Monday, November 06, 2006


The Wire No. 45: Corner Boys

BLOGGER'S NOTE: As always, know that spoilers lie below, so don't venture further unless you've seen the episode or don't care if you know what happens.

By Edward Copeland
Sgt. Landsman makes the sad announcement to the homicide detectives that their leader, Col. Raymond Foerster, has lost his long bout with cancer, as did the actor Richard De Angelis who played the role throughout The Wire's four seasons, even appearing once this season. "The man served 35 years, attaining the rank of colonel, without leaving a trail of bitterness of betrayal," Landsman tells the detectives. "In this department, that's not an achievement — it's a miracle." It's a miracle not likely to be repeated as Bunk's mission to clear Omar alienates his fellow detectives and Carcetti's investigation of the department gets all the players like Burrell and Rawls looking to cover their asses and/or benefit from the presumed incoming mayor. In fact, Carcetti is continuing his assessment of the various aspects of the police department when Landsman announces Foerster's passing.

He helps himself to the last coffee in the squad room, only to be chastised by Kima who insists that whoever finishes the pot has to make the next one — and Carcetti complies, slightly surprising the detective. As Carcetti sits around and watches a particularly slow day in the homicide unit, he tells the detectives that he's not a hall monitor and they should do what they usually do — so Kima puts her feet up, Lester hauls out his models and Landsman brings out the porn. Carcetti's tour once again brings him to Rawls' office, where Rawls makes a very unsubtle appeal to racial solidarity in an effort to stab Burrell in the back and move up, attributing Burrell's piss-poor performance to racial quotas that spilled into his approach to crime numbers. "He who owes his good fortune to the numbers abide by them," Rawls tells Carcetti.

Later, Burrell pays Rawls a visit to discuss what their new strategy should be in dealing with Carcetti and realizes that Rawls is making his move. Burrell even engenders a bit of sadness as he regrets the end of the "great team" that he and Rawls made. Carcetti doesn't want the Rawls option, continuing to eye Major Daniels, going so far as to take him to lunch and offer him the post that Foerster's death has created, which would move him further up the departmental food chain and possibly allow for his eventual rise to the top. Carcetti also gets a visit from some national Democratic operatives who recognize a rising star in the party and offer him advice for producing a "Baltimore miracle": lower the crime rate, build some big project and stay away from the schools, since Norman and Carcetti both inform them that the education system in the city has been such a mess for so long, they don't want to touch it and risk getting the blame for its failures.

At Tilghman Middle School, two former members of the Baltimore P.D. are still trying to make a difference. A student gets the better of Prez by solving a math problem simply because he can recognize the erased chalk circle that Prez put around the correct answer in a previous class. He also realizes that he can "trick" the kids into learning by teaching them math skills in things that interest them, such as shooting craps, something another teacher advises against because of the school's push to meet No Child Left Behind requirements. "Don't teach math — teach the test," she advises him.

Meanwhile, Colvin's experimental class with the troubled kids begins to show results as well. They aren't learning anything, but they are getting them to analyze the rules and consequences of their lives on the streets. When the teacher asks all the kids to write down where they see themselves in 10 years, Namond writes down "Dead" expressing a realism about his prospects that is quite sad, but expected given the home life he comes from, where his shrew of a mom lambastes him for assembling drug packages at home, telling him that his father would never bring work home with him, which would be a really funny line if it weren't so depressing. Namond's burgeoning corner drug business enlists a 13-year-old Kenard (Tuliso Dingwall) as his "lieutenant," precisely because of his less-vulnerable status should he be busted. Namond's quiet friend Michael also is having parental problems as he worries about his younger brother: providing cash to his strung-out mother and then bristling at the return of his younger brother's father from prison, definitely adding to the previously raised assumptions that Michael might have been the victim of some sort of abuse, presumably by this man's hands.

Elsewhere on the streets, Marlo continues to tease Herc about his stolen camera while Prop Joe does some leg work (more accurately, phone work) for him to learn more about Herc in a hilarious scene where Joe dons different accents and identities as he bounces around the city's departments to find where Herc dwells. Prop Joe also gives Marlo some advice: While he admires his skills at hiding his murder victims, killing the New York interlopers but leaving no bodies around to send a message back to the Big Apple is counterproductive, so Snoop and Chris bypass their usual tactics and leave a body on the street before dumping the weapon and the touted nail gun in the bay.

Herc, still frustrated over his inability to get Randy to lie and be an "eyeball witness" to Lex's murder, is confronted by the sinister Lt. Marimow about the botched train station operation. Marimow demands to know the name of Herc's "informant" whom Herc names as "Fuzzy Dunlop," a funny reference to a similar botched operation he and Carver undertook in Season 1. Marimow is understandably skeptical and reminds Herc about the primary results that means Royce is on the way out and promising to bury Herc if he finds out he's lying since his "rabbi has left the building." Bunk's initial skepticism about helping Omar clear his name turns into a true mission as he easily unravels the story by convenience store owner/drug dealer Old Face Andre (Alfonso Christian) by pointing out how none of it makes sense and getting Andre to fear a jail sentence for perjury. Perhaps Omar will escape Marlo's trap after all.

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