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The Wire Season 5 Ep 2 Review: Cheaters May Yet Prosper

January 14, 2008

“Unconfirmed Reports”
It’s getting good.

Bubbles is in rehab struggling with fully participating in the program. It’s the memory of Sherrod that’s holding him back.

Marlo’s new aim is to cut out the coalition of dealers and buy his product direct. However, to accomplish this, he sought out Malatov (you’ll remember from the port). To get to Malatov, Marlo discovered he has to go through Barksdale, who as you might guess is running things in the bing. Barksdale says he’ll call “bygones” on the past beef he had with Marlo in favor of some West side Baltimore solidarity. Michael, meanwhile, sent on an errand, a murder over a petty squabble between Marlo and a low level punk, sees the futility of playing the drug game.

McNulty suffers under the weight of being dismissed from major crimes and he’s back in homicide taking calls, drinking and chasing women. When he stumbles upon a natural death and apparent suicide, he gets an idea. He’s going to turn the suicide into a murder and report there is a serial killer loose in West Baltimore.

In the papers, Templeton is riding the executive editor’s jock by simply being a simpleton. Templeton has the instincts for modern, short term memory theater news, and clearly has a future ahead of him as a producer for Dateline NBC. The only person standing in his way is Haynes, who smells the stench of a faked report about a handicapped kid who wheelchaired his way to an Orioles game.

Carcetti is clearly becoming less and less interested in Baltimore and more and more interested Annapolis. Rather than take the chances his maverick campaign promised as mayor, he’s going to play it safe and make moves calculated to further his career.

Davis is going down, and without a fight. More the better for him because he will drag as many down with him as he can get his chubby fingers around. Carcetti could be one of them.

Michael is starting to wake up. It appears he may have had the same kind of conversion away from criminal enterprise as did his boxing mentor. Michael is still young and remains responsible for the care of his little brother Bug and his friend Duke. This week’s incident may not be enough to scare him straight.

Barksdale is setting Marlo up, no doubt. He’s going to get out of jail soon and he would like the path clear to retaking his territory. The question is, does Marlo realize he’s being set up, or even if he doesn’t, will the attempt to get him out work?

This episode is about cheats – cheating in service of the greater good or in service of self. We of course react that cheating for whatever reason is bad. However, most of us watching the series with no respect for the drug dealers who plague Baltimore or anywhere else would like to see Marlo go down. I imagine we’re rooting for McNulty’s plan to work. Templeton, the nutter, is just a twat. He’s not even a pitiable sociopath like Stephen Glass, he’s just a career minded nutter. However, his decision to fudge a story involving inner city Baltimore can have long term impact on whether citizens can be made to understand what goes on in the city’s ‘hoods.

This season, The Wire appears to be cataloging the dissolution of respect for our institutions, the police, the media. I don’t know that that’s a particularly compelling issue, seeing as how we’ve generally not had much respect for these institutions for years now. The examination of media scandals like the one’s to be unleashed this season may not make for gripping drama (see also Shattered Glass again). We can expect the strength of the actors to carry the weight again this year as it happened with the talented crew of young actors who kept our attention despite the lack of police drama last season. As evidence I offer Dominic West as McNulty realizing that he could re-energize the Marlo investigation at great cost.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2008 10:23 am

    Barksdale’s getting out soon? Did I miss something?

  2. January 14, 2008 11:40 am

    I seem to recall him saying he is in this episode.

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