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April 18, 2014

The Wire: The Dickensian Aspect

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Feb 10th 2008 10:02PM

Clarke Peters as Det. Lester Freamon in The Wire.
(S05E06) "If you have a problem with this, I understand completely." - Freamon

I thought the theme of this season was supposed to be newspapers and the media? Maybe it's just me, but more than any other season of The Wire, this one seems to be focusing the least on its stated theme. Other than the steady story of Scott "worst journalist ever" Templeton, we really don't see The Sun as much as I'd like. I love Gus Haynes. He's a great character and I hope that the final four episodes take a little more time to dig deeper into his role.

That being said, I realize this is the final season and I'm hugely appreciative that any and all plots (new and old) are being addressed. Most shows don't take the time to wrap everything up properly. Remember the final season of Alias? What a mess. I just think things could be a bit more evenly balanced.

Take this episode -- homeless overload! (OK, I'm done, you can breathe. That's the first and probably only time I'll ever complain about The Wire. This show has earned my trust a hundred times over and then some.)

I think the best way to describe this episode is that things are starting to get messy. Cause and effect. Push and pull. One thing gains some forward movement only to send something else backwards. More directly, Lester and Jimmy are in a world of shit. Unless something drastic happens, I don't see this ending well. The fact that Templeton has altered the scenario only complicates matters.

When the whole "fake serial killer" idea took root, both Jimmy and Lester oversimplified what would be required to achieve their goal of nailing Marlo. In theory, it all seemed much simpler. But now that the case has become a true red-ball (despite the fact that no money and only one more detective has been thrown at it), it's becoming harder and harder for Jimmy to juke the case based on Lester's needs. He can't even get near a fresh homeless body without a swarm of other cops at the scene before him. I'll come back this...

Moving on, let's talk about Marlo and Omar. This has become the opposite of a chess game. It went from being a calculated and carefully executed ballet and now it's just madness. Omar is blowing money up! Chris is pissed. Snoop is pissed. Marlo is pissed. And Omar has a busted ankle. How great was is that he hid in a janitor's closet right near the balcony he jumped from? It never occurred to anyone that he was probably hurt and didn't get far? Obviously not since Snoop searched every hospital in the city. Even Marlo confessed that it must have been some "Spiderman shit." Marlo is smart though, offering up a huge bounty and blaming Omar for the deaths of Hungry Man and Prop Joe. Even though nobody believes him (especially Fat Face Rick), who cares? Find Omar, get money. Everyone in the co-op is going to need extra cash anyway since Marlo has doubled the price on the package. What's the saying? Marlo isn't a businessman; he's a business, man.

On to my weekly rant about how much I hate Scott Templeton. This week, he wasn't that bad. He actually listened to advice from Whiting and Gus, followed through with his plan to spend a night among Baltimore's homeless, and then took the time to interview(!) a real live person. An ex-marine to be exact. And you know what happened? It was a great article that even Gus said felt "real." So it just goes to show that if Scott wasn't so uppity and full of himself and just did his job, he's not half bad at it. All that came crashing down fast though when Fletcher brought Gus some questionable news about one of Scott's recent articles on a mother who died of seafood poisoning. The sister of the deceased told Scott a scholarship fund had been started for her nieces and nephews, but any money that came in (as a direct result of Scott's article) fed the sister's gambling addiction instead. Gus asked Scott to look into it. He never did and instead fed Gus some crap about the whole situation. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of that.

Next up I want to talk about Bond, because I have some theories on him. First off, I think my prediction about Clay walking in court is starting to play out. Bond told Rhonda that he personally wants to be the one to try Clay. (Based on that and even though he's never said anything, Bond clearly wants to run for mayor in the next election.) Here's the thing though and Rhonda was quick to point this out. This is a huge landmark case and Bond hasn't tried anything in a long time. This probably isn't the right opportunity to get back on the horse. I'm calling it again: Bond is going to make a fool of himself. Couple in the loose charity fraud charges and recall that he's not bringing up anything regarding the loan falsification charges (or else the case would have to go federal) and I see no way that Clay Davis loses.

