There were arguably more important developments in this week’s episode of The Wire than Omar‘s stepped-up campaign against Marlo’s operation, but none more viscerally entertaining than seeing him take out pieces of the empire.
It remains to be seen whether his vendetta turns out to be a suicidal one — you can’t like the odds of one gimpy outlaw against Marlo’s whole crew — but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little rush watching Omar do his thing.
(I will not label my spoilers "et al" and then lose track of them.)
Omar’s leap off the condo balcony last week was not "some Spider-Man s**t," as Marlo puts it. Nonetheless, he still has the wherewithal to get quickly out of sight after hitting the ground and crushing his ankle, hiding out in a supply closet in the building until the cops and everyone else clear out and then limping away using a broom for a crutch.
Dude must be a fast healer (or have access to some quality painkillers), though, because the way he got the drop first on Fat Face Rick and then on the guys on Marlo’s corner did not seem like the moves of a man too hobbled by an injury. (Also loved the background chatter in the latter scene: "It’s Omar! Yo, it’s Omar!")
The deaths of Butchie and Donnie, and his own near-death experience, seem to have pushed Marlo over the edge. He tells his targets he’s calling Marlo out as a "b***h," breaking his no-swearing code. And while he obviously didn’t intend to harm Fat Face Rick — having exhausted his ammo at the condo, he didn’t even have a gun until he took Rick’s — the attack on the corner could have gotten dicey really quick if any kind of reinforcements had been around.
It’s oddly heartening, though, to have the larger-than-life Omar back on The Wire. I’m not sure his scheme will really work in the end, and I fear for him a little bit. But if (or when) he goes down, he’ll go down the way he wants.
(And if he does, I have almost no doubt that it will be at the hands of Chris Partlow. Of Marlo’s people, he takes Omar far more seriously than any of the others, in part because he knows his own family may come into harm’s way. The plan to draw Omar into the condo was, in a way, a sign of respect for Omar’s skills, and the scene where Chris repeatedly throws a knife into the floor demonstrates just how upset he is that the plan didn’t work. Marlo is lucky to have Chris as his No. 2.)
OK. Moving on to the other important developments in this week’s episode, "The Dickensian Aspect."
The homeless case. The cops, City Hall and the Sun all converged on the case, with Carcetti delivering a great speech to the press about how society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members and Daniels showing he’s a natural in the spotlight by laying out just what was possible in the investigation.
The reality, of course, falls way short. McNulty gets all of one extra detective — Kima again — to work the case, and Daniels gets a hard lesson in politics ("Don’t look so shocked," Rawls tells him after the news conference. "You’re runnin’ with the big dogs now").
Meanwhile, McNulty’s fake case interferes with the real police work Bunk is trying to do, having drawn a line between the beating death of Michael’s stepdad and the bodies in the vacants as Marlo’s handiwork. The understaffed crime lab, however — the lab that’s already irretrievably botched the evidence from a majority of the vacants — has the homeless case as its top priority, meaning Bunk’s cases will languish even longer. It’s a wonder he didn’t take a sledgehammer to the lab right then and there, but I have to believe we’re near the point where Bunk just can’t take any more of McNulty’s crap and brings the house of cards down.
At the paper, meanwhile, Templeton shows that when he really wants to, he can be a fine reporter. Having decided that homelessness is a more "Dickensian" story than failing public schools, executive editor Whiting decides to scrap the earlier project and have Templeton take the lead on the new Pulitzer bait. And for once, he really steps up, spending a night on the streets and talking to a homeless Iraq veteran for a story that even Gus praises (not that his suspicions are completely allayed; he has Scott run down a complaint about an earlier story, but it’s not clear whether Templeton actually does).
McNulty and Freamon. After bringing Sydnor in on the Marlo-homeless shell game, Lester discovers just what’s going on with those dead-air calls Marlo is making to Vondas: They’re sending pictures back and forth. A regular tap won’t work, so Lester badgers McNulty for more equipment and more men to follow Marlo on a re-up, which leads to one of the night’s funnier lines — "I don’t want to hurt your feelings," McNulty tells him, "but I see why Daniels cringed every time you opened your mouth. You’re a supervisor’s nightmare."
Kidding aside, what McNulty did this week left me feeling more queasy than any of the other fictions he’s spun so far this season. In order to get Lester the equipment to see and decode Marlo’s picture messages, he snaps a phone-camera picture of a way-gone homeless guy and builds a backstory about the killer only sending photos of his victims from now on. He then proceeds to fake the guy’s identity and drive him down to Richmond, a good 150 miles from Baltimore, to get him out of the way. The guilt McNulty felt as he left the guy there, fumbling with the crusts on a sandwich, isn’t enough for me to let him off the hook.
The co-op. Smart move by Marlo to own up to Prop Joe’s murder, but his arrogance in handling the other members of the group — appointing Cheese to take over Hungry Man’s stake, arbitrarily upping the price of the buy — can’t be a good long-term play on his part. That cockiness has clearly served him well, but the co-op has too. His unwillingness to see that could come back to haunt him — though that might only be in our minds, as I have a feeling Marlo will still be standing in four episodes’ time when the series ends.
The leak. The detective on Prop Joe’s murder finds a stack of old grand jury indictments and transcripts in Joe’s store — which means there’s a leak in the courthouse that has helped Joe and his cronies stay a step ahead for who knows how long (Landsman cites one specific case, but surely that’s not the only one). The file makes its way to Daniels; he in turn passes it along to Rhonda, who takes it to her boss, State’s Attorney Bond.
I’m curious what your read is on Bond’s rather cool reaction to the file — was it, Oh jeez, one more fire to put out, or Oh crap, someone found this? The story didn’t go much further than that this week, but clearly it’s something that could have repercussions down the line.
Other odds and ends:
- Man, did my heart sink when Randy — older, harder and with a look in his eyes that says he’d never trust anyone again — walked into the room with Bunk. I didn’t buy his "Get this police out my face" declaration as he left the room — that was for show with his fellow group-home residents — but the damage done to him by the cavalier treatment he got from the cops last season could not be clearer.
- Nick Sobotka is alive and well and heckling developers and politicians at the port. Granted, it’s hard to blame a guy for being pissed when he sees his former livelihood turned into condos, but if I were Nicky, I wouldn’t be drawing too much attention to myself, given his recent criminal history.
- Carcetti’s realization that he’s found a new issue to facilitate his rise to the statehouse: "Homelessness — I’ll be damned."
- The night’s best piece of dialogue has to be Bunk’s mission statement to McNulty: "I’m gonna go back to the beginning and work every one [of the bodies in the vacants] again. You know why? Because I’m a murder police, I work murders. I don’t f**k with no make-believe, I don’t jerk s**t around. I catch a murder and I work it. I work this s**t like I’m supposed to." How, again, is it humanly possible that this show has never received an Emmy nomination for writing?
What did you think of this week’s Wire? Has McNulty finally gone too far? Will Marlo succumb to Omar’s taunts and come out of hiding, or will the co-op take him down?