January 14, 2008

Season Five, Episode Two

Let me start out this morning by saying that I have some concerns about the new season of The Wire. I know that everyone has been declaring David Simon a genius, myself included, if only by asserting that the series is the best I have ever seen. However, there are already two major issues that have popped up this season. First, while the newspaper angle could prove to be a good one (and if we continue to hear mostly from Gus it will be), it could also prove to be the show’s deadly anchor. It could be a weight around David Simon’s neck that unravels all of the good will he has built up with viewers. As yet it only appears to be an ugly vendetta on his part. The themes of editorial oversight and ladder climbing reporters seem a little too easy. Even a non-genius like me could have come up with those ideas, and I never worked at the Baltimore Sun.

The second storyline that has this fan concerned is McNulty’s new hobby of staging dead overdosed heroin user crime scenes as serial killer murders. In next week’s preview it seems that he continues the trend, and starts a wave of panic throughout Baltimore. Yes, I get that it ties into Lester’s question of what it would take to get the town’s bigwigs to notice murders, e.g., dead white people instead of black. It seems that Jimmy’s crazy tactics are not only too off the map even for him, but also too obvious a choice for the writers.

I would summarize these two storyline problems like this: If I can spot them coming before they happen, then someone is being lazy. The beauty of The Wire in the past is that the plot lines are subtle and difficult to understand. It took a true fan and the ability to rewind and relisten at least once an episode to pick up on the nuances. Omar help us if the rumors are true that Simon carts out Munch for a guest appearance later in the season…that would be the definition of transparent.

Okay, down to the recurring themes. I said last week that I would cover Wire nuances each week, but that seems too vague now, and they will appear in the generalities portion at the beginning of each post anyway. That being said, let’s move on to Omar’s Wisdom. We seem to be in trouble on that front, as Omar is in the golden years of retirement. There are scenes from next week that lead me to believe that his time in West Palm Beach won’t last much longer though. Until his run on the shuffle board court is over there will be another stand in, and this week the winner is Marlo. In a scene where he explains to his lieutenants that it’s time to get back into the game of killing enemies due to multiple layers of disrespect, from turf wars all the way down to hearsay of petty insults, he tells them, “The crown ain’t worth much if the nigga wearin’ it always gettin’ his shit took.” Succint and scary at the same time. A worthy fill in for the man.

I have already alluded to the McNulty watch this week, but it can be summed up as a man way off the ranch and seemingly on the brink of big trouble. He is drinking, which you know I love, and now staging crime scenes. The good news is that he will eventually get back on the scent of Marlo and for that I can’t wait. For now, I’m just worried, not about Jimmy, but about the plot. The aspect of this storyline that I do like is that for the first time we can see a rift between McNulty and Bunk. Despite McNulty’s questionable behavior in the past, he was always on the up and up when it came to police work. I will be curious to see where it goes over the next few weeks.

Lastly, and most importantly, my wife and I had another O-fer on last night’s opening quote. I guessed Rawls and she went with McNulty, but the answer was Bunk again. He seems to get in a lot. Some day I will tally all 50 some odd episodes for you. Last night, in the same conversation where Lester begs the question of why nobody cares that people are dying every day, the boys declare that if the murders were of pretty white girls on vacation in Aruba, citizens would take notice. To this Bunk stoically responds in his gravelly baritone, “This ain’t Aruba, bitch.” Good times.


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