Friday, August 29, 2008

The Wire, Season 1, Episode 13: "Sentencing" (Veterans edition)

Since we're up to the final episode of "The Wire" season one, you really don't need me to tell you that this is the review where you can talk about anything and everything from all five seasons. If you want to be protected from anything from future seasons, scroll down for the newbie-friendly version.

Spoilers for episode 13, "Sentencing," coming up just as soon as I take this blog federal...

"You grow up in this s--t. My grandfather was Butch Stamford. You know who Butch Stamford was in this town? All my people, man -- my father, my uncles, my cousins -- it's just what we do. You just live with this s--t until you can't breathe no more. I swear to God, I was courtside for eight months, and I was freer in jail than I was at home." -D'Angelo Barksdale

Why do we watch this show? Seriously, why do we subject ourselves to a drama that spends 13-plus hours of television building towards an ending this bleak, that offers such little hope for the future of both its characters and the system we all live in? What masochistic impulse could lead me to obsess so much on this world, to go back and watch Bodie kill Wallace, or Brianna change D'Angelo's mind, or Bubbs fall off the wagon, six years after these things upset me the first time? Forget McNulty's line from season five asking what the (bleep) is wrong with this city. What the (bleep) is wrong with all of us who keep sticking around?

Nothing's wrong with us -- not related to our love of this show, anyway. We watch it because, even though it makes us despair, it's brilliant. We watch it because, even though it's awful to see D'Angelo throw away his future after Brianna packs his bags for a guilt trip, Larry Gilliard Jr. delivers such a scorching performance throughout. We watch it because, even though it's stomach-churning to see Maury Levy on the other end of Ronnie's phone call instead of the public defender, the moment is set up so expertly. We watch it because, even though many characters we like suffer many fates we don't, we realize in the end how much the show has been trying to warn us about this from the jump.

David Simon and Ed Burns have always modeled "The Wire" after Greek tragedy, and the concept of predestination is as strong here as it was in the time of Sophocles. Landmsan warned Jimmy in the very first episode that he'd wind up riding the boat, and Lester warned him again a few episodes later, and where does Jimmy wind up? (And it is, as usual, Jimmy's uncontrollable need to lecture others on their moral inferiority that screws him over; if he walks politely out of the meeting with the U.S. Attorney instead of insulting the guy, Rawls almost certainly never gets a call about it.)

"Sentencing" is packed with callbacks or payoffs to moments from throughout the season. Poot repeats D'Angelo's lesson about the danger of one man selling and then serving the same customer, as he takes D'Angelo's role as leader of the Pit. (Characters filling other characters' shoes will be a popular theme on the full-circle "Wire," particularly as the series moves forward.) When asked whether he talked business with Wee-Bey on the ride to Philly, D tells Bunk and Jimmy that they have a rule against it -- a rule Wee-Bey had to remind him of in the first episode. When the two detectives hear D refer to Diedre Kresson wanting to put the 8-ball on ice, they immediately understand why the refrigerator door was open. (D's recounting of that murder and how Wee-Bey really did it also reconciles D's aversion to violence, particularly against civilians, with him taking credit for the deed. For more on that, look to the bullet points.) Daniels gives Prez his gun back and makes a wry joke about its infamously light trigger pull. Herc tries to pass on the brains-over-muscle lessons of the detail, even though you can tell he doesn't really believe in them. On his way out of court, Stringer throws Jimmy's "Nicely done" line from the premiere right back at him. And after all of that, after the closing montage shows that the partial takedown of the Barksdale crew has in no way slowed the spread of drugs throughout Baltimore, we hear Omar whistle "Farmer in the Dell" one last time and remind us that it's "all in The Game, yo." The players may change, may (like Bodie or Lester) get promoted to bigger roles, but The Game will always be here.

One of the series' key themes is the folly of placing your faith in institutions, because they're designed to protect themselves and not you the individual. D'Angelo placed his faith in both The Game and his family, and they combined to drag him down and send his ass to prison for 20 years. McNulty put his faith in law-enforcement and found out that no one on either the local or federal level really cares about stopping the likes of Avon and Stringer. D goes to prison, Jimmy to the boat, and their institutions grind on with them on the margins.

