”The Wire”: When Marlo met Omar
As has been pointed out several times by numerous members of the Baltimore police department, the sinewy drug lord Marlo might not be the smartest guy, especially compared with the team of Stringer and Barksdale, who might be two of the cleverest criminals in television history. And so far, Marlo’s not the most interesting guy either — we know almost nothing about his personal life, his thoughts, or his background — but I’ll give him some credit: He’s a vicious, vindictive bad guy who has a giant set of stones and might as well have a block of ice for a heart. As we learned on the fourth episode of season 4, even the tiniest bit of back talk is an excuse for Marlo to set his mismatched assassins (Snoop and Partlow) on a blue-collar rent-a-cop. And when Proposition Joe offers Marlo a, well, proposition, the young buck cuts him off before he can finish his rambling pitch — the crackhead-pigeon metaphor was a nice touch — with a curt response: ”Well, no one f—s with me now.” That is, until the Robin Hood of the hood, Omar, jacks Marlo’s backroom poker game, leaving the stunned card sharks with a bit of roundabout street-corner philosophy: ”Money ain’t got no owners, only spenders.” I doubt that Marlo will be able to track down the always elusive Omar, but will he be clever enough to connect the dots between snubbing Prop Joe and the stickup? If so, be prepared for war.
As for Marlo’s own bloody trail, Lester Freamon is inching a bit closer to figuring out that the murder rate isn’t down; the corpses just haven’t appeared. ”The boy is a young lion,” he muses while drinking one of many whiskeys with Bunk. ”The lion has to have its kill. Where’s he putting the bodies?” Don’t you just want to shout into the screen and tell him? Look in the row houses, dude! I’m gonna predict that that B-More’s own Sherlock Holmes will find them in the next episode; it seems like the right point in the season’s narrative arc for a major event like that. And when that happens, the now dead Major Crimes Unit will have to come back to life, despite the suffocating presence of Charlie Marimow. And though Bunk seems to miss his beloved Jimmy McNulty, the hefty detective is spending some time showing homicide’s newest member, Kima Greggs, the ins and outs of her new unit, while hazing her too. Bunk does impart some useful information, so we finally hear one explanation of the phrase ”soft eyes” (which was also the title of episode 3). The question, however, is whether Greggs will be able to develop soft eyes soon enough to solve the political-hot-potato case that’s just been dumped on her desk: the murder of the state’s witness that Carcetti used to skewer Royce in the debate. Burrell is trying to bury the case until after the election, but he dropped the case on the wrong rookie. I bet Greggs will get this murder tied up in time for a Carcetti upset.
Each week we’ve been getting a bit deeper into the ramshackle world of Edward J. Tilghman middle school. This week provided more telling details: the ”janitors” who are sent around to pick up truants, the emotional mood of the kids (they are happiest on Wednesdays, we learn), the rampant absenteeism, and the hard-nosed way that the principal gets students (Randy, in this case) to snitch on their fellow classmates. From his sheepish look, it’s clear that Randy ratted out the school vandal, but he’ll never admit to it. This is West Baltimore, where the omertà-like rule of stop snitchin' is both a code and a T-shirt.
One student in particular, Michael Lee, got a lot of screen time in this episode. With a thoughtful, intense manner, Michael has lots of folks taking interest in him: Marlo wants him to join his crew, Bodie wants to cultivate him as a midlevel manager, and Cutty wants him to get in the ring and start training. So far, Michael has been pushing them all away — he won’t even let Cutty drive him home. Maybe it’s embarrassment? Michael’s mother is an addict, and his home life isn’t some kind of Huxtable situation. I just hope that Cutty gets to him before Marlo does.
What do you think? Will Carcetti’s visit to the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance help his election run? Will Bodie catch payback for going with Marlo’s package? What students will end up taking part in Bunny Colvin’s study?