Spiderman Omar, has come out of hiding to declare war on Marlo.
Omar has always been given to brazen acts, but he’s never been one to walk into a trap. What he’s doing now seems more like what he would have done the moment he set foot in Baltimore. “I’m calling Marlo straight bitch,” he says with a gun to the head of a New Day Co-op member. “I’m saying it don’t take much to shoot down a blind man. And as for him stepping to me? You tell that dude he ain’t got the heart. You tell him I’m in the street waiting, and just like a little bitch he ain’t nowhere to be found.”
McNulty is talking to sculptures and kidnapping homeless men, and Freamon is breaking the rules, in a grandfatherly way, of course.
“When they took us off Marlo Stanfield the last time, when they said they couldn’t pay for further investigation, I regarded that decision as illegitimate,” he told Sydnor. “And so I’m responding in kind. I’m going to press a case against Marlo Stanfield without regard to the usual rules. I’m running an illegal wiretap on Marlo Stanfield’s cell phone.”
All Sydnor can say in response is “Fuck, Lester!” and Freamon gives him a pass. “If you have a problem with this, I understand completely and I urge you to get as far fucking away from me as possible.”
Marlo has sealed his fate by breaking up the happy collaboration of the drug co-op and trying to pin Prop Joe’s and Hungry Man’s deaths on Omar — which no one believes.
We also saw in this episode, briefly, Nicky from the ports, and the heartbreaking reemergence of Randy, the only kid who might have survived the foster care system had he not made the mistake of cooperating with the authorities. Randy, once a clever and affable kid, has now adapted and become a hardened, vicious young man whose another casualty of the system.
“Why don’t you promise to get me out of here,” he tells Bunk when Bunk asks him again about Lex’s murder. “That’s what you do ain’t it? Lie to dumbass niggas?”
In six, we see Scott Templeton, the hack at the Baltimore Sun who’s making up his stories, spending the night with the homeless and playing the “one of these is not like the other” game to find the only white man on the street, a homeless ex-marine. He actually encounters a real story and tells it well, and we’re supposed to see that this is what he should have been doing the whole time.
At the same time, another reporter brings up questions on a previous fabrication, and the city editor starts to get some evidence of some long-held suspicions.
Now, there are plenty of examples of real life fabricators in major newspapers, but this particular one is taken from what David Simon has insisted was a real case during his time at the real Baltimore Sun.
All of these things could be true. But I have wished from the start that Templeton’s character was handled a little more adeptly. He started fabricating almost right away, with the crappy opening day story and a fictional boy in a wheelchair with no last name. We never see Templeton, whose resume includes some real-life good papers, responding to any pressure or inching over an increasingly blurry line, he just starts making shit up. And, more than that, he starts making shit up on a story that no real reporter would care enough about to risk his career over.
I just don’t buy it. If we had seen him starting to fabricate after the buy-outs started, and it was clear he was trying to save his own skin, that would make more sense. Or if he had started to fabricate as a way to get involved on the big story he was left out of, I might buy that as well. The problem is, we see hints of his motivations in the beginning, but none with which we can identify or sympathize. That’s a problem for The Wire, which has always allowed an empathetic entry point for even the most dastardly characters.
The second problem is: are fabricators really the source of American newspaper decline? No. Declining revenue and cutbacks are. The real problem is that you have fewer reporters who have less time to spend on more stories, and getting to the heart of any story is impossible. In today’s newspaper world, Templeton wouldn’t be able to spend a night with the homeless because he would still be responsible for 2 or 3 dailies, and to meet his quotas he would have to resort to some of the easiest stories to cross his desk, like the ribbon-cutting Carcetti excoriated the press for not attending.
And another thing: why are the editors of this major paper so inept? They don’t just support Templeton, he’s their poster boy. They also seem to be bad writers and newsroom wimps. That’s another thing I just don’t buy. With everyone and everything else, Simon hasn’t been afraid to let all the nuances of life’s messiness through. Drug dealers, cops, teachers, politicians; all of them spend time navigating bureaucracies and tempering dreams against realities in an unending, cyclical landscape of poverty’s injustices and transcendence. Simon’s newsroom, though, is black and white. The evil editors are going to wear the solid workhorse of the industry down. The reporter who knows everything about the cops has to take a buyout while the fabricator stays. There are no shades of gray, and I think it’s because Simon got a little too close to home with this one. Reporters and editors can sometimes get along, but Simon makes no effort to hide his vitriol for the Tribune editors who took over the Sun. I have no doubt that Simon was a terrific reporter, it’s what he’s doing the whole time with The Wire. I also have no doubt that Simon was an ego in the newsroom, and its his ego (I mean here his clear presence in the story) that’s getting in the way here. He’s not letting newspapers tell their story the way he so gracefully and adroitly let’s everything else in this show shine.