Bubbs put his faith in Kima and had his thin recovery plan undone not because she was unreliable, but because the system placed her in a situation that made her unable to help him when he absolutely needed her. (Though, again, it was a shaky idea to begin with.) Daniels put his faith into the idea of climbing the ladder and staying tight with Burrell, and in the end gets burned and passed over for promotion because he tried to do his job the right way. Carver instead becomes Burrell's new pet and gets his own promotion, but Daniels' come-to-Jesus lecture makes him start wondering if it was such a good idea.

There are happy endings on the margins, like Lester escaping pawn shop purgatory (and winning the affections of Shardene, to boot), or Prez proving himself to be a useful detective, or even the return of a smiling Omar to the streets of West Baltimore (NOTE: several readers have pointed out evidence within and without the episode that Omar's operating out of the South Bronx at this moment in time), but they're overwhelmed by all the tragedies at the center. Yes, the detail gets Avon locked up on a minor charge, and several of his lieutenants are either dead or locked up for a long time, but at what cost? Wallace is dead. Nakeesha Lyles is dead. Orlando. Kima caught a bullet and is lucky to be stumbling around a hospital corridor on a walker. Jimmy's on the boat, Santangelo back in uniform, Daniels' promotion prospects are iffy at best, Kevin Johnson is half-blind, D'Angelo is taking the fall for his uncle, and Stringer and the organization as a whole don't seem to have missed a beat.

By the end, even Jimmy recognizes how much damage he's caused for so little noticeable gain. His "What the f--k did I do?" catchphrase again is used to connote tragedy, not comedy, as is Bunk repeating his "Happy now, b---h?" put-down from earlier in the season.

The wheel keeps turning, the players keep playing, and as hard as it was to re-experience most of what happened towards the end of this season, there's a part of me that wants to blow off all my professional responsibilities and proceed immediately to watching all the awful events of season two. And I don't believe there's a thing wrong with me to want that.

Some other thoughts on "Sentencing":

• Getting back to the pain of seeing D take the fall for Avon, it's a mark of how well D was written and played that we mourn a 20-year prison sentence for a character whom we first met as he was beating a murder charge through witness tampering.

• In the veteran-friendly review of "Old Cases," I talked at length about how D'Angelo lied to Bodie and the others about killing Diedre Kresson, and how it was virtually the only time in the run of the series that Simon and Burns would deliberately lie to the audience about something that big, for that long. I went on at length about my discomfort with the choice (specificially as it changed my perception about D'Angelo going from then until this episode) and then invited David Simon to offer up his own explanation for the choice. If you've been following the newbie versions of these reviews, I'd advise you to click on the above link to read it; so long as you bail out before the comments start, you won't get spoiled on anything that happens in later seasons.

• I could probably isolate and sing the praises of virtually every scene in this episode if I had the time, but one in particular I want to highlight is Jimmy finally finding the stones to visit Kima in the hospital. Every beat was just right, from Cheryl bolting in disgust as they discussed the case to Jimmy crying over his white guilt to Kima pragmatically stating that her only regret was not using more tape to secure the gun.

• As I said when I first started talking about the show's music rules, the one concrete exception made each season is with the montage at season's end that sums up where the characters, and The Game, are headed. This one's scored to "Step By Step" by Jesse Winchester

• I thought it was a very nice background detail to have D's public defender be so obviously horrified by the crime scene photos of Deirdre, Wallace, and company, and the realization that her new client was involved in some bad, bad stuff down in Baltimore. Like Jimmy and Bunk and D'Angelo, we've been so hardened to all these murders by now (save Wallace, of course) that it was good to have an outside reminder of just how brutal the Barksdale crew is.

• If you've ever seen or heard a David Simon interview or commentary track, you might have recognized his voice as the bailiff announcing the entrance of the judge for the sentencing hearing. It was a last-minute bit of audio looping, and Simon was the only guy in the room who hadn't already contributed a voice elsewhere in the episode.

