Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Episode 3 - The Buys

The most important aspect of this episode is its increasingly dismal treatment of Institutions. The title refers to the constant buying and selling of "favors", "suction", and "owe-you-ones" in order to accomplish real police work within the Department administration. Who you know and how they like you is far more important than how smart or how good at police work you are .

Of course, the title also refers to the "Buys" of drugs made by Sydnor. The police have some success in making hand-to-hands, but as soon as the bosses get word of it, they decide to use the info and raid the projects. This will start the investigation back at ground zero (because they don't have enough info to roll low level players higher than the street), but this is what the bosses want.

"The King Stay the King"

This episode also features Dee teaching Wallace and Bodie how to play chess. It's one of those great moments, like the Chicken Nugget scene, that Wire fans love and remember. Bodie thinks that if the pawn gets to the end, it wins. Dee reminds him- "the King stay the King." The lesson here is that institutions don't run on a system of merit, and it's actually impossible to rise to the very top (only become the Queen, aka Stringer Bell's position).


Like the other early episodes, this one is important for characterization. It introduces Cool Lester Freamon as more than the dude who paints doll furniture. Lester solves the mystery of Barksdale's photo by checking out a friend's boxing gym. He also writes down a phone number in the suspected, but now empty, stash house.This is also the first episode where McNulty learns that Kima is a lesbian. There have been many who lauded Simon for including more than a token homosexual character, and I have to agree that Simon does a good job of including the issue of homosexuality without highlighting it artificially.

Finally, Simon introduces another homosexual character in this episode. Omar and his crew check out the low rises and are not impressed. They later rob the stash house (and blow off a knee cap just for good measure) again proving that Dee is not a real gangster like Wee Bey. The introduction of Omar is not overly flashy, but he would become such an important and fascinating character that it's noteworthy.


This episode is directed by a different director, Peter Medak. Medak is not a famous director, and it seems he defers to Simon's style without too much of his own touch (I'm sure its there, I just couldn't recognize the similarities between The Wire and Zorro: The Gay Blade. The hand-held buy scenes are some of my favorite, visually. You know... that "verite" style. Most of the scenes in the low rises just look beautiful for a reason I can't put into words. Very open, yet poverty is so evident. The orange couch is quite a throne on which D'Angelo sits. I also like how Simon juxtaposes McNulty and the drug crew at the late moments of the night. Simon shows that The Wire is about more than the actual game of cat and mouse between the two, or the business of the drug war (Stringer Bell: "This shit is forever, Dee"), but about how we live together in cities. More tomorrow.

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