Posts Tagged ‘Deirdre Lovejoy’

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

The Buys is a shining beacon of police incompetence and corruption.

Are you sensing a common theme among episodes of The Wire?

It’s called reality, this is the City of Balmer we’re talking about here.

After the drunken mess created by Herc, Carver, and Pryzbylewski in the last episode, the investigation is now down two officers as Herc is on medical leave and Pryzbo is on desk duty until the grand jury convenes on his brutality case that resulted in a kid losing his eye. Throw in the bumbling duo of Polk and Mahon, and you have yourself a modern, ragtag group of Keystone Cops. Sadly, that’s a good percentage of the police force.

After two weeks on the job, this pathetic farce of an investigation still doesn’t have a photo of Avon Barksdale. McNulty berates Polk and Mahon to get off their fat drunken asses and go down to the Baltimore City Housing Department to get a picture of a young Avon Barksdale. Naturally, it’s another dead end as the photo is a fake— a picture of an old white guy, decidedly not the drug dealer running half of Baltimore.

avon-barksdale

However, a new hope is found. Pawn Shop Unit refugee Lester Freamon perks up at the mention of Avon Barksdale being a former Golden Gloves boxer when he was younger. In the blink of an eye, Lester shows up to a friend’s boxing gym and then he’s back at the office with an old promotional poster of Avon Barksdale. After showing some natural police work, Lester goes right back to carving and painting his dollhouse furniture.

From the top-down, leadership is applying pressure on Lt. Daniels to wrap up the investigation by street busts. Of course, that strategy isn’t going to lead to any significant finds. The Barksdale crew is too smart to let anyone important handle the drugs. Despite the street knowledge of Bubbles (a drugged out, confidential informant), the investigation is engaging in a near fatal case of self-sabotage with their focus on busts.

On the street-level, all of the action in this episode revolves around The Pit.

D’Angelo is turning things around and The Pit is producing money like never before.  D’Angelo is teaching the boys how to play chess instead of checkers. No, seriously. I’m terrible at chess because I never play enough to remember the rules, but that scene beautifully breaks down chess as if it were the drug game that is their reality.

D’Angelo is starting to show some true signs of promise.

In The Wire, everything good must turn bad. D’Angelo has no idea how many sets of eyes have turned to The Pit. In addition to law enforcement, the most vicious, brutal criminal has now entered the game. Omar fucking Little. While this episode is only an introduction, the audience is made painfully aware of Omar’s fearlessness in the short scene where he stakes out and steals the Barksdale crew’s drug stash in The Pit.

omar-little

This is a man who makes his living robbing drug dealers.

Oh, and the character is gay. Like flaming gay. Omar wouldn’t exist without Michael K. Williams. The prominent scar across the actor’s face is a terrifyingly real result of a bar fight. Michael K. Williams gives Omar an aura of authenticity. He is a menace, but Omar is a man with a code. Now, he’s set his sights on the Barksdale crew.

Omar is a literal Robin Hood robbing the hood.

Right after Omar’s heroics, Deputy Burrell forces the investigation to levy the hammer and launch a raid on The Pit. But there’s nothing to find at this point. The cops cannot get out of their own way. Somehow, the investigation shoots itself in the foot without finding any drugs, guns, or worthwhile evidence…except a number.

Since McNulty opted out of the raid based on the principality of the matter, who else on the investigation would have found the number? I’ll give you a hint: it takes some natural police work.

cool-lester-smooth

Quote of the Episode

D’Angelo: Now look, check it, it’s simple, it’s simple. See this? This the kingpin, a’ight? And he the man. You get the other dude’s king, you got the game. But he trying to get your king too, so you gotta protect it. Now, the king, he move one space any direction he damn choose, ’cause he’s the king. Like this, this, this, a’ight? But he ain’t got no hustle. But the rest of these motherfuckers on the team, they got his back. And they run so deep, he really ain’t gotta do shit.

Bodie: Like your uncle.

D’Angelo Barksdale: Yeah, like my uncle. You see this? This the queen. She smart, she fast. She move any way she want, as far as she want. And she is the go-get-shit-done piece.

Wallace: Remind me of Stringer.

D’Angelo: And this over here is the castle. Like the stash. It can move like this, and like this.

Wallace: Dog, stash don’t move, man.

D’Angelo: C’mon, yo, think. How many time we move the stash house this week? Right? And every time we move the stash, we gotta move a little muscle with it, right? To protect it.

Bodie: True, true, you right. All right, what about them little baldheaded bitches right there?

D’Angelo: These right here, these are the pawns. They like the soldiers. They move like this, one space forward only. Except when they fight, then it’s like this. And they like the front lines, they be out in the field.

Wallace: So how do you get to be the king?

