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 6 and 7.
Emily: Every time that Prez appears to be making progress in the classroom, I beam like a proud parent. Our baby teacher is growing up!
Sam: I’m really pleased how the awkward part of that passed pretty quickly. Now we’re just on to it being a hard job, rather than it being so painfully new and fish-out-of-water. It’s so interesting to see how smart the kids are in ways that aren’t reflected in standardized tests. Like Prez’s example he used in multiple classes, and the kid knew right away what the right answer was without doing the math. And in the real world, that counts. You don’t have to show your work in The Game. And Namond has a pretty compelling point–he and his people get busted for selling drugs, but alcohol and cigarettes are legal and the government profits off of them. There’s a lot of hypocrisy in the world, and that’s frustrating no matter who you are.
Emily: While he’s getting along better than Prez did when he first started, Carcetti is a fish-out-of-water to varying degrees while he’s shadowing the police. Kima totally calls him out on making her a pawn in his political game.
Sam: Kima not letting Carcetti get away with taking the last of the coffee without making a fresh pot might be my favorite thing she’s ever done, and I love her a lot. I also really enjoyed Jay, Kima, and Freamon pretending to read reports until Carcetti says that it’s okay, really, he’s not a hall monitor. So Kima swings her feet up on the desk, Freamon gets out his miniatures, and Jay pulls out the nudie mag of the moment. Carcetti’s “Well…huh.” moment was pretty great.
Emily: And it’s not like they had much else to do. As long as their paperwork is done and they don’t have a new case to chase, then they get to hang out at their desks waiting for a call.
Sam: At least their policework or lack thereof is straightforward. I did a mild cheer when Fuzzy Dunlop was named as the informant again in Herc’s case. Delightful.
Emily: Fuzzy Dunlop–a name so absurd that you’d never guess that it might as well be John Doe.
Sam: I mean, a real informant on this show is named Bubbles. Fuzzy isn’t that much different. On the good-cop side, McNulty has a shit-eating grin to power Baltimore. That man…just…something about his face is so made for that kind of shit-eating grin. Bunk’s feeling the effects of the alcohol, and McNulty’s sitting there all clean and cheerful and grinning that grin…
Emily: There’s a certain element of being able to stick to good behavior if your lady’s awesome about it. He couldn’t stay sober and get home for dinner every night when he was married but he can when it’s Beadie.
Sam: Which is remarkably sweet, for McNulty. I have rarely appreciated McNulty so much as good police as when Carcetti is on the ride alongs with the Eastern district. Man, those guys are dicks. Also, I think it’s a significant sign of how much this show has you embedded in life in Baltimore. I was kind of glad it was Eastern District people being ineffective dicks, being as we are honorary Western District people, as viewers.
Emily: Herc and Carver when they were first back at Western looked like law enforcement geniuses compared to the Eastern District people. They were the worst.
Sam: And when there’s a brief run in with Snoop and Chris, even though I don’t actually remember if that was Eastern police or not, I was briefly scared for the police. Like, I don’t think they would kill a cop, but if anyone on this show would… it was enough to make me nervous. Also, I like Prop Joe having to say look, you’re great at hiding bodies, I get that, but you can’t send an effective message of people getting killed without, you know, bodies…
Emily: Snoop and Chris were just too good at their jobs. They would make excellent assassins for hire where the main point is just to get rid of people but it makes for ineffective gang enforcement. I’m just sad that this is the end of the nail gun. I loved that nail gun to an unhealthy degree.
Sam: I had the same note. I was definitely a little irrationally sentimental about them tossing the nail gun. Ah, well. Onwards and upwards…
Sam: For the record, the designer labels for this episode are pandemic and black tops. Because now I’m a little obsessed with noting it down every time.
Emily: And of course the reason we got to hear the names called is that we’re out on the streets for the return of Poot. I think I missed him.
Sam: I loved Bodie’s reaction when Poot came walking up. “This is the problem with the justice system. Homies get locked up and they don’t stay that way. Hard to take it seriously.” It’s a great sequence, really, because then when Bodie says they’re selling for Marlo now, Poot basically just shrugs and says one boss is the same as the next. Which, since they’ve been in middle management since season 1, is pretty true.
Emily: The police also remain as ineffective as usual. Li’l Kevin being an ironic nickname was so obvious to me but Herc just grabs all of the short and/or skinny guys while actual Li’l Kevin just stands there smirking at him.
