The Wire 4.1-4.3

4.1 Boys of Summer

Nobody’s happy this episode. What’s left of the major crimes unit is hunting Marlo, their new lieutenant is rather soft and Kima and Lester use this to their advantage to get him to sign off on who they really want to hunt down. Tommy finds he hates the grunt work of campaigning and realized he doesn’t have the numbers to win. Bodie is working a small corner with little success.

Nobody’s happy except McNulty, after his journey in the third season, he’s settled down doing street work and lives with Beadie and her kids. Speaking of kids, it seems like that’s going to be the focus of this episode. We’re introduced to a group of junior-high kids. Bodie is one of the oldest kids on the street. Unlike kids his age, the junior-high kids actually plan on going to school back in the summer.

The episode has its moments, the opening scene where one of Marlo’s crew buys a nailgun is a lot of fun, but once again it’s more about groundwork. Season 3 wrapped up a lot, so I think Season 4 is going to have to start off a little slower. The focus on younger kids seems a promising change in direction, once again demonstrating how each season of The Wire isn’t interested in being more of the same.

4.2 Soft Eyes

There are narrative threads of political corruption in The Wire, but they’ve remained in the background. Lester decides to start gunning for politicians attached to Avon’s operation and sends up subpoenas, which could lead to unearthing a lot of big political players. I hope this becomes one of the big plots of this season as it would be a great way to get a bigger scope of the system that has been a bit more in the background the past few seasons.

There’s a thematic connection made in this episode  between the mentality of those in the political game and those in the street game. Marlo starts giving out money on the street to some of the kids. Clay Davis says he’ll take anyone’s campaign money. Both the kids and Clay Davis are motivated by greed and willing to take money without a second thought of who is giving it and where it came from, so what’s the major difference? Just a suit?

And in the political game, Tommy has basically given up campaigning. He’s going through the motions but hits rock bottom in this episode. He’s got the smarts and the heart but the numbers are against him. Even more than that, the episode shows how the people he would want to help are apathetic to the political process. Denis switches the channel over to the game and one of the kids decides to play some Halo 2. How do you help people who’ve given up on the system?

4.3 Home Rooms

Even Omar isn’t happy this season. He just needs some Honey Nut Cheerios, but along the way everyone starts running from him in fear and someone even drops a package on him that he wasn’t even planning to steal. With Avon out of the game, he just doesn’t see the point anymore, the game has lost its luster.

I love seeing Jimmy and Beadie together. Since they met, I thought they’d play well off each other and I hope the show explores more of their relationship as the season develops. It’s hilarious to find out that her kids refuse to call him anything but McNulty. Jimmy has always been one of the big players in the show, but it seems like in this season he’s happy to be in the background. I’m hoping the season finds a way to still give him a role while making him less of the big player he’s been most of the show.

The kids are coming back to school and Prez is one of the new teachers. He quickly finds out he’s lost. The kids are quick to sidetrack him and ignore his authority. Meanwhile, a professor at a local school decides he wants to study kids from these areas and Bunny takes a job as a liaison of sorts for him, quickly showing him that the study’s initial demographic of 18 is far too late. By that point, those kids are lost.

This idea sets up what I’m hoping becomes a core focus of this season: how do these kids get involved and when is that line crossed? While the kids we are following now are generally out of the game, they have connections and ways they can get in as well as a curiosity for the game. They still seem invested in going to school. But there’s something festering there, something growing that could develop into something nasty. The episode ends with one of the girls in class attacking her bully, slicing her face with a razorblade. What do you do with something like that? And how do kids get to that point?

 © 2014 James Blake Ewing