• Jimmy's comportment in the relationship department has never been what you would call admirable. But Ronnie -- who claimed to be done with his drunken, manipulative ass several episodes back -- jumping his bones in the parking garage after he handed her what looked like a career case was a reminder that it takes two to have an ugly affair sometimes.

• Rawls punishing Jimmy is in some way on Jimmy, who could never leave well enough alone even as he knew his boss was gunning for him, but Rawls absolutely does not play fair with Santangelo. Santy kept up his end of the deal by closing an open case, and Rawls still puts him on a foot post in the Western district.

• Another nice touch involving a throwaway character new to the storyline: Lester's retired buddy at the phone company who invokes the cliche of cops giving speeches about how "all-fired important" their case is, followed by the guy's genuine pleasure at realizing he can help Lester catch a guy who shot a cop.

• Carver's a knucklehead and a rat, and yet there are these moments of incredible clarity like his "Wars end" line from the pilot or, here, him watching Bodie and his crew beat on Onion and observing that this is why the cops can't win: "They f--k up, they get beat. We f--k up, they give us pensions." Somewhere, Det. Mahone (retired) is hoisting a glass in Bodie's honor.

• Blink and you may have missed Toni Lewis, who played Det. Teri Stivers in the last few years of "Homicide," as one of the feds in the second meeting with McNulty, Daniels and Lester. She'll pop up a few more times in season two.

And for the last time, let's talk about how events in this episode pay off down the road:

• Kima refusing to ID Wee-Bey will be reflected in her refusal to go along with Jimmy and Lester's plan to get Marlo. Sometimes, things just gotta play hard, right?

• When "Sentencing" originally aired, I was amazed that someone as bright as McNulty somehow was dumb enough to ignore Lester's warnings about how to answer the "Where don't you want to go?" question. Eventually, I tried to write it off as Jimmy punishing himself for what he did to D'Angelo and everyone else, but in season two we find out that Jimmy did, in fact, keep his mouth shut, and that Landsman ratted him out just so he could win their bet from the first episode.

• Stringer will work out of this funeral home for the rest of his run, though the place looks different in later seasons. Simon couldn't remember whether or not they changed locations between seasons, but we also don't see the inside of the viewing rooms here, which is where most of Stringer's memorable economics lectures will take place. So it could be the same location throughout in real life, and in the show's world it's supposed to be.

• D'Angelo never does get to breathe free, now does he? Sigh... I can take some (very) small solace from watching Jimmy emotionally destroys Brianna for what she does here when she confronts him in season three (skip ahead to about the five minute mark, and then watch how good Dominic West and Michael Hyatt can be).

• In the end, Lester's arrogance will be the undoing of his career the same way it will be for McNulty, but his other happy ending from this season sticks, as Shardene will still be his special lady friend by the time we get to the series finale.

• While Prez proves himself to be a good police over the course of this season, he's right to not really want that gun back, given what happens with the undercover cop at the end of season three. In retrospect, Prez would have been a lot happier if Daniels hadn't saved his job after the Kevin Johnson incident.

• It's been a while since I watched season two. I know Jimmy tries to get back into Ronnie's pants a few times over the next two seasons, but is this the last time it actually happens?

Coming up next: Nothing. Summer's just about over, new TV shows start debuting as of Monday, and I unfortunately won't have time to move on to season two until at least next summer. (And I still have to do those "Sports Night" reviews I've been promising for forever; maybe that'll be a circa-Christmas/Chanukah/New Year's thing, but don't hold me to it.) It's been really gratifying to read comments in both versions of these reviews from people who said they finally started watching the series because of me and quickly raced through the later seasons.

As a reminder, you can find my reviews of season four here, and of season five here. Eventually, I'll get around to chronicling the adventures of Frank Sobotka, Ziggy, Fruit and company.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Another sterling write-up, Alan. I've really enjoyed this series, and only wish I could have had something like this back when I started watching the show.

