TV Article

Relationship Wrecks

On ''The Wire,'' Bunk breaks ranks and loses a drinking buddy; plus, Rawls betrays Burrell, and Michael may lose Bug to a rival father figure

Wendell Pierce, The Wire | BUNK BAD The detective drank till he got sick
Image credit: The Wire: Paul Schiraldi
BUNK BAD The detective drank till he got sick

''The Wire'': Breaking trust is hard to do

This week's episode was a night of breakups. Not the romantic kind — this isn't Sex and the City — but several long-standing political and emotional relationships disintegrated. Although they've been drinking partners since season 1, the boozy pairing of McNulty and Bunk seems to be finally dead. While Bunk was booting on the curb of an Irish pub, McNulty was sipping his club soda with lime. Bunk is definitely the scorned one in this duo, drowning his sorrow in shots of whiskey.

Stoic, solid Michael also found that the only person he can rely on — his little brother Bug — is beginning to move away from him. When a long-absent father figure returned from jail — notice that Bug said ''my dad,'' not ''our dad,'' so it seems Michael has a different father — Michael became unhinged. When he found the paroled dad helping Bug with his math homework, Michael shooed him away and retreated even deeper into his psychological shell. It's clear that Michael needs Bug just as much as the younger boy needs his big brother.

Anyone who's been through one knows that's there's no such thing as a mutual breakup. Take the partnership between Dep. Ops. Rawls and Commissioner Burrell. The two have been scheming, spinning, and politicking for four seasons while the Royce regime was in power. On this week's show, Rawls decided the relationship was no longer convenient for him, throwing Burrell under the bus when Mayor-elect Carcetti came calling. The scene in Rawls office was priceless. ''We were a good team, you and me,'' the commissioner said. Rawls looked at him flatly and said, ''We were.'' The sour look on Burrell's face — as if he had just swallowed something rotten — revealed a fistful of emotions: fury, shock, and plain old pain. We'll see if Rawls' run for the top spot is successful; it's doubtful that Carcetti will give the commissioner slot to a white man, but Daniels seems too untested, leaving who, exactly? As for Daniels, it was about time that the guy got some rewards for being an intelligent, honorable, and seriously dutiful crime fighter.

Marlo's two main soldiers, Snoop and Chris Partlow, are just as loyal as any civil servant; it's just that they like to murder and maim instead of protect and serve. They finished off at least two New York competitors in tonight's show, while a creepy scene found them teaching new recruits the tricks of the assassin's trade. As we know, no bodies have appeared yet, but they will soon. Here's a question: Prop Joe slickly persuaded Marlo to stop ''disappearing'' the bodies, in order to send a message to the competing New York gangs, but is that the real reason? I think Prop Joe might be setting Marlo up. Once the bodies start coming, so does the heat from ace detectives like Freamon, Bunk (brilliant in his dissection of Old Faced Andre's deceit), and Greggs. Yes, the hazed and teased Detective Greggs finally proved her sleuthing skills last week. In a classic bit of Wire-style irony, when she finally solved the dead-witness case — a stray bullet killed the poor guy — her detective work disproved the theory that helped Carcetti into office. Talk about a cruel twist of fate: If Royce hadn't tried to bury the case, then the incumbent mayor might still be swiveling around in that baronial leather office chair. That plot point embodied one of creator David Simon's favorite points: Life takes seemingly random, often unfair, and typically unexpected turns.

Tonight's episode was called ''Corner Boys,'' and it included plenty of footage of the school's misfits misbehaving down in the basement. But Bunny Colvin and the academics had a breakthrough, one much like Prez's. If you hide the lesson plans and learning under the guise of hood-friendly subjects like gambling and dealing, then the students will pay attention. Those corner kids down in the basement class aren't stupid, just troubled and misguided. But as Bunny said, ''Can we have them learn on faith alone?'' When the subject is something unfamiliar, will they care?

Some questions till next week: Did Herc mess up by lying to Marimow? Should Daniels have vented to Carcetti about Burrell and Rawls? Is Namond going to be able to keep dealing? And was Bunk being a traitor to the police force when he tried to convert Holley and Crutchfield to his murder theory?

Originally posted Nov 06, 2006