The Wire Watchalong: Season 5, Episodes 7 and 8

thewireseason5Welcome 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 7 and 8.

S05E07

Sam: I hate this show. I hate it when it’s good and I hate it when it’s less good and I hate it when it does things I don’t agree with and then makes me end up agreeing with them after all. I still don’t condone the serial killer nonsense but it earned a serious grudging respect this week when they weaseled their way into intercepting photos. It’s ending up pretty clever.

Emily: It’s too clever, though. There are way more writerly tricks in this season. I feel manipulated in a way that I didn’t during the previous four seasons.

Sam: Huh. I don’t really feel manipulated, perhaps because I don’t necessarily feel that engaged. This whole season has been kind of watching from a distance while characters I’m familiar with do things that are foreign, and it’s finally coming around to things I’m more familiar with, where the clever things click into place.

Emily: Maybe that’s closer to how I feel. It doesn’t feel like they’ve earned all of the cleverness. I’m constantly distracted, waiting for this to blow up in their faces.

Sam: Yeah, for serious. And they’re getting close, especially doing really insane things like placing their own fake calls. Though it’s the kind of thing McNulty was made for, walking in afterwards with the shit-eating grin to end all shit-eating grins being all “Wait, what’d I miss?”

Emily: Playing dumb comes so easily to him. I do love that Scott’s history of lying and embellishment is working to McNulty and Freamon’s advantage. He has to corroborate their manipulation or risk revealing his past indiscretions. Scott is an asshole.

Sam: Actively an asshole. I liked his freaked out “That was him! …again!” after McNulty called. While Scott is the bad kind of asshole, you can’t help but appreciate the really smooth ones. Clay Davis is kind of the best. He can spin anything. He’s giving his attorney an opportunity by letting him go up against the State’s Attorney, and for a mere $20k to his campaign, he says, “I’ll get myself indicted federal!” Oh Clay. Never change.

Emily: I kind of want Clay Davis to show up as a corrupt politician on any show whenever they need one. He’s just so slick about everything.

Sam: Everything! I really liked the awkward-but-still-so-great brief words on the courthouse steps as he went in for his trial. The slim volume of Prom-eh-thus Bound is such an inspiration to him in these troubling times.

Emily: He even knows how to mix intellect with ignorance to appeal to as many people as possible. “Look at me, I’m smart but I didn’t grow up with a lot of advantages so I don’t know things like how to pronounce Prometheus.”

Sam: Even his mugging for the camera is perfectly calibrated. Our other favorite politician is back to doing the annoying kind of being a politician, which is to say, campaigning and raising money instead of Mayoring. He remains delightful, though. “A lot of people want Tommy Carcetti to be their fucking governor. I can’t imagine what they’re thinking…”

Emily: Considering he can never find a way to consistently fund both the schools and the police department and pretty much has no stomach for working with Republicans, he has a point. He’d probably make a terrible governor.

Sam: You know, I hadn’t ever really considered that. But the first two points go together, and if they could resolve neatly, he could make a fantastic governor. The reason he couldn’t fund both the schools and the police is because he turned down the Republican governor’s money. If he could work with Republicans, the money would flow more freely and I think it would be easier to get things done.

Emily: But if he took the Republican governor’s money, he would probably never get a Democratic nomination for another office ever again. Partisan politics are the worst. Dammit David Simon, fine. I get your point.

Sam: Hahaha. David Simon wins! Elsewhere in the police department and in writing that actually works, wow, was that bit with Kima interviewing the family of one of the homeless men rough. The mom trying so hard not to cry was really hard to watch.

Emily: This episode was just full of really wonderful Kima scenes. The families of those men already have such complicated feelings about their homeless relatives and now they feel guilty over a situation that’s not even real. Then Kima’s doing all of that background instead of getting to investigate her real triple homicide.

Sam: It was really rough. I did enjoy her lighter moments, in assembling (or failing to assemble) the IKEA furniture. McNulty had the best line in that situation, asking what kind of Scotch she was using. Heaven knows it’s his most significant construction tool. At least some work is getting done in the department, giving Carver the opportunity to grin broadly as he delivers Michael to Bunk.

Emily: I just wish he didn’t have to interrupt the scene between Michael and Dukie. More of Dukie’s dancing, please! It distracts me from him probably having no future.

Sam: Kid’s got some moves! Man! I’m so proud of Carver. He knows his people now so when they want him to bring in this guy Bunk only knows by name, Carver knows who to go pull. He’s finally learning. McNulty will never learn anything and he’s still up to his ears in it in the meantime. He’s the new boss, basically. On the plus side, he’s not impeding other people’s policework. On the minus side, it’s increasingly ridiculous and illegal the way everything is routed through him.

Emily: But unlike Clay Davis, McNulty’s misappropriated funds are at least being used to do policework where Davis was pretending his basketball charity money was actually helping the poor people in his district. Of course, routing all of the requests for extra resources through McNulty is a really good way to draw attention to himself and that’s the last thing that he needs right now.

Sam: For serious. It’s a very McNulty plan- he wanted the attention for the resources but didn’t realize that it would bring with it, well, attention, so he wouldn’t be able to use them all willy-nilly. To wrap up the police report (ha!), Daniels is at home in a scene in this episode, but at least he’s not wearing sleeves. He still shouldn’t be wearing a shirt at all outside the office, but a full dress shirt is just cruel and unusual. We’ve said it before; the options are uniform or nothing. I thought it was very Wire-y when he was indeed in uniform and there were the twin briefing sessions. Daniels tells his men that the reporter is in the middle of all of it; cut to Gus telling Scott in front of the crowed that he’s in the middle of it.

