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 4, Episodes 1, 2, and 3.
Sam: A fresh, new season! We’ve made it all the way to season 4! As a quick programming note, since season 4 has 13 episodes, we have to bunch three together somewhere. Since less stuff typically happens in the first episodes than the last, we’re doing episodes 1-3 together now and will proceed with the typical two episodes per post from here on out. In related news, after these episodes, we only have 20 episodes left in the whole series!
Emily: We kick off this season in the most delightful way. There’s something really great about a tough gang enforcement girl finding out about a gun powder-powered nail gun. No charging necessary and another thing that uses gun powder. It’s something she understands.
Sam: I really enjoyed that. I liked learning that you can just treat everything like it’s a drug transaction if you want, and it works. Also, I really liked her translating for Partlow in the car, “He said it was the Cadillac of nail guns. He meant Lexus, but he didn’t know.”
Emily: Although the Escalade was a thing by this point. I feel like Cadillac should have meant something, too.
Sam: Eh, as the primo thing-to-be-envied, I think it’s pretty close. In other drug news, it’s a pain being a middle manager. Bodie, who I would never have guessed in season 1 was still going to be around and consistently a significant character, is now semi-independent with the collapse of the Barksdale organization, and he still has to deal with both supply problems and insubordinate subordinates.
Emily: Also, his relationship with Carver has become a really great buddy comedy. Carver may not exactly be following Kima’s advice about good CIs but he’s actually developed one in his own weird, antagonistic way.
Sam: Carver might finally be coming around. He’s cultivating relationships and slowly making progress towards being good police. I do love him and Bodie together. Also McNulty showing up randomly in that scene and being all “Oh! Hey, how’s it going! Mr. Entrapment, from the Barksdale thing!” This show is delightfully surreal sometimes, when it isn’t frustrating as hell. As you know, I have a hard time recognizing new faces for a long time, and I literally just learned Fruit in time for him to get killed. All my hard work for nothing! Hmph. At least Freamon’s hard work is doing something, cause man, is he starting shit at the beginning of this season.
Emily: I love how he and Kima are working their new lieutenant. He doesn’t care what they do as long as they cover for him going to work on his house.
Sam: It’s a pretty cushy gig, until your supposed underlings start doing some high-level stuff. Oops. Our other holdover from last season doing high-level stuff is Carcetti, who is learning that running for mayor isn’t nearly as much fun as you think it might be. I was a little concerned, to be honest, that there was some character assassination going on in this episode with how whiny he seems to have gotten, and the tantrum he threw. Zomg spoilers, but having seen the next two episodes, I think the him I liked is still there. But campaigning seems really soul-sucking.
Emily: Even when he was being a bit of a whiny bitch, I still kind of liked him. At the very least, I understood him. That was some advanced procrastinating he was pulling off while he was being forced to make fundraising calls.
Sam: As a skilled procrastinator myself, I recognized his talent immediately. And last but not least, as we start laying the groundwork for the rest of the season, Prez is a teacher! Yay! I’m glad we still have him around, even if he’s not police anymore. I like how this show keeps characters around in ways that feel legitimately coincidental and never forced (when they totally otherwise could).
Emily: Still, I don’t think they know what they’re getting with Prez as a teacher. He’s probably more suited to it than street police work but a Baltimore classroom also seems terrifying. Of course, it’s not like he’s getting that much help from the administration. “Here are some really obvious things that you’ve already tried and didn’t work to control your unruly classroom.” The lecture on terrorism that Western District was stuck in seemed equally useful. At least McNulty got some free binders for Beadie’s kids out of the deal.
Emily: Wee-Bey is back! And without even knowing it, we’ve already met his kid.
Sam: I recognized him! I was so proud of myself! I love that he is still so concerned about his fish. I also love that real parenting happens on all sides of the law; you go talk to your father who’s in prison on drug-related murder charges, and he’s still telling you you need to cut your hair and listen to your boss at work, who happens to be another drug dealer in the organization. That did some funny things with perspective in my head.
Emily: It mostly made me sad for laughing at it. That poor kid doesn’t stand a chance.
