Episode 1 straggling thoughts…

If Al Franken were to name the first episode, perhaps he would call it Lies, And the Lying Liars Who Use Lying Lie Detectors … I’ve watched that first scene quite a few times now, and it continues to make me giggle. What a perfect setup to talk about media and the free press in America. We grew up believing the media was supposed to be society’s lie detector, ready to speak truth to power. Now the lie detector we used to trust is just a rigged copier machine, spitting out what was fed into it by a liar who thinks he is doing us a favor. Awesome. And fucking funny.

 

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If anyone read my first post here, perhaps you remember I used my train ride through Baltimore as a starting point. I also pointed out the prominence of a Johns Hopkins building as I rode through town (more on that later). I thought it was nice of The Wire to include the Amtrak train in Episode 1:

 

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I wasn’t on that train, though. Chris and Marlo have just met, they discuss a little business and they know they are being followed. They seem strangely comfortable with the fact the police are trailing them… like some type of The Godfather characters. Strangely enough, I am getting The Godfather vibes all over me by the end of the show. Fast forward to the meeting of “The Co-op” later in the show:

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At first, I am laughing at the thought of a bunch of drug dealers getting together in a hotel conference room to discuss business. I have spent way more than my share of time in those cheesy divided rooms, drinking iced tap water from pitchers, listening to speakers and often fighting to stay awake. Damn, I’d surely bust a gut if Prop Joe started in on a Powerpoint presentation. The meeting spends time talking about the effects of Johns Hopkins buying up property on the East Side, changing the territories of the dealers. It starts a little shit between Marlo and Prop Joe, East Side vs. West Side. How much more Godfather can you get than this picture?

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Hell, I’m looking for a bowl of oranges somewhere! Does The Wire have the metaphorical equivalent of oranges in The Godfather yet? I don’t know. How about the position of that light over Prop Joes head? Is Barzini getting a cameo later in the shot?

Look at this guy, sitting at the left hand of Prop Joe… he has a rather foreboding look:

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You know that look is is going somewhere later.

And elsewhere in the show…

Thou shalt have no other mooks before me. Gus says to the newsroom crew, “There are a million stories in the Naked City… but today you poor mooks only need to throw me three or four!” Before I went to NOLA at the behest of First Draft bloggers, where I met Ashley Morris, I am not sure I had ever been around the word mook before. Of course, Ashley usually calls people fuckmooks, and I prefer his word, truth be told. Even when he uses it at Texans and Houstonians. :)

I felt some satisfaction when it was Gus that raised the alarm about the land deal with the drug dealer, netting said drug dealer a million dollars. I listen to the journalism types writing here, and I hear what they are saying about journalism on the show. The expensive experienced reporters are getting dumped, the newer kid journalists can’t write so well and aren’t seasoned enough. It is wise ol’ Gus that looks at an otherwise routine council agenda item and turns it into a major story. He’s been around the block, and perhaps the less experienced would have missed the important story angle. I know damn well the same happens in my field of work… it so often seems to me that wisdom and experience in health care is to be spread as thinly as possible to help with the budget.

Those are my hanging chads of observations from episode 1. I haven’t been watching since the first season, so I am sorry if I missed anything obvious. Let’s get it on with episode 2!

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17 Comments

  1. I liked when I heard the “mook” line as well. I’m nowhere near delusional enough to think that was for me, but then, later in the show, we got to hear Ernie K. Doe’s “Mother in Law” on McNutty’s jukebox. I mean, if they had my mayoral candidate (“Vote for the dead guy — it’s important), the Emperor of the Universe his own self on the jukebox, well damn!

    That guy next to Prop Joe looks like the one that Marlo wanted to whack for losing the shipment. Marlo’s gonna violate everything Fruit stood for: “Why you got to go and fuck with the program?”

  2. I like the Godfather take, which (thanks to Pacino’s Looking For Richard) always immediately makes me think of the Richard III take. I could see Prop “Buckingham” Joe strategically retreating to Wales if Marlo commits something truly heinous and scary. Certainly none of the drug noblemen in that room feel very safe in King Marlo’s presence.

  3. Damn, you mooks don’t know that’s Cheese, Prop Joe’s nephew on his sister’s side? Real name of character is Melvin Wagstaff (related to Randy?)

    Played by hiphop royalty Method Man, of the WuTang Clan.

    (see the S4 dvd commentary (I don’t remember which ep) wherein Simon and producer Nina K. Noble hilariously discuss how to correctly address Method Man on the set in order to look cool. “Do you call him Method?” “or Man?” “I just say, “Hey!”” )

    Cheese and Beadie are in a dead tie for the “Most Emotion Displayed w/out Any Spoken Dialogue” in this episode.

