The Wire Watchalong: Season 1, Episodes 11, 12, and 13

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 11, 12, and 13.

S01E11

Emily: I spent a good share of episode 11 reasoning that since they hadn’t shown us Kima’s body then she was probably going to be OK. A lot of the rest of the episode was just background noise to that, at least at first.

Sam: You were right on with that one. I assumed she was gone because nothing good can stay and I’m bitter like that. This episode did kind of feel like a space filler while they got their stuff in place for the last two episodes of the season. But, let me tell you, a filler episode on The Wire is better than the best episodes of a lot of mediocre television.

Emily: I probably could have watched Kima’s girlfriend cry at that highlighter stain on her couch for a good part of the episode and still have gotten a lot out of it.

Sam: Man, that was rough. Sexual politics, man. We’ve come a long way in the last decade, but unfortunately this was still on the wrong side of that progress.

Emily: I literally wrote “A roommate. In fucking 2002.” in my notes. That was so hard to watch.

Sam: On the other hand, it wasn’t completely surprising, either. We already commented several times how behind the police were with everything else to do with technology and progress. In terms of possibly moral progress in other areas, there was one small moment in this episode I wanted to draw attention to. When Herc and Carver do the big drug bust with everyone else and they pocket some of the cash before bagging up the rest, I was kind of sad.

Emily: Really not surprising at all. And Carver did seem like he had a little more of a moral compass than Herc leading up to that. It showed that they were pretty much on the same level but with Carver being a little bit smarter since he knew they couldn’t take any of the money that they had confiscated in the earlier incident.

Sam: There’s a lot wrapped up in that brief moment. Of course, it calls back to the other time they were accused of having taken a little off the top- this time, when it’s unchecked, they go for it. On the one hand, I want them to be better than that, to be more upstanding, but on the other hand, literally no one will ever know they took that money; it wasn’t from a counted stash, no one saw it, no one’s going to look too closely. Which makes it as okay as it can be, for pocketing money they shouldn’t be, but the fact that it doesn’t matter kind of makes it worse. Like, well, nothing really matters anyway, cops are going to be corrupt, drug dealers are going to do their thing, the world goes on. Even if it’s a very tiny form of corruption that doesn’t actually hurt anyone in the process.

Emily: While all of the chaos was going on with Kima’s shooting and the drug bust, poor Wallace was forgotten about out in the country and he got bored.

Sam: Waaaalllllaaaacce. I’m sorry, I can’t be rational about him. We’re not to the last two episodes of the season yet, but still. Seeing him out in the country, all I could think was stay there stay there stay there please stay there. If only he would have… moving on!

S01E12

Sam: Now that the formality of moving on to the next episode is out of the way, allow me to express my true feelings: Waaaalllllaaaacce!

Emily: Ugh, he just looked so young in the scene where Bodie and Poot had him cornered. It was such a pointless death. It could have at least been postponed if the task force hadn’t forgotten about him. They would have brought him back and put him in a hotel room with a guard so that he couldn’t go back and try to sell drugs on the street like he hadn’t turned state’s evidence against the Barksdale operation.

Sam: So I watched this episode a couple weeks ago, then real life happened for a while. At a remove of probably a month, I can say that I’m still mad that Wallace died. Actively mad. I don’t think I’m ever not going to be mad.

Emily: His death took away the last little piece of Dee’s innocence, too. I think we’ve lost him. Wallace gave him hope that a life could be turned around.

Sam: How hard must it be to be in Dee’s position? Wallace was so significant to him. He was both a kind of protege and also a glimpse into the world outside of drugs. But when that kind of guiding light goes out and your own mom is putting pressure on you to not only stay in the game, but go further and take the fall bigtime, including prison time… that’s rough.

Emily: Now that we’ve dealt with the only part of the episode that actually meant stuff to us, we should probably talk about the rest of it. McNulty is still, and will probably always be, a self-involved asshole.

