“The Wire”: Transitions

Posted by SH

Say it ain’t so, Prop Joe.

The wily veteran finally found himself in one situation he couldn’t negotiate his way through. That would be his weaselly nephew Cheese having sold him out to Marlo, and Prop Joe taking a slug in the back of the head, never seeing his killer’s face. But there’s Marlo, the most ruthless character in a show full of them, telling Joe to relax, close his eyes, and it won’t hurt at all. After the shot, there’s the young buck smiling, delighted that his plan has worked, and the world is now his. Chilling.

But Omar’s back in town, and he’s got a plan to bring Marlo down. It involves going after all his soldiers, and, unfortunately, it looks like that hit list includes Michael.

Prop Joe wasn’t the only old guard leader to see his reign end. Carcetti dropped the ax on Burrell, who decided to take his cushy consulting job and pension instead of airing Daniels’ dirty laundry. Rawls is the interim man, and he is surprisingly bothered by Burrell’s assessment of the commissioner’s job as carrying water (and other varied effluvia) for the mayor’s office. Rawls always seemed to be a happily career-oriented man. Is there still some idealism buried way, way, WAY down deep?

Carver also took a step forward as a leader, breaking the code of silence by writing up an officer who had gotten tough with a civilian during a failed drug bust. Later, Herc assured his old partner he did the right thing, while there was some uncomfortable talk about Randy from Season 4.

Kima began trying to be a good mom, having been shaken by the little boy she rescued from the home-invasion killings a few weeks back. Elijah is nonresponsive at first, but when she finds a way to break through and put a smile on the boy’s face, it’s one of the few unadulterated moments of joy “The Wire” gives us, and we’ll take it.

McNulty and Freamon ramped up their serial killer ruse, trolling the city’s homeless hideouts to interview people just to make it look real, and persuading a patrol cop to give them early access to a homeless corpse, in order to plant some more evidence on him. Freamon really brings his A-game, toting a set of teeth to do God knows what to the stiff. “Work it like a real case, and it’ll feel like a real case,” he says.

No documented BS from Templeton this time — though his attaboy from Gus makes me suspicious — just a humbling trip to D.C. to interview for a spot at the Washington Post. The verdict is thanks but no thanks, with the editor treating him like the bumpkin from Kansas that his resume reveals him to be. Elsewhere at the paper, Gus is steamed over getting scooped on Davis’ grand jury investigation, thanks largely to the cutbacks having eliminated the staff’s court reporter. As much as I like Gus, his “back in the good old days” comments can wear a bit thin, and it’s just doubtful he would spend so much time talking about it instead of focusing on running the daily paper. Much more entertaining is when he picks apart Carcetti’s comments during the pony-show press conference announcing Burrell’s resignation, only to have the nebbish editor tell him to cut down on profanity and be more “collegial.”

So we’re left wondering where Marlo will go from here, other than the bull’s-eye for an Omar bullet. The preview for next week shows McNulty sitting down with Alma and Templeton, with Templeton arguing — go figure — for a sexier story. The true test of the whole serial killer plotline will be when it goes from the abstract to reality. I can see it going either way at this point, but I’m more than ready to give everyone here the benefit of the doubt.

From this week, my favorite moment came between an unexpected encounter between Herc and Prop Joe. They were both in Levy’s office, with Joe having brought Levy a new client in Marlo, and Herc pondering his new station in life as Levy’s gopher. Prop Joe nods and points at a copy of the Baltimore Sun lying on a desk, and Herc nods his approval. Joe thumbs through the paper, sees the Burrell story and mentions that they went to the same school, then share a laugh at Burrell’s academic shortcomings. The term “stone stupid” is used. I’m a sucker for these stolen-moments scenes, where two characters naturally at war just take a break and interact as human beings. Sadly, there won’t be anymore of these moments with Prop Joe. As an RIP, take a look back to see how it all started for the big guy.