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“The Wire,” Episode 5, “React Quotes”

WireomarbigWatching this seg of The Wire is kinda like making Jell-O pudding (regular, not instant) when you’re at the the halfway point, when your wrist is starting to get tired of stirring but you can see the payoff coming as the milk thickens into chocolate mud.

Episode 5, “React Quotes,” penned by David Simon and David Mills and directed by Angieszka Holland, gallops along in advancing, twisting and expanding the plot. In this sea of unsavory characters, no one is more unctious in this seg than Marlo Stanfield’s defense attorney Maurice Levy, who’s positively giddy at the prospect of being awash in litigation fees when he realizes that his star client is using a cell phone. “Joe gave him to us just in time,” says Levy, played by Michael Kostroff (pictured right. Above, Michael Kenneth Williams as drug dealer Omar. He’s baaaack.)

Marlo Stanfield opens the seg speaking cryptically to drug connection Spiros (played by Paul Ben-Victor, Wiremauricelevy who was so great in “John from Cincinnati”), and he delivers a great line about the untimely end of Proposition Joe in last week’s seg. “Tomorrow ain’t promised to no one,” sez the man who had him killed. Ice water in his veins, fer sure.

The swagger that Marlo and his muscle Chris demonstrate — it’s a gait unlike any other, wordlessly telegraphing their  menace, recklessness and their sense of utter invicibility. Seems a dangerous, but necessary, quality to have in their line of work.

Shining a light on humanity’s baser instincts seems to be the theme of this seg. You can see it in city editor Gus Haynes’ eyes when reporter Guiterrez tells him that the homeless murders case has suddenly become “sexual” in nature. His ears perk up. He decides to run it past “the 4 o’clock” layout meeting. Mere homeless homicides — deep inside the book stuff. But add a sexual perversion angle and bingo! Page one. We’re all guilty of it. If it bleeds it leads, etc. You never see the headline “999 Planes Landed Safely Today,” do you? (I stole that analogy from Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, BTW.)

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