The Wire–Episode 54

Let me begin this entry by saying that Episode 54 is to me, without question, the best episode of The Wire ever done. Significant plot movements, great dialogue, and an ending that shifted the direction of the show. Add to that the fact that the ending was totally unexpected, and you’ve got genius in a one-hour television show.
1. Officer Gravy Boat deserves all that happens to him. Sorry, but I have no love for the frustrated police officer taking his frustration out on civilians. He deserved getting a hand full of feces when he reached for the “ground stash.”
2. I’ve come to pity Burrell. Hey man, Ervin’s right. He does what the man asks him to do and takes the weight every time. He’s good at his job. It’s just that doing the job of police commissioner means something different than most of us would like. He’s a tool in the bureaucracy, and a good one. And, in the end, he fell on his sword again. Watching The Wire reminds me of why I enjoy working for myself, even if that means paying for my own health insurance. That said…
3. …if Burrell had walked behind me with a golf club, I’d have got up and hit him. Sorry, but if I have anything to do with it, I’ll never get hit first again. Dude’s about to get fired, Daniels is going to get his job, and Daniels just sits there while dude holds a golf club? You must be out of your damn mind.
4. Being a decent human being was Joe’s downfall. Everyone knew Joe had one weakness in his operation–his idiot nephew. He’s been an idiot since Season 2, and he’s still an idiot. Joe should have taken him out immediately after Butchie died. He knew dude did it. But, Joe showed respect for family. Can’t knock that. I guess.
5. I hope Marlo burns to death. By that, I mean that I hope he contracts an aggressive, painful strain of The Clap. I may echo this sentiment every update. Marlo, this nigga. His kind. They got to fall. They got to.
6. Noreese is oh so gangsta. I’m not sure how old her character is supposed to be, but the actress that plays Noreese is only 30 years old. You don’t get that gangsta in 30 years, at least not in the above-ground economy. Set Erv in his place and shut him up. Power move on her part.
7. Things won’t end well for Daniels. He’ll be the commish. Noreese has the information on the old days. Prediction–Noreese will be mayor, and Daniels will be powerless under her. Burrell used to own him. Now she does. That’s gotta suck…Daniels got all the way to the top, what he always wanted, and now he can’t do anything with it. If his wife hadn’t already left him, she would have after this disappointment played out.
8. McNulty and Lester keep digging their own graves. Yes, they’ll get caught. No, I don’t know how. However, it’s worth noting how easily they’re doing it. Think about it–the news tells you there’s a serial killer. How do you know that’s true?
9. He’s baaaaaaack! And you know who I mean. Omar ain’t playin’ this go ’round. But before we get to that, let’s get to the best line of the show.
10. “I’m gon’ work them. Sweet Jesus, I’m gon’ work them.” Also of note, Omar knew this was Marlo’s deed. Not sure why he was hunting for Joe so hard, considering. Was it really a secret that Omar was cool with Butchie? I find it interesting that such information was worth so much.
11. Another Clay Davis classic. “I come here to help, but y’all out for blood!” Only Clay. Only Clay.
12. How did Marlo survive that co-op meeting? Seriously–even dope dealers don’t call each other motherfuckers and just let that slide. Same with that punk Cheese tipping over chairs and things. Speaking of which…
13. That was hard up what happened to Hungry Man. Just in time for us to learn who Hungry Man was, he gets taken out. More later.
14. You see buddy from the port living under the bridge? Cold blooded, man.
15. Unlike most, I’m okay with the newsroom scenes. Keep in mind I’ve never worked in a newsroom. However, it’s helpful to see the machinations of them. Some see them as boring, and I agree it’s Simon’s worst writing yet (the characters don’t have the conflicts that make every other character so fascinating), but that’s an essential part of the game.
16. Herc isn’t the one for Marlo to mess with. So we basically can see that Herc is going to mess Marlo up, after the fool laughed about getting Herc fired. Herc’s dumb enough to act on that. Watch. Also of note–Simon always talks about how interesting it would be to see Little Melvin talk to Ed Burns, the cop that arrested him and one of the show’s writers. He says they can interact because of a mutual appreciation for The Game. Clearly, Herc don’t have that. He’s just pissed, even though he’s making more money now than he did then.
17. But Herc has matured. Telling Carver to do what he thinks is right with Offier GB (whom I call Gravy Boat because that haircut ain’t even a chili bowl, it’s a gravy boat) was a big step for him. I almost like the dumbass.
18. Did you see it coming? Really, did you see Chris killing Prop Joe? It was written brilliantly. Why? Because that whole “get a gift, give a gift” exchange makes it clear that Cheese, who signed his death certificate AGAIN, was being asked to give Prop Joe up. But since it ran together with Cheese giving up Butchie, it didn’t look like it was going in that direction. But it was, and it was a breathtaking piece of television. Why?
19. Because Joe had to go. Marlo was right. Joe would be up to his mischief promptly if he just stepped out of the way. Joe signed his death certificate many times. That doesn’t change the fact that Marlo’s a clown, or that Cheese should catch the clap in his nose. But while I hated to see Joe go, I understood. I just hate that they didn’t begin to expand on Joe’s character until he died. The last exchange with Cheese was great, as was him talking about going to high school with Burrell. Somehow, I think that was done for more reasons than to show how small Baltimore is.
Oh yeah, and let’s talk again about what a punk Cheese is. Sold your uncle out, an uncle that gave you a job you were certainly unqualified for, just to get a little territory? Through the nose, Cheese. Through the nose.
20. I’ve finally solved one of The Wire’s great mysteries. Finally, I understand how Omar jacked the shipment in Season 4.
Let’s take a step back. If you recall, Joe was supposed to put Omar in a position to rob Marlo when he re-upped. Well, it turns out that Joe didn’t call Omar when the re-up came. When he did call Omar, it was before the shipment arrived, and Omar didn’t even answer the phone. If he was expecting a re-up, how did he have a crew prepared to get a shipment? Omar could have taken the re-up with his light skinned boo. Wouldn’t have needed the squad of Mexicans.
Slim Charles answered that question when Omar jacked him up. He said, in an attempt to prove Joe had nothing to do with Butchie’s murder, “think about it, if Marlo turns Butchie, then he puts Joe inside your big score.” In other words, Butchie would say that Joe had something to do with it.
It’s the only thing that makes sense. It’s the only way Omar could be prepared the way he was. And don’t forget that Joe turned a profit on the deal. Omar sold the dope back to Joe at 20 on the dollar, then Joe sold it to the co-op for 30. Joe masterminded the entire thing, probably because he saw that as the best way to get Omar out of town (remember Butchie had long suggested retirement to Omar). Well, it worked and, finally, that whole thing makes sense. That was an important detail that Simon had to work out, and he did it so smooth?
How smooth? Some of you probably didn’t even realize there was anything to figure out. Those that did got the answer to the question without the show having to stop to make the point. That was brilliant writing.
Can’t wait for 5, baby!

