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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