Wednesday, October 17, 2012

THERE AIN'T NO SPECIAL DEAD. THERE'S JUST DEAD:  "Alliances," our fifth episode of season four of The Wire (Sepinwall, Goodman), is about moving pieces around the chess board without making any bold plays, with a few exceptions. It's the small moves towards new pairings, however, which seem to matter more:

  • The accumulation of slights and mistakes leading Delegate Watkins away from Royce and towards Carcetti. [And on the verisimilitude front, yes, candidates will be that pissed by being left off an official ballot, and looking at the paid-for-by box is how you confirm it was official. I've been to court on Election Day on efforts to fake these endorsements.]
  • The Partlow/Snoop effort to lure Michael onto Team Marlo, not quite as forcefully rejected as Marlo's first efforts with the school cash.
  • Prez's quieter, one-on-one efforts to bond with his students, as opposed to his classwide effort to impose more disciple.
  • Marlo and Prop Joe.
The bold plays are largely futile ones -- one we've already seen (Marimow's failed raid on Marlo's turf, combined with Herc's poorly-executed surveillance), and one which I can't imagine will end well (the Parenti/Colvin effort to track the corner boys in school). I'm agnostic on Marlo's rather bold move to try to sic the police on Omar, but at least it's not the direct approach which hasn't worked before. 

Moment that doesn't fit anywhere else but bears noting because it amused me: Donut's breaking into Prez's car for him to retrieve his keys.  M.I.A.: McNulty, Omar, Cutty, Bodie, Daniels' abs.  


  1. Marsha12:03 PM

    You don't think the Delegate Watkins moves were big, big changes? I do - and really, I would watch that scene with Rawls and Carcetti and "wait for him to turn the corner" over and over and over again quite happily. That was all kinds of awesome. And I truly love Rawls playing both sides of this game at once.

    I like that Carcetti isn't painted as the only brilliant political operative all the time - his team has a lot of the good ideas, like giving this attack to the third opponent (though Carcetti's speeches both to the opponent and to Watkins were masterful). The political stuff in this season seems much more assured than in season 3, which was supposed to be all about that - maybe they're clearer about where all that stuff is going when they don't have to make it the center of attention.

    Lots of interesting stuff here this week for Prez. I like how you can use the number of kids eating lunch in his classroom as a barometer. I also want to talk about his letting Namond out of detention the first time - Alan's blog comments have the beginnings of a debate of whether that was a good idea. Smart, because it lets the class know you'll be fair, or dumb because it shows the kids they can talk their way out of punishment? I tend toward the former.

    I do have to say that I think the show is cheating a little bit. They have a teacher in place who clearly knows how to discipline and to teach, and Prez is the kind of guy who would have asked her straight off how she does it. (And would not have taken "soft eyes" for an answer.) We see over and over again that they're terrified of her, and Prez asks Namond why he does his work in her class, but it feels artificial for the show to not show us how she does it, or to have Prez go talk to her - it's like every mystery or cop show ever made (or "Lost") where if someone just asked the right questions, you could cut a season down to two episodes.

    Love Rhonda, by the way - "That's on you." "No, no it's not."

  2. Watts1:34 PM

    Agree with you, Marsha about the mad dash back to the campaign car.

    Also loved Bunk getting his groove on while Lester is investigating sewers. I think Bunk and I should hang out.

    Another huge barometer of how far Prez is coming with these kids is that Crystal is wililng to explain Dukie's situation. I'm not sure anybody would have told Prez that on the first day of class.

    I'm also really, really worried for Omar. Marlo is one cold dude and cunning to boot.

    The moment I had to turn away from the screen? Those punks rolling Bubbles - it's like threatening a puppy. Bubs is harmless and everybody knows it.

  3. isaac_spaceman2:11 PM

    Donut is a character that just gets better and better on rewatching.

  4. Jordan2:20 PM

    Leaving out specifics to skirt the rule, a couple weeks after this aired, there was a big to do in Baltimore City about a black politician (a recognizable one, but not one of the ones on which our characters are based) passing around lit on election day claiming endorsement from prominent black politicians who had actually endorsed his white opponent. I may be combining this with something else, but I think their claim in court on election day was, "we can't stop handing them out because we already handed them all out and don't know where they are now." So yeah, fake endorsements are kind of a big deal in Charm City.

  5. Adam B.2:43 PM

    It is okay to talk about the existence of the political world. Just don't root for anyone while you're here.

  6. Marsha3:50 PM

    Oh, my word, yes. Watching Bubbles get kicked was awful.

    And has there ever been anything sadder on The Wire than finding out that Dukie's "family" SELLS HIS CLOTHES? And the look on Prez's face when he realizes just how terrible this kid's life it, and what a miracle it is that he is in school at all.

  7. isaac_spaceman8:10 PM

    I'm just going to come right out and ask, because it's obviously the central question the Wire is asking: NOW would you let Omar babysit Dookie?

  8. isaac_spaceman8:11 PM

    Or Dukie. But I always heard it as Dookie.

  9. Jordan8:23 PM

    Thanks for the clarification. Better safe than sorry.

  10. Adam B.8:55 PM

    His name is Duquan, so I'm going with Dukie.

  11. Great reunion:

  12. Marsha10:18 AM

    Well, Omar's certainly better than what he has at home, but that's not really saying much. But no, I still wouldn't.

    I WOULD however, let Bubbles become his guardian. Probably improve both of their lives.