Posts Tagged ‘Clayton LeBouef’

basketball-game

Game Day starts with an opener featuring Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell securing a promising young basketball as their ringer for the East vs. West Baltimore Projects Basketball Game. It’s a brilliant idea that I imagine emerged from the real-life stories that serve as the inspiration for The Wire. While they are watching their ringer practice in the school gym, Stringer is still advocating for a truce with Omar—temporarily until he pops his head out so they can kill him. The struggle between Stringer and Avon is a struggle between business and the street.  It is Stringer’s professional mentality opposing Avon’s desire to stay true to his roots as a gangsta.

In The Pit, D’Angelo meets with Wallace since he hasn’t been around to work. When pressed, all Wallace can manage out is that he doesn’t wanna play no more. In his mind, this game just got real. Wallace spotted the stick-up boy (Brandon), which got him killed. Then Stinkum just got dropped in the street. Wallace is just a kid.

If Wallace is accepted back into school, he would be 16 years old entering 9th grade. But with the odds against him, D’Angelo still advises Wallace to follow through and go back to school. D’Angelo sees the potential in Wallace and he knows Wallace has a good heart—unlike the rest of these street urchins who won’t amount to anything.

money

Meanwhile, the investigation (specifically Lester, Pryzbo, and Sydnor) starts to follow the money. Their mission reads like one of Lester’s wet dreams. In order to follow the money, Sydnor searches for any leads connecting to Barksdale and Pryzbo has to go down to the corporate charter office to look up the charter papers for those corporations or any LLC tied to Barksdale. Systematically, they are tasked with finding Avon’s storefronts and property holdings. While Sydnor and Pryzbo are buried nose-deep in paperwork, Lester is pulling the campaign finance reports for any citywide election to uncover the reach of Barksdale’s influence into the local political realm.

Checking in with our resident drug addict, Bubbles comes up with an ingenious plan to steal a drug dealer’s stash. Bubbles climbs up on top of a house with an overhead view of the drug runner listening to music and waiting for the next customer to step up. Bubbles uses a hook on a fishing line and dangles it over the bag while they aren’t paying any attention. Of course, someone steps up to buy so Bubs is caught as he’s stealing the stash, but he escapes while some innocent person is mistaken for the thief and they’re beaten mercilessly in the street. But the last laugh is on Bubbles because the stolen stash is baking soda. Such is life out on the streets.

sneaky-bubbles

The investigation is beginning to bear fruit when they take more money out of the hands of Barksdale’s operation. Herc even contemplates stealing part of the money from the stash they hit, but Carver wisely points out that leadership would know immediately. Naturally, this leads to Herc and Carv moronically losing two stacks, and Daniels calls them in his office to call them out for it. Despite not intentionally stealing the drug money, these doofuses still give the appearance of corruption and greed because the stacks fell out of the bag in their trunk before they could turn in their haul. Fortunately, Herc and Carver find the missing money after frantically searching their car.

Before the big community basketball game foreshadowed in the opening sequence, Omar is out doing Omar things on the streets. Y’know, menacing society. Regardless of the bounty on his head, Omar is still coming after Barksdale. When Omar literally huffs and puffs outside of a Barksdale stash house, their weak crew just drops the drugs out the window. Yes, Omar is the big fucking bad wolf. Never a dull day for Omar.

The rest of Balmer seemingly shows up to the East vs. West Baltimore Projects Basketball Game. Basically, this is a game of bragging rights between Prop Joe (East) and Avon (West). It’s a relatively friendly tradition. Avon gets a great dig in at Prop Joe for wearing a suit to look like a fat Pat Riley.

Avon: What’s up, playboy? How come you wearing that suit?
It’s 85 fucking degrees out here and you trying to be like Pat Riley.
Prop Joe: Look the part, be the part, motherfucker.
Avon: You walking around with a fake fucking clipboard.
You can’t even read a playbook. Be for real.

look-the-part-be-the-part

Almost everyone in the neighborhood shows up to the game—including the cops. This shit is for pride. The game also serves as an important introduction to Proposition Joe. When the Eastside is losing at halftime, Prop Joe offers Avon to double-down on the bet. Once Avon agrees, Joe wisely unleashes his secret ringer off the bench to crush the Westside. There’s also a foul on the final play, but poor unfortunate soul refereeing the game doesn’t make a call. Avon emasculates the guy who is only trying to do a job. Avon even has the audacity to say the guy should stand up for himself and never allow any old motherfucker to get in his face. Excuse me, Avon Barksdale is not just any old motherfucker. If that referee bucked up publicly to Avon, he would have been laid out right there on the court. Take your shit sandwich and eat it with a smile of appreciation, ref.

