THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 3 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 3

July 14, 2010 by  

Week 3 of The Wire Project brought Baltimore’s police closer to their targets in Avon Barksdale’s crew.  Utilizing their wiretaps, Lieutenant Daniels’ team gathered substantial evidence about the movement of drugs into the projects. The little details being assembled, however, unearthed pieces of their case that fit a larger, much more ominous puzzle.

On the other side of the law, D’ Angelo had to reassure Wallace that a life spent playing “The Game” was worth living.  A few blocks away, Avon & Stringer paused to consider the ramifications of Omar’s imminent retribution and Orlando’s extracurricular activities.

As the plot thickened, I reached out to my friend Heather for help.  With Green Tea on tap and my Wi-Fi connection at full strength, we tried to make sense of this complex batch of episodes.  Since The Wire Project is a group effort, please chime in with your thoughts and theories.  This show is a perfect example of why GIVE ME MY REMOTE exists, to foster conversations about TV’s best from a community of thoughtful readers.

Erik:  This week, we’re going over the big picture events of episodes 6-8 of Season 1. Is it just me, or did a LOT more happen in this batch of episodes than our first disc, with eps 1-3?

Heather:  I think we’re past the establishment phase and well into the major plots. I’ll give David Simon credit – he does NOT condescend to his audience. He got rolling and we’re either on board or not.

E:  Right, and though I can’t pull all the major characters’ names off the top of my head, I have a good sense of where they fit into the hierarchies (on both sides of the law)

H:  Sometimes I have to just guess from the context who someone is. And just when I get to know someone, he gets shot. I was so proud that I figured out Stinkum finally and…then it didn’t matter anymore.

E:   Poor Stinkum. I never imagined that sentence would ever leave my keyboard

H:  Is it wrong that I’m rooting for Omar? It was so great when McNulty turned to Freamon and said, “We’re still cops, right?”

E:  Omar is the gay, drug-dealing answer to Dexter.

H:  And very Shakespearean,  by saying, “if you’re going to be the king, you have to kill the king.”

E:  More chess analysis to come…

H:  The very first scenes of ep 6 set up an interesting, if not very subtle parallel between Wallace and D’Angelo with their different morning routines.  Wallace wakes up the kids for school and sends them off with juice boxes and bags of chips. D’Angelo wakes up to a hot stripper making him breakfast.

E:  The perks of “The Life” are what drew D’Angelo to it.  Wallace, on the other hand, doesn’t seem at all motivated by greed. He’s a complex kid.

H:  I agree. I wonder if those kids are his siblings since he seems to be raising them alone. He really added depth with his reaction to Brandon’s death.  I never expected us to be seeing so much of one of the kids who hangs out on the couch at the pit.

E:   Me, neither. I am 100% torn on where the Wallace/D’Angelo parallels are supposed to be driving the narrative.

H:  Especially since D’Angelo seems to have hardened again from the vulnerability we were seeing last time. I was disappointed in him, honestly.  To use your chess analogy, Wallace is a pawn and we don’t expect to see much backstory from a pawn.

E:  Yes, D’ Angelo’s world view is closer to a pacifist when there isn’t a hot stripper to be bedded.  Once money & women are around, he does not appear hesitant to flash a gun

H:  Man’s gotta have priorities. He also was kind of boneheaded when he told his friends about Orlando’s plan. Did he do that on purpose?  Another example of showing off that backfired?

E:  D’ Angelo seemed to have a more sophisticated understanding of the political structure (and “codes”) of the game. Then he throws Orlando under the bus, and I don’t think he realized what he was doing.  Speaking of codes, Episode 6 also launched the last gasp of hope for the wiretap investigation, when Major Rawls ordered McNulty to wrap things up, make his cases, and get back to work at Homicide.

H:  As someone who works in local government, I know people just like Rawls. He needs to make certain numbers in order to keep his funding and keep his own job. I get it intellectually, but they are not painting him with a sympathetic brush.

E:  Especially how quickly he put Santangelo on notice to watch McNulty’s moves

H:  So far, the drug dealers are far richer characters than the police

E:  They are more layered, perhaps as a consequence of the dangerous nature of their business. The cops don’t seem to be in danger yet, but all the players in “the game” are constantly at risk

H:  I thought it was hysterical how Santangelo reacted to the “spy or solve a murder” ultimatum. Like it was a horrible thought to do his actual job.  The cops get to go home at night (or to a pub), whereas the dealers don’t go home.  The street is home.

E:  So far, the veteran cops  have been pigeonholed as drains on the taxpayers

H:  Correct. Whereas the “natural police” seem to be obsessed.  Can you imagine if Ex-Mrs. McNulty knew what her boys were up to when they’re with their dad?

E:  I LOVED that scene, and how proud McNulty was as a father for their Hardy Boys’ impression

H:  When McNulty brought the boys along to pick up Omar and take him to the morgue, I was afraid they were being preachy and predicable with the workaholic dad thing…but then that scene in the farmer’s market and McNulty’s telling of the story to Bunk later really made it great. Totally unexpected.

E:  I think you mentioned this last week, but McNulty has grown on me, too. He is imperfect in every way but his job.

