Chapter (or episode) 52 of the series has perhaps one of the most jarring endings ever of this series. I now understand what David Simon was saying about the theme of the season, which is how far you can go on a lie. And also it ties in to a comment Wendell Pierce made about how this season is about the decisions that the characters make. And based on the ending, one character makes a decision that could damage many lives- not just his own.
The episode begins with a woman sharing her experiences in a N.A. meeting. The woman sharing her story is named DeeDee, and she was featured in season 3 and 4. Once we saw her buying an 8-ball of coke in Hamsterdam and then also being propositioned by Old-Face Andre, who was wondering if she was still hooking for the same pimp. Here we see her talking about how her addiction led her to doing things that she never imagined doing- including the hooking. This is another reason, why I love this series. Even the most minor characters are allowed to develop and are important to this universe that David Simon has created. They are all citizens of the city and just as important as anyone else.
The meeting is run by Walon (the sponsor from season 1 and who came to console Bubs at the end of season 4) and he asks Bubs to talk to everyone. Reluctantly, Bubs does come up and talk to everyone. He jokes about the "dope fiend lean" posture he used to be in when he was high, and admits he used to love it. However, before continuing any further, Bubs relents, and admits this is not the best place for him to discuss how he really feels. And we also learn, Bubs has been clean for 15 months- but he still can't cope with Sherrod's death. And Walon notices this.
After the opening credits, we see the episode epigraph which is another Bunk quote:
Sydnor and Freamon are now deep in the case against Clay Davis. While, Sydnor seems more interested in street work, Lester marvels at what has been collected. This is truly a career case when you can see how the money is distributed and where it goes to. Freamon tells Sydnor that "watching Tater hand Pee-Wee a vial" does not hold up to the case against Clay Davis. This case has been slowly building since season 1 when the Detail was gathering information on the money trail that came from Clay's dealings with the Barksdale crew. Now, we are witnessing the payoff. Meanwhile, Freamon sighs, Marlo is celebrating that there is no one watching him now.
Which Marlo is definitely doing. After Snoop and Chris Partlow inform him that the investigation by the Major Case Unit is over and no one is watching them- Marlo is eager to get back to dropping bodies. He orders Snoop and Chris to drop dealers from a corner they want to take over and to kill a dealer (named Junebug) who was talking shit about Marlo. Then, Marlo also mentions he wants Omar. Snoop counters that Omar is retired and not even in Baltimore (after his successful score from last year). Marlo suggests that something drastic needs to be done to bring Omar out of retirement. Chris warns that doing this, will start a major war with Omar- who will go at them and Joe hard. Marlo, doesn't care because he's concerned about the crown he wears.
Which begs to question, there are a lot of references to the crown by Marlo this season. I just remember the dialogue Marlo had with Vinson in season 3 about wearing the crown. Vinson told him that cemeteries and prisons are full of boys that wore the crown. Marlo wasn't concerned with that- he just wanted to wear the crown. I think that dialogue is definitely going to come into play and tie into Marlo's fate.
Bubs is pulled over by Walon he tells him he needs to face his involvement in Sherrod's death. Bubs is still unable to deal with it and tells Walon he deals with it every day and walks away. The journey by Bubbles has been remarkable and I hope he stays sober, but it's not going to be easy for him. He still has a lot of pain weighing on his shoulders.
McNulty, meanwhile, is still pissed about the Major Case Unit being disbanded and being sent back to Homicide. He makes a point to tell Pearlman that they don't have to worry about murders now that they have allowed Marlo Stanfield to continue with his business. In this case, I can understand McNulty's frustration but definitely not the way he is attacking everyone. Pearlman and Daniels fought to have the investigation into the row house murders stay open. It was City Hall that brought down that case. However, his frustration leads to a beautiful ongoing scene with McNulty realizing how Homicide can't shop cars (which plays into the budgetary cuts by City Hall in season 5)
Taking a call, McNulty finds a case of natural death. While at the morgue, McNulty talks to a colleague of his who informs of a case of the medics moving a fresh dead body that is lodged in- and comes to the morgue looking like a strangulation, because moving the body too hard after death can look suspicious. This will come into play later in the episode.
Freamon waits patiently and at night, watches as Marlo, Snoop and Chris meet up. It's business as usual and Freamon knows that this case still has legs.
And one of the best scenes of the episode. Marlo arrives at Jessup to meet up with Sergei (the Russian truck driver/enforcer of the Greeks). However, instead of Sergei, Marlo is greeted by Avon Barksdale. It's always great to see Wood Harris and he is electrifying in his scene with Jamie Hector.
For once, we see Marlo look uncomfortable because he has no idea what Avon has in store for him. Avon tells Marlo that his friend, Sergei, was asking him if he knows a Marlo that was sending him cash money just to be on his visiting list. Marlo, tries to play it off but Avon then breaks it down to Marlo in something that is so sweet, I have to quote verbatim:
AVON: Let me help you find your tongue. You trying to get to the Russian so you can get a line to his people. You trying to get with the Greek motherfuckers because if you can, you want to cut Proposition Joe and all of them other East Side bitches out of the connect. I mean, you a natural business man, right? This is the thing, though, you know I'm with you on all that as far as it goes. Ya know, West Side definitely need to stick together. And all the fuss about you coming at me? I say let byegones be byegones. But fuck all them East Side bitches. That's just the way I feel about it. I got nothing but love in my heart for West Side niggas. Nothing but love. Of course, I mean, you know, I got to have my taste to...