After suffering another humiliating loss in the annual basketball game, today doesn’t seem to be Avon’s day. Omar turns the Barksdale stash he stole over to Prop Joe in exchange for a number to contact Avon and a code for one of his people (Wee-Bey). Omar’s endgame is simple: he wants to kill Avon. Avon is always ultra-careful, but he’s vulnerable. When the call comes through, Avon treats himself like everyone else so he walks outside to the payphone. But it’s a fucking trap. Omar uses Avon’s carefulness to lure him outside. However, Wee-Bey comes back from his fast food run to save Avon at the very last second. As a result, Omar catches one in the shoulder, which forces him to flee and abort his assassination attempt on Avon.

Once again, Wee-Bey proves that he’s the only Bey that matters.

wee-bey

Quote of the Episode

“And here’s the rub: You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money, and you don’t know where the fuck it’s going to take you.”
– Lester Freamon

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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.

family-mcnulty

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

lester-and-pryzbo

One Arrest is the turning point for the detail’s investigation into the Barksdale crew.

At the opening of this episode, Lester and Pryzbo are showing everyone how they’ve cracked the code that the Barksdale crew uses when they’re talking on the phone and even just sending numbers to a pager. In this instance, they have the drop on the heroin re-up being delivered to The Pit. This is the first sign that the detail is a step ahead of Avon Barksdale. But they have to play it carefully so they don’t reveal their investigation to Barksdale.

Herc and Carver pull over Stinkum delivering the package, and they intentionally let him get away once the runner hops out. The dynamic duo chases down the runner because he has the stash on him. Stinkum drives away, but all of the back-up follows the runner through The Pit and he is tackled him with the drugs still on him. It’s revealed that the runner is the kid missing an eye thanks to Pryzbo’s drunken assault. He now wears an eye patch.

the-runner

In classic fashion of The Wire, the show takes a brief break from the serious festivities to highlight the creepy, perverted demeanor of someone who is supposed to be in a respectable position, Judge Phelan, towards Assistant State’s Attorney Rhonda Pearlman. I’m assuming this is a throwaway scene to show the shit women have to deal with in the “man’s world” of policing and prosecuting. When she leaves the room, Judge Phelan practically jizzes his pants and moans, “Jesus, I would love to throw a fuck into her,” to McNulty—after Phelan just finished belittling McNulty in front of Pearlman to assert his dominance/superiority. It’s these little scenes that add nice moments of levity, but they always seem to serve some sort of higher purpose.

The arrest that this episode’s title seemingly refers to is the investigation clamping down on Bird (played by Fredro Starr). It wouldn’t have been possible without cooperation from Omar, who is out looking for revenge on anyone and everyone associated with Avon Barksdale. It doesn’t hurt that Bird was trifling anyway—killing a working man not involved in the drug game. That shit doesn’t sit well with Omar. Since no one else can or is willing to step up to identify Bird as the shooter, Omar volunteers to be charitable with his recollections.

bird

Thanks to Omar’s help—especially with knowing where Bird likes to get high—the detail sets a trap that culminates in a hilarious sequence where Lester smashes a fucking bottle of booze across Bird’s face to take him down. It doesn’t make Bird’s face look any better. Bird is one ugly looking motherfucker, and he has a mouth to match.

Bird is caught with the gun he used to kill the working man (back from the pilot episode). He’s still not willing to give up any information. At this point, nothing can help Bird escape his cage. He will be locked away forever now for killing a state’s witness. As Bird is getting the shit beat out of him by Daniels, Greggs, and Landsman, Omar is supplying Bunk will all sorts of juicy details on any crimes he can remember. After all, murder stay murder.

One of the reasons I love The Wire is the range of quality supporting characters and the depth of each character. To this point, Bubbles has largely helped to further the story by being the informant that assists the investigation. But now Bubbles is starting to gain some perspective. There’s a little bit of hope bubbling up inside him. He doesn’t know how to get clean or stay clean, but you can visibly see that desire light up in his eyes. This is also the episode that introduces the audience to Walon (played by musician/artist Steve Earle)—his character is a recovering drug addict that drops down wisdom such as, “I know I got one more high left in me, but I doubt very seriously I have one more recovery.” You can see his story resonate with Bubbles when he’s talking to everyone at the Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Even though Bubbles and Johnny tied off and got high that morning, Bubbles steps up when the NA leaders asks if anyone has 24 hours clean or a sincere desire to live. He fucking steps up.

johnny-and-bubbles

While Bubbles is showing signs of wanting to get his life together, poor Wallace’s life is falling apart. Wallace isn’t working. He can’t hang around his friends. He barely comes out of his room. Wallace is shown tying off and shooting up in a futile attempt to forget about the role he played in the stick-up boy’s brutal murdered.

In The Pit, everyone is panicked. After the investigation gets the runner and lets Stinkum get away, the Barksdale crew is suspicious and decides to change things up. Near the end of the episode, Stringer comes through with Wee-Bey and instructs them to rip out the payphones in The Pit. The wire is dead on those payphones, but they’re only addressing a symptom instead of focusing on the real sickness. The Barksdale crew has no idea how many eyes are on them now, and they’re vastly underrating their risk and exposure.

