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You might be interested in the blog series of “What Real Thugs Think of The Wire,” featuring gangsters watching the show: episode onetwo, and three of this season.

Episode #52: “Unconfirmed Reports”

“This ain’t Aruba, bitch.” – Bunk
Reporter Scott Templeton submits an unverifiable story about a boy attending the opening day of the Baltimore Orioles baseball season. Haynes is dubious but is forced to run the story by his senior editors. The withdrawal of the police investigation emboldens Marlo Stanfield and he orders several murders and tries to contact international drug trafficking organization “The Greeks”. Detective Lester Freamon continues to observe Stanfield even though he has been assigned to the Clay Davis corruption case. Bubbles takes a job at a soup kitchen. McNulty becomes increasingly frustrated in the underfunded homicide unit and takes the drastic step of faking a homicide with the intention of drawing funds to the department by creating the illusion of a serial killer.

Deceased:

June Bug

Episode #53: “Not For Attribution”

“They’re dead where it doesn’t count.” – Fletcher
Stanfield turns to “Proposition Joe” Stewart for help cleaning and laundering money while Stewart remains unaware that Stanfield is trying to usurp his connection to The Greeks. Stanfield also places a bounty on information leading him to Omar Little. Cheese gives Stanfield the whereabout’s of Omar’s advisor Butchie. Chris Partlow and Snoop torture and kill Butchie to lure Omar from retirement. Stanislaus Valchek leaks unmodified statistics from the police department to Carcetti and tells him that commissioner Ervin Burrell is falsifying the numbers giving Carcetti the political ammunition he needs to fire Burrell. Carcetti leaks a story heralding Cedric Daniels as a potential replacement. Daniels is worried that Burrell will reveal his shady past after Templeton invents a quote implicating Daniels in Burrell’s departure. McNulty continues to work on his serial killer plan despite warnings from his partner Bunk Moreland. Bunk enlists Freamon to talk to McNulty but is dumbfounded when Freamon offers to help with the plan.

Deceased:

Butchie

9 Responses to “Episodes 52 and 53: “Unconfirmed Reports” and “Not For Attribution””

  1. Chris Anderson says:

    Omar isn’t quite as untouchable as he may have thought he was, despite being outside the system. Brandon was killed; one of the girls he worked with, too; he was framed for murder; his grandmother shot at; and Butchie tortured and shot in the head. It seems that his cool has been shaken quite a bit, lately. And no matter how far he’s gone, he’s still attached to Baltimore, his past actions bringing present ramifications.

    McNulty and Scott seem to be doing the same thing, cheating to get ahead. Whether or not we view McNulty’s actions as more admirable–some of us have seen his actions as mere egotism–is open to question, but I like McNulty and think Scott is a weasel. Regardless of their characters, I see them both bringing down their respective institutions. The newspaper will likely have something with Daniels, but Scott’s fake quotes (or at least we assume) could discredit the investigation. The same goes for McNulty. Both seem headed for a fall, unless the point the show wants to make is that forgery goes unnoticed and cheating is a good way to get ahead in a bureaucracy.

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  2. Benjamin Meader says:

    McNulty must be a very sick man. I think an interesting parallel could be drawn between McNulty and Ahab in the way they are both possessed by some monomaniacal obsession. McNulty’s white whale might be whoever the top gangster is at the time. I do appreciate the “making a serial-killer” plot line a lot more when thinking about it in terms of illusion and storytelling. It is important to draw the parallels with the newspaper. Because the Wire creates such a convincing world of naturalism, this plot device is hard to swallow—but I think that ultimately it will be worthwhile.

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  3. Addison DiSesa says:

    It is interesting to me that for all of McNulty’s policing prowess, he of all people seems the most caught up in the war on drugs. He demonstrates exceptional fortitude, both legally and illegally, and never accepts “no” for an answer when it comes to chasing a major drug distributor. Despite all of his wisdom, however, he seems to have overlooked a reality that we in this class diagnosed by the end of the first season: the war on drugs, as we know it, is not viable. At once chasing Stringer Bell and Marlo Stanfield, McNulty ignores his better judgment that should tell him: “no matter what we do, there will always be drug lords.” Perhaps my view is overly pessimistic, but at this point, I feel entitled to voice my frustration with McNulty on this blog. He continually finds himself at loggerheads with the police administration and never stops to evaluate the processes that he fights so hard to see through. When Landsman or another higher-up tells McNulty that he is no longer responsible for pursuing a case or an H-file, McNulty never once considers the potential benefits of moving on. I am not suggesting that McNulty is always or even most of the time in the wrong, but it is worth discussing the merits of many of his cases, especially his latest escapade, which is sure to cost the BPD and the City of Baltimore thousands of dollars for no immediate benefit.

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  4. Andrew Ostroff says:

    Walon, in the early minutes of “Unconfirmed Reports,” shortly after the credits, says to Bubbles: “In between all the jokes, there is a lot of truth to be spoken.” I think this line is especially fitting because, in essence, this is exactly what The Wire aims to accomplish. Nobody can deny the fact that viewers laugh a lot while watching this show, perhaps because the subject matter is, at times, particularly difficult to stomach. Still, we relish in the comedy that The Wire puts forth—the parking lot scene with McNulty, Lester and Fitzhugh comes to mind in this episode, for example.

