Monday, March 10, 2008

"The Wire." The end.

It's fitting that David Simon dubbed this episode, "#30#" - old school journalism for the end of the story. There was a lot that was fitting in the last episode. So much to write about. And yet, not. I could probably go on and on - yeah, like I haven't already on this blog and in The Chronicle - but at some point you can't say anymore. I wonder if Simon and his stable of writers ever thought that. They did one of the best jobs of telling a complete and compelling story as has ever been done on television. It was thorough and detailed and nuanced and complicated and touching and pointed - on and on. I'm not sure another season would have added more glory to the gold.

And, after putting this last episode off for a very long time - I just couldn't bring myself to watch it early - it's incredibly sad to see it go. And when it was over, I just sat back, arms crossed, and thought on it. And the best I could really come up with is, "Great as usual. What else can you say?" I mean, I may ultimately end up writing more and more about this as the weeks pass, but I honestly don't have too much to say other than the last episode ever didn't let me down. There's something comfortable in that. This series went out as brilliantly as it came in, and I say that knowing finales to seasons are difficult enough, but finales to series are impossible to pull off. No one will ever be entirely happy - perhaps not even the series creator or the writers themselves. Endings are hard. Everybody knows that.

I suspect people might be split into two camps - loving the extended montages that wrapped up so many storylines (which held true to "Wire" tradition) and those who might have preferred a more "Sopranos"-esque ending that left more up to interpretation and left characters and storylines in the ether. Me, I liked the tidy ending because it has been done in the past and hasn't detracted from the quality and, more importantly, why not reward people who have watched five seasons of the most complicated, novelistic stories ever told on television? Hell, "The Wire" is hard work. Always has been. There's no shame in a reward for the effort.

Two things: 1) It ended as about as satisfying as I'd hoped. I loved it. I wanted no more from it - or at least I feel that asking for something more and better and different than what we got would be some unseemly shit. So yeah - I loved it. Period. 2) As a television critic, I hate to see "The Wire" go. Because even though I have faith in other storytellers - and in tales heretofore untold, at least with "The Wire" I know I've seen the best. Everything else to this point is 2nd best. So that passing - it's never good. As a critic, I want to be able to dissect the best that television has to offer. And for five seasons, that was one unbelievably great run. So, without question, it's a little bit of a downer knowing that the crown is retired.

Onward...

A very quick recap, just to credit the writers for deftly closing so many of the complicated plots they uncorked at the start. This was an ambitious season, storytelling-wise, and though many people (including me) had doubts early on, I think all the strands came together just beautifully and were told supremely well. And the wonderful aspect to it all is that most of the main players don't get the justice or end-result they most deserve because it would collapse the machine from the inside. Institutional failure through and through. We saw that in Season 1, Ep. 1. And we saw it here in the series finale. Ass covering of the highest and lowest order. Let's start in reverse this time. Seems fitting.

Once the lie gets found out and the damage is not exactly done - please say you didn't expect swift and complete justice - all that's left is the accounting:

+ McNulty quits. He appears to make good with Beadie. As his last televised act, he brings the homeless guy back home. The question is, of course, what next? We'll never know. Is he happy? Can he NOT be po-lice? Make of it what you will.

+ Lester retires. He's looking pretty happy with those miniatures.

+ Marlo's out of the game. And into real estate? Somewhere Stringer Bell had a good laugh. But that was never Marlo's role. He was never meant to play that. So he gets back in the game. No need to guess what will eventually happen if he lives past the election. There's only two options.

+ Herc is buying drinks – using the expense account, like Levy said. Looks like he'll be doing whatever Levy says from now on and forever. Still mucking it up in the future - no doubt.

+ Scott got his Pulitzer. The bigger the lie.

+ Greeks in business with Slim Charles, et al. The game goes on.

+ Carcetti wins. The sell-out is complete.

+ Fletcher takes over when Gus is moved to the copy desk. But Gus is proud of him. And Gus, well, he bleeds ink. Journalism is what he does. Anyone who thought he'd just walk - forget it. This is more real.

+ Alma's in the deepest of bureaus. Punished for trying to mess up the glory.

+ Valchek! Man, that was one big laugh. “Fits like a glove!”

+ Dukie shooting up. The evolution into the new Bubs is complete.

