Welcome 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 9 and 10.
Sam: Man, is there anything more embarrassing than losing your annual gang-rivalry basketball game? Especially when you paid big bucks for the local junior college star.
Emily: Humiliating. It’s also nice to be reminded that while the Barksdale gang might be the big up and comers in the Baltimore illegal drug trade, they’re by no means the only part of it.
Sam: Indeed. There are whole giant swaths of Baltimore they have nothing to do with, and other people do. I also really liked the convenient small reminder of just how little the police actually know about Barksdale et al. We feel like we know them, because we see them for half of every episode, but the police only have the information they’ve painstakingly pieced together.
Emily: And boy do they piece together a lot in this episode. They not only get eyes on Avon for the first time ever, they find out why their jobs have been so difficult. Avon Barksdale has been making political contributions all over the place.
Sam: Eyeballs! They get eyeballs on him, I guess. I can only assume that that’s an Authentic Cop Thing, but it always amuses me when they call Omar their eyeball witness and stuff like that. In more serious matters, Avon really knows what he’s doing. Man.
Emily: I’m starting to question if Daniels is actually dirty. It seems like part of him advancing was the higher ups setting him up to appear a bit dirty so that they’ll always have something to hold over him. He was so mad when it looked like his two guys would have stolen some of the money they recovered, and he also appeared to be crestfallen when he found out how many political contributions Avon had made.
Sam: That’s something I hadn’t even thought of, and I think you might be right. It seemed really significant at the time, but everything he’s done sure hasn’t played into it. Speaking of characters making changes (or not), I so desperately want Bubbles to get clean. I was so happy for him that his sister gave him the key, even with the very reasonable warning that he could only use the basement and not interact with her kid or the rest of the house.
Emily: Plus, he’s gotten himself a potential sponsor. Super weird fact – Walon is played by Steve Earle and we’ve heard from him every episode. He sings the theme song.
Sam: Huh! I completely never would have put that together. That’s delightful. Not as delightful as Omar being Omar, but I’m biased. I sure don’t want him to get hurt, but I love his relentless determination and generalized sneakiness. And also that he’ll come out shooting and not pussyfoot around.
Emily: That really is why I love Omar so much. He’s a straight operator. He can’t really say it outright but he’s told the police in as many ways as he possibly can that he will get revenge for Brandon and that revenge just happens to include killing as many members of the Barksdale gang as he sees fit.
Sam: I like a character that does what they say they’re going to do. He thinks people need to die, so those people die. (well, in most instances. Sometimes a good wounding is all you can get away with).
Emily: I’m also a sucker for a well-written and performed stripper with a heart of gold. It’s a cliche for a reason. It works. Shardene hasn’t reached Wallace levels of heartbreaking for me but she came damned close to it in this episode.
Sam: Man, that was rough. The legitimate betrayal and confusion she expressed when the police were telling her they found her friend (and colleague)’s body in a dumpster. She really thought that D’Angelo and co had taken Keisha to the hospital, because she didn’t want to look too closely at that side of the business. Then she was forced to, and it hurt. I’m glad she’s getting out, or at least, away from Dee.
Emily: And yet, I hurt a little for Dee in this situation, too. He told her about that they took Keisha to the hospital because he couldn’t bring himself to tell Shardene that she was already dead when he found her. Her instincts about him were generally right. Still, I’m glad that she’s had her eyes opened. Nothing good can come for Shardene if she keeps hanging around D’Angelo.
Sam: I’m finding myself more and more ambivalent about him. He’s sympathetic in a way that Avon and Stringer aren’t (though they make up for it by being total badasses, naturally), but where Wallace got a taste of The Game and it was too much, D’Angelo has seen the worst of it and it hasn’t turned him away as much as maybe it should have. He makes noises about wanting to get out, then sees a stripper die and helps dispose of the body and lies about it to his girlfriend, who even knew the deceased as a friend.
Emily: Truth. Even Bodie is a bit more sympathetic than D’Angelo, although that mostly comes down to his awesome grandma. I think there’s just no redemption for Dee at this point.
Sam: But speaking of characters we have boatloads of sympathy for who do have redemption in store…
Emily: Wallace might be OK! They got him out of town. Dee gave him a little pep talk that reminded him that he’s smart and that if he can just get back into school that he can probably get the grades and has the kind of story that could get him into college.
Sam: I so, so, so want Wallace’s story to have a happy ending. Happy endings don’t exist in real life, but I would settle for him getting out of the game and being something real.
Emily: Wallace is such a sweet kid and I just hope that he can get things right. He knew that the best way to get himself out was to just give up as many people as he could. Someone who was higher up in the organization would have kept their mouth shut and if that person really knew what they were doing then they’d be able to talk around the detectives with no problem.
Sam: Hahaha, nicely done! I enjoyed that conversation between Stringer and Omar so much. My friend thinks this and my friend thinks that and no, my friend is not Avon Barksdale, thanks for asking. Stringer is an effing professional. On the flip side of professionalism, as always, is McNulty. Is there really, truly a classier move than bringing your mistress to your child custody hearing?
Emily: And under the guise that she’s an available attorney. Nevermind that she’s the wrong kind of attorney and as an employee of the state she probably has some kind of conflict of interest (other than sleeping with her apparent client, that is). McNulty is an asshole. That was totally unfair to his wife and his mistress.
Sam: It’s such a dick move. I’m glad that at least neither of the women was having that. Rhonda was not going along with it at all, pointing out that this was not the kind of law she does and that it was probably not right for her to be there anyway. Okay, we’ve addressed everything else we might need to in this episode, I think. Deep breaths! …KIMA!!!!
Emily: She’s not dead. Nope. Not having it. Speaking of effing professionals, that’s exactly what that woman is. She does her job and she does it well. McNulty is going to run that taskforce into the ground even more than he already has without her.
Sam: I get that that’s denial rather than optimism, but I’m not even that cheerier. I’m pretty much assuming that she’s gone, because this is why we can’t have nice things. Argh! And Orlando too- he’s a generic kind of scum bag (well, at least not an upstanding citizen), but the task force seems to have such bad luck with the people who are useful to them getting killed.
Emily: Still, Shardene and Wallace made it out of the episode mostly unscathed. That has to count for something, right?
Sam: We can only hope. And god, do I hope. Only three episodes left of this season! I can tell you I will be sitting my butt down and watching those uninterrupted when I do. I cannot freaking wait. See you next week?
Emily: See you next week!
Editorial note: Since there are only three episodes of the season left, we will be watching episodes 11 through 13 and wrapping up season 1 next week.