Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SPREAD THE WORD, DARLING. OMAR BACK:  Oh, indeed. The thing about The Wire's season two episode "Hot Shots" (Sepinwall, Ariano) is how familiar Baltimore is starting to feel again. The band is getting back together, only there's a lot more people involved this time around -- we see the power and oiliness of St. Sen. Clay Davis, only from another angle; we see Prez carry forward what he learned from season one's Barksdale Organization investigation to enlighten his father-in-law Valchek, only to see Valchek use that information only to continue a vendetta against Burrell; we see McNulty's "I am the most brilliant police in the history of ever, ever" shtick deflated by Bunk and Lester in a scene so satisfying to the audience that one wondered why it didn't end with Bunk asking whether McNulty liked them apples.

And while the police are pursuing their unknown (to them) targets without much in the way of its best tools (outside the medical examiner's office), the Barksdale Organization yet again demonstrates how effective it can be when it wants to be using the lowest-tech of surveillance tools, with one exception: how could Avon be so sure that D'Angelo would take heed of his warning?

[In the meantime, life for blue collar white ethnic males in the early part of the 21st Century is frustrating, and job prospects are fleeting.  Cue "Atlantic City" and Roger and Me, and does anyone need a camera?]

One thing about this episode initially rang false:  the Donette/Stringer scene. It just felt like too much of a cliche, especially with the "I'm an XL"/"No doubt" flirtation, and out of character for the otherwise austere, business-focused Bell. But then it occurred to me: Stringer's there to get Donette to visit Dee in prison, because that's important to his business interests; if this is what Donette wants (and she clearly does), he's got to do it. Power is power, and Donette has it here.

So bring your tweedy impertinence and Budapest-bought boobies to the comments, and let's talk.


  1. Marsha11:37 AM

    I felt like I was watching this episode in a haze - several plot points didn't get through to me until I read Alan's recap. So it's hard for me to say much here, as I feel like I missed a lot of stuff.

    That said, I continue to be amazed by the acting on this show, particularly Dee and Omar. It's hard for me to watch the scenes of Omar with his lovers (both this season and last) because it's so hard for me to reconcile the brutality we've seen from Omar with the tenderness he shows in his personal relationships. For most of our other characters in the Game, the ones we see with real romantic relationships are not the ones we see taking glee in violence, but Omar is a walking contradiction. He's a man who loves deeply and unabashedly, and yet also truly enjoys striking terror in the hearts of his victims. It's hard for me to watch sometimes.

    And it's taking me a little while to allow Amy Ryan to click into this role - she is so fully Holly Flax in my head, that I can't yet fully think of her as Beadie. It'll happen soon, I'm sure, and this week went a long way towards it. Completely agree on that scene with McNulty and Bunk - brilliant, and my favorite of season 2 so far.

    Am I the only one that is finding the world of the docks less compelling than the world of the low-rises? I know season 2 is famously slow-starting, but I find myself relatively uninvested in the Valchek vendetta, the cast of characters at the docks, and this particular case (maybe because I already know what actually happened?) I'm still invested in our real police and in the Barksdale contingent and have no problem being interested in the show because of that, but the big arc of this season isn't doing much for me yet.

  2. Marsha -- if you can't get Holly out of your head when you see Amy Ryan as Beadie, imagine how hard it was to see her as Holly having previously seen her as Beadie!

  3. Randy1:47 PM

    The funny thing about Amy Ryan as Beadie: it totally made me fall in love with her as an actress.  Which is odd, because it's not really a showy role, like an Omar or Stringer.  But she's just SO GOOD.  And she was amazing as Holly on The Office, too.  (She was responsible for me wanting Michael to have a happy ending.)  And have you seen Gone Baby Gone?  Amazing, amazing work.  (She's also good in Win Win, which is a movie that I believe only one person hated, and that one person was me, but that's another topic.)

  4. Cecilia2:37 PM

    To answer Marsha's question: yes, on my first viewing of this series (when I watched all five seasons within a month), I found season 2 less compelling and slow.  This time around, I still find it slow, and I totally agree about wanting to hurry up and get back to our Season 1 gang.  But I think season 2 is playing the long game.  I won't go near any spoilers or characterizations other than to say that I'm just noticing how many themes, and people, and issues get their groundwork laid here.  So I think season 2, even more than season 1, is one to try to stick to watching one episode a week and trying to just let everything sink in and appreciate it. 

    And I think season 2 may be funnier than season 1, which I had not noticed before -- tweedy impertinence, the McNulty comeuppance scene this week, and is this the first time we've been treated to an Omar "Indeed"?

  5. Marsha2:50 PM

    djg - an excellent point. Though I don't know if Beadie is going to even darker places...

    (By the way - just noticed in watching an old Office episode that Holly's full name is Hollis. Which seems far too hip for the likes of Holly Flax.)

  6. Marsha2:51 PM

    I'm also quite curious what the producers are trying to say about homosexuality - now we have Omar choosing to partner up with a pair of lesbian thieves?

  7. Andrew2:53 PM

    The montage with Bunk and Lester questioning the sailors on the Atlantic Light is a funnier piece of editing than usual for the Wire: "Mishy gishy gushy gushy mishy mushy mooshy motherf---er."

  8. Randy2:53 PM

    Speaking of tweedy impertinence, that whole quote is Jay Landsman gold: "Although there is some small charm to a woman in uniform, the fact remains we work plainclothes in homicide. This is not to say that the clothes need be plain. For you, I would suggest some pantsuits, perhaps, muted in colour. Something to offset Detective Moreland's pinstriped, lawyerly affectations and the brash, tweedy impertinence of Detective Freamon."

  9. isaac_spaceman3:06 PM

    You still don't sound convinced about Omar as a babysitter.  Come on!  You have to break through those first impressions. 

  10. Marsha3:32 PM

    Still not convinced.

  11. For me, the "Valchek vendetta" (great name by the way) is compelling because of its sheer pettiness.  One can't help but think that's how so many things start in the world.  And I hope it's not too much of a spoiler to say that it begins a sequence of events that can't be forseen and are much larger than a stained-glass window.  Again, that we may have some idea what happened, but the "how" and the playout are worth hanging in to watch.

  12. Season 2 is really the first hint at what I consider the largest thematic aspect of the show, i.e. the death of the working class in America.  It's the contraction of the blue collar world (represented by the docks storyline) that leads to many capable and resourceful young men like Stringer, Omar, Bodie, etc to the violent and brutal worlds they live in.  And it's shown here in how a young guy like Nick Sobotka can't provide a life for himself as a working man anymore.

    To me at least, that's what The Wire is really about.  It's not about cops or drug dealers or the pursuit of justice.  It's about how the death of the working class means that the ONLY option left for most of these guys is a life in the game.