Posts Tagged ‘Antonio Cordova’

Anything noteworthy happen in the news this past month? It’s good to have The Wire back in my life.

After a brief hiatus, we’re checking in with Episode 8 of 13 in Season 1. The aptly named Lessons is an expert lesson in writing and directing. No show has ever been as adept as The Wire at handling a handful of storylines overflowing with characters. Game of Thrones makes an attempt, but they fail awkwardly to give equal attention to developing characters and even whole storylines (ahem, Dorne). The Walking Dead is the fucking worst at this task—often alternating entire episodes that focus on a single location or character (if you’re lucky, you at least get a group of people for an episode). Oz did an admirable job, but The Wire is the unquestioned leader.

I know it’s hyperbole to say that every episode of The Wire feels like a movie. This first season isn’t nearly as cinematic as the show grows into later, but every episode is so jam-packed with enjoyable material that I find it more entertaining than most movies. The Wire never feels dull or stretched out when it briskly jumps from character to character (all fascinating in their own ways) to weave an overarching narrative. And the cherry on the top of this delicious television sundae is that the story actually means something. It’s not just one big circle jerk.

This episode opens with our favorite functional drunk Jimmy McNulty enjoying a day at the market with his boys. A little nugget for my enjoyment was the name drop of Melvin Mora when the boys are trying to match Baltimore Orioles players to their numbers—such as DAVID SEGUI! While at the market, McNulty spots Stringer Bell so he goads his kids into playing front and follow to track Stringer Bell.

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Even though he’s a criminal, I think it also shows that people (at least McNulty’s crazy ass) aren’t necessarily scared of Stringer Bell. He’s a bad dude, but String isn’t one to personally get his hands dirty. Of course, McNulty loses his kids while they are tailing Stringer—he has to stay out of sight so Stringer doesn’t recognize him. Fortunately, McNulty’s oldest son follows Stringer to his car and writes down his license plate number. Fucking Family McNulty.

With the license plate number, a bewildered McNulty tracks Stringer down to night class at the local community college. This buster is taking an Economics 101 course, and McNulty hears him getting a lecture about the elasticity of a product. In this episode, we also see Stringer trying to run a clean printing/copying place as a front with the typical Barksdale riffraff as the employees. Naturally, we see Stringer lecturing these mopes about the elasticity of their product because it’s not like the street—people can and will go elsewhere for the service.

Checking in with the investigation, Carver is earnestly studying for the Sgt.’s Exam while Herc is “reading” a titty magazine. Although Pryzbo has been a valuable member from the office (especially with helping crack the code), he’s still seen as a joke and garners no respect from his peers. Herc and Carver disregard a logical suggestion made by Pryzbo because it came from him, but they follow through when it’s in the form of an order from Kima—she has the stripes on her uniform. It’s all about chain of command, shitbird.

Wee-Bey, Stinkum, and Savino ransack where Omar’s place and find pictures of him with his boy toy. They also torch his van, but Omar is watching from a safe distance. To the Barksdale crew, Omar is just a fag, but they are severely underestimating him. Although Omar is seething with anger, he’s patiently waiting for his opportunity to strike. The Wire doesn’t get enough credit for crafting such a wonderful character as Omar—for my money, he’s the best character in television history. Sure, Omar is gay. But it’s only a part of his character. He’s a man with a code. He literally robs drug dealers and gives to the poor. Everyone on the street despises Omar, but they have to respect him to a degree because they are terrified when he comes around with that shotgun whistling a tune.

wallace

On the streets, we continue to see Wallace circling the drain. It’s another heartbreaking scene where Wallace is coming off a high and one of his siblings is in his room asking for help with math homework. His younger sibling can’t understand the math problem, but has no problem accurately taking the count in a similar hypothetical scenario posed by Wallace. Why? When the count be wrong, they fuck you up. Wallace has had enough with this life.

