A couple of weeks back I welcomed the return of The Wire for the fifth and final season. I didn’t go into the plot details in my review of episode 1 as I didn’t want to spoil things for the fans but it seems that I’ve become one of the Den’s official The Wire correspondents so I’ve got two episodes to cover and it’s spoilers ahoy.
In episode 1, Mayor Tommy Carcetti had run out of money as he’s been spending what little budget he’s got on the education in Baltimore to fulfil election promises. The Police Department budget has been cut back so far that overtime is paid in vouchers that will be redeemed ‘at a later date’ and the detectives have to share cars to cut maintenance costs. Push has come to shove and the police decide to shut down their investigation of the string of murders connected with the vacant properties. Unknown to the police Carcetti was offered federal help by the US Attorney for the investigation but he turned it down as it would have led to scrutiny of the Democrat party in Baltimore which would have blown his chances of becoming Governor. This results in McNulty and Griggs being returned to regular detective duties and effectively flushes a year of work down the toilet.
We open episode 2 with Marlo Stanfield, who has realised that his long term police surveillance has been pulled – so after a year of sitting on his hands it’s time to get back to regular business. There’s a guy who needs to be chased off his corners and another guy is a dead man walking after he was rude about Marlo but the main business for Chris and Snoop is finding Omar.
Marlo is also keen to make contact with The Greek so he can arrange direct shipments of drugs which will mean he doesn’t have to deal with Proposition Joe and the Co-op.
McNulty is disgusted that the bosses have stopped the investigation into the vacant murders. The problem is the victims are all black druggy low-lives and no-one cares about them so he comes up with an ingenious plan. While he’s at the morgue Jimmy learns that bruises can form on a corpse post-mortem.
His thinking – if that’s the right word – is to create a serial killer who is preying on vagrants so he attacks the corpse of a dead vagrant to make it appear as a murder. It’s not clear what McNulty will do once he has successfully created a serial killer but you have to assume it involves detectives that can be used to nail Marlo.
We’re given the impression that Scott Templeton at The Sun is fabricating stories to raise his standing at the newspaper. Scott’s not a nice man and we rather hope he’s heading for a fall.
This was a relatively slow episode but it set the scene for all sorts of goodness that is surely heading our way.
Episode 3 aired on the 20th January and opens with McNulty putting the finishing touches on his fictitious serial killer. Bunk is sure that Jimmy has lost his mind and wants to keep his distance from the mess so he turns to Lester for help. Lester agrees that Jimmy is wrong but only because he’s sure no-one will care about dead vagrants of any colour, but he’s reckons there’s something to be said for drumming up public concern about a killer on the loose.
The politicians slip a story to The Sun about Burrell being replaced by Daniels at some point in the future. It’s a way of testing the water to see whether there’s any protest from Burrell’s supporters or, indeed, whether Burrell has any supporters. After the story runs Carcetti is paid a visit by Clay Davis who offers to smooth the transition between police chiefs but he’s shown out of the door. The grand jury swings into action soon after and it’s clear that Davis has got trouble headed his way. We don’t much care about the fate of Davis but the good thing about sleazy politicians is the way they share the muck around so you can be sure there will be all sorts of allegations and revelations as the trial unfolds.
Marlo makes contact with Spiros ‘Vondas’ Vondopoulos but his advances are politely rejected. Spiros tells Marlo that all of The Greek’s dealings are done through Prop Joe and that everything is kept clean. It sounds as though Spiros is trying to keep things simple and clear-cut but you have to think he’s just pronounced a death sentence on Joe.
The other bit of Marlo news relates to his search for Omar. Chris gets a tip that Butch the barman is the contact for Omar so he goes to visit with Snoop in tow. Butch won’t give Omar up despite some heavy-duty persuasion and is murdered in front of one of his bar staff who is left alive to get the word to Omar.
The episode closes with Omar who has been living somewhere overseas for the past year, perhaps in the Caribbean. He gets the news about Butch and the look in his eyes tells you that Omar comin’…