Emily: That scene was kind of the writers and director showing off but it worked really well so I’ll let it pass. It’s a big part of why this episode actually felt like it was moving somewhere. On the subject of Daniels’s sleevelessness, not only do I approve, but Ronnie was also smart enough to touch him in that state. I don’t care how often you get to, when Daniels is just walking around with his arms uncovered and you’re allowed to touch him, you do not let that opportunity go by. No trial prep can get in the way of that.

Sam: Amen. From the newsroom, at least this mandate to cover homelessness is doing something vaguely positive. A reporter started talking to Bubbles (who’s serving now, so, good that he made some peace with his HIV status). Everyone should talk to Bubbles. He’s the best.

Emily: And it lets them draw attention to the fact that a lot of soup kitchens serve unemployed and underemployed people with homes. All around, using the homeless as your vulnerable population for your fake serial killer is a net positive for the homeless community. You know, other than needlessly making them and their families think that there’s a serial killer out to get them.

Sam: Besides that minor detail. Of course, not all repeat killers are serial killers, and our favorite killer is continuing his rampage against Marlo and co. And, honestly, coming a little unhinged. Omar doesn’t usually kill random innocent people, and usually association with the people he’s after isn’t enough to change the “innocent” status that much. Though I did enjoy the drug dealers finding their colleague tied up, and when he said it was Omar, their first question was “Why are you still alive then?”

Emily: Omar is definitely losing it. Granted, you would be too if you were constantly trying to outrun people trying to kill you on a broken leg that hasn’t been properly set and using a makeshift crutch. Is it paranoia if people really are out to get you?

S05E08

Emily: And when it comes down to it, Omar was right to be watching his back. Of course, it’s hard to avoid your killer when you don’t know that you should be looking out for someone who doesn’t even come up past your waist while you’re just trying to pick up a pack of cigarettes.

Sam: I have to say, while I was sad it finally happened, I came into the series knowing exactly these things: there was someone called McNulty, there was someone called Stringer Bell, there was someone called Omar and he was gay and he died. That was it. I was just waiting for it the whole series; I think we both were. String’s death affected me way more because I was blindsided like I was supposed to be. At least Omar got to remain awesome up until his death; I liked him knocking on the door where he knew the stash was and saying “Don’t make me come in now,” and then they tossed out the drugs. Love him.

Emily: Even though I knew it was coming, to the point that I actually thought it was going to happen last season, I love that he continued to be able to swagger through a neighborhood intimidating pretty much anyone he came across almost to the end.

Sam: Agreed. And it’s kind of fitting that it was Kenard who did. That little kid’s been a mouthy punk the whole time. And at least this way Marlo didn’t win. I mean, he kind of did because Omar’s dead, but he didn’t get the satisfaction of having one of his people do it directly. The writers really did want to wring it out, though. Between his body in the morgue and the newspaper passing on it- wrote the story, but “scratch the murder, we don’t have room.” Aww.

Emily: And they don’t have room for the real murder because their pages are full from the fake ones and all of the reporting on the homeless surrounding them. Even Omar’s legacy gets wiped away by McNulty’s meddling.

Sam: As the phrase goes: “Dammit, McNulty!” It’s really about to break. Kima knows now (called it, accurately, “some fucked up McNulty shit”), and he’s getting actively blackmailed now. The police tried to spin it as a case but when McNulty said no, it’s like, well, I’ve got this tee-time, and you can’t really tell anyone no or we’ll tell, so…

Emily: We haven’t gotten to see it often but I’ve always liked Bunk and Kima working together. Maybe we’ll get to see them form the Fuck You, McNulty Club in the last two episodes. They’d have plenty of people willing to join.

Sam: Most of the city of Baltimore, at this point. Though it did lead to at least one great moment this episode because the profiling was excellent. It described McNulty to a delightful and uncanny degree.

Emily: It was really great to watch him squirm. He didn’t think about the things like serial killers usually attacking around the same time of day or anything. It’s always great when someone accurately calls out McNulty’s ego. He generally has good intentions but he’s almost entirely made of ego and self-interest.

Sam: Truer words were never spoken (written?). Speaking of ego, I also liked the throwaway bit when the newspaper guys were on their smoke break talking about psychopaths and someone brings up that they interviewed Dick Cheney once. That’s the kind of thing this season is- a little too actually political, a little too blunt, but still amusing. It wouldn’t be the great show it is if this was all five seasons but I’ll give it some leeway for being the last one. At least the reporter’s going to follow Bubbles around some more. He’s the best. He should be the person people are writing about, not McNulty’s bullshit.

Emily: It’s always nice when we get to follow up with some of the street people that we’ve known from the beginning. Bubbles will, of course, always be the one we’re rooting for the most but it was really nice to see one of the original corner boys make it out. Selling shoes isn’t glamorous but it’s got to lead to a brighter future than pushing heroin.

Sam: You survive past age 30, working at a shoe store. I was so pleased and legitimately surprised to see Poot show up again. So some can get out. Of course, it took the decimation of his entire associated enterprise but he surely could have joined up with Marlo or someone if he wanted. That made me happy. You know what doesn’t make me happy? Dousing a cat in flammable liquids, even fake, even on a show. Arrrrghhhh, so mad.

Emily: Kenard is a little shit. So many perfectly wonderful kids have died or clearly gotten stuck on the streets over the course of this show and that’s depressing. I’d be fine if Kenard never makes it out in exchange for the ones who might actually have a chance at a future.

Sam: Tough but fair. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of conclusion (if any, any at all) we get in the next two episodes. Everything’s coming to a head. McNulty’s nutso serial killer thing has finally turned the taps on full blast. Carcetti even gave permission to use rental cars. Jeez. There’s no way this is going to go well for almost anyone involved and we’ve almost run out of show. I can’t handle it.

Emily: On that cheerful note, see you next week?

Sam: See you next week!

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