Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Wire Season 4 Episode 1 - "Boys of Summer" review

And here, I'm finishing adding all of my reviews of THE WIRE to my blog. Here are the episode reviews of season 4 that I wrote in 2006.

It's been nearly two years since I've seen a fresh new episode of THE WIRE so tonight has been the longest two year wait imaginable. FINALLY the season 4 premiere debuted and I have much to go through (and I will probably be watching this episode a million times over in order to capture all the subtle nuances and foreshadowing in this episode). The show is like the Rosetta Stone and it needs to be watched repeatedly to enjoy and to decode. So, let me begin.

The teaser sequence is so perfect that I think it demands to be seen to be enjoyed.

What I love about the sequence is that Snoop (Marlo Stanfield's enforcer) and the clerk are having a conversation but talking about TWO totally different things. And Snoop is keen enough to gather the proper information about using the nailgun for more than just nailing up boards. It has the proper kickback to be used for murder and Snoop was smart enough to gather that information from a clerk who is just looking to make a sale. The look on his face when she started to go off about the damage that can be made with different size guns was priceless. And yes, Snoop is a GIRL. And she is shaping up to be one of the more terrifying characters in television history.

"You earned that buck like a motherfucker"- Jesus, I love Felicia Pearson's authentic Baltimore accent. It's so thick, it's downright insane. And from the end of the teaser, we see that Snoop and Chris Partlow (Marlo's right hand man- his Stringer Bell to Marlo's Avon if you will) are using this nail gun for something more than home improvement. After this we cut to the opening credits...

I absolutely love this version of "Way Down in the Hole" and this season the theme is sung by a group of Baltimore teenagers in order to dovetail into the theme of this season (education).

"Lambs to the slaughter here"- Marcia Donnelly

The first thing we see after the opening credits is Lester Freamon and Shakima "Kima" Greggs already up on a wiretap of Marlo Stanfield (the heir apparent of the West Baltimore drug trade after Avon Barksdale crumbled in season 3). I noticed that when we see the bulletin board of the various enforcers and players of Marlo's organization- the Detail has Snoop's real name as Felicia Pearson (who in real life DOES play this character). It's an interesting wink to people in Baltimore and Felicia really was a bad-ass years ago and was locked up. Freamon laments that Marlo's people are not as careful and hard to crack as the Barksdale clan- but he is puzzled as to why Marlo has no bodies in his wake.

And Freamon hands some papers to Pearlman of political figures who he tied to paperwork from the late Stringer Bell (who died in season 3 and was a major player of the first three seasons). I'm thrilled Freamon is pursuing the political figures who are involved in the dirt but one thing I've learned from this show is that regardless of what, you will be punished for overstepping your bounds. I have a sad feeling that Freamon and Greggs will be demoted or worse for trying to hunt the politicians (like Clay Davis who was doing dirt with Stringer since season 1).

It appears that Thomas Carcetti is well into the mayoral race against Mayor Clarence Royce (also running is Tony Gray- a former friend of Carcetti and who Carcetti needs to siphon the black votes in order to help him win). Carcetti is a fascinating character to watch- at times, I see that he is sincere about doing good for Baltimore but at the same time, he is no different than Royce- he's still corrupt. Whether it be his cheating on his wife, or his opportunistic political maneuvering in order to bolster his campaign. What I love about this show is the realistic cynicism. The bullshit remains the same- it's just repackaged is all. That is the sad reality of politics. Carcetti knows that he is a white man in a town that is not- and in Baltimore, he can't win. Why? Because as his campaign advisor, Theresa D'Agostino once said- "You're the wrong color".

I love that after four seasons, David Simon reunited with Reg. E. Cathey who is now playing Carcetti's campaign manager, Norman. Cathey played Scalio in "The Corner" and his delivery of a line is so wonderful- it's a work of art. He shined in every scene tonight.

I love that Kima and Freamon are taking advantage of this new Lieutenant that is charge of the detail. The guy is barely even there- he's too focused on his own personal retirement plans- and Kima and Freamon are seizing this and running this for their own gain.

Nice to see Herc again- and he's wearing some new gear. Well, he has to wear new gear since he's no longer busting heads as a cop. He's now a chaffeur for Mayor Royce- who is not that worried about the political threat from Carcetti.

And Bodie (played by the great JD Williams), is now running an offshoot corner as an independent. Bodie is one of my favorite characters because from the very beginning, he's been the smart-ass pawn (a line he used in the third episode of the series when chess was discussed in detail) who escaped the mass lock-up of the Barksdale clan by crying entrapment. However, he now is on his own as an independent without the muscle and backup that he had before because most of the Barksdale organization are wearing bracelets. One of the other few Barksdale gang members who escaped the arrests in season 3 returned as well- Slim Charles. Apparently, Slim is supplying Bodie with product. Whether Slim is a member of co-op with Proposition Joe is still unknown but from what Marlo said in dialogue, it appears that Prop Joe's co-op is indeed still alive and running smoothly. But Slim reminds Bodie that the old days are indeed over now that "Mayor Barksdale" is gone. It's now survival of the fittest for Bodie.

