The Weekly Wire: “The King Stay The King”

In case you missed it, I’m suddenly hip-deep in The Wire, and hot damn, I’m hungry for more. So, here’s the deal. I figure if hoity-toity snooty-ass Harvard can have a college course about The Wire, we can do a little something like that here at terribleminds. From time to time, I’ll post a little snippet of dialogue from the show (yes, I know, the post title says “weekly,” shaddup shuttin’ up, rabbit). Why? Because you want to learn how to write, you have to learn how to pay attention to stuff like this. So I’m telling you: pay attention. Tell me what you see in this dialogue. Tell me what it does for the scene. If you don’t watch the show, this is largely without context, but even still, it’s some punchy shit. What do you like about it? What doesn’t work for you? Hit the comments. Discuss. Think of this as a class. Speak up.

D’Angelo Barksdale: Now look, check it, it’s simple, it’s simple. See this? This the kingpin, a’ight? And he the man. You get the other dude’s king, you got the game. But he trying to get your king too, so you gotta protect it. Now, the king, he move one space any direction he damn choose, ’cause he’s the king. Like this, this, this, a’ight? But he ain’t got no hustle. But the rest of these motherfuckers on the team, they got his back. And they run so deep, he really ain’t gotta do shit.

Preston ‘Bodie’ Broadus: Like your uncle.

D’Angelo Barksdale: Yeah, like my uncle. You see this? This the queen. She smart, she fast. She move any way she want, as far as she want. And she is the go-get-shit-done piece.

Wallace: Remind me of Stringer.

D’Angelo Barksdale: And this over here is the castle. Like the stash. It can move like this, and like this.

Wallace: Dog, stash don’t move, man.

D’Angelo Barksdale: C’mon, yo, think. How many time we move the stash house this week? Right? And every time we move the stash, we gotta move a little muscle with it, right? To protect it.

Preston ‘Bodie’ Broadus: True, true, you right. All right, what about them little baldheaded bitches right there?

D’Angelo Barksdale: These right here, these are the pawns. They like the soldiers. They move like this, one space forward only. Except when they fight, then it’s like this. And they like the front lines, they be out in the field.

Wallace: So how do you get to be the king?

D’Angelo Barksdale: It ain’t like that. See, the king stay the king, a’ight? Everything stay who he is. Except for the pawns. Now, if the pawn make it all the way down to the other dude’s side, he get to be queen. And like I said, the queen ain’t no bitch. She got all the moves.

Preston ‘Bodie’ Broadus: A’ight, so if I make it to the other end, I win.

D’Angelo Barksdale: If you catch the other dude’s king and trap it, then you win.

Preston ‘Bodie’ Broadus: A’ight, but if I make it to the end, I’m top dog.

D’Angelo Barksdale: Nah, yo, it ain’t like that. Look, the pawns, man, in the game, they get capped quick. They be out the game early.

Preston ‘Bodie’ Broadus: Unless they some smart-ass pawns.

48 comments

  • February 16, 2010 at 1:53 AM // Reply

    I’ve just started watching ‘The Wire’ myself, and saw this episode about two weeks ago.

    It’s… it’s clever dialogue, no doubt about it, but it doesn’t feel genuine the way a lot of other dialogue in the series does. It feels artificial and forced and self-conscious, even though the characters’ voices are consistent with their continued portrayal.

    It’s stunt dialogue, and it feels too much to me like showing off for the audience – or worse, for other writers.

    Not that it’s bad. But it’s *deliberately* good. And it shows.


    Patrick

    • I don’t know that I’d call it forced, exactly — ? See, here’s what I like about the dialogue: it does a lot of things.

      First, it shows us the characters. You’ve got three characters: one who wants to teach, one who wants to learn, and one who thinks he’s too smart for the game. It humanizes the criminals, too, something that The Wire is good at doing — we gain sympathy and understanding even as they’re bad mothershutyourmouthers.

      Second, it’s dialogue spoken as they’re *doing* something, which is always nice. Dialogue as action, rather than dialogue separate from action.

      Third, it essentially exposes the themes of the series — or, at least, the themes of this season (since I’m to understand they switch up the focus from season to season, yeah?). In fact, once this whole series is done (for me, as I realize that the show’s over), I wonder if I won’t be able to look back and say, “The series remained consistent with that ‘king stay the king’ dialogue.” This helps frame out things we may not have entirely understood, too. The fact that the stash moves, for instance. Or the operational differences between Stringer and Avon.

