Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Wire Season 4 Episode 10- "Misgivings" review

"The world goin' one way, people another." - Poot

With bass booming and eyes barely clearing the wheel, Donut drives another stolen SUV right past Officer Eddie Walker, giving the cop a double take. Within seconds, he's got the siren and lights on him, as the boy guns it around a corner and careens into several parked cars. Donut makes a run for it, sending Walker after him. But as the kid turns a corner, he finds his boys and trades his retro jacket for a sweatshirt and ballcap, throwing his pursuer off the trail - briefly. Walker eventually catches up to the boy, even more enraged and determined. "You know what kinda f**king paperwork I got now?" he says, breaking a few of the boys fingers, insisting it's time for Donut to feel his pain.

Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell vents to state Sen. R. Clayton "Clay" Davis about the box into which he's been forced, required under the new administration to run everything through his deputy. He even heard Mayor-Elect Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti put out feelers to a black deputy chief in Pittsburgh, promising him "pie in the sky." Davis tells him he just needs to give the Mayor-elect a little something to see him in a new light, "some kinda police s**t...something that looks good to Carcetti." Burrell is without ideas, but Davis promises to lobby the new mayor on behalf of his old ally.

At Tilghman Middle School, Grace Sampson explains to Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski why the heat in the classrooms is suddenly being set so high - it's intentional. With statewide exams coming up, the only way to get the kids to sit through the 90-minute prep classes is to make them drowsy. "From now 'til they're done, everything's about the tests," Sampson tells him.

Covering their corner, Poot assures Preston "Bodie" Broadus that the winter won't be too cold this year - global warming. Then why are we cold right now, asks Bodie. "We're getting older," Poot explains to his friend's amusement. When Little Kevin shows, looking sheepish after missing time on the job, Bodie presses him on why the police picked him up. Some murder, he tells him, but "I didn't say s**t to them bitches," he assures. "I ain't the one you need to convince," Bodie tells him, implying that being out of pocket for a few days after the "po-po" come looking will surely get back to Marlo Stanfield. Bodie and Poot agree that Kevin should tell the boss of the police encounter before anyone starts to suspect Kevin's got something to hide.

As the corner kids in the experimental class role-play behavioral skills at a restaurant, Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly sticks her head in to summon Howard "Bunny" Colvin and Professor David Parenti. She's getting heat to push every class to prep for the tests, no exceptions, with 90 minute blocks of math and language. Parenti protests: they can't sit 30 minutes. And Colvin thought they were the exception - the whole point of the project. He asks if they can talk to anyone. In fact, he's told, the Area Superintendent wants to meet with them.

Renaldo, keeping surveillance on Marlo and his crew, asks Omar Little whether he knew the kingpin when they robbed his card game. "Boy was just barely a name to me," Omar responds, implying that while he knew Marlo was an up-and-coming westside dealer with a fierce rep, he had not yet laid eyes on the young man. Renaldo wants to know if he would've still gone through with it - knowing who they were dealing with. "Woulda enjoyed it that much more." Omar tells him.

Sgt. Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk brings a peace offering - chicken wings from Tyrone's up on North Avenue - to an angry Bubbles, who is all banged up from the beating he took from his oppressor, the dope fiend who has been shaking him down almost daily. Herc tells him how bad he feels, expressing surprise when Bubbles tells him that he drove right by the beating. Knowing he never even left the office, Herc explains dismissively that they had a "communication problem." He then buys his informant a disposable cell phone, telling him to call direct next time he's in trouble. He just needs him to get word out about a missing police camera, and a $500 bounty for its return. "Five hunnert for a camera and a chicken box for Bubs, huh?" Herc offers him a $100 cut, but Bubbles reminds him it's not about the money for him - the fiend is terrorizing him and messing with his livelihood.

Little Kevin pays his pre-emptive visit to Marlo, explaining what the police wanted and pinning the blame on Randy Wagstaff for talking to them. "Who the f**k is Randy?" Marlo asks. Kevin explains he was the young messenger he chose to "put some distance 'tween me an' Lex." Marlo asks if he told the boy what happened to Lex. "No, swear," Kevin says and waits. As he starts to leave, two henchmen escort him, then shove him into the back of an SUV. He stares at Marlo pleadingly. Chris Partlow asks if they should target Randy next. "He can't hurt us," Marlo explains, and it's true: the most the boy could have in the way of information is heresay. But, he adds, put the word out that he's a snitch.

