I’ve only recently learned that the theme to The Wire is a Tom Waits song called ‘Way Down In The Hole’. The performance of the song changes for each season but each version has had a hip-hop/street vibe that is appropriate but none of the songs has anything of the madness and danger that Waits brings to the original and that’s a damn shame as Episode 6 has madness and danger a-plenty.
The episode starts with the Police clearing up after the shoot-out at Marlo’s apartment. They wheel away the body of Omar’s accomplice and then head off back to the station. Meantime Chris is searching Omar’s haunts while Snoop is checking the hospitals but Omar has vanished. Marlo calls a meeting outside the apartment and looks up at the fifth floor window from which Omar jumped and tells Chris ‘Don’t seem possible’. Chris agrees it ‘don’t’ and Marlo delivers the cracking line that ‘There’s some Spiderman shit going on here.’
When the coast is clear Omar comes out of hiding. Somehow he has survived the fall from the upper floor, although he injured his right leg, and then managed to hide out in the basement of the apartment block. He limps away and lives to fight another day. Chris and Snoop have missed their shot and know that Omar will be coming after them.
At a meeting of the drug consortium Marlo tells the group that he’s responsible for the death of Prop Joe, that he is running the show, that he now controls the supply of drugs from The Greek and that the price of a brick of drugs is going up.
There’s no news on Senator Clay Davis this episode but we do have something from the legal world. After Prop Joe’s murder the Police found sealed Grand Jury affidavits that had been used to alert a drug dealer that he was about to be arrested so it is clear that there is a leak at the Prosecutor’s office.
The Sun has run a big story about the homeless murders and Carcetti responds with a Press conference where he promises that the case is a priority. Rawls is advised that the Mayor wants the case solved but will not pay for the manpower to achieve the task. The press conference went very well and Carcetti’s advisors decide that the homeless, poor and disadvantaged are a good angle to take against the Republican Governor, which is Carcettis’ next political goal.
Templeton has got some profile from his faked phone call from the ‘serial killer’ and even appears on TV so he follows up by spending a night with the homeless to see things from their perspective. This is the Dickensian Aspect that gives the episode its title. Templeton soon finds that the streets are unpleasant, dirty and dangerous but he spends some time interviewing a veteran of the Iraq war which he writes up to some acclaim from the powers-that-be at The Sun.
McNulty has been foiled once again. He’s got stacks of publicity for a non-existent case but has failed to get any extra resources to divert to the Marlo Stanfield case. Worse, there will be no more bodies for the serial killer as any call about a homeless corpse attracts a mountain of Police presence in a heartbeat.
Marlo is using his new cell phone for regular day-to-day duties but there are occasional calls that last 30-40 seconds which are silent. Lester has worked out that these calls are used to transmit pictures which would presumably give an insight into the drugs trade. The problem is that McNulty cannot possibly request a wiretap as part of his hunt for the serial killer … or can he?
What if the serial killer phoned Templeton at The Sun? Templeton claims he has already received one call but McNulty know this is bogus but what if he received a call that seemed plausible? What if this was the final call from the killer before he started to take homeless people hostage? What if the killer would only communicate after that by sending picture messages?
The Americans haven’t come to terms with SMS so MMS is clearly a foreign language which is ironic as The Wire is chock full of foreign language.
Moments after he comes up with this scheme McNulty sees a homeless man who is clearly deranged. He plants a fake ID on the guy and then delivers him to a homeless shelter many miles from Baltimore so he has now effectively kidnapped his first victim and we can only think that it’s time for McNulty to make a call posing as the serial killer.
The episode ends with Omar taking the fight to Marlo. He takes down one of Marlo’s corners, throws the drugs and money into the corner guy’s SUV and then torches the vehicle to send a message that it’s not about the money – it’s personal.