The Wire Season 2 Episode 8: Duck and Cover

The Wire Season 2 Episode 8: Duck and Cover. From end to end, The Wire was a character study of a city, David Simon's beloved Baltimore, and the individual troubled lives of cops and robbers, pushers and politicians and the innocents who were too often caught in the crossfire (literally). Det. Jimmy McNulty is a tough character to pull for because he's an ill-tempered braggart (an Irishman, through and through) who suppresses the better angels of his conscience with alcohol and cheap sex. McNulty opens this episode by driving his car into bridge underpass supports -- several times. It would be disturbing and puzzling if viewers hadn't already witnessed McNulty's self-destructive and self-pitying tantrums. When he ends up bloodied in an all-night diner ordering eggs and scrapple and picking up the waitress, we might be tempted to dismiss the whole affair as Jimmy being Jimmy, and it certainly is that. But it's also Simon's way of reasserting McNulty's aching need to be needed. As McNutly's best friend says in his defense, "when he ain't policing he's a picture postcard of a drunken, self-destructive fuck-up. And when he is policing... he's pretty much the same motherfucker. But on a good case, he runnin' in front of the pack. That's as close as the man comes to bein' right." The show's resident sage Lester Freamon will eventually get fed up with McNulty's shenanigan's and urge him to get a life away from the stakeouts and the wiretaps. It's great advice that McNulty never embraces ... and the show is better for it.

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