Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

On The Record on The Wire – weeks 2 & 3

Right, where were we? As regular readers know, we’re blogging the final season of The Wire as it unfolds on TG4 (Mondays, 10.30pm). Yes, we know loads of you have already seen it, but we’re going with the schedule as …

Tue, Aug 12, 2008, 11:53


Right, where were we?

As regular readers know, we’re blogging the final season of The Wire as it unfolds on TG4 (Mondays, 10.30pm). Yes, we know loads of you have already seen it, but we’re going with the schedule as dictated by the weather-girls at TG4, aiii’ght?

The rules. Anything which occured in seasons one through four can be discussed. Events and plot points which happened in episodes one, two and three in season five are also fair game from here on in. For those who missed this week’s episode, remember that TG4 are repeating the show on Saturdays at 11.25pm.

Warning: there will be spoilers.


“It ain’t easy civilising this motherfucker” – Proposition Joe on Marlo Stanfield

The great hip-hop writer Nelson George has a fantastic phrase for it: the permanent establishment. The people making the music may change, but the people behind the scenes, the bean counters and the lawyers and the managers and the agents and the promoters, always remain the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s Jay-Z or Run DMC or Lil’ Wayne who are running things in the studio – the permanent establishment are always in place to take their cut. A new star will emerge and, inevitably, he or she will end up with someone from the permanent establishment repping them. Naturally, they’ll also find that their manager will recommend a legal eagle who happens to know this awesome accountant and have you thought about financial advice? Well, there’s the guy….

It obviously also applies to drug dealers on the streets of west Baltimore. As Marlo Stanfield continues his rise, he finding that it’s a case of mo’ money, mo’ problems. Marlo wants to get a direct connect going with the Greeks so he orchestrates a meeting with one of their foot soldiers, but finds Avon Barksdale grinning at him instead with his hand out looking for 100 large (truly one of the best scenes in an age – Barksdale with that wolfish grin devouring a clearly uncomfortable Stanfield). Marlo needs to get rid of the cash he has accumulated from the street, but he has to deal with Prop Joe to get it into an offshore bank (sadly, Joe does not bank with Ansbacher). The Greeks won’t take his dirty cash so that necessitates another call to Joe to get clean bills. Marlo may be the star of the streets, but he is still jumping through hoops with the permanent establishment.

Meanwhile, McNulty has conjured up a serial killer. Yes folks, there is a serial killer stalking the streets, hitting on homeless men and sticking red ribbons on their wrists to make it look all pretty and neat. Of course, the killer is a figment of McNulty’s imagination, a plan by him to make the bosses find cash and overtime from a slashed budget so the detectives can actually work on real cases. It’s a mad plan, but that’s what happens McNulty goes back on the whiskey.

Naturally, Bunk is aghast at what McNulty is plotting and tries his damnest to get him to change his mind. When Lester Freamon finds out what’s going on, though, he buys it, hook, line and sinker. To him, it’s the only way of getting the resources and manpower to close the book on Marlo. Hell only knows what “kink” McNulty will employ to make sure these faux-slayings get more attention.

He could always ring Scott Templeton at the Sun. There’s a touch of the Jayson Blair to him with those made-up quotes and colour pieces. He could always argue that he is just toe-ing the line at a paper in the midst of wide-ranging cutbacks and voluntary redundancies. Staff are urged to “do more with less”, which is just what Templeton is doing. With more experienced hands getting the chop – that scene involving axed veteran reporter Roger Twigg, city editor Gus Haynes and Templeton discussing Daniels showed why you need some grey hairs around the place – Templeton could be the answer to the Sun’s problems.

Other sweet scenes – Clay Davis going sheeeeeit-crazy in Burrell’s office; Michael, Dukie and Bug’s innocent day out at Seven Flags; Day-Day’s grand jury testimony.

Finally, a note on the music. It’s yet another of the Wire’s strengths, albeit hugely understated. They don’t knock you over the head with it, the sounds are just there. Freamon listening to classic soul in the car on a stakeout, McNulty smashing a toe kicking his car as Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” plays on a radio or “Mystery Train” playing in the background in Butchie’s bar before Chris and Snoop burst in all guns blazing – beautiful background details which other film-makers would probably have amplified and ruined.

Oh and Omar’s back from exile. Bet you’re excited.