So this is the episode where Carcetti finally manages to rid himself of Burrell. I guess we all kinda saw that coming. It's also the episode where Marlo rids himself of Proposition Joe -- and in a much more definitive manner than Burrell's departure, too. Yeah, didn't see that one coming, but I live a solitary life, where spoilers bounce off my Cone of Silence like pigeons off glass windows.
First, Burrell: Carcetti carries through on last episode's threat to shit-can the police commissioner, after securing the compliance of the all-powerful ministers through favors, promises, and outright kickbacks. Burrell does not take news of his impending turfing well, threatening to take down the fast-tracked-for-promotion Daniels with him (something about Daniels's old unit in the Eastern District skimming money off drug investigations, much to Daniels's personal profit). But after Nerese Campbell gives him a talking-to -- Carcetti bought her off as well -- and tells him there's probably a cushy corner office job in D.C. waiting for him if he doesn't kick up a fuss, Burrell goes quietly. Daniels ascends to the deputy of operations post. And your new police commissioner is Bill Rawls. Tremble in fear, evil-doers of Baltimore.
Actually, the evil-doers are probably trembling because of two other developments: Omar's return and Marlo's attempt to consolidate power. The former is back in Charm City to avenge last episode's murder of Butchie, and -- after knocking Slim Charles over the head -- he quickly determines that this was a Marlo-planned operation. Vengeance is sworn, with Omar deciding to pick off Marlo's lieutenants one by one until Marlo shows himself. Nice knowing you, Monk, Snoop, Chris, et al. As for Marlo, he insinuates himself with Spiros and The Greek, whispers sweet nothings into Cheese's ear, and -- having lined himself up both a supplier and an indebted insider -- shows up at Prop Joe's house to usher him into early retirement. Yeah, Prop Joe's dead and the witty repartee at the New Day Co-op will be the lesser for it.
In other news, that fuck-knuckle of a cop Colicchio blows his stack when Michael's crew makes him look foolish, and he takes it out on a civilian who happens to be a schoolteacher. Carver tries to give him an out, but when Colicchio refuses to even fake remorse, Carver writes him up for using excessive force and conduct unbecoming an officer. Why? Because, as he explains to a strangely receptive Herc at the end of the episode, that business with Randy in Season Four convinced Carver that everything they do as police officers matters.
As if to offer a stark counterpoint, McNulty and Freamon continue in their ill-advised scheme to fake the existence of a serial killer in order to free up more money/manpower for the department. Yeah, someone's out of control here, but it isn't a made-up serial killer. Beadie finally calls McNulty on his crap -- "I've been nominated for an Academy Award, motherfucker! You show me some respect!" -- but it isn't long before he and Freamon are out faking up a crime scene involving another homeless dude who passed away under less-than-suspicious circumstances.
Meanwhile, at the Baltimore Sun, things happen that I am nearly too bored to chronicle. But hey -- we're all professionals here, so here goes: Templeton interviews for a job at the Washington Post, but since they're not in the market for a fabulist, they pass, and he's stuck in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. Lucky them. Lucky us. Oh, and the Sun staff tries to cover both the Burrell sacking and Clay Davis's surprise appearance before the grand jury with a diminished staff, which provides Gus another chance to sermonize about the state of newspaperin' and gives Klebanow a chance to be act all weasely. You know...I'm starting to get the impression that David Simon's time at the Baltimore Sun did not end happily. Anybody read anything on that? Anything at all?
So, to sum up: Proposition Joe, shot in the head at the order of Marlo. I find myself far more melancholy about this turn of events than I really ought to be.
We begin on a typical day in the Western District, which is to say, things looks just as stark and shitty as ever. The corner kids -- Michael's crew, in this case -- are massed on the corner waiting to sell their wares; the cops -- Colicchio and some unnamed partner who I'm willing to bet is at least eight times smarter than Colicchio -- are watching them. At this point, young Kenard strolls up with a paper sack and stashes it, quite brazenly and clumsily, under a stoop. Like many viewers at home, Michael does a double-take at this sloppiness. "Kenard just fucking with them, man," one of the crew members says to Michael. Unfortunately, Colicchio and his lil' buddy can't hear this bit of dialogue. They just see some kid farting around with what looks to be a sackful of drugs in plain sight and can't help feeling that they are being challenged in some way; it never occurs to either that they are, perhaps, being baited. Colicchio revs up the car, swoops down on the corner, and leaps out, ready to dispense swift, rage-fueled justice.
A dissolve shot later, and Colicchio has each member of Michael's crew sitting on the curb with his hands behind his back, while a waiting police van blocks traffic. Michael protests that he was just sitting there, reading a magazine. Colicchio scoffs at this obvious lie: "Watching your crew work a ground stash, you mean?" he says triumphantly, reaching into the paper sack left by Kenard. Uh, no -- not unless Marlo's gang has given up the lucrative drug trade in order to traffic in the equally valuable though less glamorous sale of poo. Yes, Colicchio pulls back his hand from the back to reveal a whole fistful of the brown stuff, rendered in glorious Technicolor on my high-def TV. Some of us are just sitting down to dinner when we watch this show, you know. Would you care to guess how Colicchio reacts to this sleight and the gales of laughter from Michael's crew? Unless your answer was "like a total asshole," please stop reading this recap right now and resume your rigorous studies of The Wire canon so that you do not embarrass yourself in the future. Colicchio rubs his shit-covered hands on Kenard's shirt and vows to arrest every single member of Michael's crew anyhow for...well, assault with a deadly doo-doo isn't actually a crime, now is it? Well, truancy, then. One of the older crew members protests that he's a little old to be a truant and butchers the pronunciation of Colicchio's name as part of the bargain -- Colicchio corrects him by banging his head into the police van. A simple "Colicchio like the guy on Top Chef" would have been more than sufficient,dude.