The Wire Season 1 Episode 8: Lessons

The Wire Season 1, Episode 8: Lessons. Det. Jimmy McNulty is a terrific police officer but a wreck in nearly every other aspect of his life. He's a manipulative co-worker, an unfaithful husband, and a clueless, though not unloving, father. Episode 8 opens with McNulty setting his young sons on the trail of the Barksdale drug operation's second-in-command Stringer Bell, with whom McNulty is, understandably, obsessed. While his sons conduct a front-and-follow on Bell, McNulty loses the boys in the mall. The scene fades to the opening credits while McNulty stands helplessly by as mall security page his boys over the intercom. Later in the episode, as McNulty recounts the event to his buddy Det. Bunk Moreland, he voices no regret at involving his boys in the escapade. In fact, he brags about it. Bunk is unimpressed.
Dominic West is ostensibly the star of the series and it's no mystery why. He's a wonderful actor and his character is central to all that transpires in the first season, though the argument could be made McNulty was eclipsed by other characters in later seasons. In the first episode of the series, David Simon establishes McNulty as the catalyst for the creation of the special detail that led ot the surveillance of the Barksdale crew and revived many of his colleague's stagnant careers and stanched their cynicism. Still, it's McNulty's outsized personality and his seemingly bottomless capacity for self-pity that makes him such a delightful character to watch, cheer for and occasionally to disparage.


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