POSTED BY STUART LEVINE Cynthia's comments below
If only Omar had listened to the surgeon general, who told us years ago that smoking kills. Buying a pack of Newports at a Korean convenience store, Omar was gunned down not by Snoop or Chris but by Kenard, the pre-teen kid who would hassle Dukie whenever he walked by.
But that it was Kenard, who actually used to look up to Omar, is almost besides the point. Killing is so random on the blight-infested streets of "The Wire" that there's often nary a reason drugslingers -- most of which are only in their teens and 20s -- often find a bullet in the back of the head. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, unknowingly pissing off a drug lord and or having your allegiances questioned is all it takes.
Not that Omar was a seller. Maybe at one time, but he'd seen the evils of all that dope on the streets and tried, in his own way, to clean his hood just a little.
Omar's demise wasn't all that unexpected. He'd been living dangerously for awhile now, especially since coming back from Puerto Rico after learning Butchie and Prop Joe were offed. And limping around on a bad leg -- I still love Marlo's line, "That's some Spider-Man shit," after realizing that Omar jumped out of the fourth- or fifth-story window -- made him an easier target.
Kudos to Michael K. Williams, who had a throwaway minimal role in the third episode of season one and turned Omar into a fan favorite. As it turned out, his death wasn't even worth a mention in the Sun, but how do you compress his tumultuous life into a couple of graphs anyway?
Other observations while wondering if Bubbles prefers to go by Reggie:
-- I cracked up during the pre-credits scene when Rawls, discussing the phantom serial killer's penchant for biting, said, "I'm all for a little kinky shit now and then, but chewing on a homeless fella …" In one of those "Sopranos"-like moments with the missing Russian in the woods never to be seen from again, Rawls was hanging out in a gay bar a few seasons ago but David Simon left that thread hanging, never to be revisited. It wouldn't be huge leap to think of Rawls dressed up in a leather getup, playing bondage games with another guy.
-- What were those kids doing to that poor cat as Omar walked by? Trying to set fire to the feline in attempts to escape boredom? Whatever it was, there was nothing good to come from it, I'm sure.
-- Man, Templeton is a putz. He messes with the stories of an Iraq War vet, as if the ones he were told weren't good enough. And then it was great to see Gus tell his managing editor, Tom Klebanow, that the lead on the candlelight vigil story with an anonymous quote was unacceptable and if wanted to change it, he did so at his own risk.
-- Dukie can sell me a pair of sneakers anytime.
-- Bunk is like a kid in a candy store when the medical examiner has evidence to convict Chris for the murder of Michael's father. It was one of the few times in a long time he's had a reason to smile.
-- How great is Felicia Pearson as Snoop? Her real-life, raised-on-the-streets story has been well-documented but I can't quite get over how good of an actress she is and how far she's come since being in jail.
-- Simon really made the head FBI boss into quite a buffoon, spewing off about his time as a talking head and author. McNulty and Greggs looked at him like he was from a different planet, though the fact that neither of them had any knowledge of his book wasn't all that surprising. The last book McNulty read was probably in high school, and it wouldn't be a stretch to think he checks out Maxim over Time when browsing the newsstand.
-- The FBI certainly has its faults but their analysis of the serial killer certainly resonated with McNulty. Among the bureau's observations:
1. He's not a college grad yet feels superior to others;
2. Works in a bureacracy in a civil service job;
3. Has a problem with authority;
4. Has trouble with relationships;
5. Is a high-functioning alcoholic;
Geez, wonder who can that be? When Greggs asked him for his thoughts on the FBI's profile, McNulty countered, "They're in the ballpark." You think?
Agree with Stu about the opening scene with Rawls. The nervous laughter that accompanies his bizarre comment is an example of group-pressure at its worst. McNulty is great in that scene, selling his bid to gain surveillance resources with utmost confidence and authority. He bats down every challenge to his plan with his authoritative manner. Like so many other threads in this season, it seems to be Simon's way of showing that style usually matters more than substance.
But McNulty really has a soul, and a strong sense of right and wrong. You get that by the look on his face when Rawls cracks that "the Mayor finally needs a police department more than he needs a school system." The fact that Baltimore should face such a Hobson's choice is just wrong.
The scene with DuQuan (Jermaine Crawford, pictured right) walking around looking for work is heartbreaking. Here's a kid trying to do the right thing, and shot down at every turn. It's even his good-hearted nature and willingness to lend a helping hand that gets him his apprenticeship as a junk scavanger. This is not good.
In the scene Stu references with the kids and the cat -- no, it can't be good. Looks like they're trying to use some chemical solution to burn a symbol or sorts into the cat's fur? Utterly, inexplicably cruel -- an illustration on the environment in which these kids live. I confess I didn't catch this 'til the second viewing of this seg, but there's foreshadowing here in that it's Kenard who's holding the cat down.
Nobody sez "You feel me?" quite like Omar. I wondered why the plainclothes cops didn't wonder why Omar was so eager to inform them of wrongdoing around the corner.
The whole Omar storyline this season of his seeking vengeance for the murders of Prop. Joe and Butchie, and Marlo seeking to enforce his status as the ruthless king, underscores how much furious pride fuels these folks. More so than money and material possessions, these people want respect and respect for their positions. The root, undoubtedly, is the racial discrimination unto which they are born. They won't get a fair shake by virtue of their social strata and skin color; so a subculture to the mainstream culture creates a "separate but equal" world of their own in which they rigorously, viciously enforce their own laws, mores and traditions. The deeply fathomed sociology of "The Wire" has always been its strength.
The scene where Omar gets it is so shocking for its randomness, in the sense that you just never can tell where the bullet is coming from in that world. One of Baltimore's most notorious thugs gets it from a kid. Parts of the scene remind me of the scene in "The Godfather" where Michael Corleone shoots the corrupt police captain McClusky (played so well by Sterling Hayden) over dinner at the restaurant. The way the Kenard (Thuliso Dingwall, pictured left) looks so stunned at first, then drops the gun and runs.
Back at the Sun newsroom, the net is drawing ever-tighter around Templeton. I hope he fries! Gus Haynes has long had his doubts. And even though the Iraq war vet is clearly a little unbalanced, there's a twisted logic to be followed in his assertion that "there are some things that happen -- you don't ever fuck with them." Gus gets that. Once again, great interplay between Clark Johnson's Gus and Tom McCarthy's Templeton. Later on, when Gus spikes Templeton's too-perfect, unattributed anecdote and Templeton goes around slamming chairs, well it's just perfect characterization. We've all known those types in offices -- the kind who act out inappropriately without giving any thought to how unsettling it is to those around them. The world must know I'm angry! Templeton might be better off out on the corners, with all that seething rage. Except he'd have to work too hard.
Also expertly rendered in this seg is the brief scene where reporter Alma comes to Gus with a few late-breaking news items. Gus decision to go with the house fire but pass on the murder of a black man in a bad part of town, even if there is a juvenile suspect sought, is indicative of how sometimes you just make the wrong call, on limited, deadline's approaching information. People always think news judgment and yea and nay calls on stories are these grand conspiracies. Sometimes, a lot of the time, it simply comes down to space and time -- though the Internet is changing this dynamic a great deal, natch.
Up in Quantico, where Greggs and McNulty have traveled (the exchange between them during the trip up to FBI HQ is fantastic, even if it feels a little overt in its effort to tie up loose plot threads) to be gifted with the vaunted "FBI profile" of the sicko, the scene with the self-promoting bigwig bragging about all his TV appearances seems to me to be another way of rubbing our noses in the inequities of law enforcement. These FBI guys have better pay, more resources, more leeway, and what do they do for it? Tell you stuff you already know, as McNulty tells Greggs before they even get there. Why do the feds get the white-glove treatment while the folks who comprise the thin blue line closest to protecting the public have to go begging for rudimentary lab work and cars that function? And yes, the profile results vis a vis McNulty's own self is priceless. Surprised Greggs doesn't figure it out right on the spot.
There's so much more to say about this seg. It's so meaty in its insights and revelations about the motivations and character quirks of the rogue's parlor we've come to love, or love to hate as the case may be. Witness the scene in the restaurant between Det. Freamon and the thieving state Senator Clay Davis. Great back and forth between actors Clarke Peters (pictured left) and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.
Amy Ryan (pictured right), McNulty's estranged girlfriend Office Beadie Russell, showed us why she was up for an Oscar on Sunday (for "Gone Baby Gone") in the closing scenes with him on the porch. It's so clear that McNulty cannot bullshit her, just like he can't spin Greggs. He crumbles in Beadies presence. She puts his professional transgressions into a whole fresh context for him, as in the impact it will have on their relationship if his hoax is discovered. "You had no fuckin' right," she says, without flinching. Kinda surprised she didn't kick him to the curb right then and there.