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October 4, 2015

The Wire: Clarifications

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Feb 24th 2008 10:03PM

Michael K. Williams as Omar Little on 'The Wire.'
(S05E08) "A lie ain't a side of a story. It's just a lie." - Terry Hanning

Rest in peace Omar Little. Wow. Honestly, that's all I really want to talk about. So let's get everything else out of the way first. I'll come back to Omar. Where to start then? How about my weekly rant on Scott Templeton? When I first saw that quote at the head of the episode, I was wondering who the hell Terry Hanning was. I figured he must hold some weight if his quote was the one selected to grace the episode though. Then we saw him. The military vet that Scott "interviewed" under the bridge the day he went slumming with the homeless. I've been waiting all season for a moment like this.

Essentially, Scott did write up Terry's story about his time serving the USA over in Iraq. But then Scott did what he does best. He added more details, fudged some stuff, and painted a completely fake picture for his readers. He probably felt pretty confident at the time because, hey, some homeless guy ain't ever gonna read the paper. Wrong. So here's Terry, in the conference room with Scott and Gus, and it's pretty much a "his word against my word" situation. Scott even has some valid points that Gus agrees with. Terry's a drinker and maybe he doesn't remember what was said that day. Fair enough.

I think in his heart, Gus really wants to believe Scott. But as with everything Gus looks at, it comes down to the details. Sure, Terry could be in there making a stir just for the hell of it. One thing stood out though. Scott said they drank coffee and later, all Terry could mumble was that they had chocolate milk. Why would Terry have any motive to lie about something little like that? Gus already knows Scott is willing to lie about something unimportant since he caught him on the fish lady correction. The seed was already planted. Terry's accusation simply added water and sunlight.

So by the time Scott had written up his article on Carcetti's homeless rally with another unnamed source, Gus spiked it. Makes sense though! There were hundreds of homeless people there who willingly showed up, fully knowing they'd probably be on the evening news and Scott happens to quote the one woman who wishes to remain anonymous? Yeah right! It's hilarious watching him try to defend his lies. He knows he's been caught but has no choice but to lie. That or he whines to Klebanow. I just can't wait to watch him crumble completely in the final two episodes.

The Scott Templeton story alone has raised this season in my opinion. He's just so sleazy. By comparison, you have someone like Fletcher who's actually doing his job and writing up quality (true) pieces (I can't wait for his write up on Bubbles), and it makes Scott look even worse.

Alright, moving on to Jimmy, Lester, and the Marlo detail. Tommy gave Jimmy carte blanche. Unlimited OT. Unlimited men. And even a company account at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. This might be the first, last, and only time you seen Baltimore cops rolling around in shiny Lexus' loaded with GPS and Sirius radio. Some points:

  • First off, I think Jimmy made a huge mistake by telling Kima the truth. You knew she'd be against it and she was. Bringing Carver into the mix might be bad for business too. Granted, Jimmy didn't tell Ellis the whole truth, but he can figure it out. What if he realizes he's being used for the non-existent detail? Let's not forgot that early on this season, Carver developed a new found respect for his job and was willing to write-up Colicchio. The guy has gone straight and if he realizes he's an accomplice to an illegal wire-tap (one that he inadvertently started by handing over that number), there's no way he stays quiet.
  • What's Lester's angle by blackmailing Clay? He went to the US Attorney to see if they'd try Clay for the loan falsification and got rejected. Fine. Can't Clay figure that out though? Lester wants answers (not money) and I'm guessing if he can't take down Clay, he'll use Clay to take down someone else? But who? Royce? Maury Levy? Tommy? Who else is worth going after in Lester's mind?
  • I'm glad Sydnor was able to crack the clock code and match it to the grids of an atlas. Two things bugged me though. One, it seemed awfully convenient that Sydnor just happened to have the same atlas that Marlo's crew was using and two, I really wish Prez had been involved with the code cracking.
  • How hilarious was the scene when Jimmy and Kima went to the FBI for a profile of the "killer?" The description was McNulty dead on, t's crossed and i's dotted. Absolutely friggin' hilarious. (Kima: "What do you think" Jimmy: "Uh... they're in the ballpark.")
  • Why did Jimmy come clean with Beadie? She was pissed after taking the kids away for a few days but came back and seemed willing to give McNulty one more shot. I realize he has a guilty conscience, but at this point, he has no reason to believe that this mess won't come out clean. Granted, some of the other detectives have figured out ways to manipulate what Jimmy is doing (weekends at Hilton Head), but still. Why tell Beadie and kill his last chance of making a life with her?