H:  If this were a Lifetime movie, the boys would have been kidnapped and McNulty would have to learn a valuable lesson about the importance of family.

E:  After marrying Tori Spelling, who had met him while running from her abusive biker boyfriend…

H:  He’s still a self-rightous prig, but he has to be to resist the institutional pull of being complacent. That scene where he shows up at the D.A.’s door and he’s torn up about the possibility that he might lose his job was really moving.

E:  Before Stinkum was laid to rest by Omar’s impressive shooting acumen, he was a key player in an arrest.

H:  Yes! And who should they arrest, but the kid who lost his eye to Prez,  Kevin Johnston

E:  I’ve always read about David Simon’s sense of continuity, and bringing Prez & Kevin back together was an ideal example of it.

H:  It was so eerie when I noticed the eye patch and penny dropped for me. And it also shows how much they have redeemed Prez in my eyes in just a few short episodes. He is digging his dorky code-breaking butt out of the hole quicker than I ever imagined.

E:  You were ready to see him kicked out of Baltimore after he pistol whipped Kevin Johnston, and now he’s the hard working nerd.  Unfortunately, the detectives made a mistake by leaving Stinkum out in the open…Avon and Stringer sussed out the possibilities, and got rid of the pay phones in the yard.

H:  I know that Avon is the king, but Stringer is totally the mastermind here. Avon can be kind of emotional, paranoid, but Stringer is cold and businesslike.

E:  Another reason I need to watch the Godfather I & II, right?  To understand the role of the #2 man in criminal organizations?

H:  Yes, absolutely. Stringer is the consigliere.  It’s usually a lawyer, but looks like Stringer is going the MBA route

E:   I don’t remember any felons from my Intro to Macroeconomics class.

H:  That you knew of…

E:   Good point. Hey, you’re a lawyer. They do call it, “Criminal Enterprise,” right?  Maybe Stringer’s just confused between that and Free Enterprise

H:  This just shows that we are not dealing with your run-of-the-mill criminals here. They are very, very good at a job that has layers of inherent challenges.  No car, no cell phone, no driver’s license….

E:  If Stringer was ever elected Mayor of Baltimore, he could legalize drugs and use the Laffer Curve to figure out the correct rate of taxation for them

H:  And Baltimore would suddenly be the richest city in the world.

E:  I’m for it, just to see the Orioles be competitive again in baseball.  Welcome to Stringer Bell Park, where tonight’s game is sponsored by Avon (No, not the makeup people)

H:  Crystal Meth and Oxycontin at the refreshment stands.  Great combo meal!

E:  Two more items to chat about before we turn it over to the GMMR community…First, there was a big bag of cash

H:  That was unexpected, wasn’t it? Leading to the great line by Lt. Daniels: “If you follow the drugs, you have a drug case; if you follow the money, you don’t know what you get. ” It did lead me to wonder for the first time, where DID Avon get his start-up capital?

E:  I think we’ve entered the “Connect the Dots” portion of the season, which will hopefully pay off by Episode 13. Otherwise, I’m going to be very angry with my DVD player.  I always assumed Avon was financed by Bear Stearns, and that the series would end with the reveal that drug dealers caused our financial crisis

H:  I keep thinking, with all of these plots, that I can’t believe we’re getting this deep, this quickly. How can we already be at the corrupt elected official stage? There are 4.5 more seasons! The breadth and depth of this thing is already impressive to me…

E:  Avon appears to be a guy who knew a guy who put him in touch with another guy.  He’s like the real life version of your Facebook “Recommended Friends” page

H:  And that “another guy” turns out to be a state senator, apparently.

E:  After that reveal and revisiting the one-eyed perp, I have decided that every detail of this show is connected. My head is already spinning

H:  Yes, I’m worried that I’m already missing things. I can see why people go back and watch from the beginning even when they’re already seen it all. I think it rewards multiple viewings.

E:  That’s ok. We have friends along for the ride with us, and I’m already assuming that they’re catching more than I am.  Last item before we go: our pal Bubbles’ apparent epiphany at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting

H:  Oooh…I did not know what to make of that moment. I thought that he was genuinely moved in the moment, but then it wasn’t long before he was high again.

E:  The cops would be lost in this investigation without Bubbles and Omar.  We socialize with people who don’t have rap sheets, and I would imagine that escaping a pulverizing habit like that would be 10 times harder on the streets

H:  No kidding. They’re not allowed to go straight or the cops would have no where to go.  The look on Bubbles’ face was heartbreaking when Johnny laughed at him and pointed out that they had just gotten high that morning

E:  But it has to start somewhere, and I think Bubbles is a guy who maintains a smile because he would be dead without a glimmer of hope

H:  As if Bubbles imagined something better for himself for just a second and it was gone.  I don’t know, Erik. We’ve heard enough about the show to know that the DVD box set might as well have “Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Open” on the cover.  I’m trying to keep my expectations low.

E:  On that optimistic note, we’ll hand this discussion over to the brave souls who are reading.

Which characters are you most suspicious of?  Where do you think the investigation is headed?  What do you think of D’ Angelo’s relationship with Wallace?  Can Bubbles clean himself up?  Who are you rooting for to emerge unscathed by the end of the season?

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