Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Patreon update #33: DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES • Twin Peaks season 3 rewatch - Part 14 / film in focus: Sorry to Bother You (+ Let the Right One In, abuse in Mulholland Drive, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Incredibles 2 & more) and preview of Walter/Pianist/Bleeding Drunk character studies


"We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives inside of the dream. But...who is the dreamer?" "I had a dream about this place..." "Somebody spoke and I went into a dream..." "Don't...fall...asleep..." "Hey baby wake up, come and dance with me!"

This is my longest episode yet, even longer than the last time I featured a film in focus (Holy Smoke! in June) despite that previous episode including special guests (Em and Steve of No Ship Network) and the most acclaimed part of the new Twin Peaks (Part 8). In some ways, however, Part 14 is even denser than Part 8, including not only a motherlode of mythology (Gordon's dream, the trip to Jack Rabbit's Palace and Andy's vision, Freddie's origin story, Sarah's face trick) but important ongoing plot points as well. Certain subjects - the inclusion of the Upanishads, Sarah's place in the narrative, the nature of Judy, even an aside on the Throbbing Gristle album Giftgas - required extended treatment. Additionally, I had a lengthy piece of listener feedback onhand, one that I'd been holding off until Monica Bellucci's appearance (the listener uses "Who is the dreamer?" as the springboard to discuss that recent "Is Cooper the guilty dreamer?" essay and theories about Mulholland Drive as an allegory for childhood trauma). This feedback inspired my own long reply, which detours into Rita Hayworth's traumatic history as well as something I once witnessed at a hypnotist's show. And finally, my film in focus takes up a good chunk of the episode; Sorry to Bother You, the acclaimed new surrealist/sci-fi/satirical comedy from Boots Riley, is the rare new release I felt compelled to seek out and discuss. Its explicitly political - explicitly Marxist - message resonates with the current moment and I wanted to relay my own roller coaster experience on this first viewing (I loved the early scenes, felt a bit lost during the middle section, and was back on board by the ending).

In fact, I recorded so much material that the podcast originally ran well over three and a half hours and had to be cut down. This includes splitting up the originally mammoth "Other Topics" section - this week, I'm sharing a number of other podcasts about Sorry to Bother You (including some excellent interviews with Riley) as well as some thoughts on Incredibles 2, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and a childhood alarm clock. However, a dozen other podcast recommendations, along with discussions of the brief mix CD era and a Spielberg bio I'm reading, will have to wait for later episodes. Episode 33 concludes with a new "Opening the Archive" subject (also to be continued next week), focused on the vampire film Let the Right One In as well as the book it's based on. Finally, for my biweekly preview I shared three quick character sketches: Walter, the manager of Norma's Double R franchise; the mysterious Pianist who accompanies Cooper's dinner at the Vegas restaurant; and the Bleeding Drunk, whose annoying presence inspired one of my stronger little studies.

Oh, and there are loads of links in the show notes.


WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: added "5 from Fandor" video to Back to the Future post from 2015

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly preview - Walter/Pianist/Bleeding Drunk character studies

WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: archive, 4 Ways to Watch Fire Walk With Me (discussion of Nightmare on Elm Street 4)

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS Return Rewatch Pt. 14
The feel & structure of the episode
Trinity test site in New Mexico desert
Twin Peaks - Cooper investigation/Frank's family/Chad in jail/Hit and run/Drugs/Freddie/James/Ben & Beverly/Sarah/Roadhouse
FBI in South Dakota
Mr. C
Las Vegas - Dougie at home/The search for Dougie
Spirit World - Red Room/Purple World Tower/Convenience Store/Zone Spiral
The Other Side - Odessa
Character introductions & re-introductions/screentime rankings/timeline of events
Coffee, pie, and donuts
Lodge lore
Laura Palmer

FILM IN FOCUS: Sorry to Bother You

OTHER TOPICS: Sorry to Bother You podcasts, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 as a very 80s movie, rock n roll chicken alarm clock

