Motherless children have a hard time

Gonna try a straight up drive by recap, west coast style, this week. Like Ashley says, things are speeding up, so let’s keep track of the all the pieces starting to fly around. (I was planning to throw some screen caps up with this but QuickTime Pro had other ideas.)

Scene 1: Yeah, it’s perfect “Wire-nicity” to revisit someone we just got a glimpse of last season, but the real reason Dee Dee is here to give us a roadmap for McNulty. Her “Bitch wants to kill me” echoes McNulty’s Jimmy Bust Balls, “That guy tried to kill me.” Also another great example of how economically The Wire tells a story. Lots of plots, lots of characters, lots of narrative expo and “rules” in the layering. Even though we know it’s been more than a year since last season, and even though McNulty was practically drunk all during the first episode, we need to have the reinforcement about the nature of addiction because otherwise, McNulty’s actions later this episode are going to look like he fell too far too soon, and DeeDee’s share shows us that’s not the way it works, while Bubble reminds us about the timeline. As for Bubbles, he can’t keep holding his heart in much longer, can he?

Scene 2: Sydnor is a decent guy, and still clean after four seasons, and it’s obvious that he’s considered good police by Daniels or he wouldn’t have gotten this gig, but damn, the kid lacks imagination, doesn’t he? All this embezzlement is okay and shit, but he obviously doesn’t relish it the way Lester does. In fact I recognize Sydnor’s expression as that stage of cognitive fog just shy of a coma that I used to fall into, waiting as my mother sifted through page after page of those ginormous pattern books at the fabric store. Appropriately enough, since Lester is also looking for patterns here among the detritus of the Clay Davis money trail, for something concrete that connects Davis to the mountain of real cash he’s obviously been ingesting, not just these few hundred thousands in misappropriated contributions and tax theft.

As for Lester, well, this scene IS Lester. Part of the tragedy of the “more with less” scenario is that they aren’t making any more Lesters in this day and age. And is it just me, or did anyone else shudder when he said, “I could die happy?”

Pitch to:

Scene 3: The industrious senior partners at Stanfield, Partlow & Pearson, Ltd. are up early and on the job. “She ain’t had no work in a few months. She’s somewhat eager.” Love.It. Obviously Snoop’s not the only one that’s feeling the strain— one of the things that’s always made Marlo scary, especially coming along after Avon and Stringer, is that he was a cold motherfucker. Not just ruthless, we’d seen ruthless before, but this guy had no emotions one way or the other. Cold and smooth as those chrome rims we used to watch him fondling. Obviously, this is changing. We had a little heads up last week when Dozerman noted that it was at least heartening to see proof Marlo that was warmblooded and interested in booty. Still, that’s a long way to seeing him pissed off enough to waste someone for calling him names. Talk all you want about wearing that crown, but the first thing you do after the cops stop being all up in your shit is go out and make some new bodies? And the second thing is going out looking for your departed worst nightmare to bring him out of retirement? Is President Stanfield perhaps looking to stage a pre-emptive war to distract attention away from other fronts? “Let him come” sure sounded a lot like “Bring it on” to me.

Speaking of not feeling,

Scene 4: Bubbles and Waylon, post-meeting: “I don’t feel nothing.” “That was never your problem. Not even as a low bottom dope fiend, that was never the problem. Be a fucking shame to make it the problem now.” Word.

I’m willing to bet Waylon’s read the liner notes for Transcendental Blues. I turned my spare room over looking for my copy, I think it’s at work, but in effect, Waylon’s alter ego tells us that we humans all too often avoid transcendence “because the shit hurts.” Word.

Scene 5: Cops in the squad room discussing secondary employment. “What are you qualified to do?” Hee.

And, of course, “There are no fucking rules. The fucking game is rigged.” McNulty’s tired of being jerked around, so he’s gonna be a fuckmook and blame everyone else. “Pissy little bitch” is right.

Like the little look Pearlman gives Kima to let her know she’s not trying to insult her with the “Gentlemen” and Kima’s “We cool” nod in the affirmative. Sisters have to stick together. Also, a telegraph from the softer, baby-saving side of Kima that’s unwillingly coming ’round the bend

Scene 6: Parking garage: The morning after the long night before. More than a Feeling. Beauty.