I'd also like to point out one scene that always sticks in my head when I think of the Season 1 finale. It occurs in the montage, as we see Stringer counting his profits. The camera pans across the room to where he sits and holds close on his face, and then he looks up, directly into the camera, at the viewer. It was an odd yet strangely powerful moment, and I think it would be the only time The Wire allowed a character to break the Fourth Wall.

Anonymous said...

You said "Carver's a knucklehead and a rat", didn't you mean Herc ?

Alan Sepinwall said...

You said "Carver's a knucklehead and a rat", didn't you mean Herc ?

No, I meant Carver. Herc's not the one who was ratting the detail out to Burrell; Carv was.

Ben said...

Good stuff Alan! I have looked forward to these reviews every week. Dont keep us waiting for the Season 2 guide to long please...

StickUpKid said...

I am so sad to see these reviews come to an end. I was inspired by this rehashing of season 1 to buy the DVD. And now season 2 is on its way to my mailbox. Its been a while but I remember season 2 as being my favorite. (Ziggy, the Sbotkas, our first meeting with Cheese "Method Man" Wagstaff and A giant pile of coke and a water hose. Need I say more?) Its going to be a long wait for recaps for S2.

Its hard to imagine where you find the time to do all of these reviews as is but I hope against hope that you can find time to review season 2. My friends get sick of me bringing up plot points and memeorable scenes from the Wire so who am I going to talk to now?

Thanks Alan. Whenever you do get to it, it will be well worth it!

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your defamation of Carver as a 'knucklehead' though I can understand if you're chagrined. He's not always level-headed but he proves himself to be a great sergeant in S05 and a good police throughout. Need I mention his tireless, albeit ultimately and tragically fruitless, efforts to save Randy? He also says my favourite line in the episode: "cops will never win against the dealers because if the dealers screw up they get beat and if the cops screw up they get pensions"

How great was it to see Rhonda happy as a duck? I don't think we see her that glad again until the series finale [though I could be wrong]

Anonymous said...

Alan, re: your comment about Herc

I have been going through the show again over the summer (these reviews helped inspire that) and I believe Herc actually does take the lessons from this detail to heart... for a time. He's still doing wiretapping cases, albeit on a much smaller scale, when season 2 starts and only really turns his back on this kind of police work when he and Carver feel burned by Daniels at the end of season 2. The differences afterward between Herc and Carver then come from the latter's tutelage under Colvin.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I disagree with your defamation of Carver as a 'knucklehead'

To be clear, I'm referring to the Carver that we know at this point in the series' history. By the end of season five, he'll be a superb natural police in the vein of Bunny and Daniels, but at this point, he and Herc are virtually indistinguishable when it comes to who's dumber.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this fantastic series of reviews. Yours is the best Wire commentary site on the Internet. And now my quibbles. :)

- I think Omar was in New York at the end, not in Baltimore. Wikipedia agrees with me.

- Rawls didn't know it, but he was doing Santy a favor. Recall that Santy's lack of stress in the Western job was what brought McNulty back into it and gave McNulty his only really happy moments in the series.

- Fruit didn't show up until season three when he cheated Cutty.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think Omar was in New York at the end, not in Baltimore. Wikipedia agrees with me.

And we all know how reliable Wikipedia is. :) But the footnote suggests someone got the info from the official Wire companion book (which I don't have handy), and if that's the case, I won't argue.

- Fruit didn't show up until season three when he cheated Cutty.

I know that. I was talking about how I would eventually get around to reviewing seasons two and three, and Fruit was virtually the only season three character of note who didn't appear (or appear for long, at least) in seasons four and five, which I blogged about as they aired.

KendraWM said...

I can actually say I will be so sad to see the recaps end, they were y little friday morning joy!!!! Come to work, get my tea and read the recap before I did anything else.

I could not wait so I am nearly done with season 2. I have a question, the audio went out on the dvd for like a minute and I can't remember from the first time around, but when Stringer meets with the DC guy to take care of D, does he give a reason why he wants it done?

Did he think D was becoming a liability to the crew?

I forgot just how much I enjoyed the Wire. I now find myself hoping that my next dvd will arrive today. I also find myself a little sad when I realize that at most we get only 13 episodes a season and find myself wishing for double that.

