Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Wire, "Transitions": Oscar the grouch

Spoilers for "Transitions," the fourth episode of "The Wire" season five, coming up just as soon as I practice my putting...

Look at that face in the picture above. Look at the expression on it -- or the lack of one. Here's a man who has just achieved his heart's desire, the only thing it's clear he's ever cared about. He is the undisputed king of the Baltimore drug trade, master of all he surveys, and what does he feel? Does that look like a man who's enjoying his moment -- who's even capable of enjoying it?

David Simon likes to describe the Greek -- Marlo's new best friend -- as a symbol of capitalism in its purest form, someone whose only concern is maximizing profits by any means necessary. Vondas has a sentimental streak, and was reluctant to sell out Frank, Nick and now Prop Joe, while the Greek himself has no problem cutting anyone loose if it's good for business. But if that's the case, if the Greek is pure capitalism and nothing but, what does that make Marlo?

Marlo, I think, is pure capitalism as well, but he's also a pure product of the drug culture he's been raised in. Avon, Stringer, Joe -- they all had outside interests, took pleasure in their successes, in family, love, whatever. Marlo's younger than any of them, has grown up in a Baltimore much rougher and more consumed by the drug trade, and he reflects that. He is cold, wants for nothing but to wear the crown, and now he has it. And that is a very scary proposition for Baltimore.

And speaking of which, rest in peace, Joe Stewart. He finally met a problem he couldn't talk his way out of.

"Transitions," as the title makes clear, is about the transfer of power from the old guard to their next generation proteges, from Joe to Marlo, and from Burrell to Daniels (who's far more well-rounded and moral than Marlo, but who has a tendency to keep his emotions under wraps, and who was originally introduced as a single-minded careerist). The episode makes the connection plain in the scene where Joe tells Herc that he and Burrell were a year apart in high school, but the parallels are clear throughough. Both are men who have survived for a long time while vast changes have taken place in the institutions around them, both were gifted at cutting deals and knowing which palms to grease, and in the end both refused to see that the world had finally changed enough to render their way of doing business obsolete.

Carcetti was going to be done with Erv sooner or later, but by juking the stats one last time -- the old trick that served him and his predecessors so well under Royce -- he seals his fate. Joe, meanwhile, thought he could civilize Marlo, that if he taught him enough, showed him enough kindness, Marlo might curb his usual homicidal ways, at least when it came to Joe. Worse, he stuck to old values like putting family before business, and it got him killed. Had he given up Cheese to Marlo after Omar stole the re-up, he never would have had to introduce Marlo to Vondas, and without access to the connect, Marlo wouldn't have been able to kill him. (Really, Joe brought this on himself when he sent Omar after Marlo to entice Marlo into joining the co-op to help get rid of the New Yorkers on the east side. Had he just hired Brother Mouzone or someone like that, none of this would have happened.) And had he turned on Cheese after Butchie died -- as Slim Charles, far more loyal to Joe than his sister's boy could ever be, wanted him to -- he might have gotten out of town alive. But even though Joe can recognize that his nephew's generation has different values, he still can't truly comprehend how much people like Cheese and Marlo value respect above all else.

(Getting back to Marlo vs. Daniels for a second, note that Cedric, having expanded his horizons beyond a simple desire to keep climbing the ladder, is actually able to put a smile on his face when he assumes the throne.)

So now Marlo and the Greek are in business together -- a perfect, terrifying match if ever there was one. Some of the On Demand posters have wondered why the Greek would be willing to sacrifice such a dependable, meticulous partner in Joe in favor of a loose cannon like Marlo, but the Greek -- pragmatic in a way Vondas can't always be -- makes it plain. No matter what they said, Marlo would keep coming back, and would kill Joe, so why not accept this man who clearly seems interested in learning the right way to do business with them? Left unsaid are two points: first, that if Joe had let a fox like Marlo into his henhouse, perhaps he wasn't so dependable anymore; and second, that if Marlo self-destructs (as we can only hope he does), they're still so far removed from the street that they'll have plenty of time to get away. Invisible, invincible, invulnerable -- that's the Greek.

That was, at one time, Omar as well. Is it still? Can he really take out Marlo, even with the help of Butchie's old pal Donnie? (Played, I believe, by Donnie "The real-life Omar" Andrews.) I don't know what it says about me, but as bad as I felt for Omar last week when he learned of Butchie's death and realized his tropical retirement was about to end, it made me feel very, very happy to see him marching down a Baltimore back alley in his duster, skull cap and the rest of his war togs. The confrontation with Slim was riveting, but do you think he spared him simply because he didn't seem to have anything to do with Butchie, or because he's trying to find some way to get his revenge on Marlo without breaking his promise to Bunk? A man's got to have a code, so what happens if he breaks that code?

The two transfers of power so dominated the episode that the season's two most-discussed storylines -- McNulty's fake serial killer and the happenings at the Sun -- took a backseat for a week.

Jimmy and Lester made slow but steady progress on the former, with a little help from Lester's old pal Oscar, yet another of the show's examples of individuals crushed by the system. What I find really interesting is that, even as Jimmy is just exploiting the issue to help him in his insane quest to turn the money faucet back on, the show itself is actually taking some time (not as much, but some) to look at the problem. The visit to the homeless camp introduces us to various types who have found themselves out on the street: the mentally-ill man who collects business cards, the guy who has a job but not enough money to afford a place to live, and of course, Johnny 50.

For those of you who haven't watched season two in a while or don't have a long memory for this stuff, Johnny was Nick and Ziggy's frequent partner in crime. (In case you don't remember him, here he was the guy with the dog.) It's a nice touch, as it both puts a semi-familiar face on the homeless issue and serves as a quiet epilogue to the port story. While I imagine a lot of the stevedores haven't wound up on the streets, having either family or pensions to help cushion the fall, it's not hard to see how a relatively young, single guy like Johnny wound up where he is.

Over at the Sun, Templeton's dreams of working for a prestige paper like the Washington Post get dashed, and it couldn't have happened to a bigger tool. We already know he's a lazy, entitled fabulist, and when he actually gets a chance to hobnob with the folks he thinks he's worthy of knowing, he blows it. In addition to being full of crap as usual with his "I prefer to write it dry" (what little we've heard of his overwrought prose makes him sound like the kind of guy who sleeps with a thesaurus under his pillow), he trash-talks his current employers, and when the Post editor notes areas where the Sun still impresses him, Scott's adrift because he doesn't cover the state. I'm not saying he would have been hired otherwise, but maybe if he had tried talking up what the Sun's Metro staff was able to accomplish even with the cutbacks, he might at least have had a shot.

