mcnulty-in-the-pit

The Detail starts to slowly reveal details on some of the game’s more substantial players.

It’s like unraveling a tightly wound ball of yarn—piece-by-piece. However, the boss (Avon Barksdale) remains largely out of sight. Avon is like a black unicorn. The myth and legend supersedes the man. The investigation into Barksdale doesn’t even have a picture of him. It’s pathetic. To them, he is a name without a face.

Since Avon is virtually untouchable at this stage, the cops try to get to him through his nephew. D’Angelo is adjusting to his demotion to running The Pit after almost ending up in jail on a murder charge. Lawrence Gilliard Jr. is captivating as the conflicted criminal compelled to stay in the family business of drugs and violence. It’s all he knows. But D’Angelo is as soft as butter. He wasn’t made for the game. Although it’s inadmissible in court, the slightest bit of pressure gets D’Angelo feeling guilty so he writes an apology letter to the victim’s family. It’s beautiful teamwork between Bunk and McNulty to carefully craft a strong line of bullshit to rattle D’Angelo.

dangelos-letter

I must comment on the phenomenal choice to almost exclusively dress D’Angelo in a turtleneck sweater. In that one seemingly minor decision, they convey the point that D’Angelo isn’t cut from the same cloth as Avon. He is out of place in this world, but he’s powerless to change his circumstances. He is expected to continue the family tradition. But you can start to see that D’Angelo has a good heart by how quickly he’s consumed by guilt—even though he’s not directly responsible for the death of the witness who testified in his murder case. Deep down, he knows who ordered the hit and D’Angelo is overwhelmed by the burden of that responsibility. D’Angelo is just trying to survive the game, but he’s finding out that it’s not a game at all. This is all terrifyingly real.

The slimy, weaselly lawyer for the Barksdale crew arrives just in the nick of time. Maurice Levy is epitome of a shitbag lawyer, and Michael Kostroff excels in the role. I feel like Kostroff’s filmography is stocked full of similarly-themed creeps—it’s his niche. I want to slap the smirk off his smug fucking face.

Seriously, I cannot stress how impressive The Wire is as an accomplishment. I don’t know how it’s possible to make so many high-caliber, movie-quality episodes. It’s a treat to go back and re-watch this TV show because it’ s a new experience each time. Since I know the story, I can really focus on the acting this time around and see how the characters bring everything together. There are too many great actors to name in this ensemble.

Even Nat Benchley (as Det. Polk) and Tom Quinn (as Det. Mahon) are rock-solid as drunk worthless sacks of shit. Polk and Mahon are dead weight meant to tie down the investigation. While it doesn’t seem that challenging in the grand scheme, Benchley and Quinn—two actors who I cannot recall seeing before or after this series—are extremely effective as believable, everyday drunks. Fucked up, but somewhat functional. Their eyes are squinted and stare far-off in the distance as their heads bob while trying to maintain the aura of sobriety during a meeting. The only contribution they make to the discussion is to ask about who approves overtime.

polk-and-mahon

In my research, an interesting tidbit of trivia is that “pogue mahone” is an Irish expression that roughly translates to “kiss my ass.” Although it is the name of one of their albums, The Pogues also considered calling their band Pogue Mahone. Polk and Mahon are nods to the Irish expression as well as The Pogues—whose music is often featured. Prior to The Wire, my awareness of The Pogues came from a Stephen Lynch song mentioning the hideousness of Shane MacGowan—he is quite possibly the ugliest man alive. But they’re an iconic Irish band.

Unlike any other show, The Wire created strong supporting characters and cast phenomenal actors to fulfill the roles. When I say strong supporting characters, it doesn’t mean they are all thoughtful or great at their jobs. The bumbling idiots are just as fun as the cool, calculated detectives. In particular, The Detail highlights the depths of Pryzbylewski’s incompetence, which now features an unintentional firing of his weapon inside to go along with intentionally shooting up his police car. Eventually, Przybo pistol-whips a kid in the eye with his gun in this episode. Somehow, he still seems to be one of the more innocent cops—especially with Herc coming off like a petulant child bitching and complaining about everything. Without question, Lt. Daniels has been given nothing worthwhile (save for a few exceptions) to operate this investigation. They have no hope of a substantial bust with their current approach.

If they can avoid tripping over their own feet, the investigation has potential.

Some damn fine police work can pick up the slack for a lot of shitbirds.

rawls

Quote of the Episode

“What the fuck did I do?”
– Jimmy McNulty

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