The Wire Watchalong: Season 4, Episodes 10 and 11

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 10 and 11.

S04E10

Sam: So this episode really struck me in the way it represented evil. You’ve got Snoop and Chris, who kill people–lots of people–and are intimidating as all hell in their quiet, easy way, and then you’ve got psychopaths like Walker, who break a kid’s fingers. Direct quote from my notes: “I hate this asshole.”

Emily: That was egregiously awful. You already caught him, you have plenty of charges to bring him up on. Instead, he goes and breaks a little kid’s hand. Obviously not suited to the job.

Sam: Egregious is the right word for it. It’s actively appalling. It was legitimately upsetting, especially as a way to start the episode. Ugh. On the Chris and Snoop note, though, and my not inconsiderable affection for them, I’m definitely using “Chris and Snoop walked him down an alley” as a euphemism at every opportunity now.

Emily: Poor Li’l Kevin. He didn’t deserve a walk with Chris and Snoop.

Sam: You get into a car Marlo puts you in, you’re not getting back out. Marlo definitely wins this season’s ominousness award, or perhaps his gang at large.

Emily: We’ve gone from watching him as a startup to being the head of a gang that I’m more afraid of than I ever was of the Barksdale crew. Turnover is fast on the streets.

Sam: You know, you’re right. The Barksdales would fuck you up, no doubt, and they wouldn’t let you live if you crossed the line, but they were a lot showier. Talkier. Marlo, and particularly Chris and Snoop, won’t say two words about it. Shit just gets done, and by shit, I mean you’re getting executed.

Emily: And then I have to wonder if executing Kevin was just the writers’ excuse for having Bodie and Poot discuss killing Wallace. That whole conversation opened that wound right up.

Sam: Boy did it. I can’t think that it was just an excuse, or if it was, “excuses” on this show still tie in to like seven plot lines at once because they’re that good. Either way, boooo. Especially because I kind of forgot it was Bodie there. I remembered Poot, but as you may have noticed, it takes me a really long time to recognize people, and I definitely didn’t have Bodie down as a person yet back then. So then it was kind of extra sad. I still irrationally like Bodie, though.

Emily: I’m the exact opposite. I always knew that it was Bodie there but I forgot that Poot was the other executioner. I had already developed a certain affection for Bodie by that point. Or at least Bodie’s grandma.

Sam: Oh right! I remember that! Man, that feels like ancient history now. Heavens. We should probably talk about the present or we won’t finish writing this post before we die. Or before the next beloved character dies. For the record, your Flavor of the Week Update is “lemon fry.” I swear that’s what it was, even though those words don’t go together. Anyway, down in City Hall (or thereabouts), Burrell is scheming and talking to Clay Davis, though I suppose that’s almost redundant to specify. I enjoyed Clay’s advice, including to just go do “whatever it is you do for a living” to show Burrell’s worth to Carcetti.

Emily: Never mind that Burrell isn’t exactly a political genius. The only thing he knows how to do is go back to pushing quotas for arrests and tickets. If your plan counts on Burrell knowing what to do then you aren’t going to get very far.

Sam: Burrell, from this conversation, could be doomed, by Clay Davis sure isn’t. He’ll make a deal with anyone and still manage to fleece them. He’ll be sitting pretty for the rest of time. On the complete other end of the spectrum, in every possible way, is the show’s single best and most pitifully abused character, whom I recorded in my notes as “Aww Bubs looks so sad.” I love him. Herc is just the worst. The very worst.

Emily: Herc hasn’t learned anything and his stupid political promotion has left him without anyone there to keep him in line. That would be fine if it wasn’t directly affecting Bubbles. There are plenty of cops in Baltimore who are even worse than Herc but if you hurt Bubbles then you and I are officially enemies.

Sam: Right? Walker’s a psycho, and he’s hurting kids, but he’s kind of doing it just indiscriminately and with generalized ill intent. Herc has let Bubbles down twice now, personally and in times of great need, and keeps asking for more from him instead. There is no greater evil than being mean to Bubbles. Which is why it was The Best, obviously, when Bubs set him up. Herc really screwed the pooch on this one.

Emily: This was the episode for revenge. Bubbles got his in a mostly harmless way but Michael really got his. He probably got more than he bargained for by setting Chris and Snoop on his stepfather.

Sam: No, I don’t think he did. I think he got exactly what he bargained for. I’m pretty sure he knew what he was asking for. Now I have to take a quick minute to gush about this show again, because Chris beating the stepfather to death for implied abuse, doubly implied sexual, is the most fantastic characterization I may have ever seen. I’m a huge fan of the advice in the old writing maxim “show, don’t tell,” and while that’s clearly what this show does from square one, seeing a guy beat another guy to death for implied abuse reveals something really significant about the guy doing the beating. Also, Snoop’s line was pretty great after, saying “Damn, you didn’t even wait to get the motherfucker in the house.”