+ Pearlman as a judge. Daniels as a lawyer. And happy together.

+ Chris getting with Wee Bey - a lot of muscle coming together. Two lifers standing strong.

+ Michael as the new Omar. Savvy fans saw this and the Dukie fate coming a while ago.

+ Bubs at the dinner table. – Finally.

+ Kennard busted. Inevitable.

Corruption and politics, lies concealed, same as it ever was...Yep, this was the grayest of all grays, this series. It nailed human behavior and the actions of institutions and the people within them pretty damned well.

Tidbits from the episode (see, I knew I couldn't be as short as I promised....)

+ Carcetti apoplectic in the opening scene as the lie, in full bloom, was explained to him. A fine job of acting there.

+ “Everybody’s getting what they need behind some make believe.” – Norman.

+ “I wish I was still at the newspaper so I could write on this mess. It’s too fucking good.” – Norman.

+ “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about Bill Rawls. I believe he’s about to have one of those ‘road to Damascus’ moments.” – Norman, absolutely owning the front of the show…

+ The Prezbo cameo. A bearded man. But also a wiser man. Jaded? At the very least, he knew that was the last time he'd ever help Duquan.

+ “Short of any new leads, what can I do? I can’t make shit up, can I?” – McNutty. Oh, that was rich.

+ The look on Jimmy’s face when Freamon says “they know everything.”

+ “Why aren’t we fired? Why aren’t we in fucking bracelets?” – McNutty. I loved this moment of suspended animation, when we all realized that the lie meant everybody was going to hit the ground a little softer than expected. Bounce, even. It was situational ethics across the board.

+ I like how the direction went back to the black and white surveillance camera shots of yore.

+ Governor restores homeless cuts and the Sun takes credit for it based on its coverage when it was really Carcetti’s politics in play.

+ “I expect to be back in the pawn shop unit and you my brother are gonna ride the boat.” Or not, Freamon. And maybe the "not" was better than expected, too.

+ Bubs moral complexity is great. “Man’s making me seem special for doing what the fuck I need to be doing.” He doesn’t want the “good stuff” to get out. Doesn’t think he’s worth it. This is Bub’s cross. Who knew he was Irish?

+ How long before Scott might have killed one of the homeless himself for a story?

+ Bunk: “How are you not in jail?” McNutty: “I don’t know. The lie is so big, people can’t live with it, I guess.”

+ Scott: “You’re not serious?” McNulty: “No. I’m a fucking joke. And so are you.”

+ The shot of the door closing after Scott walks out of Homicide – that’s a call back to the very first episode when the director was trying to help explain who the hell everyone was - a series of closing doors suggested which department they were in - as this rapidly unfolding series pandered to no one from minute one.

+ Levy explains the details to Marlo: “You understand?” Marlo: “Give up the crown.”

+ Herc: “Just doing what I do.” Yeah, Herc, screwing it all up royally.

+ “The tree that doesn’t bend breaks, Cedric.” - Marla Daniels. “Bend too far and you’re already broken.” - Cedric Daniels.

+ Slim Charles killed Cheese. “That was for Joe.”

+ “There you go, giving a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.” – Bunk to Kima, both of them back out doing police work, by the book.

+ Sydnor going to Judge Phelan, ala Jimmy in the first season. “Just keep my name out of it.” Yeah, that will happen.

+ Marlo turns into Stringer Bell? Ha. And Clay Davis there to see it. No doubt he’ll get his hands in one of those deep pockets. But Marlo walks out. It’s not him. He wants to be back running corners, maybe back to the beginning, the thrill of it all. Bloodthirsty, for sure. Rebuild the crown maybe?

+ And Michael becomes Omar. Shotgun, too. On purpose – no doubt.

+ Lots of loving shots of Baltimore on the montage. A final nod. A city that gave its all to great television.

+ Nerese and the Daniels file. You knew it would pop back. And Daniels would have stayed put if not for his ex's career ambition. A fine man, even in the end.

+ Natural po-lice. - Landsman at McNulty's fake “wake.” McNulty did the right thing, too. He walked away. It gave everyone the chance to remember the good. Landsman's send off: “He was the black sheep. The permanent pariah. He asked no quarter of the bosses and none was given. He learned no lessons. He acknowledge no mistakes. He was as stubborn a Mick has ever stumbled out of the North East parishes to take a patrolman’s shield. He brooked no authority. He did what he wanted to do and he said what he wanted to say. In the end, he gave you the clearances. He’s natural po-lice.”