      Plus, it feels like classic movie dialogue. Clever.

      But, @Patrick is right — it might be too clever by half.

      Further, while I don’t agree that it feels forced, I will say topically it’s pretty on-the-nose. Chess is a very obvious choice; the metaphor is laid bare even before you put these characters into the scene. But I *do* like that transition from checkers to chess, because really, that’s what “D” is trying to do, here — bring The Pit up to his standards.

      – c.

  • I’ve wanted to watch the Wire for some time, just things keep getting in the way–but a spot is opening.

    As counterpoint from the comment above, I have no history or context for the show. The dialogue felt like expositional prose, expanding on the current theme of the episode or series. Good Buffy episodes did this, Marti Noxon was my fav at it. Yet, I can see what Patrick meant by feeling forced–and I love the phrase “stunt dialogue.” I imagine it can be the case with all dialogue, especially that which has a role aside from just talking; done deftly it can be expositional and seamless, less deft execution let’s you see the magician’s trick. Maybe it would have gone smoother for Patrick, who has more knowledge of the show, if one of the characters remained resistant to the idea of chess and the teaching character did most of the exposition as a conflict-piece rather than everyone jumping on board.

    Personal note: Working with street kids every day, I found one term missing when talking about the pawn and I was waiting for it. You “come at them sideways” or “come at their neck” if you don’t have the power to directly attack someone. It’s looked down upon as bad form, but would’ve been neat in terms of pawn’s attack. But editing is part of dialogue.

    K

    • Oh, and @Keith –

      I guess some of this is technically exposition, as it gives you a few pieces of hard information (Stringer and Avon’s roles, the way the stash moves). Given that it explains very little about the actual show without pulling back one layer, I wouldn’t call it “expository,” exactly. (Of course, I’m coming at the term “exposition” as a dirty word.)

      Far as conflict goes, the one character (Bodie?) remains resistant to learning, and [EDIT: would rather play checkers] — and, even in the end when he’s on board, you can sense the conflict inherent in his final statement, “Unless they some smart-ass pawns.” Meaning, he thinks he’s one of those smart-ass pawns, and who knows what he’s going to do to prove it? It’s possible that larger conflict in this scene could’ve given it more of an edge, but I dunno if that would end up too obvious?

      As for the slang — keep in mind that this was written in 2001-2002 (slang changes) and is unique to Baltimore and actually has its own slang intrinsic to the show (at least, so far — phrases like “Do I have suction with you?” is something they use internally among police and politicians). The creators of the show, keep in mind, comprise one Baltimore detective and one Baltimore reporter. Authenticity was apparently one of their goals. I dunno.

      – c.

  • Yeah, I was coming at “expository” more as a vehicle to expose the theme of an episode (or series) as in “Traditional street roles vs. personal roles” or some such and less about direct exposure of plot.

    The “smart-ass pawns” line was perfect in terms of end-conflict, I was thinking that perhaps more of a conflict throughout would have lessened a forced perception, but it actually may have just muddied the dialogue.

    I feel ya on the slang, I hadn’t realized it was so long ago. Still, it’s on the list to watch.

    K

    • @Keith –

      Definitely watch it — especially given your profession, I think it’ll be interesting. I’m only five episodes deep in the first season (thank you, On-Demand).

      – c.

  • My first read through on it I was delighted. I love chess, and as I read I smiled. The second pass I started to find fault, due to the “deliberately good” quality of it.

    I try not to do second passes on things I enjoy. I prefer to go with my original feeling about them. I’ve ruined some movies for myself where in the theater I sat enraptured, and then after discussion and reflection decided I was crazy for thinking the flick was as good as originally experienced.

    What I’m going to do here is go back to my original opinion. This was enjoyable. (couldn’t click the video because the toddler is standing right here)

  • I don’t know… it just feels forced to me, also. I see what it does, but I just don’t see this happening. If the lead into was it natural, maybe… but this still feels like the writer being very heavy-handed with what the characters are saying. Does it do a lot? Absolutely, but sometimes less is more.

    Dunno. Seems cool, but not sold. Please, say you still love me.

    • @Scionical: I don’t love you. Please exit through the airlock. You will be properly vented into space. No, it’s all good. I agree the hand is heavy. But to me, it’s a believable scene (especially if you know the characters a little bit). Obviously, people play board games. You see ‘em in the park — old guys playing the game, young guys up and coming. It’s checkers and chess, and in terms of the thugs we’re dealing with, some are clearly playing with a checker game in mind, and others are playing with a chess game. This feels like a natural scene of how the New Guy (“D” is coming in as something of a reformer, and he’s smarter than the average thug) comes in and switches it up. Though, again — chess as a conveyance for the scene is pretty on-the-nose.

