BitTorrent’s put me so far ahead on this season of The Wire that I really can’t remember what happens when. This information advantage makes me a bit hesitant to blast too many holes in Jefferey Goldberg’s latest screed against the greatest TV show ever, lest I spoil it for all you “respect intellecual property” types. That having been said, there’s one easy refutation I can make that reveals nothing mankind hasn’t known for centuries.
I’m guessing Mr. Goldberg was still too busy fellating the last, awful episodes of The Sopranos to run some numbers on the physics of Omar’s impact. I’m posting today to show you it’s just not that difficult. Omar’s acceleration in free-fall is 9.8m/s^2, whether he falls one meter or 1,000 (assuming no air resistance - more on that later). We need to calculate what speed that acceleration will yield over a 15.24m (5 stories, 50ft) fall.
Google says that to get velocity v at distance x, we use
(velocity at distance x)^2 = initial velocity + 2(acceleration)(distance x)
v^2 = 0 + 2(9.8 m/s^2)(15.24m)
v^2 = 298.70 m^2/s^2
v = 17.28 m/s
So in a frictionless system, I have Omar hitting the ground at 62.22 kph (17.28 m/s * 3.6kph/(m/s) = 62.22kph, or 38.66 mph). Impacts in that range on a vector perpendicular to the ground have been documented as walk-away incidents, and keep in mind these figures ignore air resistance. This is something worth considering when your falling object is known to be wearing a big-ass, full-length trench coat.
Furthermore, I’ve personally impacted pavement at speeds in excess of 60kph and walked away (albeit very slowly). The trick is to be moving more or less parallel to the ground when you hit. Omar didn’t just jump and drop - he lunged out Superman-style. I’m not sure how far from perpendicular his vector would have been at the moment of impact, but any little bit helps, especially if you dissipate energy by rolling or sliding.
As if that weren’t enough, falls well in excess of 5 stories are frequently non-fatal. Maybe Mr. Goldberg just plum forgot about this Explainer piece from earlier in the year.
So while the window leap seems implausible on first viewing, I think it’s extremely unlikely Omar would have done worse than breaking two limbs in the impact (so long as he didn’t land on his head). Even after suffering such an injury, anyone with Omar’s previously demonstrated athleticism and pain tolerance would have been able to drag or roll themselves out of sight before Snoop and Chris came to the balcony, and into the janitor’s closet before they got back downstairs.
It seemed pretty clear to me when Omar first appeared after the jump that he was treating himself for a broken ankle. I think that’s a lucky outcome to such an ill-advised leap, but also entirely within the realm of possibility given the circumstances. It’s certainly more likely than a pudgy, gay mafia capo running away to New Hampshire to find love in the arms of a chiseled fireman - and infinitely more entertaining.