In previous seasons, McNulty and Freamon were the rebellious troublemakers who broke the rules to achieve a solution we generally all agreed was the right one, namely, catching bad guys. The whole show started with McNulty turning up the heat on his own department by getting a judge on his side and screwing over his bosses. But even then, he was mostly playing within the rules. In fact, he was trying to reinforce some of the rules of good po-lice work on his bedraggled department.In episode seven, they’ve turned the crazy dial a little too high. After kidnapping a mentally ill homeless man and shipping him to Washington, D.C. or Richmond, I can’t really tell, they decide to further incriminate themselves by impersonating the ‘killer’ on a phone they know is tapped to call the Sun’s faker, Scott Templeton (you know, like the rat in Charlotte’s Web.)
The big question is, don’t two seasoned veterans of the Baltimore Police Department, who have both found themselves involved in high-profile cases, know what happens next? Why do they suddenly seemed surprised that the case they wanted to get attention is getting. . . attention? The pressure to find the missing homeless man lets the mayor unlock the city’s bank account and frees up some coin for real po-lice work. McNulty, trying to deflect attention from his own case, starts paying for other detectives to solve their own.
Freamon’s pissed: “If you’re not careful you’re going to get shit on you. On us!”McNulty: “The problem with making this into a red ball, is they start to treat it like a red ball.”
Of course they do. People go crazy over serial killers. (I know that because I read John Sandford’s detective series.) Now what happens when they find poor Donald or whatever the dude’s name is, and the people at the shelter say, oh yes, a kindly young man matching McNulty’s description brought him in? And what happens when the supervisors inevitably start reviewing his case file, or the recorded phone call gets shipped off for voice analysis? Well, at least they’ll be able to get Marlo. Oh no, all of that is inadmissible in court, since the whole wiretap was illegal. And their plan to attribute all of that to a fake CI is what got Herc fired, right? Well, that and the missing camera. Maybe a boatload of falsified paperwork, bogus overtime and equipment use will take care of that end.
I’m just not sure how Freamon and McNulty are going to escape this kafluffle because, well, they can’t. Not realistically. Which brings me to a troubling thought as we veer toward the end: this season might actually include resolution. Other seasons have resolved issues only in that we see the results of the things that happened over thirteen episodes. But one of the brilliant touches to The Wire is that things are never tied up neatly. The big climax happens a few episodes from the end, and, after that, we see things working back into the depressingly unchanging fold. When one drug-dealing duo is killed and imprisoned, another young one rises to the top. When young hoppers like Bodie and Poot rise up in the ranks, another set of middle-school drop-outs is ready to take their places. I was hoping The Wire would end with the kind of trailing off that resisted an end, a more subtle version of The Sopranos fade to black, but I just don’t see how it’s possible.
Also in this episode of unsurprising surprises, State’s Attorney O-Bond-a and Pearlman seem shocked, and unprepared, that Clay Davis is a silver-tongued politician. If he schemed his way into the money, wouldn’t he try to scheme his way out? When Bond came aboard, Pearlman hoped that he would be above the fray for real work (much like the police department thought Carcetti represented a new day). Unfortunately, a political play to keep the case caused them to spin off what would have been a sure bet in federal court. Templeton gilds the lily on his first-person piece about being in the center of the storm, and Gus raises his usual, weary-eyed concerns to the unreasonably incompetent top editors. I’ll just never buy that those are the battles the top editors picked. I’m sure there were battles — every good newspaper has them — but if they went to the mat for every story by one pet reporter, nothing would ever get done.
And, lastly, Omar seems poised to die from gangrene from his wounds from FALLING FROM THE FIFTH FLOOR! This really sets my skepticism meter whirring. I don’t think limping on a janitor’s broom would really be more than a two-second solution to his problems here.
Words to live by this week:
Bunk, after Sgt. Landsman tries to get him to show up for a conference on McNulty’s killer: “I’m doing police work here. In fact, I have a fresh angle on last year’s major case, on which I’m the sole remaining investigator. So fuck your stripes and fuck McNulty. Fuck your big dick red ball. You can’t work with that, then just write me the fuck up and ship my ass to a trial board.
Kenard, on seeing Omar: “Gimpy-ass motherfucker.”
Clay Davis: “I don’t know how they do it out in Roland Park? Maybe Prosecutor Obonda can enlighten me on that. But my world is strictly cash and carry, and I am Clay Davis. My people need something, they know where to find me.”
After Davis walks:
Bond: What the fuck just happened?
Pearlman: Whatever it was, they don’t teach it in law school.
And Gus, back in the newsroom: “Forty-five inches of Clay Davis playing not just the race card but the whole deck coming at ya!”