So it's been more than a year since we caught up with our good friends at The Wire. And how are things going in the fair city of Baltimore?
Pretty much the same as always, only far, far worse. Thanks for asking.
Let's start off with the police force, which, thanks to the massive school budget crisis in Baltimore, is not actually getting paid for overtime. Nor has the pay raise that Mayor Carcetti promised everyone way back when ever materialized. In the Western District , it's all Carver -- now the sergeant in charge -- can do to quell a mutiny; he cannot, however, stop the officers from punching each other. For the Major Case Unit, this just means hours upon hours of unpaid overtime as they've spent the past year keeping a close watch on Marlo Stanfield to little avail.
As for City Hall, Carcetti has an entire city to run and no money to run it. If you think he's regretting telling the governor in Season Four to go piss up a rope instead of accepting that bailout money -- and Lord, Norman Wilson sure does regret it -- think again. Because when the U.S. Attorney shows up with an offer to help the city investigate all those dead bodies that turned up last season if Carcetti will just make a federal case out of the Clay Davis corruption investigation, Carcetti again burns down bridges he has yet to even cross. Looks like more cutbacks for the city, then.
Speaking of cutbacks, let's head over to the Baltimore Sun, where we can meet a whole new cast of characters. Things are rough over at the newspaper, too, thanks to tighter budgets and reduced staffing. And yet, the professionals on the paper struggle on lead by saintly city desk editor Gus Haynes (Clark Johnson) who rallies his rag-tag crew to come up with front-page-worthy stories day after soul-crushing day. If the previous seasons of The Wire are anything to go by, look for Gus to get chewed up and spit out by the system -- no doubt thanks to the craven behavior of the paper's managing editor, who is so transparently villainous, even after one brief scene, I can only imagine the horrific ways in which the person he's based on must have wronged David Simon.
You'll be happy to know that these grim times do not extend to Marlo, who is enjoying a thriving drug trade -- so much so that he seems to be outgrowing Prop Joe's co-op (perhaps with the help of that nice Ukrainian murderer we met in Season Two). And Michael is doing well too, developing a promising career running one of Marlo's corners. And that's just really...depressing, actually.
By the end of the episode, cutbacks have gotten so bad that the Major Case Unit is disbanded and scattered to the four winds, even after Daniels personally appeals to the mayor. Freamon and Sydnor are kept on to aid in the Clay Davis investigation. Dozerman is sent off to the tactical unit. And Kima and McNulty are returned to Homicide, much to the once-again drunken, womanizing latter's great dismay.
So to sum up: it is not a new day in Baltimore. Or as Kima so wisely observes, "Every day, the same shit."
Previously on The Wire... Oh come on. You don't really expect me to summarize all that, do you? I mean, you probably have it all committed to memory. You have to. Otherwise, how the hell do you expect to make heads or tails of what's going on? Okay. Fine. I'll give it a shot...
Okay, so after this guy gets acquitted on murder charges, the police are pressured into forming a unit dedicated to an investigation of the Barksdale drug-trafficking empire, which is also being pestered by a rogue criminal named Omar, and the violence escalates, and the police get more involved, and eventually Kima gets wounded, so the police totally freak out over that, and eventually, D'Angelo Barksdale gets arrested on a drug charge, and just as he's about to flip on Avon and Stringer Bell, he's convinced to be a good soldier and go to jail, while Avon gets arrested on a lesser charge, and the officers of the Major Case Unit are made to pay for their insolence. [GASP!] So then, there are these dockworkers -- yeah, yeah, bear with me here -- and one of them runs afoul of this real dick of a police major, so the Major Case Unit is reassembled to investigate the union, which, it turns out, is involved in a smuggling ring that includes Eastern Europeans and captures the FBI's attention, and while this is happening, D'Angelo gets murdered in prison by order of Stringer Bell, who's busy negotiating deals with Proposition Joe to give up territory in exchange for more drugs, but Avon doesn't know this, so he brings in an enforcer named Brother Mouzone, whom Stringer tries to dispatch by telling Omar that Mouzone killed his lover -- I mentioned that Omar was gay, right? Okay, now I have -- and the whole plot goes awry, as does the smuggling ring when it's busted up, though the head villains more or less escape untouched. [Pant... pant... pant...] And then Avon gets out of prison, but he still wants to be a gangster, while Stringer wants to insulate himself from the day-to-day operations, and there's this tremendous tension between the two of them, which is nothing like the tension in the police force, which is under pressure to reduce crime stats, so Major Colvin decides to create legalized-drug zones, and it sort of works for a while, but then it doesn't, and Major Colvin is fired, and also Stringer and Avon finally have their falling out and -- HOLY CRAP! THEY SHOT STRINGER BELL! But that doesn't stop the Major Case Unit from finally getting its hands on Avon, and back to jail he goes, while a new drug-dealing impresario, Marlo Stanfield, grows in stature, and another guy, Tommy Carcetti, decides he wants to be mayor... Okay, almost there... and he gets his wish, only the city turns out to be in pretty dire straits, so Carcetti decides he's going to tackle the crime rate by making Cedric Daniels the police chief, and oh, oh, oh, the schools -- they're not doing very well, either, and some corner kids make their way through the eighth grade, and it doesn't seem to end very well for any of them, except for the kid that Major Colvin ends up adopting (long story), with a couple of the kids winding up under the influence of Marlo, who's been stashing the bodies of his enemies in vacant buildings, thereby avoiding police detection until he doesn't, so the Major Case Unit turns its attention to him, while Carcetti realizes that the schools face a massive budget deficit. Which pretty much brings us to where we are today.