Have no fear, good ol’ Rawls is still doing his best to fuck over McNulty and the ensuing investigation. Rawls is so hard up for Jimmy’s badge that he’s basically blackmailing Santangelo to give him dirt on McNulty—or solve an old cold case to give Rawls the clearances he wants. One of Santangelo’s old cold cases actually gets solved by Bunk and McNulty when Omar is recounting every recent unsolved street murder he can recall. It’s finally the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back as Santangelo reveals Rawls’ plan to fuck McNulty. With the investigation heading in the right direction, what choice does McNulty have but to continue? He can’t come crawling back to Rawls and kiss his ass. Even that probably wouldn’t save his badge. All he can ask himself is “what the fuck did I do?”

code

Quote of the Episode

“A man must have a code.”
— The Bunk

contemplative-avon

This episode introduces the depths of Avon’s carefulness. When leaving one of his side piece’s place, Avon is searching for anything and everything suspicious—including two teenagers talking on the corner. Wee-Bey derides Avon’s attitude as pure paranoia, but Avon would be stupid if he wasn’t looking out for himself.

I like a drug dealer who errors on the side of caution. That is something I can get behind. I appreciate the hustle. While Avon is wisely on his toes, the investigation is finally taking a step forward by cloning D’Angelo’s pager. Now they can get to the real police work of inching higher and higher up the Barksdale chain.

In the streets, Omar is back up to his old tricks.  He doesn’t stay quiet for long.

Omar is whistling “A-Hunting We Will Go” with a shotgun in hand when operating a flush-and-run on an Eastside crew. Things are too volatile with Barksdale for Omar and his boys right now. During this episode, John Bailey gets blown up off-screen so we’re down to only Omar and his boy toy, Brandon, at this point.

omar-cheese

It’s the fine details that make me love The Wire and keep me coming back for more. One such beautiful scene involves a drunk Polk sneaking a sip of booze from his flask in the office when he hears the copier go off behind him. After being terrified that he was caught drinking on the job, you can see the sweet relief on Polk’s face turn into a dumbfounded expression when he sees Pryzbylewski awkwardly at the copier. Pryzbo looks completely and utterly useless because he’s photocopying a fucking telephone—with zero explanation.

However, Pryzbo’s surefire idiocy is revealed to be brilliance as he’s the one who cracks the code used by Barksdale’s crew. Thanks to his genius at word searches and puzzles, this mope discovers that the code is derived simply from the place of the numbers on the phone—in particular, skipping over the 5 in the center. Since it doesn’t involve math, the little hoodlums can easily wrap their minds around the code. Simple and effective.

In addition to those fine details, I also love hearing a joke mid-punchline. The Wire offers plenty of those juicy nuggets. Landsman’s line this episode is, “The bear said, ‘You didn’t really come here to hunt, now did you?’” I’ll never have any idea what the fuck he was talking about. But knowing Landsman, I assume it was crude and offensive. My eyes are also scarred from seeing his massive ass crack this episode. That disgusting fat fuck.

With such a depressing subject, The Wire sprinkles in some much-needed humor. The audience is only gets a brief glimpse into McNulty’s myriad of marital problems. Fighting over the kids is the cause highlightd here. When shooting the shit with Greggs, McNulty bitches, “You would think a less enlightened man than myself, a cruder man than myself, a man less sensitized to the qualities and charms and value of women—a man like that, not me, but a man like that—he just might call her a ‘cunt.’” This leads to the first of a few drunken furniture assembly scenes.

bodie

In the Pit, it’s heartbreaking to see Bodie throw a bottle at Wallace’s head and have it smash next to his face.  All because Wallace was playing with a toy in the courtyard instead of focusing on his responsibility. It drives the point home that this is their reality. It shouldn’t be, but it is and they cannot get caught slipping. Wallace seems to be cut from the same cloth as D’Angelo while Bodie is a straight-up gangsta. J.D. Williams is terrific as Bodie—I remember him fondly as Wangler from HBO’s Oz. When dealing with Bodie, Herc and Carver are hilariously in over their heads. He’s just too bad for their off-brand little-boy bullshit, man. Bodie calls them out for their botched good cop/bad cop routine and talks shit to their faces. He has no issue with taking a beating. Bodie is basically a boy, but he acts like a man. A man that does not give a fuck. It’s what growing up in the game does to you.

Near the end of the episode, Wallace and Poot are making a food run when Poot spots Omar’s boyfriend, Brandon, from the stick-up at The Pit. The hit is then put into motion. After Wallace contacts D’Angelo who contacts Stringer, the investigation has evidence to tie the Barksdale crew to this inevitable murder.

They just have no fucking clue yet because no one was up on the wire.

lester-shrug

Quote of the Episode

“I don’t wanna go to no dance unless I can rub some titty.”
– Lester Freamon