Meanwhile, the investigation has stumbled on another important find when they catch Ashy Larry driving out of the projects with thousands in drug money. If you recall, we previously met Ashy Larry as the crooked driver for Senator Clay Davis. The Barksdale crew’s drug money has far-reaching tentacles. If you follow the drugs, you’ll find criminals. If you start to follow the money, you don’t know what the fuck you’ll find.

poot

A nice throwaway scene in this episode happens when Wee-Bey, Stinkum, and Savino scoop up D’Angelo to celebrate by eating out. Tiny little Poot is adorable when he’s the de facto leader left in charge when D’Angelo leaves for a bit. Even though he’s standing on the couch in The Pit, Poot still only looks like he’s 4’5”. When the boys are eating, there’s another enjoyable nugget when Wee-Bey drenches his food in hot sauce. Wee-Bey nonchalantly says, “The trick is not to give a fuck,” before choking on the scorching hot food.

Near the end of the episode, Wee-Bey and Stinkum are on the trail of Omar—attempting to carry out a hit. However, Omar pops off first and nails Stinkum while wounding Wee-Bey in the leg. Omar leaves Stinkum laying dead in the street, but he graciously allows Wee-Bey to flee. He made his point. “You come at the king, you best not miss.” Stinkum’s death screws the investigation since they had him hanging on a charge. As a result, they pull in Omar for a meeting because his name is out there as responsible for Stinkum’s murder. It’s a fucking phenomenal scene where Omar outlines the truth of his world: “it’s either play or get played.”

bunk-trace-evidence

Lessons even manages to bring The Bunk into the fold. Cole caught Stinkum’s murder, and McNulty gets Bunk to lie for him by telling Cole that they have the murderer on the wire. However, they have to hold onto the name until they can give it up later—when they won’t give it up. Bunk carries that weight, but he also forces McNulty to lie for him by telling his wife that Bunk caught a murder and he’s out working tonight. Basically, Bunk has to get blackout drunk and fuck some bimbo at the bar to deal with Jimmy’s lie. One of the best drunk scenes in The Wire also happens here when McNulty is called to the bimbo’s home to retrieve Bunk. He even has to stop Bunk from burning the rest of his clothes—trying to get rid of the trace evidence because they smelled like pussy. Like with any drunken stupor, there’s a sliver of truth when Bunk proclaims, “You’re no good for people, Jimmy.”

Sweet dreams on the bottom bunk bed, Bunk.

omar-no-doubt

Quote of the Episode

“You come at the king, you best not miss.” — Omar

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So many phenomenal scenes punctuate The Wire—too many to keep track.

These scenes are like deafening exclamations that makes the show’s particular point resonate with people and thus permeate the boundaries of space and time. That’s not bullshit hyperbole. The Wire’s story is still eerily relevant. I could make a case that the crux of this show is more important today because people are finally starting to realize the societal issues we have and how we are making them worse. Case in point: the pervasiveness of drugs in inner cities, the lack of support in those communities to help those who are struggling, and the insane philosophy of policing that is more concerned with appearances than the actual matter of serving and protecting.

It’s still incredible that Season 1 initially aired 14 years ago on HBO.

If you’re searching through each season looking for memorable scenes, Old Cases offer two superb examples.

The first instance happens in the introduction as Herc is trying to push a desk through the doorway of the investigation’s office. One-by-one, other officers come to try to help. No instructions are given—just classic berating of one’s manhood for not being able to do the job. After a few minutes of hopeless effort from both sides, the desk hasn’t budged an inch. Expressing his confusion, Herc casually comments that he could move the desk by himself, but it must have gotten lodged and now they’ll never get the desk in. Everyone is in disbelief. No one bothered talking to one another to learn they were trying to push it through the doorway.

desk

On one side, officers were pushing. On the other side, officers were also pushing rather than pulling to work together. It’s a perfect microcosm of the police’s mentality—and the investigation, specifically. The team is actively working against each other by the simple virtue of not communicating with one another.

Miraculously, the only one who sits back and surveys the scene is Ol’ Lester Freamon. Cool Lester Smooth stays where he his while polishing his dollhouse furniture. It’s as if Lester is drinking in the stupidity surrounding him.

Elsewhere, Greggs and McNulty are doing what they can within their legal ability to pressure the Barksdale crew. But the investigation remains woefully unprepared for the force they’re facing. With the help of the Assistant State Attorney, the maximum sentence is pursued on a Barksdale drug dealer who was arrested with one gel cap and one vial. Despite the laughable volume of the product, the drug dealer is facing a 5-year sentence because of his prior record. It doesn’t matter, he takes the years without flinching. While this is a subtle scene, it shows the reach and strength of Avon Barksdale. The low-level drug dealer could’ve easily flipped to save himself.

