The Wire, season 1 episode 6: outside the frame

, | TV reviews

What do you show and what do you imply? What do you spell out and what do you leave to the imagination? What’s in the frame and what’s outside the frame? These are questions a filmmaker constantly considers. Every single moment is an answer to those questions.

The Wire has some interesting answers this episode.

We don’t see what happened to Brandon when it happened, but we saw the results. Graphic shots of Brandon’s corpse open and close this episode. The missing eye is pretty gruesome. As are the specifics mentioned later (cigarette burns, broken fingers, fractured forearms). Did Avon Barksdale or Stringer Bell personally do those things? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised there’s a whole other layer of reprehensible morality behind just dealing drugs. I had a similar reaction when Omar unnecessarily fires a shotgun blast into someone’s leg. I want to like these characters and they don’t always cooperate.

At first, I felt deprived that we didn’t get to see Omar’s reaction when he finds out what happened to Brandon. When he finally calls McNulty, he’s past that point. But Michael Kenneth Williams is plenty powerful at the coroner’s office, and especially when Omar talks to McNulty and Kima in the basement ops center. But for certain moments, it’s almost as if The Wire has to stand back a little. At the coroner’s, McNulty has left his kids upstairs with a soccer ball that they gently kick back and forth in the hallway. Omar’s reaction from the basement startles them and they let the ball roll past them. The Wire cuts to this CCTV monitor image just behind them:

As if The Wire has to stand back a little. Omar’s reaction has a blast radius.

Hey, did you guys know Michael Kenneth Williams is in the Han Solo standalone movie? As is Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Fleabag. What is it about actors with three names? Daniel Day-Lewis. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Let’s see, hmm…uh, Sarah Michelle Geller. Haley Joel Osment. Chad Michael Murray. Okay, so much for that theory.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks it’s weird that McNulty brings Bub to his kids’ soccer game, and now he brings his kids along when meeting with Omar at an emotionally explosive moment? Will the kids be present for McNulty’s next sit-down with Rawls? Will they get their turn on the roof watching the payphone? Will they get to go undercover to buy heroine?

Speaking of kids, the most heartbreaking thing about the opening scene in which Wallace has to be the parent to a house full of children — waking them up, doling out bags of chips and juice boxes, herding them off to school — isn’t just the scene itself. It’s this shot from the last episode:

Wallace himself is just a kid who want to play with whatever that toy is.

I’m delighted to see Clarke Peters’ character, Lester Freamon, getting his due. I wondered how long he was going to sit mysteriously in the background fingering pieces of tiny furniture. My latest point of reference for Peters is his scene in John Wick when Keanu Reeves asks him to mind a female assassin he’s just subdued in his room at the Continental (managed by Lance Reddick!). It doesn’t end well for Peters.

(Wondering what’s all this stuff about an old TV show? If you support my Patreon campaign for $10 or more, once a month you’ll have to opportunity to assign me a review. The first season of The Wire won one of the recent drawings.)