The Wire: Alliances

"Ain't no special dead. There's just... dead."

We're still waiting for the shoe to drop. Or more accurately, for the bodies to show up.

The opening scene with the boys sitting outside in the dark talking about zombies had the flavor of scary stories told around a campfire, and if this season was about four middle class kids in the suburbs, it could have been played for laughs. But it's not funny. The kids know about the bodies in the vacants, and Dukie even knew who did the killing because he saw Chris and Snoop in action. Later in the episode, the boys went into the vacants and lifted the plastic sheeting on one of the victims because Dukie thought Randy would lose his fear of zombies if he saw the real thing. That was a gut punch of a scene.

Prez is starting to get a clue about the lives of his students, but his new reward and punishment system doesn't take their poverty or home situations into account, and the kids were right to complain that Prez was changing the rules he initially set down. But Prez is trying, and in some ways, he's succeeding. The kids are welcome to eat lunch and do their homework in his classroom, and I loved the scene where Randy actually asked Donut to break into Prez' car because he had locked his keys inside. I was also touched by the discreet way Prez is helping to feed and clothe the unfortunate Dukie, whose family actually takes his clothes away from him and sells them on the corners. And omigod.

It feels to me like there's a struggle going on for the souls of some of these kids. Prez is trying to encourage Michael academically, but Michael almost physically cringes away from him. Chris is actively trying to recruit Michael by giving him money and acting as if Marlo cares about him, and understandably, Michael is taking the cash.

But no one is fighting for Namond's soul. Bunny Colvin's plan to divide the eighth-graders into "stoop kids" and "corner kids" makes some sense, but I hate the idea of the educators giving up on Namond simply because he's behaving the way his parents expect him to behave. We know Namond by now, and he's not a bad kid. Are we supposed to hope for a future for Michael, but not for Namond?

It's less obvious what is going on with Sherrod, who is still ditching school and doing stuff at the corners that got Bubbs beaten up. It feels like the roles are reversed here, like Sherrod is already lost, and Bubbs is the innocent child, doesn't it? Or like Sherrod is a corner kid and Bubbs is a stoop kid?

The bad guys and the cops

I think we were deliberately supposed to think of the boys sitting outside talking about zombies to Marlo holding court on a discarded kitchen chair in the middle of a sea of cement.


Marlo really is like a zombie, an expressionless and cruel automaton who just used Old Face Andre, the minimart guy, to frame Omar. Marlo even ordered a murder so that Omar couldn't make bail. Didn't matter who; that unfortunate delivery woman was just there, wrong place, wrong time. There was something so disturbing about how Chris smiled and helped her get the boxes into the store right before he killed her in cold blood. These guys are so, so cold. Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell treated murder like a part of their business, but were they as cold as this?

In the meantime, what's left of Major Crimes is doing pointless street rips with old information, and their latest raid was a complete bust. Such a waste of manpower and resources, although I suppose it's the way of the world. I so want Daniels to take Major Crimes away from that idiot Marimow and do something to take down Marlo. Maybe it will happen when the police finally find the bodies.

It's almost comical that even the kids know where the bodies are, but the cops don't. Since Lester and Bunk are my favorite characters, I really enjoyed their scenes, looking for floaters and decomps at the morgue like they were shopping at a superstore, and doing a cadaver search at Leakin Park.

(I thought "Leakin" was a nickname or something, but no. The wiki page for Leakin Park indeed mentions that many bodies have been dumped there because it's next to a high crime area.)

Bunk told Lester to stop fretting about the missing bodies and focus on the bodies that have already made it to Homicide, but Lester really is all about the big picture. In contrast, Marimow set up surveillance on Marlo, but did it so stupidly that Marlo knew immediately. If they can't get Daniels back, maybe Lester should be running Major Crimes.

The politicians

It's taken awhile but I'm slowly becoming interested in the election. Because of a lot of hard work and smarts, Tommy Carcetti actually might win this thing – especially since Valchek and Rawls have started to feed him information. I loved the scene where Rawls told Carcetti and Norman about Delegate Watkins souring on Royce, and the two of them waited until Rawls' car turned the corner before racing to Watkins' office. "Wait until he turns the corner… "

Even if Carcetti is for real, even if he wins the election, it doesn't seem likely that he'll be able to make real change happen, though. The world of The Wire, much like the real world, doesn't have happy endings.

Bits:

— In the opener, the boys heard gunshots and instead of running, they guessed what sort of gun it was by the sound.

— Landsman does what he's told, and lies. Norris is back on the Braddock case and Kima is now his partner.

— Herc is not a brain trust. He never even thought about working for the Royce campaign until Carver pointed out that it was in his best interests.

— Randy was lookout for two boys and a girl having sex in the boys room. I don't know what it was supposed to mean, but it seemed awfully depraved and perverse for middle school.

— Not to mention teachers shaking the bushes for weapons. Geez.

— Prop Joe reminds me of Sydney Greenstreet. Did "the fat man" just win Marlo over to the Co-op despite setting up that robbery?

— Wee Bay told Namond to stop misbehaving in school because it made his mother unhappy. A good thing, but for the wrong reason.

Quotes:

"If you with us, you with us."--Chris Partlow

(It just feels like, by taking money from Chris, Michael has already made a choice. If Michael ever needs something important and he goes to Chris, it's all over.)

Norman: "I'm a devious motherfucker once I get going."

Chris: "I'm just saying, talk is cheap. We sit on it, we gonna figure out a way to get that faggot. But till then, we don't say a mumbling word."

(A mumbling word. That's so beautifully descriptive.)

Zenobia: "Look, I won't ever disrespect your pencil again."

(The mention of the lack of pencils and the exploding pens made me think that Prez will be paying for a whole lot of school supplies. That is, if he isn't already.)

Bubbs: "Same kind of nothing, see? That's how the corners be. They gonna use you up, Sherrod."

Marlo: "I don't like to speak in no rooms."

(And yet, he and Prop Joe were in what looked like the rare book room of a library or something. Prop Joe had official documents, too. He's definitely hooked up.)

Donnelly: "Principal Withers just went out on a limb for you, and in this system they know how to handle a chainsaw."

Lester: "Remember when I was a cadet, I was up here on a cadaver search. Instructor gets on the radio to say, 'We're looking for one body in particular. If you go grabbing everyone you see, we'll be here all day,' he says."
Bunk: (laughs) "Leakin Park, where West Baltimore brings out its dead."

Marimow: "All warrants are for prime locations linked to high-level violators."
Rhonda: (sotto voce) "Weeks-old addresses linked to low-level corner boys."

Dukie: "Donut wrong, yo. Ain't no special dead. There's just… dead."

This episode, like the previous episodes this season, felt like more set-up; I'm still waiting for season four to take off. Three out of four disrespected pencils and exploding pens,

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

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