The Wire Watchalong: Season 4, Episodes 4 and 5


TheWireSeason4Welcome 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 4 and 5.


Sam: You have to say one thing for this show, it knows how to turn a phrase. Like when you’re trashing your classmate and saying her mom boils cats, which raises the obvious question of who eats boiled cat? The obvious answer of “Boiled-cat-eating motherfuckers.”

Emily: The boxing gym is turning out to be my favorite location this season. You get the kids actually getting to be kids and Cutty still being pretty great despite his not-so-great start.

Sam: Cutty picks up a new (temporary) job this episode, by recommendation from the Deacon (how does he know where every should be all the time? “A good churchman’s always up in everybody’s shit.” Love you, The Wire!). It’s… a different kind of custodial work.

Emily: At first, I loved how the vice principal twisted her budgetary needs around to use the custodial positions as secret, somewhat ineffective truancy officers. Then you find out how it’s not about actually getting kids to go to class all of the time but rather about getting the funding for those kids who don’t really go and it’s a little more cynical.

Sam: Even with the cynical aspect, I don’t hold that against her one bit. She needs that funding for the kids who are there. We saw Prez fixing up his classroom himself before school starts; that’s not a school that’s rolling in the spare cash. I firmly believe that the vice principal is on the side of truth, justice, and the American Way (not that you don’t). Also on the side of righteousness is Bubbles in his button-down shirt and khakis. I think it’s half previous characterization, half acting, but I’ve never seen someone so consistently out of place and wholly in place wearing normal-people clothes.

Emily: I think the one thing that I always look for when I watch this show is for things to work out for Bubbles. Unfortunately, social promotion has put Sherrod in a place where he can’t possibly catch up because he’s only had a fourth grade education, he probably wasn’t up to grade level even when he was going to school, and now he’s an eighth grader. I guess I can’t blame him for leaving when Prez’s back was turned.

Sam: At least when Randy does that, he’s doing it to further his entrepreneurial activities. Which is… better? On the street side, I… kind of don’t understand Marlo. When Prop Joe went to talk to him and his pigeons, Marlo interrupts the conversation and shakes his hand. I sincerely didn’t know at the time whether that was accepting joining the co-op or just ending the conversation or what. I once called Marlo a pigeon weirdo in one of these write-ups, and those remain some of the truest words I’ve written.

Emily: Sharing a hobby with Mike Tyson is not the most auspicious thing in the world.

Sam: Speaking of weirdos…

Emily: Prop Joe is everywhere this episode. Apparently he decided that he needed a little excitement in his life. I assume that’s what anyone is looking for when they willingly go have a conversation with Omar.

Sam: It’s a pretty slick play, to rattle Marlo indirectly. Prop Joe is one of those characters, like Bodie, who you don’t expect to be so significant when you first meet them, and for whom I find I’ve developed quite a lot of affection. I mean, they both got to season four unscathed, so it’s hard to not appreciate them. I really liked his lines talking to Omar. “Have you ever known me to be stupid?”

Emily: Prop Joe is smoother than you think he is. Also, I’m thinking that Marlo turned down the co-op and this is Prop Joe retaliating and/or trying to force him into it for protection.

Sam: I know that to be true, but only because I read Wikipedia. I am only a little ashamed to admit how much this show is beyond me. In simpler pleasures, there’s always Omar. I love Omar. I liked him sticking up the poker game and using a great line when Marlo is, for some reason, reluctant to hand over the ring. “Boy, you got me confused with a man who repeats himself.” So badass. So Omar.

Emily: On the right side of the law, things are not looking up. Herc’s has a shiny new sergeant’s shield but he’s totally screwed.

Sam: My honest response when he walked into the Major Crimes unit was “Awwwww…” I feel bad for him. He gets a promotion, and exiled to what’s become a total wasteland. The new lieutenant is a unit-killer, and Kima and Freamon have fled. With Daniels long gone and McNulty off patrolling the streets, it’s sure not the unit from seasons past.

Emily: Right now, homicide seems like the place to be. It’s nice to be reminded that for all of his quick remarks and fooling around, Bunk is good police. I really enjoyed watching him and Kima go over the crime scene. Plus, he explained the idea of soft eyes. I was confused by that when another teacher told Prez that he needed to have soft eyes in the classroom a coupld of episodes ago because emanating compassion didn’t seem like the right tactic to take in that school. It turns out that soft eyes is actually making sure that you’re seeing the whole picture and hard eyes are focussing in too much on a few details.

Sam: Bunk’s a good teacher, but it doesn’t help when the tests are way beyond your grade level. Kima, as rookie (and female to boot) gets stuck as the primary for the witness homicide case that they want slowed down, with the order coming all the way from Royce, if indirectly. There’s no way that can possibly go wrong…


Sam: Oh look, it went wrong. Turns out that it’s not a subtle move, taking a veteran off a high-profile case and giving it to a rookie.

Emily: It’s really surprising. Except the opposite of that. It might be the move that actually loses Royce the election. It probably would have been smarter to point out that Kima has worked homicides as part of the major crimes unit and then keep her on it. For Kima’s sake, I’m glad that that’s not what they did but it would have meant less backpedaling.

Sam: There are a lot of things suddenly that seem like they might lose Royce the election. Carcetti’s made up a lot of ground lately, which is great for us, because the world needs more of Tommy Carcetti when he’s happy and smiling the smile that means he’s both happy and up to something. Quick complaint, though: I Am Not A Crackpot, but why is every TV in the history of TVs appearing in media always tuned to the right channel and exactly the right broadcast at the moment they’re turned on? I’m driven so nuts by people striding into a room, turning on the TV, and seeing the exact news report at that exact second that they needed.

Emily: They could at least put it in the crawl so that a person walks in the room, turns on the TV, maybe even takes the time to change the channel, and then points at the relevant thing at the bottom of the screen. This is especially true on HBO where it doesn’t have to come in at an exact broadcast time. They could spend a few more seconds to make it more realistic. You Are Not A Crackpot.

Sam: Right? Really. Argh. At least this is only a pet peeve and not something I’m getting beaten up over, like, say, POOR BUBBLES. ARGH! He’s trying to do right by this kid and get him set up for a better life, and he gets the crap kicked out of him for his efforts. Booooo anyone hurting Bubbles.

Emily: Awwww, Bubbles. He can never win.

Sam: I love Bubbles. Usually it’s Prez who can’t win, but as we see in this episode, even when he’s winning he’s still shooting himself in the foot. I was so proud of him for implementing–apparently successfully–a rewards and punishment system for his students. Just look at how many of them actually showed up for detention! I was surprised. But then he lets them go when they start whining! It’s a step in the right direction, but you can’t make exceptions like that! Especially not on the first day of a new system!

Emily: And then he learns that his system actually does need a little flexibility in it because Michael has to pick up his little brother. There is literally no other option for him.

Sam: Turns out there’s more to these kids than meets the eye. But sometimes even when that works in felony directions, it’s useful! Like if you lock your keys in your car, and then one of your students can just jimmy open the door for you. Easy peasy.

Emily: Prez is still at a loss as to what behaviors he should be encouraging and discouraging in his students while also trying to win them over. He’s a bit of a lost puppy.

Sam: At least he’s trying, and he at least he really cares. Marimow, the unit killer over in Major Crimes, is an idiot and has no awareness of his own idiocy. After the completely failed raids, he says something to the effect of Marlo not being smarter than he is. I beg to differ, sir. Marlo, pigeon weirdo that he is, is way smarter than you are.

Emily: To be fair, pretty much everyone is smarter, or at least more self-aware, than Marimow. See you next week?

Sam: See you next week!

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