      @Julie: That’s my inclination. The first time I saw it, the dialogue just gut-punched me. It was great because I felt like I was getting it all. It was as if the characters and writers were saying, “You want to know what THE WIRE is about? Here it is.” A second look-through put my mind onto the criticisms of it, which tells me that yes, those criticisms are valid, but it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) reduce the impact I felt the first time I saw it/heard it.

      – c.

    • @Paul –

      You can thank me later.

      (To be clear, I’m not that deep into The Wire, and have long been resisting it. But the recent ICEKATON SNOWVIATHAN plus On-Demand and nothing else on TV forced the wife and I to sit and try an episode. I don’t think she’s quite as enamored as I, but I’m in love with the show. I have to thank… well, pretty much everybody for telling me I need to watch it.)

      – c.

  • I guess I’m one of those people that’s okay with “deliberately forced,” if it’s clever. Sometimes, you just need to get some exposition in, and sometimes there isn’t any way to make it not sound forced. So, if it’s going to sound forced anyway, at least make it work on multiple levels, as Chuck says.

    (And this is coming from someone who HATES the “chess as metaphor for political struggle” trope.)

    • @Eddy –

      That’s my feeling in this case. I’d far rather this than a tired “detective” scene where they *tell* us how the Barksdale crew runs its shit. Here, we are shown it in an interesting way. It’s TV, so it’s not like they have the time or money to literally show the mechanisms in one fell swoop, so here, we’re shown it with the pieces on a chessboard. Atop it sits the double-triple-duty of how these characters interact, how the themes of the show apply, how this advances the story in a “changing of the guard” kind of way (checkers –> chess).

      – c.

  • February 16, 2010 at 9:34 AM // Reply

    I’m in the “It feels forced” camp. However the dialogue in itself sets up a few things. Obviously it’s an easy comparison to their lives, and people they know. As you said, it shows us the characters. Another thing is it shows us their culture, and intellegence. The best line was at the end “Unless they some smart-ass pawns.” This told me everything I needed to know about Preston’s personality in a nutshell.

    Here’s the thing that bothers me about the whole scene. Anyone who knows how to play chess knows that it’s not something you can teach…even the basics…in a few minutes using a few metaphors. It kind of insults the viewers intelligence that way because it’s “hammer over the head” obvious that the scene has nothing to do with chess. I don’t like when people crowbar things in just to make a point. If you have a point to make…make it. Don’t screw around with colorful fluff that has no point other than to be pretentious. I don’t watch the show but I would have to assume that it’s a setup scene for something that comes later, it’s recapping older events, or it’s playing to a theme. Too convenient. It’s also cliche. Every movie/show you see about the inner city shows people playing chess. Couldn’t they have used something else? I don’t know. I’ve heard great things about this show. Based on that scene I wouldn’t be inclined to watch the series.

    Sorry if this seems a heavy handed attack on the scene. That’s the way I see it, though. Feel free to flame me into oblivion.

    • @Paul D:

      FLAME ON.

      Okay, no, not really.

      I will however counter with: I think this was an excellent way of teaching chess. Not the intricacies, not the long strategies, but as CHESS 101, it’s pretty solid. (Lacking: discussion of the knights, the bishops.) Watching that scene, though, you get a pretty good primer on chess, and a primer that was far faster than anything anyone ever taught me about the game. Moreover, I don’t think this is supposed to be the end-all be-all of that scene. The scene doesn’t end here — we just don’t see its conclusion. One could assume that “D” continues teaching them the game. So, an insult to chess players, I don’t quite buy it.

      – c.

    • Oh, and as for it being cliche –? I don’t know. I’m not sure I’m familiar with the “gang thugs as chess players” cliche. What else would’ve served that scene? Instead of straight-up criticizing, come up with a solution. It’s easy to pick something apart. More difficult is the act of coming up with something better.

      So — do it up better. I don’t mean “rewrite the scene,” but reframe it. Tell us how you would’ve done it. I don’t mean this as a snarky, “Nyah nyah,” thing, I mean, there really might be a better way to frame it. So, give us a way.

      – c.