My other theory about Bond? I'm wondering if he's the leak. It's not too far-fetched, so hear me out. Obviously his eyes bugged out when Rhonda showed him the manila folder stuffed with Xeroxed sealed indictment forms that Holley found in Prop Joe's desk drawer. Who wouldn't be surprised? So here's my argument. First off, I know this show serves story first and character second, but for this thread to play out properly... we need a shock. Who else have we met that can deliver that? Possibly Judge Phelan and that could be why he was so leery of going against The Sun when Jimmy wanted to tap Scott's cell phone. If Phelan is the leak, he wouldn't want anyone digging up dirt on him. I still think it may be Bond though. It's not unimaginable to think that Bond knew Prop Joe from years ago. Joe knew Burrell from school after all. Maybe it's an old connection. That being said, it would explain why he was fine with letting the row house murders get shelved as long as he could still take on Clay. He wants out of the DA seat and into the mayor's chair. Clay Davis gets him there. Marlo Stanfield doesn't. If Bond gets busted now, he's replaced. If he gets busted and he's mayor, he isn't going anywhere and he'll have a lot more leverage to manipulate until his term is over. So there you go, I know it's a little loose... just a theory.

Let's talk Bunk. He's the only one really doing his job, following up leads on Michael's dead step-father and Lex. He even went to talk to Randy at the group home. Great scene, huh? A year living there and that kid has changed. He went from timid to cop hating bully. I suppose you can't really blame him though, even though his entire predicament is only Herc's fault. Between Randy keeping his mouth shut and the complete ineptitude of the Baltimore Police Department Crime Lab (22 murders mislabeled!), it doesn't look like Bunk's getting anywhere.

OK, back to Jimmy and Lester. They're not seeing eye to eye and Jimmy even called Lester a "supervisor's nightmare." The guy does have a lot of demands. Either way, the discovery that Marlo is using the phone to send pictures is going to require some fresh probable cause in Jimmy's case. But he can't get near a body now. So instead, he kidnapped a homeless guy, snapped some photos of him on an unmarked cell phone, then drove him to a shelter in Richmond, Virgina, and gave the shelter attendant fake ID on "Larry." Now he can send the photos to Scott, claiming to be the killer. Since he can't alter any real bodies, Jimmy can just make people disappear. Done deal. Remember what I said earlier? This is getting messy. It feels sloppy. Won't someone recognize Larry at the shelter when his photo hits the news? This is a national story now! The unfortunate thing is that Marlo is going to require more and more manpower and that means more and more from Jimmy's twisted mind. The well hasn't run dry yet, but it will.

More thoughts...

  • Listening to Whiting blabber on and on about "Dickensian aspect" this and "Dickensian aspect" that is hilarious. I honestly don't think he fully understands what the phrase means or refers to, but he seems to find a way to inject it into everything he says. You need a bit more than some homeless interviews to fully encapsulate the meaning of "Dickensian." But hey, what do I know? Whiting has a stay-at-home wife who volunteers a few times a week at the local public school! (He seems to think that makes him smarter though...)
  • How great was it when Rawls handed off to Daniels during the press conference? You could see on Rawls' face what he was thinking: "Let's throw the new guy to the dogs." Then Daniels got up there and handled himself better than Rawls ever has. And Carcetti noticed.
  • Absolute favorite scene of the season thus far? When Tommy was introducing the New Westport condominium project with that sleazeball Krawczyk by his side. The whole time, I was sitting there thinking, "Man, this would be a great opportunity for Nicky Sobotka to show up and raise some hell." Thirty seconds later? Sobotka! Cursing out the mayor for "tearing down the port of Baltimore and selling it to yuppie assholes." Season two is still my favorite Wire season and if you recall, it was hard enough back then for a stevedore to maintain steady work. Think of how bad Nick will have it when that whole portion of the port is swallowed by Carcetti's "legacy."
  • Jimmy talking to Larry (the homeless guy) in the car on the way to Virgina was hilarious. As if he expected crazy Larry to start having a normal conversation with him.
  • I'm not quite sure why, but it seemed awfully appropriate that Scott's TV appearance was on Nancy Grace.
  • Heineken beer bottles. One man's drink (Lester) is another man's fake gun (Omar).

