Jim Groom

Wire 106: S01E05 “The Pager”

2 min read

In our discussion of episode 5, “The Pager,” Paul Bond once again provides a great post that demonstrates how the themes of surveillance and paranoia are reinforced in the set design, shot composition, lighting, and audio elements. He also explores the filmic foreshadowing that you may have missed the first time through. Paul's posts provide a really useful model for close reading these episodes, and an excellent incentive for slowing down each episode and looking and listening closely beyond the dialogue. It's a good exercise to push yourself to think about what is happening in a particular scene, or even shot, beyond the script. The anatomy of scene, so to speak.

The title of this episode, "The Pager," highlights a throwback technology---even in 2002---that underscores a broader cultural critiques happening in The Wire. We already discussed the surveillance society everywhere apparent in this series, and this episode starts to evidence the concomitant paranoia that necessarily accompanies this enw reality. In fact, being watched is not a conspiracy because everyone in this show is already being watched, and we have regular evidence of that. Technology, surveillance and paranoia is a theme that I'll be returning to again and again this semester, and in our current post-NSA climate, it's almost a given we're being watched not only by ubiquitous cameras in the built environment, but everywhere we go in virtual space as well.