And while Scott's off getting shot down, Gus gives Klebanow a prime example of the impact the buyouts are having on their newsgathering (Twigg not being available to get the true dirt on Burrell's "retirement"), then witnesses another on his own (them missing the Clay Davis perpwalk because they don't have a statehouse reporter, and because Bond's people didn't care enough to make sure the Sun was there to cover it). Tough times in the newspaper business. Everytime I even think about buying into the "Simon's too much of a cynic" school of thought, I read a story about yet another major paper doing massive staff cutbacks (this week, it was the Chicago Sun-Times) and just get depressed again.

The Colicchio story seemingly has little to do with any ongoing arcs, but it provides some nice character moments for Herc and Carver. When the series started, the two of them were symbols of what the War on Drugs had wrought on the Baltimore PD: impatient knuckleheads with no interest in anything beyond street rips. Carver learned his lessons and is now in a position of some power at the Western, while Herc never did and is now off the force, in a rare "Wire" instance of merit triumphing. (But only sort of, in that Carver had to snitch on Daniels to get his stripes in the first place.) Seeing Colicchio completely unrepentant about assaulting the schoolteacher gave Carver no choice but to report him, but what was unexpected was Herc recognizing in the end that Carver made the right call -- and that he probably deserved to get bounced from the job. No doubt, this rare moment of Herc wisdom was aided by the realization that he's working for the man (Levy) who represents the man (Marlo) who ruined his career, but it was still a pleasant surprise. (I also loved the shot of all the beer cans on the Western roof, a Bunny Colvin call-back.)

Some other thoughts on "Transitions":
  • I have yet to see "Gone Baby Gone" (it's at the top of the Netflix queue for when it comes out on DVD), but congratulations to Amy Ryan for the Oscar nomination. The scene where Beadie confronted Jimmy about his drinking (and, implied, whoring) was a painful one. When we met Jimmy and Elena, we were inclined to side with him, or at least to put some measure of blame on her for the end of the marriage. Now, though, Jimmy's doing this to someone that we know and like, and it's clear that Beadie has done absolutely nothing to deserve what's happening to her.
  • Nice to see Kima getting on better with Elijah now than the last time she got the parental urge. It helps that he's older and more interactive now, but seeing the traumatized kid from the triple-homicide seems to have reminded her that Elijah is more than just a financial commitment she made to Cheryl before they split.
  • I'm opposed to the idea of typecasting -- if an actor's good enough to play multiple roles, he or she should be allowed to -- but it still troubles me whenever I see an actor from one of my daughter's shows pop up in an adult series. In this case, it was Roscoe Orman -- Gordon from "Sesame Street" -- as Oscar. I recognize that this is my problem, not someone like Orman's, but now I understand why so many parents were confused when Steve from "Blue's Clues" played a murderer on "Homicide."
  • Sometimes, the best moments on this show involve the audience having far more knowledge than one or more characters in a scene. In this case, we know exactly why Bond isn't interested in using "the head shot" on Clay -- he intends to make his career on this case, which he can't do if he hands it off to the federal prosecutors -- but poor Lester doesn't.
  • More continuity: the florist Joe hires to arrange Butchie's funeral is the same one Bodie went to for D'Angelo's funeral back in season two.
  • Was anyone else terrified at the realization that Neresse took Burrell's file on Daniels with her when she left his office?
  • For that matter, was anyone else terrified by the notion that Burrell was going to pull an Al Capone in "Untouchables" and bash Daniels' skull in with that putter? Clearly, it was shot to evoke that famous scene, but the scariest thing in it was the way Burrell didn't say a single word throughout it. Had he delivered some kind of threatening speech, it wouldn't have been half as chilling. On very rare occasions, less really is more.
  • Who exactly am I supposed to pity more in the scene where Michael's mom bails him out of jail? I suppose Michael, in that the mom letting Bug's dad back in the house is what led Michael to become a drug soldier, but that is one messed-up family.
Lines of the week:
"...out of respect for the man's skill set" -Joe explaining why he's going to avoid Omar

"Area chief?"
"Name of Rawls, as I remember it." -Jimmy & Lester revisiting Oscar's story

"Motherfucker, don't even... Fuck you, too, motherfucker." -Bunk telling off Jimmy

"You will eat their shit. Daniels, too, when he gets here." -Burrell, putting Rawls in his place (and inadvertently quoting Carcetti)

"Collegial? I fuckin' failed out of journalism school. What's the fuck do collegial mean?" -Gus

"You'd take the 'crab' out of 'crab soup.'" -Gus to Jay Spry

"You're killing me. I gotta ask..."
"Stone stupid." -Herc and Prop Joe revisiting Burrell's salad days

"I wasn't made to play the son." -Marlo
Finally, a word about the "Wire" posting schedule. Last season, the two-tiered set-up worked fine. The small handful of "Wire" fans who watched the On Demand episodes had a place to talk, and the bulk of us got to talk about each episode the following Sunday night. This year, though, the On Demand talk has increased exponentially. By now, the show's audience is so small and focused that anyone who realy cares about it and has access to On Demand isn't going to wait until Sunday to watch. By the time I come in on Sunday nights, it feels as if every nook and cranny has already been thoroughly examined, and I'm just repeating or cribbing what's been said over the last six days. (The Marlo/Daniels parallel comes courtesy of blog commenter Stooge9, for instance.) So I'm thinking strongly of switching things up and just posting the reviews on the night the On Demand episode airs.

I don't want to ruin things for the people who don't have On Demand and/or can't get around to watching each episode until Sunday, but one of the advantages of leaving spoilers off the main blog page is that you can wait and read the entries at your leisure without having to worry. I'm not sure I can actually make the logistics work -- writing these posts takes time, and to switch up I'd have to do two in one week, plus I'm not sure I'll be getting the final three episodes in advance -- so while I try to figure that out, anyone who wants to make an argument for why I should stick to the current schedule, feel free.

What did everybody else think?


Tucker Stone said...

I think you should post the new entries on the night of the On Demand eps--the people who post on your entries are some of the best feedback I hear about the show, and it's kind of (sorry) a little irritating to jump back and forth between the two sets of entries each week.

