Goddamn. I knew something was up with Lester, but I didn’t think it would be… this. Or this soon. Lester is jumping on board with Jimmy’s plan to create a serial killer. Damn, Lester. Why did you do it?
Allow me to get started on the overanalysis.
This picture is Lester doing great police work. The consummate investigator. It was Lester’s methodical drive, intelligence, and experience that led him to this point, and he knows he could be on to something big. He is soon to discover the first dead body in the vacants. This is also Lester in the midst of revelation, a vision. Walking ahead of Bunk, he stands with a staff in his hands. Is it the wizard’s wand? Has he been wandering in the wilderness? He hasn’t taken a board down from a vacant yet, but he is experiencing a vision of some kind, and it is telling him…what? Well, I say more than the fact that there are dead bodies nearby. Hell, perhaps the measly stick he holds is no match for the crowbar he will need to physically open the building in front of him. No matter. Lester knows what is inside the vacants, and he knows things will not be the same. We leave that episode with Bunk staring almost helpless at the huge “vacant” building and the sound of railcars kicking in. As Lester breaks open the case of the 22 dead bodies, the one that gets national press, you might even get the idea that in addition to wisdom and experience, Lester has “the touch,” maybe, that intangible that separates the good from the best. Lester loves his work. Lester loves being a player. And the 22 murders are looking to be quite the score for him. That’s what players do…they score.
At the end of S5 episode 3, Bunk is present in the small interrogation room while Jimmy explains to Lester “the lie”that is Baltimore’s next serial killer. Lester thinks, then tells Jimmy he is doing something wrong with this fabrication of a criminal mind. Bunk watches on and gives in to a look of relief, momentarily believing that Lester’s wisdom can be imparted to Jimmy. Bunk just bought new patio furniture, we learn. He is not having any part of the Jimmy’s shenanigans this time. Come on, Lester! Help Jimmy see the light! But Lester just leads in to his own ideas on how Jimmy’s fictional serial killer can successfully bring the money, and the game, back to their police work. It is true… no money, no game. And Lester wants to play.
I had Lester pegged wrong for a while. I was thinking of him as a cop, not a player. This is a mistake in a world where the game is the game (see Ashley’s post ). I forgot that nobody can have one side, good or bad, in this show. The cops and the crooks here are playing the game. One game. It may even be a rigged game for some, for those little bitches, but still, the game it is. Lester could “die happy” bringing in the Clay Davis case on the high level money trail. We have no idea who may fall, but Lester would consider it a crowning achievement to a life’s work. A big score... just like a damn drug dealer.
Before jumping on Jimmy’s serial killer plan ( a runaway train if I have ever seen one), Lester spends much of the previous episode on stakeout, waiting for Marlo to fall into pattern. “They always do.” Lester has a thing for patterns. He is alone in his car, without pay, reading, watching and listening to some great old school soul music. Black Coffee is playing at one point:
“I’m hanging out on Monday my Sunday dreams to dry…”
The song is about someone waiting on a lover, one who maybe isn’t coming back. Heh… Lester is waiting on Marlo, and we know he will always come back. But will Lester’s opportunity to play the game? It is the Sarah Vaughan version of Black Coffee, the oldest version by my count. It is no secret Lester is an older cop. The workings of the BPD, this season and before, cannot be giving Lester any faith that he has a secure place in a player’s position. A guy like Lester, who wants to make the big score and “die happy”, perhaps is feeling the ground move beneath him. He knows he can’t stand still. He wants to play and score even if it means sharing credit with the Feds, who Lester and Jimmy asked for help… but poor Lester didn’t know that idea was already as dead as a body in a vacant.
No local money, no state money, no federal money. To borrow a phrase popular in the New Orleans blogosphere and elsewhere, it is as good a time as any for Lester to have a Sinn Fein moment. Ourselves Alone. Lester said, ” if 300 white people were killed in this city every year, they would send in the 82nd Airborne.” I found the words out of character for Lester because it is such a militant, political statement. And being a player, the Lester I know doesn’t care about the bigger politics so much, or where the money comes from. The player wants the score. But we should also remember, as Ray points out here, that the language about bringing in the military for dead white folks mirrors language used about New Orleans after Katrina and the flood.
Now we have Lester acting somewhat out of character, going along with Jimmy and the fake serial killer scam. Why? His people are broke, alone and abandoned in the face of a tragedy. They are on the verge of not being players anymore. They think surely we will be rescued. Surely the Government wouldn’t do nothing in the face of 22 murders? This is America, we shouldn’t be abandoned!
Well, give it up Lester. No one is coming to help you!
Maybe we should go easy on Lester and his people for their actions… maybe after all they have been through, the tragedy, the 22 bodies, the broken promises, the outright denials from those who could help, perhaps they are just shocked to find themselves still alone, on the verge of not even being players anymore. Shocked, I say. And in times of shock, trauma or abandonment, people are vulnerable to ideas they might otherwise turn away. Lester is on board the runaway McNulty Express now, thinking up devious sensational twists for the serial killer’s next victim.
Dare I say, more to follow…
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