figure to a clearly insane/ambitious gangster that will kill anyone at no hesitation?

  27. Joe-El Says:

    Apologies…quoted portion below:

    “Shoals: i can’t wait till people are like “this marlo thing has gone too far.” it’s like, how do you think people become kingpins?”

  28. The Hypnotoad Says:

    I see no real difference in Marlos ambitions compared to Stringers and Prop Joes. I suppose those two were willing to share territories, while marlo wants rule over everything; but his goal is the same IMO. I’m sure it won’t be long till Marlo is looking at real estate developments, etc etc.

    And since when is Joe not a suckup to everyone he’s ever met? He let Avon treat him like crap at the basketball game while quietly and patiently plotting his teams victory. Plus i’m sure there are plenty of others in the co-op he’s helped before. The only difference between them and marlo is the one thats been hammered into our head since season 4. Marlo is playing the game fiercer than anyone else. While others probably respected Joe for his politeness, Marlo had no such respect. Or at least that respect is so demented in his head that murdering him is no big deal.

  29. carbs Says:

    Thank you for that Gang of Four reference.

  30. Kenya Says:

    Stringer’s, Prop Joe’s and Marlo’s goals do not appear to be the same. Stringer and Prop Joe wanted to make money. Both realized that they could make more money if they worked in concert–a lesson Prop Joe, in vain, tried to convey to Marlo. Neither of them relished killing and typically avoided killing so as to minimize police scrutiny of their dealings. Throughout The Wire’s run, I can think of only one case when either killed or sought to kill out of pique. (Stringer wanted to have Clay Davis killed once he realized that he had been scammed.)

    So far, we have been shown little that tells us that Marlo’s primary interest is the money. When Stringer presented him with a deal to join the co-op and make more money, Marlo declined. Last season we learned that Marlo basically owns western Baltimore, but he isn’t satisfied with that. Marlo tolerated the co-op, but was annoyed about discussions of how members could make more money. Marlo prioritizes attaining power and control over attaining money. He has always been loathe to give up control to others. The co-op, and especially Omar’s robbery of its drug shipment in season four, was a living breathing embodiment of that lack of control. The dealings with the Greeks are IMHO less about money than control of the Baltimore drug trade and dominance (not first among equals status) over the other dealers. The second major difference between Marlo and Stringer/Prop Joe is the curious emotional detachment, yet passionate engagement Marlo has for killing. That along with an almost predatory paranoia, that has him tests other only to set them up as the next victims (see the security guard) makes him seem almost psychotic. While, he appears to have the standard number of business-related murders on his hands, he also tends to kill or order killings based on perceived slights as Michael noticed in episode 3. Despite his emotional detachment from the impacts of the murders, there is an odd engagement with it that seems to satisfy some need in him. (A comment in “Go and Cry” alludes to an almost erotic sense of involvement. I don’t know if it’s that or the sense of ultimate control.) These are not the characteristics of Stringer and Prop Joe.

    The rise of Marlo reminds me of an interview with or article about Simons and Burns before season four. One of the points they made was that the current generation of dealers was different. The older drug dealers had either left the business or been run out by this younger cohort that did not appear to respect the rules and that seemed more violent even unecessarily so. As I remember it the discussion drifted into an examination of the nature of the households in which the older and younger cohorts were reared. However, what I think we are seeing in Marlo is an exemplar of that younger generation.

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