Each entry opens some general notes if I have them before I launch into spoilers that might either be for that specific episode or span the entire series. In other words, readers who have not reached the end are urged to return to these posts only when they have.
"The Target" (1x02)
While "The Target" has its admirable qualities, it's not really an enjoyable episode even the second time around. Of course, The Wire unfolds over seasons and accordingly isn't paced to engross viewers on an episode-by-episode basis, especially not in the season opener, but once I saw "The Detail," I got a more concrete sense of why "The Target" didn't hook me.
Read more after the jump.
The reason: We get a little taste of police work in "The Detail." Not that police work is in itself all that absorbing, but the raison d'etre of The Wire -- at least on the law side -- is the surveillance. So when Kima was skulking on a rooftop snapping pictures of Bubbles running his Hat Game on Wee-Bey et al, it brings us that much closer to the wire tap, which is when we get to see the cops at the best of their game (the dealers at their strategic best, too), where we see professionals go up against professionals on a playing field that's, miraculously, unbalanced for both sides.
As another bonus in this police-oriented episode, watching the detail come together was great, even with the two drunks whom nobody remembers now. However, Prez in his unreformed state is kind of horrible -- I'd forgotten that he blinds the project kid in his very first episode. With all the head-busting police brutality early on, I'm quite anxious to see some real policing, though it's interesting to note that Prez parallels D'Angelo in how ill-suited he is to his respective institution (didn't take long for me to say the I-word). Where D overreacted when he shot and killed Poo Blanchard, Prez overreacted when he cold-cocked the kid with the butt of his gun; when threatened aggressively, both guys responded to the situation with excessive, hypertrophied machismo because they were overwhelmed by the rules and exigencies of their institutions (AAAAHH SECRET WORD). And, of course, both Prez and D get rudely ejected from their worlds in the end in phases. Prez is first stripped of his gun and shoved behind a desk where he rehabilitates himself (who knew that he had a brain behind that quick trigger?), then kicked out of the police force altogether. D'Angelo is first sent to prison on a 20-year sentence (and who knew that he'd school a lot of us on the finer points of The Great Gatsby?), then kicked out of life altogether. Neither of them were cut out for the Game, though somehow, because American institutions have completely broken down, they end up playing it anyway.
In more fannish developments, "The Detail" marks Lester's debut.
His only line in the whole episode is "Armoire. Louis Quatorze," but in what I presume is classic The Wire bait and switch, Daniels dismisses him as a "cuddly house cat" (=^_^=) while hyping up Sydnor -- remember how hard Daniels was pushing to get Sydnor on his detail, and that in exchange he was willing to bear the onerous burden of keeping Prez in his unit? And strangely, both Prez and Freamon contribute substantially more to MCU than Sydnor does, and ultimately, they are linked together by the type of work that they do and for gradually rising from the depths to become the brains of the detail.
Finally, let me just offer a silhouette of the Little Tramp or else I might forget to offer the visual evidence for his similarity to Bubbles:
A visual echo, no?
Next episode: Omar comin. And hopefully Lester will have more than three words to say.
Indie rating: Crystal Castles - "Courtship Dating"