Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Wire Season 5 Episode 9- "Late Editions" review

There is nothing like a George Pelecanos episode of THE WIRE. And any fan of the show can vouch with me on this. George always pens the penultimate episodes of each season, and this time around, it's the penultimate episode of the series. And let's think of what George did beforehand- he's killed off the characters of Wallace, Frank Sobotka and Stringer Bell in amazing ways. George's scripts always satisfy and this one is no different.

The episode opens on a striking shot with the various photos of the clocks that Freamon and Sydnor have pulled from Marlo's cell phone picture messaging. And as they pieced together in the last episode, the clocks represent geography. We briefly see Marlo in the courtyard, setting a specific time on the clock- and sends it to the desired contact. Following the pattern and where everything is on the map, Freamon realizes that the location where they are going- is going to be for the re-supply. It's the moment they've all been waiting for.

Freamon calls McNulty and tells him the moment has arrived. He departs and we hold on an image of a photo of the clock with the computer marking it as a pertinent call. And is it ever.

This has been the moment Freamon has been waiting for all season. It's what drove him and made him circumvent police protocal and authority. I feel like I've felt Freamon's frustration this season, when the detail was pulled off the Stanfield case. After last season's rowhouse murders, I've been wanting for Stanfield to fall. And the moment has finally arrived.

After the opening credits, we pick up where we left off. Sydnor and other detectives are at a site which Freamon tells them is for the re-supply. Chris was spotted but Freamon informs them that he's just the muscle to ensure that everything is fine. Once he gets assurance, the supply will be handled by Monk Metcalf. Chris can't be arrested- because Bunk has to arrest him on the DNA evidence from the beating of Michael's step-dad last year. But the rest of the Stanfield lieutenants are fair game.

Meanwhile, at Levy's office- Snoop makes O-Dog take the gun charge for the guns Bunk, Freamon and Kima found in Chris' vehicle last season. And O-Dog does not want to take the charges but does it because he's forced into doing it. Levy tells O-Dog he'll be compensated nicely for the time he serves. Meanwhile, Herc is flabbergasted at how Marlo runs things.

I think this is one of the themes for the episode. Loyalty and the way that the Stanfield organization is structured. Or perhaps, the lack of structure in the crew. When I look at the Barksdales from last season, there wasn't the same hesitance- when Savino had to eat the charge. He did it. Wee-Bey took the years without batting an eye. But Avon played the game with a sense of honor. Remember last year, when Bodie was talking about Marlo and "his kind"? The people in Marlo's crew are so angry and violent- that it almost seemed inevitable that the crew would self-destruct. No empire lasts forever. The Barksdales didn't. Prop Joe's organization didn't. And now, Marlo is about to realize how heavy it is to wear that crown and how once you become the king, everyone is aiming for your head.

Chris comes in with some muscle and talks with the Russian drivers and muscle there- and checks out the heroin brought in. Plenty of dope that is going to supply the West and East sides of Baltimore. Satisfied with everything, Chris departs- leaving Monk to handle things.

After Monk leaves, then Cheese arrives, ready to handle the re-supply for the East Side. By the way, it's a nice homage to Method Man (who plays Cheese)- to have some Ghostface Killa playing on the radio in Cheese's car when he pulls in.

Carcetti's Chief of Staff tells Rawls and Daniels that there needs to be a substantial drop in crime in the next quarter. When Rawls and Daniels try to explain that the police cuts have been detrimental to them- and they can't expect a miraculous turn around now, Steintorf reiterates that the crime rate needs to drop for Carcetti. The whole "new day" promise Carcetti made is ringing more and more hollow. He's become just every politician. His soul is truly corrupt now and he cares more about being governor- than keeping his promises he made in the mayoral election. It appears it's back to juking the stats. Business is usual, I would assume.

Freamon meets up with Daniels and tells him he needs the paperwork expedited because they are going to round up Marlo and his crew. Knowing that the bust would be a reduction in crime that the mayor needs, Daniels calls Pearlman to have her write it up and soon. Even when Freamon admits running the illegal investigation into Marlo's crew, it's okay with Cedric. He sees the silver lining that this will shut Carcetti up for a while.

