Category: The Wire Rewatch

Revisiting My Rewatch of The Wire

At my university this year, there’s a special program starting up: The New Commons Project. (I blogged about it previously here.) After a long nominations and selection process, they’ve picked 12 works that are vital to today, for a variety of reasons. It’s a cool project, and I’ve been happy to play a part in it. It’s led by a group of very dedicated people, and they’ve been a ton of fun to work with.

Better yet, they’re leading off with my favorite television show of all time: The Wire.

To make things easier for anyone who might be watching The Wire as part of this program, I’m presenting you here with every episode review I did of the show, back when I was rewatching it a few years ago. I go into great detail about why the show’s so excellent, and why I feel it’s an important one for people to watch. It continues to inform my world view today, causing me to understand how our society works in a way I didn’t before watching the show.

It’s a dark show, and very adult. Full of good and bad people doing good and bad things. Sometimes the good people are doing the bad things, and sometimes the bad people are doing the good things. But that’s how life is. (Really, I have to stop here. It’s waaaaay too easy for me to go on and on about this show.)

In any case, to those of you about to binge, I salute you!

Season One

Season Two

Season Three

Season Four

Season Five


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The Wire 5:8, 5:9, and 5:10

Here we go. The end of the show. Tons to get through. Little time to do it.

Episode 5:8

Omar!!! Kenard!!! It’s fitting, in many ways, to have Omar go out by a little rat like Kenard (who had just been in the middle of setting a cat on fire before he decided to kill Omar instead). Here was the man who made Chris and Snoop panic. Who was so feared he could walk to the store in his jammies, unarmed, and still have dealers give him their stash. Killed by a grade schooler. (Fun fact: Kenard was the kid back in season three who “wanted to play Omar” when Bunk was investigating the aftermath of the big shootout that left a kid dead in the neighborhood. Remember that episode?)

Did you really think Omar was going to get a happy ending, though? Not after the way he’s been behaving, and not after watching this show for almost 5 full seasons. Still, a moment of silence for one of the best characters in the series.

McNulty, meanwhile, is finally starting to come to his senses, and it took a whole lot of lying for him to get there. The scene with him hearing about himself at Quantico was hilarious, and watching him unravel as he began to be extorted by the same police who’d been singing his praises moments before . . . priceless. But that scene with Beadie, where he finally opens up and comes clean with her about what’s going on. That’s the scene that gave me hope for him. That made me think he might yet be saved, and that he and Beadie might work out. Because he was willing to tell her the truth, just like he was compelled to tell Kima the truth. McNulty is inherently good, and he can’t stand what he’s been up to (especially not when he’s sober.)

Lester doesn’t seem as worried about it as McNulty. Maybe because he’s not the one out there having to lie about it day after day. Or maybe because he’s closer to the end of his career, and he doesn’t care as much about what he has to do, as long as he can take down the bad guys with him. (Watch him lie to Clay Davis, knowing full well there’s no real threat there, but knowing Davis can’t know that. Lester is one smooth character.)

Carcetti is still telling himself that he’s doing everything for Baltimore, even as he starts selling piece of Baltimore to Clay Davis and Nerese, and half(!) of what he’ll get as governor to PG County. Watching him watch himself on the news . . . it embodies everything I dislike about him. He’s in it for himself, and the rest is just the story he tells himself so he can sleep at night.

But there are good things on the horizon. Bunk has a solid case against Chris, for one thing. The code is broken, and the unit can perhaps get ahead of Marlo for once.

In other tidbits, it was great to see Poot again, working at Foot Locker no less. Funny to see him in such a different element, and nice to see someone else escape the game without too many scars. (He’s Poot. Practically made out of rubber.) Dukie is still looking for something better, even though we all know what he’s looking for is back in school, not in trash cans. (And all the money going to the police makes you wonder what’s happening to those schools, doesn’t it?)

It’s a great episode, with real movement for the characters, and real jaw-dropping developments. 5/5 from me, though telling that I don’t care enough about the newspaper folks to really want to write that much about them. Scott’s a weasel, Gus is cool. What else is there to say?

