The Weekly Wire: “Natural Police”

Guess what? School’s in session again, you squirrely emmer-effers. Been a while since we did a Weekly Wire, ain’t it? It turned into the Not-So-Weekly Wire, I guess — didn’t seem to get as much response on the last one, and further, once second season started I was hesitant to rock up anything that might constitute a spoiler. Now we’re just about to start the fifth season, and once more I am reminded and convinced how incredible — and how dramatically potent and well-executed — this show is. A very well-planned, well-orchestrated show, but still a show with a great heaving heap of poetry, in its own fucked-up way. Below is a scene from Season Three — the truly Shakespearean season, possibly my favorite so far — and it doesn’t constitute much of a spoiler about anything, really. It’s just two detectives talking (and one looking on). So. This is dialogue. This is a scene. Class bell is ringing. Tell me about this. Talk it up. What do you like about it? Anything you’re not sure about? Speak about its execution, if you will.

McNulty: We’re good at this, Lester. In this town, we’re as good as it gets.

Lester: Natural po-lice.

McNulty: Fuck yes. Natural po-lice.

Lester: Tell me something, Jimmy. How exactly do you think it all ends?

McNulty: What do you mean?

Lester: A parade? A gold watch? A shining Jimmy-McNulty-day moment, when you bring in a case sooooo sweet everybody gets together and says, “Aw, shit! He was right all along. Should’ve listened to the man.” The job will not save you, Jimmy. It won’t make you whole, it won’t fill your ass up.

McNulty: I dunno, a good case—

Lester: Ends. They all end. The handcuffs go click and it’s over. The next morning, it’s just you in your room with yourself.

McNulty: Until the next case.

Lester: Boooooy, you need something else outside of this here.

McNulty: Like what? …dollhouse miniatures?

Lester: Hey, hey, hey, a life. A life, Jimmy! You know what that is? It’s the shit that happens while you’re waiting for moments that never come.


  • I like the scene, and I love the dialog. But it’s a little too on the nose for my taste. If you watch McNulty for more than a couple of episodes you already know this about him.

    It feels a little to me as if the writers are saying, “In case you missed it, McNulty needs to get a life. Something more than just being a cop. Did you catch it this time? ‘Cause we can hammer it home some more if you didn’t.”

    I understand that they have to have scenes like this, particularly when the overall arc spans several episodes and you never know when someone’s going to come into the series.

    There’s a scene in the first season where McNulty’s got his kids at the market and they see one of the people he’s trying to get some dirt on. So he uses the kid as a front and follow to tail him.

    The fact that he uses his kids in that capacity says essentially the same thing. He’s a cop first and foremost. That’s his life more than anything else. And it doesn’t have to be spelled out to the audience.

    • Stephen:

      I can see that, yeah. But we’re getting a few things here together in one scene:

      a) Another dose of “Freamon wisdom.”

      b) We know before now that McNulty *is* the job, but before this point we don’t get a clear view that maybe he recognizes how fucked up that is. It’s a tiny thing, but when Freamon calls him out, what do we see McNulty do? Go and look at the picture of Beedie (sp?) on the fridge — and that has foreshadowing written all over it. Before now, we’ve seen that he seems okay with his obsession, his compulsion, his connection to the job. This is the first time I think we get a whiff of self-awareness, though, and it leads nicely into the end of S3 and S4.

      c) There’s a nice turn, too, where we catch a whiff that Freamon is basically projecting. His life is just dollhouse minatures — but, realistically, he’s just as obsessive over the job.

      – c.

  • Excellent points. Though I’d always seen Freamon as McNulty in 20 years. Just as obsessive, sure, but he figured out the score before it killed him. He knows that if McNulty doesn’t do something he’s going to go where Freamon almost did, or maybe actually did.

    It just occurred to me that the best thing about this scene isn’t that there’s so much in it, but that everyone can come away from it with something different, engaging the audience in the story telling.

    Don’t kill the Weekly Wire! I just found it. I’m not done arguing yet!

    Of course, if you’re doing scene analysis, might I recommend the subtle and nuanced films of Jenna Jameson, or perhaps the Marilyn Chambers classics.

    • Stephen:

      Tell the world. Tell them to come here and together we will pick apart THE WIRE like Momma Baboons picking ticks from their Babyboons.

      Or, maybe we’ll just do WEEKLY PORN.

      Man, I really should do a post about porn.

      – c.

  • Lester’s last line in that scene is so true, and so apropos of the situation, and so what McNulty ought to hear, that it’s one of my favorite moments in all of The Wire.

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