Posts Tagged ‘Doug Olear’

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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