The Wire Middle Ground Recap Season 3 Episode 11 – In the previous episode of “The Wire, the war between Marlo and Avon heats up when Marlo personally dispatches the woman who set him up with two shots to the body and one to the mouth. This sets Avon smoldering with rage. It’s very discouraging to Stringer who now finds it difficult to hold Avon back from bloody campaign for revenge.
The Wire Middle Ground Recap Season 3 Episode 11
Episode 11 begins like a spaghetti western with Omar Little facing off with brother Mouzone in a dark alley. The background music summons memories of “High Noon” or perhaps of Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” I’m not sure it was intended to be funny but as the two face off, there is a debate about the firepower each one holds in their hand. My pick would be the .45 auto Omar holds instead of the puny Walther PPK .38 Brother Mouzone holds – but then again I’m a big believer in the wound channel effect. The scene is funny, though realism wasn’t a factor there. In any case, I was relieved when the two reach a rapprochement and nobody dies.
Meeting of Great Minds
With the newspapers aware of the drug arrest free zones, the city fathers are in a tough spot. Burrell and Rawls have to find a way they’re not left holding the bag because of Colvin’s strategy. There’s a heated discussion in Mayor Royce’s office. Royce seems to be a rather open-minded individual – he thinks there may be a way to dodge the political bullet. His chief of staff argues vehemently against it, seeing it to be the political disaster it really is. Gene, the academic activist, is at the meeting in the mayor’s office and argues that they should hold off on shutting down the ‘Hamsterdams” of Baltimore. He finds “remarkable” the program of free condoms, clean hypodermic needles (needle exchanges), free blood testing. His biggest thrill is to be “interacting with an at-risk community that is largely illusive.”
Stringer Bell’s Line
The difficulty of getting a wire on Stringer Bell and Avon continues to vex Freamon’s group. McNulty comes to the rescue along with the help of his FBI friend and Special Agent Terrence Fitzhugh. The FBI Special Agent tells him there are unused Triggerfish detection devices sitting in the supply room at police headquarters. No one in the Baltimore Police Department has figured out how to use the devices to pull phone numbers out of the air. Their use is strictly limited by federal law but not this time. With the help of the assistant state’s attorney, Freamon’s team is finally able to pull Stringer Bell’s contact number. A major coup and plot point in this penultimate episode.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
There’s an exchange of roles between Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale. In past episodes, Stringer Bell is the man trying to restrain Avon from committing murderous acts in the streets. There is gang war going on and it’s not good for business. Avon acknowledges he’s “pure gangster” and wants to go after Marlo with everything he’s got, especially after Marlo personally shot Devonne to death. But in this role reversal, Stringer finds out he’s been ripped off for hundreds of thousands of dollars by the crooked state assemblyman Clay Davis. His own reaction is gangster; he orders Slim to put a hit on Clay Davis. This is where Avon is the peacemaker, coming out strong in his arguments that there is no worse an idea than the one Stringer has of killing Clay Davis. It will bring all the forces of the law enforcement universe upon them.
A Pair of Betrayals
You knew it would come to a head sometime. The difference between Stringer’s style of doing business and Avon’s style was bound to be create conflict. I thought it would end up in gun violence or some other calamitous fashion but Stringer Bell has a more mundane idea about how to get Avon out of his way.
He gives the police a major win when he simply betrays Avon to Major Colvin. This is the biggest get for the Baltimore Police than they could ever hope for with their persistent surveillance and wiretaps. It was like being handed the enemy’s head on a platter.
Meanwhile, Avon is confronted by Brother Mouzone at the barbershop. Brother Mouzone believes Omar’s account that Stringer set them up. Brother Mouzone reminds Avon that it is his word and reputation that keep the door open with he New York connection: Stringer represents Avon, Avon must rectify Stringer’s actions. Avon tries to smooth things over with an offer of money. Brother Mouzone rejects the offer. Avon must give up Stringer to remain in favor with New York.
But betrayals are always sad things, for loyalty is highly prized and rare among people. The sad scene where Avon and Stringer reminisce over old times is especially poignant as the audience knows that the betrayal on both sides has already occurred. The cinematography and direction is especially acute at that point in a scene filled with closeups on noble profiles reminiscent of Shakespearean tragedy.
Angels of Death
Omar and Brother Mouzone have teamed up to settle things with Stringer. They track him to a building project he’s involved with and watch as his shady business partners arrive. “We gonna’ have to go through the front,” Omar says ominously. “That’s a change for you, isn’t it?” asks the equally cold-blooded Mouzone. Inside the building, Stringer is leaning hard on the building contractor who helped Senator Davis rip him off. Stringer Bell’s story ends there as Omar with his signature street sweeper smokes Bell’s bodyguard. Brother Mouzone has the other exit blocked when Stringer tries to run.
Stringer Bell’s death came as a shock to fans of The Wire. He belongs in the Hall of Fame for fascinating Big Bads – along with Gustavo Fring, Al Swearengen, and maybe Lorne Malvo. In the next episode, Lester will ask Kima how Jimmy McNulty is taking Stringer’s death. “Like he was kin,” Kima reports. Like McNulty, Stringer usually has been the smartest guy in the room. In the new life he aspired to, he was no match for the practiced, systemic corruption of Senator Clay Davis. In his old life, he swerved outside the lines and collected too many enemies. And sadly, it all caught up with him. RIP Russell ‘Stringer’ Bell.