Ah, now that’s much better. Not only does “Transitions” put less focus on the McNulty plot that I loathe so much, the rest of the players also seem to be returning to their old form. Omar’s back in town and on the hunt and Marlo’s no longer playing nice with the other dealers. It’s odd to praise a series for repeating itself but this one was built on cycles and I’m much more excited to see the latest iteration than some nonsense about a fake serial killer.
We’ve seen Omar go to war with Marlo’s crew once before, and we saw him go to war with the Barksdale crew twice before that, but this time (just like the last three times) it’s personal. One has to wonder why the man who allegedly embodies The Game is forever at odds with its most powerful players. If The Game is God then Omar serves as its avenging angel, sparing the innocent and striking down those who transgress its rules. We see him fall into that role here, sparing slim Charles and initiating the hunt for Marlo.
Marlo certainly seems deserving of some wrath at this point. If torturing and killing Butchie wasn’t enough then betraying and murdering Joe certainly was. It’s not merely the killing of likeable characters that puts Marlo outside the rules of The Game; it’s the killing without cause or consequence. There’s no need for either the blind man or the grandpa to die beyond Marlo’s own ego. He’s can’t let slights, however old, go just as he can’t “play the son” even when doing so gets him more money than he knows what to do with. It’s the kind of hubris that’s just begging for a beat down.
At least, that’s what we want Omar to do. Whether or not it’s “deserved” is another question. I said at some point in season four’s write ups that Marlo is what exposes the lie of The Game. We all cry foul and claim he’s broken the rules, but the world Marlo lives in has no rules. He has no incentive to show loyalty or let bygones be bygones and it’s Joe who’s mistaken in thinking that there’s something to be gained in working with others; at least, that’s what Marlo would claim. The conflict here is being set up as a trial by combat, with Omar championing the code of the street while Marlo represents the law of the jungle.
The rest of this episode was also pretty solid, with Carver proving (again) that he’s become a good cop and Burrell proving that politics trumps competence every time.
Marlo’s cold/satisfied stare as Joe dies is pure sociopath.
Jimmy and Beadie’s troubles are a rather well executed bit of marital strife. We’ve seen almost none of her since season two and so our sense of her character is built purely on fond memories. All we really know here is that McNulty’s screwing around on a nice girl. It’s an uncomplicated look at their relationship but the lack of information makes it work within the context of this show.
Erv explicitly complains about the politicization of law enforcement on his way out the door. He’s right, of course, but it’s also a crass excuse for his incompetence.