…like a train that is nearly always late

Speculation, not spoilers.

In 58, while Sydnor is doing surveillance on Marlo and Monk, a train passes by on the el in the background. (Dunno if they call it an el in Bal’more. So shoot me. No, wait, don’t.)

We’ve talked a lot about trains foreshadowing death in The Wire. Was this Omar’s train? But Omar died a lot earlier in the episode. Monk? Who cares? Marlo? Maybe, but maybe not.

So I’m thinking about Sydnor, and the repercussions of McNulty’s hubris. We all know that fate will deal McNulty a big steaming cup of remorse by the end of the season, and it’s not just going to be some trivial shit like getting put back on harbor patrol.

What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to McNulty? Not losing touch with his kids. Not fucking up every relationship he’s ever had.

No, the worse thing that we’ve seen happen to McNulty was when Kima got shot and McNulty thought she was going to die and it was all his fault. Like Winston Smith and his fear of rats, the thing that scares McNulty most, the thing that would tear him right in half, is to be responsible for getting a police killed.

Which brings me back to Sydnor. Who has been out doing surveillance in unfamiliar neighborhoods, in plainclothes, stopping at intersections to peer into a map…in a rental car, courtesy of McNulty’s shadow department. They made a big deal about the police getting rental cars, but as anybody who lives in a carjacking kind of city knows, stopping at an intersection in a rental car in a sketchy neighborhood to focus on a map is like wearing a sign that says “Please shoot me and steal my car.”

The camera shot from the passenger seat, showing Sydnor with his nose in his map and the open driver’s side window next to him, I expected him to get popped right then.

And then there’s the train, which Sydnor got a good look at through the binoculars.

I wouldn’t put money on Sydnor catching a bullet, but at this point I am pretty much expecting it.



  1. I like where you’re going with this, but I think that what would make McNulty feel his absolute worst would be if he was not just responsible for a cop catching one, but for a cop and a friend to catch one.

    Even though it may cost me money, I’m thinking that the long arm of Clay Davis may try to take care of Lester.

    In any case, I think theres gonna be a lotta blood in the last 148 minutes.

  2. Yeah, I’ve speculated on Lester before too. His comment “I’ll take it to my grave” when they were marking up a homeless “victim” earlier in the season was too obvious not to take seriously.

    Which still makes me wonder who’s supposed to be on that train in 58.

    In any case, I think theres gonna be a lotta blood in the last 148 minutes.

    I think the Greeks are gonna blow up the levees.

  3. I saw some speculation (I think on TWOP) that Lester has a terminal illness and that’s why he is proceeding the way he is, because he knows he doesn’t have long to live.

    Now, I think I’m not the only here who would say the “terminal illness” mechanism is some trite bullshit more fit for “regular” television, not The Wire. However… it could be likely that Lester, who’s always said follow the money, does realize he’s in the crosshairs the higher up the money tree he climbs.

    Cause the money has to be coming from either way high up the political chain or way low down to the street level. Either way would be dangerous, so for Lester to tip his hand to Clay could likely be some kind of set up. Otherwise, he could have just asked what he wanted to know right then, right?

  4. fyi, on that music feature I just linked to, see the blurb for “Fast Train.” It references the train symbolism. When there’s a train, “there’s always something else going on.”

  5. yeah – i like where you are going with this too. i have seen david simon say that sydnor is most pristine (or something to that effect) character. maybe that sydnor is going along with this plan of mcnulty’s and co-signed by lester is what will doom him. anything happening to him would completely f up mcnulty’s mind even more.

    lester has alluded to death a lot. i’m not sure i see him dying though.

    the more i think about it a lot of individual character’s mortality has been alluded to throughout the series and in particular this season (beadie about mcnulty’s wake; bubbles, walon) but as i am sure you have talked about way before i found your site that is part of the dying of everything that simon is talking about.

  6. Wow, you may be right. What David Simon said was that Sydnor “was the only one to get out without some dirt on him.” Maybe “get out” is a more euphemistic term than I originally realized.

  7. Is he talking professional ethics or personal? What has Kima intentionally done that was a breach of professional ethics? I’m drawing a blank.

    Now, personal ethics, well as she says, she was a dawg to Cheryl.

  8. Thanks for clarifying what David Simon actually said.

    I think he was speaking about “ethics” in general – including fidelity. But though Kima has never had the breach of professional ethics that is so apparent in McNulty, she has pushed things further than Sydnor has or would – remember in Season 3 when she and McNulty would not participate in the investigation of Qyntell (sp?) Woods because they wanted to stay on Stringer – she went in Daniels’ office and challenged his authority. Lester even criticzed her actions and said something about her not giving Daniels his proper due since Daniels raised her; also when she went on a rant during a meeting that would have made McNulty proud (he was missing) and Prezbo remarked that the spirit of McNulty was there.
    Obviously David Simon seems to have some sympathy for those who challenge institutions, but he has also shown us that there is a dirtying of ones self when you engage in those actions.

  9. i think i am confusing the qyntell target in the wire with a one time nba player.
    i am blanking on the full name of the guy that daniel’s unit was supposed to be targeting during season 3 that was dropping a lot of bodies.

    also, i am wondering how david simon reconciles what sydnor is doing with lester with his view of him. for that matter how do any of us?

  10. I totally got that same sense of foreboding when Sydnor is looking at the map in an unfamiliar neighborhood. There is also this idea, harked upon by Colvin, that if you don’t know where in the city you are located… you’re in some serious trouble (re:Kima).

    Also, I don’t see Clay as the type to instigate a killing. He clearly has a street side of him, but at the end of the day he’s a hustler of the political sort, not the corner. And especially not an officer of the law. Also, let’s remember that it is sydnor who actually finds the “headshot” on Davis.

    Of the two, my vote is Sydnor taking one. The question is… what is Sydnor’s hubris or fatal flaw, in the Greek tragedy sense? It could certainly be the very map which breaks the code, makes him an obvious target in Baltimore.

    Also, it’s Kintell “Prince K” Williamson.

  11. Pete, it could just be that Sydnor didn’t blow the whistle when he had the chance. He barely questioned Lester, just followed him right in, then stayed even after he obviously knew about the serial killer plot. So what do you call that? Ambition? lack of insight?

  12. Mr. A noticed something in the last ep that I hadn’t seen: The subjects of the prequels. Omar, Prop Joe, Bunk and McNulty. The first two are dead.

    If that trend continues I will cut a bitch. I love Bunk.


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