Emily: Apparently Snoop learned a little bit about her partner in crime that day, too.

Sam: As did we all!

S04E11

Sam: So the word “motherfucker” was in the line from Snoop, which no one is surprised by, but I noticed for some reason in this episode that it came up in at least two different instances I wasn’t expecting. I don’t think it means anything significant, but I noticed it. One was in one of Carcetti’s many meetings, when they’re talking about the budget and the idea of tapping into the rainy day fund. Carcetti says it looks right to him, and I believe it’s his Chief of Staff (who I continue to love dearly) who says it’s “Cloudy like a motherfucker.” I like that kind of language in a high-level city budget meeting.

Emily: The problem with Baltimore is that there are a hell of a lot of rainy days and the rainy day fund can’t possibly cover all of them. That’s OK, though, because Carcetti is out there to solve problems with more than money. There was nothing more fantastic than him sweeping through a bunch of different city departments and giving them vague descriptions of problems that he wanted fixed. He was Super Action Mayor.

Sam: Omg so good. So so so good. I love him so much. Tommy Carcetti getting to be mayor might be my favorite thing that’s happened in a TV show ever. (and did you appreciate how smoothly it happened? The race was the primary, and we didn’t waste time even seeing him win the general or get inaugurated. He’s just the mayor now.) Anyway, he’s the best. Just striding briskly through, as The Mayor, wanting a problem solved, and making them solve All The Problems to do it, because, again, he’s The Mayor. That’s using your powers for good. Love love love.

Emily: And it gets the little things fixed. Unfortunately, a lot of the police brass are against him replacing Burrell with anyone. It was adorable how Rawls actually thought that he had a chance at becoming police commissioner, especially being appointed by the white mayor of Baltimore.

Sam: That actually kind of made me sad, because I assumed he was savvier than that, and I don’t like when people are disappointed. Burrell proves his worth in this episode, though. It was the most useful he’s ever been. Also, while we’re on the topic, somewhere in the Carcetti stuff was an applause-worthy shit-eating grin from the Chief of Staff. It was some McNulty-level work, and I admired it.

Emily: The Chief of Staff is nominally there to work with Carcetti but he’s actually there to give the best reactions to everything that ever happens in the mayor’s office. One of the better additions to the cast ever.

Sam: Agree. It feels like he got added as a bit part as the campaign manager and they loved him so much they found a way to write him in, and I approve of every bit of that. I also approve of Carcetti sweeping in late and saying in his great kind of exasperated way, “It’s just too much damn fun being the boss!” I doubly approve of always being prepared, and Omar sure is that. Toilet paper in his bag… he’s ready for a stakeout. I do feel for his current companion, though. I thought the same thing in both of these episodes, which is that it’s got to be hella boring hanging out with Omar sometimes.

Emily: True. He’s almost always focused on a goal, he’s lying low when he’s not up to something, and he’s always going to be the person with the most charisma in the room. Omar becomes your whole life if you’re with him and that can’t always be fun.

Sam: Hanging out with Omar is about to get a lot more interesting, since he found out about the co-op and talked with Prop Joe about it. At gunpoint, naturally, because that’s how Omar does a lot of his talking. Poor Joe, though. Stuck between Marlo and Omar is not a good place to be. On the subject of whole lives being unfun, I was really upset to see what the kids did to Officer Walker. I was afraid they’d do something dumb like that. The problem is that anything they do that just makes him mad is going to rain down on them tenfold. I’m so worried for them now. At least Namond finally cut his hair?

Emily: Did he? He still had it after his mom told him that he needed to cut it or she would.

Sam: I thought it was smaller? I guess I just assumed something changed because I’m scared of his momma like everyone else, and I just assume that when she gives an order it’ll eventually get followed.

Emily: Namond’s momma is the absolute worst. A lot of the kids got caught up in the drug trade because they drifted into it but she’s still pushing him to be a gang banger. She actually got mad that he avoided going to baby booking. Absolute worst parent.

Sam: I was sad she was mean to Colvin, because Colvin is awesome. But I don’t really fault her. I mean, it’s a lifestyle she knows, and has been involved in for a good long time. Wee-Bey was really high-ranking in the Barksdale organization. Back in the good old days of the Barksdales running everything, in the same days when Major Crimes was our unit of truth and justice and McNulty being an asshole but still getting stuff done. I was so so so excited when Daniels got permission to bring it back and then gave it to Freamon. That’s my other notable motherfucker: I don’t think anyone says it as gently as Daniels in the world, but he said it. “Motherfucker, as far as I’m concerned, you are the Major Crimes Unit.” A great message, and delivered so seriously and silly at the same time.

