The end of The Wire MAR 11 2008
WARNING, **EXTENSIVE SPOILERS** ABOUT SEASONS 1-5. So, The Wire is over. The 60th and final episode of the show aired on Sunday night. I watched it last night and felt very sad afterwards. Sad that it's over and that doing a sixth season could not and would not work. A good chunk of my morning was spent clinging to the show's final moments; I must have read close to 50 or 60 pages of interviews and analysis concerning the end of the show. Here are a few of those articles worth reading:
Heaven and Here is providing their usual excellent coverage of the end of the show.
I don't know if Cheese's speech about the game was one of the more definitive the show's ever put forth, or the ultimate in dime store Wire-isms. I also don't know which way it was supposed to be perceived by the characters. But that it was immediately followed by a murder that contradicted everything it contained -- one that went against a lot of what's been both depressing and demoralizing about the show -- was kind of awesome.
Alan Sepinwall has the definitive end-of-the-show interview with David Simon. It's long but oh so good.
We knew that if we got a long enough run, all three of the chess players would be out of the game, so to speak. Prison or dead. We did not chart all of their fates to a specific outcome, but we knew that the Pit crew would be subject to an exacting attrition.
We knew, for example, that when Carcetti declares that he wants no more stat games in his new administration that the arc would end with his subordinates going into Daniels' office and demanding yet another stat game. Or that McNulty would end up on the pool table felt like Cole, albeit quitting rather than dead. Or that Carver's long arc toward maturity and leadership would begin with him making rank under ugly pretenses and then being lectured by Daniels about what you can and can't live with. (It's at that point that Carver slowly begins to change, not merely when he encounters Colvin's integrity.) We knew that the FBI file that Burrell would not be put into play in season one would eventually be used to deny Daniels the prize.
Sepinwall also wrote an extensive recap of the final episode.
Heather Havrilesky's interview with David Simon on Salon covers some of the same ground as Sepinwall's interview but is still quite fine. Here's David Simon explaining what the whole season five newspaper thread was all about:
[The season] begins with a very good act of adversarial journalism -- they catch a quid pro quo between a drug dealer and a council president -- which actually happened in Baltimore. Not necessarily the council president, but between a drug dealer and the city government. That whole thing with the strip club? That really happened in real life. It was news. The Baltimore Sun did catch that, it was good journalism, so I was honoring good journalism. It ends with an honorable piece of narrative journalism, about Bubbles. And the Baltimore Sun has, on occasion, done very good narrative journalism.
In between those bookends, which I thought were important, because in our minds we weren't writing a piece that was abusive to the Sun or any other newspaper ... the paper misses every story. They miss that the mayor wants to be governor, so ultimately the guy who was the reformer ends up telling people to cook the stats as bad as Royce ever did. Well, in Baltimore that happened. And they missed the fact that the third-grade test scores are cooked to make it look like the schools are improving, when in fact it doesn't extend to the fifth grade, and that No Child Left Behind is an unmitigated disaster. They set out to do a story on the school system, but they abandoned it for homelessness because they're sort of reed thin. Prosecutions collapse because of backroom maneuvering and ambition by various political figures, speaking of Clay Davis ... And when a guy like Prop Joe dies, he's a brief on page B5.
That was the theme, and we were taking long-odd bets that very few journalists would even sense it. That would be the critique of journalism that really mattered to me, because we've shown you the city as it is, and as it is intricately, for four years. It was all rooted in real stuff.
The last of Andrew Johnston's recaps for The House Next Door. He remains skeptical about the newspaper part of season five's main plot:
In my decade-plus as a professional journalist, I've seen a lot of people compromise their principles in order to stay employed, but never have I seen so many people compromise so much. At the risk of seeming terminally naive, I have to ask if things are really that much worse in the newspaper world than they are in the magazine biz (and now that I've raised the question, I'm sure more than one person will provide evidence in the comments below that yes, things are that bad).
Yanksfan vs. Soxfan views The Wire through the lens of Baltimore sports.
From the air, the picture isn't quite so romantic. The satelite image above shows the site that was once home to Memorial Stadium. An entire neighborhood is oriented in a horsehoe around it. But there's practically nothing on the site now. It's a void. The last remnant of Memorial Stadium came down in 2002. That was a concrete wall dedicated to the soldiers who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars. It read, "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds."
The Orioles moved into Camden Yards in 1994. You'd think that, when the city agreed to build a new home for the team, there would have been a plan for the old site. But that's not how the development game works. A rising tide doesn't necessarily lift all boats. The money was downtown, and that's where it stayed.
And finally, a few other tidbits.
- According to Simon in his interview with Sepinwall, the superhero-like jump taken by Omar in season five from an apartment balcony was based on a real-life experience by the real-life Omar.
- Did you catch Simon's cameo in the newsroom at The Sun? Did Ed Burns have a cameo of his own at McNulty's wake?
- Aside from Ziggy Sobotka, Brother Mouzone, and maybe Horseface, season five featured every surviving main character in the show's five season run. Mr. Prezbo was the last to turn up as the subject of Dukie's transparent short con.
- At the beginning of season four, I wished that season five would be a Godfather II-style prequel showing how the main characters (Avon, Stringer, McNutty, Daniels, Omar, etc.) got to where they did. Turns out that Simon and company had that in mind all along; in seasons four and five, we simultaneously see the beginnings and ends of several characters. Michael and Dukie are explicitly set up as the new Omar and Bubbles, respectively. Carver is the new Daniels. Sydnor is the new McNulty (with some Freamon sprinkled in). I'm also guess that, more or less, Kima is the new Bunk, Kenard is the new Avon/Marlo, and Randy is the new Cheese (Simon has confirmed that Cheese is Randy's dad). Namond is the only season four kid that doesn't really morph into one of the other characters...maybe Bunny.
- Slim Charles shooting Cheese in the head was the most satisfying moment I've ever witnessed on TV.
Now that it's done, I think we're going to cancel HBO and everything but basic cable. I doubt it'll be missed much...aside from sports and movies, The Wire was only thing we watched on TV.