We Own This City Recap: Show Me a Hero

We Own This City Recap: Show Me a Hero ...

It''s unlikely that We Own This City would be a black comedy rather than a drama. I mean, how would you interpret the tens of thousands of sins by which the men of the Gun Trace Task Force performed in stumbling people down under their badges? They take a guy home during what is a armed robbery. They pay thousands of dollars in overtime and take them to the US Attorney General, according to them. They do not perform sotriating these ridiculous crimes against American citizens that

There is a deeper issue with We Own This City, which transcends its strengths and weaknesses as agitprop or institutional criticism, and is on full display in this weeks episode. Dramatically speaking, what We Own This City lacks is characters.

There are a lot of people on stage, some of whom you may even remember from one week to the next. But the vast majority of those individuals can be divided into two camps: exposition givers and exposition receivers.

Many of the show''s most prominent roles include Sieracki, Jensen, and Wise; DOJ employees Steele and Jacksonfall are among those who have fallen into the latter category; their role is simple to interview or interrogate other people about what''s going on, so that we in the audience can learn.

Then there is the other camp, the exposition givers. Crooked cops like Gondo and Rayam and Ward, people in charge of the government, including the mayor and the chief of the police, and guest stars like Treat Williams, a cop-turned-professor Brian Grabler, have responded to interrogators and interviewers questions to provide additional information that the show then transmits to us viewers.

Both sides of the equation are dramatically inert. I suppose there is an occasional flash of human interest, like Jensen''s flute playing (Sieracki, foreseeably, asks if she knows any Jethro Tull), but often these people are walking, breathing Wikipedia articles or Baltimore Sun investigations. They don''t function the way characters in a drama are supposed to, living and changing and growing and surprising us.

Those qualities are reserved for a limited number of actors on the show. Wayne Jenkins is the most obvious case, and boy oh boy does the episode ever come alive in the rare instances when he appears on screen, blasting the Geto Boys in his patrol car or testing a young cop''s willingness to break the rules. (The kid says fuck no, and sure enough, hes out of the squad.)

Hersl, Jenkins'' colleague, and a legendaryly brutal cop in his own right, are among the lesser known people to come up with a dark folk hero, a reverse Robin Hood, who greatly benefits from actor Jamie Hector''s magnetic screen presence. On the flipside, Sean Suiter, the honest cop who greatly benefits from the experience, will get into at least one major throwdown before the end.

There is still very little justice in the world, whether on the small screen or outside, and the respective fates of Jenkins and Suiters are already documented in stone. If only the series starring them would have correctly immortalized them by giving them a fertile dramatic environment in which to live, instead of putting off talking points.

There''s still the dividing question whether those talking points go far enough. Grabler, the scholarly cop, claims that everything was changed for the police when the phrase "War on Drugs" was deployed, and that the cops, who are usually considered a colonizing force in a war against the people, would you say it before, anyway? What do you think about David Simon and George Pelecano?

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