The Wire: Soft Eyes

Bubbs: "You keep on hitting your dome on the glass ceiling."
Sherrod: "Glass what?"

I thought the central theme of this episode was resistance to change, that you mustn't upset the applecart. Carcetti can't be mayor. The teachers, cops and firefighters can't endorse Carcetti. There's never a good time for Major Crimes to serve subpoenas to those in power.

Still convinced that he is fighting a losing battle, even as it is becoming clearer with every episode that he is probably the best candidate, Carcetti was so well prepared for the primary debate that he made Royce look bad for fixing the crime stats, a key plot point in season three – not to mention that Royce deliberately concealed yet another witness killing. While I'm still not a Carcetti fan, I liked him better for blowing off his political obligations to play a game of Battleship with his daughter. Whom, we were told, is going to a private school, not to a public school like the boys of summer.

And yet, even though the winner of this mayoral race will make decisions that affect everyone in the city, Dennis and Namond both changed the channel on the debate. Namond in particular turned it off just as the candidates were discussing the future of kids like him. Point taken.

In a funny but somewhat revolting development, Herc thought the bodyguard detail was boring – right up until he walked in on a blowjob in progress. I particularly liked how Herc walked back down that hallway with a concerned expression, glancing at all of the official portraits of previous mayors after he had just seen the current mayor in a whole new way. The fallout, as Herc consulted first Carver, then Valchek, on what to do about his possibly career-killing faux pas, was deeply funny; the "bad pierogi on a plate" line had me howling.

And yet, it was also an excellent example about how everything is freaking political. Rhonda wanted to postpone serving the subpoenas because she might lose her job, while Lester was all but gleefully rubbing his hands together at the prospect but only because his retirement was already secure. That glee apparently rubbed off on Kima and Sydnor when they delivered them. But what will be the result? Burrell and Rawls will now have to deal with Lester, and they're saying he needs "proper supervision." Guess that means the lieutenant that signed everything without looking at it is on his way out.

(Rhonda and Daniels in bed together talking about Lester was their cutest scene together so far. She was angry about the subpoenas and he was giggling helplessly, something you just don't see Lance Reddick do. Maybe his new non-Detail job is agreeing with him. But is it too much to hope that he'll be running Major Crimes again soon?)

While Bunk was trying to track down the late Lex and realizing that Lex's parents weren't acting like parents with a missing son normally would, Lester was wondering why the wire was picking up target practice that sounded like a war zone when there still weren't any bodies.

In the meantime Marlo, the cause of those bodies they haven't found yet, was handing out money for school clothes to the neighborhood kids for obvious reasons – to make them like him, to make it appear that he's pretty darned cool. After all, he's either their future employer or they're his future customers. That is, if he lives and isn't replaced by the next Marlo, or the one after that. Another reminder that things don't change.

Except there are still people who try to help these kids every day, like the assistant principal who sent a box of clothing to Dukie. Prez was scrubbing the desks in his new classroom and even chipping the gum off from under. Dennis' yard work job is going really well and he's even picking up Spanish, but for Dennis, like Prez, it's all about the kids. I think Dennis is getting a huge charge out of being a good guy. His smile was so wide and he seemed transparently delighted that all of those women were hitting on him. And who can blame them? A handsome guy with a non-drug-related job coaching kids would look pretty good, particularly in that neighborhood.

(Another segue. I loved that huge blown-up Golden Gloves photo of Avon Barksdale that was so critical back in season one, particularly since we know that Avon would most certainly not want to see it up there. That's typical of The Wire – one little moment showing a photo on a wall and not even calling attention to it, and there's a long backstory to that photo that makes us smile.)

Of course, The Wire also does a lot with parallels. While Dennis was rejecting truck guy's suggestion that they get a second truck and expand, Bubbs was dealing with his "intern," Sherrod, who couldn't even do simple arithmetic, which meant that they couldn't get a second shopping cart. So Bubbs dressed up like a citizen and took Sherrod back to school. Bubbs makes my heart hurt. He's an addict that can't even take care of himself, but he's always trying to help someone else.