D’Angelo: It ain’t like that. See, the king stay the king, a’ight? Everything stay who he is. Except for the pawns. Now, if the pawn make it all the way down to the other dude’s side, he get to be queen. And like I said, the queen ain’t no bitch. She got all the moves.

Bodie: A’ight, so if I make it to the other end, I win.

D’Angelo: If you catch the other dude’s king and trap it, then you win.

Bodie: A’ight, but if I make it to the end, I’m top dog.

D’Angelo: Nah, yo, it ain’t like that. Look, the pawns, man, in the game, they get capped quick. They be out the game early.

Bodie: Unless they some smart-ass pawns.

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

season-1

If the opening scene telling the story of Snot Boogie doesn’t draw you in, what is wrong with you?

When the setting shifts to the courtroom gallery of the D’Angelo Barksdale case, you can see the rivalry and sense of mutual respect between Detective Jimmy McNulty and Stringer Bell within 5 minutes. It’s a casual smirk from Dominic West to Idris Elba (after Stringer shows his superhero sketch that says “FUCK YOU DETECTIVE”), but that body language says more than any words. It’s a showing of appreciation that warms my heart because it’s a microcosm of how I feel about this show, The Wire—the greatest show in the history of television.

When I was in college, my best friend introduced me to The Wire. In high school, I introduced him to HBO’s Oz and we reveled in the ridiculousness of that prison soap opera. I’ll always appreciate that passing of the torch. I’ve made it my mission to share great TV shows with others in order to return the favor. You live a better life once The Wire is part of your lexicon. There is so much to savor about this show, which is why this is my fifth time around. Now I get to share it with all of you and walk down memory lane recalling my journey with the show.

No TV show has ever been as successful at bouncing between characters and keeping the story moving as The Wire. Somehow, this show never wastes a scene. Well, at least that was the case until Season 5, but let’s enjoy the ride before focusing on how the train horrifically derailed from the tracks.

Maybe I’m biased as a result of my earlier admission, but The Target is the best TV pilot. More than 20 diverse, vibrant characters are introduced while setting up the story of the cops, criminals, drug addicts, and how their interplay shapes the City of Baltimore. Bodymore, Murdaland. There’s nothing like it.

bunk-and-mcnulty

Many of the characters and incidents in The Wire come from David Simon’s book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. The authenticity shines through. The first season focuses on the pervasiveness of drugs in the inner cities. The problems caused by both the gang violence and misguided police priorities in the bullshit War on Drugs helped to cripple our society. For cops, following chain of command makes their dick bust concrete.

David Simon’s creation is an in-depth exploration into the true fucked up nature of our modern world. It will be interesting to re-watch The Wire in light of recent current events. Y’know, where mistrust between cops and the people they are supposed to serve and protect has led to black bodies laying dead in the streets. I wish we still had a show like this going to shed light on these dark corners of the American experience.

Near the end of the episode, Bunk and McNulty are getting drunk by the train tracks. When talking about this newly opened, sprawling investigation into Barksdale’s drug operation, a drunk McNulty is pissing on the tracks with a train barreling down at him. With his typical cavalier attitude, McNulty steps out of the way just in time and expresses his commitment to work the Barksdale case “the right way” and take down the whole fucking thing.

When Jimmy McNulty puts his mind to something, sit back and watch the master at work.

pissing-on-the-tracks

While The Wire is a slow burn, The Target starts off and ends with a bang—both literal and figurative. If you didn’t like the taste of this pilot episode, then you need to get your palette cleansed. The Wire is not a police procedural. David Simon rips those shows to shreds, and this should be enough to ruin that formulaic structure for anyone who watches this unique brand of storytelling. The Sopranos gets so much undeserved credit when people mention great HBO shows, but there were entire seasons of wasted, filler material. The Wire is an efficient machine.

Please take this initial step and start the journey with me to watch (or re-watch) The Wire. The corruption and dysfunction of our institutions has intensified because they are no longer relevant. In this country, the way we think about and approach important societal issues is laughable. Our prison-industrial complex is a prime modern example. Private institutions profit off the imprisonment of non-violent drug offenders. No one gets healed in jail. Those who are sick only get worse. While The Target is only the beginning, The Wire delves deep into the War on Drugs by using the Barksdale drug operation and the Baltimore Police investigation as the gateway.

In light of 9/11, The Wire accurately predicted the government response shifting from the War on Drugs to the War on Terror. Both of these wars are unwinnable. Most people are still in denial about that undeniable fact. Like a recovering drug addict, the first step of solving a problem is realizing there is a problem to be solved.

A lot of the apathetic masses are content to continue not giving a fuck.

bunk-smdh

Quote of the Episode

“There you go, givin’ a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.”
– Det. Bunk Moreland