      • (Oh, @Paul — caught your second comment a little late. Feel better, and don’t actually feel it necessary to take on the task of reframing that dialogue. You’re ill, which means I won’t eject you from the airlock along with Rick. It’s so cute, he’s out there tapping on the glass, his cheeks puffed out, his eyes ready to asplode out his head. Everybody wave to Rick!)
        :)

        – c.

  • February 16, 2010 at 9:57 AM // Reply

    I didn’t mean it as an insult mainly to chess players. That didn’t come out right. It was more of an insult to me, the viewer. The scene had nothing to do with chess. He might as well have been teaching them how to operate a nuclear power plant, it was all about the metaphors. Chess was obviously used as a tool to drive the scene.

    The balance between teaching chess and using it as a metaphor was way off. By the end of the scene, the instructor was almost lusting over the parralels between their life and the game. Was this his actual intention, to teach them their place in the crime syndicate? To be fair I’m going to go watch the episode to see the before and after, maybe my opinion will change.

    For now, though, that’s still my stance.

    • I don’t think he’s trying to teach them their place, no. I think he’s just trying to teach them a tricky game — metaphors and analogies help people understand complex ideas better. You look at how science teachers describe the makeup of a microscopic cell, they’ll use terms and comparisons that are metaphorical. “The mitochondria is like a power plant, giving power to the rest of the cell…” It’s not a power plant. But the teacher says it, and suddenly, you *get* it.

      So, you’re trying to teach a pair of Pit thugs the game of chess. How do you do it? Further, as a writer, how do you frame that scene so that it has context and meaning *and* so it speaks to the characters involved?

      Your stickball scene has no context. It has no connection to anything beyond the description of the game. Where are the layers? If, in the episode, it was just a scene of him trying to explain how to play chess and it didn’t have those layers, then it should end up on the cutting room floor. Dialogue must have something to do, both inside the piece and beyond it. You’re taking the vehicle of the game (be it chess, stickball, Monopoly) as the point. It’s not — it’s the delivery.

      Chess as a framing point gives us a number of things:

      a) We all get it. Chess as a framing mechanism is easy to understand.
      b) The “upgrade from checkers to chess” is a critical component, here.
      c) While it’s not overt, conflict *does* exist in this scene, and it’s bound to that checkers < chess element.
      d) Chess has a direct analog to the situation in the city of Baltimore. In fact, the "king stay the king" is a necessary element, here. The way the scene ends ("smart-ass pawns") is meant to be a bit of a dipshit, ironic, "this guy doesn't get it" idea. Because no matter how smart those pawns happen to be — say it with me — "the king stay the king." You only get that through chess. It almost *has* to be chess for that to fire properly.

      – c.

  • February 16, 2010 at 9:58 AM // Reply

    /waves at Rick.

    You guys are playing stickball on a hockey rink? Let me show you how it’s played. This is the net. You get into the net…you control the game. This is the goalie. He moves like a wild man in any direction. He’ll stop at nothing to keep you away from that net. He’s quick and cunning. Then there’s the defensemen. They hold their ground and move backwards as you come at them. Their movement is limited, but they can hit you like a freight train. These guys are the forwards…the front lines. When you have the puck, they’ll come at you fast but be careful…they normally hit you from the sides when you aren’t looking. The forwards…you can get passed them quick. Once you get passed them, they out of the game. “Unless they some really smart Forwards”

  • February 16, 2010 at 10:04 AM // Reply

    Of course, inner city kids playing hockey isn’t believable at all. My intention is that there could have been a hundred things they used in that scene. All of the old school thug movies have chess in them (Boyz N The Hood, Friday, etc.) I would like to have seen something more original, that’s all. Could have used football, or poker (I like the poker idea. Aces / Kings / Queens / Flushes). Anyway…I’m just cranky and sick. I probably would have had a negative thing to say at anything you posted.

  • February 16, 2010 at 10:16 AM // Reply

    I guess I need to see the show to understand the context of the metaphors. Points taken. Going to go check Netflix for the show now.

    • Context with the show will definitely help. Plus, it’s a pretty bad-ass show.

      I will add that, even without context I think this scene still pops. For me. YMMV, obviously.

      – c.

  • My reaction was picturing the same scene transplanted into my own socioeconomic strata — some white-bread suburban guys looking at chess through their own experiential lenses. Pawn structure becomes labor unions. Bishops and the rigidity of ideology (one holds power only on white squares, the other only on black). Knights leading to a disseration on Adam Smith, specialization and the division of labor. En Passant and castling as an introduction to the idea of loop holes and tax law.