Monk is arrested shortly thereafter with 8 kilos in his possesion. Sydnor grabs his phone for evidence.

Then, the entire warehouse is raided and the Greek's muscle is rounded up.

Following that, Cheese is arrested with the heroin in his possesion. He tried to delete the information on his cell phone but is unsuccessful. Not soon thereafter, Bunk pulls over and arrests Chris Partlow for the murder from last year.

Watching Bunk smoke his cigar in celebration is always a thing of beauty.

Now, one of my favorite scenes from this show ever- Freamon is at the courtyard when Marlo is arrested. And to watch him look at Marlo and tell him he knows about the clocks (without saying a word by the way) is exquisite.

I've waited all season for a moment like this. Consider it a giant game of chess- and Freamon is the fucking Bobby Fisher of police investigators. After all this time, he just checkmated Marlo. The look on Marlo's face (great acting by Jamie Hector) as he realizes Freamon knows, is priceless.

Snoop and O-Dog arrive at Michael's house to watch the press conference of the bust. I gotta love O-Dog's inquiry if he still has to take the charge following the arrests. Shockingly, Snoop didn't deck him for asking something like that. She was too shellshocked at the news of the entire crew almost being arrested.

Maybe it's just me, but the press conference for the drug bust rings as hollow as the one from season one (following Kima's shooting and the detail stormed Barksdale's main stash house). To me, the press conference was a case of the department trying to put on a big show- and for Carcetti to push his agenda for the upcoming election for governor. Even Bill Zorzi (played by writer Bill Zorzi) was mouthing Carcetti's words even before he said it. It's all theatrical and the words have been said before. It's the same old shit, and it all just goes around in a circle.

One of my other favorite scenes was Monk, Cheese, Marlo and Chris in holding. They're trying to figure out exactly who the source of information is regarding these arrests. They immediately think there's a snitch in their crew. Unknown to them, there is no snitch. The cops needed some bullshit to get this case on the ground and to make the charges stick- thus, they are going on a lie.

Monk lets it slip that Omar was calling Marlo out and Marlo becomes incensed that no one has told him. He knows that street credibility is what he so desperately needs. And if the word on the street has him as weak- his name will mean nothing. Marlo states that they need to put the word on the street that he will step to anyone. Whether it's Omar or Barksdale, or whomever. This is one of the aspects where Marlo and Avon are alike. They do value their word and what is said in the streets. Their name is what they live and die by- so, Marlo losing his cool for once, is a very big moment on this show.

The four wonder though who is snitching and suspect it could be Michael. Chris doubts it because he knows the kid. Marlo, says he agrees but asks Chris if he's willing to bet his future on it. Chris says nothing and the wheels are set in motion.

The legend of Omar continues to grow as his death is blown out of proportion. Spider claims that three Pemlico boys ran up on Omar with AK's at the convenience store. Michael says he knows it's Kenard and the police are looking for him. Snoop arrives and tells Michael they need to drop someone named Walter who operates off a certain street. She said Marlo thinks he's a snitch and they need to kill him. 'Cause an order is an order. She tells Mike not to bring his gun- and that she'll have a nine for him. That makes Mike think.

He stakes out and watches Snoop on the street where Walt operates. He sees her talk to the person and after realizing it's a set-up, rides with Snoop later that night.

Mike asks Snoop to pull into an alley so he can use the bathroom, and once she parks, he pulls a gun on her. And demands the reason as to why. She tells him that since Chris was arrested for something he did for Michael, people were suspicious that Mike was talking. Mike stresses that he didn't. And Snoop, unafraid of the gun, tells him that it's how he carries himself- and that he asked too many questions. He should have respected rank and been the soldier, and do as he was told. She tells him that he was never a part of their crew. He never could be a part of their crew. Michael remains steady and Snoop asks Michael in a very chilling moment:

"How my hair look, Mike?"

And he responds, "You look good girl." And after saying that, he shoots her in the head.

