Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The Wire Season 5: "More With Less"
We're all familiar with the mantra of "doing more with less." We've bought Malt-O-Meal bagged cereals. We've worn Keds. We've made trips to the $10 Store and put tap water into our detergent bottles. What have we learned? The diluted detergent doesn't get the clothes as bright. Pro-Keds don't hold up in gym class like the Jordans. The $10 boutique wears shred into dishrags after a few shifts at Citibank. (Doubling up and wearing them to the club on Thursdays and Fridays doesn't help either.) Malt-O-Meal $1.99 bagged cereal is incredible, but that's entirely beside the point. The season 5 premiere of "The Wire" only outlines how this principle holds true in the dope game, the precinct and our newest medium of interest, the newsroom. With Mayor Carcetti funneling every last penny he can muster into the much-maligned education system we observed last season, it is the police department that suffers the most. With cutbacks across the board, The Wiretap All-Stars (AKA Major Crimes unit) must be disbanded with the exception of team captain Cool Lester Smooth and his file lackey, Det. Leander Sydnor. Left with only the resources to track down Clay "Sheeeeeit" Davis, Major Crimes watches its 4-season stalwarts McNulty and Greggs return to homicide. As we all know, an ounce of prevention in the form of a fully-operational MCU following niggas around and listening to burner conversations is worth far more than 12 humps staring at John Does and, at best, BNBG witnesses. As effective and intuitive as certain members of Major Crimes have been, it's a little surprising how aloof they were of the notion that the "Streets Is Watching." What makes you think you get a free pass to climb up buildings, sit in unmarked vans and conveniently pretend to buy newspapers without some hopper getting the eyeball on you? Despite being an excellent, dedicated unit, they exhibit the tragic flaw of a natural police haughtiness that allows those on the other side of the law to stay on the offensive and a full step ahead. It was still pretty hilarious how Bunk and Landsman tricked that poor kid with the photocopier and Mickey D's. It was almost as bad as watching a rock-dumb motherfucker like Herc buy valuable information for Levy (Avon Barksdale's Jew lawyer) for a round of Budweisers and well whiskey. When he finally learns the intricacies of the expense account, all of the Baltimore Police Department's tactical secrets will belong to the Barksdale organization. I'm sure it all fits on one sheet of paper. One-sided. Sgt. Ellis "You Gon' Take Care Of Me" Carver had his hands full dealing with the backlash from disgruntled, underpaid Western District officers. It was nice to watch him yell some of those bastards down. It's even better watching his continued maturity, exemplified by his being entirely cognizant of the bullshit he fed his men. "Professionals get paid. That's why we call them pros." Watching the only police department I've ever rooted for suffer this way only take me to the immortal words of Reg E. Cathey as Querns... I mean Norman Wilson. "When the governor threw that $50 million on the table, you should have picked that shit up... [Without it Carcetti] is just a broke-ass mayor of a broke-ass city." Many readers have asked me questions like "Ronnie, did you ever work for a newspaper?" or "Would you ever want to write for The Times?" Aside from the fact that a publication like that would never allow me to speak as candidly to the public as I'd like, this episode outlines exactly why Ron Mexico could never write for your local newsie. As Bunk and Omar have implored, "man gotta have a code." As exemplified by a great many news sources and bridges burned therefrom, sources are reluctant to trust these vinegar and baking soda doucebags with j-school degrees that will roll on them for some front page love. I also have no desire to work with editors, directors and otherwise executives that have "mastered" a ghost of the medium we navigate today. I don't need some 60-year-old in my ear about how he got Deep Throat to spill over crab cakes and pinot grigio 35 years ago. The field is nothing like what it was in their day, and for the most part these smoke-blowing relics would be better qualified to irrigate an African village than to oversee an effective publication. God does indeed still reside in the details, though. The Baltimore Sun's editor on the program is flat-out awesome. "Yeah... Stay hungry like that." Back on the skreet, Michael ended up having to put Dukie on nanny patrol. That's cool. Duke don't belong on that damn corner no way. It's like "Everybody Hates Chris" out there for him. Marlo may have been better served NOT popping shit in the co-op meetings. Being that he plans to get a line out to Sergei Malatov (Season Two), he might want to keep a low profile. But eh, that's too simple. Lisa Stansfield's illegitimate son is not one for tactful discourse. He's no diplomat. Marlo's just a gangster, I suppose. To assure he'd meet the right man, he had his African warlord lieutenant Chris Partlow go up in the municipal building and jack the mugshot photo from his file. Life got a little sweeter as Chris was further able to watch everyone watching him. If he didn't retain everything that was being said about his operation within earshot, he was 5 seconds away from overhearing Daniels and Pearlman discussing his case. He peeped McNutty on the way out of fucking with Sergei's file. Season 1 or 2 McNulty would have been all over that. I don't think the connection was made. Maybe because Jimmy's spending less time being good police and more time fucking around on Beadie Russell. That's a good woman, and Jimmy doesn't even have the decency to step outside the bar to call her. Anyways, what did you take from episode one of the final season of the greatest television program ever to happen to ever? We'll discuss episode 2 (and Bubbles) tomorrow.