Emily: Freamon got to be the best version of himself in this episode. After Daniels gave him Major Crimes, he got the spring back in his step. And he got to check in on his boy Prez. That’s still one of the strangest, most beautiful friendships to come out of the original Major Crimes Unit.

Sam: So quick tangent (maybe) on how much I love this show (again): like I said in a previous post, it’s like an actual relationship with this show. It grows slowly and naturally and then because it did, it’s so much stronger and more meaningful. It never tells you what’s important or isn’t, you just draw your own conclusions based on what happens, and then you form your own attachments to things. So then I was all sentimental and happy for Freamon when he went and poked around in the Major Crimes office. The show has never made anything special about that office, except that that’s where they were doing Important, Real Policework, and it was still sweet to see him back there.

Emily: Only this show could make me a little teary-eyed at a box labeled “Port Investigation”. That’s a whole season registered in a quick tracking shot.

Sam: For realz. So on the Prez note, he’s really embraced his role as a teacher. I’m glad he was there to break up the fight, but geez, Michael sure is a badass. That kid has more balls than half the characters on this show.

Emily: And he remains a badass while always trying to make the best out of a bad situation. He gets his stepfather out of his family’s life by any means necessary and he stands by his friend no matter what anyone says about him. He’s one of those kids who seems like he might actually stand a chance in the world.

Sam: He’s probably going to die. I’m so nervous about the next episode. Between things seemingly closing in on Randy and Marlo bringing up Michael to Chris, it sure feels like they want me to be nervous that someone’s going to die before this season is over. Of course, that probably means something else totally unforeseen is going to happen and I’m going to be upset about that instead. In one briefly happier now before this all comes tumbling down, I can’t help but appreciate and remark on every time we get glimpses of that fantastic workplace sitcom with Bodie and McNulty or Carver or whoever it is that time. I do enjoy their frank, work-based exchanges.

Emily: And it’s stuff like that that McNulty seemed to genuinely want when he voluntarily went back to patrolling the streets. He didn’t want to constantly be coming down on people, he wanted to develop relationships with all of the usual people on his beat. It certainly seems more fun to be trading a few lines with Bodie than to constantly be hauling him or one of his compatriots down to the precinct.

Sam: Trufax. His old partner, on the other hand, is good at being nice when it works and mad when he’s, well, mad. Bunk cursing someone out is really great. I like it when Bunk gets mad.

Emily: Bunk only really gets shit done when he’s properly motivated to do so but anger is definitely his best motivation.

Sam: And when he’s motivated and Freamon’s motivated, shit is going to happen. It’s all setting up to come crashing down at once (not unlike previous seasons, of course). Randy getting beaten up means Prez found out about the vacants and Randy’s small role, and Prez is someone with connections to the right people (and now they know, though I was annoyed he didn’t just tell them everything so they could skip the step of wandering around the empty yard). But now that’s going to be a huge fucking deal. Everyone’s going to be affected. What’s it going to do to a very new mayor when the body count jumps by, what, fivefold? More? Or less? Marlo’s hid a lot of bodies. Bunk’s case. Randy’s brief involvement. Marlo… just… all over.

Emily: I wasn’t bothered at all that Prez didn’t tell them everything. He’s not police anymore. That’s not his job. His job is to stand up for his kids. If they found out that Prez was the one who told the police where to find the bodies, they wouldn’t trust him with things ever again. He can’t tell Randy and his foster mom not to talk to anyone without a lawyer and then just go blabbing everything instead. Plus, it’s a lot more dramatic if Bunk and Freamon have to find the bodies themselves. Freamon knows about the nailgun now so he has an idea of what to look for. Instead of loose, rusted screws, he finds snug, commercial-grade nails. Not only does that get them the bodies, it ties them to Chris and Snoop who can also be tracked to Marlo. Sure, they get a giant new body count but they also know who to pin it on.

Sam: I find it so fitting and still a little sad that the nailgun turned out to be their undoing. That nailgun has been its own character this season, in a way that really amuses me. What’s for sure is that the finger’s been taken off the dam, the wire has been tripped, the string has been pulled… whatever starting thing you want, shit is about to go down in these next two episodes. And I need not remind you that next episode is the one-season “anniversary” of Stringer’s death, so I’m kind of braced for something traumatic. Maybe not, but with this show, well…

Emily: It would actually be a bit disappointing if nothing traumatic happened in the next episode. See you next week?

Sam: See you next week!

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