It’s called “The Dickensian Aspect,” but to me much of this seg of “The Wire” seems to explore the mystery of how life, and death, are influenced by random elements, chance encounters and moments of opportunity seized and exploited.
Mayor Tommy Carcetti (played by Aidan Gillen, pictured above) stumbles across homelessness as the Big Issue that could carry him to the governor’s mansion. Det. Jimmy McNulty happens across a hard-luck homeless beggar who is unknowingly recruited to take part in the plot to squeeze more coin for police work through the concocted homeless serial killer. Scott Templeton for once actually does some real reporting, and finds the satisfaction comes with pounding the pavement.
As much as all these characters are inveterate operators and schemers, in “Dickensian Aspect,” written by David Simon and Ed Burns and helmed by Seith Mann, the character portraits become that much more rich because we see them working largely on impulse, and more important, we see what impulses and instincts rise to the surface when confronted with situations they can use to their advantage.
The characters that buck this theme in the seg are dope kingpins Marlo (pictured left) and Omar (pictured right). Marlo here is playing Michael Corleone in the first hour of “Godfather II.” He’s carefully plotting his takeover of the five (or more) corners, putting his capos in place and laying down the law to others in the collective. (There’s a great scene where Marlo, never one for sentimentality, dispenses with the murder of Proposition Joe and another dealer, appoints their successors, announces there will be no more meetings, ups the bounty on Omar’s head and announces that the price of “the brick” is going up.)
Marlo’s every move is plotted and protected by his muscle — and part of the tension of course is that we know at some point there will be a slip up, some fraying in the cocoon he’s spun around himself. He’s either gonna get got by madman Omar or a few determined Baltimore cops who haven’t forgotten that Marlo’s behind the largest string of mass killings in B-more history.
Omar, on the other hand, is fueled by psycho-vengeance, a type of dope more powerful than anything offered on the corners.