No matter what you do, i love reading your entries and all the comments--my fiance and I are starved for people to talk about this show with, and after 3 seasons of just the two of us, your blog made season 4 that much more entertaining. Thanks!

Alex said...

First, thanks for the quote with Herc and Prop Joe, I was trying to figure out what he said exactly after watching it twice.

Second, what I realized today was if this is 15 months after last season shouldn't Carcetti be in the middle of the gubernatorial election campaign. Or did he realize he couldn't win, and if so can he still take the money. (I recall in season four him promising Norese he would be gone in 2 years)

Finally, my theory is that by the time McNulty's case gets traction Omar will have taken out Marlo's crew or at least handicapped them. Making the entire MCU focus on a fake serial killer and not even able to go after Marlo.

Tom Servo said...

Fess up Alan. Who's really been writing these recaps.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding episode so much going on. I'm still not sure how the fake murders and Marlo will connect, but it looks like Lester and Jimmy are making progress. It's easy to 2nd guess Joe's move now that Marlo got him, I still see his point of view and his actions were true to his character. Alan, your dead on with your Greek opinion and I can't see why there was so much fuss in the on-demand thread about the Greek lettin Joe go.

And Alan it would make a lot of sense if you can put up your review with the on-demand thread if you got the time. thanks

Anonymous said...

Alan-- great recap, alot to digest

I for one appreciate your current posting setup. I have lousy DirecTV, thus no On Demand. This is one of the few places I can come with without worrying about getting spoiled inadvertently. I had this ep spoiled for me on a celebrity gossip blog of all things!
One question: What that the Greek that sat down beside Vondas?

Anonymous said...

Requer (Oscar's last name) is the name of the real-life Bunk, Rick Requer, who is mentioned several times in David Simon's book Homicide.

I've written before about not being a fan of the serial killer storyline as it seems too unrealistic and out-of-character. It also seems unrealistic and out-of-character that The Greek would come back. He must now how close he was to getting caught last time. He is the overseer of an international drug trade. There is no need for him to return to Baltimore (any port city would be fine) much less to the same dinner he frequented. He might send Vondas back by why would he return? Do others find this too much of a stretch?

Anonymous said...

I don't have much trouble believing it. Would anyone actually still be looking for The Greek this many years later?

Anonymous said...

Ditto on what Angel804 said. I also have DirecTV and appreciate the current setup. I really enjoy your reviews (always have, going back to the Blue days) and I do realize how much effort you put into this. SInce there's only six more episodes, it may make sense to just maintain the status quo for the duration. Just my $.02.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Requer (Oscar's last name) is the name of the real-life Bunk, Rick Requer, who is mentioned several times in David Simon's book Homicide.

And I believe that Rick Requer's real first name is Oscar. Rick is just one of his many nicknames, along with Bunk. Good catch; I didn't notice this Oscar's last name.

Anonymous said...

Was Burrell in the Prop Joe prequel on amazon then? The bigger kid he was selling answers to?

Anonymous said...

Another great episode and another great review, Alan. I already posted my reaction-thoughts on the episode when it first aired on On Demand, but I'm addicted to The Wire and this blog, so here are a few more thoughts:

* McNulty/Lester = Herc/Carver

McNulty and Lester have ventured off the high road...and I don't think one could refer to them as good po-lice anymore. They're not dirty in the sense of accepting bribes or framing innocent men...but they're dirty nonetheless and they remind me a lot of (a much smarter version of) the Carver/Herc combination of the earlier seasons. Carver and Herc, of course, have evolved, as evidenced by the poignant scene outside of the Western.

* Where is Marlo's mentor/counsel (the hub-cap guy)? Wonder what he'd have to say about Marlo's recent choices.

* Marlo’s rise is win for "gangsterism" and a depressing end to the hope of an alternative way (as espoused at different times and in different ways by D’Angelo, Stringer and Prop Joe). Interesting that Joe and Stringer – although they sought an "alternative way" from the thuggery of "the game" – were also extremely duplicitious. It cost both of them their lives (it indirectly cost Joe his life for the reasons laid out in Alan's review). To repeat a Dylan line from my post last week: "To live outside the law you must be honest".

* David Simon is a brilliant writer but has a tenuous grasp of political science and history. Capitalism, at its heart, it about choice and freedom/liberty. To steal a phrase, capitalism in its purest form loses its loveliness. But with individual income tax rates in the 30s for many individual and with literally millions of pages of regulations affecting the federal economy, we're far from a pure capitalist economy. In fact, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries are ahead of the U.S. on The Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedoms. Henceforth, I shall think of The Greek as Hong Kong.

* Speaking of Simon, I'm continuously amazed at how he hits home socio-economic-political points that he doesn't intend to make. The Marlo storyline shows us the utter uselessness of trying to accommodate that which will not be accommodated. To anyone paying attention, it's clear that he will not - indeed, he cannot - be made to "play nice" through negotiations or discussion. Like Musharaff with the tribal frontiers or Europe in the '30's, people are generally reluctant to to recognize that certain threats cannot be bargained away. Unfortunately, all Marlo would understand is force. What I'm waiting for us for someone to try to reign Marlo in with the equivalent of a U.N. sanction. One final thought. Marlo's reign - devoid of any aspect of choice, individualism or freedom with regard to his organization or community - is much closer to a statist economy such as socialism or communism than capitalism. The fact that he's so dull, joyless and empty similarly brings to mind the USSR, the Eastern Bloc and North Korea. Brutally repressive societies, them.

* Alan wrote that "Some of the On Demand posters have wondered why the Greek would be willing to sacrifice such a dependable, meticulous partner in Joe in favor of a loose cannon like Marlo, but the Greek -- pragmatic in a way Vondas can't always be -- makes it plain. No matter what they said, Marlo would keep coming back, and would kill Joe... Invisible, invincible, invulnerable -- that's the Greek."

With all respect, the logic here is faulty. It's true that we've been shown that the Greeks are invisible - able to come and go as they please, etc. Then how exactly would Marlo be able to "keep coming back"? The Greeks could have simply said - "don't touch Joe - or we'll consider it an act of war"...and then they could have skipped town and made themselves invisible again (other to Joe). You can't have it both ways - either their invincible and can come and go as they please (in which case Marlo cannot "keep coming back) - or they're not.

* Alan wrote that "While I imagine a lot of the stevedores haven't wound up on the streets, having either family or pensions to help cushion the fall, it's not hard to see how a relatively young, single guy like Johnny wound up where he is."

