Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Wire Season 4 Episode 3- "Home Rooms" Review

The episode synopsis from, followed by my thoughts in bold:

"Love the first day, man. Everybody all friendly an' shit." -- Namond Brice

Omar Little awakes to the sound of a garbage truck outside his window. Annoyed to discover there's no cereal, he blames his newest protégé Renaldo, still asleep, for letting the Honey Nut Cheerios box go light. In his silk pajamas, unarmed because the big gun won' stay in his waist, he heads out to the local grocery, then stops under a row house window on his way back, only to light a smoke, as cries of "Omar comin''" ring throughout the neighborhood. As Omar lights a Newport, a bag of vialed, ready-to-sling cocaine drops to his feet. Back at home, he dumps the bag on the breakfast table, then laments that he doesn't even want it. "It ain't what you takin', it's who you takin' it from," he explains to Renaldo. "How you expect to run with the wolves come night when you spend all day sportin' with puppies?"

The Deacon drops by Howard "Bunny" Colvin's to feel him out about a job at University of Maryland's school of social work, which has landed a good-sized grant to look at repeat violent offenders. The Deacon has already sold the UM faculty on employing his friend, who carries some gravitas with the academics as the police commander who tried to legalize drugs in West Baltimore. But Colvin notes that the academics were the only ones who liked the idea and he says he's had his fill of do-gooders. Colvin insists he's happy at a hotel security job, making "52, good bennies" and getting a take home car.

Marlo Stanfield, Chris Partlow and Felecia "Snoop" Pearson pull up to Preston "Bodie" Broadus's corner, where Bodie, Little Kevin, Michael Lee and others are working Bodie's package. It's clear that Bodie has made a little something out of the formerly moribund strip. Bodie tenses as they approach, but Chris assures him they are there to parley only. Marlo tells him he needs the corner now that it's developed. "Two choices, you start takin' our package or you can step off." Marlo also has his eye on Michael, who earlier wouldn't take Marlo's handout of back-to-school money, but is now working a drug corner. "He got some good signs on him," Marlo tells Chris.

Mayor Royce meets with State Delegate Watkins, his chief of staff, Coleman Parker, Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell and State's Attorney Demper to discuss the dead witness issue that Carcetti so effectively used in the campaign debate. Upset about Carcetti's eight point bump in the wake of that ambush, Royce takes the gloves off, telling his team to begin playing hardball, tearing up campaign signs and towing Carcetti's vehicles and telling campaign donors that they can't ride the fence and give to both him and his opponents. Then he tells Burrell and Demper to "talk down that witness angle" on the recent murder, and, if necessary, to get out in front and take the heat for the case. Most important, the mayor tells them, they need to prevent any further revelations on the case "which reflects poorly on Royce's ability to protect state's witnesses and gives Carcetti a strong issue" from coming out before the primary vote. Demper protests about having to take any blame at first. "I'm running dead even with Bond right now," he says of his own re-election effort. "How you gonna be running if I drop you from the ticket?" Royce fires back. After Demper and Burrell exit, Watkins points out that Carcetti has a point about the Royce administration failing to claim matching funds that Carcetti had Watkins secure a year earlier during the previous legislative session in Annapolis. Royce explains that he will claim those funds after the primary, for the next fiscal year. To do so prior would have given Carcetti a campaign highlight.

Back on the corner, Michael doesn't rattle when some buyers try to scam him on some heroin sales and backs the older heads down. Bodie, impressed, tries to get Michael to work the after school rush hours, but Michael wants to quit now that he's repaid the money he needed for back-to-school supplies for himself and his younger brother. Besides, school's starting.

Kima Greggs surveys the street outside Old Face Andre's store, as Omar and Renaldo -unnoticed - survey her. Renaldo asks if Greggs is federal and Omar replies that she is city police and that he knows and likes her - up to a point. A school girl goes in the store, all dressed up and carrying a backpack on the day before school starts, raising Omar's suspicions. He assumes that Greggs would notice such a detail as well. After the girl leaves - minus her backpack - Greggs heads into the store to buy some gum and check it out. She notices better security cameras outside the store than inside, as well as reinforced doors - indicative of a stash house rather than a viable grocery. As she drives away, Omar notes she needs more patience. But Greggs is off to report what she saw at Old Face Andre's to Freamon, who has been doing wiretap work ever since they picked up the call from Andre to Monk, a Stanfield lieutenant, a week prior - the one in which an irate Stanfield grabbed his lieutenant's phone and told Andre not to harry him. They consult the wiretap chart, trying to link Andre into the higher rungs of the Stanfield organization. "We're getting close," says Greggs. Lt. Asher then leaves his office, saying he's been called downtown by Deputy Commissioner of Operations William Rawls. "You guys aren't into any s**t are you?" he asks on his way out. They deny it, of course.