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Twin Peaks pianist, different types of UK football, old Epcot rides, Cooper as the guilty dreamer in The Return & sexual abuse as the secret of Mulholland Drive - followed by my reply about the Mulholland Drive theories & Rita Hayworth's traumatic history

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: Let the Right One In (1 of 2) - the book & Swedish film

Monday, August 6, 2018

Patreon update #32: Twin Peaks season 3 rewatch - Part 13 (+ This Sporting Life, living in 3 centuries, the decline of Hollywood, Richard and Audrey Horne & more)


Cooper is back with a vengeance; the first half of Part 13 is almost entirely dominated by both of his incarnations. Among other topics, this podcast episode digs into the nature of Mr. C and his juxtaposition not with the "whole" Cooper but with the equally partial "Dougie." Listener feedback encourages further discussion on the decline of Hollywood as the physical (and spiritual) center of the film industry as well as the Horne family's purpose in the Twin Peaks' third season. My Opening the Archive reading of the British New Wave essay ends with a review of This Sporting Life. (I actually forgot to mention what the next archive highlight will be, despite teasing it at the end of this episode - it's my essay on Let the Right One In as a novel, Swedish film, and American remake.) And just for fun, I'm re-visiting a Twitter thread, and some replies, from a while back in which I explored how close certain events are to past eras compared to today, a nineteenth-century president whose grandchildren are still alive, and a woman whose life spanned three centuries (meaning that she lived at the same time as people who were alive in the 1600s and also people still alive today).




Line-up for Episode 32

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: archive, Twin Peaks character runners-up

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS Return Rewatch Pt. 12
The feel & structure of the episode
Twin Peaks - Cooper investigation/Richard's father/Becky/Ed & Norma/RR Franchise/Jacoby/Sarah/James/Roadhouse/Audrey's world
Mr. C
Las Vegas - Dougie at work/Dougie at home/Assassination/Mitchums
Spirit World - Red Room
Character introductions & re-introductions/screentime rankings/timeline of events
Coffee, pie, and donuts
Lodge lore
Laura Palmer


OTHER TOPICS: The Passage of Time & Lifespans - how close events are to the present and earlier events, living in 3 centuries, generations close together & far apart

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Pt. 10 feedback including Audrey Horne's original storyline, Pt. 12 feedback, Richard Horne's importance

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: British New Wave (3 of 3): This Sporting Life

OUTRO, including the possibility of making some older segments public on YT

BECOME A PATRON

Monday, July 30, 2018

Patreon update #31: Twin Peaks season 3 rewatch - Part 12 (+ Billy Liar, The Great Movie Ride & more) and description of Laura character study, pt. IV


After two long episodes (especially last week), this one's a nice little digestible nugget - it comes in at almost exactly an hour. There's no film of focus; however, for the first time the Opening the Archive section emphasizes a particular title as I read aloud my review of Billy Liar from 2010 (part of a longer essay which I'll conclude next week with a review of This Sporting Life). My Return rewatch reaches Part 12, widely considered a disappointment at the time although I found it really rich to explore on this viewing. I also read some feedback on Part 9 and talk about Disney World's late Great Movie Ride which I was compelled to bring up for some reason. For my biweekly preview, the Laura character structure finally reaches the most interesting section, in which I organize the scenes that feature her "spirit" in one way or another.

Incidentally, this weekend I saw Sorry to Bother You, a major new release that will definitely be featured as a film in focus in August. This will probably be the week after next week so I have more time to read some other takes on it and dialogue with them. Quick take is I thought it was funny, fascinating, and flawed, and that it offered an extraordinarily and unusually deep well to draw from.




Line-up for Episode 31

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: comments from limbo, fixed Wire images

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd tier biweekly - Laura Palmer character study structure Pt. IV ("Spirit")

\WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress: the full archive

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS Return Rewatch Pt. 12
The feel & structure of the episode
Twin Peaks - Cooper investigation/Jerry/Sarah/Fat Trout/Hit and run/Richard's father/Ben & Beverly/Jacoby/Roadhouse/Audrey's world
FBI in South Dakota - Yankton/Buckhorn
Las Vegas - Dougie at home/Jade & the key
Character introductions & re-introductions/screentime rankings/timeline of events
Lodge lore
Laura Palmer

OTHER TOPICS: The Great Movie Ride in Disney World

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Pt. 9 feedback including the Search for the Zone site and the Hornes & the waterfall

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: British New Wave (2 of 3): Billy Liar

OUTRO

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Freed from comment limbo!


