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The Wire: Refugees

Snoop: "What'd he do again?"
Chris: "Talk back."

Death is still waiting in the wings. That may sound overly dramatic, but honestly, the bodies hiding in the vacants? Creepy, big time.

The bad guys

Marlo Stanfield has been around for awhile, but it felt like this was the episode when he moved front and center, and before I say anything else, I have to praise Jamie Hector's performance. Marlo is emotionless and expressionless, a handsome young man with dead eyes, like a shark that kills because it's his nature. (Later in the episode, Lester called Marlo a young lion that needed to kill.)

Why did Marlo pay for the bottle of water but steal the lollipops? He looked directly at the security guard when he did it, too, deliberately provoking him into a confrontation. What sheer heartless pettiness, killing a man over a couple of lollipops. He told the minimart guy, "I ain't much for sentiment." No shit.

It was also super creepy that Snoop was chafing about secrecy as she and Chris were nailing the boards shut on their latest murder. She wants everyone to know how bad she is, and was longing to keep the security guard's badge as a souvenir. How very serial killer of you, Snoop. Chris tossed it away in the grass. That felt like foreshadowing to me. Someone is going to find it.

Prop Joe went to Marlo again with another unsuccessful proposition to join the Co-op. I can only assume that Prop Joe went to Omar afterward and told him about the poker game in order to show Marlo that he needed the Co-op, after all. Why was Marlo playing high stakes poker, anyway? I doubt he needs the money. To amuse himself, to make trouble? Would he have had all those old poker players killed eventually? Might he still? That gaudy ring reminded me of a championship ring. Marlo took it off the minimart guy that Omar robbed, and then Omar stole it from Marlo during the poker game. I hope Prop Joe didn't just set Omar up to die.

The cops

The title of the episode referred to Kima and Lester moving to Homicide after Lester "killed" Major Crimes with those subpoenas. While Kima endured the requisite hazing with good humor (calling Mr. Lion at the zoo about the methane probe was stupid, although I thought the typed note in the murder victim's hand saying "Tater killed me" was funny), she had to find it somewhat frustrating.

But then it segued into the political. Kima should have spent months in training, but instead, the higher ups just dumped the Braddock case on her because it's a political hot potato. They think that because Kima is new to homicide, she won't be able to solve it. Of course, I'm willing to bet she'll surprise them because hey, it's Kima.

Bunk is still searching for the missing Lex, and Lester has joined in the "where are the bodies" chorus. So sad, that shrine that Lex's mother had set up for her boy. Bunk is also upset that Jimmy won't drink with him any more, or go out looking for "puss-i." It's weird that Dominic West has top billing and McNulty is barely in this season at all. Not that it bothers me much. My favorite characters are Lester, Bunk, Kima and Daniels. Where is Daniels, by the way?

The kids

Prez is trying so hard to be a good teacher, even working at home on how to talk to his students about the slashing incident. He did his best, but the kids kept changing the subject to violence, and specifically to their discovery that Prez used to be a cop. Prez really hasn't grasped the reality of what's going on at the school quite yet.

Mrs. Sampson told Bunny Colvin all about it, though, that school was a way for many of these kids (also the titular "Refugees") to escape their unbearable home life. She talked about how Wednesday was the best day for them because it was the furthest from the weekend. Later, Vice Principal Donnelly mentioned that Laetitia the slasher grew up in a group home and was "Monday to Friday angry." So sad.

Note how Sherrod wasn't reluctant to go home. He would rather be with Bubbs than at school, even though the "home" they're squatting in has no electricity or running water. But it's (again) super sad that Sherrod has been "socially promoted." There's simply no chance at all that he's going to learn the simple math that Bubbs thinks he needs to survive. Maybe Bubbs knows that now, though. He noticed that Sherrod was pretending that the algebra textbook and the dictionary worked together.

And then there was Michael, diligently and lovingly parenting his little brother Bug because his parents provided exactly the type of home life Mrs. Sampson was talking about. There is so much going on in every episode of The Wire that I didn't absorb until the second time through that while Cutty desperately wanted to mentor him, Michael was deliberately keeping Cutty at a distance, physically and emotionally. In the gym, Cutty reached out to touch Michael and Michael shied away. At the fights, Cutty was trying to point out what the pro in the ring was doing right, but Michael ignored him and talked with Justin about other things. Michael didn't want Cutty to see where he lived, either.