Sam: You mean there were other things that happened in this episode? Okay, fine. One other thing that happened in this episode was Shardene’s more active involvement on behalf of the police. I thought it was charming that they got her contact lenses. Of course, from a cynical side, they were just making it so they could get accurate data on a case, but it was still nice.

Emily: Freamon was really lovely about it. I suppose you could read things between them as being a little creepy but I could watch them smile and talk about tiny furniture some more. As charming as it was, though, her wire didn’t really get them much and she was taking a huge risk by wearing it.

Sam: It borders on creepy, but Freamon is such a professional that it comes off as smooth rather than sleazy. Freamon’s really come a long way since episode 01, but haven’t we all?

S01E13

Emily: KIMA! She’s back for real. And she is taking no nonsense from Bunk. She’s real police.

Sam: It’s so good to have Kima back. We would know if she weren’t really back if she weren’t already keeping everyone else in line. So, speaking of terrible things (I know, we had a brief ray of happiness. Let me ruin it). As mad as I am that Wallace died, I remain equally frustrated that Bubbles was able to slid back into his old ways because Kima wasn’t there to prop him up. He was making a real, honest go at it and then Kima accidentally stood him up (because she was off getting, you know, SHOT), and McNulty had told him to scope things out, and that’s it. I feel so bad for him.

Emily: He really tried and his sister gave him the best chance that she could while protecting her children but she knew the cycle. Kima might have been able to help him break it but chances were good that he’d start using again at some point. Much like Wallace’s death, it’s something that could have been postponed long enough that the chances of it happening eventually decreased to virtually nothing.

Sam: It’s true that we only saw one repeat of the cycle, which makes us more invested and think that it might really come true because we haven’t see it fail before. That was actually this entire season in a nutshell: by the last episode, everything basically goes back to normal, where normal is just like before the taskforce. Drugs are sold, policework is done, life goes on.

Emily: Dirty cops rise through the ranks. Carver was the mole so he got promoted despite his poor sergeant exam results and Daniels did take that money but it was a long time ago and his wife knows about it.

Sam: The drug dealers who everyone knows are drug dealers get some token charges they can’t dodge, so the police can say they’ve done something (or, really, so the higher-ups can- everyone who actually works the case knows how much bullshit the eventual charges were). The one best lighthearted moment of the episode was Wee-Bey confessing to killing Little Man and Bunk noting that they didn’t even know about that one, that Bey was just bragging at that point.

Emily: On the other side of the gang member confesses to crimes that they may or may not have committed coin, we have D’Angelo. It was so sad when he realized that he had more independence when he was in prison than when he was out.

Sam: At least when you leave a 9-5 job, you’re done. You can’t leave that life so easily, as he wrestled with throughout the season. Poor Dee. Poor everyone. I hate this stupid show and its making me feel all the feelings.

Emily: I even felt bad for fucking McNulty in the end. I mean, I’d rather Freamon had his old homicide detective job anyway but McNulty has just become this sad broken sack of alcohol.

Sam: Eh, I feel less bad for him. He’s enough of a smirking asshole I feel like he’ll bounce back. Or maybe not, and maybe he’ll make me cry too

Emily: I do wonder if the resolution to the case might have been different if The Wire had been written in a post-recession, post-Occupy Wall Street world. The case fell apart because McNulty wanted to take down the drug lords and the higher-ups wanted to pass it along to the feds to investigate the political donation side of it. Today, that’s something your average HBO viewer would want and I wonder if it’s something David Simon would have focused on more.

Sam: Gosh, you’re going to make me look bad, bringing actual thoughtful analysis of the political climate into the debate. I think you’re right; I mean, of course any even vaguely political drama is going to be laid over the foundations of the way things are right then, but I think specifically bringing in the Occupy movement is an interesting point. Our motives are a lot different now, a lot has changed in the comparatively short time since this season aired.

Emily: All that is kind of moot, though, because we ended on the greatest thing ever. Omar in New York.

Sam: Omar was, is, and will always be the best. Wallace, McNulty, Kima, even Stringer Bell aside, I can’t wait to see what Omar does next. See you next week?

Emily: See you next week.

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