HBO’s ‘We Own This City’ Is David Simon’s Spiritual Companion To ‘The Wire’

Wire Creator David Simon is the clear heir to Sidney Lumet: a crime playwright and astute chronicler of urban relationships between police, crooks, civilians, houses activist and politician. Returning frequently to his Baltimore estate, he is a journalist turned artist with a deep understanding of the myriad ways the great metropolis works, from street corners to police stations to councils. government, and various entanglements complicate any quest for justice and progress. His finest small-screen work traces the macro and micro connections, and that gift is once again on full display in We own this city (April 25), a six-part HBO adaptation of Justin Fenton’s book of the same name — serves as a spiritual companion to Wire-dramatizes the real 2017 scandal that engulfed the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Hunt Task Force (GTTF).

“There is no dictatorship in America more solid than a beat cop in his duty,” a veteran officer tells Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal) in the midst of Simon’s latest session. It was a lesson they both had to keep in mind and keep up to date by demonstrating that the real key to power is running a plainclothes unit like the GTTF, whose job it is to bring guns and drugs into the streets and at the same time round up the traffickers. in them. Jenkins is an individual tailored for the job, earning numerous awards, promotions (eventually to sergeant) and most importantly, the trust and loyalty of his team members. , consisting of Daniel Hersl (Josh Charles), Momodu Gondo (McKinley Belcher III), Jemell Rayam (Darrell Britt-Gibson), and Maurice Ward (Rob Brown). Introduced to the department for the first time lecturing the department on the fact that true police success comes from doing the right thing — since beating and alienating the public only impedes the police’s primary goals — he is a charismatic gung-ho cowboy, and Bernthal embodies him with such masculinity. His charm is immediately obvious why he’s become a BPD star.

As We own this city Quick to detail, Jenkins’ popularity is also due to him enthusiastically looting any criminals or civilians that unfortunately cross his path and dividing his (less) spoils among his teammates. He’s also dirty when they come in, selling the drugs he steals, framing his victims – whether they commit a crime or not – and generally presenting himself as a bully. recklessly holding a gun. His actions have left many people, some willing and a few so, such as former gay murder detective Sean Suiter (Jamie Hector), whose mysterious fate has been examined in the documentary. whether HBO last December Slow hustle. However, while Jenkins is a terrible, terrible person, Simon, along with fellow writers George Pelecanos, Ed Burns, William F. Zorzi and Dwight Watkins, as well as King Richard director Reinaldo Marcus Green, don’t paint with wide strokes. Instead, they take great care to understand Jenkins and his actions in the broader context of a city besieged by rising crime rates and anger over Freddie Grey’s death, and the force of The police force was furious about prosecuting the officers blamed for Gray’s death, to the point where many officers resigned or refused to make arrests — thereby making Jenkins’ GTTF, despite numerous controversies, become into a famous unit.

Simon and company have weaved a tapestry of sociopolitical themes rife with racism and unrest, bureaucratic barriers and conflicts of interest, all negative. conspiracies to thwart meaningful reform. At the heart of that futile attempt to influence change is the Justice Department’s Nicole Steele (Wunmi Mosaku), who, along with her recently assigned subordinate, Ahmed Jackson (Ian Duff), is trying to draft a consent decree that new police commissioner Kevin Davis (Delaney Williams) and mayor Catherine Pugh will approve. Steele was the closest person the show had to Simon’s agent, seeing the big picture of what it was and trying to maintain hope in the face of intractable obstacles. Mosaku brings her to life as a world-weary woman who is realistic about both the problems and solutions she’s facing, even if, in the series’ only blunder, it also forces she had to participate in a few overly preachy scenes opposite Treat Williams, star of Lumet’s likeminded Prince of the City.

However, for the most part, We own this city is a poignantly multi-faceted exhibition of how small- and large-scale corruption graze each other, and a narrative that understands the motives of many players while expressing sympathy and disdain for with the most deserving. The messy intersections of greed, ambition and self-preservation abound throughout, and as if to further hint at the twist of this story, Simon retells it in a jumpy, out-of-chronological manner. leaping forward and backward between different points in Jenkins’ reign of terror, Steele headlong into the completion of her mission, FBI agent Erika Jensen (Dagmara Domińczyk) and her BPD colleague John Sieracki (Don Harvey) investigates — and interrogates — Jenkins, Gondo, Rayam and others, and Suiter try to stay clean despite their prior interactions with Jenkins. Guided by periodic snapshots of Jenkins’ police logs and buoyed by a pound cast that includes several Wire alums, the series deftly tackles its story from a variety of captivating angles.

“The messy intersections of greed, ambition, and self-preservation abound everywhere, and as if to further hint at the twist of this story, Simon retells it in a jumpy, out of chronological fashion. back and forth between different times in Jenkins’ reign of terror.”

Best of all, We own this city boasts the kind of comprehensive detail, which is a sign of really great storytelling. From the minutiae of the BPD protocol and strategic tactics of Jenkins and his criminal minions, to the competing priorities of the various government factions, Simon energizes every incident, debate and engage with in-depth knowledge of how the system works from top to bottom. . Along with Pelecanos, Burns, Zorzi and Watkins, he demonstrates an inspiring familiarity with various aspects of Baltimore life — as a cop, a lawyer, and an investigator — and thus , causing extreme suspense from the troubles of the city’s day-to-day operations. Furthermore, he not only conveys the feeling of navigating this landscape but also what it’s like to live in it, with director Green bringing a level of grit to his portrayal of the location. broken and almost inactive.

Part horror, part sociology, We own this city emerges with anger and despair at a system that — for its creators, and for what it is — is bound to fail again and again. It also conveys a lesson that, with their trade, Jenkins and his gang should know well: badge or no badge, no honor among thieves. HBO’s ‘We Own This City’ Is David Simon’s Spiritual Companion To ‘The Wire’


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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