+ That, of course, will have a lot of people talking. McNulty's fate. His decision. How he was sent out and remembered and, apparently, forgiven. Only right, then, that he forgave Kima (so did Lester).

+ The shot of McNulty laughing on the table – great.

+ Lester's time in: 32 years. 4 months.

+ McNulty? “He gave us 13 years on the line. Not enough for a pension….”

+ Landsman: “Brother, when you was good, you were the best we had.”

+ And with that, it's time to put on "The Body of An American" by the Pogues and sing it like you mean it.

+ Here's to "The Wire." When it was great it was the best we ever had.

118 comments:

KLR said...

There's nothing to add except to say that the next best thing to an episode of The Wire is Tim Goodman's deconstructions. I anticipated both every Sunday. Thanks for that.

Lysa said...

Yes, agree with Kir. As I've said before, great journalism to accompany a great show. Thank you, Tim. This last deco (like the last episode) was worth the wait.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened with Narise's real estate dealings with Fat Face Rick? Did I miss something, or was that a red herring? Other than that, I don't think they left a single loose thread. Best show ever, of any genre, for sure. And I doubt there'll ever be one better. Glad we had it for five years, sorry our best years of tv are gone and never coming back. But you can bet I'll rewatch every episode over and over again! Thank you David Simon, et. al for your amazing feat. Get season 5 on DVD fast!

Anonymous said...

I still say that Lester told Jimmy in episode 5 that they'd put a bs number in the court paperwork and get up on Marlo's real phone number in their illegal wiretap. It happened when they were under the highway bridges discussing how to play the serial killer case into a wiretap on Marlo. Then Jimmy put Marlo's real number in the court paperwork. The writers made a big point of this when they had Marlo speak out his number to Levy, and then Ronnie read aloud the same number from the court paperwork. Then in episode 9, Ronnie dialed the number from the court paperwork, and Marlo's phone rang in the evidence control room. The writers clearly set it up to make it seem that Jimmy screwed up by putting Marlo's real number in the paperwork. This was the Achille's heal in Jimmy's bs serial killer case. But then in the final episode, Freamon tells Jimmy that Ronnie and Daniels dialed Marlo's phone in the evidence control room using the number from the serial killer court paperwork. Freamon should be ripping Jimmy a new one on this, but apparently he doesn't see it as an issue anymore. Did he forget that he told Jimmy to put a bs number in the court paperwork, or did the writers forget or disregard this? As I see it, something went wrong in the writing here. Can somebody convince me otherwise?

George D from the 415 said...

anon @3:06: I agree with you, but it's one of the many stories that were glossed over: the crucial details we miss because the reporter (in this case, Simon and co. deliberately) didn't focus heavily on a crucial moment. It was there for all to see, but missed by most.

I wouldn't say Mike's the new Omar, or that Duke's the new Bubs. They aren't the same people with the same story, they are individuals who evolve on their own, just as Marlo is not the new Stringer. Who's to say Duke isn't the next Sharrod (I know, duke had more schoolin' before he hit the streets, but it's merely a suggestion). I'm not saying this to harp on any suggestion of it, but I think it's too simple to put it as "x is the new y". Duke is another life doomed to the needle. Mike's another man crazy enough to rip and run. Marlo, just a gangsta I suppose...

Beautiful ending. For all the steps forward and all the steps back, any improvement could only be measured in inches.

In the end, McNulty found himself. Unwilling to coerce a confession from a crazy man. A chance to truly bring down a horrible string of corruption (Levy & Co.) can't happen because of the lie, another weed in the streets of Baltimore which continue to infest the system from the roots of the city, spreading to cripple any reconstruction efforts all from the inside.

The Game Stay The Game

B-More Wire Head said...

First and foremost, the TV Critic at the Sun Paper is a complete dick! And he isn’t the only one. There are a slew of newspaper reporters who find fault with this season’s “media story line” as well as with this last episode. It reads like a whole lot of hate. And I have to say that I hate the hypocrisy of it.

