‘The Wire’: Lester Freamon's in the Mood for Love

Photo: Nicole Rivelli/HBO

Episode title: "Late Editions"
Opening quote: "Deserve got nuthin' to do with it." —Snoop

We guess this must be the triumph before the fall, because as this week's episode opens, Freamon sees his months of hard work and investigative misconduct pay off. Monk, Cheese, and other lieutenants get caught dirty; Bunk arrests Chris on his murder rap; Marlo gets pulled in on a conspiracy charge. (Freamon makes a big show of picking up Marlo's phone, then picking up the clock Marlo's been taking pictures of, we guess to pretend like he's just figuring it all out.) That night, Carcetti — desperate for good news on the crime front — is ebullient ("We did not give up on this investigation," he declares about the investigation they gave up on). Freamon's drunk and goofier than we've ever seen him: "Chardene better be awake," he says, swaying happily, "because I do believe Lester Freamon's in the mood for love." We'd like to take a mental snapshot of Lester in this moment because he is so, so dear, and we're pretty sure the shit is about to hit the fan.

In lockup, Marlo and his men are not at all in a mood for love. Marlo's found out that Omar was calling him out by name on the streets and is furious: "My name is my name!" he shouts in a bravura scene as his lieutenants look abashed. The affidavits say "a source of information" tipped the police off to the phones; we know that source is Lester's illegal wiretap, but the gangsters think it's a snitch, and suspicion falls on Michael.

Gus has his suspicions too, and he's got a reporter friend following up on Jayson Scott Templeton's too perfect stories. Nerese contradicts one of Templeton's tales, and a vet with an awesome-looking prosthetic hand confides in Gus that there were incorrect details in the story about the homeless Iraq veteran as well. Meanwhile, the Sun's management team is positioning Templeton for a Pulitzer.

On Bubbles's one-year anniversary of sobriety, he makes an impassioned speech to his NA group, one that rivals Marlo's blunter monologue as an (in vain, we're sure) Emmy moment. "Ain't no shame in holding on to grief," he says, thinking of Sherrod, "as long as you make room for other things too." Meanwhile, Bubs's old buddy Kima meets with Daniels to fess up about McNulty's fake serial killer. Pearlman can't believe it, but the two of them head down to evidence control — Daniels wincing a little at where he once was exiled and, we're sure, dwelling on the distinct possibility that he could be there again soon. (Who's there now? None other than Auggie Polk, the drunk who washed out of Daniels's investigative unit way back in season one. "Beats workin'," he says.) They dial the number on McNulty's wiretap authorization and watch, horrified, as Marlo's impounded phone springs to life.

And then there's Snoop. Cold-blooded, casually vicious Snoop. Is it too late to say that we never quite bought Snoop as a character? Sure, we know that she's based, right down to her name, on Felicia Pearson, who was famously discovered by Michael K. Williams in a Baltimore club shortly after finishing a stint for second-degree murder. Be that as it may, though, she seemed the Wire character who most represented David Simon's tendency to drop life experience — his or someone else's — directly into The Wire, whether it fit perfectly or not. Snoop may be as authentic as can be, but she never felt all that real, perhaps because she was never shown to have any inner life at all.

That all changes in this week's episode. With most of the crew in jail, Snoop comes to Michael's corner and tells him she needs him that night to help her kill Big Walter. "No need to bring your iron," she says. "I got a clean nine for you with shaved numbers." When Michael sees Snoop meet Big Walter, though, he knows it's a trap and plans his counterattack. That night, he asks Snoop to pull over in an alley, then pulls a gun on her. "Smart," she says coolly. "You always was." "What'd I do wrong?" Michael asks; he seems more hurt than angry, still a child for one last moment, wondering at the unfairness of it all. "It's how you carry yourself," Snoop answers. "Always apart, always asking why. You was never one of us, and you never could be."

She turns away and faces the window, resigned to the fact that she's lost the game. She tries neither to bargain nor to fight. Instead, she indulges herself in one quiet moment of vanity, the first glimpse we've ever seen inside her: "How my hair look, Mike?" she asks. "Look good, girl," he answers tenderly, and puts a bullet in her head.