Now let's talk about Carcetti. It's amusing that he went from having no real platform to run for governor to being the favorite to win the seat for a democrat. Thank Jimmy McNulty's grotesque imagination. As a result though, we've seen Carcetti slip. He's aware he has a shot now and has shifted into "do whatever it takes mode." He's backing a homeless agenda that, let's be honest, will not be on his list of priorities should he get elected, he's doling out Baltimore's sorely needed school money to other counties, and he's making deals left and right with people like Nerese and Clay. Everything he ever stood for is being thrown out the window and the worst part is that people who were once on that same level as him (Norman and Steintorf) are right there nudging him along. The only person who seems to realize that he might not win and then become public enemy number one in the eyes of Baltimore families with school age children is his wife, Jennifer. Power may change you, but the chance of getting even more of it can really twist someone.

More thoughts...

  • I was really surprised that Bunk used Jimmy's position to juke some paperwork for a DNA check. While it did provide Bunk a link between Bug's daddy's murder and Chris Partlow, it was still very unlike Bunk. This whole time he's been railing on Jimmy for how wrong he is and now he buys into it? He did repay the favor by giving that slip of paper to Jimmy from Omar's hand (I'm getting to him! Really!). If not for that, Lester would have never had a reason to suspect Cheese had any involvement. Let's not forget that the co-op was never found out by the police.
  • Anyone else cringe when Rawls made that comment about "kinky shit" when talking about the homeless killings? All I could think of was two things. One, the time we briefly saw Rawls in a gay bar and two, the time Landsman saw that graffiti in the men's room ("Rawls Sucks Cock") and laughed it off as if to say, "everyone knows that." I wonder if there was ever any real significance in suggesting that Rawls was a homosexual?
  • Poot! Working at a shoe store! What did he say? Something like "shit got old?" I guess Bodie's murder really got to him. It's interesting though, as we see Michael making the same mistakes that Bodie did. Running his mouth about how Marlo conducts himself and all. Michael isn't stupid though. He's too smart to put himself in a position where someone can sneak up behind him and pull a trigger.
  • Dukie got a job hauling scrap metal with the junk man. It's kind of sad actually. He could really do so much better, even though he's only 15. Why doesn't he go and see if Prez can help him find better work? Or get him into a better school maybe?

OK... here we go. Omar. At first, I was really pissed off. I mean, how could they just go and kill off one of the top three characters in this show? This feels worse than when Stringer was killed. But then I thought about it. One thing to keep in mind is that on The Wire, plot serves story and not character. If a death makes sense, then it happens. The more you think about it, Omar's death made sense. First off, he got cocky. Hobbling around like that, anyone could have popped him before he had a chance to react. Omar kept going out and hitting Marlo's stash houses not because of his skills, but because of his reputation. When you've got a bum leg, rep only gets you so far and all it takes is for one person to realize, I could take him. It's a simple conclusion, one that even a little boy could make.

Enter Kenard. We've always known him to be a little punk with a giant chip on his shoulder to prove himself worthy. Remember when he tried to steal Namond's package until Michael beat the crap out of him? The kid is street hardened. Hell, we first saw him in this episode pouring lighter fluid on an alley cat! But he's got that goofy, adorable face. Who would ever suspect him to have a gun lodged in the back of his baggy jeans? Not Omar.

There's really no rule that says if Omar had to die, then it needed to be in a giant shoot-out with Marlo. Sure it would have been fun, but let's be honest - that's what happens in the movies. Granted The Wire is still a TV show, but it's about as real as it gets. Look at it this way. Remember Omar's motto? If there was ever a moment in this show that absolutely screams, "all in the game," then this was it.

How do you feel about Omar's death?
It was perfect.345 (61.4%)
It was bullsh*t!217 (38.6%)

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listen, omar being killed by kenard was just stupid.
david simon et.al got a little too cute and clever on
this one in a forced attempt to "keep it real". and
not having any storyline about dennis "cutty" wise
made this season a disappointment for me but hey
that's me. i enjoy reading all of the above opinions.

March 27 2008 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was also spoiled. While in some ways I agree with Jonathan's "It already aired" argument, it's a new day. DVRs and busy lives; some people can't watch a show the night it airs. It came up in my RSS reader and the spoiler was so clearly put at the top that my eyes strayed to it for a second while I bookmarked the post and switched to the next one. I guess that one's partly on me.

But thanks for being dismissive and rude to those of us who were spoiled. Also, "It was on HBO.com" is a ridiculous justification. The last place I'm going to go when I haven't seen the episode yet is the home page for the show.

Oh well. What's done is done.

That said, I expected him to get killed before the season was out, and every scene since he returned to Baltimore I've been expecting him to die. So it's not that surprising in the end. But I'd rather be shocked while watching the episode, not while paging through my RSS feeds.