I thought I was checking in on Disqus pretty regularly (certainly at least once or twice within the past few months), but apparently I wasn't so a dozen or so comments stretching back to the spring were hidden from view until now, waiting to be approved. There are so many in fact that I decided to devote a whole post to the ones that were lost in limbo (aside from any that were just questions in a thread), since they're being approved too late to appear on my sidebar. Is there a place, by the way, where readers can check out all of the various comments on my site on one page, not just limited to the individual pieces being commented upon? Like the same way my sidebar widget works, but without a numerical limit? Considering the variety of posts (some quite old) that receive comments, this seems like it would be a plus.

I promise to do a better job of keeping track of this going forward, and am delighted to see the responses I was getting unbeknownst to myself... (By the way, side note: I'm still working on the archive pages, and they should be up hopefully within a week if not a day or two.)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Patreon update #30: Twin Peaks season 3 rewatch - Part 11 (+ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the British New Wave, Twin Peaks as a meditation on art and creativity, podcast recommendations & more)


This ended up being a surprisingly long podcast (as well as a surprisingly late one - I got the actual episode up within an hour of its schedule, but the show note links, this cross-post, and other details took a bit longer). The Return rewatch, which resumes this week with an exciting, acclaimed episode, isn't much longer than usual and there's no film in focus, so I guess it was mostly the "other topics" section (with a little bit of help from some in-depth listener feedback) that stretched things out. This was my first opportunity to discuss the lightning-fast rise of Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - I address the success of her campaign, the differences between democratic socialism and social democracy, some of the left's criticisms of her recent statements, the unsurprising but still amusingly frantic reaction of both the right and the center, and more. As if that wasn't already enough, I also round up a number of podcast episodes (including several that address Ocasio-Cortez's win) plus a few videos, shows, and films that I've watched since June - so all in all, this section is about as long as it's ever been.

Afterwards, I feature some feedback on my Part 8 episode from listeners/patrons, including a long comment from Jake and an even more extended analysis of how Twin Peaks relates to art and creativity as indirect subjects, from Laurence. Finally I kick off a new era on "Opening the Archive" - from now on it will be a sort of reading series, in which I share older pieces from this site. Longer essays will be divided over several episodes, as is the case here; in anticipation of my Billy Liar and This Sporting Life reviews in the next two weeks, I lay out the history of the British New Wave and the cultural context of 1963, when both films were released.


Line-up for Episode 30

INTRO (including recent visit to Twin Peaks locations)

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts - correction of previous podcast, cross-posted 25 Years Later, "Greeting from Twin Peaks" photos

WEEKLY UPDATE/works in progress - videos of locations for Journey series

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS Return Rewatch Pt. 11
The feel & structure of the episode
Twin Peaks - Cooper investigation/Hit and run/Becky/RR Franchise/Steven & Gersten/Shelly & Red/Ed & Norma/standalone scenes/mood of the town
FBI in South Dakota - Buckhorn
Las Vegas - Dougie at work/Debt/Assassination/Mitchums
Spirit World - Red Room (glimpse)/Convenience Store/Zone Spiral 
Character introductions & re-introductions/screentime rankings/timeline of events
Coffee, pie, and donuts
Lodge lore
Laura Palmer

OTHER TOPICS, Pt. 1: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (her victory, definitions of social democracy vs. democratic socialism, left-wing criticism of her Israel statements, right-wing and centrist attacks)

OTHER TOPICS, Pt. 2: podcast recommendations (including some about left electoralism & Ocasio-Cortez), John Oliver on Venezuela (& the debunking video), Eric Andre, High Maintenance, Sweetie, North Shore

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Pt. 8 feedback including a lengthy passage on Twin Peaks, art, and creativity

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: British New Wave (1 of 3): 1963 & "Whaddya got?"

