The Codebreakers

Listen again—Freamon 

One of the great pleasures of re-watching Season One of The Wire is tracking the way David Simon and company portray the parallel evolutions of Freamon and Prez, as they go from useless (possibly destructive) humps, to surprising contributors, to the very brains behind the developing case.

What makes this evolution so convincing is the way it unfolds so slowly, in bits and pieces. It starts with foreshadowing. Freamon silently works on his dollhouse miniatures, and Prez does his word-search puzzles. These hints are so subtle that a first-time viewer either doesn’t notice them, or takes them as evidence of femininity (for Freamon), childishness (for Prez) or detachment from the case (for both). They also contain a buried hint of deeper pockets of talent that have yet to be mined.

The Epigraph of Epigraphs

How do you log that ‘Non-Pertinent’?–Freamon

Season 1, Episode 6, “The Wire,” might be the most essential episode in The Wire. It’s not necessarily the best episode, or the most exciting. In fact, it is relatively slow, with the action primarily revolving around the nuanced politics of the crew and the detail. But it contains several things that are emblematic of the series’ most fundamental qualities. For one, the episode provides our first disturbing look into the home lives of the project children, and the practical and ethical challenges that they face every day. It also presents, in the form of the Rawls/Daniels conflict, a perfect example of the bureaucratic roadblocks to quality police work. The episode also features a circular structure, ending where it began just as the entire series does.

1.2: Sympathy for Herc

By Peter Honig

“It ain’t right…you think it’s right?” —Herc

Last week, I tweeted the following:

“Herc gets hurt twice in “The Detail.” He steps on a nail and gets hit with a bottle. Both well-deserved. ‪#thewiredetails1.2@D_Lombardozzi

An hour or so later, Domenick Lombardozzi wrote the following response: “U fing jakel!”

I wasn’t sure how to take that. It isn’t always the easiest thing to detect tone in short-form digital communications like texts and tweets, so I just assumed he was joking around. But as those fierce eyes stared out at me from his Twitter avatar, I started to fear that I had angered him, and I have seen what an angry Herc is capable of.

1.2: Puppies and Parasites

By Peter Honig

“I owe you, okay?”—Cantrell

Daniels is immediately reluctant to head the newly-formed Barksdale Detail, but it’s not until the opening scenes of “The Detail” that he begins to realize the real scope of his predicament. It’s starts off with the detail’s exile to the basement, but then he sees the parade of humps who Burrell gave him for the case. They appear to be a ragged assortment: two lazy drunks hiding behind seniority, a dull wall-shooting reject, and a mute wallflower absorbed in his own strange trinkets. Daniels asks for more manpower, and he gets the department’s waste (“dead wood,” “garbage”). At this point he realizes that he is being dragged down into the quicksand of departmental politics courtesy of a special force known as “suction.”