Thoughts on The Wire: Season 5, Episode 1 – More With Less
Ok, so as I understand it, about a year has passed in “Wire Time” since the last episode. Actually…about 15 months, thanks to a Wire run-down from the House Next Door [courtesy of Howie the Hype Guy]. I appreciate the extended “previously on the wire” part at the beginning….but I didn’t feel caught up enough. Luckily, about a week ago, I was able to re-watch the last episode of season 4…flipping around the tube by chance. But I’m sure everyone wasn’t able to do this….so, David Simon, this being the final season, I would’ve valued a longer time-lapse montage with tight music much more. Yea, I know….the Sopranos did this before their last season. Well….it worked, didn’t it?
I’m curious….since Bunk, Ed Norris and ‘Professor’ Landsman have been doing the copy machine/lie-detector trick (among similar hijinx, I’m sure) for about 20 years, how do they decide who gets the McDonald’s, the royal treatment? It’s been so long, you’d think they would have a system sheerly because of the monotonous attitude they convey; the decision can’t be random. Common sense would say that the police would choose the one who they think would be fooled the easiest, but you can’t always use ‘common sense’ and ‘Baltimore cop’ in the same sentence. Besides, I’m sure there have been many times where both perps would easily give up the info just the same. I can picture Bunk now, cigar in his mouth, taking bets that his choice will be fooled with the grand lie.
Public Enemy #1: Marlo Stanfield — He has Chris Partlow go down to the courthouse and look up the criminal record of Sergei “The Russian” Malatov, the all-purpose enforcer for The Greek. Sergei aka “Serge” aka “Boris”, who is really Ukrainian, is jail for the rest of his natural life. As he’s leaving, Chris sees Jimmy McNulty outside the records office and gives him the ‘sucka please, you can’t catch me’ smirk. But that’s exactly why Paltow is gonna get caught up, perhaps with Marlow doing the deed himself [ok, broad speculation]. Partlow should’ve shit his pants when he saw McNulty, knowing he left Malatov’s file on the counter, and that Jimmy is good police.
“I slur when I’m tired, that’s all.” - are we really to believe that ol’ Beadie Russell didn’t hear all that loud bar music in the background?
Loved the response when Jimmy asked Sydnor about the port case. “Naw, I don’t know…I wasn’t with you.”
So what’s the reason for Chris’ check of the records? My boy Adam and I had a pretty good conversation about this as he was giving me a ride home. He thinks that Marlo is going after the supply line himself….eff dealing with the New Day co-op. Here’s my take:
Marlo Stanfield is a true hustler who is smart enough to see and sometimes play all the angles when they can benefit him. First of all, “bargaining” homeboy down to the 60-40 split, with the threat of death upon non-compliance, makes Marlo the Wal-Mart of thuggin.
Then, he tried to put Slim Charles on the spot at the co-op meeting when he prodded Prop Joe about why he didn’t offer county territory to new, up-and-coming, cats, specifically mentioning Slim Charles. Calling him out like that, I know it’s just Marlo’s attempt to put ideas in Slim’s head, stir the pot a little. Slim naturally responds that he’s good where he’s at. But really, what did Marlo expect him to say? Marlo knew that Slim would not think of showing a hint of dissent…especially not in front of the co-op; he’s not stupid. More games, more angles from Mr. Stanfield; the “flattery” he sheds upon Charles could become an interesting plot line.
But the suppliers, the Greeks….how exactly would Marlo go about circumventing Prop Joe to get to the source? 1. Would the Greeks do it? Well, that depends on how Marlo is asking. Is he snatching cookies off the tray, or is he requesting politely? Regardless, I’m not so sure the Greeks would move. A quick recap on the Greeks (thanks to Wikipedia): We already know that Serge is in jail. The Greek fled the country. Spiros Vondas, the Greek’s right hand, also left the country, but then came back last season, hence, the New Day Co-op supply line. Eton the drug smuggling and peddling Israeli was about to go to jail on trafficking and racketeering charges. And the appliance store guy, Double G, was shot dead by Ziggy.