The fact that Johnny Fifty is single and young should actually help him in the job market. His youth would likely make him more appealing to an employer (re: investing in training for a new employee) and opens up the manual labor market to him. The fact that he's single allows him to be more geographically mobile and lowers the cost of his overhead (think rent, medical care and other expenses).

* Now that we see Marlo's plan re Joe, it's creepy to think back at the history of his relationship. When did Marlo start stringging Joe along? It's particularly creepy to think back to their last co-op conversation, with Joe telling Marlo that Marlo should think about what he can gain by working with others.

* This season does seem a bit faster-paced than earlier seasons, but that's not all bad. Each episode so far has been very strong.

* Working as Joe's lieutenant doesn't pay too well, does it? D'Angelo, Wee-Bay and Stringer all had far nicer places than Slim Charles. Hell, even Michael has a much nicer place than Charles.

Anonymous said...

Angel804: Yes, that was "The Greek". But you've got to watch all of season 2 for the relevant background on him and his organization.

Chris Littmann said...

Back-to-back weeks I feel like there are scenes like I'll never forget. Can you ask much more for a series in its final season?

Anonymous said...

Seeing Prop Joe get done in with the help of his nephew reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from the show. This was in S2 when Sergei explained away the reliable Nick's connection to the loose cannon Ziggy with a "Family, what are you going to do" shrug and Prop Joe replied:

"I got motherfucking nephews and in-laws fucking all my shit up all the time, and it ain’t like I can pop a cap in their ass and not hear about it Thanksgiving time"

Truer words.

26 minutes to go until the next episode pops up On Demand!

Haikal F said...

Another good episode, more building up. Watched the episode again and it was interesting noting that when Daniels' sit down at the desk of Deputy Ops he cracks a rare smile; when Joe meets his end and Marlo has ascended, there is no emotion. With 6 episodes to go I wonder whether both will come out on top.

Burrell had one of his best scenes of the series as he fleshed himself out a bit. Since the beginning of the show I've thought him as being this powerful figure, but he gets dumped on too. Goes to show no matter how high you make it you still gotta eat shit. Sucks that this probably means we'll be seeing little or nothing of Burrell from now on.

Also love the character growth for Carver. Knowing this show I doubt that he actually gets to be successful at reform by example. It's been a great character arc from the beginning though.

SJ said...

Hey Alan, I was just going over the aggregate reviews for season 5 at, and I saw that your review score was indicated as an 80/100, among the lowest for the show. I thought it was weird considering how you have been giving high praise to the show...

Tim said...

. It also seems unrealistic and out-of-character that The Greek would come back. He must now how close he was to getting caught last time. He is the overseer of an international drug trade.

The Greek is a paid FBI informant. If he felt like he needed to, he probably got the word that the investigation is off and it is OK to return.

Anonymous said...

Alan, regarding On Demand, I'm shelling out for HBO right now because of my passion for The Wire, but I have no desire to pay even more for the week early On Demand privilege. I prefer the current schedule, but if you change it up, I assume you'll keep us latecomers spoiler-free.

Happy Contrarian, not to pick a fight, but you seem to spend an awful lot of time preaching your own political spin on what you assume to be David Simon's political spin. This has precious little to do with the actual show we're watching though. Simon can espouse whatever beliefs he wants to in interviews; I prefer to judge the show based on what's on screen.

Anonymous said...

On the Dole, HBO On Demand is free to HBO subscribers. Doesn't cost a dime extra to watch any program.

I'm in favor of posting the reviews when the On Demand goes live. I just watched 55 and I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning's postings.

Anonymous said...

Post it under on-Demand.

Amy Ryan was amazing in Gone Baby Gone. That performance was amazing. You should watch it now!

I saw Andre Royo up here at Sundance, he was getting off the bus as I was getting on. I would have said something to him, but he was talking to someone. Nice to see him without the Bubbles face...and he is indeed short.

Anonymous said...

JP (or anyone else who can help):

Maybe I've misunderstood, but I thought I'd have to pay extra for the On Demand service. Insofar as I've poked around it, I can't get On Demand to work with my current set-up.

Anonymous said...

Re: Gone Baby Gone, I seem to have little support in finding it the best Hollywood movie of the year. Wire fans especially should check it out as soon as you can. (I hated the movie of Mystic River, so this isn't blind Lehane adaptation loyalty either.) Amy Ryan was good, and Michael Kenneth Williams has a smaller part too, but fellow alum of a great HBO show Titus Welliver had a more fleshed-out part and did a great job with it.

Anonymous said...

Us viewers w/ directv (thus no ondemand) are fine with the current arrangment

Tim said...

Paying extra for On Demand depends on the cable company. With Time Warner, On Demand is part of the HBO package. With Cablevision, it's an extra charge.

But, hey, how about this Knicks?

Anonymous said...

Happy Contrarian - It's funny that you draw parallels between Marlo and the USSR, the Eastern Bloc and North Korea (which were all governed by some form of Communism), as Marlo has been described by Simon as being "Capitalism taken to its logical extreme". This is a point made further when looking at his effect on the ostensibly socialist concept of the Co-Op.

The question is whether Marlo intends to share his connection with the Co-Op. Are any of the other members of the (I can only assume now defunct) Co-Op strong enough or willing to take Marlo on? Where does Slim Charles stand in all this? And what on earth happened to Poot?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fess up Alan. Who's really been writing these recaps.

Scott Templeton.

Anonymous said...

"The Greek is a paid FBI informant. If he felt like he needed to, he probably got the word that the investigation is off and it is OK to return."

Is this correct? I thought The Greek had paid off an FBI guy...

The Greek is still an open investigation and if any of the detail happened to see him, walk into the cafe, etc.

Vondas is in even bigger danger because they have a warrant for him...

Chris Littmann said...

Forgot this last night, but another great one-liner from last night:

"Listerine and Jameson's: That McNulty scent." (or something like that... good line.

Alan Sepinwall said...

"Listerine and Jameson's: That McNulty scent." (or something like that... good line.

"Jamey and Listerine, your scent."

And it was a very good line.

Alan Sepinwall said...

