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 5, Episodes 5 and 6.
Emily: Marlo had Joe killed and now he’s probably going to kill the co-op. He was always a reluctant member and now that he has a direct connection to the Greeks and the other major players are dead or in prison, there’s really no use for it anymore. He’s the king of Baltimore.
Sam: The king is dead, long live the king, I suppose. Except I still hate Marlo as the king. I made a note when I was watching this episode that I knew as soon as he was in charge that he was going to immediately nix the co-op and be the undisputed sole source of drugs, instead of sharing it around in the same way. Spoilers for next episode, but I wasn’t wrong. He successfully killed off the last remainder of Stringer’s dream/legacy.
Emily: You don’t have to be dead to have your legacy slaughtered, though. After many grand jury machinations, Clay Davis has been indicted. They’ve been chasing that connection since season 1 and they finally nailed him.
Sam: We’ve watched the shit finally hitting the fan throughout this season so far, but it wasn’t until this episode that it finally happened. He’s definitely fighting it, though, if not explicitly in front of Ronnie (yay Ronnie and her big case!), then everywhere else. He’s even got Royce up there spinning it hard for him.
Emily: But when it comes down to it, the state’s attorney is probably going to get the most out of this. Carcetti was right; he was looking pretty mayoral in that press conference. Nerese is probably going to be passed over again and Carcetti better hope that his plans for higher office pan out if he wants to keep serving.
Sam: While it looks like he might soon have a chance to turn it around, this episode Carcetti is still on the ropes. McNulty’s serial killer thing gains traction, but you can’t get blood from a stone. Even a serial killer only gets overtime for two total detectives, which is a fraction of what you’d need for a normal case on that scale, much less something with the words Serial Killer attached. However, I did enjoy when Scott went out and interviewed homeless people and the one homeless guy told him who the killer was: Satan. You never suspect the Dark Lord.
Emily: You really should, though. It’s so obvious. Of course, giving what limited resources they have for McNulty’s fake serial killer means that there’s nothing to give to Freamon when he gets a new cell phone number for Marlo.
Sam: That was a classically delightful sequence. Carver’s face when he says “Policework, detective!” when Freamon is spluttering half-formed questions of where he got such a thing, then Freamon’s fantastic accent when he calls the number, and his grin of pure delight when it really is Marlo answering a cell phone.
Emily: All of that was great. I loved that it started with Herc still being loyal to Carver and bearing a grudge against Marlo for ruining his career. I just want to spend a day in the life with Freamon. It comes complete with accent work and you could probably pick up a thing or two about carving very detailed tiny furniture.
Sam: Right? Freamon is the best. Except for this whole joining up with McNulty’s thing, but I still don’t really hold that against him.
Emily: He really is desperate. Plus, he doesn’t need to down half a bottle of Jameson to get his nerve up to do something. It’s still a boneheaded plan but at least one of the conspirators has a clear head.
Sam: Which is something, I guess. I liked Levy’s similarly clearheaded thinking- he doesn’t care about working for drug dealers, because they still pay. He was almost as intrigued as Freamon about Marlo having a cell phone, cause he knows all about the wiretaps and is practically preparing the court case (and all the lawyer fees) now. On the less positive side, McNulty continues his sterling campaign for father of the year. Sigh.
Emily: And his kids are old enough to just settle for the little bits that they get. Poor boys. His ex-wife was great. She’s given up fighting with him but does get a few jabs in trying to remind him that he was happy and Beadie is pretty great.
Sam: Continuing on the sad trend, Bubbles is HIV negative? It’s not really sad, but it’s rough for him. This season is all Sad Bubbles and that’s the saddest thing ever. I miss the Bubbles of previous seasons, even if I don’t really begrudge him character development.
Emily: He just has the biggest guilt complex. It would be easy to just be HIV positive and not comply with his meds. He’d suffer for awhile and then he’d die. Instead, he’s negative and there’s nothing stopping him from moving on with his life other than himself.
Sam: Poor Bubbles. Poor Dukie too- still getting beaten up, and not really any hope on the horizon, because as Cutty implies, being able to fight isn’t going to make him want to. However… Cutty! I would have never thought in season 3 that I’d actually be happy to see him. It was nice to have him around for a bit.
Emily: He’s just become so solid. It’s nice to see that someone can get out. Unfortunately, he also shows that you have to hit what seems like rock bottom a couple of times and then really work your ass off to make that happen.
Sam: Or if you’re white and have a full-time job, you can work your ass a little bit, you know, make an effort, and then just make up the answers you need. I was delighted to see that Scott’s lying has now paid off in an interesting way. It’s so Wire-y, to combine two apparently unrelated but by now well-established things. Suddenly the serial killer is not on person’s fiction, but too. Though McNulty realizing that it meant he could still get his wiretap was pretty interesting.