When the story line was covering other failed institutions, it was the greatest story ever written, but when the spotlight was turned on them, all of sudden there is a problem with the story line. But I personally commend Simon for turning the spotlight on the media. They need it.

Being in PR, I know for a fact that the media not only can be manipulated but that they also fall victim to practicing lazy journalism. So I say shame on them for getting all self righteous. The last episode was great. It tided up all the loose ends and there was a sense of poetic justice in it all.

(In Gus' sililoquy about the reporters who cheated, I didn't hear him mention that tart Mitch Albom from the Detroit Free Press.)

My favorite scene is without a doubt, Marlo’s last scene. I loved every bit of it. Damn, am I gonna miss that psychotic. Seeing Marlo in a suit was disturbing and obviously it disturb him too. He felt like he was suffocating and needed some air - the kind of air that only a Marlo would enjoy. The air of the street. I loved watching him go up to some random corner and “Alpha Male-ing” two random thugs (who were conveniently talking about the legend of Omar).

I have to get out this last gripe. Only Simon and company could a beautiful young flower (with a stripper’s body) like Charlene and make her look like a 40 year old prude. I didn’t even recognize her when she walked into the bar with Freadmon..

Rawls is gay but plays his cover up to the tee. Case in point, when he was in the hallway talking to the Deputy Mayor, a woman walks by and Rawls steals a peek at her ass in front of another man. Classic.

Kudos to you other Wireheads, who guessed correctly the fate of both Michael and Dukie. Michael is definitely the new Omar and Dukie is Bubbles reincarnated.

Also good catch on those who put together that Bubble’s sister was the same nurse who got up with Cutty.

It would appear that Gus got demoted for telling on Scott, that good woman reporter, Alma, got exiled to the Carroll County bureau and Scott and the bosses got their fake Pulitzer. Just doesn’t seem right.

I did take great pleasure in watching McNulty breaking down Scott though.

Who do you think is the better businessman? Avon sells the connect for a "hunnert large" and Marlo sells it for $10 million. And the winner is...

My other favorite scene was Chris Partlow getting up with Weebay in the prison yard. And no love the help. The “muscle” always got to take the fall and eat the years. I just find it hard to believe that Marlo quietly gave up the crown after he fought so hard to get it.

Loved the mock funeral for McNulty. He was good Po-lice and now he will become BPD folklore.

Damn I’m going to miss this show.

In a word - "Dickensian" (without the aspect).

Thank you David Simon. Thank you HBO.

leftymn said...

They certainly did a great job of telling the entire story, and of tying it all together in the final episode. This was one show where all the components (writing, acting, directing, etc.) seemed to gel. The players must have thoroughly enjoyed the run.

I guess I'm not a "savvy fan," because I didn't see Dukie becoming the new Bubs or Michael the new Omar. At least I didn't conclude that independently. In retrospect, however, it obviously fits in with the theme that the more things change, the more they stay the same. So Dukie and Michael were among the many metaphors for that.

I'm not exactly down with the way EVERYONE involved in this mess essentially got off Scot-free. Except those that didn't deserve it, of course. The more realistic outcome would have been a city government scandal as big as anything we've ever seen. But then the whole premise (the make-believe homeless murders) would never have happened, so it doesn't matter. Anyway, though it was some pretty unbelievable shit, it was very good storytelling.

Finally, I'm sure I'm not the only one who recognized Simon in a very brief appearance, pecking away at a newsroom keyboard.

Anonymous said...

This was just beautiful and at the end of the episode, I felt like, "yes, it's finished." No frustration, only peaceful sadness that reminds one of a missed loved one who passed after a rich, long life.

There were excellent moments in this episode. Did I see Marlo taste the blood on his arm or did he just smell it? I must say that the Alpha Male in me felt charged at that moment.

Great Norman line that wasn't mentioned: "I believe the Commissioner done fell off his ass." Brilliant double entendre. I could watch that opening sequence over and over...and I will, when the DVDs are released!

Thank you Simon & Co. Thank you Tim. Thank you community of commentators.

Anonymous said...

I have to watch the whole thing again before I can say a word. My local cable had transmission problems in two key places with quiet dialogue involving major characters--Beadie and McNulty, Ronnie and Levy, Cedric Daniels and Marla? the exwife. Other than that, it was a great evening.

