This deconstruction (and the comments that follow) contains spoilers. Watch the show first.
First off, hell yes, it’s back. And glad to have it back, too. Love the new opening and the Steve Earle version of the theme might even make Tom Waits smile.
Overview: If you haven’t read my review of Season 5 in The Chronicle, I urge you to do so before checking in here. These deconstructions use a lot of shorthand and don’t have to go into too much detail because the assumption is everybody’s caught up and knows the score. Mostly it’s a chance for diehard fans – I think that’s pretty much all of us – to pour out thoughts and feelings on what we’ve seen and where events could be going.
It probably doesn’t need to be said - you’ll say what you need to say in the spur of the moment no matter what – but as we all know, “The Wire” is full of surprises and often refuses to go where we want it to. And, as a critic, I’m a firm believer that perceptions on overall quality shift not only in time (reflection is always good – and for me each season of “The Wire” has often exceeded my expectations initially and individual episodes have grown in estimation on further watching) but also at the end of the entire story. You might want to guard against early emotions swinging in either direction.
And, since we’re five seasons into it, I’m guessing I don’t need the mandatory “don’t get all panicky about the pacing” lecture. Like Carver said, we’re all professionals here.
Season 5 picks up about a year after Season 4. And man, the institutional failure that Simon loves to document so thoroughly is just oppressive. To immediately follow the school crises with overtime and pay issues on the police force and to contrast that with cutbacks at the Baltimore Sun, whew, you just need to sit down.
I’ll be re-watching each episode every Sunday night to get refreshed, but I’m certainly at a Big Picture advantage having seen 7 of the 10 (I sure wish there were 12). I’m dying to see the final three. I’ll say this: My biggest concern, as I said in the review, is a decision that McNulty makes in future episodes. I think it’s something that takes a lot of thinking on because it goes to character motivation. It’s important to remember that motivations change. That’s why great television storytelling will always trump movies. Characters are living, they evolve. Our perceptions of them and our beliefs in what they will or won’t do need also change, even reluctantly. I’m OK with that particular storyline right now, regarding McNulty. And it may end up being a real piece of genius.
Alright, onward to some random observations and quotes:
+ It’s all about the crown with Marlo, is it not? He’s got the operation locked down so tight that even the best efforts of the Homicide Division can’t put a dent in his daily activities.
+ The Bunk opener. Great acting. Wendell Pierce, who loves ya?
+ Carver in command. Could be something he’ll grow into, as Season 4 hinted at. His evolution has been particularly interesting. “In the real world, they pay professionals.”
+ “Are we ready, professor?” That’s the last time Landsman will hear that, no doubt.
+“Just a weak ass mayor of a broke ass city.” Norman to Carcetti.
+ McNulty plays a great drunk. Between the cops and the reporters, this could be one drunk-ass season.
+ “Every plan a weak link.” True dat.
+ “Someday I want to find out what it’s like to work for a real newspaper.” Every journalist watching this series will laugh out loud at that – it’s something we’ve all thought at one time or another in their career. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m pretty happy where I’m at now, so I won’t be pining or whining here. Well, OK, maybe some whining.
+ “And he told your Republican ass to go fuck itself, right? Well, let me double down on that.” – Carcetti. He’s got passion, but sometimes lacks longer-view wisdom. Good thing he’s got Norman.
+ I already want to work for Clark Johnson. “At least he’s a columnist – he’s paid to sit on his ass…What kind of people sit around watching a fire? Some shameful shit right here.” Would that really happen at a paper? Hell yes.
+ “Don’t sleep on Marlo. He’s up on some shit here.” – Slim Charles to Prop Joe.
+ Ah, Bubs all cleaned up. Looking wobbly. Hope remains.
+ City Editor Gus Haynes: “Fucking fuck. Another burnt doll,” as he holds up the photo from the fire. Man, I laughed out loud. I used to work at a Bay Area paper where one photographer kept taking pictures for various stories and his truck would magically appear in the frame somehow.
+ Herc on the other side. In a suit. Weird.
+ Loved how Gus protected his reporter when one of the higher ups at the Sun wanted to know why they had missed the item about a drug dealer trading property with the city. Covering city council meetings - a hell of a lot tougher than you'd think.
+ "I was told a new day was coming. Clearly this isn't it." - Daniels.
+ "Wonder what if feels like to work in a real fucking police department." - McNulty after getting word that Major Crimes has been temporarily disbanded yet again.
+ I loved the closing scene. Dominic West did a great job swallowing all that rage at the incompetence and injustice of - what? politics, police life, major city financial implosions - and just having it overcome him. "Prodigal son," said Landsman.
Soooo, just to recap. Trouble in the schools, the Mayor a year late fulfilling campaign promises, discord in the police ranks, Marlo in control (angling for more?), political intrigue, a resurfacing of the storyline in Season 2, McNulty off the wagon and screwing up what he had with Beadie...ah, more good news from "The Wire."