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Collateral Damage

On ''The Wire,'' Herc's bad police work puts Randy in danger and causes the mayor's first political crisis

BODY SNITCHER Randy helped the detectives locate Marlo's victims
Image credit: Maestro Harrell: Paul Schiraldi/HBO
BODY SNITCHER Randy helped the detectives locate Marlo's victims

''The Wire'': Unintended consequences

Poor, clueless Herc. The cop's thick-skulled, clumsy detective work and thoughtless attitude set off a domino effect on this week's Wire, which happened to be a particularly complex one. The aftershocks of Herc's bumbling caused Carcetti's first major mayoral dilemma. I'll try to parse it as simply as possible: After the uproar from Herc's manhandling of a respected minister, Carcetti had to make sure the police department reprimanded Herc. If the mayor did too little, the ministers and the black community wouldn't let him forget it; if he did too much, the rank-and-file police officers would revolt. (And Carcetti knows that he has to keep the uniformed men happy; that's why he gave them a 5 percent raise and promised the end to statistic-based police work.) Carcetti's solution to this bowl of, ahem, feces, was clever: Pass the buck to a respected, honorable black police officer, Daniels, which would defuse the racial issue.

So, did it work? Not quite. Daniels didn't find enough racial motivation to suspend Herc. Sensing an opening, Burrell came to Carcetti's office brandishing a solution — a massive binder of official department rules. ''If a commander can't find the reason for firing a saint in here...'' he said, letting Carcetti come to his own conclusion.

The minister incident wasn't the only Herc-related mess this week. His total bungling of the Randy and Little Kevin situation finally came full circle, when Randy and his friends were attacked by some sour-faced thugs outside of school. After a few questions to a bloodied and totally freaked-out Randy, Prez got to the bottom of the situation: Herc was supposed to pass Randy over to Bunk, but he never did. And when Herc questioned Little Kevin, he clumsily and inadvertently siphoned the information to Marlo, who told all the little ''pups'' in the neighborhood. Got it? The downside: Randy was bloodied because of Herc's uncaring attitude. The upside: Now that Bunk and Freamon have all the information from Prez and Herc, the puzzle pieces behind all of Marlo's murders are snapping together. Freamon's methodical examination of the nail heads on the abandoneds was a spine-tingling moment. One other great sleuthing scene: When Prez was (rightfully) keeping his mouth shut — ''I'm siding with my kids,'' he said — Bunk slowly walked away, but just when he was about to leave the room, he turned and came back for one more question. Of course, Prez gave him what he needed. Peter Falk would be proud.

Still, who is going to get to Marlo first? Detective Freamon or Omar? Right now, I'm putting my money on Omar, whose stickup and manipulation of Prop Joe in his repair shop was a genius scene. (Also because of the season's first appearance of the raunchy Cheese, played by the Wu Tang Clan's Method Man.) After Omar left the shop, Prop Joe spat out one of his cryptic but wise aphorisms to defend his back-stabbing ways: ''Omar the one side holding the spade, and maybe Marlo to the other with a shovel. Just at this moment, I managed to crawl out my own damn grave. No way do I crawl back in!''

Michael's disturbing journey into the dark side continued this week. Last time he ordered a hit on Bug's dad. This time, he not only schemed to humiliate Officer Walker with a gallon of yellow paint (not that the bad cop didn't deserve it) but also brazenly stole his ring. Here's where I see things getting sticky for Michael. Marlo is training the young pup to be his new soldier, but Michael stood up for his friend Randy (a ''snitch'' in Marlo's eyes). Will Marlo order Michael to kill Randy? The tension sets up a situation eerily like a story line in season 1, when Barksdale forced Bodie and Poot to murder their friend Wallace. It's anyone's guess whether Michael will continue to protect his friend or side with his new crew.

What do you think? What will Rawls do now that he realizes that Daniels is the ''anointed one''? Will Carcetti get sucked in by all of the greedy developers, just like Royce? Did Carcetti deal with the Herc situation correctly? And will Herc get fired, or worse?

Originally posted Nov 27, 2006
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