The Wire 4:5 and 4:6

It’s break week here at UMF, but looking at the schedule, I think I might be running a bit behind where I should be to try and finish this rewatch on time, which means there’s no rest for me this week. And it’s election-themed to boot. How appropriate!

Episode 4:5

The fourth season is probably the most complex season so far, even if it doesn’t feel like it to people who have been watching straight through. After all, the beginning didn’t feel too bewildering, as opposed to previous season openers. But when you consider the sheer spread of the show, its characters, plots, and back story, things have really gotten complicated by now.

First off, you’ve got the continuing political story, with Carcetti doing his best to bring down Royce, but struggling to really pull it off. Then, you’ve got the school kids trying to navigate treacherous waters of young adulthood. There’s the remnants of Major Crimes, with Herc bumbling his way through just about everything. (How sad is it that Herc is the last man standing of this division? And how fitting that the system would end up sticking him there.) You’ve got Bubs doing his thing, Cutty popping up now and then, Carver continually evolving into better police, Lester trying to figure out what’s happening with the bodies, Kima struggling to figure out homicide, Omar robbing stuff, Marlo trying to kill everyone, the Co-op still running in the background.

I mean, McNulty isn’t even really doing anything at the moment other than showing up to smile now and then.

But the amazing thing is that it all works together wonderfully. We’ve got characters who intersect briefly to connect the plots. It all makes sense, and you know who’s doing what and why. That’s a tremendous feat to pull off. Bravo.

Some particular thoughts:

  • I’m a big Prez fan. He’s a genuinely good person who reminds me (strangely enough) of an older version of Namond. Namond doesn’t want to be tough. Not really. He just wants other people to like him. Think back to Prez in the first season, where he beat that kid up and ruined the kid’s eye. What an idiot he was. It’s hard matching that person up with the person we see now, but I think it’s because Prez finally decided not to be what other people wanted him to be, but to stick to what he wanted to do. That’s a real success story, though it came at a great cost.
  • Bubs. I feel so bad for him, always hoping that he’s finally hit rock bottom and will do something to get himself out of the hell his life has become. This episode was rough in particular. All his work on Sherrod is going nowhere, and he ends up getting beat up and laughed at. Bubs! Makes me wonder where Kima is in his life by now, but I’m thinking she probably told him in no uncertain terms what she thought of him and how he’s been leading his life. It’s on Bubs to turn things around.
  • Herc continues to be a complete tool. Even if his master plan had panned out, imagine what would have happened in court when the way they obtained all this evidence was revealed. Does Herc care? Nope. He can’t see further than his nose. Sigh. Of course, it doesn’t help that his superior is also an idiot. Way to keep things real, folks.
  • Though Rawls reveals himself to be surprisingly nimble when it comes to politics, playing both sides against each other and doing his best to situate himself perfectly no matter the outcome. He’s a smart cookie. Kind of vile, but smart.

It’s a good, solid episode from this show. 4/5 from me.

Episode 4:6

Would you look at that? Not only did Carcetti manage to pull off the upset, but he even was able to stay true to his wife for a single evening. Is the guy getting better? Becoming a better person? Time will tell.

I enjoyed this episode focused on backroom politics and the machinations that go into an election, although I did wonder how true to life some of it was. Mainly, I just can’t stand Clay Davis, and I want someone to beat him up every time he’s on the screen. He’s like a cockroach that just won’t stay down or die. And everyone knows he’s a cockroach except the public, and that one trait (being popular with the people) is enough to make him bulletproof against anyone who might try to dethrone him. Yuck.

But it felt good to see Royce go down, and it made for some really good television. The show isn’t predictable, so it was honestly hard to say which way the election would turn out. (Except that it wouldn’t end well for Gray.) Though I also wondered if all these people really go to the same church, though I suppose there’s one “main” church where they all want to be seen?

Regardless, this sets up the rest of the show with a great opportunity. Baltimore has a new mayor, and he seems like a conflicted, but ultimately good guy. Maybe. Kind of. Sort of. Better than Royce, at least. Right? In any case, a brighter hope for the future of Baltimore. Someone who might get rid of the Burrells and promote good, quality people to important positions. Someone who can finally fix things! Because that’s all that’s needed: just good people in the right positions.

Let’s see how that plays out.

In a different vein, can I just say how much I despise Namond’s mother? There have been some pretty scummy characters on the show, but I think she’s right up there in terms of what she does (or fails to do) to fulfill her role in society. Think about it for a moment. Namond clearly doesn’t want to be out dealing drugs. He’d rather be goofing off and playing video games. But he happens to be the son of Wee-bay, who happens to be one of Avon’s coldest killers (despite his easy-going nature and love of fish.) Namond’s parents both want him to be like his dad, out there making a name for himself and earning money. So his Mom drives him to the corner, tells Bodie to give the boy a package, and pressures Namond into going through with it. (And even then, he’s unable to do much of anything with it. He has no desire whatsoever.)

Why in the world is the mom doing this? Because she’s been used to being able to get money for free, and she’s alarmed that the money faucet is getting turned off. So instead of going out and . . . I don’t know . . . getting a job, she shoves her kid out the door and tells him real men deal drugs. Sigh. What a contrast between Bunny’s speech about corner kids and stoop kids. Other adults assume parents don’t want their kids anywhere near the corners, but Namond’s mom shows us that’s not always the case.

Other notes of note:

  • Cutty might win the award for “most awkward mentor” when he goes up to Michael and says how much he loves women. Kind of a strange thing to say to the kid, and I wondered if it was because Cutty thought Michael might think he was gay or a child molester? I have no idea. It also could just be that the guy is trying his best to be a mentor, but not really having any clue how to connect to Cutty. (And his womanizing seems to be alienating some of his other proteges, alas.)
  • Randy is out of his league in a big way. He’s a nice enough kid who just wants to open a store when he gets bigger, but he definitely (to quote his foster mother) shows poor judgement time and time again. His love of money just seems to get him into trouble, even if he’s willing to work for that money. First he went and delivered a deadly message to Lex, and then he went and stood guard while the other students had sex in the bathroom. Was it rape? It didn’t look like it from what we saw. But does that matter? Not since Randy’s willing to fold so easily. Don’t get me wrong: the kids should not have been doing whatever they did in that bathroom, and it certainly seemed abusive to me. But Randy should have known better than to stand lookout for money. Rape or not, it was against school rules, and by being complicit in it, he needed to either learn how to play the game and not snitch at all (or admit to any wrong doing), or know better than to get involved in the first place. Snitches don’t end well, and Randy just ups the ante by throwing down info on a potential murder . . .
  • Omar, meanwhile, is being caught in a much more efficient way by Marlo. He doesn’t bother with bounties. He just cooly has an innocent woman gunned down, and then blames it on Omar. Then all he has to do is sit back and wait for the police to do his business. Marlo is a cold hearted evil person. Yuck.

In the end, I’m going to have to give this one a 5/5, but I wanted to take a moment to note that the Wire really is breaking the mold for rating shows. I mean, this wasn’t the best Wire episode of all time or anything, but it’s just so darn great. So while it might feel strange to give it the same rating as some of the best episodes, how can I give it anything lower? The Wire makes other TV shows pale in comparison. But maybe it’s just right up my alley.

That’s all the time I have for today. Thanks for reading!

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