The Wire “Middle Ground”

Before the opening credits, we see Omar whistling his favored tune of “The Farmer in the Dell” when he is confronted by Brother Mouzone.  The two most feared killers in The Wire meet again.  Mouzone was looking for Omar and came armed.  Omar expected Mouzone to show up sooner or later and is also armed.  At a stand-off where both men are as calm as can be, they get to talking.

By the end of the episode, they’re working together towards a common goal.

This episode, really, has a momentous final few minutes as the gulf between Avon and Stringer has finally grown too big to keep the two childhood friends together any longer.  Both betray the other.  Stringer betrays Avon to Major Colvin to have Avon arrested on a parole violation and as a result send Avon back to jail as Stringer sees Avon’s old ways of street war as doing the organization more harm than good.  As for Avon, pressed by the need to keep his reputation what it is by Brother Mouzone, he gives Stringer up knowing full well his lifelong friend won’t live to see another day once Mouzone finds out where and when Stringer will be.  And that’s with Omar helping.  Both Mouzone and Omar take Stringer down in a tense final scene.

And while there are other things going on this episode, something struck me while I was watching it.  See, The Wire does something it doesn’t normally do when it appears to actually get on a soapbox and say the War on Drugs is supremely messed up.  Since learning about Colvin’s experiment, the mayor has been debating what to do, and even his staffers aren’t sure when to shut the whole thing down.  Heck, one or two (one played by a former Baltimore mayor who is for legalizing drugs) even argue letting it stay put.  The only thing Burrell can figure out is when it all goes down, he’s going to be blamed for what Colvin did.  The only thing to do is sic another city politician on the problem, someone who could block the mayor.  As such Burrell calls Carcetti, and Colvin gives Carcetti the tour of his district, showing how much real police work is going on when the cops don’t have to just chase after drug dealers.  And that includes showing Carcetti Hamsterdam itself, but Colvin can see Carcetti wants something more than he’s showing.

But the bottom line seems to be Colvin may have had a good idea there all along.  Crime is down, the addicts and dealers are confined to a small couple blocks, and the trust the neighborhood has for the police seems to be growing.  The only thing that could ruin Hamsterdam, as presented by the show, is politicians looking to cover their own asses.  The Wire doesn’t have a character get up and lecture the audience about the possible benefits of legalization.  They show it.  It’s not the most subtle thing ever done, but I’d say its remarkably effective.

And since next episode is the season finale, that’s when the unraveling will happen.


Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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