  • I don’t mind it being “too clever by half”, mostly because truly authentic dialogue on the screen takes too long. Verbal stutters, back and forth, etc.

    However, even as somebody who’s never seen The Wire, I did like the layers. Clearly he’s trying to send the two checkers players a message: warning, education, all those sorts of things packaged into a gaming tutorial, possibly connected to the fact that his uncle is somebody (even if my context-free brain doesn’t know whom).

    Also, it reflects the point from a few days ago on dialogue and action. The dialogue is punctuated with action as Barksdale instructs them on chess, pointing out the pieces, gesturing, what have you.

    Good object lesson in a number of directions.

    • @Kyle: I’m with you. That’s part of why I posted it — my fascination with Scenes Doing More Than One Thing and that earlier notion of Motive and Motion.

      – c.

  • I agree with Julie that sometimes you should stick with your first reaction.  It’s easy to fall into the process of analyzing something you enjoyed.  You like it and now you want to talk about it.  Understandable.  The problem comes from picking it apart until you’ve dissected it into unrecognizable pieces and the feeling you once had is lost.  Just because something doesn’t hold up to every criticism doesn’t mean that your initial reaction was wrong. 
     
    After watching this episode my initial reaction was that I really enjoyed this scene.  Whether or not chess as a metaphor is cliche, I think it works because the characters feel real.  What’s most impressive to me is how one scene does so much.  In three minutes it reveals character traits for both the characters in the scene and those discussed as well as the over arching themes for the season/show.

  • February 16, 2010 at 1:03 PM // Reply

    Just as a long delayed aside, I really like ‘The Wire’ (watching the 2nd season now). The pacing is much slower than the usual cop fodder, and that really gives the components room to breathe and develop.

    And I don’t think this is a bad scene – it’s multilayered, it further develops the characters involved, and it has good thematic weight.

    My beef is that it immediately threw me out of the scene and made me aware that a middle-class white guy wrote it as a way of illustrating the show’s themes and advancing character development through incongruous imagery. It made me stop believing in the narrative for a minute, and even though I spent that minute appreciating the technical craft involved, that’s a minute I wasn’t caught up in the story.

    Stunt dialogue is all good unless you glimpse the wires. Which is, like, an ironic play on words n’shit.


    Patrick

  • Interesting discussion. I’ll add that – hey LOOK at all the layers of meaning in this one bit of dialogue. That’s hard to do.

    Also, good dialogue in movies/TV isn’t like real life dialogue, which is dull and pedantic and often has no subtext. Good dialogue feels real but is heightened.

    That said, if it didn’t feel at all real to you, then it doesn’t work for you. To me, it works, partially because another mini-theme in The Wire is how much intelligence and talent lurks in the folks of the inner city. Those brains end up getting used to push drugs/form gangs/plan killings, etc., rather than being put to productive use for society. D and the gang are smart, and we see that here.

    This is one of the more “heavy handed” scenes of dialogue in The Wire. Most of the time the metaphors aren’t so obvious. In fact, it’s one of the few series that demands a lot of its viewers and doesn’t spell things out too clearly. It’s also in the first season, when Dave Simon and Co are still figuring out how to write for TV. The show just gets better and better as the seasons go on. If you like this at all, you’ll love the series.

    • @Nina — thanks for the comment, and good point. I can’t wait to get deeper into it. It’s interesting to me that already, with a few earworms from the detectives, “D” is already starting to question things: “Why can’t we just sell drugs without shooting people all the damn time?”

      Then you look at Stringer Bell’s strip club office, and it’s downright *boring* — it’s like an accountant’s office (except, erm, with big baskets of money floating around). The guy’s a bookkeeper. Smart, clearly.

      – c.

  • If deliberately good is a bad thing, then I take heart in the fact that my best work tends to be merely okay, which is apparently better, or accidentally good, which is best of all.

  • @Chuck. Yeah, Stinger’s super smart and a numbers guy uninterested in the strippers – all that’s just a cover. With education, Stringer could’ve been a CEO, and Avon maybe a general. Simon’s acutely aware of this and brings it home big time when he directly deals with the education system in S4. His co-creator, Ed Burns, was a Bal’mer cop, then became a middle school math teacher. They really know whereof they speak.

    And D is extremely sensitive and quick to pick up on the pain their livestyle brings. It plays an important part of the plot this season. But I can say no more!