At Police Headquarters, Deputy Commissioner Rawls Lt. Charles Marimow on his new job - making sure he gets the Major Crimes unit back on the street where it belongs. No more movement on the subpoenas, which will not be answered until after the primary in any event. Asher arrives for his meeting with Rawls and is relieved of command of Major Crimes, transferred to the Telephone Reporting unit, and told he has done a fine job. Just fine.

It's the picture of domestic bliss at Beadie Russell's house, as Bunk arrives for dinner and McNulty introduces him to Beadie's kids, who are studying from the homeland security binders that McNulty liberated earlier at the Western. Afterward, Bunk lures McNulty out for drink at their old haunt of the railroad track, but McNulty nurses a single beer, much to McNulty's disappointment. Bunk presses him on whether he's really comfortable in his new life. "Sometimes it is what it is," McNulty explains.

Bodie complains to Slim Charles about Marlo's latest pressure, noting that he could only make a go of the new strip because he was selling Slim's package of high-quality narcotics. On Marlo's weaker package, his profits will fall. Bodie wants to fight back, but he is alone now. Slim explains that the people he is working with now - Prop Joe and the New Day Co-op, of course - they aren't going to battle for any territory. Later back in a discount hotel meeting room, the Co-op crew, including Proposition Joe, Slim Charles and Fat-face Rick and others, meet to discuss how to handle Marlo's hegemony and that of the New York Boys on the eastside. Marlo is running off some of the independents supplied by the Co-op on the Westside, or forcing them to take their package. But the bigger problems are the recent emigrants from Brooklyn and the Bronx, setting up shop in East Baltimore and running various local crews off. The Co-op finds consensus: If they are going to bump with the New Yorkers, they need to stand together and Marlo, as young and violent as he is, would be an asset in that regard. It's noted that Marlo can "make an inconvenient n***** disappear," and there is some discussion of how Marlo is hiding the bodies his organization drops. Proposition suggests its time to talk to Marlo again, to get him to cooperate, but Slim is skeptical he'll listen.

At his hotel security job, Colvin gets summoned to a room where a hotel patron has beaten a prostitute who lifted cash from his wallet. Colvin wants to arrest the assailant for assault, but the manager doesn't want any trouble for a customer who is instrumental in booking conventions into Baltimore. When Colvin cuffs him regardless, the manager has to remind him he's no longer a police officer: "You work for us." Colvin relents and, ashamed to be doing what he is doing, leaves. The next day he tracks down Deacon to see about the social work grant he dismissed earlier.

The first day of school, Randy, Michael and Dukie head over to pick up Namond, with Michael keeping his younger brother, Bug, in tow and Randy giving his lunch to Dukie on the way. De'Londa Brice allows Michael and Randy into her home to collect Namond, but shuts the door in Dukie's face.

At morning roll call, Charles Marimow addresses his new unit, demanding to know where Officer Massey, who manned the wiretap overnight, is and why she is not present for the meeting. When the reason is given, it is insufficient. Marimow asserts his leadership and says he wants to be briefed on every action by the unit. Freamon, Greggs and Sydnor are not thrilled with the new boss.

At Tilghman Middle School, the first day begins in a rush of activity. Prez struggles to control his homeroom class. But the kids ignore his seating chart, steal his bus and hall passes and disrespect his authority. Fellow teacher Grace Sampson has to step in to restore order.

The Mayor calls a private meeting with Herc, inquiring about his career goals. Briefed about this very outcome by Major Valchek earlier, Herc feigns surprise as, Royce, after establishing Herc's loyalty, offers to make a call to push Herc's name to the top of the sergeant's list and then move him off the mayoral detail and back into another assignment. Herc expresses gratitude "Don't mention it," Royce intones precisely.

In Prez's math class he attempts to lead them through a word problem but the kids knowingly interrupt and effectively destroy the lesson. One girl, Chiquan, refuses to sit near Dukie, complaining that he smells. Humiliated, Dukie says nothing. Chiquan provokes another girl, flashing the sun with a piece of jewelry to shine in the other girl's face. The teased girl goes for Chiquan, Prez tries to break it up and chaos breaks out until Grace arrives once again to help restore order.