15 thoughts on “The Wire–Episode 54”

  1. Excellent analysis, Mr. Jone. I was totally oblivious to the meaning of the Slim Charles plea.
    Have you noticed that at times, Marlo speaks in Shakesperian phrases?
    a. when Omar robbed him of the ring at the card game, Marlo said “Wear it in health”
    b. in 54, he told Vondas “You’ve come from afar. put it toward expenses.”

  2. On Marlo catching the clap – dude is completely inept at doing anything other than being Marlo. He’s socially awkward when it comes to the ladies, and at least from what we’re shown, seems to be somewhere beyond sex. Unless, he’s strong-arming his way through the women of Baltimore, and we just don’t see it. Remember how hard it was for him to communicate with the chick that the Barksdale crew used to set him up? I need to understand Chris and Snoop’s loyalty to him. In 53, we saw Snoop, for the first time, question dude’s motives, and Chris’ response was somewhere along the lines of, “if Marlo says we have to, then we have to.” She accepted that without comment. Why?
    Nice invocation of the late Preston “Bodie” Broadus. And next week, Dukie’s got a gun?

  3. My favorite part about the newspaper room addition is the ideas it throws back at us, like you referred to:
    “the news tells you there’s a serial killer. How do you know that’s true?”
    We tend to blindly follow news stories (like those folks in the show) as absolute truths, even though we know they can sometimes be ideas in the works. The great part about the show is how we can all eye it from differing views, and still not be too far off.
    I’m not pro-clap by any means, but Mr. Marlo has now placed himself in a gotsta go situation. Lots of folk from the co-op seemed to punk out on Marlo’s foul talkin at the last meeting so we can’t expect too many of them to conform… but with Joe gone, who’s going to keep the co-op working together? Especially now that Marlo’s going to take the connect and have the lead spot on the goods from the Greek, the rest of the co-op is on the outside looking in, lest Marlo start offering up prices to them… more than likely less generous than the kinder, gentler, jollier prop joe…

