The Wire season 5 episode 2 review

Ben's not as impressed as usual with the second episode of The Wire. He's still impressed, mind you, just not as much as usual...

The Wire‘s come up with some pretty inventive characters over the years. Omar, the gay who robs drug dealers and breaks cover in silk pyjamas to buy Honey Nut Cheerios; Brother Mouzone, the well-spoken assassin who spends his time reading Tatlers and the New Yorker; that wheezy hopper with the asthma pump who Slim Charles killed for no particular reason.

None though compare in ingenuity and scariness to Snoop. I didn’t even realise she was a woman until halfway through season four, and when I did I cacked myself. Call me a sexist pig, but the thought of a female so diminutive rolling around with a gait so big it’s a limp, ominous drawl and that nail gun, killing without compunction, gives me nightmares. At least Chris is quiet and wears smart shirts, even if his kill count is far higher. Now whenever Snoop opens her mouth I start wondering things like, does she wear a bra? How would she get it fitted without shooting the poor shop assistant? Does she menstruate? Is that why she’s so dangerous?

I say this because she’s been an attack dog with a muzzle on since the cops pulled the bodies out of the vacant houses at the end of the last series. But thanks to Burrell the heat is off Stanfield and he’s free to unleash hell on his enemies. Snoop is positively excited (“God damn right, too much fuckin’ talking around here lately man”) and immediately gets to work, shooting a dealer who tried to barter with Marlow through the head.

On the drug dealing side, this is when The Wire hits its stride. The most fascinating part of season four was seeing how corner boys become merciless hitmen (and women) like Chris and Snoop, through school drop out Michael, and his training recommences this week as they tutor him on staking a spot for a murder with cold blooded and compelling logic.

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The Wire‘s a windy SOB, so it’s never clear where the series is going, but episode two reveals why Marlow is after Sergei, and it’s a good bet the Co-op won’t last the series. For the most part though it’s business as usual: Mayor Carcetti is trying to scratch some money together whilst trying to run for governor, every one’s after the Senator except the FBI, and the strict formula of procedure, baffling lingo and dark, dark humour is followed to a T.

However regular viewers will probably be shocked the episode hasn’t been given full marks like every other deserves. Hear me out before you ostracise me: it’s dropped a mark, because after five years, a very minor niggle has emerged. I’m starting to worry some of the characters are becoming caricatures – the self-important Editor particularly is such a joke now (“My wife volunteers in a city school”) that he’s jarring with the rest of the fleshed out ensemble. This week’s episode sees him giving the splash to a hack whose story has quite clearly been made up, overriding Gus’ sensible reservations, and when he walks over all you can think of is David Brent from The Office.

More alarmingly though, McNulty is heading the same way. Pissed (on all levels) at the closure of Major Crimes yet again, he’s hitting the bottle hard, taking sips from a stash in the car boot, and cheating some more still on lovely Beadie. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the ending sees him going completely over the top, and doing something he’s not going to be able to explain away by saying he was sloshed – however neither are the script writers going to explain this one the same way either.

Still, it’s The Wire, so you need to watch it immediately to find out what that is.


4 out of 5