OUTRO

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Greetings from Twin Peaks (pictures & a small status update)


Last week I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Snoqualmie, North Bend, and Fall City, Washington for the first time. My cousin and I visited the following locations: James' overlook, Ronette's bridge, the Twin Peaks sign area, the sheriff's station, the mill, the Double R Diner, the Great Northern and the waterfall, and the Roadhouse exterior (later, in Seattle, I was able to glimpse the Roadhouse interior). It was a great trip, with lots of photos and videos taken. Most of the videos will be saved for later use (as a complement to the way I ended the original Journey Through Twin Peaks videos, with still shots I found online), but here are a few pictures to commemorate the journey.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Patreon update #29: 10th Anniversary Episode - Top 30 David Lynch/Twin Peaks pieces & Top 12 Video Essays (plus: the future of Lost in the Movies, plans for new Journey Through Twin Peaks & more) and description of Laura character study, pt. III


Today is the day. Ten years ago, probably around the time I'm writing this, I established my Blogger account, clicked "Create a New Blog," and chose the title "thedancingimage" to go with the "blogspot" domain. The name change to Lost in the Movies would come further down the line, along with many other transformations but that's where it all began.

I'm still working on my full archive page, which may or may not be divided into individual chapter posts (illustrated directories for thirty different "eras" of the site) to be shared over the coming month - particularly if that's something readers are interested in exploring that way (let me know). For now, the commemoration is in the form of this post, including a public list of my "top" David Lynch/Twin Peaks pieces and (non-Lynch) video essays from the past ten years. On the podcast for patrons (a great day to join if you've been thinking about it!) I offer my perspective on this work, providing background or explanations for each selection and also narrating a broad overview of the past decade on the site itself and in the big picture/background that informed my evolution as an author.

Finally, I share some plans for the future, including a lot of ideas for different projects and series, and a detailed breakdown of the chapters I'm planning for the new Journey Through Twin Peaks (as well as a list of "unseen" popular films that I might cover for another series). Considering the inquiries I've received about upcoming Journey videos, I'm guessing this will probably be the most intriguing part of the podcast for many listeners. However, there's a lot of other material to check out here as well, including shout-outs to the fellow travelers: guests or hosts of my work, as well as bloggers and other creators whose invidual paths crossed mine.




I also continued my recent biweekly preview format, outlining my approach to an upcoming character study, in this case Laura Palmer again. Laura's timeline has proved lengthier than I expected, so this is the third of four previews (after her, I'll delve into Cooper).

The podcast's Return rewatch will resume next week (on schedule for the one-year anniversary of Part 11), and I'm not sure yet what will be going on for Lost in the Movies itself in the coming days and weeks. I may post individual chapters of the archive each day or I may just publish links to them as pages in one single post. Either way, I hope you continue to enjoy exploring the archive, as well as reading, viewing, or listening to my future work...


THE PUBLIC LIST OF TOP LYNCH/PEAKS PIECES & VIDEO ESSAYS:
(follow links to visit the selections, listen to the podcast to hear me discuss each one)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Rewatching Parts 5-8 of Twin Peaks season 3: a conversation w/ Lindsay Stamhuis on 25 Years Later


In anticipation of my 10th anniversary tomorrow, I originally intended to publish my full archive page today. It's an illustrated chronological catalog of everything I've posted on the site, organized into thirty chapters. Unfortunately it isn't ready yet and is also a bit much to take in at a single glance. Instead, starting on Tuesday, I will share each chapter as an individual post in addition to eventually publishing the full page.

For now I wanted to share some work that was recently published elsewhere but couldn't be featured on this site until now because of all the viewing diaries. This is my 1380th post and as such it concludes the #10YearsOfLostInTheMovies archive tweet series begun on February 28. Thanks for following!