Bodie has his own problems in his shop because one of his young slingers named Lex is lamenting about how his girl who had his kid, is now seeing Marlo's soldier, Fruit (who was in season 3 and had a beef with Cutty). Lex is young and heartbroken and says if Fruit doesn't step off- he's going to throw a couple of hot ones into Fruit. Bodie tells him that right now, Marlo has the world by the ass and advises his young underling to "fuck that bitch" and let it slide.

However, Lex's hormones override his common sense, and he follows Fruit and his baby's momma to a club and once they leave, makes good on his word and kills Fruit- and then shockingly looks at his baby's momma as if nothing had happened. It's a very jarring moment.

Meanwhile, we are getting an inkling about what why Marlo hasn't been having bodies show up. Snoop and Chris are in an abandoned rowhouse and execute someone in one of the most cold-blooded scenes I can ever remember seeing. The body is nude and wrapped in plastic and Snoop pours quicklime (I believe) on the body to aid in masking the decomposition. Now, it's apparent why the bodies are not showing- Marlo's been keeping all of his dead opposition hidden in boarded up rowhouses. Say what you want, but Marlo's muscle is fierce and more powerful than even Avon's. Chris and Snoop are downright criminal masterminds because that's a perfect way to mask homicides.

It was good to see the strides that Sgt. Carver has made and now he has finally become "good police". His dialogue with Bodie and asking him, "Where is the motherfucking love?" is priceless. And even McNulty shows Bodie respect (which Bodie could not help but appreciate) with his ability to get out of that wiretap a year ago.

It looks like the new drug of choice on the corners is "Pandemic" (the previous season it was "WMD")- which is very appropriate given the themes this show covers.

Marlo finds out who offed Fruit and instead of killing everyone on the corner affiliated with Lex, Marlo listens to Chris and decides to remove Lex only. There's no reason to start a war, especially if the reason for the murder was only due to the heart.

Now, I must discuss the new four new characters of season 4- Namond Brice, Michael Lee, DuQuon (aka Dukie) and Randy Wagstaff. My heart is already breaking for Dukie who lives in the swallows of poverty- and whose parents take his clothes to sell for drugs. The kid is shaping up to be one of the most heartbreaking characters I can remember- and may indeed grow up hardened because of the abuse he has been forced to lie in. Namond is an interesting character because he's not like his father- Wee-Bey (a Barksdale enforcer from the previous seasons) at all. Bodie only hired him because of the ties he has to his dad. He's a vain and spoiled kid who is not made for this game apparently. Michael is a very quiet character but seems to have this inner strength and mystery about him. He is the apparent leader of these four and has leadership qualities about him. And Randy is just a wonderful character to watch because he's so clever- especially when he was selling candy to Bodie's slinger, Little Kevin.

Also I loved the scenes when they were trying to capture the "Homer" pigeon and the entire time, Dukie knew what the bird looks like. He's impoverished but incredibly intelligent and observant. However, he's seriously disturbed from the abuse he has been forced to deal with. And the urine-filled balloon fight was very clever- especially when it backfired on the four boys.

Prez is back and way over his head- now as a public school math teacher. It was cool to see Tyreeka Freamon (real life subject of Simon's "The Corner" story) in a cameo as a public school secretary. Her joke about not going to say Prez's name was hilarious.

McNulty is not going to go back into working "the big case" because he is content with his life with Beatrice "Beadie" Russell (who was a major character from season 2). I'm happy for McNulty and he resisted the temptation successfully from Daniels (who is now a major) and from Bunk (who wanted to go drinking with his old drinking buddy).

The scenes with the projector presentations of the school brass and the education of the police about the threat of terrorism was priceless because how they both mirrored each other. The threat of the kids causing violence is more prevalent to the teachers- and the cops could care less about terrorism. It doesn't matter in Baltimore. There are issues at home that demand attention first.

The end of the episode has Little Kevin tell Randy to send a message to Lex about a girl wanting to meet him. Like a good kid, Randy tells Lex and to his horror, he was sent on the errand in order to set up Lex's demise. The girl Lex meets is Snoop and Chris corners him. Apparently, Bodie's muscle can be bought and Randy is horrified that he has been responisible indirectly for a death. At the end we see Randy hold the money Kevin gave him for telling Lex in his hand, shaken by his actions.

All in all, a terrific episode and a great start for the season. I will discuss more later but I have work tomorrow and I need to get some sleep.

It looks like another stellar season.

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