The end of the Wire

I haven't seen the finale yet (even though it has leaked), so I couldn't reveal any details from it even if I wanted to. But there will be discussion of the previous nine episodes of season five after the jump (as well as the series's whole run thus far) after the jump, so if you're waiting for any reason, you probably shouldn't click.

In every one of The Wire's five seasons, the penultimate episode of the season has been the best episode of the season. I'd argue that last Sunday's episode was the best of the series, so I'm not expecting Sunday's to top it. I do think the events that were set in motion by the first few episodes of the season - and of the series - will likely come to rest at what we assume to be their natural stopping point. The Wire has never been about throwing wild twists and turns at you for its own sake, anyway. So it's tempting to predict some of the things that might happen. We know there will be some sort of fallout from McNulty's faux serial killer, but maybe the info Clay Davis gave Lester will keep his head out of the noose. Carcetti will probably embark on his gubernatorial campaign. Levy's knowledge of the wiretap might spring Marlo, but it stands to reason that Bunk's warrant on Chris Partlow is still valid. And having had his happy ending, I'd guess we've seen the last of old Reginald, a/k/a Bubbles.

What's less easy to predict is what will happen to Michael. A lot of people have been suggesting he'll operate outside of the game. Or it's also possible that he takes over some territory in Marlo's absence. It's clear he has more of a grip on morals than his former boss, but maybe he can succeed where Stringer and Prop Joe failed - bringing a new way of doing business to the streets.

And while we're all holding out hope, I think the end for Dukie involves the needle. If that's the case, his character arc would be the most tragic in the show's history - moreso than D'Angelo or the Sobotka family. The scene in last week's episode where he asks Michael if he remembers the day when they threw water balloons and "you bought me ice cream from the truck" and Michael says he doesn't remember - "heart-wrenching" doesn't even begin to cover it, particularly given the context of where Dukie was going after he got out of the car. Dukie was probably the smartest of the four kids, but he just never stood a chance. Just brutal.

Then, of course, there's the most controversial plotline on the show - the turmoil at the Baltimore Sun. By now, even people who've never seen an episode may have heard the criticisms of this - basically people in the news media believe The Wire's creator and producer David Simon is working out his grudges against his old bosses at the Sun by portraying them as ineffectual, out of touch, and too focused on things like attention-grabbing Pulitzer bait than real reporting. Personally, I am in no position to judge the legitimacy of his claims, but I am inclined to agree, as I often do, with Alan Sepinwall when he says "I wonder if there's really a problem here, or if there just seems to be one because, for the first time, the subject matter is one that the reviewers know as well as Simon." But I would also add that his case against the media would be stronger and feel less preachy this season if he hadn't talked about it so much. An example that irked me: after Proposition Joe was executed by Marlo and Chris, police beat reporter Alma Gutierrez presents Gus Haynes, noble city editor and our point-of-view character at the newspaper, with a couple of options. He can run a story on a fire, or a homicide (the homicide being Joe's.) He elects to run with the fire, even though he's already proven to be slightly aware of what's happening on the streets of Baltimore (he identified a drug dealer who we hadn't been introduced to on the show.) Read a certain way, it seems like it's a nice tribute to Joe: he meant something to us viewers because we had gotten to know him, but Joe never wanted his name to ring out through Baltimore in the way that Avon Barksdale or Marlo Stanfield did. He just wanted to make some money and keep a low profile (probably why Vondas had such affection for the guy.) Later on, when the death of larger-than-life folk hero Omar Little also received no newspaper coverage, it seemed to be a sobering reminder of just how little what happened at the street level really mattered to anyone besides the streets themselves. Interesting points, one would think. But no, they're just more fodder for Simon's criticisms, as he said at USC recently:

He then recounted the many plot points taken from Simon's real-life Baltimore experiences -- the corrupt mayor asking for cooked crime stats, the elementary school test scores spawned from students being taught the tests, the deaths of Prop Joe and Omar -- all indicators of the city's real problems that never appeared in the Sun's pages, in reality or on HBO. "Watching a TV drama to get the truth, that's the real joke," Simon added.

Fair enough, but this unsubtle touch combined with the usual way Wire characters are treated when they go up against an institution means that we all know in advance almost exactly how the situation between Gus and Scott Templeton (the hotshot pet reporter who's pulling a Stephen Glass) will end. There's no way Simon can let this end with Gus on top given how he feels about the modern newspaper.

But again - surprise twists and turns aren't really the point. Simon had a story to tell, and now he feels he's said all he needs to say about Baltimore. His next project involves the war in Iraq. Some cast members are doing some neat things. Michael K. Williams (Omar) will be in Ridley Scott's adaptation of Blood Meridian. Lance Reddick (Dep. Daniels) looks like he's got a pretty fun part on Lost. Amy Ryan, obviously, has a sunny outlook. And Dominic West (McNulty) will be in the new Punisher movie as Jigsaw. But hey - everyone who worked on this show can say they've been involved with one of the best television shows off all time. Let's give them a break.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives