The Wire 3:10 and 3:11

Some great stuff in these episodes, as the whole season once more comes together from all sides. Once again, it seems like the cops just can’t catch a single break . . .

Episode 3:10

Almost everything in this episode feels like it’s falling apart. Not in a bad TV show way. Rather, we look at all the characters, and they’re all just lost in the woods. McNulty can’t figure out who he really is and why he’s a valuable person. Stringer is drowning in the white collar world and becoming an outcast with Avon. Avon is trying to go back to his glory days and maybe not having quite so easy of a time of it. Bunny is now cut loose and at the whims of the fates.

It’s rough times in these characters’ lives.

The fallout of Hamsterdam is especially intriguing to me. You’ve got this situation where the show explored what it would be like to legalize drugs. While I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, I will say that Hamsterdam changed my outlook on it. Sure, there was the scene in hell when Bubbs goes there at night, but it appears that the social workers are beginning to combat that. When it all moves up to Royce and he has to decide what to do about it, you can see some genuine conflicts there. (I loved those letters from the citizens, which Bunny offers as a sop to Cerberus (for which he’s ridiculed by Burrell) and then Burrell does the same thing to Royce.)

Of course, the show doesn’t look at the drug use rates. It doesn’t examine what sort of an effect Hamsterdam has on that. But then again, it appears that drugs are fairly freely available no matter what. Which way would make things easier to get drugs? When they’re available on every corner, or when they’re only in the free zones? Before The Wire, I would have really been against any legalization efforts. After? I can see a fair number of advantages to them, though I’m still not firmly in favor of the idea. Then again, I also don’t really think the current approach is doing the country any favors.

Cutty continues to explore what it means to be a good guy and try to do good things. I continue to really like him and admire his efforts. It takes work to make good decisions in this world, and he’s one of the few characters who keeps going back, trying to make those decisions no matter how hard it might be for him.

Carcetti, on the other hand, keeps seeing the opportunity to choose between his self interests and the greater good, and he just can’t seem to avoid going for his self interests (in a way that makes him appear as good as possible to the public. There’s a distinct difference.) He’s a weasel who wants power, and he’ll do what he needs to get it. Sometimes that means doing the right thing. Sometimes it means something very different. (How fitting that the same actor ends up playing Littlefinger in Game of Thrones . . .)

And I can’t miss a quick comment on Rawls in the gay bar. How awesome is that? It’s a quick couple of seconds shot that adds to a character in huge ways, and it’s never addressed again. We don’t know for sure why he was there, but we’re left to make our own conclusions. Just a general reminder that no one is always as they seem, and that we should never judge people by appearances alone.

Some great television here, though it all feels like it’s not at quite the same level of focus as the endings of previous seasons. Maybe a bit too much sprawl for a single season? I’m not sure. I loved lots of it, but there’s a haphazard, everything but the kitchen sink feeling to it that keeps it from perfection. 4/5 for me on this one.

Episode 3:11

Okay. Everything I said about lacking focus from last episode? Throw that out the window for this one. It’s one of the best of the series. The scene with Avon and Stringer toward the end? Perfection. It’s taken a long while to set it up, and we know that Avon has betrayed Stringer and Stringer has betrayed Avon, but neither suspects the other. It’s like a bizarro Gift of the Magi retelling. I love it. And the actors do a stupendous job of pulling the scene off. I particularly liked where they go in for the one armed bro-hug, and each of them pounds the other on the back. I couldn’t help but picture daggers in those fists, as each of them was stabbing the other in the back.

Stringer’s downfall has been epic and almost inevitable. There’s a real Greek tragedy feel to it, and this episode is all about that, from start to finish. Sure, you’ve got the police tagging along, thinking they’re making progress on Stringer, but in the end, it all comes down to Stringer. He turns coat on Avon. He ends up getting shot, not cuffed. Great stuff.

Omar and Brother Mouzone at the beginning are straight out of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and that has to be on purpose. Those two characters are larger than life in the show. They’re the ones who are allowed to be. And it’s fun watching them meet under these circumstances. It’s like they’re the only ones capable of really bringing down Stringer.

In other parts of the episode, Cutty’s scene with his acolytes going up against the better trained boxers is also a favorite of mine. It’s much more subdued than the rest of the episode, but the look in Cutty’s eyes as he sees Justin not give up on himself . . . I love it. It’s such a small victory, but it’s a huge one for the boy and for Cutty. It’s one that doesn’t rely on anyone else. Just one person deciding to help another person, and that person accepting that help.

Speaking of Cutty, I always get a kick out of him going to Avon and doing this huge song and dance number to try and persuade him to help fund the gym, only to have Avon laugh him off for such a low request. Kind of a stark contrast. Think of how much good all that drug money could be doing if it weren’t tied up in the hands of people like Avon and Stringer. Then again, who *would* spend it well? Carcetti? I think not.

And how could I not give props to McNulty, who is able to turn down a sure thing out of loyalty to his old boss? He knows when he’s just being used for information, and he actually sets his own self interests aside for something else. It’s scenes like that which help us keep rooting for McNulty, no matter how much of a jerk he can be at times. Give your audience a reason to root for a character, and they’ll stick in there.

Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough at this point. Loved this episode. 5/5

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment