Through the looking glass

“If you have a problem with this, I understand completely.”

Epigraph for Episode 56, The Dickensian Aspect

to which I would add:

“I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don’t trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it. ” — Charles Dickens

Discuss first impressions if you wish. Any spoilers should be flagged.

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9 Comments

  1. My favorite thing so far is Lester’s Stand: his explanation to Sydnor about the illegal wiretap. It carries a moral authority that McNulty’s actions have lacked. Despite that, it’s also a little scary to hear it stated out loud. It’s honorable, and also crazy.

  2. Random shit:

    So we had some predictions come true:

    1. It really was pictures on Marlo’s phone.
    2. Chris does have kids.
    3. Even Marlo thinks Omar is Spiderman; he is, he just sucks at it.

    I like how Marlo burned down the Reichstag tonight. Well done.

    McNulty has gone from a most loveable but flawed character to a fucking asshole. I hope Marlo does him one. And why isn’t he drinking more? He’s dressing up in fancy suits and drinking beer instead of whiskey. WTF?

    I still hate the serial killer plot. I still think it’s a bizarre and twisted way to dramatize dishonesty and manipulation in the media, a topic that could have been done with more grace and subtlely.

    If the serial killer scam is exposed (which might explain why the CSI lab is suddenly so central to the show) then it brings down Templeton, the Sun management, McNulty, Freamon, Daniels, Rawls, and Carcetti. If Carcetti is embroiled in scandal, Royce suddenly becomes a player again. Never saw such incompetence in a Royce administration, did you.

    Also, that phone number that Gus gave Templeton…a fake number? A setup? Gus hates Templeton and knows he’s a bullshit artist. To get proof of it could help knock down the serial killer house of cards.

    I think Chris is anxious enough that it’s going to give Marlo a reason to be rid of him. Chris is a wild card. He’s not a robotic killing machine any more, he’s a stressed out little energizer bunny. He’s scared, and not just for himself. We know Chris was a sexual abuse victim, so he maybe runs around with some untreated PTSD in him, and one common symptom of PTSD is hypervigilence, so his concern for his kids could make him act in unpredictable ways.

    Talking out my ass here. It’s late.

  3. You talk better out of your ass then I usually do from my mouth. keep it going.

  4. By the way, if you turn out to be the real Tito Landrum, I want an autograph.

  5. Parallel structures:
    So we see two people making stuff up. We see individuals like Bunk and Gus representing “Good Po lice” and “Real Newspaper folk” and what pisses off the “Good Po lice” and “Real Newspaper Folk” is when BS is rewarded. Especially when it gets in the way of the real work.

    Both Bunk and Gus know the difference. And when it gets in the way of the real work they get pissed. Jimmy’s reason for the deception is more “noble” but even he is now questioning how far he is going. That is very clear based on the last scene.

    As much as we talk about Jason Blair or Stephen Glass, this is also really about Judy Miller. Note that like Templeton, her publisher and others like politicians are happy to use her for their own goals. I remember asking, “Were was Judy Miller’s editor? How did he let her get away with that stuff?”

    Well we are seeing it here on a smaller scale. The publishers LOVE the attention. See how happy there were that Templeton was on TV? The are at the heart of the story! Nancy Grace is gushing over him. (I hate Nancy Grace, but it was an good choice for the show.) He talked to a guy who was responsible for the death of lots of people! Sexy! It bleeds it leads. Wheee!

    I did note that Carcetti first going to appeal to our best nature, helping the homeless. (Bush=Patriotism). Now Carcetti COULD have gone the other way, “The scary serial killing is going to get you!”, but since he is killing the homeless the taxpayers probably won’t get worried until it appears he is going after them.

    People within the New York Times probably knew that Miller’s sources were thin. There probably was a “Gus” there who didn’t trust her. But with the “Build up to the Showdown In The Gulf.” and the excitement at striking back at “terra” were there were “real targets” with real stakes that was the more meaty story. Now the NY Times Could have gone the other direction and fought the administration. But if they did they couldn’t get into all the juicy exiting meetings and the cool narratives from Curveball that helped sell the war that the WH was pitching.

    Jimmy and Lester are selling a narrative for their own purposes, to get funding. Templeton is buying for HIS own purposes, to get circulation and TV exposure. You sell the sizzle. The publisher is happy. But as Gus points out (and as Athenae has many times) the real stories ARE out there, and they are better than the made up stuff. You would like to think that the PTSD story will get the same play as serial killer, but it won’t, why? Because crap shoves the real story off the front page. You CAN find the real narrative in the real world, but it takes work and you can’t just make it up or take what the others are feeding you. I don’t often talk about the role of PR people in the news but the PR people (and the people trained by PR people) can often be very clever in how they develop the narrative and how they use newspapers for their own goal. If you know what the journalists want and you then give them the sizzle, they will bite. A good editor will see though the bull but a publisher who cares more about the look than the truth will run with the sexy story.

    They might have been aware that the WH was using the NY Times, but they didn’t stop it, because the narrative and the story is too good.

    I’ve said to Scout before, one thing that NOLA needed was someone pushing the federal flooding story in the media. Someone who knows what the media wants and what will play. Things that will attract national press in new ways. If I was in charge I’d be picking fights with the WH, lining up experts, doing heart breaking pieces, economic stories, betrayal stories, funny stories, success stories. I’d make sure we had controversial stories challenging current racially charged narratives. This is something that the people in charge with rebuilding could have been doing (and to some extend were), but they had their hands full with the actual work it might have seemed silly to them that they would have to line up all these elements in the story. But as Jimmy found out, real dead bodies don’t get coverage, you have to package it for the publishers. If nobody is there to push narratives that work– and there are plenty of good ones– by default the narratives of the “officials” will run. Or the narratives of the uninformed. If you don’t have an narrative for them, they will try and fit you into their narrative.

  6. Dueling McGuffins

  7. One thing that struck me about this episode is how well it exposed McNulty’s combination of naivete (sp?) and optimism. That is, despite all his bitching about the hierarchy and their priorities, he really believed that if there was a serial killer on the loose – even one killing “mere” homeless men – resources would flow. It’s kinda heartbreaking to see how far he’s willing to push the situation in order to get the response he truly believes will come. (Don’t get me wrong – he’s still an incredible asshole.)

    An unrelated question for y’all Wire obsessives: do we know who was Prop Joe’s connection inside the courts? Or is that yet to be revealed?

    Lastly, the coming attractions for 57 were amazing – makes your blood run cold to see Omar with a gun to Michael’s head…

  8. I’m trying to cobble my thoughts about McNulty together in my post, hopefully forthcoming. I did actually feel sorry for him this episode and I wasn’t happy about it.

    As far as I remember, the only mention we’ve seen of those grand jury records was Prop Joe giving information to Marlo when he was trying to woo him into the Co-Op. I think what he gave him were the records of the Barksdale wiretaps. He told Marlo the stuff was public record but my guess is he may have obtained it before it became so. It would make sense that the person in the hot seat for the entire connect would need to know whether he was being targeted.

    I’m wondering if WHO it is will be as important as the fact of WHAT is happening. Of the City Hall attorneys we have followed, none seem likely candidates. However, news of a compromised Grand Jury would certainly affect the Clay Davis deliberations, would it not?

  9. I don’t think Gus gave Templeton a fake number. Gus passed Blair the same note that Fletcher gave Gus.

    I think that Prop Joe got the sealed stuff from Levy. No telling who Levy got it from.

    What is going to mess up the whole process is if Omar gets to Marlo before Lester does. Think on that one.


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