One thing I didn't get into in my discussion of that amazing final scene and Marlo's close-up is this: Marlo did, I think, have some affection for Joe, as much affection as he's capable of having for people who are in his way. On the one hand, him telling Joe to relax and close his eyes is one final power move -- him telling Joe exactly how to die -- but on the other, it reminded me of the gentle manner Chris has with most of his victims (save Bug's dad and Butchie). Marlo and Joe's conversation was all about how neither of them could change their spots, and how Marlo had to kill Joe to get what he wanted, but he also tried to make it as painless as possible for Joe.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Scott Tobias' AV Club review points out another line I neglected to quote: Zorzi's "You want one reporter covering two courthouses? Fine. Why don't you just shove a broom up my ass and I'll sweep the floor while I'm at it?"

Tim said...

Is this correct? I thought The Greek had paid off an FBI guy...

No, The Greek is an FBI informant. The FBI was using The Greek. They look the other way on his drug racket, he provides them with terrorism info. It was part of the theme of the Feds caring more about fighting terrorism and not caring about inner city drugs anymore.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, The Greek is an FBI informant. The FBI was using The Greek. They look the other way on his drug racket, he provides them with terrorism info.

Technically, they're using each other. The implication in season two was that, more often than not, the people The Greek turns over to Agent Koutras aren't terrorists, but just competition.

Anonymous said...


The Greek was/is an FBI asset. He did not pay off (although there was information being exchanged) the agent, the agent was protecting him because he believed the Greek to be helping him in the War on Terror.

Alan asked David Simon about the feasibility of The Greek returning to Baltimore and they (mostly Ed Burns) explained it away very nicely - basically no one in Baltimore is going to be looking for this guy or even care. I can't point you in the exact location of where this information is, but I do seem to remember Alan mentioning this conversation in the comments section of one of the S5 recaps.

I'm not sure if the investigation (the 14 girls in the can) is still open or not. Those names went from red to black and I think they were able to pin it on the Turkish guy who jumped ship and was murdered by Vondas. Could be wrong on that though.

Anonymous said...

Wow! A little bit of comment/thought gridlock there.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Here's the relevant passage, from the season four finale review:

During my pre-season interview with Simon and Ed Burns, I expressed surprise that Vondas would be willing to come back to a city where the cops had paper on him, not to mention a photo I.D. Ed laughed, pointing out that paper doesn't matter much when the case is so many years removed, and when the subject of that paper is such a slippery character to begin with.

I think if Lester with the long memory were to pass Vondas on the street, he'd draw down on him, as they still have that warrant out for him on his role in the port smuggling scheme, but that's so unlikely that I can understand Vondas and/or The Greek making occasional trips back to B'more.

Anonymous said...

A man's got to have a code, so what happens if he breaks that code?

He winds up with a psycho girlfriend (just ask Dexter!).

I hate seeing Lester go down like this. With McNulty, you kind of expect it, but not Lester.

Does Landsman ever do any work? Poor Bunk. Poor Homicide detail, sheesh.

Some of us poor bastards don't get OnDemand because our cable companies don't even offer it and would appreciate it if you kept the current set-up.

Unknown said...

Great recap, Alan. As a Direct TV person, I naturally vote for and hope you stick to the current posting schedule.

I also can't speak for other people, but the reason I have Direct TV is because of the awful, horrendous, and consistently terrible experiences I've had with Cablevision and Time Warner, and I oppose anything that might possibly add to more money in their coffers, even if it's as little as one person signing up for them so they can access On Demand and the early showings of the Wire.

Ahem. All done now.

I'd also like to nominate Colicchio for the "Greatest TV Haircuts of All Time." I don't even know what you'd call it, but it is brilliant.

I also had a horrible premonition during the show that McNulty and Lester are going to get busted doing their fake serial killer (we already have seen McNulty being sloppy, and not working it like a real case a la Lester) and because of that, the case again Davis gets thrown out because Lester can't testify, and Marlo gets away because they can't pursue him...sigh.

Anonymous said...

Great episode. This season is building nicely, thankfully less serial killer in this ep. RIP Prop Joe

I vote for keeping you posting schedule the same. This is form a Directver without the option of On Demand

Mark Netter said...

When McNulty first started rearranging the crime scene and Bunk split I thought that he'd basically marked himself for death, i.e. not getting out of the series alive, per every film noir every made about men making bad, irrevocable decisions. But now that Lester's joined up, I'm thinking maybe this really does work. Sure, reformers always lose on The Wire, but maybe this time by gaming the system, essentially doing something corrupt to get their ends, the plan works. I don't see Lester getting busted down like he did in the backstory, seems way too obvious. But McNulty could break either way now -- death or maybe, due to his farcical reversal on reform and guided by Lester to not screw it up, promoted.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hey Alan, I was just going over the aggregate reviews for season 5 at, and I saw that your review score was indicated as an 80/100, among the lowest for the show. I thought it was weird considering how you have been giving high praise to the show...

I've never really understood how the MetaCritic formula works. (They come up with the numbers on their own, rather than asking critics to offer them up.) Frequently, a show I was lukewarm about will be given a very high number, and vice versa. I would have tracked my review as at least a 90, but what do I know?

barefootjim said...

I have a TiVo with Cable Cards, so I also like the current set up.

However, since I've been watching "Torchwood" with the HDNet broadcasts and "Dr. Who" on DVD, I can also live if you do only a single post for the On-Demand crowd.

Alan Sepinwall said...

For the people who have chimed in in favor of the current set-up, can you offer me a reason why it would be harmful for the reviews to be posted with the On Demand schedule? All the spoilers are hidden from the main page, after all.

I really don't know if I'll have the time to do two episodes in a week to pull off the switch, but so far no one's really argued against it. What would keep you from just scrolling back to the Monday post after you watch it on Sunday?

Anonymous said...

^I already feel behind the curve chiming in on the Sunday ep posts, but at least I know I'm getting your review fresh, I guess. If you post it after the on-demand eps air, I'll feel like it's not even worth posting to the Sunday comments thread since the ep will have been thoroughly dissected by then, including the bonus of having your comments. It's not my fault my cable company doesn't offer on demand, after all [shrug].

rukrusher said...

As a DirectTV customer I echo the comments that the awful customer service I received from Cablevision has made me swear never to return regardless of the On demand service.

As for your posting timing I guess the reverse argument can be made to you Alan, why are the On Demanders so important that you would change your schedule for them?

Anonymous said...

