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The Wire Episode 60: Series Finale (few spoilers)

March 10, 2008

The last 90 minutes of the 2nd greatest cop show ever seemed rushed, packing it all in with one quick glance backwards before it goes, which could describe the final montage with McNulty looking out over the Potomac and seeing the near future of many of the characters from the series. This episode could have been three separate episodes easily (could be a function of having three less episodes to work with than originally planned). I wanted more, like how and when did Dukie take his first hit of heroin and how and when did Michael decide to become a stick up kid? I suppose I wanted more in part because I’m not ready for The Wire to end.

I think it’s telling that a lot of the speculation about what would happen to some of these characters came to pass. I must have read 50 times that “Michael will be the next Omar.” Perhaps it was the same guy spreading the theory at 20 different BBS, I dunno. I suppose if Simon et. al. think that West Baltimore needs an amoral center, Michael’s your guy. Michael has no crew and only a rep as a stone cold killer to serve him so he’s a stick-up artist now.

The reason fans wanted Mike to become Omar is that these were two characters who, though violent criminals, seemed to consider the concept of justice well, and would act as our own instruments of revenge and take the “bad guys” out.

Considering the great pains the creators took to match temperaments between Michael and Cutty you’d think . . . or have hoped they’d have sent Mike off with a bit of hope. Not to be.Also, Tristan Wilds, what was up with that LL Cool J thing you were doing in your final scene, kid?

Everyone who predicted Cheese would get a hole in the head, give yourself a point.

Everyone who predicted Marlo would get a hole in the head, give yourself a point. Right, Marlo lives. But you recall from Levy’s deal with Rhonda, Marlo has to stay off the block and stay clean to stay out of jail. His final scene showed he cant comply.

Let’s not rehash or worry too much about who got away with it and who was unfairly punished, though, since we feel we know these characters so well, it’s our first instinct. I’m more interested in the big picture for the final season. In Ep 59 I suggested it was about how a really big lie can move a mountain, and the season proved that true. Look at all that came about because of McNulty’s moment of clarity, all those whose lives were affected for better or worse or push. In every death, promotion, or slap fight arose from the fake serial killings — save Prop Joe’s murder and Marlo’s hit on Omar’s people .

I’m sticking with the Iraq War analogy, especially given Bunk’s words that compared the serial killer lie to a war — really easy to get into but hard to get out of. Lives were lost, careers were made and destroyed and changed (for example, without the wire tap and arrests going down on Marlo the way they did, Mike wouldn’t have had to murk Snoop and so then Dukie wouldn’t be in the junkyard shooting heroin).

So I guess that makes McNulty George Bush. Except that, McNulty’s been shocked into seeing the error of his ways, that there is an “ends and means” problem, that you can’t use people as objects, pawns. Bush is still a bit surprised that the price of gas is rising. And, it seems that, like Dubya’s experience, those already in power continue to reap the rewards in any mess simply because they have the power to control their own destiny, even one whose destiny is ostensibly in the hands of “the people,” like Carcetti.

It all makes sense. This year journalism was introduced into the series as yet another organization culpable in the fall of Western Civilization, corrupted by money and corrupting of society. The press, Judith Miller in particular, is considered implicit in keeping the machinery of the Iraq War running by offering support of the bullshit.

However, though the Iraq stuff fits nicely I don’t find this season to be simply an indictment of the war.

I’ve noted the criticisms of the series, the non-stop drone from fellow journalistas about how bad the newsroom scenes are (the whining from the Baltimore Sun‘s critic and the guys at Slate before only unbearable, now at a fever pitch). Not to keep harping on the Iraq bit, but if someone approached you with a story claiming the government made up a reason to wage war on a nation a few years ago you’d claim that unbelievable, too. The bigger the lie the more they believe. It’s the willing suspension of disbelief that they mean to complain about I’m sure. I mean, I don’t see how McNulty’s fake serial killer is less believable than Bunny’s free drug zone.

The whining about The Wire actually began last season, the praise heaped on the series being directly proportional to the amount of bloodshed. Not making any accusations, just sayin . . .

Now that I’m just rambling it seems, I will try to finish my own well sourced article and call it a night.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2008 2:02 pm

    Does my saying

    before the finale aired count?

    Because I love points.

  2. March 10, 2008 2:04 pm

    Sorry I fucked that quoting thing up. The quote I was referring to was “I want Slim Charles to exact revenge on all sorts of people, especially one Melvin “Cheese” Wagstaff,”

  3. March 10, 2008 2:52 pm

    you get a bonus point bud

  4. March 10, 2008 4:37 pm

    Only small criticism I have of last night’s finale reflects your opening: They tried to tack on too many endings – packing the finish with almost too much info.

    The tragedy of Dukie taking the heroine arcing to the redemption of Bubbles is a wonderful glimmer of hope mixed with a lot of well-deserved cynicism.

    All-in-all, best series ever, imo, toping their amazing counterpart ‘Homicide’.

  5. March 10, 2008 5:16 pm

    You know Jon, seeing some of the actors in interviews made me feel even more for the characters, like Chris, who was played by a very intellegent former college athlete, or Mike or Dukie or Bubs . . . the production team did a great job finding the right actors for these smaller parts, to imbue the characters with some complexity and sensitivity.

    I just discovered today that Felicia Pearson has written a book about her life experiences.

    I have to grudgingly agree that The Wire is better than Homicide now After season 3 of The Wire I would not have agreed with you.

  6. Sewere permalink
    March 12, 2008 10:51 pm

    Great write up Mark… I have to say though I was never into The Wire until this season (yeah, yeah I know but I came round). Anyways, two things got me in the last few episodes, Omar’s death and Dukie’s final scene. He was a bad ass man, I loved the fact that he got a bunch of men to embrace his character and then made them confront their homophobia (you should have heard the conversation in the barber’s shop. Brothers were saying “yeah, I ain’t gay or anything but I gotta respect that man”).

    Dukie, man, that made me cry, grown ass that I am watching a tv show and that still broke my heart. That scene still plays in my head.

    Anyways, great write-up and will try and catch up on your posts when school isn’t kicking my ass.


  7. strega pez permalink
    March 15, 2008 6:38 pm

    i not only thought the last episode was congested, i also thought that wrapping things up so quickly made the ending have entirely too much symmetry. sure, the torch should’ve been passed in many cases but something about it just didn’t feel right. too much immediate succession (i mean, is slim really the new prop joe? is sydnor the new mcnulty?) And am i the only one that totally hated Kima’s doggish tattle-tell ass?

  8. Investigative reports permalink
    March 17, 2008 9:14 am

    I re watched season 1 this past week, and Kima is in her glory. She kicks everybody’s ass, passionately explains why she’s a cop, and gets shot in the car with that asshole Orlando. To see her be the snitch fills me with rage, especially when she knew that good po-lice work was getting done.

    The look into the future of Baltimore was definately a bit contrived, but I take solace in the fact that someone could possibly match Omar in holy-shit, ‘Omar’s coming’, reputation, and that there will still be dedicated, hardworking BPD cops who really know what is going on in the streets (especially Sydnor who is seriously less flawed than McNulty). I’m definately going to miss the show, but due to the cyclical nature (a major theme from season 4) of this world I already know how the scenarios are going to play and that helps.

    Though I have periodically had some problems with some characters throughout the series, I save my true anger for Herc. From the moment he stepped onto the screen, he has been an asshole, a lucky asshole. He was a terrible cop, and even less of a man, yet he walks off with a golden ticket using a trusted friend whose jock strap Herc isn’t worthy of carrying. Burns me up.

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