Also it was nice seeing Sharlene is season 2, helping Kima and going to nursing school at Lester's prompting.

I know this is season 2 also but there is a scene with Bubbs and Jimmy down at the boat, and it really makes you think of what Bubbs potential and past life must have been like before the drugs. Jimmy is pulling the boat in and throws Bubbs the line and tells him to wrap it around that thingy and Bubbs says you mean the clet and then actually ties the boat up properly, while Jimmy does some half-assed tie-up job.

It was just one of those little scenes where you had a quick glimpse into what Bubbs must have been like at one point in his life.

Alan Sepinwall said...

when Stringer meets with the DC guy to take care of D, does he give a reason why he wants it done?

Did he think D was becoming a liability to the crew?

Stringer's reason was cruder than that: he wanted to get it on with D's baby mama. He later tries to justify it by saying he was afraid D would flip, but it was all about having a hassle-free thing with Donette.

KendraWM said...

Thanks Alan,
I thought that and then thought no it could not be that, that seemed even too much for Stringer.

It really is sad that I still look for the humanity in these characters who are just so brutal.

KendraWM said...

Forgot to add, I like them so much, I keep hoping they will surprise me and not be the terrible ruthless killers they are.

I found myself thinking the same thing about Chris in season 5, l kept waiting for him to be the person I wanted his character to be. I know I should be cheering against them, but they are written so well and are so compelling you can't help getting sucked in and I keep waiting for the moment of redemption for them, which I know never comes, but a girl can hope.

Anonymous said...

Stringer's reason was cruder than that: he wanted to get it on with D's baby mama.

Oh wow, that's not how I read that situation. Interesting.

My reason for saying so is that Stringer and Donnette have already slept together when he says something to D's son about how his daddy's weakening on them. I don't recall the exact phrase - I always have to turn on the captions when Elba's speaking - but he's sitting with the baby on his knee and says "Your daddy's [something or other], little man. What do you think about that?"

I had an S2-related question myself, actually: does the fire that's shown at the end of the credit sequence actually happen in season 2?

KendraWM said...

I know I am not Alan, but I am watching season 2 now and the only fire so far is when Cheese torches Ziggy's car. I think it was either the 5 or 6th episode of season 2

Anonymous said...

It's been a while, but I thought that final shot of Omar had the Empire State or Chrysler buildings in the background...


Anonymous said...

Respecting Omar's location in the final scene, in addition to seeing the two towers (Empire State and Chrysler) the building behind the dealer Omar is sticking up has "South Bronx Metal" on it.

I agree with filmcricket. I think Stringer's interest in Donette was to control her as part of his mission from Avon to handle D'Angelo. Stringer's own concern about D'Angelo was clear when he met Avon outside at the prison. (Stringer: "You're not out of reach or nothing like that, right?" Avon: "No, nothing like that." Stringer: "You sure? He's carrying a lot of weight for us, man." Avon: "Stringer, he's family, man. All right? He's family.").

It is when Stringer realizes from Donette's report of her visit to D'Angelo that she has no influence over Dee that Stringer picks up D'Angelo's son and says, "Your father bucking us, little man. What you think about that?" And then there is that scene in the prison that I think sealed D'Angelo's fate (and which reminds me of King Henry II saying in frustration to several of his knights of Becket, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?") where Avon says to Stringer, "Thing is, String, what happened happened, you know what I mean? Push come to shove, I've been fair to him, ain't I?" and Stringer ominously replies, "You've been fair. Too fair."

Anonymous said...

And also, the building in the alley where Omar robs the guy says "South Bronx" on it. Not a big point though....great job Alan, I loved re-living this again.

My wife and I actually decided after the show ended to rewatch the DVDs. I was shocked at how much I liked Season 2, especially Frank Sobotka, when you know the characters ahead of time. I remember thinking Frank was the new Avon for about half the season when we watched it the first time and missed a ton of great stuff.

Also I can't for the life of me understand how Season 4 didn't win every award imaginable but that's a discussion for another time.

