I'm afraid to say I agree with ChristyCash that episode 45 was, relative to The Wire's usual high standards, a relatively weak offering. I share some of her concerns about the scene in the teachers' lounge which struck me as unduly schematic and suffering from a "show me, don't tell me" kind of problem.

What I found really problematic, however, was the scene between Rawls and Carcetti which I'll happily admit was, on its own terms, a well-staged and compelling scene. The problem was that Rawls' actions didn't really make sense. Surely Rawls (who's always been portrayed as a smart guy and a canny political operator) understands that Carcetti is already inclined to want to fire Burrell, that Rawls himself is Burrell's logical successor, and that Rawls' whiteness is, under the circumstances, the main political impediment to giving him the job. Under the circumstances, why would Rawls decide that acting like a huge racist in front of Carcetti and Carcetti's black chief political advisor is a good idea? He needs to be trying to do the reverse and convince Team Carcetti that he can somehow minimize African-American political anger at his potential appointment.

That said, the Chris and Snoop scenes in this episode -- killing the dude because he doesn't know Baltimore club music and training new soldiers -- were both totally awesome.

A correspondent wonders if "is Herc supposed to be a stand-in for the US, and Marlo for Osama bin Laden?" The theory here is that Marlo has provoked Herc into overreacting and is going to wind up reaping huge benefits. If Herc winds up leaning hard on Little Kevin, that may, for example, smoke Randy out as a rat and wind up getting him killed.

I actually doubt that there's a really specific national security policy allegory in mind here. I do think, however, that you're seeing a definite generic concordance between inner-city law enforcement and counterinsurgency strategy. The best example of this in 45 was the guy on the bike who the Eastern District cops semi-entrapped. The dude, as you can see, is scarcely a hardened offender. He has a job. He doesn't have any drugs for sale on his person. He doesn't want to deal drugs, all things considered. But he lives in the neighborhood, he knows where the drugs can be found, he has some kind of knowledge of the game. His inclination, however, is to ride his bike to work and have nothing to do with it.

The Eastern DEU guys' heavy-handed strategy, however, is to push the guy until he agrees to conduct a drug deal. Then they arrest him. "One down," remarks the Eastern officer. But of course the guy isn't "down" at all -- he's hardly going to be locked up for a very long time on this piddling charge. Once he gets out of the clink, however, he's going to be without a job. And, now blessed with a criminal record but lacking a bike, he's going to have a much harder time getting a job. Now the incentives have switched and he does want work in the game. A man's got to eat, after all. Not only does he have more economic need for the game, but he's also learned that efforts to stay out of the game don't pay the dividends he was hoping for -- the boys in blue pinch you either way. Ill-considered policies actually create the problem they're supposed to be mitigating.