As Omar watches them all from his row house hideout, he's surprised to see a former Barksdale lieutenant, Slim Charles, arrive to witness the abduction of Little Kevin and discuss the coming re-up with Marlo. "Don't add up," he tells Renaldo. "Interesting though."

Donut returns to the corner to display his finger splints. As Namond Brice talks about f**king up the evil Officer Walker, two police cars pull up and the kids scatter, but not before Sgt. Ellis Carver corners Namond. "Gave you fair warning, didn't I?" he says, as his sidekick, Off. Bobby Brown, finds the boy's dropped stash of drugs. Carver snaps on the cuffs.

Now that Carcetti is the Mayor-elect (he won the general election by 82 percent in predominantly Democratic Baltimore), Clay Davis pays him a visit at his interim City Hall office, claiming he wants to clear the air. "You gonna give the money back?" Norman Wilson asks. Davis laughs and cuts to the chase. Burrell has the ministers and the council president on his side. They'll see the wisdom of new leadership when they find a suitable candidate, Wilson tells him. Davis offers to help them secure what he knows they need: pay raise approval for the new candidate from Nerese Campbell, the council president, and a green light from the ministers. Carcetti asks what they owe him in return. "I'm in Annapolis," Davis says, and he's hearing Carcetti might be there too in a few years. "We may find ourselves working together closely."

"Jesus Christ," Carcetti says after he leaves. Wilson is impressed. "He's slick. Apologizes for the short con, and in the next breath, setting us up for the long. He and Burrell are thick as thieves." Carcetti asks his deputy if he knows what the long con is. "Least we know he's running one," is Wilson's response.

Carver is holding Namond at the Drug Enforcement Unit office of the Western District, but the boy can't reach his mother. She's in Atlantic City, then headed to New York for shopping and a show. Carver preps him for what's ahead: if they can't reach a guardian, they have to send him to baby booking, where he'll spend the night. Namond looks scared - he heard East side and West side don't get along in there, and guys get raped. The only other guardian Namond can come up with is an aunt, but he can't get her on the phone either. Carver plays tough at first, determined to teach the boy a lesson, but seeing Namond's genuine fear, he gives in and lets him spend the night on the bench in the DEU, with oversight from a midnight shift officer.

Chris and Snoop watch as Michael Lee points out Bug's father, who's buying drugs off a dealer, most likely for his mother, he tells them. "I just want him gone. Away from me an' Bug," Michael tells them. "The f**k he do to you?" Snoop asks. Michael can't answer. But Chris gets it: "We take care of it, boss."

In the roll call room of the Western District, the troops get their marching orders for the day. Notable on the shift commander's briefing sheet are a rash of church burglaries they need to get on - one of them was on Off. James "Jimmy" McNulty's post - and the word from on high is to double arrests over the next month, with a focus on minor quality-of-life violations - disorderly conduct, open containers, public indecency. More of New York's 'broken windows' theory. Some of the Western officers protest, but Lt. Dennis Mello explains the Commissioner himself wants to spike arrests.

Colvin and Parenti meet with the Area Superintendent, who questions them about the restaurant field trip. They try to explain why their kids can't be put through 90-minute test prep classes. "So we're writing them off?" the Superintendent asks. Colvin tries to explain: they're learning for their world, and every one of them knows they're going to the corners. "They're not fools, these kids...Jesus, they see right through us." Parenti reminds her he made it clear at the beginning: they'd be addressing kids who needed to be socialized before they could be educated. "We can't lie - not to them, not to ourselves," Colvin adds. The area superintendent seems to withhold final judgment.

After spending the night on the Drug unit's bench, Namond still can't get his mom or aunt on the phone. Carver asks him to think of someone else - any other adult who could come get him. Namond has only one idea: Mr. Colvin. Carver is amused at the mention of the name of his old boss, the former commander of the Western.