Episode 5:9

As I was rewatching this season, there were a few episodes when I wondered if I’d just been too kind to the season in my memory. As a favor to how great the rest of the seasons were. Because there were some episodes in season five that were just okay at best, and yet I remembered saying to some people that The Wire had the best series finale of any show I’d seen. And I remembered not liking the serial killer plot, but still being okay with the season as a whole.

Episodes like number 9 helped me to see I really wasn’t making stuff up.

The biggest thing for me was seeing Bubs finally get some redemption in his life. That scene where he stands up and really speaks to his support group was fantastic. Here’s a character we’ve seen in so many different situations for so long. A character we’ve liked and rooted for, even when he made terrible decisions. A character who came so close to succeeding in a suicide attempt. To see him finally get some good closure to his arc was inspiring. A great moment in a great show.

On the flip side, we see other pieces that aren’t as inspiring. Seeing Herc turn on his former buddies and use them as information sources to help Levy is just maddening. I can’t stand Herc and everything he represents, and yet he seems to be doing just fine when so many other people are suffering. Seeing Michael use the training he’s been given to get the jump on Snoop is good on one hand (this is Michael, and we don’t want him to die), but really hard on the other, because Michael finally completely embraces the murdering lifestyle he’s been getting into step by step.

And seeing him have to say goodbye to Dukie and Bug? How sad was that? Poor Bug, even though we know how Michael’s doing him a huge favor by sending him off to his aunt. Dukie looks like he’s in for a much darker future . . .

Crazy to see Marlo and the gang actually get busted. Lester and McNulty’s grand scheme actually paid off. Go figure. But then we see that they’d made perhaps a few too many assumptions about the intelligence level of their opposition. Marlo had guarded that code to the extreme. Lester assumed drug dealers would be sloppy, and that just saying “a source” gave them information on the drug deals at work. But because Marlo’s organization was such a tight ship, Levy knew enough to tell something smelled off, and Herc was able to confirm it. (Curse you, Herc!! Though really, Levy probably would have been able to weasel without the knowledge. That’s just how he do.)

Kima going to Daniels with the truth makes total sense. Remember, this is the same Kima who wouldn’t name Weebey as a shooter back when Bunk asked her to to make things easier for the murder police. She might be like McNulty in some ways, but when it counts, she’s too much of a straight shooter to cover things up just to keep them covered. So she tells. Who knows where it will go, but that ship has now sailed, and it totally makes sense that someone finally can’t live with what McNulty and Lester have been up to.

Too many other highlights to name them all: Lester pumping Davis for information, Marlo finding out about how Omar had been publicly making fun of him, Augie cameo, and more. The penultimate episode each season is always a doozy, and this one is no different. The serial killer stupidity is stopped. All we’re dealing with is the aftermath, and that all makes sense. I love this episode. 5/5

Episode 5:10

After revisiting it, I stand by my earlier statement. This is the best ending of a show I’ve ever seen. It’s practically perfect. I can’t think of things to criticize. Why? Because it brings the whole series full circle. Sydnor is McNulty. Dukie is Bubs. Michael is Omar. Valchek is Burrell. Nerese is Royce. Carver is Daniels. The finale is a full reset back to where we were in the series premier, and that feels so right. All the problems we’ve looked at are still there. Nothing has been solved. And as depressing as that is, how could it be any different? This is the point this show has been making all along, and to see it all snap into focus like it does in this episode is just incredible. Coupling it with the version of the theme song from the first season? Even better.

Are there things that are upsetting? Of course there are. Daniels is strong-armed out of his job, replaced with Valchek. Unbelievable. And why? Because Daniels wouldn’t do the thing Burrell was fired for doing. And sure, someone might try and claim Carcetti doesn’t directly know what Daniels is being told to do, but let’s be honest: Carcetti put a weasel in charge of his career, and then stepped back and let that weasel work his magic.


The fallout from the serial killer case is pretty spot on. Seeing Carcetti wheel and deal with Rawls and others in order to make it out of that tight spot politically was pretty epic, even if it was depressing. And I think that’s why in the end I accept the serial killer story. Yes, it’s far fetched, but if you had a McNulty and a Lester who decided they needed to do it to get their way, it played out pretty realistically, all told. And the fall out is completely believable. McNulty and Lester lose their jobs over it, but they don’t lose them publicly for those reasons.

The copycat killing by a random insane homeless guy that miraculously shows up to give them all an out? That’s a bit weaker. But then again, I think they would have found an out no matter what. The whole point of this season with the newspaper arc is that people don’t really care about the truth. They care about what they’re told is the truth, and there’s a huge gap between those two points. What’s worse, the newspaper folks aren’t able to keep doing what they’re supposed to be doing: reporting the truth. They’re too worried about keeping their jobs or winning awards to be able to do what they should be doing. Or they’ve lost their jobs. In other words, the same ills that affect the schools, the police, and the blue collar workers affect the papers as well.

It’s one big mess, and it’s all connected.

But hey, at least Kenard got arrested, right?

Interestingly, Marlo and McNulty end up in similar positions: ousted from the thing that defined them. The difference is that I think McNulty had finally come to see that police work was killing him, and I have hope for his future. Marlo, on the other hand, is thrust into a Stringer Bell position, when all he really wants to do is be Avon. Judging from the last scene we have of him going back to the corners just for the thrill, I tend to think things won’t last long for him. But you never know.

It was hard to think that Bubs would be able to top last episode’s developments, but him sitting down to eat with his sister managed to do it, quickly and effortlessly. His journey was complete at last. Seeing Cheese get gunned down also felt nice. I was cheering Slim Charles big time on that one, enough that I felt guilty for being so happy someone got killed. But Cheese . . .

In the end, I don’t know what else to say about this show. A year and a half ago, I wrote a post about how awesome the series is as a whole, and that’s still true today. This is a show that got me to view our society in a different light. It’s eye-opening and compelling. Still the best television series I’ve ever watched on so many different levels.

The finale is an easy 5/5.

Thanks so much for watching this with me. It’s been a long process, and it’s been harder to do sometimes than I thought it would be at first. Any time you take something you love and turn it into a commitment, it can bring surprises with it. Jobs feel less fun than hobbies, you know? So I don’t know if I’ll be doing any more series revisits anytime soon, but it’s been a very fun experiment. So once again, thank you.


If you want a good read, check out this interview with David Simon, the creator of the show. It contains a wealth of information for Wire fans, including tidbits like the fact that the real life person Omar was based on actually survived with light injuries a jump from a balcony two floors higher. It’s a case where they made the jump shorter than real life, because no one would have believed it, and even then, people still didn’t believe it. Some great stuff here. Cheese is Randy’s dad?! Read it.

The Wire 5:6 and 5:7

Yup. I only managed two episodes again this week. It was busier than I expected, with Denisa finishing her teaching, and since I wait and watch with her, it’ll just have to be two. I’ll really try for all three next week, though. I’m also tempted to do an overarching “All the Wire Episodes from Worst to Best” post. Why? Because a friend noted last week that my ratings each week were pretty lame, and I realized he was right.

Rating a Wire episode can be tricky. Do I rate it against the other episodes, or against all television in general? Season 5 has some weak Wire episodes, but it’s still a great show, with great characters. I’ve generally tried to rate them compared to TV as a whole, but I don’t think I’ve been consistent. It would be a fun exercise to rank the entire series, and since I just finished watching them all, I think I could pull it off. There are only 60 episodes, after all . . .

But on to today’s reviews.

Episode 5:6

The homeless “murder” plot is well and truly under way, and it’s to the point that critiquing how it started is no longer relevant in my book. For whatever insane reason, McNulty and Lester got themselves into this mess, and now they’ve roped Sydnor into it as well. With that taken for granted now, let’s look at how things are going for them.


