Lies and 'The Wire' liars who tell them

Tommccarthy_thewire Best moment of Sunday's episode of The Wire? Easy: Templeton's incredulous "He made another call?"

Lies of all sorts dominated this week, but I'm telling you the truth here: Spoilers are coming right up.

Scott Templeton, there can be no doubt now (if there ever was), is a fabulist. After a frustrating afternoon trying to talk to homeless people about McNulty's serial killer, he comes back to the Sun newsroom with a story about a terrified family of four, using the name -- Nathan Levi Boston -- that the guy who went on about Satan taking fleshly form gave him.

The episode also shows us, for the first time, Templeton actively committing a piece of journalistic fraud, driving out to a pay phone to call his own cell phone and say he got a message from the killer.

But Templeton is no better than a second-string prevaricator compared to the likes of Jimmy McNulty. As addled by booze and sex and his own twisted head as he is, McNulty is still agile of mind enough to take Templeton's lie and run with it, doing all the right cop things -- asking for Templeton's notes, to tap his phone -- that he knows the paper will never do and at the same time getting out of the problem of faking a phone call of his own for Lester's wire on Marlo.

At their first meeting earlier in the episode, as he and Alma pressed McNulty for more details on the case, was kind of amusing -- Scott, knowing what makes for a good read, nudges the detective toward offering up some more salacious details. But the second one, at the paper, pretty much knocked me out. McNulty took in every nuance of Templeton's clearly not-as-well-thought-out story and incorporated it into his own. As Lester tells him later, "It's perfect."

What's more, McNulty now has some leverage over the reporter -- or at least a mutual need to keep their lies from getting out. Jimmy obviously knows that Scott is lying, and Scott most likely knows that Jimmy is too, unless he is, in fact, the luckiest reporter ever and made up details that jibe with what for all he knows is a real killer.

Clarkepeters_thewire_240 In true Wire fashion, though, all the misdirection added up to squat. Lester has Marlo's new cell number, which he taps on the sly using the dummy number from the killer case as a front. But when Marlo makes a call, all he gets is what sounds like an old-school dial-up modem. At a sit-down with Marlo at the top of the episode, Vondas tells him that it's OK to use the phone to call his girl, order food, even talk to his lawyer. But if he wants to contact the suppliers, he does -- well, something, fiddling with the phone's keypad and eliciting an impressed "Hmm" from Marlo. Whatever it is, though, it's not exactly the stuff on which to build a murder investigation.

Even if Marlo does slip up, though, how does Lester make a case based on an illegal tap? He offers up the idea of claiming the information came from an informant, since he got Marlo's number from Carver, who in turn got it from Herc, who's feeling increasingly dirty about his job working for Levy. It does make for one more good scene between Herc and Carver, though. "When you put bracelets on that b***h, remind him again about my f***in' camera," Herc tells him. Yeah, good luck with that.

Other notes from "React Quotes":

  • If the scene with McNulty and Templeton at the paper was one of the funniest of the season, the one with Lester and Daniels fuming over the city's ineffectual policies -- the serial killer detail results in overtime for a whopping two detectives, McNulty and Kima -- was one of the most powerful. Both men are the type to keep it buttoned down, so to see both of them fly off was a pretty serious shot to the gut.
  • On that same front, I also loved how Bunk, even though he knows it's probably futile, still tries to talk some sense into Jimmy about Kima's case, which is, you know, real. To McNulty's credit, he at least tries to do the right thing by telling her to use her overtime working Snoop's home-invasion killings, and he'll cover her in the daily reports.
  • I'm even more despairing of Dukie's prospects now, after Michael sets him straight about the realities of carrying a gun on the streets and Cutty (welcome back to Chad Coleman) realizes that no matter how much he trains him, Dukie just isn't cut out for the corner life. "The world is bigger" than West Baltimore, Cutty says, "least that's what they tell me." "How do you get from here to the rest of the world?" Dukie wonders. "Wish I knew," Cutty says. Damn. Just -- damn.
  • On a happier note, we got the first "Sheeeeeeeeee-[you know the last two letters]" from Clay Davis, who's got his fight back and rages to Nerese that he won't go down alone: "You think I'm gonna be a scapegoat for the whole damn machine?" But let us now respect Nerese's skills, because she's now talked two old-line machine pols (following her shepherding of Burrell earlier in the season) down from the ledge by showing them that if they go quietly, the wheels will still be greased. If they go down kicking and screaming, though, their names won't mean a thing -- a point ex-Mayor Royce drives home to Clay during a courthouse rally.
  • And once again, I save Omar till last. At least the shootout with Marlo's crew -- specifically, Chris, Snoop and Michael -- came near the end of the episode. They clearly baited Omar into thinking he had a clear shot on Monk, then let loose with way more than he and Donnie (RIP) were prepared to handle. The question is -- where'd he go after he jumped out the window? My guess is the balcony below, where he either made his way out through the adjacent condo or hid out in the shadows until it was safe to move. Either way, the disappearing act can only add to his legend (and I loved the parallel "What the ..." exclamations from Michael, and in the next scene, Lester).

Things do not look good for our boy Omar -- or for many other people, for that matter. What did you think of this week's Wire, and where's it headed from here?

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