There comes a moment while watching this episode, the finale for season one, that the various dealers and such refer to whatever is going on as a game. The cops talk of it that way, too, but seem more inclined to take the game more seriously. There’s a moment near the end, acting as a reverse moment from the opening of the pilot, where Stringer leaves a courtroom, sees McNulty, and rather than talk tough or threaten him, he takes a moment to more or less congratulate McNulty for the good game the two sides played. It seemed to speak of respect on Stringer’s part.
Good moment right there.
The detail is about to be shut down. Daniels, McNulty, and Lester make one last stab at really sticking Avon’s whole operation bad by going to the feds without telling their own superiors. That doesn’t quite work as the feds are only interested in nailing some potentially corrupt politicians. As much as Barksdale and his people and competitors are shooting up West Baltimore, killing folks over drug profits, it doesn’t matter. Get some corrupt politicians and the feds will charge Avon and Stringer, but nothing major and they’d go into Witness Protection or something. No deal there.
There does seem to be a deal going with D’Angelo. Using only a court-appointed public defender, he flips. D’s conscience was always the weak point of the organization. Besides Wallace, both witnesses at his trial, Orlando (with a near-fatality on Greggs), and Omar’s boyfriend, D spills a lot of beans, particularly on Wee Bey. Greggs, awake again, will finger Little Man as one of her attackers, but not Wee Bey since she never saw him. D does finger Wee Bey. Wee Bey, not D and not Bird, killed Avon’s college-age girlfriend. D just drove him there and distracted her while Wee Bey got into position, and D wasn’t aware of anything until it was over. With D’s co-operation, the whole operation can go down. That sort of news makes ASA Pearlman so excited, she’ll jump McNulty’s bones in the police parking garage.
Why would D’Angelo cave? Partly, it was his conscience. Partly, he confesses to feeling suffocated as part of the crime family, when he had no options for anything else in life. Give him a chance to breathe free anywhere, and he’ll take it.
But it doesn’t end that way. D’Angelo’s mother basically finds him and flips him back. Sure, Avon could go down, but then D’Angelo would have to take over, and he’s not up for that. And if D does get away, what happens to the rest of his family, including Mama Barksdale and D’Angelo’s young son?
It’s all in the game.
As it is, the detail tracks Wee Bey down to Philadelphia, where they bust him and he cops to all the unsolved murders for Avon’s organization, including ones he didn’t do (which lets Bird off the hook). Daniels does some house cleaning, too. Since Herc didn’t get promoted to sergeant, possibly due to his many brutality cases, Carver does, but Daniels realizes it was Carver sending Deputy Burrell the inside info on the detail. Carver is chastised, and he may have learned a lesson. We’ll have to see there.
And Rawls asks McNulty where he’d least like to go when things settle down, the very question Lester predicted McNulty would be asked.
So, from what I remember of my first attempt to go through the show, the season ends with a montage showing what happened to everybody. How did it turn out?
Well, good news for some:
- Lester is back in Homicide with what looks like Bunk as his new partner.
- Stringer still has his freedom.
- Bodie and Poot are running the high and low rises.
- Greggs is awake.
- Prez got his gun back, but realizes he likes office work better.
- Carver got promoted, even if it was at a price. Herc is training new guys.
But it was bad for a lot of other people:
- Bubbles fell off the wagon and is back to his old tricks.
- Greggs may be awake, but she isn’t certain she’ll go back to work or not. Her partner wishes she wouldn’t.
- McNulty is now a maritime cop on the river.
- Drugs are being sold all over Baltimore.
- Avon is going to jail for a little while, as are a lot of his people. D’Angelo for a longer stretch and Wee Bey for life without parole.
And then we skip to New York, and see Omar robbing a dealer.
It’s all in the game.
Was there a theme to the season? Perhaps. But all it said was the War on Drugs isn’t working. When even a general lunkhead like Herc can realize that, then it means something.