Sam: He gets it on all sides. The other favorite fatherly-tangential moment in this episode was the delightful exchange between Pearlman and Daniels in bed, when they’re talking about Freamon. “Did he look over his glasses at you?” and that way he has of bringing in a kind of fatherly disappointment regardless of your relationship to him… I love that they called that out and that the characters think the same thing the audience things there.
Emily: This episode was full of parents and children. Carcetti could just be some guy I know when he’s trying to carve out some time with his daughter. Of course, this is just another method of procrastination and avoiding the terrible situation he’s gotten himself into but it was still ridiculously adorable. You also have Bubbles with an apprentice of sorts that he’s taken a bit of a paternal interest in. Bubbles trying to look like a responsible adult could lead to so many moments of entertainment.
Sam: I love Bubbles so much. Between his increasingly swank shopping cart (ahem, Bubble’s Depo” [sic]) and his braided hair (the flattest his hair has ever been!), he brings me so much joy. You know who else brings me joy, who I never would have guessed? Cutty! He’s not terrible anymore! He actually smiles and cares about things! All the moms of the boys he’s training have caught wind that there’s an eligible bachelor around and suddenly he’s getting brought dinner and chatted up all the time. It’s adorable.
Emily: At least one of the moms didn’t even have a kid that went to the gym. She was just all about Cutty. He had no idea how to handle any of that. It was super adorable.
Sam: Look at us, calling Cutty adorable! I never would have dreamed it mid-season-3. We’ve called Prez adorable for much longer (even if he did also start a bit rough), and whoa, Wire writers, do you know your stuff. I feel like him listening to Johnny Cash is such competent characterization. That is so Prez. Of course, that the chosen song for that moment is Ring of Fire is also pretty telling, re: starting the school year…
Emily: Prez, as predicted, is entirely over his head. His fellow teachers are better than he is, but only marginally. I’m assuming that we’ll eventually see him get better but it’s going to be a journey. Unlike him, his father-in-law is totally in his element this episode.
Sam: Yeah, man, Valchek is all over the place. Herc asks him for advice with the whole walking in on The Mayor getting a blow job, and then the witness gets killed and he’s got news to feed to Carcetti pre-debate. I’m pleased I recognize him from season 2, but he’s still obnoxious. At least his information is good, and Carcetti gets to pwn Royce in the debate by referencing that letter about witnesses getting killed that he wrote a year ago now. Also, good advising on the part of his advisor, who told him to do that way back when.
Emily: She really is the best. She’s actually great at being optimistic to his face. She did have the poor taste to sleep with McNulty but apparently that man is irresistible to women, at least for a brief time.
Sam: At least she knows what she’s doing. She’s the one who kicked him out on at least one occasion. She’s under no illusions about their relationship. Speaking of illusions, and some that Freamon is trying to shatter, the previously stirred up shit hits the fan now with Kima and Syndor delivering the subpoenas to various high-ranking officials right before an election DUN DUN DUN!!!
Emily: I loved that whole sequence. They were taking so much joy with every warrant that they delivered. Have we heard Clay Davis say “Shiiiiiit” before? I know that we’ve met him before, and the cultural zeitgeist has been telling me for years that that’s his thing, but I don’t know that we’ve heard it before this episode.
Sam: I don’t think we have, because it’s a thing of beauty and we surely would have commented on it already. One last tidbit before we move on: Marlo is throwing cash around to little kids. That sure is a quick and easy way to curry favor. I kind of wish I was a West Baltimore middle-schooler, I could use the cash…
Emily: Of course, if you’re Wee-Bey’s kid, that doesn’t matter. His mama is going to make sure that he looks great when he shows up for school.
Emily: Omar can do whatever Omar wants to do, even if that’s going to the store for Cheerios in silk jammies.
Sam: No one in the world more pulls off the badass look in turquoise silk jammies than Omar. Love you, Omar! I also love drug-dealing as an after school job. Between Wee-Bey’s parenting and Bodie trying to get the tough kid to drop out of school to work for him and having to compromise in pleading, “Well, just after school?” there’s a lot I’m having to work through this season. The meshing of the drug world and the real world is fascinating.
Emily: And with some of his students out drug dealing after school, how could Prez, excuse me, Prezbo possibly hope to hold their attention in math class?