Herc still can't find the camera, and Det. Leander Sydnor tells him it's time to come clean with Lt. Charles Marimow. He refuses at first, certain the man will take his stripes, but eventually heads into the boss's office, just as Bubbles finds his persecutor again. As Herc begins to explain about his sloppy paperwork, he gets the call from Bubbles, and tries to tell his boss he needs to take it. "I don't care who it is, turn that f**king thing off," Marimow insists, before launching into a tirade about the train station incident, accusing Herc of making up his informant, then assailing him for failing to bring in a single worthy case - otherwise he might have some reason to let a few things slide. Herc backs down from telling the truth about the camera.

In the halls between classes, Randy gets shouldered by a kid coming the other way. "Snitch bitch," the kid says. When Michael asks what it's about, Randy just shrugs, trying not to look shaken.

The patrolmen begin their street sweeps; McNulty, Off. Anthony Colicchio and the other young officers start round ups for open containers outside a bar. "I know you think its bulls**t," Officer Baker tells McNulty, writing up a ticket on a double-parked car, "but I spend my shift where they tell me." McNulty lets him in on a "little secret." "The patrolling officer on his beat is the only true dictatorship in America," he says, rattling off their liberties, like locking up a guy on a humble and getting drunk on shift. "No one - I mean no one - tells us how to waste our shift." Besides, McNulty boasts, he has some bigger fish to fry - he's figured out a pattern on the church burglaries. They're interrupted by angry bar patrons who are furious at the tickets on their cars, the sudden police onslaught. A punch is thrown and a melee is in the making. "This could get outta hand," Baker says to McNulty. "Isn't that what we want, right?" McNulty says, heading towards his cruiser. "More arrests?"

Carver brings Namond to Tilghman Middle to greet Colvin, explaining that the boy "invoked your name with a measure of respect." Colvin recalls his disrespect from a few weeks earlier. "Mr. Colvin, Sir: F**k. You." Namond at least wants credit for saying "Mr," but Colvin suggests a ride on the juvenile services bus might do him some good. The boy pleads with him. Colvin agrees to call his wife.

Over dinner, Namond puts on his best manners for Mrs. Colvin, who says she was expecting "more of an adventure" as her husband suggested. "Don't be fooled," Colvin says, smiling. "This is his Eddie Haskell act." When Namond hears his wife call him Bunny, the former cop warns him not to spill it. "I'll cut your balls off," he says, convincingly. But inside, Colvin is a bit charmed.

At the booking desk, McNulty brings in a felony burglary arrest on another church robbery - in stark contrast to all the misdemeanor arrests that are clogging the Western. Meanwhile, over in Col. Cedric Daniels' new office downtown, Mello complains about all the weak charges for loitering and disorderly conduct. "Neighborhood people, sometimes they appreciate quality-of-life arrests," Daniels says diplomatically. "Except we're locking up the neighborhood people," Mello responds. As for morale among the officers, it's split - the officers who love stats are happy, but Mello was hoping a new mayor would put an end to juked numbers, not ramp it up.

Bodie and Poot get a visit from Slim Charles, who spills the news about Little Kevin. "Chris and Snoop walked him down an alley. He in a vacant now." Bodie stares, dumbstruck.

With the Area Superintendent visiting Prez's class, he focuses on sample exam questions. As soon as she leaves, he lets the kids decide what they want to do with the remainder of the 90-minute test-prep block. The boys go back to their dice and probabilities. None of the boys will pair off with Randy, but Michael steps up and joins him.

Renaldo's at the wheel of a borrowed taxi, with Omar sitting in back, as the two of them continue their surveillance - this time on Slim Charles, who they have followed away from his meet with Marlo.

In the pilot project classroom, Zenobia Dawson and Chandra act out another simulation exercise, this time as a case worker and applicant at Social Services. As Principal Claudell Withers enters with the Area Superintendent, Zenobia takes her part a little too seriously, insisting she's just trying to make it realistic. The hostility ratchets up until Chandra slaps her, then shoves the social worker who tries to contain her. Colvin has to intervene. "Typical day?" the superintendent asks Withers. "I wouldn't know - my first day.... Mrs. Donnelly oversees this project."