February 28 2008 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
O.G. loc

I still don't see why it couldn't have been put after the jump though.I'm not that bright I guess. Someone please explain. What are the benefits of major storyline points (we won't call them spoilers) being relayed in that first paragraph? I seriously want to know. Thanks. Love the site.

February 27 2008 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to O.G. loc's comment

Agreed. Jonathan's attitude is downright poor. This "after the jump" thing would take two seconds. I was out of town and couldn't catch the Wire. Guess I'm an idiot or not a real fan or something.

February 27 2008 at 10:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lemon Lyman

"HBO and TWOP did it, too!" doesn't make it better. But I guess you're right, all the people who read that and had the episode ruined are ridiculous, so who cares about them when all they ask is just a word or two at the beginning of the review: "warning, spoilers". Too much to ask... At least we know how understanding you are with your dear readers.

February 26 2008 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lemon Lyman's comment
Jonathan Toomey

It's an episode *review.* Of course it's going to contain info/opinion on the episode. You shouldn't need a bold-typed disclaimer to know that.

February 27 2008 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jonathan, I understand your position, I really do. Omar's death is one of the biggest things that has ever happened in the 58 episodes of The Wire (and most likely all 60). By the very nature of it's hugeness, though, you should be slightly more cautious.

I watch a lot of TV and DVR is my very good friend because of that. If I haven't seen an episode of Lost yet, I don't go to the Lost sites that I frequent. If I haven't seen an episode of the The Wire yet I don't go to hbo.com or the TWOP section for The Wire.

However, I come to tvsquad everyday for TV news (and I do avoid the reviews for shows I haven't seen, but you still have to scroll past them). I am just asking you to be a little bit more understanding of the opposing position.

February 26 2008 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do feel for those who visited the TVsquad site and had Omar's death spoiled from that first line. Not saying TVsquad should have done anything different, but of all the shit to have spoiled, this is a pretty big one. I was listening to NPR one day and they were getting ready to talk about Six Feet Under. I knew it was in its last season but I hadn't watched it yet, and right away, they announce that Nate died. These days you can't really avoid such things.

February 26 2008 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The author says: "If it already aired, it ain't a spoiler. Sorry"

Pretty arrogant thing to say when so many readers were obviously unhappy. I expect there to be spoilers. I don't expect to have them forced on me.

I read this blog for news and reviews, and if I haven't seen a show, I can normally skip over the review. But putting such a major plot point in the first sentence made it impossible to avoid; it is just a thoughtless thing to do. If you make it impossible to avoid spoilers, there is not much point if visiting this site.

February 26 2008 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bobinnv's comment
Jonathan Toomey

This has got to stop guys. You're all being ridiculous. How could you not mention Omar's death as the first item in a review of this episode? I'm not the only one and clearly others feel the same way! HBO had it on their front page as I previously mentioned, TV without Pity (they have a great review too!) has it at the top of their post as well:


There were *plenty* of places you could have seen this. Bottom line still remains, don't read it if you haven't watched it. Why risk that if you're truly a fan of any show?

February 26 2008 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Get off Jonathan's back. You could have found the info on Omar getting killed from any number of sources. Just by coming to this website, you know what you are getting yourself into. They review shows. Reviews have spoilers.

By the time I saw the first series of "Torchwood" here in the US (about a year after it first aired in the UK), I already knew the plots of every episode. Why? Because I couldn't wait to see what it was all about and read the reviews here after their original airings. Did that spoil my enjoyment of the show any when I finally saw it? No!

If you don't want to know what happens, don't even bother coming here until after you've seen the show.

February 26 2008 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It really surprises me that you feel no remorse for the many people who actually did have their enjoyment of the show spoiled by your first line. Surely you realize that a technical definition is cold comfort to those Wire fans who tried to avoid your review but couldn't help catching the first line as they scrolled past. I don't see how you could make a case that your first line achieves anything other than spoiling the moment for those who haven't seen it - you don't even discuss the scene until much later in your review - so why mention it in the lede at all? A conscientious editor, one who respected the diversity of motives that drive your audience to this site, would have spiked your lede, like Gus did to Scott.
But its just like a classy Red Sox fan to have no regret for being a jerk, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

February 26 2008 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Now I don't get to watch The Wire until Monday night, but everyday I read tvsquad. I like to read the articles about TV news, the various lists that the different writers come up with, and the reviews. I scroll past reviews of shows that I haven't been able to watch yet. Today as I scroll though the different headlines I see the review for The Wire and try to diligently scroll past it as to not read anything, but you can't help your eyes for catching a few words.

Usually the few words mean very little, today it was "Rest in peace Omar Little."

I know it isn't a spoiler anymore because the show has aired, but I come to this site for more than just the reviews. I'm just saying, did it have to be the very first line?

February 26 2008 at 1:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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