The Wire Series 4 so far, on FX

In case you think that this series of the Wire is straying a bit from the central strands of Wire, here’s your half-time peptalk (a couple of episodes too soon, granted.) If you are getting a bit bored with the politics, I’d have to agree. The election has been dragged out too long, with the same (albeit crucial) points about the corruption being made too often, for my taste. I suppose it’s important, in terms of the overall meaning of the series. I agree with the points, I think it’s very well done. I’m not really complaining….. It’s just that the nature of American politics is both too familiar to us from many other films and tv series and, to be honest, a little boring if you’re not a Yank.

The four lads are the central focus throughout this series and they’ll continue to be so. The first programmes should have already established their characters but there are some surprises in the way they develop, although the clues to where they are going are pretty deftly placed already (with the benefit of whatever the opposite of hindsight is, given I’ve already seen the rest of the series.)

Other strands worth paying attention to, because of how they’ll develop include Marlo’s setting up of Omar; Rawls’ shameless doubledealing with Carcetti and the Mayor; Bubs getting battered because of his nephew’s involvement with the corners; the exposure of the impact of race in the political system, exemplified by the white cop who is increasingly adopting the language of the corner and who is actively campaigning for the Mayor, (largely because his luck in catching the mayor in flagrante has got him made sergeant); the ineptly hidden camera, which will have repercussions for the same cop; the kid who breaks into Prez’s car when he locks his keys inside..

Extra-good things in tonight’s episode were Naimond’s visit to his dad in jail. The conversations between Naimond, his mother and his father were brilliant. His dad expresses the male “soldier” values that he is convincing Naimond underpin the street trade. Naimond listens avidly, trying to learn the male role, both impressed and fearful that he won’t be able to live up to his father’s expectations. The fact that these values are demented propaganda doesn’t occur to any of them. The mother is busy manipulating Naimond to start working for her benefit. She is the most uncompromising advocate of the successful street dealer “soldier” and “family” values, being in the advantaged position of profiting from them without putting herself at any risk. This stuff is just brilliant, so subtly written, with great depth so well conveyed through what appears to be completely natural speech. Of course the writing is brilliant, but the acting is superb as well. (plus the costume design, the sets, and everything else, but one thing at a time here, hey.)

The last crucial bit I have to mention is the kids finding out that the bodies are just dead people not transmuted zombies. The “If animal trapped, call…” message stencilled on the door of the empty building that serve as tombs for Marlo’s enemies has infinite resonance. The whole incident is really subtle. Duquon shows much greater adult understanding of the difference between real bodies and fantasy tales. He introduces the more naive kid to the reality in really gentle way. When the naive lad realises that these are just bodies, he expresses an awareness of the ubiquity of violent death in their surroundings which seems so world-weary, when set against his previous insistence that the people were being transformed into zombies. It’s a big growing-up moment for him, soon to be followed by a very adult realisation that the killers know that he’s the one they got to trick Lex to going to his death.