In a front office meeting later that day with Withers and Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly, the superintendent is harsh. "What I saw today wasn't education as I understand the term. And they didn't seem very socialized either." The teacher tries to explain it wasn't their best day, as Parenti argues that, on the whole, they've actually made progress. Colvin adds that the outbursts are fewer, and they're more engaged. But when pressed as to how many could return to a regular classroom, the teacher offers only three names: Namond, Darnell and Zenobia. Donnelly calls it "a tremendous achievement," and the principal - deciding to back his subordinates - concurs. Then the social worker weighs in: "Many of these kids are profoundly damaged... any gain or progress is temporary. I think this project may be flawed."

Daniels goes to Carcetti to let him know that Burrell bypassed Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls to double street arrests and juke the stats - the chief is reasserting control of the department and making a play for the Mayor to keep him. "Why did you come to me?" Carcetti wants to know. He explains his logic: if Rawls already came to Carcetti with it and he let it happen anyways, that's a problem for Daniels - because Carcetti's claim that he wants to reform the department is dubious. If Rawls didn't tell him, then the Deputy is okay with Burrell's tactics, or he's letting the chief screw up so he will get fired. Either way, Daniels needs to know where Carcetti stands. "I gave you my word," the Mayor says. "Thanks for going outside the chain of command," he adds. Daniels assures him it won't be a regular practice.

Bubbles rattles his cart past a Baptist church, asks two churchgoers if they can help him get something to eat, and gets no reaction. He spots a black minister in a suit making his way to his car, and calls Herc using the cellphone that the plainclothesman purchased for him. Herc casually apologizes for not taking his call when he was in a meeting, and Bubbles responds by giving him the license plate of the minister's car - and telling him Marlo's people have a bag in the trunk, getting ready to make drops. Herc jumps on the tip with Off.. Kenneth Dozerman, and Bubbles, his working relationship with Herc over, tries to sell off the cell phone.

Within minutes Herc, Dozerman and a chopper are on the minister's car - siren blaring, lights flashing, as Herc orders the man out of the car, hands up, and spins him onto the hood to search him, then forcing him to sit on the sidewalk. They pop his trunk then search the car, as Herc confidently grabs his briefcase, taunting him knowingly as if it's the motherload. When he opens it, all he finds is a Bible. Herc has come up empty again. Bubbles set him up. "I'm damn sure gonna have your name and badge number," the minister tells Herc.

Clay Davis meets with City Council President Nerese Campbell, urging her to give Carcetti $25,000 for a salary bump for the police commissioner job, to buy time for Burrelll. Davis explains that the money won't be enough to lure serious candidates from the outside, but it will be enough movement so that the new mayor will believe that he will eventually get what he needs from the council. Then, Davis beautifully plays the middle between Carcetti and Burrell, calling the Mayor and leaves a message that he got him the money for a new police chief. "Tell him, 'Senator Davis has his interests at heart.'"

Colvin drops Namond off at his house, and he gets a peak into his home life when the boy introduces him to his mother, explaining that Colvin took him in after the cops picked him up. "Leave my son the f**k alone," De'Londa says to Colvin, before chastising her son for being afraid to go to baby booking.

McNulty and Det. William "Bunk" Moreland get their sons together at a restaurant, and Bunk asks the young McNultys if they plan to follow in their dad's footsteps. One wants to be a video game designer, the other a rock star. As for Bunk's kids, the older one wants to be chief of police, the other a pediatric neurosurgeon. McNulty's ex, Elena, arrives to pick up the kids, and sees that he's not drinking. They get some alone time, and ask about each other's new partners. "We're close, we're not..." Elena says of hers. "If I'd known you were gonna grow up to be a grown up..." she says smiling fondly at him. McNulty is clearly gratified by this belated endorsement.

Bodie is still upset about Little Kevin, especially as he's the one who told him "do the right thing, go talk to the man." Poot tries to get him to see it from Marlo's point of view, invoking their own murder of Wallace years earlier, but Bodie thinks the logic is flawed - Kevin didn't snitch. Marlo's just a "cold motherf**ker." "It's a cold world, Bodie," Poot tells him. "Thought you said it was getting warmer," he responds. "The world goin' one way, people another," Poot says.