Marimow comes down on the unit for all the time they're spending on Marlo Stanfield when there's no body count connected with the Stanfield organization. He lays down the law - no more long-term wire taps, no more subpoenas. He declares the Barksdale case closed immediately and says that when the fledgling Stanfield wiretaps come up for renewal, they will be terminated as well. Freamon argues it's up to a judge to decide when a wiretap comes down, but Marimow informs him the Deputy Commissioner for Operations will be talking to him about that very subject.

After using the disturbance to sneak out of class, Randy uses a string of different colored uniform shirts to mingle with different grades in the school cafeteria. He works the crowd, pitching his product: a backpack full of candy. Dukie watches with amusement, while he plays with a plastic battery-operated mini fan he's found inoperative in the street on the way to school.

Omar and Renaldo catch the next re-up at Old Face Andre's grocery, holding him up for the backpack the girl delivered. To distract Andre, Omar sent Renaldo into the store with a small-caliber handgun, knowing that Andre would be confident in the depth of his plexiglass. But while Andre is preparing to counter Renaldo, Omar slips past the security camera, enters the store and fires a shot high, through the plexiglass, using a large-caliber semi-auto. Renaldo gives up the package, and Omar to rub it in buys a pack of Newports and demands his change. As they leave, he references the look on Andre's face to Renaldo, saying, "That's why we get up in the morning."

At the social work college on UM's Baltimore city campus, The Deacon brings Colvin to talk Professor David Parenti about a job as a field researcher - going out in the hood to find some corner boys to talk to for his study. He's looking for 18-to-21 year olds. Colvin thinks 18-21 a too late to be trying to influence behavior; by that time they are already lost to the game. "So show him," says Deacon.

Carcetti shows up at the wake for the dead witness he used so effectively against Royce in the debate, checking with Wilson on his way in about the invited press. Clearly, they are planning to use the wake as a campaign event. He enters the funeral home, pays his respects to the boy's mother, launching into a speech before stopping himself. "I'm just sorry for your loss." Seeing Watkins and Marla Daniels in the back of the room, he greets them both, then wishes Daniels luck with her race. "The council sure could use you." Outside, he refuses to talk to reporters, much to Wilson's annoyance. But Carcetti considers appearances and implies that the real audience at this moment might be Watkins. Better to appear sincere at this moment, rather than calculating - he calculates.

Colvin gets Sgt. Carver to let him and the professor talk to an 18-year-old kid, Shawn, in the interview room. Shawn nearly attacks the professor for writing while he's talking, and after a tough few minutes in which Colvin quickly provokes the young man's rage, the professor has to concede that "18-to-21 might be too seasoned." Carver suggests they try the local high school, but Colvin suggests they need to go even younger. He takes the professor to Tilghman Middle School and on encountering the 6th-to-8th graders, they sense that they are in the correct place to undertake their research.

Meanwhile, the exodus from the Major Crimes Unit is now on. Kima meets with her old mentor, Major Cedric Daniels, looking to get back under his new command in the Western District, but he says she's too good to go back to a district and that she needs to move laterally at worst. He offers to talk to people on her behalf. In the meantime, Freamon visits the Deputy Ops and is told by Rawls that he is a hell of an investigator - Rawls seems sincere in his praise - but that his investigation is at an end. Sending the subpoenas to politically sensitive targets has made it so; they can't stop the subpoenas, but they can get the unit that sent them by sending in "my Trojan horse" Charlie Marimow. Rawls anticipates that Freamon might go to the city judge who signed the wiretap order, seeking protection. Rawls references the fact that an earlier Deputy Ops once had to bury Freamon years ago for a similar action: "You have a gift for martyrdom," Rawls tells him. "But I wonder, are your disciples as keen for the cross?" To protect his comrades, Freamon concedes defeat. Rawls then offers to let him land softly, transferring him back to C.I.D. homicide and telling Freamon that while it is hard to think it so now, he should consider this a favor.

Following this, Daniels approaches Rawls to plead for a Homicide assignment for Greggs. The only open spot was just filled, Rawls reports dryly, but, he adds, looking at the Homicide roster, "Lemme see who I don't love no more."

Prez tries to get the class to tackle another math word problem, as the kids inject their jokes and commentary. Chiquan acts out a bit and the other girl, still angry at the earlier teasing, leaps up and slashes Chiquan across the face with a razor. As blood gushes from a screaming Chiquan, chaos erupts in the classroom. Prez is momentarily paralyzed with shock, but Grace Sampson arrives to disarm the angry girl and call for an ambulance. As Ms. Sampson tends to Chiquan, Dukie softly approaches the angry girl, producing his mini-fan, which he has repaired. He turns it on, blows it gently toward the girl, then leaves it on the floor for her. She ignores him, her eyes glazed and hands bloodstained, as Dukie watches her.

