The Wire

Season 1 Episode 4

Old Cases

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jun 23, 2002 on HBO

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

out of 10
246 votes
  • I'm still laughing

    This episode rates a 10 just for the perfect immediate payoff - D's sad little recounting of his 'work' for his uncle, and the reactions of his listeners at total odds to how he is still affected by the act. Then Bunk and McNulty, in a perfect 'show, don't tell' piece of writing, absolutely in sync as they work out exactly what happened. Right down to the tap-tap-tap on the window. The most fantastic dialogue so far - how to write an entire scene with just variations on a them & show the long working history these two men have.

    All right - the rest of the episode was up to the usual standard of The Wire - but this shows just how good the writers are, and why it's worth sticking with the series!
  • Either the writers of this series are geniuses, or this is the Seinfeld of police dramas- on the surface, the pace is glacial and nothing much happens. But I can see the pieces starting to come together, and I suspect these guys know what they're doing.

    There were once again some nice touches in this episode- the detail in the story that Dee regaled the shorties with, the continued intrigue in the political arena, the glimpses into the personal lives of Kima and McNulty, the surprisingly canny police work of Lester, and the revelations about the dangerous Omar. But the prize scene has to be Bunk and McNulty at the old crime scene, working together like a well-oiled machine, with not a word passing between them, save a string of expletives. What a magnificent piece of writing and acting. You really got the feel of thier deep friendship and affinity for police work in the expert way they rip that crime scene apart and extract the truth.
  • The hunt for Omar begins. After the robbery the night before Avon puts a reward on the heads of Omar and his crew.

    As with all episodes The Wire doesn't set around one particular scene. There are several stories occurring all centred around the main plot which is the Unit's attempts to bring down Avon Barksdale.

    Herc and Carver continue to do things 'The Western District Way' They think that by getting hold of Bodie and using forceful methods they can get him to give up information on his bosses. When they realise Bodie's escaped detention they pay a visit to his Grandmother's house. An intrusion which Herc shows some heart for and apologises to the Grandmother.

    D'Angelo continues to gain 'respect' in the pit reminiscing to Wallace, Poot and Bodie about an old girlfriend of Avon's who was murdered. Although he doesn't say that he carried out the murder he implies that it was him as he was there. This is not D'Angelo bragging more him giving an insight to the younger soldiers about how things are. Highlighting the cold ruthlessness of his uncle which interestingly as viewers we don't actually see when Avon is on screen. There is no stereotype of the feared boss sitting in his office, Avon is happily shooting some hoops with his men whilst discussing the problem of Omar.

    Lester Freemon continues to surprise everyone including McNulty. This time he manages to get hold of D'Angelo's pager number thus giving the unit a chance of setting up a wire-tap on one of the regular pay phones in the pit. As we now discover Lester in 'natural police' and from here on in will be a main character throughout.

    Another memorable scene for this episode. As Bunk and Jimmy investigate an unsolved murder linked to Avon Barksdale they use the F word continually for a few minutes. This may sound dumb and maybe a little unnecessary however the scene works really well. What we see are two professional homicide detectives going about their investigation with an almost telepathic understanding of each other. It is clear that Bunk and Jimmy have investigated murders together for many many years and they understand how each other operates. A truly brilliant scene. One thing I love about The Wire is how it doesn't overdo the side stories. Yes it is necessary to have a glimpse of the private lives of certain 'main' characters. Here we see Jimmy's ex wife and Kima's girlfriend. However these scenes are thankfully not overdone throughout the season. The screen time of these annoying characters is just enough to warrant their existence. Yet another hour of amazing television which keeps the story moving along perfectly.
  • 104

    A solid episode of The Wire, if this show is anything, it definitely is realistic. The one scene that definitely was amusing from the episode was when Mccnulty and his partner solved the murder within one minute of observation, that was probably the best scene.