There is a certain elegance to that scene. We've never seen Snoop act remotely lady-like but that moment of female vanity was very touching. And I have to hand it to Felicia Pearson for her performance here (and in the whole episode). I almost felt bad for Snoop- and then I remembered her actions in season 4 with the rowhouse murders. She died with a lot of heart and did not back down. She knew what her fate was and readily took the bullet.

Michael, after killing her, rounded up Bug and Dukie and fled their home. Things will never be the same because Michael will have to be on the run following Snoop's death. Once word gets back to Marlo, he will hunt Michael ruthlessly. The final scene with Dukie and Michael is painful. Dukie tries to tell Michael about the piss-balloon moment from last season. When they were kids. But, things have changed so much for both. Michael can't remember that moment. It seems that he's so deep in shit right now, he can't breathe and his life beforehand is just a blurry memory.

There is a painful look in Dukie's eyes as he realizes that his friendship with Mike is forever shattered. And that his life is completely shot to shit know that Michael is on the run. But Michael is trying to protect him and Bug- which makes the separation of the three even more painful. Dukie walks towards the junkyard and sees that Michael has already left him. He's on his own. There is nothing left to hold on to.

The final scenes between Dukie/Michael/Bug may be some of the most emotionally charged moments in this show's history. And you can't help but be moved at what has happened. Snoop's death was intense enough, but what becomes of Michael and Dukie is what truly pulls your heartstrings. It's the lives of the survivors that really makes you want to cry.

McNulty, is not satisfied following Marlo's arrest. Everything he's done with the whole fake serial killer story has soured him on pursuing Marlo. Jimmy has developed a serious conscience and he can't share Freamon's excitement. Landsman rips into McNulty about how he can't catch the serial killer after everything they've given him.

Freamon explained that it's the journey not the destination that makes these cases worthwhile. And Marlo is quite the victory. Before the scene ends, Freamon says he hopes Shardene is still up because he feels romantic. Remember Shardene? She was the stripper at Orlando's who became linked to Freamon in season 1. I'm glad he has maintained that relationship. At least there's someone on this show with a healthy relationship.

Kima's snitching on the whole fake story doesn't shock me. Kima is good police and her moral fabric wouldn't tolerate something so fucked up. After Daniels and Pearlman checked out the number in the evidence room- I know Jimmy's career in law enforcement is officially over. He's royally fucked. It was nice to see Augie in the evidence room. Augie was the cop he was trying to deliberately injure himself in season one. And it's weird to see Daniels back in the evidence room since that is where he landed at the beginning of season 2.

Bubs has completely turned his life around for the better. Fletcher is interviewing him for his life story- and Bubs goes to the Narcotics Anonymous meeting to celebrate his anniversary of sobriety. He, at that point, talks about Sherrod for the first time- telling how it hurt him for so long. But now, it hurts less. And that he's happy to be clean and to stay on this path. And I should refer to Bubs by his real name, Reginald Cousins. I feel that the dopefiend was Bubs and that the fiend has been put to rest. And Reginald has been resurrected and I'm thrilled that he's been saved by saving himself.

Good to see Bunny Colvin and Namond again. Namond, has come a long way since season 4. And I'm glad the Colvins have had such a positive impact on him. Now, he's a skilled debater and you couldn't help but share Bunny's sense of pride at the boy. When Carcetti tries to apologize for not being able to assist during the Hamsterdam project in season 3, Colvin says nothing. He's past that whole bullshit and knows that Carcetti's words ring hollow.

And it looks like Levy may go down after Clay Davis informs Lester about the lawyers being the most crooked of them all. Especially Levy who tells these ghetto gangsters what to do with their money and how to make it clean. I really want Levy to fall so I don't even care if Clay Davis is the one who's giving the information. Is he trying to cover his ass? Of course. But I wouldn't discount anything Clay is saying.

Next week is the final chapter. The end of THE WIRE. I'm very sad at this but I can't wait to see how the story ends. And at least people subscribed to my blog, won't be bothered with another WIRE blog following next week. I'm thrilled to see how this story plays out. This episode is easily one of the best ever and has brought all the storylines to a head. Can't wait to see how David Simon intends to wrap things up.

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