This summer is the first anniversary of Twin Peaks' third season (or The Return, or the limited series, call it what you will). For many fans, this was our first time watching Twin Peaks week to week, and it was certainly our first time sharing that experience collectively. As such, there's a hunger to mark the occasion and a number of individuals and outlets have been conducting rewatches (including, of course, myself). At 25 Years Later, Lindsay Stamhuis has been conducting conversations on different sections of the show as those particular anniversaries roll around. John Thorne joined her to discuss Parts 1-4 and a few weeks ago I was invited to talk about the next four episodes. In comparison to the series' bold opening and close, Parts 5-7 can seem pretty laid back. (Part 8, of course, is another story).

However, I'm really fascinated by Parts 5-7, which each have their own distinct flavor. Because the first four were released all at once, it wasn't until Part 5 that we really got a flavor of the series as an ongoing week-to-week show, a concept that episode was particularly well-suited to deliver with its multitude of storylines and its re-emphasis on the town of Twin Peaks. These three episodes also introduce or develop a number of fascinating characters and storylines which Lindsay and I were eager to discuss. That said, the obvious "big one" here - indeed, the most notorious and astonishing episode of the whole season (some would argue even the whole series) - is Part 8. A good chunk of our conversation dwells on the questions raised by that unforgettable hour of television, and I think both of us found ourselves surprised by some of the conclusions - and new questions - we began to develop in the midst of this very exchange.

The full conversation is exclusive to 25 Years Later for now, but I'll share an opening sample here alongside the link. You can also check out my conversation with Lindsay from nine months ago, when the end of the series was still fresh in our minds. And make sure to visit her great podcast Bickering Peaks, in which she and husband/co-host Aidan are currently exploring the entire Lynch/Frost catalog, alternating between the Peaks auteurs' works in chronological order and including even some of their most obscure efforts. As a fan not only of Lynch and Frost but of chronological cataloging in general (as today's preamble demonstrated), I applaud their efforts!

Onto Parts 5-8. Here's how we begin...

LS: First off, something easy and general: Do you feel that rewatching the series with some distance from the original airing enhances your understanding or does it have some other effect on you?
JB: I don’t know if it enhances my understanding but it does provide a fresh context. I’m able to see it more as a cohesive if enigmatic whole.
LS: What was your gut impression when you saw the black box in Argentina? Do you have different feelings about it now?
JB: I think I assumed it was some new form of Jeffries, given David Bowie’s death, plus how David Lynch had turned Michael J. Anderson (the Little Man From Another Place) into a talking tree. Later, of course, we see him as the infamous “tea kettle” so maybe this box is something else after all, like a communication device. If anything, I’m even less sure what’s going on in Argentina than I was while watching. I suppose it’s possible the box doesn’t actually house or facilitate contact with Jeffries at all. We know Mr. C was in South America too, so maybe it’s something for his use. Given its visual links to other communication devices (we see the box right after Lorraine types on her blackberry and Mr. C does the trick with the telephone), perhaps this has something to do with getting in touch with Mr. C while he’s in lock-up, without anyone being able to trace the call? He could have set the device up long ago, in case of an emergency like this. In that sense, maybe the box is Lynch’s outlandish, highly visual version of an answering machine – Lorraine leaves a message, and Mr. C picks it up and then “deletes” the message (maybe “the cow jumps over the moon” triggers erasure) – hence the crumpling up.
LS: I like this idea a lot, that it was simply a highly stylized answering machine. Feels very “Lynch” in a way. There was so much talk about transfiguration and alchemy, with Argentina being highly suggestive of argent/silver, and the black device shrinking down to an apparently silver ball. If Lynch is drawn to gold as a metaphorical colour/substance, what do you think silver represents?
JB: I’m trying to think if there are other examples of silver in Twin Peaks, either verbally or visually. I do think Lynch is interested in different metal textures, for example that very tactile old bank vault in the Season 2 finale.
LS: Yes! Great observation. Now, the line: “You’re still with me. That’s good.” The whole idea that Cooper split into two halves has been explored in depth in the past, but there was always the other debate (going back to Leland vs BOB) about how involved BOB was in all of this. Seeing him emerge in the mirror in Part 5 seems to lend credence to the idea that BOB was possessing Cooper to some extent, which might invalidate the split theory. How do you view that whole situation?

