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Wire Watch: Sympathy for Clay Davis

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SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this post, call your own cell phone from a pay phone and remind yourself to watch The Wire.

Halfway through the season, the press and the cops are getting closer. / HBO: Paul Schiraldi

Apologies in advance: this will be the lamest Wire Watch ever. Owing to the Super Bowl and my frenzied marathon commercial-reviewing session, I didn’t get the chance to re-watch the episode last night as I usually like to do, so this writeup is based on my notes from a couple months ago. But I thought it better to get something up so the rest of you can discuss, and if we waited until I had time to revisit the episode, we’d be well into the next season of Big Love.

Some people love this season; some people don’t like the Sun storyline; some people don’t like the serial-killer storyline. I get a general sense from all camps, though, that season 5 gets better as it goes along. That may be–as we see in this episode–that once the newspaper and cop stories start to merge, the dark-comic possibilities multiply. Scott’s not my favorite character on the show, but there are certain things about reporting uncomfortably right. In particular, the experience of striking out looking for a story–as he did at the Orioles game and here with the homeless–is something pretty much every reporter has been through, and Scott makes it painfully real. And watching him get lured into McNulty’s scheme is like watching the prey on a nature show.

But it’s also that, simply, the street story has kicked into get; in particular, Omar vs. Marlo. (I’m going to be very careful not to spoil anything on that, and those of you watching ahead On Demand, play nice too.) That’s where the heart of the show is, our greatest emotional investment, and whether it’s watching Omar get outgunned, Marlo sum up his new deal with Vondas (“Man overcame his grief”) or Dukie pick up a gun he has no business with, this season has me fully on board right now. In particular, watching Dukie show up at the gym, and Dennis being unable to give him the kind of help he needs, was wrenching. “How do you get from here to the rest of the world?”

But really there’s one reason I wanted to get this Wire Watch written: “Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-iiiiiit!” Did anyone get a stopwatch on that? What was it, like five seconds? It’s been a great curtain call for Clay Davis, but not only for comic relief. Corrupt and shameless as he is, he’s strangely sympathetic. Like Burrell, you can’t help but feel for him as the rest of the crooked system throws him under the bus for convenience’s sake. “You think I’m going to be the scapegoat for the whole damn machine?” Clearly not that easily.

Halfway point: you can get a definite sense on all front of the rollercoaster cresting its last hill ever. Let me know what you think.