And this, at least, is very believable. Bit by bit, the lie they started to tell is growing. Changing. First it was just rigging a single scene to make it look like a murder, then tweaking a few old cases to make them match. Then there were more bodies. Then desecrating the bodies. Now it’s graduated to full on kidnappings. It’s terrible that McNulty is doing these awful things, and Larry the Homeless Guy doesn’t deserve it at all. To make matters worse, the police work that McNulty’s supposedly helping with this stunt is only getting hurt. Bunk isn’t able to work his cases how he needs to, and Kima is sent off investigating bogus “leads.”

But that’s kind of the point of the season. Lies are easier to believe than the truth, and lies get more money and attention than the truth. The bigger the lie, the more people want to believe it.

In other news, Nick is back for a brief cameo, reminding us all that the construction projects Carcetti is boasting about are coming at the cost of the old way of living represented back in season two. And we’ve got Randy popping up again as well, no longer the innocent boy with dreams of running a store. He’s put on muscle and experience, and he seems just as much a hardened corner boy as any of the other random characters we see.

Carcetti continues to bug me, mainly because he knows just what to say and how to say it to make things look like he actually cares about something. And the thing is, maybe he really does believe it when he’s saying it. But as soon as he’s not in front of a microphone anymore, he’s mainly interested in how he can rig this to make it work out the best for him personally. Maybe I’m too idealized in my view of what politicians could do. Too much West Wing, I suppose.

Omar is back, and we find out that he was injured really badly in his jump (though I’m still skeptical anyone would be able to survive that jump. Then again, this is Omar. If anyone could do it, it would be him.) But this Omar is very different from the old one we knew. It’s like he can tell he’s on a one way journey. Hard to picture him getting out of all of this alive, especially with how injured he is, and how careful Marlo’s crew has been.

And has it ruffled Marlo’s feathers? Not really. Not enough to stop him from taking over the co-op and disbanding it. He’s sailing through life without a care in the world, it seems.

I don’t have much to say about the newspaper crew this time. They’re doing what they’re doing, and they’re new enough to me that I don’t care too much other than to continue to dislike Scott and the chiefs.

It’s a 3/5 for this one. Better than two episodes ago, but still not a return to greatness.

Episode 5:7

Clay. Davis. I hated seeing him get off without so much as a scratch the first time I watched this episode, and I still hate it. Not that I think it’s unrealistic. I hate it because it makes so much sense. Really, I’m stunned at how the writers were able to pull this off. We’ve been watching Davis for years, and we know what a weasel he is. We saw how careful the lawyers were being as they prepped for the trial. I honestly couldn’t envision a scenario where he was able to escape.

And then somehow, they present one in one fell swoop, and it makes sense.

This is what caused me to write my post yesterday on how stories matter, not necessarily the truth. Davis and his lawyer were able to come up with a believable story that explained what the prosecution was attacking him for, and the jury listened. And so he slinks off yet again to be able to ooze his way through Baltimore, bribing and extorting everywhere he goes. And what’s worse is knowing how many of the other Powers That Be in the city know who he is and what he does, and yet they put up with him because of what he can do for them and to their opponents.

Like I said: maybe a bit too true to life.

And why was he able to talk his way out of this? Because the city prosecutor didn’t want the case to go federal. He wanted the glory for himself. Remember: Lester had the “head shot” on Davis. The sure thing that would send him to prison no matter what. But the prosecutor declined to use it because he thought he’d have an easier time grandstanding and making a name for himself.


Lester and McNulty, meanwhile, continue to assume they’re going to have an easier time with Marlo than they actually are having. The clock pictures have them scratching their heads, and now they need a ton of serious back up to get what they want. Sure, they’ve turned on the money by lying about a case, but now all that money is being spent on the bogus case, and it’s difficult to spend any on the case they want to actually do. Especially when there are so many other cops trying to get case work done, and McNulty can’t say no. It’s a microcosm, where McNulty is finding out just how hard it is to spend limited resources on the massive amount of work that needs doing.

Of course, then we’re also forced to see Kima talking to various family members of the deceased McNulty’s been lying about. When he started this “game,” it was easy to think of the homeless men as objects. People who were already dead, and so who cared what happened to them. But they were just homeless, not without families, and these lies hurt families deeply. This is definitely not a victimless crime.

