Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Wire Season 5 Episode 5- "React Quotes" review

Now, that I've successfully caught up with episodes 5,6,7 in a row, I guess I've grown a little complacent in my reviews (that probably one person reads anyway). But, I'm now fiending to see episode 8,9 and 10 after seeing a MAJOR SPOILER for apparently episode 8. Strap in your seat belts, this season is definitely going to be intense.

Anyway, the episode opens following the murder of Proposition Joe. Now, Marlo and the Greeks are doing business. Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos is still upset that Joe is dead because he liked Joe. However, as with the mentality of the Greeks- business always comes first ("Business. Always business"- The Greek). We now get a better understanding of how they do business (like how they must have done business with Joe). Only Marlo and Chris (Marlo's 2nd in command as Vondas referred to him as) need to know the names of the Greeks- and contact them. Anyone else in Marlo's organization does not communicate with them or know them. Vondas instructs Marlo on how to communicate with them. He tells Marlo to use a cell phone (that he hands Marlo) for legitimate reasons- but to contact them there is apparently another way. Which we will later find it is picture messaging of clocks and specific times. That way the cops will never figure it out.

Marlo, then tells Chris if he can feel the crown on their head. Once, again, it's all about the crown to Marlo. He wants to go to Atlantic City to celebrate but Chris again, proves why he's so wise and valuable to the Stanfield organization. He knows he can't celebrate. Omar is going to come at them and they will have to be ready.

Let's see....where to begin? Well, let me focus on everyone's favorite character, Omar. Chris knows that with Marlo inside and the rest of the Stanfield organization on the run- Omar will be gunning for them. So, Chris tells his family goodbye before getting ready for the battle against Omar. By the way, according to Gbenga Akkinagbe, that woman is not Chris' wife or g/f- but Chris' sister. It's just weird to see Chris, this cold-blooded killer who has no remorse for his actions, playing with his little niece. I mean, who would think he is that human? I guess it shows you that it's all a job to Chris and that he still has a strong family element to him.

And if I'm not mistaken, this is one of the few times, we have seen Marlo smile. It almost seems as if he is touched by how human Chris can be. Or maybe, he finds the comedic irony that Chris can be family-oriented after committing some heinous crimes (like executing Prop Joe or Butchie).

However, Omar and Donnie are already staking out Monk's condo and watching him come and go. And they notice that there is a little muscle coming and going as well. Donnie tells Omar that they know Omar will be coming for them. It doesn't matter to Omar as he says, "And here I am". And he also confides to Donnie that it wasn't about the huge haul of cash he made last season. To me, I think Omar is all about the hunt. It ain't about how much he's taking- it matters who he is taking it from that is important to him. And to get one over on Prop Joe and mainly Marlo last season- was what pleased Omar.

For the first half hour, the audience was under the assumption that Omar was doing what he does best- patiently observing everything and getting the drop on Marlo's crew. This illusion shatters when the scene cuts to Vinson's rim shop.

Speaking of Vinson, it was nice to see him again. I guess Marlo still goes to him for counsel and uses him as his advisor. I do wonder if Vinson cautioned Marlo on how wise it is to go after Omar. Anyway, O-Dog (the boy who killed Bodie last season) is lamenting about how the "chinky motherfuckers" at the carry-out place they're eating their food from, looks at him. Marlo doesn't give it a second thought and focuses on Monk entering. What transpires is maybe one of the funniest scenes in the episode.

Vinson asks Monk what he's got on. Apparent to Marlo, Vinson and Snoop- Monk has a bullet proof vest on and he says he's wearing it for protection since no one else is out in the open like him. Vinson and Snoop are not impressed.

VINSON (to Monk): If I can see the vest, you don't think he (Omar) can see the vest?

SNOOP (to Monk): Ain't no thing. Cause when Omar come at you, he gonna be gunnin' for your head. I know I would.

Chris comes in and says that Omar and Donnie where there all night and left early but they'll be back. Now, the tables have been officially turned with Omar the hunter- being the one who is being set up on. What a mindfuck this is to the audience. Another reason why I love this show.

Anyway, Omar observes the coming and going from Monk's condo for a few days. Finally, Omar and Donnie decide to storm inside. Once inside, they quickly realize it's a trap and a major gunfight ensues. Gunning for Omar are Chris, Snoop, Michael and O-Dog. Snoop shoots at Donnie's vest and Omar blasts O-Dog with his shotgun (which I don't think kills him but fucks his leg up permanently).