Emily: At least the newspaper stuff feels like it’s actually worth it in some way, now. In many ways, it’s just been the device that David Simon and the other writers decided to use to tell their story with and it’s often felt like another show happening off to the side, even with the little connections that showed up. It’s more like the docks in season 2 in that way and it’s hard to go back to after seasons 3 and 4 felt more connected to the world we were already watching from the beginning.
Sam: Yeah, seasons 1, 3, and 4 are one show, and seasons 2 and 5 are like spinoffs within the same series. I found one bit of writing uncharacteristically clunky in this episode- they couldn’t explain the wiretap with anything better than one character asking another “So explain this to me again…” I expect better from you, The Wire. Though while we’re on the topic of things that David Simon has wedged into the show because he wants to, he hates Bud Selig. Which never fails to amuse me. This is twice in fewer than six episodes that they’ve found an excuse to bash Major League Baseball and namecheck Bud Selig.
Emily: He also felt the need to mention John Waters and how he may be creepy because if you’re doing a show about Baltimore, I guess you have to mention John Waters. Sure, why not?
Sam: I liked the intro to this episode. In addition to everything we mentioned from the last episode, there was also a, you know, significant firefight that ended in Omar jumping out a rather high window. Marlo’s people are looking for him now, and I really enjoyed Snoop going into a hospital and asking for her “brother, Omar Little, who fell out the damn window.” Good that they didn’t find him, bad for me being sad and worried for Omar in his extremely weakened condition.
Emily: We may have lost Joe and we’re going to lose Omar but at least for now, he’s the new cockroach. It’s hard to watch him without his usual swagger.
Sam: I think there’s a certain Samson thing going on. He just hasn’t been the same since he’s had short hair instead of the consistently excellent braids he had in the early seasons. To completely mix Biblical metaphors, he’s definitely going up against Goliath. Marlo has never not meant business. Except when petting his weirdo pigeons like the pigeon weirdo he is. And now he’s officially, finally killed the co-op, leaving him as the sole ruler of the entire Baltimore drug trade. I hate him.
Emily: It can’t last. At least that’s what I comfort myself with. They’ve made it perfectly clear throughout the seasons that East Baltimore and West Baltimore do not get along. Prez’s students wouldn’t even let him finish a word problem once he mentioned East Baltimore. Even if the police don’t take him down, there will be unrest and he can’t possibly hold it together.
Sam: If anyone can, it’s Marlo. And my money is still on “anyone can’t.” Aww Prez! I miss him like he misses his students (I assume). Boy, have they grown! I noticed in this pair of episodes that Dukie seemed ganglier than I remember, but that was before Randy came back. He has definitely grown since last season, but unfortunately for Bunk, it’s all in the wrong direction. He’s pretty fully street now, it seems.
Emily: Now I miss Miss Anna. She was so wonderful and definitely didn’t deserve to have a bomb thrown into her house.
Sam: No, not even a little bit. Elsewhere in this episode, Carcetti did what Carcetti does best, which is give one hell of a rousing speech (I would put Mayoring at second or third best, depending on the moment. I still love that clean up the city campaign…). It’s still not doing anything, but it sounded good.
Emily: He got to give a couple of good speeches in this episode. The first one felt like it was mostly there to add to the nostalgia train that this episode gave us. Nick Sobotka was back just to yell one line about how pissed he is that the ports, which were doing pretty well dying on their own, got taken over by the housing project.
Sam: Speaking of super Wire-y things… bringing a character back for one line, but the line and the character’s very presence evokes a 12-episode arc in our now shared past. Back when Freamon was newly a Real Person, to us, and not someone who tells his coworkers “I encourage you to get as far fucking away from me as you can,” when he’s letting them in on his completely illegal wiretapping schemes.
Emily: And here lies the difference between Freamon and McNulty. McNulty made Bunk complicit in his serial killer scheme without a second thought. Freamon gives them a chance to run away. I love Freamon so much.
Sam: Agree. Also agree with McNulty when Freamon kept pushing and pushing, as he is wont to do, and McNulty called him “a supervisor’s nightmare.” It made me giggle.
Emily: It’s good that Freamon is making some wiretap progress, even if it is on the questionably legal side. Thanks to all of the attention on the serial killer case, they can’t get on a scene fast enough to fake the cause of death and tie on a red ribbon anymore. Anytime a homeless body shows up, all of the cops in the area are on it.
Sam: They finally got the attention they were hoping for, but not only did it bring a fraction of the resources they thought, it’s actually making it impossible to get more. At least someone’s benefiting; Scott’s getting national interviews! (Hooray…?)
Emily: Scott’s also nervous about all of the attention he’s getting for the exact same reason. Covering up a lie is really inconvenient sometimes.
Sam: More lies! More detecting! (Probably not) more spiriting away clearly ill homeless men to other states! And we’ve only got four episodes left in the whole series. I can hardly take it. See you next week?
Emily: See you next week!