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Episode #51: “More With Less”

“The bigger the lie, the more they believe.” – Bunk
The Stanfield Organization continues to operate despite a year of surveillance by the Major Crimes Unit. Education budget deficits and ambitions to become Governor leave Mayor Carcetti forced to make funding cuts. His broken promises to the police department destroy morale and cause the closure of the Major Crimes Unit. Detective Jimmy McNulty is sent back to homicide and returns to his old habits of drinking and infidelity. Similar cutbacks in the Baltimore Sun newsroom make it increasingly difficult for city desk editor Gus Haynes to do his job but he is still able to break a major story linking city council president Nerese Campbell and drug dealer Fat-Face Rick. Bubbles is recovering from his heroin addiction but is struggling to come to terms with his role in Sherrod’s death. Michael Lee continues to work as a Stanfield enforcer and provides a home for his younger brother and friend Duquan “Dukie” Weems.

New Characters

Gus Haynes
Scott Templeton
Alma Gutierrez
James Whiting
Thomas Klebanow
Steven Luxenberg
Tim Phelps
Jay Spry
Roger Twigg
Mike Fletcher
Rebecca Corbett
Detective Christeson

5 Responses to “Episode 51: “More With Less””

  1. Baird Kellogg says:

    I have hardly ever had any criticism for The Wire. The show is a work of art. But there was one thing in this episode that I believe they utterly mishandled. The episode would have been far more powerful had McNulty not already returned to his old ways. He made such progress in Season 4 in terms of putting back together his personal life, and then all of a sudden, without us even seeing his downfall, he is back. It seems a little sadistic that I would have liked to see him spiral downwards, but I believe that we as viewers were owed this because it was such a big deal that McNulty was clean. I would personally have showed him having a few beers the first time with the Major crimes gang, expressing his frustration with the budget cuts. And then, once major crimes is cut and McNulty is sent back to homicide, then I think either at the end of episode 1 or in episode 2 would it have been appropriate to show McNulty getting “hammered” again. I believe that his drinking and whoring habit is closely tied to his frustrations and the intensity of his job. Furthermore, I believe that his return to drinking was far too powerful a development for his character to just have it sprung upon us.


    Jason Mittell Reply:

    Two quick replies. First, remember that there was a year between seasons in production & airing (and in the storyworld), so the 1-day turnaround for us might make the shift feel much more abrupt. Second, as we’ll see, the story is really dependent on McNulty starting from a familiar place of drunken disgust for the BPD and self-righteous contempt. It will become important that he’s been stewing in Jamesons for awhile now…


  2. jwmoritz says:

    A small detail in the first episode helps confirm what we already know as viewers and sets the stage for the rest of the season: that Baltimore is a really messed up place. The first glimpse we have of the newspaper industry is Gus and his coworkers smoking and complaining about the irrational hiring policies of the editor. As Gus leaves one of his coworkers rhetorically voices: “I wonder what it is like to work at a real newspaper?” Towards the end of the episode as Daniels is leaving the major crimes headquarters, McNulty states a similar: “Someday I’d like to work for a real police department.” We have seen this frustration with the various systems and departments expressed time and again but linking the failures of the police to the failures of the newspaper is unexplored territory. As the season progresses, I think Norris cynical joke in the first scene of the episode will play out: “Americans are generally pretty stupid. We believe anything we read.”


    Andrew Ostroff Reply:

    In terms of the newspaper, I am interested in considering your comment in relation to a line that comes later in the episode: “Not much news goes national out of Baltimore.” I think it goes without saying that this line foreshadows a blockbuster story to come. The newspaper is undoubtedly suffering, as you suggest in your blog post. Thus, we must ask ourselves whether or not this big story that is yet to come (at least I think it is coming…) is legitimate, or a product of faulty reporting. Of course, we can extend this same idea to the Homicide Unit. Will the big case be pursued properly, or will poor police work get in the way of something substantial?


    Max Monbouquette Reply:

    Thinking back a season or two, I’m not really sure in what episode, but I remember Sidnor saying the same thing, “I wonder what it’s like to work for a real police department.” Hearing this statement several times throughout the series makes me wonder what the goal of repeating it may be? Is it as simple as trying to drive home the fact that Baltimore is a really screwed up place as we well know or is it trying to infer that American cities all suffer from the same problems to some extent?
    I guess I interpret it as a way to highlight the emotional stress that such a dysfunctional institution puts on its workers who truly care about doing their job correctly but are unable to and have to see the consequence of that first hand.


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