Avon then tells Marlo that in order to meet Sergei, he needs to send Brianna (Avon's sister) 100 grand and once that happens, he will be able to meet Sergei. Marlo cannot argue with Avon's word and agrees to the terms. That scene is so epic to me because even incarcerated, Avon is still king. Or an "authority figure" as he referred himself to. Avon seemed to be relishing the fact that he had control over Marlo at this point, and seemed even happier that he was making money off of Marlo's transparent power play.
Do I believe Avon completely? I believe he has love for the West Side and that he does not like the East Side (this was apparent in "Game Day" when he told Prop Joe, without a basketball, if any Eastsider steps into the West Side, they will be lit up). However, I don't think he can stand Marlo. Barksdale and his crew are definitely old school and soldiers like Wee-Bey cannot stand the shit that Marlo and his kind are pulling now. The game has definitely changed. But Avon is clever enough to make money out of this. The line, "a natural business man" is said with the same type of sting that he used when he argued with Stringer.
Later on, after the money is exchanged, Marlo meets with Sergei. The Russian is not impressed with Marlo and having money deposited. Marlo, name-drops Avon as the man who thought that Sergei could talk to Vondas about him taking Marlo's money. Sergei agrees and Avon throws up the Westside sign knowing that the West is going to rule all of Baltimore again. And mainly, because he enjoyed his payday.
On the media side of the story, we watch as Scott Templeton, fabricates a story about a kid with the nickname EJ who was in a wheelchair from a gunshot incident at an Orioles game. Before this, we watch Scott not finding any good stories when he was at the Orioles game. When he presents this made-up story to Gus Haynes, Gus wants to check for information about this kid. The search yields no results. Gus is ready to deep-six the story because there is no solid information to prove that the story is real. However, the executive editor okays the story after reading it and does not feel it warrants further investigation. All of this does not sit well with Gus.
Snoop, Monk and O-Dog (the boy who killed Bodie last season) try to take out people on the corner they attend to take over via a drive by. This was O-Dog's suggestion as he thinks they need to go "all West Coast" on this one and mirror the drive-by sequences in "Boyz N Da Hood". Snoop is amused but motions to Monk that they can do that. When they attempt it, Snoop is livid that they didn't hit anyone. She gets out the vehicle and patiently waits and shoots a fleeing dealer in the back of the head. Snoop then tells O-Dog to fuck West Coast niggas because, "In B-more, we aim to hit a nigga".
Later on, Snoop, Chris and Michael wait in a car checking out the dealer named Junebug. Chris educates Michael on being early for a job because you don't want someone setting up on you while you are trying to set up on them. Michael wonders why they have to kill Junebug and Snoop says it's because he MAY have called Marlo a dicksucker. It may not even be true but Chris and Snoop say that Junebug can't live if people talk about it. Michael tries to reason to them that if it's not true, Marlo shouldn't care. Snoop gets pissed and tells Michael that Junebug has a big fucking mouth and that's why he's dying. Chris seems more patient and understanding of Michael's questioning. Snoop and Chris go through the front and take out Junebug, his family and muscle. Michael is supposed to handle the back and kill anyone fleeing there.
As the shooting commences, Michael watches a young boy flee. He is unable to shoot the kid- probably knowing that the child is the same age of his brother, Bug.
Freamon and McNulty try to use Agent Fitzhugh to push the Stanfield case to the State's Attorney General, but no dice. The State's Attorney General is the one that Carcetti pissed off in the last episode. There will be no assistance in the Stanfield investigation and it seems no one will look into it, because Carcetti burned some major bridges.
Which leds us to the final scene. At a crime scene with Bunk, McNulty tells the patrol officer to leave.
McNulty leaves for a moment and begins to hit the sauce.
He comes back in and does the unthinkable. McNulty tampers with the evidence and makes the death look like strangulation and a murder (the death seemed like a natural death on first inspection). Bunk is horrified and tells McNulty he wants no part in this.
McNulty proclaims that there is a serial killer loose in Baltimore who prays on the weak and that he needs to be stopped.
This ties in to the scene with Bunk, McNulty and Freamon at the bar from earlier. They were discussing how if Marlo Stanfield was killing white people, they would send in military strikes. The bodies who happen to fall are not only the wrong color but belong in the zip code where no one gives a fuck. McNulty, finally at his breaking point, has decided to force the hand of the department.
This is really scary to watch. McNulty seemed so together last season. This case has pushed him over the edge. The boozing and the whoring is typical McNulty- but this action, is something that I guess has been a long time coming. I just couldn't even breathe after watching the final scene. He's gone over the edge and the theme of how far you can go on a lie really comes into play.