    We learn about MccNulty's illegitimate child, finally the group moves forward and decides to tap a wire (hence the title of the show, I'm guessing), so yes, we did get some substantial development. But scenes like where D'Angelo was telling that strange story about the girl he watched or the last scene between the two women, it's scenes like those that make me question why I watch this show.

    My point is, some scenes just drag out for too long, and it's really not doing much to the story line, I guess this season will tell if these little anecdotes are important. Solid episode overall, looking forward in seeing what's to come.
  • "Un-be-f**king-lievable"

    "The Wire" is so careful in taking its time to develop its storylines and its characters that it takes until the fourth episode until everything is basically layed out. That does make it sound slow, but the point is that the show was great in its previous episodes, but by now has developed its truly distinctive voice. Everything is in place here, everything is moving and, most importantly, everything is astonishingly fascinating. If you've been able to stay with the show till now, you'll have the feeling that it's impossible to get off it from now on because now every episode feels like an unforgettable and extraordinary journey, full of wondrous sights.

    There's the pre-title sequence that is so eloquent in its comic timing that you can only be amazed at the writers', actors' and director's skill. And, naturally, laugh out very loud. It's a perfect scene.

    There's Lester's ultimate coming out as a real police, as he first secretly does some police work just to present it to everyone on the team when they least suspect it and most need it. He does his thing and everyone looks at him with surprise and admiration, a feeling he is still not ready to accept that easily as he crawls back into his little corner. Only when McNulty basically takes him out of there, he is willing to go, because he knows that McNulty has seen something in him that rarely anyone has seen in him for a long time.

    McNulty's character is again fully on display, mostly because Jay is trying to explain to Rawls what makes McNulty tick. It is of course, again, brilliant to have Jay declare that McNulty always thinks he is the smartest guy in the room, just to let McNulty stare at Freamon for a long time with the clear realization in his eyes that there is indeed someone smarter (or at least as smart as) than him. That moment and the scene in the bar shows McNulty at his most likeable because once he gets over himself, he is the nicest person to have around.

    We get a new perspective on Omar, even though we still cannot be sure who he is and what his purposes really are. Same goes for D'Angelo who confesses to his crew how he supposedly killed a girl once. He tells the story to gain respect from the boys and as the camera work shows so brilliantly he gets it; especially from Bodie who regards him differently now.

    Finally, there's the scene that cannot be described with another word than "classic". Bunk and McNulty investigate a crime scene and for 4 whole minutes they use only the f-word and some variations of it, nothing else. This sounds like some sort of writer's idea of a clever joke, but, besides being extremly funny and strangely fascinating, it is also very clever. What the scene shows us, not only with those four-letter-words, but also with the actions of the two cops and with the reaction shots of the janitor who is watching them in silence, is how good they are at what they do and how perfectly they understand each other. We've sensed that bond in previous episodes but only here it becomes fully visible.
  • I believe I am falling in Love.

    I believe I am falling in Love. Again.

    This one really kicks things off and boy we have liftoff.

    Things I love about this show right now:

    OMAR: This man is an enigma. Why rob drug dealers? Why have a heart of gold? Especially when under the tutelage of "no heart"?

    D: This man has more in his past than the boyish looks seem to suggest. The kill was simply cold.

    McNulty: The f**k crime scene was pure TV genius. A murder solved in 30 seconds of continuous swearing is not something I see often and enjoy so much.

    Leicester Freeman: The lone wold returns home from the wilderness and in such a storming way.

    The wiretap plan: after much exhaustion, the team now finally push towards a wire tap.

    The "elders": finally come around to that fact that it is simply not good enough to sit on their hands whilst Avon Barksdale is pumping the veins of the projects full of Heroin.

    This show has so far felt like a snow covered plateau - silent and peaceful. Still. And one lands on it and wonders what all the fuss was about. Then there is some trembling and the ground shivers. And then the plateau falls off beneath your feet. And lo! The avalance is beautiful in its sheer natural brutality.

    I am falling. Falling slowly, inevitably, willingly in love with this show.
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