Anonymous said...

I don't have my DVDs but I thought it said South Bronx or something on the walls when Omar sticks up that dealer at the end.

Either way, awesome job Alan. I am looking forward to the day I get my DVDs returned to me and can rewatch Season 1 with these columns. And I'll be absolutely sure this time to have Season 2 in my possession come next summer.

Rev/Views said...

Fantastic stuff as always. I've often wanted to do a write up of The Wire episode by episode myself, but I don't think it would hold up against yours at all. :)

Maybe I'll just content myself with recapping the entire of The Shield once it's all over.

Anonymous said...

Kendra, I don't think you're wrong at all in hoping to see humanity in these people. I think that what makes The Wire not cynical and negative, is that while institutions beat and defeat these characters, they never get broken. Everyone keeps something definitely human and theirs. It's not always something GOOD and human, but I think, for example, Chris' violent beating of Bug's dad was undeniably human, undeniably his, and something that The Game couldn't touch.

Also, I started with season 3, and the biggest surprise I found was that way back when, Herc was far more likable than Carver, even before the rat revelations.

Bryan Murray said...

Great work Alan, that season is so close to perfect. Carver does have a great and underrated arc over five seasons from knucklehead to natural police.

I also hope you can recap season two--my least favorite from memory but obviously still great. I really want to hear your take on it. The entire season will definitely be different on a second viewing but the first two eps are still slow and scattered.

Anonymous said...

I always like your write-ups Alan, but I have to say, I'm a little bit bothered by your overall theme of "why do we choose to watch the wire even though it is depressing". Anyone who gets to choose to turn off or turn away from what is depicted in The Wire should consider themselves lucky.
The Wire isn't simply a piece of fiction. It is a fictional depiction of the way things ACTUALLY ARE.
I tell everyone I know to watch The Wire, not only because as a piece of art it is incredible, but because I hope it opens people's eyes to what is happening in their own cities, in the neighborhoods they don't want to drive through, to the children they don't want to care about.
I'm not accusing you of feeling this way, I just think everyone should be reminded, that many millions in this country don't have the option of "turning this off and watching something else"

Richard said...

Great work, Alan, as always.

"You just live with this s--t until you can't breathe no more."

In season 2, these words of D'Angelo take on a further and even more upsetting meaning. Having D inadvertently predict the manner of his own death just reinforces the impossibility of him ever getting out of the criminal life.

D's doomed efforts at preventing fate are also shown through his constant changing of clothes - he might be able to change his appearance, but he could never change who he really was.

Anonymous said...

Not to threadjack, but Alan, did you grab Season 5 on DVD yet? The commentary has some interesting stuff. I learned a lot. It's a must-watch to me for vets who have seen the Season 5 eps a few times and are more interested in hearing the behind-the-scenes stuff.

Anonymous said...

Could you really call Carver "natural police" by the end of season 5? Doesn't him having to learn all the lessons he did the hard way go against that sentiment? There is a big difference between someone who learns from experience and trials and tribulations and someone who is naturally adept at their profession.

I know you like to throw around the lingo from "The Wire" in your reviews and comments, but I think you are forcing it a bit in this instance and straying from the true meaning.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster. Carver grew as a person and a cop over the five seasons, but he ain't no natural police. That title is reserved for people like McNulty, who knows No Heart Anthony's address from memory, or Lester Freamon, who found Avon Barksdale's Golden Gloves poster to bust the case open. You can see natural police in action asn McNulty and The Bunk recreate the Kresson crime scene without speaking a (non-expletive) word. Those guys are natural police. They are born, not made.

Carver turns out OK, and he learns from his mistakes, which makes him a good police, not a natural one. Some things come easy and some come hard, and Carver coming to Jesus was hard. In a way, that might make him a better cop than the others, because he's been humbled by his own craven and wrong behavior, and maybe won't undermine himself with the arrogance that we see later in McNulty and Freamon. One can only hope.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fine. Amend it to "he'll be a superb police" and we can all be happy, right? Right?

Anonymous said...