    Racy, you really should take in Season 3- you’d love Stringer. A student of economics he instituted the Coop, following the razing by the city of the towers, which rocked the Barksdale drug empire. The coop would result in a better market for all the drug dealers in the city by improving quality of product and reducing the need for inter gang warfare, which would reduce bodies, which in turn would reduce attention from the cops.

    The first episode with the hoppers struggling through Roberts Rules of Order as well as understanding Stringer’s New Deal is a classic:

    “Do the Chair realize we gonna look like a bunch of pussies out there?”

    Prop’s other lieutenant, the wonderful Slim Charles, is correct to warn Prop Joe to keep an eye on Marlo because yeah, Marlo is up to some shit. Got to be. Which is why he sent Chris to look for the info on Sergei. My guess is Marlo is going to try to insert himself above Prop Joe, who is the one single figure that controls the Coops access to the raw shipment from Vondos at the docks, aka “The Connect.”

    Now, here is a good question to think about. Marlo met Vondos last season when Prop Joe had the sit down to prove he didn’t have anything to do with Omar’s heist. At the end of that meeting, Marlo had Chis follow Vondos. So, one would think Marlo knows how to find Vondos if he wanted to. If so, why is he going to the trouble of tracking down one of the Russians in prison? Marlo wasn’t around in Season Two, so he has no beef to solve with any of the Season 2 players. My guess is he wants information- Is he going to go above the heads of both Prop Joe and Vondos?

    If so, well, damn…..

    Re trains:
    Trains are always a symbol in the Wire. Simon has famously discussed his frustration that no one “got” the trains and other visual symbolism.

    From Season 3, the theme of which is Reform:

    Lamar: “What happened to them towers?”
    Mouzone: “Slow train coming”
    Lamar: “Hunh?”
    Mouzone: “Reform, Lamar, Reform.”

  4. Marlo asks the lieutenant on the right hand of Prop Joe, ” how you feel about that Tall Man.” This right hand sort stays on the high ground, saying “I am good where I am.”

    The left hand lieutenant gives the evil warrior look.

  5. No season 3 at my local Blockbuster. Actually, they only have season 1 there.

    Yes Virgo, I am merely a mook…. will I inherit the earth?

  6. Netflix, baby, Netflix.

    and we’re all mooks here.

    (nervously) Aren’t we?

    I think the mooks inherit the moon.

  7. Netflix? My mail carrier is notoriously poor at picking up the outgoing… and my pile of mail already scares me like monsters under the bed did when I was a kid

  8. THAT’s Cheese. I kept seeing his name in the recaps, but I couldn’t remember the actor’s face.

    And racy, watching those conference room meetings, I keep expecting Prop Joe to bitch somebody out for not putting the right cover on his TPS reports …

    A.

  9. Piles of males scare me too….

  10. Didn’t Cheese have a fine pit bull at one time? No mas. And man, the way I look at it, Slim Charles is partially to blame for Bodie getting the head shot. He had enough juice to keep the Barksdale org together, at least as a member of the coop. He folded to Marlo. Bad personal choice, bad bidness choice.

    And Virgo, what kinda crazy biotch are you…Marlo goin’ “above the heads of both Prop Joe and Vondos”? You mean The Greek? Don’t even bring that in here. Marlo be deader than Tupac if he tries that.

  11. Racy: read this for the brief catchup — http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/feature/2004/10/01/the_wire/index.html

  12. I said “if,” Dr. Morris.

    But he’s up to some kind of shit.

    Agreed that Slim Charles was weak.

    He did however, deliver one of the best pieces of dialogue ever, the classic “I’m standin here holding the shot up church crown of a bona fide colored lady….” speech.

  13. I liked that speech by Slim Charles. I liked that Tupac reference I made ’bout the Westsider woman to Bunny at the meeting: “”My cousin Billy Gant cooperated, went downtown and testified. He deader than Tupac today.”

    Marlo has the ambition, but I think his ambition is beyond his grasp. Maybe not. Thing is, Marlo is crazy enough to do what you’re talking about.

    The one thing that worries me is that everyone who has seen spoilers refuses to say word one about Prop Joe. That can’t be good.

  14. I just know a little bit and no more—i picked up the spoiler crack pipe and what I found out made me wish I hadn’t.

  15. Hush up!

  16. But, see, I was LYING!!!

    It’s a theme thing.

  17. [...] Scene 30: Sun newsroom. As Gus watches Templeton fellate Managing Editor Klebanow (don’t have a nickname for him yet, Klebanow’s funny enough), the French Twist metro reporter pokes his wounded pride with a stick by re-stating the obvious: their esteemed publication is about to print a completely fatuous concoction about a fictional character, written by a smug Lying Liar. [...]


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