If last week was the tip of the iceberg, we're definitely sliding down the side of it now. What started out as something small in Jimmy's eyes has become larger than he could have ever imagined. The ironic thing is that no one really seems to care. National news coverage? Yes. More money from the department? No. My one final question? Say this works. Say Lester gets what he needs and can nail Marlo. Then what? Can he really attribute all this to an informant? It seems highly likely that what he and Jimmy have done will be uncovered. Even if Marlo goes to jail, are Jimmy and Lester willing to go with him?

Who do you think is the courthouse leak?
Bond75 (40.5%)
Phelan19 (10.3%)
someone we haven't met yet...91 (49.2%)

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cuttie type

In reply to Ricks comments on the co-op. As we see the Greeks aren't as strict as they used to be when it comes to dealing w/ who is the front for the drug trade, as long as that person gets the money right!! That's why Omar and the rest of the co-op would still have a chance to get the good dope from them. As Rick James would say "Greed(cocaine) is a hell of a drug"

February 11 2008 at 3:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cuttie type

Oh yeah! Forgot to add. Scott hates The Sun and his job so much that he even wears the Kansas City Star t-shirt while he is on an assignment?? What a sleaze!! This guys got to go down, Shiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

February 11 2008 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cuttie type's comment
David

After watching the episode I wished I was a black man so I could say "sheeeeeeeeeeeet" like Clay Davis did. That was classic!

February 11 2008 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
khal

I love these reviews; always hits on the point i am thinking of. great work!

February 11 2008 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cuttie type

Geat recap, keep em coming!! I think the writting and blend of each story this season has been the best of all. We get to spend time with each element of the Wire in every episode, what a way to go out!!! I think Marlo is moving way too fast and hard for the co-op. He seems to have little support from the others and is now making alot of changes that were usually agreed upon. I think the other CEO's, as Slim put it, will be more than willing to help Omar on his mission. Look for the reluctant leader, Omar to take Marlo's top postion on the co-op by seasons end. Once again the BEST show on television!!!

February 11 2008 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cuttie type's comment
Ricky

The other Co-op members at the current moment cant attack Marlo. Marlo is the only connection to the Greeks and the good dope. Thus he holds the power, just like Joe held the power when he was the connect. The only reason the Co-op existed and thrived was because the other druglords had to have the good dope to make any money. If the co-op take out Marlo or aid Omar, they will lose their connection to the Greeks and be forced to sell inferior dope to a customer base that knows quality. Killing Marlo without having the greek connection is probably a bad business decision and these druglords know it. The only way Marlo goes down by the Co-op's doing is if they can find another source of quality dope

February 11 2008 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john

re: Scott Templeton

I think from the look on Gus' face, the scholarship fund stuff was a test. Gus has been suspicious of some of Scott's articles so fed him a fake story to see if he would be confused when his phone calls went nowhere. Now Gus knows he's lying, although ironically on a day when he did some real reporting...

February 11 2008 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chris

woke up from out a dead sleep with the following thoughts in my mind...

1) Bunk will actually crack chris/snoop case via Michael - thanks to DNA on the dead molester or Michael 'fessing about the triple homocide earlier this season (the one with the kid running out the back.

2) The co-op will do in Marlo. I think Fat Face Rick will spread the word that Omar obviously didn't shoot Hungry or Prop Joe. I think Marlo finally gets capped from a co-op coup.

3) Did anyone see the mini-ep about Prop Joe in middle school? WOW awesome - remember last year- Randy selling candiy at lunch - alwys looking for the angle. Randy Wagstaff, son of Cheese Wagstaff who is Nephew to Prop Joe... commerce must be in the blood.

4) Poor McNulty... poor poor mcnulty.

February 11 2008 at 2:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James J. Gutierrez

For all the flash, smoke and mirrors the McNulty and Freeman are doing it seems like Bunk may solve Marlo case on good old fashioned Police work.

I think Scott Templeton may be going down...but not for anything he faked but for the one true interview he did. That Marine story will be his down fall. It reeks of fakeness...way too many details.

February 11 2008 at 1:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rambn

McNulty has the fucking balls to say Lester is a pain in the ass? Give me a break.

February 11 2008 at 1:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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