Sam: Can I just say, whoever scratched “Fuck Prezbo” into the top of the desk has a lot of diligence and work ethic. That’s a lot of scratching to get done in one class. Or maybe I always just had the wrong desks for vandalism as a kid.
Emily: They were some pretty deep scratches. That definitely takes diligence.
Sam: So a propos of nothing, I have a thing from last season to mention with how it plays into this season. When Hamsterdam was in force, I noticed that every time there’d be a scene there, you’d hear the same clip of someone hawking “WMD! Get that WMD!” and I realized at the end of the season that, duh, it’s just one audio clip and they keep playing it (because it was the exact same). So I was delighted to learn that this season the times have changed, and Pandemic is now the drug? strain? something, of course. I’m a square and can’t even tell you. But anyway, listen for your “Pandemic! Get that Pandemic!” because it’ll happen. A bunch.
Emily: Earlier it was the same clip about Yellow Top. I think that sometimes happened last season, too. In Hamsterdam, there was more than one strain being sold at a time.
Sam: True! I’ve also heard red tops and black tops, throughout the seasons. Just another reason to give props to the writers, I guess, because they even mix up what the people are shouting for more realism. Because things do change. (but, you get the sound once, and can keep playing it alll season…). My other favorite name thing was the brief meeting of the New Day Co-Op. Lord, isn’t that refreshing and almost religious sounding? I love them so much.
Emily: I think we already knew that that was their name. It’s still delightful, though, and I’m glad that it’s still going in a post-Stringer world. It’s like his legacy.
Sam: And an excellent legacy to have. The name probably popped up before, I can only notice so many things in an episode. Like it literally wasn’t until this episode that I realized that Daniels’ wife and Carcetti are on opposite sides of the election. It’s pretty obvious, since Marla Daniels is on the Mayor’s ticket and Carcetti is running against him, but it took me until now to realize that whoever wins, one of them is also going to lose. Boo. I like both of them.
Emily: Or they could both lose. I suppose that Gray could technically still win this thing if black voters want to go with a black candidate and Carcetti sufficiently tears apart Royce.
Sam: Actual thought process as you were writing that just now: “OH! That could happen. Wait, that wouldn’t happen, right? They could both lose. ARRGHH that could so happen because nothing is ever certain with these writers arrghhhh.”
Emily: I suppose that they could both win if people don’t vote a straight ticket based on the endorsements of the mayoral candidate. I’m sure that city council is a separate vote from mayor. Unlikely, but still possible. Also, are all council seats up for election or is Carcetti still on if he loses?
Sam: Not a clue! And now I’m realizing just how much I don’t know about this election! Ack! In the interest of running back to things I do know about, Bunny is still getting in trouble for doing the right thing, but he ends up in the right place because of it. I like his new partnership with the world’s most academic academic. Also the Deacon’s involvement, particularly interpreting for each side in real time during that meeting. “You go out and get him corner boys to mess with.” “Ohh, got it.”
Emily: Also looking for new jobs are Freamon and Kima. They’ve been a little spoiled with tough but reasonable Daniels followed by the world’s laziest lieutenant so the new guy isn’t exactly working out for them.
Sam: I thought it was really interesting how Kima went running to Daniels and Freamon actually went to Rawls with the respective “Omg, get me out of here” stories.
Emily: Well, Freamon did briefly work for Rawls. He was Bunk’s partner when McNulty was on the boat.
Sam: Oh for sure. That doesn’t make it any less weird for someone to have to ask Rawls to be nice about something, though.
Emily: There might be something in there about how men negotiate for jobs and how women do. The more direct method vs. going through channels to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction.
Sam: I suspect you’re right. In much more facile connections, the only thing worse than dealing with Rawls is dealing with middle schoolers. Eesh. I don’t have a lot of hope, but I wish the New Awkward Teacher storyline gets over soon. I really hate all of the awkwardness. I don’t like New Teacher stories. Blegh.
Emily: To be fair, things already seemed to be getting better. You know, until one girl cut another for mouthing off.
Sam: Bitch really did cut a bitch. Poor Prez. Poor everyone. It’s sure not an auspicious start to the school year. But we’ll stick with it, because we always do… See you next week?
Emily: See you next week!