Daddy Got Hosed
First off apologies for our infrequency of late. We don’t intend to be a letdown. I’ll be talking, vaguely, about episode #56, so if you’re not caught up, please point your brain HERE. Otherwise, continue on and get bummed out.
Honestly, I’m not sure how the Slate folks, or anyone else tring to comment thoughtfully on this show (not that I’m accusing the Slate folks of doing that), are able to muster enough energy to discuss this dizzying season. Much like our comments section, most of the discussions seem to center on minutiae, as if somehow the show has become Ghetto Lost. IS OMAR MAGIC? I know I speak for all of us at H&H when I say we’re a bit exhausted by the frenetic pace of the show right now, the feeling that every old story must be dredged up and paraded in front of us for a few minutes even while the new stories are totally bonkers and complicated in their own ways. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for ideas to shine through. If season one was a feather floating to earth, this season is a hammer coming down fast on an anvil, and we’re in the middle. It’s all connected is starting to feel like a threat more than a promise.
Did we really need to see Nicky Sobotka hollering to understand that the mayor was hammering yet another nail in the coffin of the docks? Like, I watched season 2 already. I get it. At least Randy has some connection with the ongoing crime story. Anyway, all these digressions just feel sort of hollow. Seeing Randy beefed up, innocence lost, cynicism front and center, fearful and bullying, was heartbreaking true, but also kind of unsurprising. Like, no shit that’s what happens to Randy. Did we really need to spend five minutes out of only around 500 this season just to see this? I thought the season about kids was last season? Remember when there were two or three narrative threads meandering through a season, and plot twists came about sluggishly, mundanely, and yielded results equally slowly, even murders, arrests, whatever. Between Omar blowing up a truck with a broken ankle (I presume), Marlo cancelling the co-op and raising prices on dope, essentially pissing of a couple dozen other DRUG DEALERS just because he’s got some clout and some muscle, McNulty and Freamon pursuing ever more ludicrous schemes to try and tarnish their careers as much as possible, it’s hard to remember that this isn’t like other cop shows. Even Bunk’s narrative, which is the most like the real police work we’ve grown used to, is now intereracting with an (albeit wittily ironized) CSI lab. When does the big chase scene happen? When will Horatio roll up on Marlo and they’ll gab about their Hummers before the Who kicks in?
Of course it’s not really like that. There are more moments of pure Wire-ness than not, even with all the extra action. What I wonder about is with all this summing up (and we’ve only got four episodes left), who will get left behind, whose narrative being unfinished will feel the most disappointing (for me, I fear it’s going to be Bubs, Cutty, and Dukie, who I spoke on last week)? It seems like a balance has been lost in the interests of re-making points that viewers will have learned long ago. Everyone has their own favorite seasons, but for me the contrasts and connections in season 2 were the most satisfying, since the docks presented such an alien world to the street, yet the grinding gears of the law kept the two linked, kept the viewer grounded, and kept the focus of the show on the ongoing, uphill process of fighting crime. As humane as the show is toward its criminals, Ed Burns was a distinguished member of the police force, and Simon has nothing but respect for anyone trying to fight systems from within (and neither wants to confuse humanity with legitimacy).
This is something where the insanity of the cop plot loses me. I suppose we’re supposed to see two great cops reduced to faking murders, creating a false scandal, and tying up all sorts of police offices with their bullshit in the vain pursuit of funding to catch one particularly nasty drug dealer. This is tragedy on a grand scale, because it comes from such a good place. All they want to do is good police work, and it’s the one thing they aren’t being allowed to do, so they’ve got to ignore the system (Lester had a great line about that to Sydnor, who flipped unbelievably easily, though who among us wouldn’t follow wise Freamon anywhere?). What gets lost, even just as a matter of airtime, is the other side of police work, the cases Bunk and Kima are working, or what the mayor is doing not related to the homeless killer. Kima hangs out with her kid once and we’re meant to understand what about that? Beadie threatens to leave Jimmy, comes to the office to talk with Bunk about it, so now what? If we’re lucky we’ll have quick rejoinders to these questions over the last four hours of showtime. Beadie throwing Jimmy out, Kima spending the day with Cheryl and the kid, Bubs smilingly serving at the shelter, or the inverse of any of these and more (everyone shot by Marlo).
I guess the most enjoyable moments for me this episode were watching Jimmy wrestle with his treatment of that homeless man, watching the sort of man we have all seen, someone who is utterly helpless, damaged far beyond repair, and yet left on his own to try and make a life among the homeless. And Jimmy picks up this man, figures him into a scheme, then drops him at a shelter without his identity card and (horrifyingly) with his real name scratched off his anti-psychotic medication, which would presumably at some point prevent him from access to… not being psychotic. It was a direct affirmation of Carcetti’s impassioned speech about the homeless, and it clearly wasn’t easy for Jimmy to cast aside even more of his humanity. It’s interesting to note that Jimmy hasn’t been seen (by us anyway) drinking as much (aside from the scene talking to the statue of, I believe, Major-General Samuel Smith), and that this could be seen to indicate that he’s so fully devoted to making these cases work that he has not time even for his vices, but perhaps also that he’s drunk on lying, falsifying, and fucking with the system, that he’s found a new, far more destructive vice. Similarly, the scene where we finally see Templeton doing solid journalism (although spending the night hanging with the homeless seems like it could be rather dangerous) gives a face to the homeless, and shows Templeton’s own struggle with humanity, connecting with those people he too is seeking to exploit for his own purposes. For him, it may also be too late, as Gus seems suspicious of his work already.
As much as I complain, I have to admit I’m giddy to see what happens next. These plotlines may be overwrought and overwritten, but they are still compelling as hell. I suppose it shows my fanhood to admit that I wish there was no end to all this, that each story, made quite real over five seasons, should have its due, have its say, be allowed to fully exhale its humanity. Hopefully we’ll get a few more stolen breaths before the end.