  4. Wow. I don’t think even I have been THIS much into a show like you are. And I’m a tele-junkie!
    There have been some TV shows out there that have been every bit as good as oscar winning movies. Having an hour a week for 22 or so weeks a year really allows a story to be told much better than 2- to 3-hour movie.
    Maybe when I have some time this summer, I’ll check out the past seasons on DVD!
    (cough, cough… Hand… cough, cough… brake… cough, cough, Bo… ahem…)

  5. Don’t know if I agree with your analysis on the Slim confession. I think the score Slim was referring to was the poker game where Omar jacked Marlo. We know Joe gave that info to Omar- that’s why Joe wasn’t keen to have Omar back in town.
    Wouldn’t make sense for Joe to give up the shipment to Omar- that was coop dope, which Joe had put $5 on also. Why would he want it robbed, even if he would (partially) recoup by buying it back? Omar didn’t answer Joe’s call because he was already on the shipment. He freestyled that jacking on his own.

  6. Man, Cheese is true to his name. What is a slang term for money? Cheese. What do rats eat? Cheese. Cheese sold (ratted) out Joe for money. His own uncle? I hope Marlo doesn’t think that just because Cheese did this, that he’s going to be loyal to him now. Because if he sold out his uncle, he’ll sell out Marlo too. Cheese may wind up as one of Chris and Snoop’s future dead bodies.
    But I understand why Marlo took Prop Joe out. Prop Joe was his link to the Greeks. With Joe out of the way, he doesn’t have a middle man to the Greeks. Still, I don’t like it. Joe was so integral to the show.
    And Lester is trippin’ me out by helping to aide McNulty with this whole scheme to bring Marlo down. Lester has graduated from making doll houses and toys to making false teeth for an alleged suspect? Lawd have mercy!
    I wonder if Slim Charles will team up with Omar to bring down Marlo? We already know that Slim can’t stand Marlo and now that Joe’s dead, Slim may feel like he’s on the list to be axed as well. Siding with Omar would give him a leg up on Marlo.
    The kid who was found in the house after the shooting is getting to Kima. Makes her think about her own kid.
    And now Daniels is caught up in some “on the take” shit from his past. I swear, I have no faith in the system.

  7. The most unfortunate part of the whole Sun segment of season 5 is that they dont have TIME to give these characters depth. It is a rush job and the shallowness of the newspaper characters stands out because of the uncharacteristic depth of just about everyone else.
    The whole lot of them are the last ones in the kiddie pool and there just aint enough rooom to give them space to grow.

  8. R.I.P. Bodie Brodus
    Marlo’s kind does have to fall.
    Joe did have to go. With Joe out the way no one but Omar can stop Marlo from running amok and taking over everything.
    It was a good point made about the loyalty Chris and Snoop have to Marlo. I really wonder what he did for them.

  9. So how does all this mayhem in the streets NOT point directly to Marlo and how do the other CO OP members not handle his ass? The CO OP is going to give Marlo to Omar just to get it over with. I hate to see Snoop go. Maybe she survives but she’s the only one.
    I dig the fact that Carver is set for the come up for all the right reasons. Brotha man started off strugglin a little bit with the responsibility but he never backed down. He wants to do whats right and so far it seems like its for the right reasons. Seems like Daniels when the show first started.

  10. Like Chapped Larry, I believe you’ve overthought the shipment hijacking.
    Omar did that without Joe’s knowledge or support. There’s no way in hell Joe lets close to $3 million of heroin walk out the door and sets up a meet between Spiros and Marlo without getting a pay-off like turning a big-time cop solidly his way.

