Wednesday, November 21, 2012

THEY'RE NOT LEARNING FOR OUR WORLD; THEY'RE LEARNING FOR THEIRS:  Leave it to The Wire to go even bleaker as we turn the corner towards the end of season four with this week's installment, "Misgivings," in which one quiet reaction from Chris Partlow speaks volumes about shared pain.

So many things to talk about this week -- how the best work of Carver and Bunny can get horrifically undermined by Namond's mom; how Randy's effort to do the right thing (in the right way) and Michael's to do the right thing (the wrong way) may doom them both; how Marlo takes no chances; how Officer Walker may be the worst of them all, because Donut, while pathological, is largely harmless. But mostly it's about Chris Partlow, who understands exactly what Michael's complaint is, and whose brutal resolution of it makes clear how much he, too, must have suffered at one point. When you've appalled Snoop ... you know something else is going on.

I don't want to miss some of the minor stuff this week: Clay Davis' instruction that Burrell just do "some kind of police shit" to save his job reinforces the same problems we've seen since the beginning of the series. You just can't have a police which is interested in stats first, and you recognize just how bad things have gotten given that we've seen Cool Lester Smooth spend more time crafting his miniatures this season than solving cases. (Marimow, by the way, seems like a direct descendant of John C. McGinley's work in Point Break; he doesn't get the three dimensions others do.)

All the cycles repeat: bad police work gets reinforced. Bad parents lead to kids with constricted choices. Teaching to the test holds back progress. And once you're caught up in the game, death is always on the table no matter what choices you make. It's a cold world, Bodie.


  1. Marsha12:56 PM

    I cried watching this episode. If you'd told me at the beginning of this season that Chris Partlow could make me cry... that was just awful to watch.

    This show is so hard because we're so accustomed to our TV entertainment giving us hope and happy endings. It's hard to see a positive way forward for any of our kids right now, for all the reasons you said above. I want to kick Namond and Michael's mothers (in particular, not that they are the only ones) in the head for what they are doing to these boys.

    Nice to see Elena acknowledge the changes in McNulty. I loved that whole scene.

  2. Watts1:09 PM

    I kind of want to hire Snoop and Chris to pay a visit to Namond's mom. They don't even have to kill her, just mess up her hair and nails a bit. I mean, look at what a good kid he was in the Colvins' house.

    I also loved the whole scene at the Colvins' dinner table with the "Bunny" reveal and pursuant threat.

    Officer Walker made me so mad because it was absolutely not a fair fight in any way: Walker is bigger, stronger, and has the authority of his badge. Can we get Chris and Snoop on him too?

    One subtle thing I did like - even the black cop follows a black suspect based mostly on what he's wearing. (I was thinking of the Good Wife episode with the Bulls sweatshirt during that sequence.)

  3. isaac_spaceman4:37 PM

    The Chris Partlow scene is a nice bookend to the opening scene of the season. One of the things I love about--uh--about the actor who plays Chris Partlow is how he underplays him. Jamie Hector plays Marlo's rage and menace as right below the surface, spilling out of his eyes and balling itself up in his jaw muscles and the veins in his temples, so you see Marlo as a man whose control over himself is itself an act of superhuman strength. Partlow's violence is stashed away somewhere far deeper, so, as in the opening scene this season, there is a shocking tension between the violence and control in his actions and the gentle calm of his voice -- "shh, it'll be painless, I promise." When we get to this episode and all of that buried rawness comes out, it makes an impression.

  4. Watts7:28 PM

    I really appreciated that moment when Michael is talking to Snoop and Chris about taking out his stepdad and Snoop's not entirely getting it, but Michael says something, and Chris cuts his eyes sideways at Michael and you can see in that moment he understands exactly what went on. And at that moment, takes the job and stops Snoop asking any more questions.

  5. Gbenga Akinnagbe, the actor, has popped up a couple of times since The Wire. He and arcs on The Good Wife and Nurse Jackie as well. Always very solid.