Wired on The Wire: “React Quotes” – Season 5, Episode 5
“In business, in life, what you learn to appreciate the most is a dependable man. One day, same as the next.“ -Vondas
I’ve got questions: Are the Greeks untouchable or what? Are they dealing with Marlo because they have no choice? It’s clear that Vondas’ words are a warning to Marlo. But it’s hard to tell just how much leverage these Greeks have, the size of their operation. Are they in Baltimore by choice or by necessity? When it comes to ideals of reliability, the Greeks and Marlo aren’t speaking the same language.
We rarely see Marlo show emotion. He’s a competitor with a perpetual game face. But when Marlo is walking away from the meeting, when he’s crowning his head, that’s the rare emotion. You can see the hubris in his step, a peacock walk.
Is Omar Real?
Will David Simon ever tell us the tale of Omar’s great escape? I’m sure it’s possible he could be off in the shadows to the right on the balconies. As my boy Chris said, he’s not sure if he’s ever seen Omar scared before. Another previously unseen emotion from a Wire character.
Donnie, Butchie’s boy who got shot by the Stanfield soldiers, is the real-life inspiration for Omar’s character. The New York Times has a great story from August ’07 about his marriage to Fran Boyd, who happened to play the nurse administering the HIV test to Bubbles. Both grew up in the Wire’s Baltimore, Donnie Andrews being a murder of drug dealers who was eventually caught by Ed Burns. Boyd, a former addict, was a basis for Simon’s series, The Corner. The connection between the two from there was only natural…..just like the departure of the real Omar’s character as the fictional Omar escaped death. [NY Times Slide Show]
That’s Our Jimmy
What if The Wire were a mystery? I’m glad it’s not, but what if we digested the show not knowing who was “murdering” the homeless? Would the scenes between McNulty and the reporters be believable? I’ve had several discussions, and have even written about McNulty’s crime fixing being overboard with the potential to leave a bad taste in the mouths of viewers. But perhaps skepticism of Jimmy’s scheme occurs simply because we’re aware. Or maybe we are subconsciously assuming that regardless of Jimmy’s adept detective work, the Baltimore police are f-ups and even the best and brightest fall victim to the failing system portrayed by Simon.
For instance, in the scene where Jimmy, Alma and Scott meet at a bar, I can’t tell if Jimmy McNulty is a bad liar, or if Dominic West is nailing the scene. Meaning, I trust that Jimmy will cover the odds and ends of investigative details. However, his interaction seems, at times, that he is leaving himself susceptible to being a victim of his own lies. Aren’t they at a bar in the middle of the afternoon? I don’t know what time the 2nd edition of the Baltimore Sun is due….but Jimmy getting day-drunk in front of the reporters strikes me as a bad move.
What goes towards selling this rouse is Jimmy’s passion for solving the crime, along with his past dedication to case work. His colleagues know this, and that’s why they put up with his antics, although Bunk is intrinsically against what’s going down. We’ve grown to be sympathetic with Jimmy’s partner in crime, his drinking buddy. But in reality, Bunk is like the rest. He’s definitely not going to volunteer his ass to be on the line. Not to say that Bunk hasn’t shown himself to be a capable detective, he has…but Bunk Moreland is interested in self preservation when Jimmy tossed that idea out the window long ago.
Everyone in Jimmy’s life is telling him the truth to his face: Jimmy’s ex-wife, Bunk, Beadie.
But Jimmy is not listening, and I can’t determine if he doesn’t want to hear their message, or if he is intent on believing that what he’s doing is right. Overall, I’m afraid that Simon is setting McNulty up for a major crash and burn. Beadie asks Bunk if he expects her to believe that it’s all about a case. No, it’s not. It’s about something bigger and I think that McNulty’s reasons are a redemptive reflection of his character.
Jimmy begins to walk over the thin line when he says he doesn’t have time for his ex-wife’s bullshit. The very next scene we find out that he missed his kid’s concert, and that’s the B.S his ex-wife was incessantly calling him about . I think that’s very telling to Jimmy’s state of mind. And damn, his kids got old….but Elena (Callie Thorne) sure is fine.
The Politics & Prose
The tide turned quickly on Nerese Campbell, didn’t it? State attorney Rupert Bond is using Clay Davis as a stepping board to become the favorite candidate for mayor. The truth of it is that Nerese’s dirt, such as shady real estate dealings with Fat-Face Rick, is just as susceptible to exposure as the next crooked politician. But just like the next crooked politician, she’s got dirt on others as well.
“Think I’m going to be the scapegoat for the whole damn machine? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.” -Clay Davis
There it was! Probably Clay Davis’ best ‘shit’ ever. Nerese is getting pretty good at the ‘you carry this for all of us’ speech. She’s playing these men, Davis and Burrell, to her benefit…..calling Clay “Senator Davis” and everything. I was somewhat surprised that there were so many people at the Clay Davis rally. It wouldn’t have happened without former mayor Clarence Royce.
Carcetti does have plenty of mayoral promises to Campbe
ll. I wonder what the backlash would be if Tommy C took his hat out of Nerese’s ring. Would she carry water into the sunset? I suppose…if Carcetti’s run at Annapolis is serious enough.
