The Wire: Slapstick
January 27, 2015 12:33 PM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

"...while you're waiting for moments that never come." -Freamon

After last weeks showdown between the two, Avon and Stringer seem to be back working least until the meeting with Brianna reveals there's still tension. "I ain't had shit to do with it."

Meanwhile, the Barksdale crew takes a shot at Omar on a Sunday morning, which leads to Omar swearing vengeance.

The Guardian Wire Re-Up (contains spoilers):
This shooting is a rather baroque outrage, and stretches the credibility of The Wire's gripping themes of honour and respect almost to breaking point. Slim Charles yells: "I'm standing holding a torn-up church crown of a bona fide coloured lady" as a funeral service echoes behind him, while Omar himself seems to believe he could safely take his grandma to church every month because "ain't nobody in this city that low down to disrespect a Sunday morning". It's entertaining, but none of it really rings true.
A murder happens in Hamsterdam, resulting in Carver trying to help with keeping Hamsterdam's secret and Herc dropping a dime to the media.

The unit gets up on the wires (helped by Bernard's more lackadaisical approach to buying cell phones, and Bub's undercover buy) and a video camera to watch Stringer.

Cutty deals with the red tape of setting up his gym. Daniels and Pearlman deal with red tape at the cell phone company. McNulty starts thinking about what might be next, prompted by conversations with Lester, Mike, a photograph on a fridge, and a bad date.

Interesting to compare: Last episode Avon told Stringer he might not be tough enough, and Stringer talked about having D killed in response. In this episode McNulty has his little talk about "natural police" and "deskmen" that leaves Prez feeling like he has something to prove (at least that's how I interpret his body language during that scene.)

Sepinwall's recap:
We know Prez. We like Prez. We've seen how he's blossomed as Lester's pupil, and we want to think the best of him. But we know that no one on this show is all good or all bad. (Well, maybe Marlo's all bad, but he's at least a product of his environment.) Nothing on "The Wire" is black or white, least of all a messy shooting involving two cops of different races. Did Prez shoot because the guy was black? We don't know, his friends don't know, and he'll never know, and that's one hell of a burden to carry on top of the larger issue that a good man is dead because of him.
posted by nubs (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This marks the end of Prez' police career, but that's probably for the best. He simply wasn't cut out for police work, at least on the street work anyway. It's a sad moment, but for once the show will actually let us keep tracking Prez: often character's just get bad ends in the Wire and that's all we get. Prez is one of those characters who actually ends up doing alright.

Carver here really shows loyalty, making a misguided attempt to commit a major miscarriage of justice to try to save Hamsterdam. In the context, while Herc comes across as a bad guy, maybe he is right in calling the Sun. After all, this thing was never going to stay secret forever. One theme I think the show hits us with is that while individuals can make a difference, ultimately it's really not going to make a difference to the grand scheme of things. Sure, Hamsterdam is helping, but the difference is really only made if society as a whole decides to restructure itself.

We see a similar thing with Stringer attempting to make the drug trade less violent: as long as some individuals such as Marlo or Avon want to keep on fighting, then it will never work, and the war continues.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:07 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Omg I can't believe no one mentioned Brother Mouzane!
posted by miss-lapin at 6:15 PM on June 10, 2017

Prez shooting Waggoner is devastating. And the show has to pull a real trick here, by never having us meet Waggoner while he's alive, thus leaving him even more abstracted than the kid who shot the other kid inside Hamsterdam, so as to keep the focus on the fallout for the white cop rather than the black cop he killed and trusting us to trust the show about where it's going with that. It would have been very easy to tie Waggoner into any of the many ongoing, messy stories going on this season - particularly this season, which is all over the place and in which the violence is a much more constant backdrop than in the first two - so as to have the impact of his loss hit even harder. But by sticking with Prez and the MCU's reactions during the fallout, we get to recognize that Prez, a white guy whom we've mostly seen being very laid-back and excited about the desk-work, protected and brought along by Daniels, mentored by Freamon, and in this season working alongside Caroline, still probably harbors some latent racism that he needs to - and importantly, wants to - reckon with.

As a conscious being, as part of his philosophy, in his words and interpersonal relationships, Prez is not racist. But put him on the street and he gets scared and quick to act in dumb ways that belie his fear of "the other." Importantly, he realizes this, even as he's not certain whether Waggoner's race was a factor, that his fear response might have been differently if Waggoner were white, and the tragedy averted. And if we think back on it, he almost certainly wouldn't have pistol-whipped and half-blinded a white kid for sitting on his car and back-talking either.

Crash, of course, ended on a similar beat with the Ryan Philippe cop character, and honestly that was probably the most honest, best part of a well-intentioned, self-congratulatory bad movie. It works much, much better here, because we know Prez better, because we don't see exactly how the scene plays out and are left to put together the pieces in our head, much as Prez is having to after the fact, and because the situation is ambiguous enough that the officers that know him - including black officers like Daniels - want to alleviate his guilt on the racism aspect of the tragedy, but Prez won't allow that for himself.

Is it too much that Prez's fortune is "A friend will reveal himself to you?" Probably not, but it's a step closer to a kind of neon-lights foreshadowing and irony that the show doesn't normally traffic in. I'm just glad that we get to see so much more of him next season, as a truly central character trying to pick up his own pieces and do work that can meaningfully make a positive difference in the wake of this incident.

But damn if this doesn't fit Simon's constant theme of individuals trying to make things better (Prez's personal improvement and growth, aided and nurtured so much by Daniels and Lester) overcome by the overwhelming force of institutions (in this case, the kind of cultural, institutional prejudice which would have Prez shoot before thinking.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2021

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