Right! Well done, Alan. Loved the recap. Can't wait til Season Two. Equally as heartbreaking as "Where's Wallace?" is Frank S.'s long walk to meet the Greeks. He is the lone head of an institution in this series who is willing to sacrifice himself for those around him. Might there be a book somewhere in this for you, Alan?

Anonymous said...

I'll echo the comments of others and say how much I enjoyed your recaps (and the comments of fellow enthusiasts). I've been re-watching a few seasons this summer, and it reminds me how much I miss these characters and how damn entertaining the show is. I try to tell that to people when I lend out my DVDs. I still hate that there won't be any new episodes.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic job with the reviews Alan. I started watching this show last summer around this time because my dad kept renting the Season 1 DVDs and urging me to watch them. At around the 5th time, I finally relented and the rest is history. I watched Seasons 3-5 this year on DVD, and am now convinced it's the greatest TV show of all time. After I finished season 5, I decided to re-watch it from the start and then found these reviews, which made watching Season 1 again all the more enjoyable. It's too bad you won't be able to do write ups on season 2 until next summer, but this only means I'm able to re-watch season 2 sooner than I was planning. Regardless, I'll be sure to be watching this magnificent series for the third time by the time you have the Season 2 write-ups.

As for the episode itself, wow, I had forgotten just how heartbreaking the scenes where Brianna convinces D to take the fall was. I can't decide which mother character I hated more - Brianna or De'Londa Brice. It is an absolute travesty that Larry Gilliard hasn't gotten the right credit for the job he did as D'Angelo - but hey, it's also a travesty that this show has never recieved a single Emmy when it probably should have won every single one.

SJ said...

I wish I could erase my memory of this show and watch it all over again.

Alan, I'd also like to thank you for your reviews of Freaks and Geeks (I just finished watching it). That was a brilliant show too.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if people are still reading this post, but I wasn't sure where to ask.

So I just bought Season 5 DVDs to complete my collection (late I know, but I had just seen the season twice on my DVR). Anyone else VERY disappointed by the lack of commentary on episode 9?

Unknown said...

I'm late to the game, and want to express my appreciation of the write-ups and comments.

One small thing, though. I don't think Omar's whistling "The Farmer in the Dell". It's the same tune, but I think he's whistling "A Hunting We Will Go."

This hit me after about my fifth viewing of Season 1.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Filmcricket and Anonymous, Donette wasnt String's reason for killing D. Donette was String's method of keeping tabs on D. She was a fine lil' filly but String never struck me as the kind of guy to get hung up on a girl and put her ahead of business. He was macking Donette for intelligence, is all.

Unknown said...

Are you still on for summer reviews of season 2?

Rob said...

From my scan of the comments, it doesn't seem like anyone ever answered the question, "Does Jimmy ever get in Ronnie's pants again?"

My memory's a little hazy, but I believe there is a scene where they show Jimmy waking up in her bed, and she walks into the room. I don't remember if there was any insinuation as to what had happened the night before, but it was toward the end of their romantic relationship. I think it's in season 2, which you will be covering this summer so... we'll see.

Anonymous said...

I believe that that scene is after he gets really really drunk (not sure which season), and she says something along the lines of his having been too drunk to actually fuck.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't an undercover cop Prez shot, it was just a typical plainclothes narcotics officer that Carver and Herc are during season. Narcotics officers in B-more wear plainclothes.

nadi74 said...

Love these reviews, Alan. I just want to note the irony in the deaths of some of our most heart-warming charecters: Wallace, Bodie and D'Angelo.

All of them were killed, and yes, by their employers for snitching. But, like it or not, they all either had already spoken to the police in great detail about their bosses or were on the verge of doing so.

I love these guys, too. But in the world of the Wire they were on the verge of ratting out some details that would come back to hurt their bosses - and to the polic.

drowning too said...

Great reviews. I came to TV late, The Wire late, and now am on my first re-watch. Glad I can read the veterans' version!

One other indication Omar is in New York in the closing montage--there is a runner who leaves the dealer just before Omar holds up that dealer. That runner appears to be wearing a Yankees jersey.