Welcome 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 9 and 10.
Sam: For all the stuff that happens in episode 9, it makes sense to start at the beginning. And the beginning of this episode is McNulty continuing his campaign for Father of the Year. I’m not sure it’s better or worse if he wakes up his son to tell him he’s leaving. Like, yes, it’s more responsible… but only in a way that underlines how irresponsible he’s being.
Emily: It’s the worst. The fact that he even thinks that that could be OK is ridiculous. Fucking McNulty.
Sam: Earlier in this process I developed the refrain “Damnit, McNulty!” copying from a character probably in season 1, and it’s still true. In other frustrating news: bureaucracy! Bureaucracy everywhere!
Emily: Fortunately for Cutty, the pastor who’s helping him out is important when it comes to the black vote so someone’s willing to help him out with all of the permits he needs.
Sam: Unfortunately for the detail, the wiretaps are a whole mess of red tape. Just… constantly. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, I guess… In the land of the opposite of red tape, there are still rules and regulations to be followed. I love a lot how The Game has such structure to it. It’s not the laws of the United States, but it’s not anarchy. When the kid gets shot in Hamsterdam and Colvin demands a shooter, the Barksdale crew produces him because they understand how these things work. I love it.
Emily: Unfortunately for Omar’s granny’s crown, a few members decided that the Sunday truce was a rule that they didn’t need to follow if it came to taking out a major thorn in the Barksdale organization’s side.
Sam: a) I love the terminology. I wasn’t aware of it, not being a member of a black church (or, you know, in the black community), but I really enjoyed that everyone knew what a church crown was (and the horror at it getting shot). b) Poor Omar! I mean, poor his grandma too, as an innocent bystander, but man. I worry about him.
Emily: He lost a member of his crew over this, too. She’s smart. She ain’t messing with Avon & co.
Sam: I did like that. I appreciated the directness when she was just like “Hey, sorry, but I’m only in it for the money, and there are easier ways to do that.” Two unrelated things that I enjoyed in this episode(s): I never paid attention to the name of Stringer’s copy shop before. Copy Cat is an adorable name for a copy shop. Also, I can’t help but think it’s foreshadowing (or just damned convenient) that Gray wants to run on a platform of education, and I believe the next season takes place… where? In the schools!
Emily: Yep. They almost certainly knew that they were going to get a fourth season and what they were going to do with it when they slipped that little piece of business in there.
Sam: So, having touched on everything else of note… sigh. Poor Prez. I feel so bad this time. While he has a history of fuckups that include bodily harm to innocents, this kinda takes the cake. It’s so much worse now because we know he’s actually excellent police… when he’s indoors. The poor guy.
Emily: He’s stuck with Valchek as a father-in-law and he’s going to make it worse by trying to make it better. Poor Prez. He would have made an excellent analyst for something like the FBI or CIA. He’s just not meant for field work.
Sam: That whole thing just bums me out. Especially how sad he was. He knows everything we do and none of us can fix it. Boooo.
Emily: There’s no hope for Hamsterdam, is there? I really love Hamsterdam in theory but it’s just too beautiful to live.
Sam: I appreciate The Deacon stepping in, as he does, to give Colvin some things to think about re: finishing what you started. While the great dream of Hamsterdam won’t live on, that doesn’t mean positive change can’t come from it. And Colvin’s a pretty great guy- not once has he tried to weasel his way out of a darn thing. It’s so weird to see anyone be completely cognizant of and responsible for their actions.
Emily: I wish we could follow Colvin around forever. I wish he could have rubbed off on McNulty just a little bit more. He got him the good police skills but it would have been nice if he could have taken down his ego a little bit. Granted, Colvin has to have a pretty healthy ego himself. You don’t think to start something like Hamsterdam without it.
Sam: Obviously, this is a show that will benefit from many rewatches (as though I have time for that… oops), but I’m really interested to see him pop in to earlier seasons. He didn’t have a big part, but I swear we knew him before this season. Of course, the perspective of who ends up important (and who ends up dead) is true and interesting for a lot of people… For example, I never would have thought it would be Herc to go to the press to blow the cover on Hamsterdam. He seemed fully complicit with Carver when they were up to their assorted hijinks and shenanigans. I suspect those two bring out the worst in each other.
Emily: They definitely do. When Herc was on the detail without Carver, he was really into it. Carver is at least smart enough to know when not to take money from a crime scene, but when he thinks they can get away with it and Herc is right there looking him in the eye, he’s perfectly happy to shove a few bundles of cash down his shirt.
Sam: Carver’s an interesting case. Colvin gave him a fantastic dressing down that hearkened back not insignificantly to Kima’s previous maxim that a cop is only as good as their informants. At the time, it was significant because he had none, but it was a passing remark. Now the chickens have come home to roost… or rather, there are no chickens at all.
Emily: On the other side of the coin, you have Brother Mouzone out there doing better police work than some of the police. He has a certain cold efficiency that I really appreciate in a criminal element.
Sam: I really like how well that character is acted. I like his clipped, precise speech and how it matches the writing so well. Also, the writing (Rawls, we see you in that gay bar!). But of course, my very favorite efficiency in the criminal element in this show, and the entire world, is the co-op. I
Emily: I’m always a little sad that we don’t get more time with the co-op. I could watch them argue points of Robert’s Rules of Order for hours.
Sam: Right?? It’s a functioning body! They have standards and guidelines and called a quorum. Swoon! This was an episode for being impressed with people- quorums, Brother Mouzone, and even Cutty is all of sudden actually somewhat compelling! I actually felt something during his scene apologizing to the kid. That was real. It’s the first time he’s stirred anything in my cold, dark heart yet this season.
Emily: The problem with Cutty was that it always seemed like that was the way that they were going to go with him and it just took too long to get there. He was obviously on a redemption arc, but they had him swing back and forth a few times because they weren’t ready to get him there yet.
Sam: But really, the problem was that they committed the cardinal sin of spending a lot of time on him and having it be really uncompelling. I’m not ready to say it’s completely turned around, but I was really happy for that moment. On the relentlessly compelling side, Avon and Stringer are splintering. Avon’s waging a real street war and suddenly has Slim telling him things that Stringer doesn’t get to hear directly and all this.
Emily: It’s been a long time coming. It’s a lot more interesting to watch them slowly fall to pieces than just seeing a big fallout after Avon found out about String having Dee killed.
Sam: And oh boy, wasn’t that delicious when poor Brianna is interrogating Avon about it, and Stringer’s sitting right there, and we’re all going OOOHHH WE KNOW THINGS SHE DOESN’T KNOW. The tension between Stringer and Avon is one of the most effective parts of the show by far.
Emily: Only two episodes left of the season. I think the major Stringer and Avon fallout with all of its collateral damage is coming soon. See you next week?
Sam: See you next week!