June 16, 2024

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The Wire “The Pager”

Season One, Episode Five

Omar has a reputation in the neighborhood.  He can strike terror in the hearts of the dealers he’s robbing just by whistling “The Farmer in the Dell” as he walks down the street.  And he’s smart enough to know the dealers he’s chasing will run away right into the ambush he set up beforehand.  So, he’s smart and scary.

Forget Robin Hood.  Omar’s just about Batman.

This episode was actually pretty good in showcasing the mysterious and paranoid Avon Barksdale.  Avon knows people are always looking for him.  As a result, he works hard to make sure he’s never seen.  He has no phone.  He has his hideouts wired with cameras he makes sure never sees his face.  The college girl he had D’Angello take out was threatening to tell people what Avon was up to.  Bunk and McNulty get an earful when they interview the dead girl’s friend.  Avon is a lot less mysterious than he used to be.

And while the detail does get permission to copy D’Angelo’s pager, the information they’re getting is just about useless.  That is until someone cracks the code.  Who?  Prez, the screw-up.  Prez might be terrible on the streets, but he’s not stupid, he’s good at puzzles, and he’s just made what he’s done worthwhile.  Like Lester, maybe he just needed to be given the right task.

Of course, not everyone does better.  Herc and Carver do manage to grab the escaped Bodie, but the interrogation goes poorly when Bodie immediately recognizes Good Cop/Bad Cop.  He even almost hustles Carver at pool while they guys wait for the juvenile processor to show up.  Oh, and there is still the sight of McNulty trying to put together an Ikea bed late at night while possibly drunk.  His kids are supposed to be coming over.  We never see them in this episode.

Among other things, McNulty and Greggs spot Omar’s van and decide to stake him out to see if he’ll flip on Avon.  After a few days, Omar comes out with his boyfriend and leads the two away…but he knew they were there and just wants to talk.  Omar won’t snitch.

Then again, two of D’Anegelo’s boys, one of whom is that really young Michael B. Jordan, spots the boyfriend later and makes some calls.  That guy probably isn’t going to be seen again any time soon.  This comes after D’Angello enacts a plan of Stringer’s to figure out who, if anyone, is a traitor to the organization.  As good as the cops are here, we see the dealers can be just as smart in their own way.

On a final note, why is Avon so paranoid?  He has a brother in a nursing home.  The brother is hard to visit.  Why?  He was shot in the head and didn’t die.  The guy’s a vegetable.  Avon uses him as a reminder of the cost of even one mistake.  He takes D’Angello there to tell him that.  I think the lesson sunk in.