The Wire series five episode four review

The Wire, the finest American television show of recent years, hits the third episode of its final season. Leo checks it out.

Omar’s back. Other stuff also happens in episode 4, but the main event is Omar’s return to Baltimore.

In some respects this was an odd episode as you can see the threads of the story progressing in parallel but it’s tricky to see how they’re going to come together before the end of this final series in nine episodes time. And you have to hope they will come together as the alternative is the horrendous let-down that was inflicted at the finale of The Sopranos.

The police and politics thread had Burrell getting the push in favour of Rawls as interim Chief with Daniels taking over in six months time. That’s all well and good but it’s hard to see why this matters. Daniels seems like a good bloke but we won’t have time to see him being ground down by the system and it’s not as though Burrell was especially bad or corrupt so this thread merely seems to show that the wheel keeps on turning.

On the legal side Senator Clay Davis is hauled in front of a grand jury to be accused of corruption and embezzlement. This is all well and good and while we hope that Davis gets his comeuppance it’s difficult to see why he matters. He’s one sleazy politician among many and while it’s clear that Davis has been lining his own pockets it’s not as though he’s running the city into the ground in the same manner as Carcetti who is clearly determined to advance his own career at any cost.

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In court Davis pleads the fifth and leaves to find the TV media waiting for him but there’s no-one from The Baltimore Sun which causes consternation in the news room as they had no idea that the grand jury was taking place.

You can sympathise that the last round of cut-backs means that the Sun doesn’t have a court reporter in town or you can take the simplistic view that the immediacy of TV has taken over from the newspapers. My own take is that the Attorney General’s office had no need to leak the grand jury to the print media as they would see it on TV and were bound to follow it up. The result is that the lawyers got exactly the same amount of coverage with slightly less leaking than normal. Granted the journos will have to hustle a bit harder but where’s the harm in that?

McNulty is continuing his quest to invent a serial killer while his home life disintegrates. This is, to put it mildly, a bit odd. If he feels so strongly about Marlo’s murders he could surely take radical action that would slow Marlo’s drug trading activities by killing him or one of his lieutenants or maybe by planting evidence. The serial killer approach could lead to him being drummed out of the police or, at worst, he might go to jail yet it doesn’t seem to have much hope of success.

Our dose of Omar is strictly rationed to a couple of scenes. In the first he finds out what happened to Butch and in the second he goes after Slim Charles to find whether Proposition Joe is involved. Charles persuades Omar that Joe had no part in Butch’s murder and it’s all on Marlo so the scene is clearly set for a show-down.

In the final scene of the episode Chris kills Joe while Marlo watches. It’s a Godfather-business-not-pleasure moment as Marlo doesn’t have a grudge against Joe but he had to go so Marlo could take over as the connection for The Greek’s drug flow to Baltimore.

It’s hard to have any sympathy for the characters in The Wire but Joe’s demise is a sad moment and you have to hope that Marlo will meet a sticky end. As things stand that’s the only thread of the story that grabs our attention which is surprising for a series that has always managed to be multi-faceted. Let’s hope episode 5 steps up a gear.

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