The Wire 4.6-4.8

4.6 Margin of Error

Nothing brings people to church like an election! The opening sequence follows the candidates as they visit churches before the primaries. It’s an interesting recognition of one of the identifying marks of the black church, which is that its culture is very directly tied to politics. Not that this doesn’t happen in other denominations, or in white churches, but there’s something more direct and blatant about it here. It’s another interesting dimension of the political landscape. I love how this show continues to expand the world it presents, adding more details in with each season.

The game still remains the game. Royce starts a last minute smear campaign against Tommy with a faked photo. Tommy becomes upset because he’s so close to winning and something like this could turn the tide. Clay Davis offers to sit back on endorsing if Tommy pays him off, but then ends up endorsing Royce anyway once Tommy pays. Clay Davis remains perhaps even more crooked than those on the streets.

Speaking of which, Randy (Maestro Harrell) gets picked to spread around materials for the Carcetti campaign. He gets paid upfront  and instead of bailing, he wants to see the job done. He’s more honest than the politicians he’s promoting. The 8th grade program for the at-risk kids begins. Once the rules get laid down, Namond (Julito McCullum) says that they’re in prison. Bunny agrees. Is he once again involved in trying to weed out evil by casting it in a boiler room?

Carcetti ends up winning the primary. But I think something inside Tommy dies in this episode. There’s a scene where he walks with his wife and he doesn’t come out and say it, but it seems like he’s not even sure if he wants to win now. And once he wins, Theresa makes an advance on him and he turns her down. Without coming out and saying it, this episode demonstrates that what Tommy wants is changing and he’s no longer interested in chasing after some things he would have been interested in before.

4.7 Unto Others

In the last episode, Omar ends up getting arrested for the murder Marlo framed him for. Everyone wants a piece of him, but when he seems to mysteriously survives a stabbing and then messes up his attacker. Omar calls Bunk for a favor and convinces him by saying if he lets him take the hit for this murder, the real killer walks off free. “A man gotta have a code.”

It’s interesting that as much as the show is mired in a world where there’s a lot of tough situations, when it comes to a man as wicked as Omar, someone who deserves to take the charge even if it’s not the person he killed, Bunk can’t live with letting the mistake go. He takes the heat from his colleagues and goes out on a limb with a lawyer even though everyone hates him for it. Why would a detective want to defend someone as reprehensible as Omar? And Bunk of all people, who last season detested how kids idolized Omar. I’m wondering where the show goes with this thread, because I think it has a lot of rich potential.

When Prez finds some board games, he figures out a way to get the kids interested in learning math: craps. Gambling is all about playing the odds, and the odds can be calculated by math. It’s hilarious to see his classroom turned into a series of craps games. “Tricking into thinking they aren’t learning, and they do.” It’s been great to see Prez’s evolution as a character and how he’s gone from the guy who pistol-whipped a kid in an early episode of season one, to someone who’s genuinely interested in the welfare of these kids.

In the wake of Tommy’s victory, a shifting of the new order begins to rumble. There’s a great sequence where Tommy and Royce jest about the aftermath of the campaign. Rhonda’s new boss ends up bumping her up to murder prosecutions while Tommy gets a good look at the police force with a ridealong. He’s getting an idea of how large the systemic problems are. He also notices Daniels. A potential future police commissioner?

4.8 Corner Boys

Herc and a couple of the Western boys have been running the skeletons of Major Crimes since it’s been unceremoniously swept under the rug earlier in the season. Not much has happened except that Herc has ended up losing a camera to Marlo and since he got the camera through the wrong channels, he now has to try to dig himself out of a massive hole. This story has provided some levity to the season so far and I could see this getting a lot better.

Bunny in the classroom makes an interesting observation. The school system is teaching the corner boys something, but not what the teachers think. The school becomes a way for them to try to figure out how to beat the system, but without the harsh penalty for failure that would happen out on the streets.

But more than just making this observation, Bunny tries to get the kids to think about the logic of the streets. In response, the kids talk about how the government is just as twisted as their world, it’s just a different game being played. This isn’t a new observation in the show, but coming out of the mouths of kids, it’s the show making clear how obvious the problem should be to people.

Carcetti sees this game firsthand. He witnesses the police do lazy entrapment busts and talk big as if they’re cleaning the streets, but all it turns out to be is a numbers games. Rawls is trying to get the arrest numbers up. He’s playing a political game in response to an endemic problem. Carcetti sees Daniels as someone outside of this game and bumps him higher up the chain of command.

 © 2014 James Blake Ewing