This week, we learned a lot more about Namond and a bit about Michael. Did we know before that Namond is Wee-Bey's son? In this neighborhood, Namond is a rich kid. Sadly, though, he's a rich kid with no future. He's being supported with the money Wee-Bey gets for doing time in prison. His mother bought Namond the school clothes he wanted, but she also let him smoke her cigarettes and she's raising him to be a drug dealer. During the prison visit, Wee-Bey told Namond to get his noticeable hair cut, not because it would improve his appearance, but because a good drug dealer shouldn't have a look that stands out to the cops.

Namond is a nice kid. He was kind enough to let Michael take his runner job with Bodie because he knew Michael needed the money. And yet, Namond is almost certainly going to end up just like his father, if he lives. In the connections and parallels department, the boys wanted the adorable car-stealing Donut to steal a camper so that they could go hang out in the woods. But what was going on in the woods in this episode? Marlo's enforcers doing target practice.

Another interesting parallel was State Senator Clay Davis saying that if someone gives you money, you take it. Randy said the same thing about Marlo's money because he couldn't see that there were strings on it. But in what was probably this episode's strongest moment, Michael saw those strings and turned down Marlo's money. When Marlo confronted him about it, Michael looked him right in the eye and said nothing. That took serious courage for someone so young. Interestingly, Marlo backed down, too.

It's encouraging that Dennis is also seeing potential in Michael, and giving him some personal coaching. Maybe Michael's interest in boxing will be his ticket out of the neighborhood.

Bits:

— That scene where young Crystal took Dukie the box of clothes and a stoned man answered the door and tried to take the box hinted that Dukie's home life is utterly appalling. Poor kid.

— A cop named Eddie Walker stole Randy's school clothes money. Words fail me.


— Wee-Bey's fish are a delightful little humanizer. Although now that I think about it, fish are pretty to look at but cold and somewhat impersonal. That fits, since Wee-Bey has no conscience.

— Monk was on the phone with a guy that Major Crimes called "Old Face Andre," but we didn't see him.

— Dominic West was not in this episode. That's rare for a first-billed lead actor.

Quotes:

"I still wake up white in a city that ain't."--Carcetti

(It's clear that The Wire is trying to make a point about how the person probably best qualified to lead the city won't because of the status quo, not that Carcetti is a victim of white racism. Right?)

Sydnor: "Tell me the thought hasn't crossed your mind that some kinda shit could blow back on us, man."
Lester: "Do you know what Theodore Roosevelt said about hunting grizzly bears? The thrill is in overcoming your own fear."
Rhonda: "What was the thrill for the bear?"

Daniels: "Did he do that thing where he stares at you over the top of his reading glasses? You know, that look that says, 'I'm the father you never had, and I don't want to be disappointed in you ever again?'"

(And then, Lance Reddick giggled. One of the most delightful scenes ever.)

Herc: "Carv, I'm fucked in the ass with a pineapple on this."
Carver: "What the hell'd you say to him?"
Herc: "I said, 'Mister Mayor, that's a good strong dick you got there, and I see you know how to use it.' I didn't say shit!"


Clay Davis: "Major Crimes? Sheeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt."

(I don't think I've ever heard a more masterful pronunciation of the word 'shit' before in my life.)

Valchek: "When the Mayor looks in your face, he knows he can trust you with this. And I'll bet in a couple of weeks, he comes asking real friendly like, what are you looking to do with the department? With your career? He's interested in you. But he doesn't mention no blowjob, and neither do you. Uh uh, it just lays there like a bad pierogi on the plate, both of you pretending it ain't there."

(I could not stop laughing. A bad pierogi on a plate. But honestly, it was good advice. Valchek was right that "Careers have been launched on a helluva lot less.")

Police officer: "He was still conscious and coughing blood when I pulled up."
Norris: "Did you ask who shot him?"
Police officer: "Yeah, I asked who shot him. He said it was a guy with a gun."

Teacher: (to Prez) "You need soft eyes."

(We aren't told what that means, but according to Wikipedia, this phrase is explained by Bunk in a later episode. It means to look deeper than what you initially see.)

So many plotlines, so much going on. Sometimes it feels like I could keep writing for days about each episode. But don't worry, I'm not going to do that. Four out of four bad pierogies on a plate,

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

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