The Wire Watchalong: Season 3, Episodes 3 and 4

thewireseason3Welcome to the Inanimate Blog watchalong for The Wire. Every week 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 3, Episodes 3 and 4.

S03E03

Sam: You get a wide mix of plotting in these episodes. Sometimes the episode feels like only two things happened and then you have 16 things to say, sometimes, like this one, I felt like stuff happened, but I only find myself compelled to comment on a couple of particular things. This show sure has me trained, though. I was thinking to myself during this episode, “Man, I really like this Carcetti guy. He’s smooth and he knows what he’s doing.” And I literally just thought it to myself and immediately the rest of my brain rushed in with “OMG THEY WOULDN’T KILL A CITY COUNCILMAN, WOULD THEY???”

Emily: Oh God, he’s totally doomed, isn’t he? My brain didn’t take that step.

Sam: They wouldn’t. They wouldn’t!

Emily: Nope. Because every character we’ve ever loved has always been totally safe. At least this episode’s death was effective without completely breaking my heart.

Sam: I can’t really say that Councilman Carcetti is safe because he’s white, because Frank bit it last season, but Frank was working-class white. It’s not a racist line of reasoning, because this show is all about the racial inequalities in your given major metropolitan area, so that might well be the reason he’s safe. God, I hope he’s safe. Anyway, back to your smooth transition I just ruined, I did feel bad for Omar’s… buddy? Associate? Colleague? I was just complimenting him last episode on using women as real people. But of course, if they’re really going to be on the same level as the guys, they might have to die like the guys. But it doesn’t make it easier.

Emily: Nope. Also, they’re on to him about using women in his stick ups now. Going forward, that won’t be nearly as effective.

Sam: Somehow, I feel like Omar will find a way to work around that. Just maybe. In other unique problem-solving ventures, “Bunny” Colvin is actually kind of interesting. First off… why the hell is his name Bunny? Whatever. Anyway, he’s moved from being a stooge I can’t differentiate in a uniform to having some tricks up his sleeve.

Emily: The first of which is just being super sassy about reporting the actual crime statistics for his districts instead of reporting all of the felonies as misdemeanors. He was just daring them to tell him off for honesty.

Sam: I do love anyone who’ll sass Rawls, even indirectly. Our favorite sasser, though, is off with a protege of his own. While I don’t think it’s bad for cops to hang out and drink when they’re off the clock– heck, McNulty and Bunk are great together, and I enjoy them getting drunk–I just don’t feel like Kima should be hanging out with McNulty as a role model. Boooo.

Emily: You’d really hope that if the two of them were hanging out together that it would be Kima having the greater influence but they’re at a cop funeral so there’s a lot of drinking and it’s more McNulty’s territory.

Sam: Oh right, that was this episode too. I thought it was really sweet that they had that tribute to the guy who actually died IRL.

Emily: Yes. It was pretty obvious that that’s what they were doing, too. So much that I went to Wikipedia right after the episode was over to confirm that that was what happened. It made even more sense then because he didn’t just play a minor character, he was an executive producer and it seemed like he was pretty big in making the show what it was.

Sam: Huh. I didn’t bother reading up, but that makes a lot of sense. The show sure is what it is in…

Episode 4

Sam: Speaking of Bunk and McNulty drinking, man, I just love them. I am so charmed by their drunken negotiation of which pick-up tactic to use, and the fact they have a numbered system.

Emily: I do like that they more or less admit to being horrible people.

Sam: McNulty, for all that we chastised him in season 1 for being so un-self-aware, seems to have really settled into his role. It was hard to watch him actively disrespect Freamon, and he 100% deserved that dressing down, but the most telling part came later when Kima mentioned that it really sucked, and McNulty’s just like “Yeah, you get used to it.”

Emily: Well, he may need some work on being less self-involved but he’s shown that he does have excellent powers of observation so it had to sink in eventually.