See you tomorrow for a special Patreon podcast episode on the ten years of Lost in the Movies.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Wire - "Sentencing" (season 1, episode 13)


Welcome to my viewing diary for The Wire. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on September 8, 2002/written by David Simon & Ed Burns, story by David Simon & Ed Burns; directed by Tim Van Patten): Greggs is awake, but she can only do so much for the overeager homicide detectives. She won't identify Wee-Bey as the second shooter because she couldn't see him through the windshield; "Sometimes things just gotta play hard," she tells a disappointed Bunk. But she can play it soft too, sending McNulty to (finally) deliver the promised cash to Bubbles. It's too late: he's clearly using again and McNulty can only nod in understanding when Bubbles gently requests, "Don't tell Kima." These are only two of many disappointments in a roller-coaster denouement for the season. D'Angelo decides to turn state's witness, shocking McNulty and Pearlman (who celebrate by screwing in the parking garage), but then changes his mind when his mother Brianna (Michael Hyatt) pressures him. It probably doesn't help that he hadn't been placed in a witness protection program yet, due to the FBI's unwillingness to take the Baltimore Police Department's case. They're only interested in going after terrorists, big suppliers, and corrupt politicians. The Barksdale investigation could potentially provide that third target, but the Feds want to provide protection for Stringer and Avon if they turn in bigger fish and neither McNulty nor Daniels wants to let the butchers of Baltimore off the hook that easy.

So the case goes forward with mixed results, better than might have been expected but much smaller than seemed possible when the FBI and D'Angelo were in the offing. Instead, D'Angelo takes the big fall for the drug charge (a maximum sentence of twenty years for possession with intent to distribute) while Wee-Bey avoids the death penalty for one murder by helping the BPD clear out their backlog, pleading guilty to multiple slayings (including some he didn't actually pull the trigger on). Over a dozen Barksdale men take plea deals and are sentenced to about five years each while Avon himself is sent away for seven - all of them charged for narcotics activity rather than violence (only Wee-Bey gits pinned for homicide). Everyone's congratulating McNulty: Stringer as he walks away scott-free, Judge Phelan as he attempts to skirt his own utter abandonment, and Rawls as he facilitates McNulty's reassignment (to the marine unit, where a chuckling Bunk and Freamon toss him a drink as his speedboat pulls out of the harbor). McNulty's work doesn't seem to be worth much, but he also may view his treatment as a necessary penance. During his visit to Greggs he apologizes, observing that it's always the black officers who have to go undercover in cases like this, tacitly acknowledging that he could afford to treat it as a game while others couldn't.

Other characters face diminished returns too: Daniels loses his shot at promotion, Greggs remains in the hospital, and Bubbles is back to hustling. Some are moving up in the world, to varying degrees - Herc plays cerebral mentor to fresh young recruits, Freamon is restored to the high-profile homicide work he richly deserves (he's also enjoying Shardene's company more than professional duty requires), and Carver is promoted to sergeant - although Daniels' stern warning ring in his ears, about the responsibilities of this position and the values necessary to become a good leader (after Daniels discovered Carver was the one passing information to Burrel). On the street side, Stringer is now running a tight ship out of a back room in a sober funeral home rather than the sleazy strip club, Bodie has been promoted to the high rise, and Poot has taken over the pit. And the traffic goes on, and on, and on, the episode's closing montage confirming that the hard work and sacrifices of the Daniels detail made absolutely no actual dent in Baltimore's drug trade or its human cost. The product is even traced up to New York where Omar whistles "Farmer in the Dell," holds up a dealer, and laughs, "All in the game."

My Response:

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Wire - "Cleaning Up" (season 1, episode 12)


Welcome to my viewing diary for The Wire. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on September 1, 2002/written by George Pelecanos, story by David Simon & Ed Burns; directed by Clement Virgo): The troubling reality of this case is sinking in for everyone on both sides of the war. Some come out ahead of others, but nobody really feels like a victor. Detective Leandor Sydnor (Corey Parker Robinson), a quiet but steady presence on the investigation (so quiet, in fact, that I haven't mentioned him until now), articulates this sense explicitly. Gazing at the corkboard, where Avon's photo has been tagged with an "Arrested" note while many other faces and names remain untouched, Sydnor sighs, "It's the best work I ever did. I never did a case like this. It's not enough. I gotta go back to auto tomorrow and just feel like...this just ain't finished."