As Michael's mother heads out to look for Bug's dad, he stops her. "He ain't coming back," he says, staring her down. A few blocks away, the man leaves a grocery store to face Snoop and Chris, who follow him, Chris drilling him on whether he likes f**king boys. He tells them he's living with a woman now. "She got kids." Snoop says. "I ain't touch them kids. Who told you that?" he demands. Chris plays friendly. "When you inside, ain't no p**sy." "Well, yeah, s**t," he responds. "You been inside. Man gotta bust his nut, know what I'm sayin'?" "I do," Chris says, as he pulls a gun and pistol whips the man, kicking and pummeling him bloody, only stopping when he's unrecognizable - and still. Snoop looks stunned at the ferocity of the beating, so much more emotional than any other violence in which Chris has been involved. "Damn, you didn't even wait to get the motherf**ker inside."

Back at home, Michael watches as his mother, agitated and waiting for her fix, glares at him. He smiles knowingly, once again the man of the house.

Once again, a lot of things to consider from this episode. I swear, I have to watch these episodes over and over on DVR and DVDs (admittedly I have seen all of season 4 but I watch religiously on HBO every Sunday because this show is littered with small satisfying details that you might ignore initially). Officer Walker's reign of abuse continues- this time on Donut. In retrospect, Donut is really doing horrible things by stealing these vehicles but when you see the kid- you realize just that. Donut is just a child. He is doing criminal things and is running wild- but what else would you expect him to do given his surroundings. So, when Walker broke Donut's fingers, I winced in pain watching it. I love Donut's clever tactics of trying to detour Walker- from using the smashed cars as a sort of barrier and then switching jackets to throw Walker off his trail.

Speaking of Walker, I love the continuing passing of Old-Face Andre's ring. And I love how each wearer of the ring has had misfortune meted out to them. The original owner of the ring, Old-Face Andre had his re-up stolen from Omar, had the ring taken from after Marlo intimidated him and then later Andre dies after going back on his testimony. Marlo's misfortune was being robbed at the poker game by Omar. Omar's misfortune was being falsely accused of murder and being locked up with 98% of the boys he robbed. Fortunately, Omar is now out and looks to be okay (well, depending as safe as Omar can possibly be- the man thrives on the street). And Walker will meet his misfortune soon in episode 11 which I will review soon. And the new wearer of the ring may have to worry because every time that ring has been passed, something bad has happened to the person.

Since season 1, the writers have shown the corruption of Clay Davis. This episode truly reveals that character's manuevering and scheming nature. He is a complete opportunist who knows how to survive in the political arena. And although he and Burrell seem to be "thick as thieves" (using Norman Wilson's line)- you know that Clay would hang Burrell out to dry in a moment in order for his own political gain. However, to Burrell's credit he understands the political game better than most and will more than likely try to find a way to survive.

Also, as deplorable as Burrell may be in some cases, he was smart in trying to juke the stats in an effort for his own self-preservation. I also love the growing friendship between Carcetti and Daniels. It's becoming very apparent that Daniels is being groomed as the heir apparent to replace Burrell. However, Burrell still has dirt on Daniels from "the old days" (referenced in season 1). When forced into a corner, it is more than likely that these truths will be exposed.

Poor Little Kevin. The one thing I've learned from this series is that if you try to do the right thing or if you try to assert some level of individuality/humanity- more than likely, it will cost you. Now, Little Kevin was the one responsible for Lex's death- however, Lex did kill Fruit against Bodie's wishes. But, Little Kevin did not snitch when Herc tried to interrogate him. There was no smoking gun and Kevin didn't snitch. Remembering the days of the Barksdale crew (and also the turmoil that happened when Wallace was out of pocket and disappeared in season 1), Bodie advises Kevin to do the right thing and clear the air with Marlo.