So my only comment before rewatch is really more pertinent to Ep. 9--another possible callback we missed? Was the woman in rehab with Reginald who said, "You didn't call me--I would have got up with you. You can believe that..."--was that the woman that Bubs in his informer days used to sell the pre-tapped cellphones? Kima and the other detectives were mentioning their flirting then.

Maybe not, but I'm the one who called Cutty's nurse friend as being Bubbles' sister.

The fake wake scared the heck out of me. They seemed to be describing McNulty, but trying to figure out why he "died" or whether Lester "baby, I could die happy" had had a heart attack.....--Casual Observer.

Anonymous said...

Errata for b-more wire head said:
Freamon's woman is Shardene not Charlene...and as a guy more less Freamon's age, she's still a hot looking woman and not some frumpy prude. Want to see her looking dumpy? Check out Season 1 when she slaps on those Fearless Fly eye glasses.

Second. When you get the chance, check out Season 4 more thoroughly. You'll see that the nurse who misread Cutty and was seen with him in the the season-ending montage was *not* Bubble's sister.

The details matter.

leftymn said...

I agree about Shardene. She looked fine. Actually better than before. The basic change was that she now appeared "clean" and grown up, well past her unassured days as a stripper.

Anonymous said...

* if we locked up every liar, then bpd would be full up... or something ilke that, McNutty to Templeton the (EB White Rat) after the call out.

* we all get ahead on some make believe ~ norman

* props to the shots of b'more, esp that set watching from I-95, watching all that traffic from NY-DC skate on by

* props to slim charles

* props, and thanks to the producers at HBO, who, four years ago left the tap on

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to thank Tim and everyone for their great comments. It really helped my enjoyment of the show. The ending was great. One attempt at pointing out a callback by a novice: Bunk's line to Kima.."There you go giving a fuck..." Didn't he use that on McNulty way back at the very beginning of the series? and, isn't that what ultimately redeems McNulty for all the b.s. he pulls this year? and, lastly, Bunk also "gives a fuck when he shouldn't" as proved out this year.

Anonymous said...

That other blog (sepinwall, no interest) has a good column AND a great, but long, interview with David Simon.

The nurse sister of Reginald is a callback, if not for Cutty's friend, maybe another hospital scene, like Randy's foster mom's hospitalization in the burn unit. Definitely she's a callback.

Alan said...

There's a David Simon cameo in the episode right at the beginning of the scene in the newsroom just after the City Hall news conference (just over 1 hour in).

I was clued into this from a note in Salon magazine's commentary. Also from Salon's interview with David Simon:

[Question: O]ur culture is just getting dumber and dumber, so it may not stand a chance.

[Simon:] The proof in that is that a guy with a C-average degree from the University of Maryland and 13 years of covering cops for a newspaper in Baltimore has a television show, and everyone's arguing over whether it's brilliant or not. OK, that's a culture that's in serious decline.

http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/feature/2008/03/10/simon/index.html

Anonymous said...

I feel privileged that I was able to experience the greatest 90 minutes in television history last night. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a better finale to The Wire…it was absolutely perfect in every way. There were too many amazing moments to mention, but I will say that it got a little dusty in my living room during Mcnulty’s “wake”…I get the chills just thinking about it.

The tap said...

I can't believe this is going to be my last Wire post, but hey, it was a beautiful ride while it lasted. First and foremost, thanks to the Wire and thanks for Tim and all the people who have made some deep and insightful comments over the years.

A few thoughts:

- Great, great, great episode (as Tim points out, as to be expected). As some commentators have pointed out, there may be some loose ends (i.e. why Marlo's phone was on the warrant, etc..), but overall I think it was wrapped up in the best way it could. Can't fault the Wire team for ANYTHING, they took an approach, and they stuck to it wonderfully to the very end.

- I'm not as sad as I thought I'd be. Don't get me wrong, I feel like a Junkie who knows his supply has been cut off, but I was expecting a much more painful ending. Somehow the writers managed to soften the blow.. can anyone see McNulty being 'ok' with being forced to quit being po-lice at the beginning of the season? HELL NO. Marlo being treated like any other punk on the street? HELL NO. The list goes on, but the transformation was genius.

