The Wire: The Pager   First Watch 
June 16, 2014 7:08 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Stringer warns D'Angelo that there may be a snitch in his camp. The detail gets its affidavit approved for a cloned pager but are puzzled at the results. Prez begins to redeem himself in the eyes of his colleagues by taking a fresh approach to the pager information. Wallace spots Brandon, one of Omar's crew, in an arcade and passes the information on to the Barksdale enforcers.
posted by Bugbread (25 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Little thing: during the scene in the cemetery, Omar says something like 'Y'all ain't putting me back in no cage'--if I remember right, we talked a little in one of the earlier episodes about whether he'd recently been released.
posted by box at 7:38 AM on June 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love the fact that it's Prez who figures out the code; that the character is given a chance to be something more than the hump he starts out as.
posted by nubs at 4:04 PM on June 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, Prez. <3

What's interesting to me is that Simon has stated that he's much more interested in plot than in character, yet all of these people are so well-rounded, and have wonderful development over the seasons. And also I never feel like any of them get the short shrift when it comes to screen time, despite there being so many characters.

Ugh, this show. It's so good, and I never once felt it was hitting me over the head with how brilliant it is, which is a sense I got occasionally in, say, True Detective.
posted by dogheart at 6:50 PM on June 16, 2014


The funny thing about D'Angelo is how uncomfortable he is. People like Stringer Bell or even Bodie feel natural in their environment, while D'Angelo feels like he's putting on a show. This makes the restaurant scene interesting, because he's just as uncomfortable when he tries to be a civillian. He just doesn't seem to be cut out for anything life has given him.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:03 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I dunno about that. I could totally imagine him, say, running a boxing gym in the neighborhood. He's just not comfortable with crime, and he's not comfortable with life outside the area he knows.
posted by Bugbread at 12:21 AM on June 17, 2014


I dunno about that. I could totally imagine him, say, running a boxing gym in the neighborhood.

Well yeah, by my comment I mean the life he has found himself in. That is, he can't enjoy the life is living, and doesn't seem to enjoy the money he earns from it, because he feels uncomfortable using it.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:20 AM on June 17, 2014


I love the fact that it's Prez who figures out the code;

Of course it's pointed out just after Prez shows everyone the code that it's easy enough for even lowlife drug thugs to comprehend and use. Sometimes the guys reaching for the top miss the low-hanging fruit. Good thing guys like Prez are around to pick it up occasionally.

Or I could be a little less cynical about those who benefit solely from nepotism and say that he's finally found his place there in the basement, riding a desk.
posted by carsonb at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2014


What's interesting to me is that Simon has stated that he's much more interested in plot than in character, yet all of these people are so well-rounded, and have wonderful development over the seasons.

Wonder if that's a function of excellent casting? Simon focuses on contriving plot—by default it falls on the actors to, uh, flesh out the characters. Aside from the chap who plays McNulty (accent accent, blah blah blah, he's still pretty good) I don't think there's a weak link in the cast. They are fantastic actors, and must have had room to work with the characters.
posted by carsonb at 10:59 AM on June 17, 2014


Oh the casting is great, don't get me wrong. McNulty's accent doesn't even really bother me-- I doubt I'd have noticed it if it wasn't pointed out. I'd probably put it partly down to casting and partly to, hmm, let's say realistic growth through plot. Which I don't want to give away here.

But all these people are amazing, and I don't know why more of them don't have more work.
posted by dogheart at 12:17 PM on June 17, 2014


I'm pretty sure almost everybody on The Wire got to appear on The Good Wife, FWIW.
posted by leopard at 1:47 PM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


carsonb: "Of course it's pointed out just after Prez shows everyone the code that it's easy enough for even lowlife drug thugs to comprehend and use. Sometimes the guys reaching for the top miss the low-hanging fruit. Good thing guys like Prez are around to pick it up occasionally. "

Well, there's a big difference between "easy to use" and "easy to reverse-engineer". I don't think the show is setting him up as a genius, but it's not quite "the code was so idiotically easy that all the smart people overthunk it, so only the simpleton realized it".
posted by Bugbread at 3:15 PM on June 17, 2014


One of the interesting things about the casting is that a lot of the supporting cast are retired cops and drug dealers from Baltimore.
posted by Mick at 3:29 PM on June 17, 2014


Apropos of nothing, I make a decent salary, but the one time I went out to a really nice, pricey restaurant with my wife, I totally felt like "Do they know?" the whole time. I still enjoyed myself, and the meal was delicious in a way I didn't know food could be. And then, at the end, when it time to pay, I took out my wallet...and remembered that my wallet was a velcro wallet. And a fairly new one, at that. As a former iconoclast, I experienced a heretofore unknown emotion mixing equal parts of embarrassment and joy at the RRRRIIIIIIIPPPPPPP!!!!! sound that rang through the restaurant.
posted by Bugbread at 7:14 PM on June 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


There have been several posts on the Blue about the cast and/or those who inspired the characters of The Wire. These are links to the MeFi threads, not the articles themselves, but still SPOILERS AHOY, BEWARE:

DeAndre McCullough aka D'Angelo Barksdale

Sonja Sohn aka Greggs

Snoop was played by Snoop (this character shows up later, like I said, spoilers...)

And a big Where Are They Now? post for the cast.
posted by carsonb at 7:51 PM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


it's not quite "the code was so idiotically easy that all the smart people overthunk it, so only the simpleton realized it".

True! Then again I think about all the stupid stuff in this show, the things that would neatly solve so many problems for so many characters if only they *got* or *saw* or *did* this one little thing (differently). It's pure luck that the cat who's draggin' ass in the office thought to spend some time looking at the dumb photocopies McNulty made and then promptly ignored. He probably did it out of boredom.
posted by carsonb at 7:54 PM on June 17, 2014


I think Prez made those photocopies himself didn't he?

It's more like (and I'm extrapolating from later on in his arc a bit for this, but not in a spoilery way I hope) he went into being a cop because it was expected of him (possibly pressure from his father in law etc) and met the likes of Herc and Carver, policing the western district way and so was fronting it. But it was never his style, which is why he was such a screw up (c.f. the shooting the wall incident). As soon as he's confined to a desk he gets down to what he's really good at. He likes puzzles, he's actually a nice thoughtful guy, he just never had the chance to be what he should be in Baltimore PD.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:23 AM on June 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Prez photocopied the phone himself to work on deciphering the code.
posted by Bugbread at 3:56 AM on June 18, 2014


As soon as he's confined to a desk he gets down to what he's really good at. He likes puzzles, he's actually a nice thoughtful guy, he just never had the chance to be what he should be in Baltimore PD.

Prez spent his whole life slotted into being a street cop, and he was always terrible at it, so everyone thought he was a stupid asshole. But he's not stupid, he was just stuck doing something he had no aptitude for. The character who leads the shows most tragic season (S4), all about people who are condemned to the life they're born into, is one of the only people in the show who gets to escape that trap.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2014


I don't think this is ever stated outright on the show, but I've always kinda speculated that Prez went to college, where he a) majored in something that did not lead directly to getting a job and b) met and married Valchek's daughter. Then, shortly afterward, Valchek got him on the force.

Like I say, I don't think this is ever stated on the show--it's just the backstory I imagined for the character.
posted by box at 12:09 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or I could be a little less cynical about those who benefit solely from nepotism and say that he's finally found his place there in the basement, riding a desk.

Man, do not be giving Prez a bad time. Or at least wait until you see his character arc get fully developed, which is like all the way through season 4.

Prez is similar to D'Angelo in some ways - both in a game that they aren't really comfortable with. This episode is Prez starting to find a way to play that fits with who he is.
posted by nubs at 2:18 PM on June 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of wondering what did Prez exactly owe Valchek to stay in Baltimore PD for so long. When we meet him, he's clearly miserable, bad at his job, and shows some anger/bitterness when he assaults the kid. I don't know, maybe he was so deep, he couldn't really see any way to change until the incident at the towers.
posted by FJT at 2:21 PM on June 18, 2014


I think it's a case of inertia, rather than him owing Valchek anything. Valchek got him the job, he's married to Valchek's daughter, and there's no real other opportunities for him - at least, that he's seeing.
posted by nubs at 3:55 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was wondering about Prez's back story myself, but I think box has the most likely version.

And from that perspective, if he stops being a cop, what's he going to do? Unless it's something better / more prestigious, like being a doctor or a priest or sitting on City Council, Valchek will see it as leaving the police, Baltimore's Finest, and rejecting him. How awkward would Thanksgiving be that year? Valchek isn't really a "live and let live" guy, and he's already disappointed in the loser his daughter married.

On a more meta note, I'm almost through my third full viewing, so it's no skin off my nose, but I would tend to think that saying characters will be around for several seasons (or not) is something of a spoiler, since not everyone makes it that long.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:52 PM on June 18, 2014


I think Prez is locked into being a cop (however he got there) by being Valcheck's SIL. And he's locked in good as shown by him shooting two clips into own car, making a false report and then sticking with it until forced to cop to it. Prez is obviously a man desperately searching for a way to get himself out of the destiny chosen for him by others. Even him asking out of casualty section supports this as casualty is screw up proof.

In the foreshadowing column Prez's puzzle solving hobby is shown in ep 4 where we see him doing word search puzzles while cooling his heels in the office.

Bubbles is once again shown to be very street savvy spotting Omar's van by the roof racks.

Landsman gets the score making the connection (by fluke) between the task force and one of his open murders. And then shows he just cares about his clearances.
posted by Mitheral at 2:20 AM on August 1, 2014


I think for the first time McNulty doesn't end the show drinking. He ends it in his kids' empty bedroom, which is even sadder. Each episode so far seemed to end with a progressively more pathetic insight into McNulty's private life.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:21 PM on January 10


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