Sam: The best and most deep-cutting part of Freamon’s rant was the part directed at Kima. I really like the particular line he used, with regard to her lack of respect for the actual case at hand and Daniels role in her life: “He raised you from a pup.” I thought that was a really great, evocative line to explain the mentor role without getting bogged down in sentimentality.

Emily: It was perfect. Kima looked so small after he said that.

Sam: While Freamon is ripping McNulty a new one, Daniels is just… ripped. Damn. I’m sorry, I have nothing meaningful at all to say about Daniels and Ms. Pearlman’s relationship, except they sure don’t waste the opportunity to have him walk around shirtless. Damn.

Emily: Now, I know that Daniels is a lot more separated from his wife than McNulty was when they started up but she sure does not mind sleeping with a married man. Major upgrade on this one, though.

Sam: Agree. In other various machinations, Carcetti is equally set on an upgrade. I liked him even more after this episode because he’s willing to shut his white friends down making racist comments because he’s so determined to run for mayor. He could be racist as hell and still cover it up, but he seemed genuinely committed to embracing all neighborhoods. Because they might vote him, of course, but he was genuinely defending them nonetheless.

Emily: His motives might not be entirely pure and he has to cross a few lines to get there but there are some genuine good things there. He’s a good mixture of pragmatic and ambitious. You wouldn’t want a purely altruistic politician. That would never work.

Sam: I think it’s just so impressive to see someone who can actually get stuff done, and does. So much of this show is the frustrations of bureaucracy and red tape, so to see someone who knows how the game is played and plays it expertly is refreshing. It’s especially seeing him in contrast with Major Colvin, who sees how the game is played and is trying hard to turn it on its head. Hamsterdam!

Emily: This is the big thing that I knew about going into this season and the idea of it has intrigued me for years. Informally legalizing drugs as long as you can keep the drug trade within a particular geographic area and lightly regulate it sounds brilliant, at least in theory. In practice, it’s not so straightforward.

Sam: It’s a great concept and a really fascinating principle, but it’s not really going so well when the drug dealers don’t actually, you know, move to those areas. Turns out the drug trade is harder to handle than we thought. (not really. We viewers all thought it was pretty hard). Cutty was driven back into it this episode, more or less- I was really confused about the speech by the landscaper guy. He’s standing there telling him that yeah, this sucks, and it’s never going to get better, knowing he’s out on parole, knowing he was in the drug game… it sounded like it was supposed to be encouraging, but… totally wasn’t. Why would he push him back to that life, when it sounded like the landscaper guy wasn’t particularly dying to go back himself?

Emily: That seems more like the speech you give when the guy has bought in and has several months of good work in and a life that seems halfway decent so that you can remind him that even though the job sucks that it’s totally worth it. It’s not the job that you give the guy who is so new that he hasn’t even learned that you need to prime the lawnmower to get it to start. He’s the guy that you tell a few comforting white lies to to keep him on the shaky ground that he’s standing on.

Sam: I was baffled. It wasn’t even saying it was totally worth it. It was basically like none of this is worth it, so why bother. Except that the landscaper guy seemed fine, if vaguely wistful about that time. He was just like “Hey, yeah, that was great and this sucks, and it’s never getting better.” How are you supposed to take that? Hmph, I say.

Emily: It doesn’t help that the other side is all “Here, have some drugs and a sexy lady!” What else is a man to do?

Sam: Well at that point he’d already decided to come back, so the welcome-home party is just an added bonus. While the soldiers are partying, their fearless leader is off improving himself and making legitimate business deals. I do love me some Businessman Stringer Bell.

Emily: He’s just so cocky about it all. It’s the best. I’m glad that McNulty got all pissy with Daniels because that gave them a reason for him to follow Stringer around instead of just letting Freamon have Prez find out about B and B through boring paperwork.

Sam: So I literally just this second put together that B and B likely stands for Barksdale and Bell… I watched this episode yesterday. Go me! Anyway, Stringer’s off being all professional-like, and Prez gets just the best line about his new pursuits: he’s turned into the only thing worse than a drug dealer… a developer. I only hope it continues. See you next week?

Emily: See you next week!

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