However, it is finished for several characters. Avon spends the whole episode, well, cleaning up - which means several more dead bodies. Security guard Nakeesha Lyles (Ingrid Cornell), whom we met way back in the second scene of the series when she changed her story on the stand (freeing D'Angelo) is not saved by her failure to testify. On the tacit recommendation of Avon's respectable lawyer, the civilian is executed for fear she may change her mind again. The other victim is Wallace; Stringer meets with young Bodie and hints at what he wants done. Bodie acts tough, sneering at Wallace behind his back and later to his face when he has a gun pulled on him. But he hesitates before killing his friend, just long enough for Wallace to realize what's going to happen (all the children are gone from his new squat, a chilling prelude to the end of his brief life). As Wallace cries, Poot shouts for Bodie to do it and ends up finishing the job himself. The police, who lost track of the boy after Greggs was shot, discover his body the next day: yet another individual snuffed out as a result of their interference. Earlier in "Cleaning Up," Avon and Stringer called D'Angelo into their office, asking him to send Wallace their way, but D'Angelo refused ("Let Wallace be," he told his uncle with a steely determination that had building up all season). With Wallace gone, D'Angelo has had enough. He only finds out about the boy's death from McNulty, after getting arrested for possession (thanks to a new wire that leads to Avon's arrest as well). When Stringer and Levy show up at the jail to speak with D'Angelo, he declares that he'll be hiring his own lawyer and angrily confronts Stringer with a question he can't answer: "Where's Wallace at? Where the fuck is Wallace? Where's Wallace, String?" It's unclear if D'Angelo will flip on Avon (I doubt it), but a break has been made.

With Shardene's help, Freamon bugs the strip club from an adjoining building, circumventing the need for a warrant but despite Avon's resultant arrest, the Daniels detail is glum. McNulty is particularly devastated by Greggs' comatose condition, declaring that the case is meaningless - and that for him it was never about stopping the brutality of the Barksdale organization but just about boosting his own ego. Daniels doesn't want to hear it. The job matters now, precisely because Greggs went down. Now the roles are flipped, with McNulty dragging his feet and Daniels taking a hard line; in fact, the lieutenant is finally able to tell off Burrell too - a development that (much like D'Angelo's explosion) has been building all season. After Daniels' investigation into the state senator and other politicians brings heat to the department, the deputy commissioner order Daniels to close shop and threatens to expose the old FBI investigation if he doesn't. But Daniels calls Burrell's bluff, noting that the last thing his boss wants is bad publicity so, if necessary, he'll put it all on the line for this case. Later, to punish the lieutenant, Burrell orders back a number of officers but tells Daniels he can keep his two weakest links: the old pawn shop cop Freamon and the incompetent young buffoon Prez. Daniels smirks, knowing that these are possibly his two most talented cops (Freamon has become the shining star of the detail, while Prez has developed an unexpected flair for analyzing and digging up the paper trail). He's also realizing that Burrell is a paper tiger who doesn't know as much as he'd like to think he does.

Speaking of paper tigers - on both sides - a SWAT team gathers outside Orlando's and revs up for a big raid on the drug kingpin as Daniels and McNulty roll their eyes. Protected only by basic bullet-proof vests, they brush past the jacked-up squad to arrest Avon themselves, leaving Stringer - to his surprise - untouched. McNulty allows Daniels to exit the building with Avon alone, a kind of penance for his earlier, destructive hubris. This, it seems, is how the Avon Barksdale investigation ends - with an arrest, yes, but more of a whimper than a bang.