Scene 7: Carcetti for Governor Committee meeting. I never can remember blond dude’s name. Michael Steintorf, what kind of a name is that? I just call him Shoulder Devil, since that’s his job, opposite Norman. “The whole world shines shit and calls it gold.” Whatever, Odell Watkins is not a shit shiner, he’s old school.

So we know they’ve got to dig up some dirt on the governor. Also, if Carcetti’s smart, he has got to put distance between himself and Nerese. This means Ashley’s probably right and he’ll do the exact opposite.

Scene 8: The H. L. Mencken Memorial Smoking Lounge, aka the Sun loading dock. It’s hard out there for mothers of four and other dying breeds. Like smokers. Hell, I’d probably take up smoking to avoid sitting in meetings with Whiting. What a perfect name for that prissy old queen, too. Possible seafood toxicity shoutout to HLOTS episode #2 Ghost of a Chance, wherein we learned of Crocetti’s theory re: chromium from blue crabs contributing to Baltimore’s high crime rate.

Next stop, please,

Scene 9: The wheels on the bus go round and round, which is more than we can say for McNulty’s car. Damn, only two cars left for the entire Homicide squad? That’s some sad shit, as is the dead mother of four on the bed who, after a long hard life of toil, is now given one last burden: providing McNulty an excuse to go hang out at the ME’s office.

Scene 10: Lester doing what Lester does best: following the money. But whose? Clay Davis money ending up in some back alley on the west side? Either Lester sees a connection between Davis and the street, or he’s come down with a touch of Sydnor’s nostalgia for a good old-fashioned stakeout. Maybe he just wanted some peace and quiet to read this month’s Dollhouse Miniatures: he’s a bad motherfuckah.

Scene 11: I love the looks of fear and loathing on Gus’ face as Whitey unveils his “Dickensian” Pulitzer bunny. Oh, and how much do I love him for “Oh really? I think you need a lot of context to seriously examine anything.” Oprah, are you listening? But this battle is lost with the death knell: “If you leave everything in, soon you’ve got nothing.” Yup, that’s the job for Scott poster-boy-of-banality Templeton.

Scene 12: Dark out now, and Lester’s logging some unpaid overtime on the stakeout. Is that some lake trout he’s eating?

Scene 13: Back in the newsroom, Gus working on a port story and it appears to be important that we know that cargo is down by 12 but roll on roll off is up by 6. Got it? Gus also dies a little more as Scott is once again rewarded for blandness and mediocrity.

Scene 14: Stakeout. Lester is rewarded as we see the silhouettes of Chris and Snoop rendezvous with the silhouette of someone else, possibly Marlo, possibly some other minion.

Scene 15: The peaceful boudoir of Gus and Mrs. Gus. Our erstwhile city editor wakens and calls the overnight copy desk to double check that he hasn’t screwed up the numbers on his port story. The desk, speaking through crusty old Spry, reiterates: “cargo down by 12, ro-ro up by 6.” We don’t know why yet, but that shit ain’t right. There will be no more sleep in the House of Gus this night.

Scene 16: McNulty cools his heels at the ME’s, waiting for results of the autopsy on the mother of four. He greets an acquaintance, a mature but still attractive blond exposition fairy, whose partner is involved in a testy dispute with one of the coroners about the manner of death of a vic. Nancy, the expo fairy in disguise as a county (not city) cop, shows and tells McNulty how their dead guy, an overdose, came to appear to be a strangulation homicide due to post-mortem wear and tear inflicted in the process of getting his head unwedged from behind a toilet, which is where it ended up when he OD’d . I hate it when that happens.

After this early AM naked and autopsied appetizer, Jimmy takes Nancy up on her suggestion that he buy her some breakfast.

Scene 17: Visiting room, Jessup penitentiary. Marlo is expecting Sergei the Russian, who he’s been priming up with cash, but instead he gets…. Avon! In the flesh, and altogether too happy at surprising his former nemesis, then explaining how because he, Avon, has nothing but love for all things west side, that Marlo’s gonna have to pay 100,000 (to Brianna) in order to get a sitdown with Sergei to discuss hooking Marlo up directly with Vondos and the Greek, bypassing Proposition Joe and taking control of the connect for the main shipment. Avon’s so pleased with himself that he’s all kinds of fun to watch, though we share Marlo’s obvious cynicism that Avon is most likely leaving some of the more crucial details out. I mean, geography is one thing, but dismissing Prop Joe simply as an “east side bitch” doesn’t scan. He’s The east side bitch for one thing and for another, Avon’s known him for a lot longer than Marlo’s even been on the scene. Oh well, what’s a hundred thou or two gonna hurt to further the game a little? Obviously, Marlo’s not entirely happy but what can we say? You want it to be one way, Marlo, but it’s the other. For now.

