THE KING STAY THE KING (from HBO’s THE WIRE)
By Episode 3, D’Angelo Barksdale is entrenched in The Pit, monitoring the youngest and least experienced of the Barksdale drug crews and trying to improve their performance. And in a succinct metaphor, we get a sense of the drug hierarchy and everyone’s place within that world.
D’Angelo finds Wallace and Bodie playing checkers in the pit with chess pieces and is incredulous that they don’t know the better game. Striking his standard hardcase pose, Bodie could not give a fuck, but Wallace — the last innocent of The Pit — wants to learn.
Piece by piece, D’Angelo catalogs how everyone in “the game” has a role and how few — if any — transcend that role. Bodie, ignorant of chess but not without pride and self-interest, is fixated on the pawns. If they make it across the battlefield to the other side, they become royalty.
“The king stay the king. Everyone stay what they is ‘cept the pawns,” says D’Angelo. “They get capped quick. They be out of the game early…”
“Unless they some smart-ass pawns,” says Bodie, correcting him.
Yeah, I wanted to make some very similar comments, probably realizations I’d not have without having seen this episode a year or so back. Regarding all the peaces on the board or field, they resemble US. That is, they each have their own separate powers. The Knight, he moves in sevens and is the only one who can jump over people. He’s eccentric. He can make the first move, if he so chooses. The others have their own moves, sweeping, the diagonal sweeping Bishop, the vertical/horizontal sweeping Rook.
To me, the pawns represent the common folk or working class, the ones who are caught and can only go in one direction. But maybe they only choose to go in one direction because they’re hellbent on promotion. This would switch things up a bit, saying a bit more for the typically downtrodden pawn: “The only time he steps aside is for a capture. and even then he’s moving forward.”
With that aside, at the very least, the pawn serves the purpose of being in the way. Being in the way can screw up your enemy’s game plan.
What are your powers? And can you transcend your current circumstances (jump over), promote yourself to acquire greater abilities, be many things at once, be greater than even a king or queen? Perhaps the piece that can go in any direction and also jump overtop and in sevens, etc., has your name on it.