I agree with dez, it seems "fresher" when you post your analysis on Sundays. Posting on Mondays seems like those of us without On-Demand get left out the discussion. By the time we see the show, its been dissected to death, and everyone else is ready to move on to the next ep. As I said this, is one of the few places to come, in my opinion for intelligent discussion of the show without worrying about spoliers. I'll continue read your reviews eiher way, it'll just be alot less fun and interesting, discussion-wise.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance, but since it's been discussed here, and I have an aversion to customer service phone calls, can anyone clear up my On Demand mystery? I have Time Warner Cable, but the HBO On Demand channel offers no menu. It just says "Recently Viewed" and offers no titles. No options of any kind. I assumed that was because I wasn't paying extra for the service, but here people seem to say it's included. Any thoughts?

Alan Sepinwall said...

On The Dole, as mentioned above, it comes free with some services like Comcast, but not others like Cablevision and, apparently, Time Warner.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, someone had claimed above that it was free with Time Warner, so I thought I was missing something obvious. Guess it varies depending on your package or location.

Zach said...

Alan, maybe you could post the full review on Mondays and then repost the entire thing Sunday night for the OnDemand folks to have their own conversation (which you would still monitor and pipe in occasionally to clear things up). As someone who watches it OnDemand, the anticipation for your review was unquellable and I'd greatly appreciate having reviews earlier. And maybe you could compromise by posting the review Fridays so Sunday-nighters wouldn't be too far behind in the conversation. Or, going with the first idea, make the repost include thoughts that weren't in your initial review that you've come up with thanks to the Monday conversation.

Anonymous said...

Alan -- I think it makes sense to do it with the OnDemand post. However, you should put a reminder up on Sunday for those without it so they don't have to backtrack to the real post.

FYI, I'm based in L.A. but stumbled across your fantastic recaps from Season 4. Keep up the great work!

rukrusher said...

Back to the show

1) Does McNulty's handwriting on the first officer on the scene report for the wrong body come back to haunt him or is that one more comment that no one pays close attention to these things.

2) Depending on the Statute of Limitations the Local D.A. is walking a fine line on not turning the corruption case over to the feds. Plus who knew using gifts from family members for a down payment was a fraud count.

3) Do you think Vondas and the Greek knew they were killing Prop Joe when Marlo walked out of the diner? My guess is the talk about insurance was clear language that Marlo was moving on Prop Joe and the Greek decided not to get involved.

4) Burrel assuring Daniels he would not turn on him knowing he already passed on the information was a great little scene. "Who remembers that long ago .. . Something about the Eastern district,

5) The Editor of the Sun asserting his authority when the complaints about staff cuts hit too close to home. I guess the perp walk incident is a real life reference? Because it does seem crazy that you would call Baltimore media and not think the Sun should be called.

I am enjoying the paper scenes more than I thought I would, the impression I had was that the Washington Post is not cutting back on staff but they must be making the same cost cutting moves as other papers.

6) The fun little call back about why Carcetti would be incensed with Burrel, including Hamsterdam and the 22 bodies, without anyone thinking why is there no progress on those dead bodies and maybe that would be worth a follow up story.

7) Omar is back. He has a code. But I think he is also always willing to hear a plausible explanation, you can reason with Omar. I am torn about whether I want Omar to succeed or not. He is not perfect, he failed to get Avon, he is very direct in his approach and it seems to simple of a solution to have Omar just get Marlo. I fear Omar will never get back to Puerto Rico.

8) Someone mentioned the fact that the rim shop owner is no longer seen in the show. I guess that was to sell the Prop Joe relationship as possibly being plausible, but what is not obvious is any chain of command in Marlo's organization, Chris is the man he talks to but you never hear discussions where you sense Marlo relies on Chris for help with decisions. Marlo wears the crown and the king stay the king.

Anonymous said...

Sorry -- I cross-posted this on TWoP because it's been in the back of my mind all day.

The impression I got from several newspaper friends (including one who interned and was briefly employed as a metro reporter at the Washington Post) was that a paper as prestigious as The Post wouldn't have a reporter in for an interview unless they were familiar with him or her.

At the very least, The Post should already have a resume and clips on file before granting what would be a time-consuming interview. (Say the Post advertised for a job opening, and received 100 resumes/clips, they wouldn't be able to interview everybody.)

I'm also kind of stunned that the editor wouldn't already be familiar with the reporter's work beforehand, especially since he competes in nearby Baltimore.

Ususally what happens is a big, prestigious newspaper poaches a reporter from a rival paper who's often kicking their butt. That's why you'll see the Los Angeles Times take, for instance, a business reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle, which happened in the past year.

Anonymous said...

It's not the taking of family gifts for a down payment that is illegal, it's calling loans "gifts" that is the problem. Your family can give you money as a gift, that's no problem. But when you pay them back (like Clay Davis did), it's no longer a gift, it's a loan. Thus, the money that you claimed as a down payment was just another loan, and not actual money that you put toward the down payment.

As for Alan's proposed OnDemand posting, in Canada, we can't watch the episodes in advance (as we get neither HBO, no HBO On Demand, and rather get The Wire from Movie Central), so I only watch them as they air. However, I guess it'd be fine to just post once (as long as the main page was completely spoiler free), and those who aren't ahead could check back. I'd propose re-posting a link to last week's discussion in such a case.

I guess the big problem with this is that people who don't have OnDemand will be really far back in the discussion, with others already making their points for them, and less people still involved in the discussion by that point. Although, that's probably already happening.

Anonymous said...

Alan, about the posting schedule, I would suggest the following: Have a single post for each episode, put that up on Monday for the on-demanders. If you don't think your write-ups (which are highly appreciated) will be ready on Monday, then just use the "edit post" feature of Blogger and add them on Sunday as the episode airs for everyone else.

That way it will be minimally different from the current way of doing things, but it will unify the two discussion threads into a single thread. As things are now, I end up reading comments for both posts anyway. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I have to wait awhile to watch something, due to my work schedule or something else, that you've posted on as little as two or three days ago, the comments have mostly died down and if you ask a question or make a thoughtful comment, it goes unnoticed and it isn't very satisfying to be in the conversation at that point.

Whatever you'd like to do is fine, but I selfishly hope you post your reviews on Sunday. It feels like a legitimate post, and makes commenting feel more like a community. I suppose lots of people would be commenting on Sunday night, but some weeks the post might be close to off the front page. It's just not the same.

Anonymous said...

The phone call Daniels receives when he's sitting in Rawls' old office. Was that a personal call from a male "down-low" friend of Rawls'? Maybe I'm reaching, but wouldn't most people who knew his work number know that he was now the acting commissioner? Ever since that scene of Rawls at the gay bar, I've been waiting to see how things will play out...

Anonymous said...