However, the odds are stacked against Omar and pretty soon, Chris has shot Donnie in his head. And it's Omar- who is all alone to fend against these trained killers. Omar, rarely looks this vulnerable, but he knows that death is imminent. He shoots a chandelier for cover and runs through a glass door- and leaps from the balcony which has to be five stories.

I must say, this is why Omar is my favorite character. There is just this Wild West/anti-hero in the character that makes him completely likeable. He's got a code and he doesn't hurt innocent people. And quite frankly, you root for Omar because he was wronged. When Butchie was killed, it was basically killing the few family he had left. And it hit Omar hard. Omar will do anything to survive- even if jumping from a fatal height. He is the deus ex machina of THE WIRE. But his complexities make him such an engaging and unforgettable character. And I can say most of the audience was breathing a sigh of relief that Omar survived this episode.

As soon as Omar jumped, Snoop, Chris and Mike looked for him below. But he's nowhere to be found. Like a ghost in the night, Omar has disappeared. While Michael and Snoop are dazzled by this, Chris is the only who instinctively knows what is at stake. If Omar is alive, that means hell for Marlo's crew. And Chris snapped because he feels that his family is in danger as well. Although, Omar would NEVER hurt an innocent person that isn't in the game.

So, Omar the ghetto boogeyman and outlaw extraordinare is still alive which means trouble for Marlo and his crew.

I like how Snoop's line mirrored Freamon's last line of the episode:

"What the?...."

Snoop said it when they couldn't find Omar's body and Freamon said it when monitoring Marlo's cell, he hears a weird buzzing like you would hear from a fax machine.

But how, you may ask, does Freamon have Marlo's cell phone number? Simple. Herc has redeemed himself (almost) for all of his sins in the previous seasons. At Levy's office, Marlo, Snoop and Chris talk about various problems they've had. Levy assures Chris and Snoop that nothing will come of the weapons charges they have against them. Marlo then pays Levy with a check from the laundered money he has. Herc still has a problem with Marlo ever since the whole missing camera incident from season 4. He's positively seething whenever Marlo is around. However, Levy could care less. To prove what a snake he truly is, Levy tells Herc that since Marlo is using a cell phone, the law firm will be making a fortune litigating the wiretap case that will eventually be against Marlo (since Marlo was using the cell phone). Much like the Greeks, Levy is all about business. Reminds me how accurate Omar was in calling Levy a parasite in season 2.

Herc, takes Marlo's Rolodex card and hands it to Carver. This was Herc's act of goodwill after all of the fuckups that he has committed throughout the years. He wants Marlo to go down just as much as anyone. And the only thing he wants is to tell Marlo he still wants the fucking camera back. Moments like this make this show come full circle, and properly explain why these characters are so three-dimensional and well-rounded.

Carver promptly takes the number to Freamon, who is gleeful in getting up on Marlo's phone. After calling Marlo's number and inquiring about carry-out, he knows he's got the target. All of this hard work is going to pay off. Freamon asks for the manpower and money to go after Marlo. And when Daniels explains that he cannot push the mayor for this, Freamon explodes in frustration. He reminds Daniels that Marlo is responsible for all the dead people in those rowhouses a year ago. Daniels, in turn, explodes back with all the frustration he's been experiencing. There's nothing he can do. He wants them to bring down Marlo but the serial killer story is now taking precedence and if they can only get two detectives on that, Marlo's case is almost irrelevant now. The two are quiet for a moment and have a shared understanding. But ultimately, Daniels can only do so much- and Carcetti will not budge.

The Clay Davis case is still a major storyline and Clay begins to bitch to Narese that he will not fall alone if he doesn't get the support that he is promised. Narese counters back and tells him if he does the piss and moan and starts to give names, he will have no support in the city. No one will have his back. Clay, thinks about it for a moment and realizes he will have to carry the weight. Narese is a great addition to the show- and a very fearsome woman. She has the intelligence and insight to be a wonderful political kingmaker. And on a completely superficial note, Clay Davis did the longest, "Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit" I think he's ever said on the show.