Sam: Oh, the policework in this episode. Argh a lot. Bubbles is acting in good faith, as always. Actually, now that I think about it, Bubbles never doesn’t act in good faith. He’s literally the most dependable, trustworthy, good person on the show. Huh. Anyway, he goes to Kima for help, she sets him up with Herc, Herc gets what he needs and…bails on having Bubbles’ back and Bubbles gets the shit beat out of him again. Grrrrrrr.
Emily: It’s just bad policework on Herc’s part, really. Mistreating Bubbles is the biggest crime on this show, as far as I’m concerned. Bunk, on the other hand, is great police in this one. He gets Omar out for a murder he didn’t commit and then does everything he can to impress upon him how much he cannot commit murder after just getting out of jail because he was brought up on a murder charge.
Sam: Mistreating Bubbles is the worst thing you can do. So mad. I second the support for Bunk, though. Great interactions there. You have to care to be good police, and Bunk, against his better judgment, still cares. When Omar pointed out that if he went in for that particular murder, it meant the real murderer was still out there, Bunk couldn’t ignore it even though he clearly wanted to. Speaking of things this show sets up with Good Police, Kima gets her overtime check and says she has a debt to pay off. And I went “OH! I wonder what happened with her family?” And then, of course, the next scene is her at her old place handing over a child support check. So, uh, that answers that. I did like/wince at the little twist of the knife when her (presumptive ex-)wife’s new partner comes in and just passed the bar. Looks like she got herself a real lawyer after all.
Emily: Kima’s ex and Daniels’s ex are so alike it’s scary. And yet not. Kima’s ex didn’t go after her for the child support, a legitimate thing she probably needs, while Daniels’s ex made him be her political prop and I’m sure she had a decent job without running for city council.
Sam: You know, I had never actually considered that before. Huh. You’re right. On the city council tip, Carcetti is, well, not cleaning house, per se, but rearranging the furniture. Everything I love about Carcetti in a nutshell: he knows he needs to reward Valchek for feeding him information, but he sees the entire picture very clearly and is under no illusions. “Valchek’s a hack, but he’s my hack. If I bump him to VP for Admin, can he do any real damage?”
Emily: Carcetti is going to be my example next time someone tries to say that politics aren’t worth anything. Carcetti is a politician through and through and he uses politics to get things done. He smooths the way to make real change in the police department by shifting things around while leaving enough of the status quo behind in order to not ruffle too many feathers. When he butts heads with the president of the city council for “not waiting his turn” to run for mayor, he sees an opening to leave Baltimore in the hands of someone who wants to make changes and actually knows the current system while going on to further political ambitions that he didn’t even know he had until an advisor pointed out the possibilities to him. Tommy Carcetti is a goddamn hero.
Sam: Agree completely on all possible counts. I love him so much. I’m so glad he’s my fictional TV boyfriend. People who are not my TV boyfriend, even as much as he’s come around, include Cutty, who I was completely amused to hear addressed as Mr. Cutty by the kids, because kids are adorable, and Prez, who’s losing the momentum he had in teaching actual math by being forced to shoehorn in language arts curricula in advance of the Big Standardized Tests.
Emily: Prez does have some really lovely moments of bonding with his students when they bargain with him to order them candy bars in bulk online with his credit card so they can sell them at a markup. It seems that they probably used his lessons on probability with dice to win the money for the purchase in the first place.
Sam: Absolutely they did. They’ve gotten some valuable skills out of his class, even if they won’t do a word problem to save their lives. Except Dukie. He’s such a good kid, I assume something else new and terrible will befall him because this show hates me. Anyway, down the hall in the Special Class, Colvin rewards the winning group with dinner out at a fancy restaurant. And boy, does he have a shit-eating grin to rival McNulty’s, as he sits there graciously in another world that he can move in and the corner kids are totally confused and upset by.
Emily: Colvin was McNulty’s CO. That’s probably where he honed his shit-eating grin skills. The kids in that restaurant were so great. They just couldn’t comprehend the first thing about it. Excellent writing and performing of the whole thing. That is exactly how I would guess that a bunch of corner kids would behave in a white tablecloth restaurant.
Sam: It was a little rough, and so well executed because of it. To cap things off, let’s hit the last topic that everyone can agree on: Why the hell do you have a scene of Daniels at home and wearing a shirt? That seems like a grave injustice to me.
Emily: I refuse to believe that Ronnie wouldn’t have stripped his shirt off at the first chance she got. Despite earlier McNulty-related indiscretions, she doesn’t strike me as a stupid woman.
Sam: It’s completely baffling. See you next week?
Emily: See you next week!