Scott Templeton's fake phone call helps McNulty use his fake serial killer to get a wiretap on Marlo, and Clay Davis pretty much sums up the whole situation

”The Wire” recap: The liars collide

Shuh-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat. So said the embattled Sen. Clay Davis in the line of the night. How not to picture the cast and crew collapsing into high fives and hurrahs after cut was called? Davis’ signature line has long been a favorite of mine, which I’ve badly imitated for the last several years after I’ve had one too many beers. This though, as Davis lashed out at his perceived persecutors, was the most operatic, shoot-for-the-rafters sheeeeet we’ve gotten yet. A nice bell ringing for sure, as the energy and momentum leapt into another gear. It’s usually around the fifth episode of every season of The Wire that the story lines fully take off for me, and that I finally start grooving to the current artist’s take on the opening song. Steve Earle, you’ve won me over.

Marlo met with the Greek to inform him of poor Prop Joe’s demise and then, after silkily telling Chris that ”the man overcame his grief,” suggested he and his heavy head for Atlantic City to celebrate. Was this a joke? Does Marlo ever cut loose from his languid, dead-eyed slink around his city? An overdue tip of the hat to actor Jamie Hector, who has created a wholly new type of villain. His Marlo is so cool he’s nearly catatonic, the adrenaline and ambition that obviously surge through his evil veins kept to a low boil. Chris opted to lie low, taking Marlo on a quick detour so that the killer could wave a little bunny in his daughter’s face. Chris has kids? Chris has kids! And a girlfriend who seemed markedly unimpressed by her man’s announcement that he wouldn’t be coming around for a while. Marlo’s crew knew Omar was coming for them, and they all looked like skittish rabbits as they tried to save their asses by setting a trap for him.

I pined last week like a little baby for Carver and Randy to end up happily ever after, and one of you similarly sensitive commenters said that you wish for a tender, make-everything-better reunion for Prez and Dukie. Well, we’ve yet to see Prez, but Cutty, sporting a newly shaved do, showed up and took the wounded Dukie under his strong wing. Poor Dukie, so ridiculed on the streets. ”Can’t fight, can’t shoot, can’t even stand on the damn corner,” he said to Michael. After a boy Bug’s size hurled an orange soda bottle at his back, Dukie tried standing up for himself but got the crap beat out of him. I moaned like a cat in the backseat on the way to the vet watching that boy get kicked and pummeled.

Eager for his friend to toughen up, Michael dropped him at Cutty’s ring for a little training, but Dukie was just a noodle in gloves. Like Prez before him, Cutty tried to impress upon the boy that there is more to life than the corner. ”The world is bigger than that, at least that’s what they tell me,” he said. With that kind of philosophizing, he really must meet Lester for a drink. ”How do you get from here to the rest of the world?” asked Dukie, giving voice to the question that maybe best sums up the five seasons of The Wire, a question our stumping politicians ought to be wrestling with every night as they go to sleep. ”Wish I knew,” said Cutty.

If these two ever do find the answer, let them please share it with Bubbles. Our still-sober man finally nutted up and went to the clinic to get tested for HIV, and the negative results sent him into a shame-fueled tailspin. He still doesn’t seem to think his sheeet is worth saving. Bubbles, buddy, hang in there. Grab your shopping cart, throw Dukie and Bug in with a couple sandwiches from the soup kitchen, and wheel your ass outta Baltimore.

At the paper, Scott tried again to act like a real reporter for about a half a day. After he and Alma met with McNulty to coax a scoop out of him with drink, they returned to the paper with news that the manufactured serial killer has, dunh dun dunh!, sexual compulsions. (I thought for a minute there that my sick mind had guessed right about those teeth, but it turned out they were used merely on nipples and ass cheeks.) Scott was sent out to the streets for react quotes from the homeless, but those men had his number and jerked the boy around. ”That reporter from the Sun is not exactly Bob Woodward,” said one astute media critic.

NEXT: McNulty one-ups Templeton’s lie

It’s quite a thing to see Templeton’s imagination unspool when faced with Gus’ demands for material. Without breaking stride, the paper’s fabulist started spinning melodramatic tales of desperate fathers and hungry pale blond girls. To get himself on the front page, to wrestle the story away from Alma and others, Scott faked a payphone call from the serial killer to the paper. When McNulty had to come in to okay the Sun‘s going forward with the story, he one-two punched the reporter by saying that the killer had made a similar call that very morning. These two yick-yacks piled lie upon lie until they made a believer out of skeptical Gus. A prediction: By season’s end, Scott gets spun out of the news business in a tornado of shame (only to get a book deal years later!), and McNulty lands his own ass in jail.

The man keeps spinning further and further out into his righteous, obsessed, drink-infused crusade to bring down Marlo. He missed his son’s play, got a talking-to from his smoking-hot ex, and continued to alienate his one true Beadie. A few episodes back, McNulty railed that ”Marlo doesn’t get to win. We get to win!” Well, thanks to Herc, Marlo may go down yet. The kingpin got a cell phone from his new business partners, and he gave the number to his lawyer. You’d think a fat, savvy worm like Levy would still be suspicious of his new security man, but Herc simply snuck in after hours and filched the number. He gave it to Carver as penance, telling his former partner to ask Marlo about that camera again when he locked him up, and then Carver promptly passed it on to Lester, who gleefully called up Marlo and aw-shucksed into the phone that ”I want some of that pepper steak!” After Lester and McNulty jimmied together a new wiretap, feigning that they were merely tapping future calls from their pervert serial killer, a call came through the line. ”What the…?” Lester said as the scrambler kicked on. Looks like Marlo’s super-nifty Greek-approved phone can beat a tap.

Finally, we got to the scene of the evening, a scene more Batman than Wire. Omar walked into an ambush at Monk’s apartment. As he lunged like John McClane behind a sofa, Snoop, Chris, and (damn you, Wire!) Michael opened fire on him. Surely Omar’s number was up — those fracking spoiler hacks on the message boards must have been right. Omar was finally going to eat it, and our vulnerable Michael would be to blame. How would we viewers reconcile our concern for Bug’s big brother with his slaying of The Wire‘s Robin Hood? But then, but then, Omar crashed through a window to the balcony and dissolved into some kind of inky mass in the night. He vanished, people. The flower beds below were not dented. [Note: Spoiler deleted. Sorry, and thanks for the catch, readers!] The man made like the Crow and flew. However incongruous this moment of superhero magic might have seemed on this gritty, earthbound show, who among you didn’t cheer his escape? So I’ll leave you with this one final question, meant only for you noble, patient viewers who don’t aim to spoil the fun for the rest of us by sneaking some On Demand action onto the boards. Friends, what the…?

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The Wire
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