Scene 18: Lester hooks up with McNulty after breakfast for a walk and talk about the fruits of his stakeout, mainly proof that the Stanfield operation is getting sloppy and it would take precious little time and resources to finish them off: paper clips, a post-it or two, at the most a decent three-hole punch. McNulty re-exposits that the piggy bank is empty and it’s futile to keep rattling it. Apparently this is all the agreement Lester needs to declare that they will now have to go elsewhere to get this solved, Daniels Schmaniels.

Scene 19: Outside the stadium as Templeton trolls for warm bodies to populate his lame-ass opening day story. Okay, maybe it’s a good story, but I don’t do sports, so it’s lame-ass to me. He appears to come up empty. What’s an up-and-coming soul-less hack reporter to do?

Scene 20: At the neighborhood soup kitchen, Bubs waits to be called for his turn to eat. He’s seated in a sunny dining room that would be a lot more hospitable if not for a screeching toddler at a nearby table, working his miserable mother’s, and apparently Bubbles’, very last nerve. It’s also working on something else inside Bubbles and it’s at this moment that we are probably supposed to remember he once had a son of his own, KeyShawn, that we don’t know much about. I’m guessing we’re going to find out more.

Scene 21: Ah, some afternoon parking lot shenanigans with Special Agent Fitzhugh, purveyor of special favors and surplus FBI surveillance equipment. Obviously, the State’s Attorney motor pool can better afford this kind of tomfoolery than Homicide. Anyway, Lester and McNulty try their best to get Fitz to take on their underfed stray case. He promises to see what he can do but things don’t look good. The feds are obviously too busy harassing Quakers and Democrats to take on this low caliber drug war shit.

Scene 22: Sun newsroom. Templeton returns with his [air quote]story[airquote] about a woebegone urban waif in a wheelchair, too poor to afford a ticket to the game, or even a last name. Gus is skeptical of Templeton’s treacle, and arranges for some background corroboration, but but it’s obvious that Whitey’s gonna eat it up and lick the spoon, no matter what.

Scene 23: Office of the US Attorney, that charmer we met last week. Talk about economical story-telling: this is a great scene. I don’t remember this guy’s name but I think we can just call him Snidely Whiplash for now.

Scene 24: MCU secret treehouse, where Pearlman’s been reviewing Sydnor and Freamon’s work on the Clay Davis sting. Long-suffering Sydnor is working the “Questions with an Obvious Answer” shift and dutifully sets up the next scene by asking if Pearlman thinks Davis knows they’re closing in on him.

Scene 25: Burrell’s office. Hee! Davis spewing desperation is like watching one of those giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floats come unmoored and sputter out of control. Sure, you know someone’s likely to get hurt or killed but damn, this is one entertaining spectacle. Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. really pulls out all the stops in this scene— I can only hope we see more. Davis is a blink or two away from crying, watching all his poor, defenseless walking-around money swirling around the drain.

After Clay leaves, Rawls enters Burrell’s office with what we assume are the latest states “straight from PNR.”  Anyone wanna tell me what PNR stands for?  Anyway, it’s a short little scene, to whit Rawls indicates these stats have already been tweaked to the extent they can be and still be “clean.”  We gather from Burrell’s response and Rawl’s summary that the numbers are not good and given the resources the cops have to work with, aren’t going to be getting much better.  Burrell asks, rhetorically, “What are we going to tell the mayor?”  Rawls hems and haws but doesn’t offer an answer.

Scene 26: Fitz delivers the bad news to McNulty. No fed help with Stanfield. No how. No way: “Fish and Fucking Wildlife couldn’t help ya.” Harsh. We don’t see it, but my guess is McNulty’s car took a few more kicks.

Scene 27: Sun newsroom. Gus calls Templeton on his lack of shall we say, truth? But not to bother, Whitey shows up and not only shines Templeton’s thin shit but does, in fact, call it gold. Poor Gus.