  11. Man, you’re on top of it.
    I’m a fiend about The Wire since day 1 and it’s good to see a Bruh (you) really tapping the right keys.
    Here are a couple of thoughts, just to add on…
    1) Clay Davis and Omar are flip sides of the same coin. Think about it. Pretty much every archetype in seasons 4 and 5 have a “before” and “after” player. Dukie = Lester Freamon (don’t believe me, do you?). Michael = Avon (but will wind up with a conscience like Cutty. Watch what I tell you). Prop Joe = Burrell. Carver = Bunny Colvin. Snoop = Wee Bey. So on and so forth. Some are just more pronounced (literal) than others.
    Back to Clay/Omar… One is a stick up artist who jacks the corrupt, passes no judgment (part of his code is that it’s all chargeable back to The Game), lines his pockets, is damn near bullet-proof, and has the love of the regular folk. The other is… the same damn thang. Now… contrast the distaste we hold for Clay with the universal love we have for Omar, and it really gets interesting. Why do we love one and despise the other?
    2) Omar… as much as I love his character, he’s gotta get smoked. I would love to see him live, but that limp is a liability and in the true nature of the streets anybody can be touched. Even O-Dog. The sickest cat in the history of the show, Bro. Mouzone, got touched by Omar. Right? Don’t think that somebody out there can’t get with O? We just haven’t met that character yet.
    3) And speaking of Mouzone, he has GOT to come back (probably as an unexpected ally for Omar). Hell. Mouzone needs his own damn show. Mouzone is what “Ghost Dog” should have been.
    4) Slim Charles will rise to the top despite his solid, confident role as muscle. He’s got to drop some bodies. That’s what he’s there for.
    5) McNutty loses it all and commits suicide. The fuck up of all fuck up has to have one last fuck up. Has to. The worst part is that it won’t be clear if his demise was suicide or accidental.
    6) Freamon goes down in infamy. Sadly.
    7) Bunk and Kima stay right where the fuck they are under the pudgy, suspiciously clammy thumb of Landsman.
    8) Bubbles has an ‘experience’ and becomes a ‘minister’ of sorts – and hopefully gets a chance to score some tail. I mean damn… Bubs. Don’t take your eyes off the prize, playa.
    Watch what I tell you.

  12. great analysis 🙂 i don’t know if i agree with the thing about joe being in on the jacking of the dope. omar always has his ear to the street.
    i hated to see joe go too, but i know why marlo did it. it’s just like nikki said. with him controlling the council and having a straight connect with the dope, he’s feels virtually unstoppable.
    either omar or the greeks will be his downfall. marlo is dumb as a brick. if omar dies, i think i might be highly upset!
    i’m shaking my head at lester. i can’t believe he is helping that crazy mcnulty.
    and you’re right about daniels. he fought so hard for this and right where he started, except with more money.

  13. Marlo is straight gangsta and Prop Joe was a bidness man. Had Prop Joe been more gangsta he would have forseen Marlo’s power play in the meeting.
    Marlo has a reputation -if you remember all his dealings with rivals- of cleverly testing his competitions level of gangsta. No way should any of those bosses let Marlo get away with that outburst. Like Prop Joe said to Cheese “I don’t remember you being a charter member”. Marlo should have received the same admonishment. Which is why Marlo made eye contact with Cheese to say “see I told you the last time we talked that Prop Joe is a punk”.
    Like Avon Barksdale, Marlo ain’t interested in becoming a businessman. He revels in the hood life of being at the top and wants all of those from the Co-Op to bow down to him not be on equal footing. Its a Baltimore thing.
    Marlo knows that Omar is the only one standing in his way of total domination. He takes it personal when Omar jacks his re-ups not to mention the ring jack. That fact alone is why he has such a hard on for killing Omar.
    Marlo’s lady problems.
    Marlo was an institution kid so he never really had those awkward teen years of trying to holla at girls. His lack of familiarity with the opposite sex coupled with his “I am King” complex is the reason he sent Snoop and Chris to kill that other dealer and family just for saying he “sucked d”.
    Bomani is right the writing on this show is unlike any that is being done on or has been done on television for a long time. Every scene is important to something in the past or future. Even scenes that look totally benign like Chris walking in the courthouse and asking the DA, Asst DA and Colonel Daniels for directions. Here is one of the most notorious killers in the city and they haven’t got a clue.
    I am resisting the urge folks. People are posting links to the rest of the season and its driving me maaaaaaaaad I tell ya.
    Growing up in Bmore I saw a lot more Marlo’s and Avon’s than Prop Joe’s. IMHO look for Marlo to continue his power play with Prop Joe out of the way. Meaning busting up the Co-Op and leaning on the other Bosses starting with the weak one’s. Oh yeah and Cheese is gonna get muscled or popped or both. Even though Marlo respects Cheese’s hoodness he knows there is no way a guy like that can operate because sooner or later they go for the brass ring.

  14. Simon and the other writers have mentioned multiple times that Marlo is what the Game is evolving towards – for better or worse.
    I recall a comments post on Heaven and Here by Simon about Marlo being based on a gangsta that everyone, street and police, agreed had something wrong with him for being that cold.
    Marlo has to be that cold, canny, ruthless and stupid to show us the effects that the failures of institutions (government, police and schools) are having on young people.
    It’s more on the parents though – in my opinion. Like the father said at the Newark funeral, “It’s on you people. Not the mayor.” I love me some Cory Booker.

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