“Embracing the hard choice, it’s one of the burdens of command.” -Carcetti
The streets are what ultimately pushes Dukie….to where? We still don’t know. For those who realize that they aren’t made for the corner, for those who want to get to the rest of the world…..what are their choices? I am curious as to why the option of education has not come up for Dukie. It’s common knowledge that urban public schools are no safe haven by any means. But I’d like to see more of the glimpse of hope that Dukie reflected under the tutelage of Mr. Pryzbylewski.
“Not everything comes down to how you carry it in the street.” -Cutty
Everyone knows that Dukie has the potential to build solid character, but he’s not a rock. As Michael tells Dukie, somebody is always going to try him, no matter what. And that’s the solid force to which Dukie cannot stand up. This is the inner city environment that David Simon portrays so well. It’s not only about the failing education system, or the drug pandemic, or the violence…..it’s the persistent tests. Those other factors limit the chance for success for the masses and increase the survival odds of the fittest. The tests in the face of those affected on a daily basis create either a victim hardened or victim broken down.
“Sorry bubs, shame ain’t worth as much as you think. Let it go.” -Walon
Bubs keeps trying to find a way to atone for Sherrod’s death….a way to pay for his sins. He thought that HIV was going be his out. Too bad. Still, Bubs is one of the few with hope. And that’s Simon’s point. Despite all the ills of the system, the structure, there are individual rays of hope.
You Can’t Bullshit A Bullshitter
Scott Templeton is made out to be such a douche-bag that it’s borderline absurd. What newbie complains about an assignment from the city desk editor? Not to mention the arrogance he conveys at the idea of getting react quotes from the homeless. Maybe the enduring bratty look on Scott’s face is simply the result of over-acting by Thomas McCarthy. The point that we should be unsympathetic towards Templeton is really driven home.
The lies of Scott Templeton are revealed through in his negativity….Scott is almost disappointed to the level disgust upon returning to the city newsroom from procuring homeless react quotes. But then, all of a sudden, salvation shines through with words from a family of four on the streets…..Nathan Levi Boston was his name. If Scott were a good liar, he’d feed the positives to Gus at the onset. Oh did I mention Templeton’s selfishness? He doesn’t think twice about taking a story from his colleague, Alma Gutierrez.
When thinking about the homeless problem in America, a Malcolm Gladwell article, “Million-Dollar Murray,” which appeared in the February 13, 2006 edition of The New Yorker is a great read. Here are a couple excerpts:
“Homelessness doesn’t have a normal distribution, it turned out. It has a power-law distribution. “We found that eighty per cent of the homeless were in and out really quickly,” he said. “In Philadelphia, the most common length of time that someone is homeless is one day. And the second most common length is two days. And they never come back….”
“The next ten per cent were…………..episodic users. They would come for three weeks at a time, and return periodically, particularly in the winter. They were quite young, and they were often heavy drug users.”
“It was the last ten per cent—the group at the farthest edge of the curve—……….. They were the chronically homeless, who lived in the shelters, sometimes for years at a time. They were older. Many were mentally ill or physically disabled, and when we think about homelessness as a social problem—the people sleeping on the sidewalk, aggressively panhandling, lying drunk in doorways, huddled on subway grates and under bridges—it’s this group that we have in mind.”
And that’s what makes the scene at the soup kitchen with the ambitiously callow Templeton so classic……..
“The reporter the Sun paper sent over, Not exactly Bob Woodward.”
I sure do see a lot of chronically homeless in DC. Hard to believe that Templeton didn’t find any good react quotes in a city 45 minutes to the north. Then again, maybe the DC homeless are just more talkative than the Baltimore homeless. That would definitely be funny if a study found that the homeless within the District of Columbia have a ‘Beltway Mentality’. But more likely, Scott’s laziness is far worse than his fabrication.
Over The Lines
McNulty set the perfect trap for Scott by purporting a second call off the record. But does Templeton know that Jimmy is lying? It would be reasonable for him to think that another wack job….or even the real guy called actually called the cops. Whatever it may be, flags should be raised for Scott. Will he check his unethical behavior, or get further caught up in the lie?
The fact that Scott went so far as to concoct a call from the Homeless Bite Murderer could contribute to the thoughts of those who object to this season’s over-the-top script writing. Templeton is taking an irresponsible risk, and the leap is even larger for the viewers. Would it be more believable if McNulty faked a call afterall?
Sparking increased court appearances is Maurice Levy’s indirect way of stealing from Marlo, which seemed inevitable. I wonder if Maurice did Prop Joe like that, or if he’s trying to take advantage of Marlo’s naive cultural and economic awareness. Levy all but tells Herc to give Marlo’s new cell number to his cop buddies. But Marlo has street smarts, and I can’t exactly see him throwing complete trust in Levy…perhaps he tests that trust at some point.
I must admit disappointment being aware that Marlo knows to only talk about life outside of the drug world over the phone. When Freamon hears the scrambling sound at the end, he will no doubt connect point A to point B. But with the Fed money “dried” up, how can the ineptness of the Baltimore police department, where no one ever checks the wire room, keep up with the technological advancements of Marlo without equipment upgrades of their own?
“Take me off your clock.” -Marlo
On the next Wire:
- Randy Ain’t Going
- More Bodies Are Needed
- Scott Spending the Night With the Homeless, Really?
- What’s Slim going to do about Marlo with that look?
photo by nickhall