- Finally, I am going to pay homage to the show by watching all 5 seasons in a marathon over easter. Wondering whether any other nuances will crop up that I missed or hadn't noticed.

- Anybody know what David Simon has planned next?

Tom said...

Tim, I'll add to the pile started by klr and lysa and say how much I've enjoyed your deconstructions each week. Thanks.

“There you go, giving a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.” I love this so much, because it's one of the first lines Bunk ever said. It's Season 1, Episode 1, and I scribbled it in the margin of a notebook because I knew it was one I'd want to remember.

And therefore, it's a tribute to "Homicide: Life on the Street:" Meldrick's first words ever (and the first line of the show) were "If I could just find this damn thing, I could go home." He also said them in the final scene of the final episode.

Anonymous said...

Tim - I am really surprised that you didn't mention the quick cameo given to David Simon. He was sitting at a news desk during one of the newsroom shots. He was behind a sign that said "Save Our Sun" Very fitting, very real.

Tom said...

Ha! I was a few minutes behind anonymous at 7:11 PST because I put on my "Homicide" Season 1 DVD out to make sure I got the Meldrick quote correct. I knew this crowd would set me straight in a hurry if I misquoted.

I loved Simon's momentary cameo in the newsroom. Ink in his veins, too.

You don't wait until he's actually dead to give the policeman's wake, with soundtrack by The Pogues, to a natural po-lice named McNulty who'd bleed Jameson if you cut him. That was so great.

I also really liked Kima 'fessing up to Jimmy and Lester. And those two tacitly acknowledging that when Kima went to Daniels, she was more right than they were.

Lester addressing the about-to-walk-away Kima as "Detective" is the height of class. And no surprise whatsoever. I also liked Shardene's "put those miniatures down" look as she wrapped herself around Lester. Nice touch.

k.papai said...

THE WIRE -- the best ever! I can hardly believe it's over.

A few nonoriginal thoughts of mine:

Marlo wounded in the arm wearing a very nice suit. I tink that was his warning shot to stay the hell away from the corners.

Valchek as chief -- WTF?!!

It never dawned on me that McNulty quit. I thought the wake was for him to never be allowed to do real po-lice work anymore. A virtual wake.

For sure Michael is now Omar, master heister. No doubt.

I felt sick seeing the Pulitzer winning Scott at the end.

I had tears in my eyes at the end, anyone else? I watched every single show (save one) these five seasons, from the very beginning. I feel sort of like a pioneer, like Tim, who was the first to proclaim the absolute greatness of THE WIRE to one and All.

David Simon was very good on Terry Gross/NPR last Thursday.

THE WIRE -- R.I.P. and thanks to Simon and Burns (and the brilliant Clark Johnson directing a few episodes and as "Gus the editor", a strong actor and back in the day "Homicide, Life on the Streets").

Alex said...

Many thanks to Tim and all of the TGTV commentators--it's been great discussing the episodes with you.

I liked the way the finale seemed to wrap up threads in the various stories without really wrapping them up. McNulty and Freamon didn't necessarily get off without punishment--their safety is contingent on Marlo staying "out of the game." I wouldn't want to have to rely on that--it's like relying on a shark to become a vegetarian. Bubbles is looking good for the time being, but an addict is always in danger of a relapse. Michael's "rip and run" caper looked like a triumph, but for my money it's a dumb move. He should have gotten out of Baltimore and stayed out. Look what happened after Wallace and Omar "came back." Scott won his prize, but a lot of people now know that he's a fraud. He's going to have to worry about having the rug pulled out from under him every day.

Anonymous said...

b-more wire head:

I'm sorry, but I have have to disagree with both you and Tim on the newsroom storyline. I don't care if what David Simon presents at the Baltimore Sun is true or not - what I care is if it's interesting from a dramatic standpoint. And unlike all the other storylines in The Wire (including the port), the characters in the newsroom were uniformily cookie cutter / had no nuances and the story was very predictable. Let's put it this way: how have the characters evolved in all the other storylines: a lot! Did anyone at the Sun change? No, they're either saints or bad guys - no shade of gray, and they stayed that way, and that's what made it dull.

