TV Article

Who's the Man?

On ''The Wire,'' Michael settles scores with his mother's boyfriend; plus, Clay Davis works city hall, and Bubbles gets revenge on Herc

KISS BABY DADDY GOODNIGHT Michael cleaned house
KISS BABY DADDY GOODNIGHT Michael cleaned house

''The Wire'': Man of the house

The election is over, but the politicking and lobbying has just begun. This week's chief manipulator? It's the suit we love to hate — State Senator Clay Davis. His subterfuge was impressive: First he cozied up to Commissioner Burrell, then he sidled up to Carcetti, and last he roped in City Council president Campbell. It's unclear where Davis' long con is heading, but he sure is effective. The moon-faced state senator persuaded Burrell to double the number of quality-of-life arrests (behind Rawls' back); then he promised to help Carcetti get a pay raise for the new police commissioner through the City Council but also told the City Council president to keep it low — only a $25,000 bump — so Baltimore wouldn't be able to get the strongest candidates. The sneaky senator must have known that Daniels would inform Carcetti about the petty street arrests, which made Burrell look like the bad guy here, but how does that benefit Davis? It's still murky, though there's one thing I'm certain of: I'd love to get a T-shirt with Davis' signature word — ''Sheeeeeeuuuuut!'' — printed on the front.

Two characters this week found themselves in similar dilemmas: Is it better to fess up or keep quiet? For Little Kevin, opening up to Marlo about his visit to the police station ended badly — he's currently under a tarp and a pile of lime in one of the abandoneds. Herc, on the other hand, stuck to his lies about the stolen video camera, the botched Marlo train-station bust, and imaginary informant ''Fuzzy Dunlop'' to himself. Which was the better decision? Here's one case where normal ethics don't apply. Kevin was honest; now he's dead. (And Randy's life might be in danger too.) Herc lied; his career is still safe. But just barely. I used to have a soft spot for the chrome-domed, lunkheaded Herc, but no more. His callowness and inferior police skills are far overshadowing his coarse charms. After Herc ignored Bubs' pleas for help two episodes in a row, I was glad to see him get schooled in such a public, embarrassing way.

Here's one more example of The Wire's cynical take on morality. The night's most villainous character wasn't Marlo, or Snoop, or a murderer, or a drug dealer. It was the brutal, violent Officer Walker, whose disregard for the citizens he's supposed to be protecting is jaw-dropping. Pint-size car thief Donut is no saint, but did the cop really need to break his fingers? I can still hear the sickening sound of the cracking bones in my ears.

Speaking of the dark side, Michael followed through with last week's threat against the new father figure in his life. Stoic, dependable Michael has been a sympathetic character so far, but his halo is getting smudged. The debate about whether he was beaten or sexually abused still doesn't seem to have any clear answer. Snoop asked him point-blank: What did this guy do to you? Michael wouldn't answer, and Partlow read the non-answer as many of you TV Watch readers have: It was something so wrong Michael can't even bring himself to say it. The Wire generally isn't a very graphically violent show, but Partlow's beat-down was rough stuff to watch. And in fact, Partlow's uncharacteristically frenzied outburst raises an obvious question: Was Partlow sexually abused? Or is he just a violent, psychopathic homophobe? Either way, Michael got exactly what he wanted. But the smug look on his face as he watched his crackhead mom fidget on the couch wasn't satisfying; it was kind of sickening. I think Michael enjoys the fact that he can cut someone's life short, and I'm sure this won't be the last time.

What do you think? Bunny Colvin and the professor's program seemed to get a reprieve from the superintendent; would you let the class continue? Did Prez do the right thing by ignoring the school's guidelines? And was McNulty's ex-wife flirting with him?

Originally posted Nov 19, 2006
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