The Wire: Taking Money that’s Given Away

Posted on November 26, 2012 by


I am re-watching the greatest TV series ever, The Wire again.  This time, I’m just starting with the 4th season, my favorite season, in the hopes of hooking the attention of the River woman.  So far so good.

One of the most intriguing story devices employed by The Wire was the parallel lives led by the characters living either in what appear to be vastly different situations or in different generations.  We see how the right-hand man of a drug kingpin can mirror the life of a Police major.  We see one crafty junkie attempt to reform his life, and how another one forms.  We see a stick-up man with ethics does his job, and see how a moral kid becomes a stick-up man.

Parallels between characters are seen in actions but heightened when one character says something in one situation, and it comes out from another character in another situation.

In this case, the quote is this, taken from the 2nd Episode “Soft Eyes” in the 4th Season:

“I’ll take anybody’s money if they’re giving it away.” – Namond Brice

“I’ll take any motherfucker’s money if he givin’ it away.” – Clay Davis

Clay Davis is a corrupt state senator, who skillfully wheedles money out of two smart, important albeit inexperienced characters.

Namond Brice is a tough-talking 8th grader, who acts as a leader of a group of young pre-teens.  He’s not much of a wheedler, as much as he is a legacy.  He is the son of the Barksdale “muscleman” Wee-Bay, from which he and his mother reap material benefits.

Namond Brice says what he says, calmly, when explaining to his friend Mike why he took $200 in free cash from the muscle man of the kingpin drug dealer, Marlo Stanfeld.   His friend Mike refused cash on the grounds that he didn’t want to owe anybody anything.

Clay Davis says what he says in anger and desperation, after receiving a subpoena from the City’s Major Crimes Unit for money laundering explaining to the his friend, incumbent Mayor Royce, that its impossible to raise money in West Baltimore from laundromats and “tiny ass Korean groceries.”

What Mike says speaks to one of the recurring themes in this series:  there are almost always strings attached to money.

There are obligations to be met almost every time money is given.  Clay Davis is tasked with finding developmental property for Barksdale Kingpin right-hand man Stringer and to hold off campaigning for incumbent Mayor Royce.  While we don’t see what he did with the free $200, we see Namond dressed in expensive clothing thanks to his mother, but he is tasked with and actively forced by his mother to deal drugs.

Clay Davis routinely shirks his obligations to those he deals with.  Namond wants to shirk his obligations as a dealer.

Both of these characters, leaders, find a way to avoid all the consequences in “taking money.”  Both, through a kind of charm.  One through a conscious, skillful wheedling, one through a loud mouth, but serendipitous turn of events.  Clay Davis puts on a politicians’ face and charms his way out of the charges.  Namond is the loud mouth, the squeaky wheel who gets the grease, whose layers are discovered, and adopted by the former Police Major Bunny Colvin.

Posted in: The Wire