And the focus on the Baltimore Sun, particularly during the first half of the season, was what made Season 5, just "very good" instead of "outstanding." Why the Baltimore Sun storyline wasn't that good could have been for a host of reasons, including there was only 10 episodes so there wasn't enough time to develop the characters / plot, David Simon's personal beefs, the fact that individual journalists (and editors) really have little power over the larger forces at play in the newspaper industry and therefore it was always going to be difficult to write a good story, etc.

Have to admit, the second half of the season was back up to the usual standards. But that still doesn't make up for the fact that series took a little bit of a hit due to (my opinion) Simon's need to focus on getting his agenda across rather than letting complex characters tell the story he wanted (like he had done throughout the rest of his universe).

Having grown up in Baltimore, I'll miss the series a lot; it captured so many little things I love about the city, but unfortunately, the picture it paints is all too real. I feel a lot like Carcetti felt at the beginning of season 4; the feeling that there's so much potential, but to actually make positive change is just so overwhelming. And McNulty's wake will always stay with me - to me, it represents a wake for the city as a whole.

Anonymous said...

First thing I thought of when it ended was that I couldn't wait to read what Tim had to say about it. Here's to a great series that asked no quarter and gave none. Not just truly great television, but truly great story-telling. 'Slainte!

Tom said...

Just one more from me, I promise: It's so bountiful, this one, that it's easy to forget some aspect you loved. My only defense is that it happened early on:

Tim, you are spot-on about the brilliant Reg E. Cathey absolutely owning the opening minutes of this episode. Of course Norman giggled; when none of the stink is on you, and you know you can get another job, it is darkly funny.

Anonymous said...

To Alex (7:46) who said Michael should have left B-more. Don't forget that when Michael dropped off Bug at his aunt's house he told Dookie that she took him in and will continue to take care of the boy as long as he keeps sending money (shoeboxe size btw). Michael still feels responsible for his care. He may not be able to give Bug a safe place in person but through the rip and runs can provide the funds for a safer world.

Michael left school for the "University of the Streets" so a job a foot locker won't exactly help.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with everyone who's saying Bubble's sister is Cutty's nurse. To me, they don't look alike and here is a link about the actress who was listed as "cutty's nurse" and "nurse" respectively. Her name is Marvina Vinique.

I can't find anything about who Bub's sister is. Can anyone shed some light on this?
Liz
http://www.tv.com/marvina-vinique/person/192409/summary.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2191861/

Anonymous said...

If you want a good laugh, check out the Baltimore Sun's review of the last episode. Then go down and read the comments section. It is a real smack-down of the Sun. Not a single comment agreed with the review. The truth hurts!

Anonymous said...

According to IMDB, the actress who plays Bub's sister is Eisa Davis.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0204555/

Anonymous said...

to anonymous @ 3:06-
My belief is that Ronnie is calling the number from the paperwork to the phone company. From my understanding of how the wire taps work, at least from the Wire, is that paperwork goes to both the court and phone company. The court paperwork had the dummy number, the phone company had the real number, which is necessary for the wire to work. That's my guess.

kevin said...

I thought one of the best scenes was Rowls waiting for McNulty in the interrogation room. Whenever he asks McNulty to tell him that he didn't kill them himself, I laughed out loud.

The look on Bunk's face when McNulty says he can't make this stuff up was also priceless.

Damn I am going to miss this show.

Onto The Shield.

ferrethead said...

Just a quick one for now, I'm sure I'll have more when I've had more time to digest...this damn show was running through my DREAMS last night!
.
Where else but the world of The Wire would Slim Charles be called 'sentimental' for shooting Cheese in the head. Laugh out loud moment in the ferrethead household.

seaphoto said...

The closing montage, featuring the full version of the original theme was so perfect. A nice touch was the shots illustrating the loss of good jobs for working class people, and then that "Museum of Industry" sign.

Nice Dolphin said...

Still trying to digest it all. My favorite quote from the episode belongs to Cheese. "There ain't no nostalgia to this shit." There's the street, the game and the shit that happened here today"
This quote sorta sums up the 5 year run of the wire.

Turns out Slim Charles did have a little nostalgia in him. Prop Joe already has brokered a sweet deal with the devil and has been waiting for Cheese.

And of course the best line of the episode

Vincent
"your just a boy"

Michael
"And that's just a knee"

Thanks to Goodman & Simon for 5 years of enjoyment.