My Response:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Wire - "The Hunt" (season 1, episode 11)


Welcome to my viewing diary for The Wire. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on August 18, 2002/written by Joy Lusco, story by David Simon & Ed Burns; directed by Steve Shill): Greggs is alive, but in critical condition. A furious but contained Rawls quickly dominates the bustling scene, insisting that everyone not under the direct command of a homicide detective - Narcotics, DEA, state cops, and others - clear the location immediately. He also memorably chews out an agonized McNulty at the hospital, shortly after playing the audiotape of Greggs' last moments of consciousness. "You, McNulty, are a gaping asshole," he growls. "...But fuck if I'm going to stand here and say you did a single fucking thing to get a police shot. You did not do this, you fucking hear me? This is not on you." It's the memorable cap to a tour-de-force extended opening sequence, balances out the negative portrait of Rawls that The Wire has been delivering all season (though I suspect we'll tilt back soon enough).

Daniels' detail is forced to bust up the main stash house so the department can stage a photo op with lots of captured narcotics; with the police so busy this episode, the street perspective takes a back seat. What we do witness is a growing panic: Stringer in particular seems broken, while Little Man (Micaiah Jones) - the shooter - is now marked for death and Wee-Bey is shaken by his own role in the incident (the show finally unveils that infamous Wee-Bey reaction shot, as he realizes Greggs was a cop). The core of the gang scatters to the wind, fleeing to Philadelphia or hiding out locally until the storm blows over (if it's going to). Savino surrenders himself after McNulty pressures the Barksdale lawyer Maurice Levy (Michael Kostroff), but he cops only to a small charge of trying to defraud Orlando rather than to any role in the shooting. He'll get three years which is extremely frustrating to McNulty but there's an even more anxious question hovering in the background. Is this all he and the others who've invested so much in this operation are going to accomplish?

My Response:

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Wire - "The Cost" (season 1, episode 10)


Welcome to my viewing diary for The Wire. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on August 11, 2002/written by David Simon, story by David Simon & Ed Burns; directed by Brad Anderson): Despite Avon's beating and warning a few episodes ago, Orlando carries on with his planned score. But as he gets into the car and exchanges cash for cocaine, something is off. Is Orlando about to be robbed? Is the product he's receiving far worse than expected? Was this a fatal set-up by Avon to test his loyalty? None of the above, as it turns out, though the long-term consequences of this indiscretion will be dire, and widespread. The dealer, Troy Wiggins (Neko Parham), is an undercover state cop. Orlando lands in jail and quickly snitches on Avon, leading Wiggins to the Daniels detail and his old friend and colleague Greggs. It's unclear how much Orlando can really provide the investigation - they've just achieved more important progress in determining the location of the quiet stash house in the suburbs that supplies the low-rises and high-rises in the inner city. However, an impatient Burrell pressures the reluctant detectives to conduct a buy bust. Greggs will go undercover as one of Orlando's squeezes, ostensibly fronting half the money for a major purchase that could expose a higher-up in the organization.

Orlando is one of a growing web of informants in The Wire. This episode alone is thick with them. Wallace is picked up and McNulty easily flips him on Stringer and Wee-Bey, although the boy is hesitant to say anything bad about D'Angelo (outright denying his culpability for the Deidre Kresson case). Daniels drives Wallace, undergoing withdrawal, out to a relative in the countryside where the city kid is perplexed by the sound of crickets. Omar is also going away (to New York City), having established a fragile truce with the Barksdale crew. He wears a wire for a very public parlay in a mall with Stringer (who won't acknowledge his boss' name) and flees after his demand for $5,000 is accepted - at that point he knows they're just trying to lure him into being killed. Shardene attempts to spy for Freamon (in a sly moment after she ignores D'Angelo, he kicks over a stool and a pigeon flies across the screen). And a newly sober Bubbles asks for help from Greggs. The wry detective jokes that a clean informant isn't much use to her but agrees to get him some money.

As it turns out, Bubbles is one of many who will feel the aftermath of what happens that night. The set-up collapes with Avon's enforcer Savino Bartton (Chris Clanton) drives Orlando and Greggs to an unexpected area of town, They are left alone in the parked car and then sprayed with gunfire. By the time Greggs' desperate peers reach the crime scene, Orlando is long dead and a bloodied Greggs is dragged from the car, with McNulty trying to resuscitate her limp body amidst the ensuing chaos.

My Response: