The Wire: Lessons   First Watch 
July 2, 2014 3:06 PM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

McNulty uses his children to tail Stringer after a chance encounter in a local market. Greggs and Carver arrest a driver picking up a large amount of cash from the Towers from known gang members, but are forced to return the money when the driver's political connections to Senator Clay Davis are revealed. Daniels discusses his problems following the money trail with his wife Marla.
posted by desjardins (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
"Da-a-amn, Bey, how can you stand that shit with all that hot shit on it?"

"Trick is, not to give a fuck, boy! I got this!"
posted by box at 5:51 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


In an earlier episode Bunk mentioned Verizon, but boy, that logo on the phone booth here really pops. That's the first time I've really noticed the product placement so far. Stinkum mentions getting 20 points on the package, so that's another question answered for me.

Matters of rank at the bottom of the totem pole on both sides:

"Yo Poot, you're the man for an hour!"
"Shit, look at me."

And in the BPD:

"Like there are fucking stripes on his sleeve."

Although, Kima obviously commands more (grudging) respect than Prez with those knuckleheads. Another amusing parallel to me was McNulty's incredulity at Daniels' perceived snitching to brass: "Why would you be fuckin' telling him?"

From the comedy relief department, Sydnor drops some Zen wisdom: "Yo Herc, what if your mother and father never met?"

I know it advances the story and all, but I found myself drifting off during the McNulty/Stringer surveillance scenes. Then again, maybe it's this heat.
posted by Lorin at 6:45 PM on July 2, 2014


Lorin: "That's the first time I've really noticed the product placement so far."

I doubt that was product placement. More like un-product-non-placement.

When I was in university, our campus was used during summer/holidays to film Beverly Hills 90210. If you stayed over the holidays, you'd see the surreal site of the quad being jam-packed with ersatz university students. But something about them seemed...off. Then someone pointed out to me that there were zero logos/designs on their shirts. It was all solid color t-shirts, striped t-shirts, polo shirts, tie-died shirts....but no band shirts, no quirky design shirts. No words.

I think the Verizon logo appearing was just a matter of the fact that phone booths really do have big logos on them, and the show is pretty big on visual realism.
posted by Bugbread at 6:57 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Although, Kima obviously commands more (grudging) respect than Prez with those knuckleheads.

I think if they're grudging about anything it's that she basically backed Prez up. Otherwise, she's their commanding sergeant detective, and they have the sort of respect for her that that entails plus whatever they've got built up from watching her work.
posted by carsonb at 7:07 PM on July 2, 2014


Hmm. I thought for sure that Verizon product placement on The Wire was a thing, but searching around, I can't find anything official about product placement on the show, just assumptions.
posted by Lorin at 7:08 PM on July 2, 2014


Excuse me, she's the 'lead detective' on the detail from narcotics, equivalent to McNulty coming over as lead detective from homicide. Other than that, she's a detective just like Herc and Carver.
posted by carsonb at 7:16 PM on July 2, 2014


Yeah, in "The Detail," Herc does have something similar to say about Kima:

HERC: Yo, Carv. Notice that most of the time it's like Kima thinks she's above us or something? I mean, I don't see any stripes on her fucking sleeve...I don't see that.

You'd think he would be taking this exam more seriously!
posted by Lorin at 7:21 PM on July 2, 2014


I'm not sure it's in this episode, but they specifically mention Verizon a few times when they talk about pulling phone records, so it's definitely product placement.
posted by desjardins at 7:51 PM on July 2, 2014


desjardins: "I'm not sure it's in this episode, but they specifically mention Verizon a few times when they talk about pulling phone records, so it's definitely product placement."

I don't know why that's "definitely" product placement. Product placement doesn't mean using the name, logo, or other identifying information of a brand in a work of art, it means placing it there in return for remuneration or discounts on usage of their products and services. If brand names/logos/etc. appear to an unnatural degree, it's a strong, almost definite, indicator of brand placement. If they appear to a natural degree, then who knows. Brand appearances on the Wire are very natural, so they could be brand placement, and they could not be brand placement, but it's a way way ways away from "definitely".
posted by Bugbread at 8:10 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Poor parenting count by Jimmy going up here, as they tail a known drug lord. Its actually shot in a way that looks fairly safe, although if they had happened upon Avon I don't think the scene would have had that slightly calmer air. We learn that Stringer is taking economics classes, which completely makes sense.

The rank thing is interesting. I think Herc and Carver can tell that Greggs is "natural police" in a way they know on some level they are not. That said, that doesn't mean they don't resent it. Everyone resents Jimmy for similar reasons, although he is also far, far more arrogant with it.

The poor detail can't catch a break here. They find a nice pot of cash, but can't follow that lead, and one of the few gang members they can actually charge gets killed by Omar, who is very happy to do the detail's work for them.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:43 PM on July 2, 2014


The poor detail can't catch a break here. They find a nice pot of cash, but can't follow that lead, and one of the few gang members they can actually charge gets killed by Omar, who is very happy to do the detail's work for them.

That goes back to the idea in earlier episodes -- maybe a defining one for the series -- that the informal networks always beat the formal networks. The detail's wiretapping misses Brandon's murder and the chain of command stymies the investigation time and again, but Jimmy McNulty and Stringer Bell sharing certain lifestyle aspirations and intellectual pride leads to an accidental (and child-endangering) discovery.

Likewise, Omar and Bubbles are part of the social networks in the neighborhoods they canvas or hunt in, which consistently gives them better access to real information than the police. And much of the Barksdale organization's resilience and the detail's moments of effectiveness stem from the informal networks that develop within them.

Of course, those networks are toxic as often as not. D'Angelo can't be anything other than a dealer, a job he's not well-suited to, because he's embedded in a kinship network and a social network that puts him in that role. And the police have the "thin blue line" we saw when Daniels put protecting his men over anything else, something that in the previous episode ensured the destruction of the young man Prez blinded. Being embedded in one informal network denies you the ability to see or even be heard by people in different networks.
posted by kewb at 5:07 AM on July 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Other than possibly losing track of where the kids are I don't see how having his kids tail Stringer is at all child endangering. What's Stringer going to do if he finds out? At most, change up his car.
posted by juiceCake at 9:36 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


If they appear to a natural degree, then who knows. Brand appearances on the Wire are very natural, so they could be brand placement, and they could not be brand placement, but it's a way way ways away from "definitely".

Absolutely. One of my colleagues came into the office after watching the first season, all jazzed up, and made us search through an episode to find a specific near throwaway mention of a specific company; a member of the detail shows up with floorplans for a commercial establishment. One of the detail asks where they got the floorplans from, and the answer is "Costar search". The reason my colleague was so impressed is that our company has used Costar for commercial real estate data (including in Baltimore); they're exactly the correct real-world people to go to. But it's such an obscure niche business there's approximately 0% chance that they would pay for product placement on a small audience HBO show.

Maybe the cars are product placed; I don't really know a lot about cars, so I wouldn't know. The other major national brands I can think of are all alcohol, and given the show's scripts, I'm not sure Jameson's would have paid to be McNulty's tipple of choice.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:50 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stringer Bell Goes To College is my favorite subplot - I'd watch an entire show about him at school. Someone should at least write a Community crossover fanfic where Stringer's in their economics class.
Honestly, I'd also watch an entire show about Stringer doing dishes or reading the newspaper, but that's neither here nor there.
posted by dialetheia at 10:56 AM on July 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


I have no firsthand knowledge whatsoever, but I don't think there's any paid product placement for cars on 'The Wire'--just in the first season, we see police in both Caprices and Crown Vics, and drug people in mostly-SUVs from a variety of manufacturers (it's not a spoiler, I hope, to say that some of the things that show up in later seasons reinforce this opinion (the Internet Movie Car Database, by the way, is a thing)).
posted by box at 1:48 PM on July 3, 2014


The scene after Stinkum gets shot, where there's a rat running across the street in the background is just visually amazing. I wasn't a fan of the slow motion as he was getting shot, though.

Regarding D, he must have known what he was doing when he mentioned Orlando's offer to Stinkum, Weebay + Little Man, right? Or are we supposed to glean that he's a bit clueless about the game? Or, maybe he was just feeling slighted by the fact that Stinkum was getting the new territory and wanted to show off, like he had something going on, too?

Oh, and before the shooting, Stinkum is sitting there, gun in his hand, getting his prints all over it, and then, just before getting out of the car, he puts gloves on? I thought the gloves were to prevent fingerprints. Is this telling us that criminals aren't too bright? They know they're supposed to wear gloves but don't really know why? Or do the gloves serve some other purpose?

Then there's the scene where Bunk cheats on Nadine and then tries to burn his clothes to get rid of "trace evidence." So here's a murder detective, trying to be smart and get away with his "crime," but also not really thinking things through.

Also Stringer's in college while Herc and Carver take their test, McNulty and Stringer meet at the market, the already-mentioned brawling over rank and who gets to tell who what to do in each organization... this episode is just full of parallels between the lives of the cops and the drug dealers.
posted by ngc4486 at 2:07 PM on July 3, 2014


My take on the "Lessons" parallel is not so much between Herc/Carver and Stringer, but between the two detectives looking for a promotion and the print shop boys who've been promoted from the corner into the front. Stringer goes from his econ class to his print shop where he lectures his promoted street thugs about how to front correctly. They sort of take Herc's attitude when it comes to running the print shop: You gotta know the numbers? What the fuck?
posted by carsonb at 2:49 PM on July 3, 2014


ngc4486: "Or do the gloves serve some other purpose?"

Off the top of my head, I think I've read/heard that when you fire a gun you get burnt gunpowder on your hand, so by putting on gloves you would prevent this, meaning if the police brought you in for questioning they wouldn't find powder on your hands indicating having recently fired a gun.

But I suspect it's just a "Stinkum is dumb" thing.
posted by Bugbread at 3:23 PM on July 3, 2014


Homeboy Trouble: "they're exactly the correct real-world people to go to. But it's such an obscure niche business there's approximately 0% chance that they would pay for product placement on a small audience HBO show."

My favorite experience with this so far was actually in this episode. When Omar is talking to the detail, he's wearing this sport shirt with this kinda ugly logo. I wasn't familiar with the brand, "Samos Clothing Company", so I googled it. And here it is.
posted by Bugbread at 3:35 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wasn't a fan of the slow motion as he was getting shot, though.

I've always disliked that effect. It somehow looks cheap, like video tape or something? Not like I'm qualified to judge. But I got curious about how the show was shot, and came across this article about filming The Wire. It was published before the premiere of Season 5 but aside from an episode title or two it's spoiler free.
posted by Lorin at 9:05 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


The low rise pay phone has always been Verizon branded; you see it in at least episode 4 and 5. But it isn't an exclusive thing as the payphone Wallance uses to finger Brandon is not Version.

The power of beatings as a educational motivator was a bit disturbing.

>: "Poor parenting count by Jimmy going up here, as they tail a known drug lord."

I'd totally let my kids do this in a public place (but then I don't live in Baltimore). The wild reaction by McNulty's ex seemed unrealistic to me but maybe it's just a different viewpoint.

>: "Regarding D, he must have known what he was doing when he mentioned Orlando's offer to Stinkum, Weebay + Little Man, right? Or are we supposed to glean that he's a bit clueless about the game?"

I was really torn on this. On one hand who the heck else is D' going to consult with problems. On the other, ya, this is going to hang Orlando out to dry.

>: "Then there's the scene where Bunk cheats on Nadine and then tries to burn his clothes to get rid of "trace evidence." So here's a murder detective, trying to be smart and get away with his "crime," but also not really thinking things through. "

I think it is just highlighting his addiction problem. He's so wasted he is incapable of thinking straight.

>: "Matters of rank at the bottom of the totem pole on both sides:"Yo Poot, you're the man for an hour!" "

D' looked like he was searching for someone else, probably Brodie, and Poo got promoted for being around.

Oh hey look who it is: Mister Crib Cracker. Daniels gets a knife twist in. Then gets his ass chewed for surprising the Deputy Ops. I bet no one was more surprised than Daniels when they reeled in a Senatorial aid.
posted by Mitheral at 6:18 PM on August 4, 2014


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