I loved the scenes with Kima putting together the IKEA furniture, and how it calls back to McNulty doing the same thing back in the first season. Very funny, and very well done.

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Omar, though. He’s completely lost his larger-than-life cool factor. He’s out of control, with no friends and no support, and not even full use of his body. So sad to see him hobbling around.

On the other hand, how great was it to see Bubs looking so good? Not caring about making money or angles. Just doing good for other people. He looks a ton better, and it gives me hope for him yet.

Much more I wish I could talk about, but I just don’t have the time. I really like this episode, and it’s the start of the end of the series, which (from what I remember) is some really great stuff. Here’s hoping my memory’s right. 4/5

The Wire 5:3, 5:4, and 5:5

Three episodes in one week! It’s hard for me not to just binge watch the rest when we’re this close. But I’m being strong and sticking to the plan. On to the episode reactions!

Episode 5:3

Let me be very clear: I am not a fan of the serial killer plot in this season. Not even a little. It’s way harder for me to swallow than Hamsterdam, mainly because I feel like there’s something morally wrong in desecrating bodies the way McNulty and Lester are doing, and that the odds of finding not just one but two police willing to do it strains credibility to the extreme. We know Lester and McNulty. They each have issues, but that they’re willing to do this, and all sorts of other police touch on it tangentially, and no one says anything?

I just have a hard time swallowing that.

However. If I just accept the fact that McNulty is deep enough in the bottle and Lester is obsessed enough with Marlo, and I get over my first reaction, I do believe the season continues to be worthwhile. I try to think of it almost as a thought experiment. How bad are things in Baltimore? They’re so bad that an actual serial killer isn’t enough to register more than a yawn or two from the police. McNulty and Lester are certainly smart enough to rig things to be believable. It’s just that nobody cares about what they’re “uncovering.”

Then you have the newspaper folks. Again, they’re a little too easily classified for the show’s normally high standards. Gus is a good guy. Scott is a weasel. It could have been done with a defter touch, but there you have it. Scott is all too willing to throw anyone else under the bus, and he doesn’t care about making stuff up left and right either. Not if it will advance his career. I can’t stand the man.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t dislike other people more. People like Clay Davis. So fun to see the man finally knocked down a peg or five. He’s been a rat for so long, and done so many awful things, it’s great to see it come back to bite him at last, and he seems like he’s really in for it this time.

Joe keeps trying to “civilize” Marlo, but does he really think something like that is possible? Marlo has no real clue what he’s doing. He’s just mimicking whatever Joe or Levy are doing. And then killing anyone who might question what he’s doing or why. Terrible, terrible man. Omar’s heading back to do something about it, though. Think he’ll be able to pull it off? If anyone could, it would be him.

Anyway. It’s solid television, but far from awesome. 3/5 from me.

Episode 5:4

So much for the old way of doing business. Marlo murders Prop Joe in cold blood. Not because Joe’s done anything terrible. Just because Marlo wants to be the king, and Joe is kind of sort of in his way. And Cheese (Joe’s nephew) is the one to sell Joe out. Sad.

That said, the scene seemed to be the one really riveting moment of the episode. It was great, but much of the rest of this one is set up. You’ve got Beadie confronting McNulty (and McNulty not really caring that his marriage is falling apart), McNulty and Lester continuing their serial killer plot (with the help of none other than Gordon from Sesame Street, playing an old cop who’s been used and abused by the system. Maybe there’ll be more Wire/Sesame Street crossovers. Snuffleuppagus is Omar.), Scott trying to find a job at a more “worthy” paper, Omar on the hunt for Marlo, Marlo courting the Greek, Daniels moving on up as Burrell moves out. I wish I had more to say, but I really don’t.

The episode is called “Transitions,” and it feels like that’s all it is. 2/5.

Still, coming from the high of season four, season five is a definite let down thus far for me.

