Whereas The Wire was a sprawling story told directly, We Own This City weaves together multiple timelines to tell a more focused story about the GTTF and their leader, Wayne Jenkins (Jon Bernthal); the bulk of the show takes place in 2015ish around the Freddie Gray uprisings, but there are frequent semi-confusing flashbacks and flashforwards. This trifurcated narrative structure gives the show a pleasing before, during, and after quality: Jenkins’ progression from an earnest rookie to a thieving menace at the head of the GTTF to the subject of an FBI interrogation is easy to track.
As such, there’s a twisting bramble of characters branching out from the central Jenkins plot—Wunmi Mosaku portrays Nicole Steele (one of the few fictional characters in the show), a crusading civil rights attorney from the Department of Justice who’s tasked with looking into the Baltimore Police Department and serves as the show’s conscience; Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield, The Wire) returns to the Simon Cinematic Universe as Sean Suiter, a straight-edge detective who gets dragged into Jenkins’ orbit.
At the heart of the show, though, is Jenkins and the GTTF. This is a crackpot Ocean’s Eleven crew of depravity—Daniel Hersl (Josh Charles) is the terrifying enforcer, Momodu Gondo (McKinley Belcher) is a crooked cop with ties to drug dealers, Maurice Ward (Rob Brown) is the green officer who simply sees how aligning himself with Jenkins could help his career. Over six episodes, the GTTF steals, lies, and even kills—and they get results, too.
“Do you know what Baltimore cops who don't have complaints are doing all day?” says Hersl. “They sure as hell ain't policing."