    “Unconfirmed Reports” and “Not For Attribution” struck a chord, for sure; I feel as though we all tolerated McNulty until now. That said, my being able to laugh during these episodes, without altering my frustrations with McNulty (and others) is extremely important. If anything, it adds to the realism of The Wire because in life, we often deal with difficulties by means of humor. So despite McNulty’s display of disrespect, Butch’s awful murder, and Scott’s fake quotes in The Baltimore Sun, we can, for the time being, appreciate the comedic relief that stems from an off-color joke, a slight facial expression, or an uneven match with a flat tire.

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  5. Tom Ladeau says:

    Andrew makes a good point; episode 52 “unconfirmed reports” was both one of the most frustrating and funniest episodes we have seen yet. As Andrew suggested, the introduction featuring Bubbles was a great way to begin such an episode. The humon in this episode is perhaps amplified by the cringing that happens around it as a result of McNulty’s increasingly sickening and questionable practices. It also seems to help stylistically to elevate the show past realism and bring it into a more fictional narrative mode. This fictional mode fits with McNulty’s scheme and Freamon’s interest in it, as both seem like unrealistic plot lines. The plot line makes more sense when thought of as a narrative device or “what if?” sort of situation. The humor adds to the feeling of crazyness/helplessness that arises out of this episode.

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  6. Tom Ladeau says:

    On another note, I have been pleasantly suprised with the Bubbles plotline in the show so far. He says at the beginning of episode 52 that he has been clean for something like 15 months. In a way, Bubbles’ transition is similarly abrupt to McNulty’s; however, I would say Bubbles is in a more precarious position than McNulty (as far as remaining in one mode or the other). Bubbles is still upset and shaken by Sherrod’s death and he is not totally comfortable in his new world without hard drugs. In episode 52 he says several times, “I used to love to get high,” as if reminiscing on a long lost pasttime. He is struggling to deal with the pain he feels about Sherrod and perhaps longing for the feeling of being high instead of the pain. At the same time he feels guilt related to drug use, which perhaps helps him stay clean.
    McNulty, however seems firmly planted in his realm of self destructive behavior. He is on his way to the bottom. Hopefully, what Walon said about addictics proves true for McNulty, that you have to reach the bottom before you can get clean.

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  7. Baird Kellogg says:

    I agree that Bubbles’ plight, although not receiving much screen time, is one of the best done parts of Season 5. Another storyline that I find extremely well done is Michael’s story. He is taking part in these horrible murders with Chris and Snoop, yet we know that in his other life, with Bug and Dookie, he is a sweet and loyal person. Unfortunately he is slipping more and more into Chris’ world.

    My favorite scene of this season was when Michael took Dookie and Chris to Six Flags. Michael was disgusted with home invasion murder he took part in and needed to do something to clear his head. While they all had a lot of fun at Six Flags, this scene was difficult to watch because it was so tragic. We saw in this scene the childhood that the boys were missing out on, everything the corner had taken away from them. Michael and Dookie are no longer the innocent ‘boys of sumer’ that we first saw in Episode 5, trying to catch birds and throw pee balloons at rival kids. To see their excitement of riding the rollercoasters and from their innocent interactions with the girl they meet was heart-wrenching. This is what should be a commonplace event in their lives, but it is only ephemeral moments of the happiness of being a kid before the corner swallows them back.

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  8. Baird Kellogg says:

    There was another thing about these two episodes that really got me pondering life in the inner-city: the debate between schools and the home environment. The debate was not over which one was better, but which was worse. This first started in the newsroom. The head wanted to do a story placing all the blame on the schools, but Haynes believed that the home life is more to blame. In Season 4 we saw how much of a mess the schools were. Teaching to the test, “jukeing” the stats, and social promotion were not working at all. This episode, however, made it very clear that the home environment shared a lot of the blame. There was the not so coincidental background argument with the mother yelling at her little kid then locking him in the house. Then there is also the little kids who experience the murder of their parents in the home invasion.

    I cannot tell if The Wire is putting the schools less at fault now and blaming the parents or if the show is saying that they are both at grave fault. One thing though that got me thinking though is that in applying for teaching jobs, such places like Teach for America basically want you to believe that the home environment is not to blame for a student’s academic woes. They emphasize that the parents, although not as educated as parents of kids in private and good public schools, are just as caring about their child’s education as any other parent. I guess the way to truly find out is to get out there and teach. My inclination, however, is to side with The Wire. While not every child has totally negligent or drug fiend parents, I believe a bunch of kids in the inner-cities like Baltimore are at a major disadvantage academically because of their home-lives. The households are not conducive academic environments. Furthermore, parents, though not always less caring, are not able to be around as much or provide academic support for their kids.

    While this is what I believe is right, I do not know enough about it and would appreciate any comments.

    Reply

  9. Sofia Zinger says:

    I think one of the most important scenes from this episode is the scene between Sydnor and Lester in the office. They are looking at the bulletin board, as we see people do through the course of the series. Lester is making connections in his head, and Sydnor asks him, “Career case?” Lester hardly hesitates in responding, “Baby, I could die happy.” Lester seems to lay pretty low for a lot of the series, but, when he’s on a good case that he’s intrigued by, he is hooked. For Lester, it’s all about the case solving; what is most important to him is the process of detective work. Unlike McNulty, the result is not as important to him. It’s not the ends, it’s the means, and this scene epitomized this aspect of personality.

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