Episode 5:5

Okay. The scene were McNulty and Scott are in the same room, and Scott says that the serial killer called him? That was pretty dang funny. McNulty knows there’s no way this actually happened, and you can see how surprised he is, but then he’s all too ready to play along with it, surprising Scott by letting them know that the serial killer called the police too.

It looks like McNulty’s found just who he needed to make this story soar: Scott the Weasel. Though I don’t think Scott’s quite bright enough to know what’s going on. This is the episode where we see once and for all that Scott is completely full of it, making up a homeless family and using an insane homeless guy’s name to cover it. If there were any doubts, there are none now.

On the other hand, as outlandish as the serial killer plot is, Lester’s plan to wire tap Marlo illegally is all too believable. It’s a well-established fact that none of the other police really have a clue what’s going on with technology, and Lester’s always been the go-to guy when it came to taps, so to have him rig the whole thing up and do it wrong on purpose? I totally buy it, and it seems like it will probably work. Of course, we have no idea what’s really going on with it yet, since Vondas and Marlo’s method is still very much a mystery to us all.

Omar’s leap to freedom at the end of the episode is quite the cliffhanger. Did he get away? Did he die? Has he somehow figured out a way to turn invisible? He jumped from really high up, and it seems doubtful he just landed on the ground and got up and ran away, but the way this season is going . . .

Speaking of distasteful developments, Clay Davis getting so much support from Nerese and Royce just made my blood boil. This man is a human leech, and Royce and Nerese know that, but they’re more than willing to work with him (and Burrell back in the day) because they’re on the same team. It’s the sort of politics I can’t stand, and while I wish it didn’t happen in real life, something tells me it probably does. Sigh. To see Royce have that rally for Davis, and see how much the public buys into it, just makes me cringe.

Dukie, meanwhile . . . Why is he even on the corners in the first place? It’s interesting to see him try and turn to Cutty to get training on how to fight (and nice to see how far Cutty has come in understanding at least somewhat how to deal with these kids), but when that fails, he turns to Michael and guns. But even that’s not working out. The answer is clear to us: Dukie never should have dropped out of school. (It’s something I still don’t really understand. Sure, it was frightening to go to a different school, but Dukie just giving up? Very disappointing, and I really have no one to blame but Dukie.)

3/5 for this episode. Better than the last one, but still nothing like the last season.

I’m out of time for today. Three episodes to review at once  is a lot. Good thing I only have to do it one more time. Five episodes left!

The Wire 5:1 and 5:2

Yeah, I know I said I’d do three episodes for today. What can I say? Life got in the way. I’m still planning on three for next week and the week after, but today we just have two. My apologies.

Episode 5:1

The first scene in every Wire season is always pivotal. It explains the meaning of the entire season, and this one is no different. Lies are just as good as the truth, in many situations. I won’t say more than that right now, but remember this scene for later.

The fallout from Carcetti’s refusal to accept state funds is front and center in this episode, an easy feat when they jump forward a year in time. The “new day” Carcetti had promised is closer to a nightmare, with the cops not just not seeing their pay bumps, but not getting paid overtime, not having working cards, not getting forensics done quickly. It’s a complete and utter mess.

And yet Carcetti still has the nerve to talk about how it’s all part of his master plan. How he can fix it all once he’s the governor. I know some people have questioned my dislike for Carcetti. Here’s where we begin to see just where he decided to make his stand, and it’s firmly in the “What’s best for Carcetti?” camp. That $54 million he turned down at the end of last season is just killing his city.

And, naturally, it’s driven McNulty to drink and sleep around again. The initial thought I have is to wish he’d just stayed on the beat, like he had been. But let’s be honest: things would have been just as bad for him there, judging by how much heat Carver’s getting from the troops. I’m thinking McNulty was doomed one way or the other. Poor Beadie.

Major Crimes gets disbanded, and it’s upsetting. But look at it this way: they’d been on Marlo for over a year, and they had pretty much nothing to show for it. Lester is confident Marlo will slip up eventually, but how long can you go on paying people to get no results? It’s not like nothing else is going on in the city. Let’s call it like it is: Marlo was winning, plain and simple. And now it looks like he’s won, period.