    Thanks for generating a lively discussion!

  • February 16, 2010 at 6:28 PM // Reply

    As a compare and contrast, my favourite scene is from episode 4, where McNulty and Bunk investigate a crime scene.

    All they do is say ‘fuck’ (and variations thereof) over and over again, so it’s exactly a dialogue-focused scene, but the way that repetition aligns with their actions and interactions says an immense amount about their characters, about their approach to their work, and about their emotional relationship with victims and murderers – and at the same time illustrates the process of investigating a scene that draws you into it by showing rather than telling.

    It’s also a contrived scene, but this time around it feels right – possibly because the contrivance is not in putting dialogue in, but leaving it out.


    Patrick

  • While I know it’s a matter of taste, I wonder how many folks who claim to dislike this sort of “forced” or “deliberately good” dialogue have Tarantino, Kevin Smith or Joss Whedon stuff on their shelves. ;-)

    Some great hands at dialogue, no question – some of the best in the business, if you ask me – but “naturally” wouldn’t exactly be my descriptor of choice for any of them.

    I mean, opinion is opinion, I’m just putting that out there.

  • I withheld my comment on the Scene of All Fucks because I assume it is forthcoming as a subject of its own here, ere long. It’s also taken more or less from David Simon’s book, HOMICIDE, by the way.

  • February 16, 2010 at 9:26 PM // Reply

    Pete:

    I think one of the differences, at least for me, is that those authors deliberately aim to produce stylized material that has a non-natural, artificial feel to it. It’s not real, it doesn’t aim to be real, and its unreality is part of its appeal.

    ‘The Wire’ on the other hand, prided itself (or was prided for others) for its authenticity and realism. And that scene doesn’t feel authentic to me, and despite its quality, that false note rings loud in my brainears.


    Patrick

  • February 16, 2010 at 9:29 PM // Reply

    Will –

    I just finished reading ‘Homicide’ a few days ago, and I don’t recall that scene being in the book. Where was it?

    (There’s an exchange in a bar between McNulty and Bunk that was directly lifted from ‘Homicide’, but that’s in episode 7.)


    Patrick

  • I guess we just disagree on the authenticity of the scene, then. Based on the characters, I think it’s believable – just because they’re pushers and corner boys doesn’t mean they’re incapable of analogy, in their own way. Especially with D’Angelo as the one primarily responsible for the idea.

    If nothing else, speaking as a prof who has worked with all different levels of students, sometimes the most unlikely metaphors and analogies will come up during class, as students find ways to connect with the material. Maybe that’s why it didn’t bother me so much.

  • Pete:

    I’m not saying the characters are incapable of analogy, not at all. It’s more that I didn’t feel the scene fit organically with the tone and context around those characters.


    Patrick

    • I may tackle it in a future post, yeah, but the “Fuck” dialogue scene — which I loved — actually feels far less authentic and organic than the chess scene. People teach other people chess. People do not usually communicate in one-word profanity bursts. (And this might be an issue of authenticity vs. reality, because the reality might be that it happened, but that doesn’t make something feel authentic.)

      Again, I loved that scene. It cracked me up and held me glued to the seat, if only for the suspense of, “What are they finding with each profane invocation? How do these clues unfold?”

      But I don’t consider it a more authentic scene than the chess one. Once more, YMMV.

      – c.

  • As I recall, it’s not played as a scene in the book, but it’s given as something like a throwaway: A mention that detectives can communicate whole conversations using just the word “fuck.” I may be overselling the connection — I’ve read HOMICIDE three times, but not lately.

  • I believe in a later interview Simon said that the “fuck” scene was in part driven by all those years of Homicide wherein you could not use the word.

    Without getting spoilery, I love the chess scene because it takes on a different meaning when you’ve seen the end of the season. And then a different one at the end of season two. And the same for three, and finally again at the end of the series. The game played out in The Wire is a long game. This scene may be a little forced, maybe (though in my head D returns to try and teach the guys chess multiple times when he’s off-camera, or it seems like he would). But damn, how it evolves in meaning as you go.

  • Take your time. You’re not the kind of guy who’s in deep peril of forgetting what’s been going on. But once you finish up, it might be a good time to go back and rewatch the chess scene.

    Also, to re-invoke the spirit of “but is it authentic”, I think a certain willingness to accept The Wire as sometimes larger than life is necessary to get the most out of it. Because Omar.

    (Who’s based on a real guy himself. Wheels within wheels.)

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