As bright as everything was beginning to look the last few episodes, here is where I feel the light at the end of the tunnel starts to look more like a train than an actual light. Front and center to that is Michael and his story arc.
Through the whole season, we’ve seen different institutions reach out to him to try and help. You’ve got Cutty, his friends, Prez, other people at the school. And you’ve got Marlo. Each of them claims to have Michael’s best interests at heart, but he’s been struggling to tell which really do.
And in the end, he goes with Marlo. Why? Because Marlo is a known quantity to him. He knows exactly what Marlo wants out of him, and he compares that cost with the current cost (living with his molester and putting Bug in danger), and he’s decided it’s worth paying,
It’s upsetting when he does it, of course, but really, isn’t Michael just going with the same choice most of the characters in the show go with? Better the known evil than the unknown whatever. Herc is certainly of that mindset. He can’t see anything that isn’t plopped down in front of his bald head, blinking with neon. (And because of that, he’s now gotten Randy in potential deep trouble, and Bubs is seriously hurting.)
It’s hard to take the leap of faith and trust people, mainly because everyone seems to be playing some angle, somehow.
How depressing was it to watch Prez succeed with these kids, only to suddenly be forced to “teach to the test”? All the same issues he’d seen at work in the police department, still merrily having their way here in the land of education. Just plain depressing. But why do the teachers do it? Because it’s the only way they can get funding. And they need funding to teach, so . . .
Juking the stats doesn’t seem like a bad idea on paper. It’s playing the game to get what you want. But it’s also putting the short term benefit in front of the long term good. It’s what I’ve heard phrased as putting the how in front of the why. What you do doesn’t really matter, when you get down to it, as long as it still gets the why done. The goal is teaching the kids. That should come first. Instead, they focus on the how. How will they teach them? By getting funding. How will they get funding? By doing well on the tests. How will they do well? By focusing only on that.
And then in the end, you’re just teaching to the test, and who cares about the teaching of the students?
Another solid episode. 4/5
I think this is the episode where the cyclical nature of this show really started to emerge for me, and it did so through one key scene: Partlow beating Michael’s step father to death. Partlow is a man we don’t know much about. He’s a paid killer for Marlo, he seems to be generally soft spoken, but he’s also ruthless. Willing to do whatever Marlo wants him to.
And now we find out he was almost definitely abused as a child.
Of course, The Wire doesn’t come out and have a big scene where Partlow opens up about his past. Nothing blatant about this at all. We just have him understand that Michael was being abused, and then we get to see how Partlow responds to that. Up until now, he’s always been almost nice with the way he kills people. Short, quick, and tidy.
Michael’s step father is anything but tidy after Partlow is through with him.
The amazing thing to me is that the show was able to do all of this without ever needing to come out and say what had happened to Michael or Partlow. By reading between the lines, we can understand all of it. It’s perfect show don’t tell. And by allowing us to see Michael’s sneer at his mom when he tells her his step father is never coming back, we get to see what Partlow might have gone through to get to where he is now.
The show is cyclical. Seeing Partlow is seeing Michael’s future. Seeing Michael is seeing Partlow’s past.
Once you know to look for that, you see it all over the place, and it’s something that’s only going to get strong the closer we get to the end of this series. Kima and McNulty. Bunk and Omar. Bunny and Daniels. Daniels and Rawls. Daniels and Burrell. McNulty and Lester. There are parallels between all these characters, and often what one goes through at one point, another will go through later on, or already went through. In each case, that says something about both characters.
Have I ever said how much I love this show?
Finally, I wanted to take a minute to give a shout out to Bubs, for getting back at Herc, even if just a little bit. I can’t stand Herc. He infuriates me as a character, mainly because he’s such an idiot, and his friends and associates allow him to keep doing his thing. He’s ruining Bubs’ life, messing up Randy’s, screwing up the Marlo investigation . . . He’s like the Wire’s version of Amelia Bedelia.
That said, this was a great episode. Another 5/5 again at last. What did you think?