Cutty just picked up a new job, and with all of the other depressing stuff going on this season, I thought this was the worst. Donnelly has no money for truant officers, so she keeps a couple of custodian jobs open so that she can hire guys like Cutty to go out and bring in truant kids. Except it's only a game to get more school funding, since the kids are brought in only once in September and once in October. Kids in the streets are throwing away a free education, and the system has given up on them. Maybe I shouldn't say "sad" for a third time. Actually, it's tragic.

Cutty and Marlo both want to mold Michael's future. Cutty should win, but it feels like it will probably be Marlo.

The politicians

In another one of those parallels that The Wire loves to do, Royce set up a fraudulent poker game with his supporters in order to acquire "walking around money," and approved new fliers created with African colors. What a wedge of sleaze, as Buffy would say.

Meanwhile, Carcetti decided to visit the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance to talk to them sincerely about drugs and crime, even though he knows they will never endorse him. Another bit that showed that Carcetti should be mayor. If he really means it, that is.


— Bodie said yes to Marlo, and now he's no longer independent but will stay alive. And the word "why" is no longer in his repertoire. This actually made me a little sad. (And there's that word again.)

— Donnelly gave Prez the good news that Chiquan didn't have HIV. Prez clearly didn't realize that that was a possibility.

— Randy got busted for selling candy and turned in another kid for tagging, sort of like a plea bargain.

— Michael tried to keep Namond from saying violent things. Namond seems to be trying really hard to be a gangster like his father, but I don't think his heart is in it. At least I hope it isn't.

— Another scene with Marlo's pigeons. What is it with criminals and pigeons? I remember them doing that in one of my favorite old movies, On the Waterfront.

— Herc got his blowjob-related promotion to Sergeant and arrived at the now ruined Major Crimes to not work with the wire, which Sydnor turned off.

— We got a glimpse at Prez's home life, I think for the first time. It worked mostly as a contrast to Michael's and Sherrod's less pleasant circumstances.

— This episode was written by famous novelist Dennis Lehane.


"No one wins. One side just loses more slowly." --Prez

(This particular epigraph is pretty much The Wire's motto.)

Marlo: (to the security guard) "You want it to be one way. But it's the other way."

(Cutty is wrapping his wrists.)
Deacon: "Your Sabbath best?"
Cutty: "You hang around, you can see me preach on some young'uns. Solemn left and sanctified right."

Cutty: "How is it you got so much wisdom about who should be where?"
Deacon: "A good church man is always up in everybody's shit. That's how we do."

(The Deacon is always finding jobs for people. Is he doing good for his peeps, or trying to control everyone around him? Possibly both.)

Landsman: "Marimow does not cast off talent lightly. He heaves it away with great force."

Kima: "It's clean."
Landsman: "You'll fix that. A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind."

(I used to work with an older woman who told me to never clean off my desk or our boss would think I had nothing to do.)

Carcetti: "I do this right, they'll respect it."
Norman: "And if they don't, at least they get to see a begging-ass white man on his knees. Always a feel-good moment for the folks."

Lester: "It's just the nature of things. Age is age, fat is fat, and nature is nature."
Bunk: "Pitiful."
Lester: "Pitiless. Nature don't care. Nature just is."

Bunk: "Know what you need at a crime scene?"
Kima: "Rubber gloves?"
Bunk: "Soft eyes."
Kima: "Like I'm supposed to cry and shit?"
Bunk: "You got soft eyes, you can see the whole thing. You got hard eyes, you're staring at the same tree, missing the forest."
Kima: "Oh. Zen shit."
Bunk: "Soft eyes, grasshopper."

Marlo: "That's my money."
Omar: "Man, money ain't got no owners. Only spenders."

Marlo: (re: the ring) "Wear it in health."
Omar: "No doubt."

Three out of four lollipops,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

  1. Apologies for not getting to the next Wire for awhile. There's usually a point during the summer when I hit a writing block and have to take a break, and this is a good time for it -- before the fall shows hit. I promise to get back to The Wire soon.


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