My thoughts on the episode:

- Omar is back! The show continued its tradition of introducing Omar in grand fashion in the third episode of the season (the only break was Omar appearing in episode 2 of last season). And apparently, Omar's mythic has even reached a higher level than the last time we saw him. The guy just goes out to get a box of Cheerios and leans against a wall to have a smoke- and not only do dealers scatter, but drop their drugs for him- expecting him to fuck with them.

Michael K. Williams delivers his lines in an almost poetic style and Omar is just a fascinating and engaging character. He has a new protege/lover- Renaldo. Apparently, his old crew (consisting of his old boyfriend, Dante and Kimmy) have went their separate ways or his crew got killed somehow. From the dialogue last season, Kimmy probably went on her own and who knows what happened with Dante. The show's theme of education continues with Omar schooling his new lover on the art of the stickup and the importance of who you steal from.

Omar's more patient with surveillance than most police, and I love how Omar and Kima are both watching Old-Face Andre's (mentioned in the previous episode) stashhouse bodega for different reasons. I'm looking forward to see how this will play out with Omar and his upcoming situation with Marlo.

Speaking with Marlo, I am looking forward to watching the character fall because he is a different breed than Avon/Stringer. It has been implied in the previous season and this year, that Marlo may not have a long stint holding the crown ('graveyards and prisons full of boys who wore the crown'). He's impatient and arrogant and his scene with Bodie proved. He showed Bodie no respect ("What's your name? Biddie? Boney?") and Bodie to his credit, held his own. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays this out. If Bodie accepts Marlo's weak package, financially, he'll be fucked. And Slim Charles is sensitive to the issue but cannot do anything to help Bodie because his new boss, Proposition Joe is about unity not bodies.

Speaking of Prop Joe, it's nice to see that Co-op that String and Proposition Joe have built is still going. And apparently, Marlo is taking territory but not a part of the Co-op and is not accepting the package. This is hurting some of the other dealers businesses and Slim tells Prop Joe that he's lost business with three independents because of Marlo snatching up territory. Apparently, there's also an infestation of New York dealers who are starting to move in and ruin business for the Baltimore dealers. Could this be foreshadowing for season five? I don't think Marlo will be too receptive to Prop Joe's offer- after all, look at what happened when Stringer offered Marlo a part in the Co-op.

Michael is shaping up to be quite the talent on the corner and both Bodie and Marlo have their eye on him. I think Michael will be a great character to watch because he could potentially be a Marlo like character- and it would be tragic to watch him fall into that trap. Hopefully, he'll accept Cutty's offer to train.

Interesting how Rawls was trying to appease Daniels and Freamon. I think he's playing the game because he knows if Carcetti wins- Burrell is out as Commissioner and to play the game, he wants to be on Daniels' (still a prospect as Commissioner) good side.

I find De'Londa Brice despicable. Her superficiality and materialism is sickening (especially when you consider where her money came from)- particularly when she shut the door in Dukie's face because he's impoverished. Dukie is also one of my favorite characters this season. The final scene of him desperately trying to connect with a fellow outcast by handing her the fan he fixed is just heartbreaking. It's a case of too little too late, but his attempt to try to connect with someone is just so sad.

Nice to see them using Grace Sampson again (in season 3 she was introduced as Cutty's former lover before he was locked up) and I find it interesting who children respect and listen to in school and who they don't. As sad as it seems, Chiquan deserved her fate in a weird way. Getting sliced is very extreme but her attitude and her behavior was going to provoke someone to do something to her. I'm shocked Dukie didn't do anything. He's either going to be a suicide one day or he will be a complete sociopath and a very hardened individual.

Randy is just an amazing character- what a brilliant kid. Bubs needs to enlist that kid into his schemes. Randy is making a killing by selling the candy. I really want nothing bad to happen to Randy because his candy enterprise is just so clever. I really want that kid to get out of his environment.

And Colvin is back too..nice to see that. And I can't wait to see how he's going to work with these middle school kids.

Great episode as always.

BTW- it's always great to see Beatrice "Beadie" Russell. Beadie appeared first in season 2 (she was a main character from the waterfront storyline) and I always felt she was one of the strongest characters not just on the show- but in TV ever. She was strong because she was a regular person who came into her own on the detail as it went along. And her and McNulty's budding attraction was very real. I think she's the perfect fit for Jimmy and I hope their relationship continues because she is the perfect compliment for Jimmy. She really understands him and McNulty seems content with his life with her. And what can I say, any excuse to see Amy Ryan play Beadie is fine with me. The more Amy Ryan the better- she's such a fantastic actress.

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