Scene 28: From the bright fluorescent newsroom we land in the darkest bowels of hell as Snoop and crew prepare to shoot up the corner of a non-cooperating player. We learn one of several possible things. Either the much-lauded verisimilitude of Boyz in the Hood was overrated or California thugs are better marksmen than our BMore players. Maybe it’s the chromium from the seafood…. anyway, this was brutal. The kid that Snoop hit looked about 12. Hey Whitey, howzzat for Dickensian?

Scene 29: The bar at Trouble Is, This Ain’t Aruba, Bitch Lounge. Say what you will about McNulty’s fall from grace, we are getting some beautifully lit barroom scenes out of it. I could watch this all day, booze and cynicism are such a feast for the senses.

Here’s the real epigraph: “C’mon Jimmy, you’re the smartest boy in the room. You come up with something in this broke-ass city.” Fuck it, Bunk done gone and mocked the the universe. We screwed now.

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.

Scene 31: Chris and Snoop scope the scene on Junebug street and take a few minutes to school Michael about the finer points of assassination planning. Now, these are two people with a work ethic who enjoy getting up in the morning and going to work. No fool, Michael gnaws on the problematic ethics, not to mention questionable strategery, of the task before them: “Why this boy gotta get dead just for talking shit?” Good question, Michael. You’re obviously not cut out for this soldiering gig. Hopefully, you’ll realize it before it’s too late.

Chris gives them their marching orders and they break out, Michael dispatched to the rear alley with orders to shoot anyone that leaves through the Junebug back door. Meanwhile, it takes Snoop all of three seconds to render useless a critical piece of what is ostensibly one of the best CCTV security systems in the nation. Heh. Wonder if we’ll ever get the satisfaction of seeing Snoop and Chris recruited by the feds for an exciting career in patriotic wetwork?

Scene 32: Homicide squad room. The next AM finds McNulty playing with pain, Bunk and Kima being no help at all, what with Bunk asking unnecessary questions about Beadie and Kima ragging McNulty for not even bothering to change the shirt he was wearing yesterday. It’s not that McNulty’s being a dog, it’s that he’s being a wrinkled-ass, sloppy dog and god only know what he smells of. Whaddya bet Kima has at least three of those boring yet crisp and functional Ann Taylors on a hanger in her locker? That cold-hearted bastard Landesman sends McNulty and Bunk out to do some po-lice work at a crime scene.

Scene 33: Junebug back alley. The shit goes down and Michael finds himself training his gun on a kid that could easily pass for Bug. To his credit, he doesn’t even hesitate before turning away in disgust as the kid runs past.

Scene 34: When Marlo met Sergei. In short, the Russian opens with some trash talk about not needink fuckink Marlo or his fuckink money, but he folds just as quickly as Marlo reminds him that he just might need whatever good favor that might result from helping to broker a meeting between Marlo and Vondos and the Greek. Behind Sergei’s back, Avon gives Marlo the international, or at least the West Side, sign for “Guy’s nothing but a pussy.”

Scene 35: Sidewalk prior to a meeting. Bubbles watches yet another toddler and mom. I didn’t realize till the third viewing that this was DeeDee again. She looks happy as does her beautiful kid, and we see the unshed tears come to Bubbles’ eye as his heart once again almost cracks out of his chest. Damn, Royo is good. Waylon is on hand with another opportunity for Bubbles to break through a little, and once again, Bubbles doesn’t take it, but at least this time he doesn’t run away. He seems to hear the message that sooner or later he’s got to “step up.”

Scene 36: Junebug crime scene, which btw, is not where Bunk and McNulty got sent. Kima caught this one and Alma tries to no avail to get a statement from her. Kima brushes past the press on her way into the house. The uniform tells us the back door was open and that not just one, but two, security cameras were disabled. That’s our Snoop with that can-do attitude of hers. The preparation and planning is duly noted, it’s not going to be much of a leap to figure Marlo’s behind this. Other than the three people killed for no good reason, it looks like a nice apartment. Then there’s an awful little sobbing cough, and following the sound, Kima sees a bloody handprint on a closet door. Inside is another terrified kid, smaller than the one that escaped, and she snatches him out of there and whisks him away to the alley where we have to wonder whether his big brother is still hiding nearby watching his world continuing to fall apart. Damn it, Kima’s dry cleaning bill aside, she’s actually had to pick up and nurture a small child in need, not just write a support check. Coincidentally, he’s just about the same age as Elijah. We know she’s not happy about this shit.