If this season has taught us anything it is that Marlo is a different breed than Avon. He is far more sociopathic and vicious and drops bodies just to prove to everyone that he can. Avon had a great deal of humanity and the deaths that occurred where calculated and pertained to business. The bodies that fall in Marlo's wake are senseless deaths just to bolster his rep. So when Kevin reported to Marlo, I knew it wouldn't end well- and it ended with Kevin being escorted to be boarded in a vacant by Snoop and Chris. I loved the look on Slim Charles face when he sees Kevin's face before he's driven away. It was a look of understanding that things are slowly beginning to get out of control. And that Marlo is just killing just because he has the ability to.

One of my favorite scenes in the episode was when Slim Charles revealed to Bodie what happened to Kevin. I've always been a JD Williams fan since his stint as Kenny Wangler on OZ but it's really his role on THE WIRE as Bodie that you really see the dimensions this guy can bring. This scene is downright heartbreaking with Bodie realizing that he contributed to Kevin's demise. Do the right thing is something that a loyal soldier like Bodie has done time and time again. However, the rules of the game have been changed and an older Bodie realizes that. Why did Slim reveal this to Bodie? Was it out of respect since they are close? Or is it because Slim ultimately hopes that someone does something about the shit that Marlo is pulling?

The best visual was the wide shot of Bodie alone on the corner, contemplating his viewpoint on Marlo, the status of the game, Little Kevin's death and his own place. Also, I loved the Royce For Mayor sign in the shot as well. I think that is potentially deliberate. Is Bodie fighting a losing race just like Royce? And like Royce is Bodie's (and the Barksdale clan period) term officially over and the new breed officially being inducted? A lot of subtle nuances to chew over.

And it took three plus seasons, but it was nice to see Bodie and Poot discussing Wallace's death. Bodie's still sure that the death of Wallace was necessary because Wallace was going to snitch. Which in actuality, is partially true (Stringer's paranoia really took over in that instance). But Bodie in my viewpoint, is becoming the voice of the audience with his commentary on the way Marlo conducts business and views life. When episode 13 roles around, I guarantee you that Bodie's words will echo that of the audience in general. Bodie is steeped in the game and is a soldier, but there is humanity and honor in him. Marlo and his ilk are soulless and devoid of feeling toward the lives of others. Things are no longer the same as we have been used to for three previous seasons.

I love Namond's continuing bond with Colvin. And the dinner conversation with Bunny's nickname being revealed to Namond was hilarious. Namond actually seemed a bit shaken up by Bunny's threats of cutting his balls off. I still am wondering about the origins of Bunny's nickname myself. However, how can someone not feel sympathy for Namond is beyond me. After seeing the "love" his mother offers him, it's a wonder how Namond is barely able to function. She would rather her son spend a night in baby booking and scolds him for being safe with Colvin. De'Londa Brice may be one of the most cold-hearted characters I have ever seen- concerned solely about her own standing financially than her child's safety.

I'm glad that Herc received some sort of comeuppance for his amazing fuck-ups. He's so self-absorbed and unable to take any sort of responsibility that he has fucked over various characters this season including Randy, Bubs, etc. And I was thrilled that Bubs was able to trick him into arresting the minister. The minister and the two women that Bubs was trying to talk to earlier- remind me of the hypocrisy that is inherent in a good portion of churchgoers. They claim to be righteous but they ignore a man who is of a lower social bracket than they are. How Bubs maintains his wonderful soul through everything is what I find remarkable. He's truly one of the most positive characters trying to survive and cope in a world that is completely flipped on its chaotic axis.

And is there a more patient and calculating character than Omar? Basically he has collected more data in his short time out than the police have been able to figure out. He's piecing together this puzzle and is figuring out who is working with who- and methodically figuring out how to get even with Marlo/Prop Joe.

And the ending was downright brutal. For the first time, we see Chris lose his cool and destroy Bug's father with a uncontrolled fit of brutality. The look on Snoop's face was priceless. I also love how never once Michael said that Bug's father molested him- it's implied and Chris (obviously a victim of abuse and molestation as well) understood the situation. It reminds me that victims of the same crime will share a common unspoken language. And that is what happened here. Michael has sold his very soul and his loyalty to protect his brother. It's a noble cause and I applaud the beating in a sense. Nothing is worse than child molestation or abuse in my mind- but what makes that death more accepted than any other death in this series?

Amazing episode and I will have to watch it again.

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