If Marlo really wants the supply line, it would make sense that he would have to go through Spiros. A jailed Serge can’t do much outside of providing a contact, perhaps more background if threatened. I’d like to believe that Marlo has enough connections to get a one-on-one with Spiros without having to go through The Russian. We all saw the interaction between Spiros, Prop Joe and Marlo at last season’s meeting to quell Marlo’s suspicions that he was set-up, when it was really Omar who knocked them over the head for the shipment. Spiros trusts Prop Joe. He is more than comfortable with the current arrangement. And I can’t think of a reason why he wouldn’t stay the course.
As Adam says, “There’s always someone ready to step up, no matter what.”
A big decision coming up for Dukie Weems – Michael Lee takes him off the corner and says that before lil’ brother Bug comes home from school, the time is his, he can do whatever he wants. Which path will he choose? Looking for trouble? Well, just like Dukie said himself, he’s not Michael. But trouble doesn’t only come from the corner. We’re left with the obvious hope that he starts going back to school himself, or at least continues with the advancements he made under Mr. Pryzbylewski. But along with the theme of the entire Wire series, there is not a lot of hope going around in cities like Baltimore. Besides, Simon can’t possibly go all of the final season without following up on the school system…at least give us a taste.
On to the Baltimore Sun….standing around watching a fire, huh? Nice parallel comparison of the newspaper business standing pat, resisting change, and watching readership burn down to nothing. I gotta give props to the Washington Post, their online insider blogs are a big differentiator….at least those related to sports.
David Simon is not only bashing the newspaper…but also the journalists. They’re portrayed as a bunch of crotchety old men resistant to change [
Before, I kinda rooted for young Tommy Carcetti. He was the believable young politico with genuine aspirations. Yea, yea…I always saw glimpses of that desire for stardom, but I still believed that he’d do the right thing. As soon as he made that first jump, the highest peak to climb…white mayor in Baltimore….as soon as those birds started chirping in his ear, the governorship opened up like the brightest light at the end of the short tunnel. Just like turning heel in the WWE, or as my dad calls it, “wraslin”, Carcetti became your typical cock-sucking politician with one swift move. When Tommy didn’t accept the money from the governor for the schools, those damn schools…just because he didn’t want to lose face, he chose himself over the city. Tommy Carcetti passed that point, and he’s not going back.
“We lowered the body count just by sittin’ on ‘em.” - Leander Sydnor
On top of that…yea, the writers played that Fed up to be a Republican dick-head — but the thing is, I think Carcetti was more concerned with acting like the Feds owed him (or Baltimore) something. That arrogance led to him slamming the door on the help that they needed. It’s a give-and-take world and you can’t always protect your self-perceived laurels.
“One thieving politician trumps 22 dead bodies. Good to know.” - Cedric Daniels
“Herc” Hauk was always a fuck-up…or in the middle of one….or fucking it up for others [Randy and Bubbles to start]. It’s also good to know that some things never change. Now, Herc is what I believe to be a Private Dick/security detail for lawyers. He buys his ex-cop buddies drinks, because they are depressed SOBs who can’t afford booze, in exchange for insider cop information for the lawyer, Maurice Levy (originally of the Barksdale Crew), for the criminals his ‘buddies’ are trying to catch. And Levy encourages Herc to step his game up. Cops getting drunk off drug money, nice.
“Kid, it’s time you learned something about the expense account.” - Maurice Levy
And to end, what will be the next more of…..
“The Prodigal Son” - Jay Landsman
(Are you telling me that McNulty desk kick didn’t knock down some of those gingerly stacked papers?)
Next time on the Wire
- The nights are going to get longer.
- Clay Davis is mad and will do what it takes to protect his.
- Surprise! Marlo must go through Avon to get to the Russian. (so Adam is probably right….Marlo is on Operation New-Day Circumvent)
- And, more bodies from Marlo.