“The Wire”: Took

Posted by SH

Nothing shakes up a liar more than a bit of truth. Well, perceived truth, in this case.

Imagine Scott Templeton’s surprise when he picks up his cellphone only to hear a heavy-breathing lunatic claiming to be the serial killer on the other end. McNulty and Lester, meanwhile, are having a ball faking the call with the help of a voice modulator and McNulty’s honest-to-God Baltimore accent. It’s just the latest display of linguistic mastery by Dominic West, who makes us forget every week that he’s actually British. Remember that Season 2 episode when he had McNulty doing a fake British accent? He’s certainly more convincing than that Irish guy who plays Carcetti.

At The Sun, the Editors Not Named Gus have the expected reaction, and are preparing their Pulitzer acceptance speeches as they meet with McNulty over the picture of the homeless man assumed to be the next target. McNulty plays along, letting slip, just a little, his disdain — or maybe it’s just an understanding — of the situation. Worked out OK for both of us, he reasons. Indeed. The windfall he expected from the manufactured killings has finally come, and it ends up quickly becoming a case of being careful what you wish for. Once word gets out that McNulty is handing out manpower and other resources from the endless supply the brass are giving him, his desk becomes a regular soup kitchen for homicide detectives hungry to put cases in the black. McNulty also gets a taste of reality from Kima, who interviews the families of the supposed victims of the serial killer. They’re struggling with the idea of their loved ones going out like that — an angle McNulty obviously didn’t take into account when hatching his plan.

Lester’s new technological prowess only leads him to another brick wall, though, when the pictures from Marlo’s phone end up just being of clocks showing different times. It’s obviously a code, but to what is still unknown.

Far more troubling for the cause of justice is how the Clay Davis case plays out. While seemingly caught dead-to-rights, Davis gets the sleaziest of sleazy lawyers (no, not Levy) to represent him, then earns his acquittal all on his own. He literally shows his empty pockets to the jury, and spins a tale of being the man just doing what he can to help those in his district, how all that missing money went to people to help pay the heating bills, or medicine for someone’s grandma, and hey, who has time to ask for a receipt? That’s just not the way it’s done in his district. It’s a speech for the ages, or at least the next day’s news cycle. The prosecution is left shell-shocked as Davis walks out of the courthouse the conquering hero to meet the throng of adoring press.

The failure of the justice system contrasts with Omar’s more streamlined method. He continues picking off Marlo’s goons and leaving survivors to tell the tale. Until he doesn’t. When a thug named Savino tries to declare his innocence in Butchie’s slaying, Omar decides it’s better to leave no messenger this time, and pulls the trigger. He also struts out — even hobbling on a cane, Omar struts — and sticks up Michael’s crew. Michael sits, terrified, afraid Omar will recognize him from the high-rise shootout. No blood is spilled, but after this, and an earlier interrogation-room encounter with Bunk, Michael realizes he’s getting closer to disaster.

Things appear to be setting up more than ever for a spectacular fall for McNulty and, unfortunately, Lester, as they both realize the fake serial killer has gotten bigger than both of them imagined. It’s not just going to go away whenever they want it to, and it’s hard to think the case against their real target, Marlo, won’t be shattered in the process. But with Omar out there, it’s hard to imagine Mr. Stanfield avoiding two types of justice. If the courts don’t get him, the streets will.

Everything ends on a bittersweet note, with Kima showing her skills as a strong mother and helping her son get to sleep. They sit at the window and join in a ghetto-ized version of “Goodnight Moon,” saying goodnight to all the hoppers, hustlers, scammers, fiends and wailing police sirens going by. Apparently the scene is lifted from “Clockers” by Richard Price, a “Wire” regular who penned this episode. It perfectly shows how Kima is able to navigate in the underworld and keep her humanity.

My personal highlight was watching the fellow reporters’ disdain over Templeton’s above-the-fold, first-person account of his night spent with the homeless with the howler of a headline: “To walk among them … ” The Editors Not Named Gus apparently think he’s now the Jonathan Kozol of the homeless. But that did lead Gus to dispatch a real reporter, Fletcher, to a homeless shelter and getting the real story from Bubbles.

A fantastic episode that seemed to bring the outlandishness of the serial-killer plot into the real world, or at least the world we know as The Wire. Dominic West picked a good time to make his directorial debut. And hey, they even found time to throw in a Detective John Munch sighting. According to Wiki, this brings the number of series the Richard Belzer character has appeared in up to seven.