Scene 37: Back at the soup kitchen, Bubbles finally steps up, albeit through the back door.

Scene 38: At Bunk and McNulty’s crime scene, another uniform exposits: dead homeless junkie in a vacant, almost certainly an OD. Oh no, McNulty gets An Idea. Because he’s the smartest boy in the room, remember? He heads out to the car for a few swigs of liquid back-up because he knows he’s likely going to be working this one alone.

Scene 39: In the soup kitchen, literally. The red soup on his yellow rubber gloves reminding us of the blood on his hands that got him here, Bubbles scrubs the hell out of every pot in the place.

Scene 40: Back at the crime scene, a horrified Bunk watches as McNulty proceeds to throw away his soul hand over fist: desecrating a body, tampering with a crime scene and giving birth to a fictional serial killer.

[UPDATED to correct a couple brazillian typos and other errors.]

[UPDATED to insert the brief bit between Rawls and Burrells re stats in Scene 25]

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4 Comments

  1. The actress playing Dee Dee is “Genevieve Hudson-Price”. I couldn’t find her in the IMDB or epguides.com credits.

    “I could die happy” — yeah, that sent a chill. Made me flash back to Season 3 when they put a bunch of dope on the table, but didn’t get the big stash house. Hollow victory.

    McNutty callin’ da game rigged. You think he remembers that he’s quoting Bodie?

    Not only do they eat breakfast after hanging out at the ME’s — they eat scrapple. Damn, that’s some kind of constitution.

    Heh…”You want it to be one way, Marlo, but it’s the other.”

    I don’t know what was up with the drive-by. As we all know, drive-bys are excuses to hit “innocent bystanders”. But we saw Snoop cap somebody in a MOTORCYCLE drive by. So I dunno what the problem was. I do know that she has exceptional aim with a pistol. That was even a head shot. Da-yum.

    Yeah, don’t you enjoy the beauty of these old bars? We used to have a bunch decorated like that in NOLA, but the flood destroyed a lot of them. The knick-knacks alone make me want to go in there and grab a double Jameson. Not Bushmills — that’s Protestant whisky.

    Moral question: Michael didn’t cap the kid coming out of the back. Would Chris? Would Snoop? I say Snoop mos def would have, but I think Chris would have let him go.

    I still call Sergei “Boris”, just because it pisses him off. Where’s Natasha, motherfucker? Where’s moose and squirrr-relll?

    I think Avon’s sign meant not only “Guy’s nothing but a pussy.” but also “Marlo, you are still my bitch, bitch”.

    Kima’s Ann Taylors are a new deal since she became the Queen of Homicide. She sure as hell didn’t dress like that when she was a Knocko.

    The layers about Kima picking up the kid were lost on me. Excellent pickup, VTex. Now, what the hell is she gonna do? She was always a horndog at heart — is she gonna go all McNulty on us? Hell, Beadie’s kinda lonely…who knows?

    Now what gets me, there had to be some kind of symbolism about Bubs doing the dishes. I know, he’s still in his self-imposed exile, and wants to be alone rather than doing the meet-and-greet, but man… I know about the “rock bottom” idea, and Sherrod getting not a whammy, but a hotshot, but who’da thought that would be his way to redemption. It wasn’t Johnny OD’ing, but Sherrod getting the hotshot.

    There’s faking numbers, and then there’s doing what McNulty’s doing. Bunk, at least, remembers he has a family and needs a job. Can’t say that for McNutty.

  2. >The actress playing Dee Dee is “Genevieve Hudson-Price”. I couldn’t find her in the IMDB or epguides.com credits.

    Elsewhere I read that Genevieve Hudson-Price is the daughter of Richard Price, the novelist/co-writer in Season 3 and 4, and who ALSO had a cameo in Season 2, as the leader of the prison book-discussion group where D’Angelo talks about “The Great Gatsby.”

    Too bad this show is ending. Maybe the five of us could have negotiated to play bit parts — Bystanders at Crime Scene, maybe.

  3. Maybe the five of us could have negotiated to play bit parts — Bystanders at Crime Scene, maybe.

    heh. noticed you left “innocent” off….

  4. As God is my witness, I almost sent a headshot to Pat Moran so I could be an extra.

    Despite my considerable talent, I always thought the coolest thing would be to have a part where I’m Brandon, all splayed out on a hood in a hood.


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