But what would there have been to save? Rolling over would have only put a target on his back.

The Barksdale crew doesn’t fuck around. After the crew in The Pit was humiliated by Omar’s rip-and-run, Avon puts a bounty out for Omar and his boys. Avon wants a show—he wants to put Omar on display so that everyone knows that fucking with the Barksdale crew will get you got. Y’know, like those “cracker motherfuckers do when they kill a deer.” Just like the cops don’t know who they are messing with, Avon vastly underrates his nemesis.

omar-and-boys

In stark contrast to the story told about his brother (No-Heart Anthony), Omar is all heart. A “cocksucker with a lot of heart” doesn’t even begin to describe Omar. When an addict comes around crying about how her check is late, Omar brokers a deal and enables her to get her fix. Omar recognizes her game, but he has soft spot and cares for the kid. In this game, having a heart makes you exploitable. As fucked up as it is, that baby’s best hope is probably that drugged-out mom. There’s no respite to be found on the streets or in foster homes.

While the investigation is discussing their next step, Cool Lester Smooth whips his dick out on the table when he reveals to everyone that he found a pager number during the raid on The Pit. Lester also verified that the number is for D’Angelo Barksdale. For the investigation, this is a monumental step since they can now try to clone D’Angelo’s pager and develop a record of all the incoming/outgoing calls. It’s the main reason that the Barksdale organization is so careful and doesn’t use phones because they don’t want a paper trail as evidence.

Once you find a thread, you can unravel the whole operation.

Going back to the memorable opener, the police still need to be on the same page or all this fine work will be for nothing. Even after convincing Daniels that the wire is the only way to go, the investigation must still find a way to work the case without the intervention and interference of leadership. This case is not going to be won with street buys. It’s all building momentum towards an intensified game of cat-and-mouse.

The Wire beautifully juxtaposes this set-up with the story of how Lester Freamon ended up in the Pawn Shop Unit after working Homicide. Realizing that he has an ally in the field of natural police, McNulty takes Lester out for a drink to pick his brain. Lester ended up shuffling papers because he dared to do police work. When told not to include a robbery in a murder case (due to personal ties to the acting Commissioner), Freamon refused to heed that warning. When the case was done, Lester was locked up in the Pawn Shop Unit for 13 years…and 4 months.

Cool Lester Smooth is a constant source of sage advice. He’s also the type of man who declares he has to go to the bathroom by saying, “I gotta take a tinkle.” Most writers dream of creating this type of rich, illustrious character while David Simon just shits them out during his morning constitution.

kresson-case

With time to truly ruminate on the developments of this episode, Old Cases is an early favorite for mention on the list of Best Episodes of The Wire. It’s amazing to see how the story is advanced while also taking the time to flesh out several characters and immerse yourself in this world. If you’re searching for another iconic scene, McNulty and Bunk are here to indulge you. This is the episode where McNulty and Bunk visit the Kresson crime scene, which previous detectives completely bungled.  It’s also the scene where they communicate using only variations of the word “fuck.” McNulty and Bunk accurately recreate the events of the murder and find the evidence hiding in plain sight.

In The Pit, Bodie makes his way back home after escaping juvy.  That badass grabbed a mop and bucket, and walked right out the damn door.  Bodie is right too when he bristles and says that D’Angelo would still be there if it were him.  Of course, D’Angelo can’t stand to be one-upped, which is why he reminds Bodie that he was the one who just got off on a murder charge.  As a result, D’Angelo decides to tell the boys the story of how he killed Deirde Kresson.  Tap, tap, tap.  This scene comes across as so transparent like D’Angelo is trying to convince himself.

After studying this scene closely, Bodie seems skeptical.  I don’t think I ever noticed it before, but it makes sense.  Bodie appears to be one of the few self-aware characters on the street.  Guys like D’Angelo and Stringer are preoccupied with what others think because they rely on other people believing their bullshit.

Bodie knows he’s a soldier in this game.  It’s the only thing he’s ever known.

heaven-and-here

Quote of the Episode

“Thin line between heaven and here.”
— Bubbles