The Wire: The Hunt

“This is not on you” – Major Rawls

The whole episode is the unspooling of consequences of the shooting of Kima Greggs by Little Man as seen from various perspectives. It opens, as few of The Wire episodes do, with the police in action at a crime scene. It has been only minutes since the shooting of Orlando and Greggs, and it is chaos. It’s also a chaos which demonstrates once again the ability of this show to take characters who we think we know and transform them into other people altogether. In this case, Sgt Jay Landesmann and Major Rawls, one seemingly a jovial (and occasionally profane) paper pusher and the other a prick of the first order, demonstrating that they are also highly competent police officers and in Rawls' case, an actual leader. They do this all without betraying what we already knew about them. It is a remarkable accomplishment in acting and writing.

Just as Landesmann and Rawls get a chance to demonstrate their skills, we again see Bunk in action as perhaps the single most competent and skilled detective on the show. He and Landesmann track the assailants and collect large amounts of valuable evidence in a circumstance where most people would have seen and found absolutely nothing at all. Freamon, for the first time, demonstrates his competence beyond the detail with his very effective coordination of the information from the wire to locate and identify the two shooters. We, the audience, have come to expect it, but it’s clearly a shock to the other police when he indicates he works in the pawn shop unit. McNulty spends a lot of time in the first half of the program indulging in a bit of self-pity but then (after lectures by Rawls and Daniels) demonstrates how his own brand of jerkiness can really be effective when applied aggressively.


We see the police moving to demonstrate the consequences of violence against the police both to the criminals and for public consumption. The hunt for the shooters is as impressive as the actions for public consumption are unimpressive. Lots of raids resulting in dope, guns, and money on tables, but it’s unclear if it dealt more than a minor blow to the criminals responsible for Kima’s shooting. It also provided a chance for Herc and Carver to finally pocket some cash, again pointing out that everyone is pursuing their own agenda as much as they are pursuing criminals.

This episode, as befits the title, is mostly about the police and we get a whole new set of insights in their skills and what keeps them from being effective.

Bits and Pieces

*Wallace edition*

A little more Maryland geography, again the little statement that they are “bay-side” as opposed to “beachfront”, is as often happens a statement about where they are socially as much as physically. The shore side facing the Atlantic is characterized by typical tourist-driven East coast beaches, not as posh as some but generally pretty nice real estate. Bay-side includes some very old farms, watermen communities and is generally more quiet and rural (although there are some nice tourist spots there as well). Wallace is saying he is in the middle of nowhere and nothing (if the rural road didn’t give it away). It's worth noting he is still only an hour and half drive away from home, though.

The cut from the wire recording of Wallace announcing his return to the life support equipment in Kima’s room followed by the fade to close the episode was both a very effective way to close the episode and very foreboding for Wallace.

Quotes:
Dope on the damn table. – Daniels

(This week’s epigraph is an interesting one, it reflects the focus of much of the police effort, the result of last episode’s shootings, and the pointlessness of much of the regular police response to such tragedy. Here is the full conversation and you’ll note the repetition of the phrase, as if Daniels cannot believe how foolish and unimportant that response is.)

Burrell: CID, tactical, the DEUs, and tomorrow, on the six o'clock news, we put a lot of fucking dope on the table. A lot of it!
Daniels: Dope on the table?
Burrell: We need to let them know who we are, the commissioner wants to send a message, Lieutenant. You make sure you and your people do everything possible to see that it is heard.
Daniels: Dope on the damn table.
Foerster: It's like the man said. We're letting them know who we are.
Daniels: Yeah, and who the hell are we?

(Rawls speech to McNulty was great and quite unexpected, by me anyway)

Rawls: Listen to me, you fuck. You did a lot of shit here. You played a lot of fucking cards. And you made a lot of fucking people do a lot of fucking things they didn't want to do. This is true. We both know this is true. You, McNulty, are a gaping asshole. We both know this. Fuck if everybody in CID doesn't know it. But fuck if I'm gonna stand here and say you did a single fucking thing to get a police shot. You did not do this, you fucking hear me? This is not on you. No it isn't, asshole. Believe it or not, everything isn't about you. And the motherfucker saying this, he hates your guts, McNulty. So you know if it was on you, I'd be the son of a bitch to say so. Shit went bad. She took two for the company. That's the only lesson here.

(McNulty does understand a big part of the problem)

McNulty: If only half you motherfuckers at the district attorney's office didn't want to be judges, didn't want to be partners in some downtown law firm. If half of you had the fucking balls to follow through, you know what would happen? A guy like that would be indicted, tried and convicted. And the rest of 'em would back up enough, so we could push a clean case or two through your courthouse. But no, everybody stays friends. Everybody gets paid. And everybody's got a fucking future.

(Everybody on the street side seems to understand that they have gone way beyond acceptable violence and will pay a price, but the concern isn’t fear for their lives but a fear for their business)

Stringer: This shit gonna get real heavy. We gotta fall back.

D'Angelo: I mean, how you gonna shoot a police, yo? No percentage in that.

Avon Barksdale: It ain't worth it, it ain't worth it at ten times the price. A fucking cop, man, a cop?


Two out of four dope-filled tables (on a sliding scale where excellent is merely good of course)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really love Rawls in this episode..he's so good at taking charge and his speech to McNulty is awesome.
Anna

Jess Lynde said...

I agree completely that the highlight of this episode is getting to see Landsman and Rawls actually being good police. Rawls speech to McNulty is a thing of absolute beauty (thanks for including the whole thing above). It's a strangely humanizing moment for Rawls, even as he's being a total prick and still calling McNulty out for being such an asshole. But you can actually sort of see why this is the guy in charge of the Homicide unit.

One of the most heartbreaking moments for me is McNulty giving Bubbs the money and sending him back out to the streets. He just doesn't understand what the situation is, or what he's asking. Bubbs manages to get back out there and fight his demons to try to help Kima, but the look on his face when McNulty hands him the money just kills me.

Also of note: A slightly different take on McNulty's stock "What the fuck did I do?" as for once he seems to recognize his own culpability in something. Ironically, it wasn't really his fault this time.

ChrisB said...

Like the rest of you, I believe the speech Rawls gives McNulty is one of the best of the first series. "Believe it or not, everything isn't about you" always makes me smile. McNulty's narcissism is, I would argue, his most defining characteristic and Rawls see it and calls him on it. Brilliant.