Herc has managed to get hired by resident weasel lawyer Levy, and how much does it irritate you that he seems to be much better off for it than his former co-workers. The Wire certainly can’t be accused of trying to portray a world where making the right decisions ends up putting you in a better place.

And then we have the newspaper people. Season one was all about cops and drug dealers. Season two was the docks. Season three was politics. Season four was schools. Season five is newspapers. All of them connected. All of them a mess. But nothing seems to happen in Baltimore unless enough of the public cares about it, and they can’t care about something they haven’t heard about.

I’m a big fan of the hero editor, Gus Haynes. But why wouldn’t I be? The guy is presented as close to a saint. He’s smart, perceptive, generous with giving credit to others, level-headed. Meanwhile, his underlings are sneaks (well, one: Scott “I want to work at the Times”) and his bosses are bumblers. (Some parts of this season seem rushed compared to past seasons. I’d say that’s likely due to it being cut short at only 10 episodes, so the creators had to jam more into each episode than they wanted to.)

And then we have Bubs. On the one hand, it’s great to see him clean and back in his sister’s basement. On the other, it’s incredibly sad to see he him still in such agony. He’s not on drugs, and he goes to his meetings, but what is he doing? He’s not living, that’s for sure. He hasn’t replaced drugs with anything. He’s just not dying.

It’s a good episode, but a return to the scatter-shot set-up episodes of seasons past. 3/5 for me.

Episode 5:2

Let me get the elephant out of the room right off. I’m just as put off by McNulty’s actions as the Bunk is. Yes, we can see McNulty’s torn up about it (he’s only able to go through with it after drinking on the job), but really? Really? It’s important to have Bunk there, horrified by what McNutty’s doing. It manages to keep the scene grounded at least a little. (And while I find this entire plot very outlandish, some have pointed out (rightly) that it’s no more outlandish than a police chief creating Hamsterdam. Point taken.)

Still, it’s possible to understand what McNulty is up to. The episode leads to this, if you know what to look for: McNulty hearing from Lester about how no one cares about the bodies because they weren’t white, and how if white people were getting killed, then things would be different. McNulty hearing about how you can do things to a body post-mortem to make things still look like murder, with no one able to tell the difference. And having McNulty be as far into the bottle as he is.

It’s a dangerous combination, and McNulty is just dumb and crazy enough when he’s drunk to go for it. I’m more at ease with seeing it go into action on my second viewing than I was on my first.

In other news, we see just how much good Major Crimes was doing by staying on Marlo: as soon as they go away, the killings start right back up. Three people shot (and two boys orphaned) because someone had been heard to have possibly said that Marlo was gay. Michael’s right in the middle of it all, and while it’s nice to see he still has some shred of a soul (he doesn’t shoot the boy), it’s still terrible to see what he’s up to.

Bubs seems to realize he has to start doing something more with his life, and him volunteering at the shelter is a nice improvement. At the same time, it was painful to watch. How can he come back from what he did? Knowing what happened to Sherrod. It’s heart wrenching.

Scott the newspaper guy is the opposite of Gus. We’re set up to love Gus. Scott? How can we do anything but dislike him? While we don’t know for sure that he’s making stories up, the implications are clear and repeated. We also see him schmoozing with the bosses, and then see those same bosses magically show up to help him out. The lines are clear: it’s the Gus way of reporting vs. the Scott way of reporting, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Avon’s back for an episode, and how pitiful does he look? Back when he was in prison before, he had underlings to do his bidding. He was in a position of power, and he didn’t need to tell anyone about it. Now? He’s there in person to tell Marlo hist how big of a deal he still is. Then again, he’s able to use his connections to get his sister $100,000, so maybe he hasn’t fallen too far. But he’s nowhere near the position of power he used to hold.

Marlo, meanwhile, is circling the waters. Looking for more ways to gain importance. The man is downright frightening.

But what am I talking about? There’s a serial killer loose in Baltimore, and who knows where things will go from here . . .

3/5 for me. A fine episode, but nothing extraordinary.

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