On 2nd viewing, one of my favorite lines of the night:

Gus on the Carcetti-Burrell press conference:

He feared and hated me, I merely wanted him dead."

Anonymous said...

rukrusher said: Plus who knew using gifts from family members for a down payment was a fraud count.

As noted above, the fraud count isn’t for using gifts, it’s for stating that the down payment is a gift when, in fact, it’s a loan.

As for who knew, Ed Norris, former Maryland State and Baltimore City Police Chief (and “Detective Ed Norris” on The Wire), probably didn’t – he found out the hard way. If the only charges against him had been the two counts for misusing a slush fund that had been in existence long before he took office, he’d have probably been able to avoid jail time or maybe even get the case dismissed because it wasn’t clear that what he’d done was criminal (there were no rules regarding use of the fund – it wasn’t taxpayer money and the Chief traditionally had total discretion over its use). The slush fund charges were so much b.s. Read what a columnist at The Sun had to say:

Instead, the feds hit Norris with the third count for mortgage fraud, which carries a 30-year sentence (as noted in the show), for identifying on his loan app that $9,000 he received from his father was a gift, when, if fact, it was a loan. His plea bargain dismissed Count Three in return for a plea on the first two counts, but the prospects of being convicted on Count Three drove the deal (esp. because he couldn’t afford the legal fees he’d need to defend himself effectively). IMNSHO, the U.S. Attorney leading the charge against Norris was interested in headlines, not justice.

The scene between Sydnor and Lester about the mortgage fraud, including the “head shot” line, was basically “ripped from the headlines” (albeit not recent ones) and the experience of Norris.

Just read this excerpt from an interview of Norris by the City Paper (published in 2005) (the quoted text is from Norris):

I met with some experts in Washington who were former U.S. attorneys, and I told them the entirety of what I was facing. When I talked about the mortgage, the female [attorney] said, “Oh, that’s the head shot.” “What?” “That’s the one they got you good on. I’ll tell you what they’re going to do. They’re going to indict you for that, because they got it solid on that. They’re going to pepper the indictment with a whole bunch of things they maybe could or could not prove. But they have you solid on that.”

Click here to read the full (lengthy) interview:

Anonymous said...

Oops, I realize that I didn't embed any hyperlinks in my post above (actually, I realize that I don't know how). So, copy and paste the text of the urls I posted if you want to read the mentioned articles.

Anonymous said...

rukrusher -- About Marlo and the Greek, I guess it comes down to what the Greek meant when he said Marlo was not Joe. The Greek clearly decided that it was in his interest to let Prop Joe go and begin dealing directly with Marlo instead. We'll have to wait to find out why, but I suspect Marlo is in for some humiliation. He isn't as shrewd as the Greek, and, as we've learned, you can't play checkers on a chessboard.

rukrusher said...

Marlo in for some humiliation.

I don't see it coming from the Greek (who is not Greek) other then them walking away from dealing with Marlo. But if Marlo has solidified his grip on the Balto drug trade he will find other sources of supply, the threat that Prop Joe held over the other co-op members was the best product, that is how he drove the cooperation, if Marlo loses the Greek supply all of Baltimore is back to a lesser product. Who is left for the Greek to deal with now? Avons crew is gone, Cheese is Marlo's man now and Slim Charles does not have the capital to mount any competition.

Anonymous said...

"It also seems unrealistic and out-of-character that The Greek would come back. He must now how close he was to getting caught last time. He is the overseer of an international drug trade. There is no need for him to return to Baltimore (any port city would be fine) much less to the same dinner he frequented."

I'd like to point out, it's subtle, but their setup is clearly different than it was in the second season.

In the second season, Nick and Frank seem to be able to find the Greeks at the diner any time of day. (In 2-02, it certainly seems that Frank has not set up that meeting in advance.) In the second-to-last episode, they have abandoned the diner, and the counterman acts almost exactly the same way he acts in this episode.

Further, when Marlo comes in with the money, nobody is there. When he comes back the next day (as promised), Vondas is there, but not The Greek. A few hours later, Marlo comes back and, again, Vondas is not there. When he comes back, both Vondas *and* The Greek are there. To me, it seems obvious that they're no longer operating out of that diner. (when they *were* operating out of the diner, they never met with Prop Joe there to talk drugs.)

I believe that Sergei is out of the loop; Marlo was hoping for more up-to-date info, but Sergei could only tell him, "If you go to this diner, the counterman will be able to get you in touch with Vondas." Marlo took that and made it work.

Just my theory, but I agree it makes no sense for The Greek to still be operating out of the same diner. I just don't think he is.

Anonymous said...

Alan Sepinwall said...
Scott Tobias' AV Club review points out another line I neglected to quote: Zorzi's "You want one reporter covering two courthouses? Fine. Why don't you just shove a broom up my ass and I'll sweep the floor while I'm at it?"

Posting late here, but omigod! I first heard that (nearly) exact thing (the boss wanting 2 things at once so stick the broom...) from an old school newspaper photographer I worked with in Kansas 20 years ago! I pull that out on occasion and its always a show-stopper.
I worked in dailies (up to mid-size metros, Ft. Lauderdale, Memphis) and left the newspaper biz 11 years ago (thank god) because of the beginnings of the corporate bs that is so well limned on The Wire. Whatever complaints co-workers have about the Sun's particulars, any newspaper person knows (as Alan said) its dead on.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, per your post above, you're right, The Greek is definitely not still operating out of the diner.

When Marlo was leaving the diner at the end of the scene with Vondas and The Greek, Vondas pointed to the briefcase and said soemthing like "what about your money?", and Marlo replied "you came a long way to be here, put it toward expenses".

Ah, the benefit of the triple-viewing!

Anonymous said...

I vote for posting the new episode entry on the On Demand night. I watch it On Demand too - who doesn't? - and I don't like having to wait a week for you to explain it to me.

Anonymous said...

I have directv, which doesn't offer on demand. Seems to me on-demanders have the advntage of watching it a week early, why should they also get the advantage of getting your analysis early too? To me, that leaves the rest of us out of lope and behind completely?

Just a thought-- I'll read your analysis either way.

Anonymous said...

Oops-- I meant to say out of the loop.

Anonymous said...

Cheese is Prop Joe's cousing, right? That means Randy and Prop Joe is related and I'll be damned if the little pup wasn't carrying them genes.

Electric Dragon said...

I don't see Marlo as an embodiment of capitalism. I see him more like a feudal lord or someone in the upper echelons of Imperial Rome. All he wants is power. He's not interested in riches: we don't see him in a fancy flat, his money is straight off the street, he even tells Joe he "has too much money". All he's interested in is getting rid of anyone who crosses him (possibly to the detriment of his long term organisation - was it wise to kill Bodie off, when he could have been a major lieutenant in the Stanfield empire?) and moving closer to the throne. Marlo: the Nero to Prop Joe's Claudius?

Andy Hutchins said...

I thought -- and think -- Marlo's face almost looks, well, satisfied. (You know what I mean.) He doesn't see all these hits all that often, and he knows this one's basically regicide.

Just my take. I could see blank slate, too, but Jamie Hector's so damn subtle that it's maybe a fraction of a shadow of a twitch that makes the difference.

Anonymous said...

When Herc and Carver were talking, and Carver called out Herc for mishandling the case with Randy, Carver couldn't actually recall Randy's name. Wasn't Carver thinking of taking Randy in before handing him over to the group home? Pretty sad how quickly Carver forgot the kid's name when at one time he seemed to be emotionally vested in the case.

Angela said...

March 15 2010, Not that you'll ever see this but I don't think Carver forgot Randy's name but that he knew Herc would not remember him by name. Of course I would have to re-wind and watch again to verify this, but my heart says no way does Carver forget. I refuse to believe that. :)

Alan, Just had to say this once again. I force myself to wait to watch each episode in order to read your review first. I know if I do wait, I'll appreciate the next episode so much more due to your insights and my lack of understanding many small but still very important pieces to this puzzle called The Wire.

I told a friend that even though it's often depressing to watch, it's educational for me. I've learned a great deal and your reviews help with that too.

Angela said...

One last thought. I love this show. And am dreading the end. I can't think of another show I will miss as much.
(Why else would I post to a blog that's 3 years old? :-)

fio said...

Angela - I am watching it 3 years after, too! I started in the middle of November and powered through all four seasons in the past 3 weeks. I am now about to watch s5e5... this has been an epic journey, and this blog makes the experience so much more complete.

berkowit28 said...

OK, since there seem to be one or two people around:

What difference does it actually make if a relative gives you a gift or a loan, or if it's it's called a gift but is actually a loan? Where's the fraud in this transaction, and who does it hurt? It seems highly peculiar to me that this should be a major offense that could get someone 30 years in prison!

Is it just a sort of legal trick to be able to catch people when you can't get them on their real fraud? The only thing I can think of is that financial institutions that calculate what mortgage or other long-term loan they'll give you on the basis of what credit you're good for, your regular income, etc. with the balance having to be cash down payment is fine with your receiving a gift for that cash down payment, but if it's actually just a loan it makes you less dependable to the long-term mortgage. Is that it? The fraud being that you're misrepresenting your creditworthiness, and making the lenders liable to shortfall?

That seems an awfully slim basis for a crime deserving 30 years in prison.

Alex K said...

McNulty's behavior doesn't make sense. I understand why he got back to drinking... but why go back to whoring? I think he should realize that Beadie is the best thing that happened to him in 10 years.

Maybe he's too weak to resist the temptation, but I would think he would at least realize it and feel guilty about it. And when she confronted him, there was no look of guilt, or regret, or anything else in his eyes. He was so consumed by his quest that he was just completely looking past her.

Mike Wulf said...

That was Johnny Fifty from season 2 in the homeless camp with the dog

Ahmedkhan said...

While I absolutely despise the gentleman and want to see him "got," you nonetheless have to hand Marlo his props for his outburst in the co-op meeting, to wit, "Motherf------! Shut the f--- up! I'm sick of listening to your s---!" On countless occasions I thought - didn't dare say, because it would have been impolitic and gotten me fired - those exact words while sitting in meetings, having to suffer in silence while being treated to twaddle like a valuable client's endless droning on with all the fine details of his daughter's high school graduation ceremony, or the boss' minute-by-minute recounting of the previous night's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," etc. Because Marlo's words happen to be my exact words, I was seriously thinking of suing HBO for theft of intellectual property, but my wife pointed out to me that she too had thought the same words in a lot of meetings she attended - and added that occasionally she thinks them when I'm talking (!).

Ahmedkhan said...

Johnny 50 is lucky to be alive. Anyone who consumes 53 beers to celebrate a birthday is awfully dumb - he is fortunate to have survived that experience. Then, at the end of Season 2 in the closing montage we see him staggering with a hard liquor bottle in his hand, being pulled along by Lala.

His story is a sad one, and when life seems unsupportable one often turns to booze or other drugs to deal with it, but his drinking began well before the onset of his economic woes (we assume), and he has done irreparable (probably) damage to his innards.

Ahmedkhan said...

"The confrontation with Slim was riveting, but do you think he spared him simply because he didn't seem to have anything to do with Butchie, or because he's trying to find some way to get his revenge on Marlo without breaking his promise to Bunk? A man's got to have a code, so what happens if he breaks that code?"

Alan - It seems to me that Omar is obeying his code, but not with respect to his commitment to Bunk. Somewhere in Omar's code is the maxim that you don't do someone who tells you the truth when denying he's done Omar dirt. Recall Butchie's remark to Omar at the end of Season 2 after Omar had spared Brother Mouzone, that Omar had the ability to see "lyin' eyes," and had made the right call on Brother. Omar spared Mouzone because Mouzone told him the truth and told him to get on with it. Omar exercises his ability to discern lying as he listens to Slim, and Slim twice tells him to get on with it. Even in his sorrow and rage over Butchie's murder Omar is still composed enough to adhere to his code. That this enables him to keep his promise (so far) to Bunk is simply fortuitous - he's already set aside that commitment by undertaking to "work" Marlo and his people

Michael said...

I thought -- and think -- Marlo's face almost looks, well, satisfied. (You know what I mean.)

Do you mean satisfied, or 'satisfied'? ;-)

I agree with you (over 2 years later) either way, to me he doesn't look blank, he looks satisfied and more at ease than ever. He looks completely at one with himself, focused, calm. I think it's fabulous acting.

Anonymous said...

I am WAY late to the party, but has anyone else had a problem with the casting for Marlo? I might be alone on this, but I have never felt this particular actor fits the part.

Anonymous said...

4 1/2 yrs later and this whole On-demand issue is solved by having total access to the whole HBO library, 24/7. Good times. What a 2008 issue. HA HA HA.