The Wire Watchalong: Season 1, Episodes 5 and 6

thewireWelcome to the Inanimate Blog watchalong for The Wire. Every week all summer we’ll be watching two episodes and posting our thoughts. We’re not recapping each episode in detail; that’s what Wikipedia is for. This week is Season 1, Episodes 5 and 6.


Sam: I’m going to start this one. It’s taken me five episodes to remember to write it down to comment on, but I did: I hate the fake quotes at the beginning. I get what they’re doing and that’s fine, I just have a personal hatred of quotations attributed to fake people.

Emily: It’s so self-important and The Wire doesn’t need to quote itself. It’s plenty good enough on its own.

Sam: Right? It’s so good otherwise, it just feels so clunky to me every time. In other news, this was another great pair of episodes. I just love so much of this writing- my favorite line from this episode was early on when they officially clone the pager, and they all stand around staring at it as though it’s about to do something important. I don’t remember who it is, but one of them quips “Celebrities always seem much smaller when you see them in person.”

Emily:  It was the judge. He was there with the prosecutor and some other people in order for them to swear to the affidavit that they had exhausted all other options and needed to tap D’Angelo’s pager.

Sam: Speaking of that, I enjoyed that several weeks passed between the last episode and this one. They make a couple casual references to the time they’ve put in, but we don’t have to see all of that time. Enough time has even passed that Prez is useful! I was so delighted when he cracked the phone code.

Emily: It shows that while nepotism has helped him stay on the police force, it’s also worked against him. No one has ever expected him to do well or taken the time to teach him how to do effective police work before now. He’s just skated by on the bare minimum.

Sam: Huh! I hadn’t considered that side. I saw him mostly as a misfit doing things like accidentally discharging his firearm indoors, but it’s true that he probably hasn’t gotten a lot of guidance along the way. On the other side of the fence, D’Angelo has gotten plenty of guidance and it still hasn’t done as much for him as he might have hoped. I was delighted, as I’m always delighted with logistics of nefarious endeavors, that you can get passed over for promotions in the illegal drug trade just like in legitimate business.

Emily: That was so perfect. I think some of it is still the fallout from the murder that started off this whole show and some of it might be that Avon and Stringer can see that D’Angelo isn’t entirely criminal deep down inside. He’s still a sweet kid in some ways.

Sam: I think you’re right. I also enjoyed in that discussion that he said he was on salary- I didn’t realize there were payment hierarchies in the same way, though I don’t know why it surprised me. He got a bonus in an earlier episode and everything. I love him, but I find I’m loving him less as other characters pop up that I love more. Speaking of, poor Omar! I was so sad for him at the end of the episode and he’s not even on screen for the important part.

Emily: He clearly had so much affection for Brandon and I feel even worse for him. That guy was not a hardened criminal. He’s pretty much only involved because it’s tangled up in his relationship with Omar.

Sam: Omar, of course, starts taking his steps to revenge in the next episode, and one of my favorite characters gets even favoriter…


Sam: So as of Episode 6, Omar is going to cooperate with the police in retaliation, so to speak, for what Avon and Co. did to Brandon. But almost more importantly, Wallace is a responsible person! He is looking out for kids! Providing for people! I have so many feelings.

Emily: Wallace is going to break my heart into a million pieces. I already know it. He’s the kid that knew that Hamilton was never president way back in episode 1! He’s played by Michael B. Jordan, whom I love, and I didn’t recognize him then because he’s so young and I’m not used to seeing him with braids. He has this ability to play tough yet vulnerable that I’m looking forward to watching yet dreading at the same time.

Sam: I can’t believe we’re already halfway through season one. I don’t want it to end, and we’ve only just started!

Emily: You can tell we’re halfway, though, just by how the pieces are starting to come together. Characters who have been minor background noise get more to do.

Sam: I find it so fascinating- not so much the way individual characters have evolved, because they haven’t (we’ve just gotten to know them better), but the way that the relationships shift and the little cells of people move around. The police task force has been whittled down to actual productive people- both old useless white guys are gone, and Lester and Prez, who had seemed like total stiffs at the beginning, have made important contributions to the team.

Emily: Although Kima’s two partners from narco are still borderline useless. Story wise, they’re important because they let us know that Bodie is way more important than D’Angelo probably thinks he is. Bodie is ripe for some insubordination against Dee. He contradicts pretty much anything he says anytime he’s given a chance.

Sam: Huh! I hadn’t picked up on that as strongly. You make a really interesting point. And those two guys from narcotics are not maybe the world’s best cops, but they do take their shifts sitting on the roof when yelled at. At least they don’t annoy me as much as McNulty, who bugs the living daylights out of me. He’s a great cop and a hard worker and such an asshole. Everything he does is equal parts useful and obnoxious; he gives Bubbles a ride and brings him to his kid’s soccer game, he has his kids but goes to pick up Omar so he can see Brandon’s body. Father of the year, that one.

Emily: McNulty’s whole character can pretty much be summed up in the scene in the previous episode where he goes on about how if he wasn’t such an upstanding guy then he would call his ex-wife a cunt. Then Kima calls him out on it and he won’t back down. He doesn’t see himself as a guy that would call his wife a cunt, so he’s clearly not. McNulty’s whole problem is that he sees himself as a much better guy than he is and then he can’t understand why people aren’t willing to go out of their way to help him out– even when he’s trying to do something right like bring down the Barksdale gang.

Sam: Completely. You hit the nail on the head. There’s so much going on in this show, both on stage and off- HIV got mentioned a couple times, we didn’t even mention Bubbles, D’Angelo’s worry that he’ll never be able to shed his background… it’s going to be interesting to see what else we get with this specific storyline, and now I’m really looking forward to seeing how the series jumps topics in season 2. See you next week?

Emily: See you next week!

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