Former Mayor Clarence Royce holds a rally proclaiming Clay's innocence but meanwhile tells him that if he opens his mouth, Clay won't have an ally in the state and will be unable to extort any other money ever again. Clay then goes on Larry Young's radio program and tells how the whole investigation is a big misunderstanding. Thus, begins the whole public spectacle and show-and-tell that Clay is so good at. He's a huckster but a very clever and successful one.

I think Bond is overestimating how much evidence he has on Clay and made a mistake in not taking the case federal. He's so concerned about becoming mayor one day that it's clouding his judgment. As Norman Wilson said after Carcetti commented on Bond looking pretty damn mayoral:

"I would say it's Mr. Bond's race to lose".

If this case flops, Bond could very well be suffering as well as could Freamon and Sydnor. No good deed goes unpunished and on this series, fucking with the powers-that-be means you will be beheaded- professionally and politically, at least.

Now, we come to Dukie's storyline. My heart aches for that kid. He obviously knows he doesn't belong in the game and will never belong in that world. Yet, he's trying to figure out where he does belong and his place. He doesn't have the money to escape and is a victim of his environment. Which comes to the heart of THE WIRE's issues. It's not a race thing- but a class and economic thing. Dukie stands up to Kenard only to get his ass beat by Spider. When Michael brings Dukie to Cutty to learn how to box- Cutty knows that Dukie is not cut out to be a boxer or in the game. He's destined for something else but all he can give Dukie is well-wishes.

However, Dukie still tries to belong when he tries to learn how to fire a gun with Michael. The results are disastrous to say the least and Michael asks him, who is he trying to prove this to and why? If he's not able to do this, he needs to exit fast. Because in the game, you have to show no hesitation- just act. And Michael, as hardened as he is, knows this well. I feel like Dukie is the new Wallace- and he will have as tragic as an end as Wallace. And I cannot rave enough about the acting of Jermaine Crawford. He is able to do so much with his facial expressions. The kid just breaks my heart everytime he's on the screen.

On the theme of poignant storylines, Bubs asks his sponsor, Walon about getting an AIDS test. This was something I figured Bubs would have to do eventually given his years upon years of extreme heroin addiction. Shockingly, he tested negative (his friend Johnny was positive years ago). This news doesn't sit well with Bubs because he feels he should be punished. From Sherrod's death to the pain he has caused as an addict- he's not able to forgive himself yet. And Walon still stresses to him, to let the shit go. It's going to be a difficult path for Bubs but I hope he makes it out alive.

Nice to see the real Fran Boyd (who was the main protagonist from THE CORNER) as the nurse who extracted Bubs' blood.

And now the serial killer angle or the fake serial killer storyline that McNulty and Freamon are using. McNulty realized he needed more spice for the story to get attention and mentioned the sexual angle. And then, in a moment of perverse black humor golden moment- McNulty tells Templeton that the killer likes to bite his victims. That's all Templeton needs. Next thing you know it's front page news:

Now that the story has legs and is headline news, it means that it's going to warrant the manpower to mustered up at the police departments. More overtime, more pay. However, it's all based on a lie- as McNulty and Freamon try to use this lie to catch Marlo Stanfield. And the crowning moment was when Freamon and McNulty hook up an illegal wiretap that will be used while Jimmy gives the brass no information on the wiretap on the imaginary serial killer. Meanwhile, Freamon will monitor Marlo's calls and accredit any leads to a criminal informant.

The look of joy on McNulty's face as he watches Templeton lie was priceless. This is too good. This story is based on a lie and Templeton's lies further McNulty's own agenda. It's too good to be true.

However, this does not bode well for McNulty's personal life because Beadie is about to leave him. She goes to Bunk to ask if there's an end in sight to McNulty's self-destruction. Torn between allegiances, Bunk cannot answer. That's all that Beadie needs. She is too smart for the bullshit and knows that her own well-being and that of her kids comes first. She's done with Jimmy. Even when Elena of all people, tells Jimmy that's he's fucking up and is ruining his life with Beadie, all he can do is look. He's gone too far now. There's no turning back.

Reminds me of what Freamon told McNulty in season 3. "The job will not save you". The case will not make Jimmy happy or whole. He has to go back to life once good casework ends. But what does Jimmy have when this case is over? The answer it seems is a world of shit.

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