Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, January 18, 2019

“The Wire” Diaries: Drugs, doublecrossing and an incredibly dated intro



Episodes watched: Season One, Episodes Two and Three: “The Detail” and “The Buys.”

Here’s a quick summary of the next two episodes. Be warned, there are a lot of new names that are important! The Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris, Remember the Titans) investigation continues, not without increasing pressure from the higher ups in the Baltimore Police Department. Lt. Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick, “Fringe”) and Detective Jimmy McNulty pull together a detail of cops, including notorious screwup Officer Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski, (Jim True-Frost, “Treme”) who’s dating the mayor’s daughter, and Auto Theft’s best detective, Leandor Sydnor (Corey Parker Robinson, “ER”) into a basement office.

Detectives McNulty and “Bunk” Moreland (Wendell Pierce, “Treme”) arrest D’Angelo Barksdale and coerce him into writing a letter of apology to William Gant’s children regarding his murder, while Detectives Kima Greggs, Ellis Carver (Seth Gillam, “Oz”) and Thomas “Herc” Hauk (Domenick Lombardozzi, “Entourage”) photograph “Bubbles,”(Andre Royo, The Spectacular Now) a confidential informant who uses a red hat to identify members of the Barksdale operation. (I’m learning so many police terms!) Later, Pryz, Carver and Herc instigate a riot where many Barksdale affiliates live, and Pryz clocks a teenager in the eye with his gun in the midst of gunfire and objects hurled at the officers. Daniels must now handle the discipline and consequences of the incident.

Meanwhile, McNulty and Greggs focus on obtaining a picture of Avon Barksdale, which is discovered by Detective Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters, “Treme”). McNulty refuses to engage in the seizure and arrest demands made by commanding officers and passed on by Daniels; the operation proves fruitless, just as McNulty assumed it would be. Instead, McNulty calls on Prosecutor Rhonda Pearlman (Deidre Lovejoy, “Bones”) for advice on how to clone a pager, in an attempt to trace phone contact between drug dealers. Pearlman explains the detailed process to McNulty, and after a flirtatious exchange, they sleep together.

McNulty’s FBI contact tells him that Daniels is “dirty,” due to an unprecedented amount of liquid assets. At the Barksdale stashhouse, Omar Little (Michael K. Williams, “Boardwalk Empire”) and his associates steal the drugs and shoot one of Barksdale’s men. I guess I should preface the summaries with “Spoiler Alert,” but this show started airing in 2002, and I think there should be a statute of limitation on TV spoilers after 10 years.

More of what I love:

- “Sorry, nobody down here but Baltimore PD’s most unwanted.” – what I wish McNulty and everyone else on the investigation would say, at any point, ever, in their dingy basement office. The basement office, coupled with the fact that no one wants them to carry out the investigation, reminds me of “The X-Files.”

- Michael B. Jordan’s character, Wallace, on Chicken McNuggets:
“He said, Later for the bone, nugget that meat up, make some real money.”

- I just keep making notes of the very 2002 fashion choices. Pearlman’s red houndstooth collar. All of the ribbed turtlenecks and bad leather jackets. I loved Barksdale’s baby’s bucket hat.

-Ep. 2, 19:21: Stringer (Idris Elba, “Luther”) rolling up in a Mercedes in a blue hoodie. I wish this is how he would pick me up for our dates.

- McNulty has a Mulder apartment. Sparsely furnished, papers everywhere, lack of decoration. But at least McNulty has a bed. Mulder had a couch til Season 6 of “The X-Files,” when “he” purchased a water bed.

- The William Gant murder ended up in the newspaper, which tipped off the Barksdale organization to the police investigation. 2002, when newspaper articles were relevant!

- McNulty is being a drama queen: getting drunk in his car in the rain. RELAX.

- Update: Drunk McNulty is kind of cute.

- Ep. 2, 56:00: Daniels’ gray checked pajamas are EVERYTHING.

- Ep. 3, 2:04: Extreme closeup of McNulty. Your face is growing on me, Dominic West.

- More from the chess explanation: “This the queen. She smart, she fierce.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Beyonce sampled this line on her next album.

- Wallace on the queen: “Reminds me of Stringer.” Yes, he is my queen.

- Ep. 3, 25:37: Ja Rule’s “Down A** B****” plays in the strip club. It is absolutely 2002.

- Ep. 3, 26:39: Stringer in a maroon button down, rolled up sleeves, and glasses. More, please.

- Another way you can definitely tell it’s 2002 is by the sheer amount of smoking shown on screen, by both the police and drug dealers. I’d be curious to see if there’s a way to compare the number of smokers on TV then versus now.

- Ep. 3: Omar Little sighting! I’ve heard so much about him, so I’m excited to love him!

- West’s accent changes almost as much as Stephen Moyer’s did on “True Blood.”

- Ep. 3, 38:35: Pearlman, practicing the Dana Scully art of doing paperwork with a bottle of red wine scored to Easy Listening.

- McNulty and Pearlman’s love scene: not at the “True Blood” level of gratuitousness, but still definitely HBO.

- Ep. 3, 51:47: McNulty is drinking Natty Boh! Now I definitely believe this show takes place in Baltimore.

“The Wire,” I am truly invested in you and concerned about the characters! The writing is killer. The cinematography is interesting – the riot scene with debris raining on Pryz, Carber and Herc at the end of Episode 2 really caught my attention. I’m also now looking forward to being outraged at the lack of Emmys won by “The Wire.” ‘Til next time!

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