The game is the game

BiggySlimm said...

Mr. Goodman, I just want to thank you for convincing me to watch this show. I've been reading your articles for the last seven or eight years now, and came to realize that most every show you enjoyed, I enjoyed as well: "The Shield," "Arrested Development," "Deadwood"... There are too many to list, really. I have to admit I was skeptical at first, not really wanting to dish out HBO's DVD price, but I finally did about a year ago. And boy, was it worth it. I watched Seasons 1 through 3 in about a month, sometimes half a season in a night, wanting to watch it more than anything else. After watching two or three episodes in a row late at night one time, I HAD to turn it off and go to sleep lest I turn into a zombie at work the next day. I got so mad that I threw a fit and almost tore my room apart from wanting to watch more episodes. I was hooked. NAY! Addicted. It was/is the best series of all time, the greatest accomplishment on any screen, the standard nobody will (or should attempt to) ever reach. It wasn't appreciated in its time -- the best rarely are -- but I know it will be discovered by the masses in due time and earn the acclaim it truly deserves. So Mr. Goodman: Thank you. It was an honor to be a part of it while it was still on the air, but I wish I had taken your advice sooner.

Anonymous said...

Thanks anonymous for finding Bub's sister on IMDB. I knew she wasn't the same actress as Cutty's nurse girlfriend.

I found it interesting how Ms. Donnelly recognized Duquan when he said his name when he went to school, but she didn't seem sad to see him like that. She's learned long ago not to get emotionally attached to the kids.

I'm glad Prez at least gave Dukie a chance. Too bad Randy didn't get a second chance from Carver. It seems Namond was the least deserving to get rescued, him being as cocky as he was, but that's what's so great about this show. You can't predict much.

I will miss it dearly, can't wait to watch again.
Liz

seamusfurr said...

Tim, thanks for your weekly analyses. No show was ever as deserving of detailed breakdowns. And while other good but inferior shows (like "Lost" or "Heroes") build suspense with little clues, those clues are only designed to leave you wondering what will happen next. What's unique about The Wire -- among a thousand other things -- is that it was always about the journey, not what would happen next. My Tivo always cut off next week's scenes, and I didn't particularly care.

At this point, we've been trained to be disappointed by series finales. But The Wire was always about institutions, and institutions live on beyond the people who occupy them. McNutty isn't BPD; Carcetti isn't City Hall; Marlo isn't the The Game. The institutions survive, and talented people land on their feet.

But the primary lesson is that people who thrive, who win, who hold power are those who are the most hungry to wear the crown (cough cough Hillary Clinton cough).

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous 10:36- the Cutty's nurse doesn't look anything like Bub's sister, and I've been wondering why folks are thinking it's the same woman!

Anonymous said...

I'm skimming through and I apologize if someone has mentioned it, but when McNulty was accused of getting all the overtime paid to him for the serial killer case, which he was really using to help bring down Marlo, he said, "It wasn't about the money."

Omar before his death via Kenard was limping around calling Marlo out, robbing him and burning/flushing the money, sayin' "It ain't about the money, bro..."

That was a nice tie-in.

McNulty may not be happy not being a red-hot detective, but there were hints of change: He was making several things right, and refusing to create more wrong, as if he were working his own non-group 12-step program--not tying the red ribbon murders to the white-ribbon guy, not staying to drink after his wake, taking Larry home, going home to Beadie. Past evidence says it won't last, but bracketed with Bubble's redemption, it's not certain he'll fail....
--CasualObserver

Jesse D said...

Fantastic direction by Clark Johnson. Great acting all around. Five years of having this show when the rest of the world was sleeping, farting, and watching Law and Order, man I was blessed.

Some people don't want to believe that we are as bad off as this show says we are. That is up for debate. At the very least, this show tells us that we need to pay better attention. Our problems are all of ours to bear. By ignoring them they only get worse.

The johnny come lately newspaper TV critics who never wrote about the show before can now rest easy and go back to enjoying their favorites like 24, Desperate Housewives, Cop Rock, and reruns of The Sopranos on A&E.

novelera said...

Sigh, it's over. Thanks, Tim, for your masterful decos. And for the opportunities for us to go on and on about the episodes. I watched each episode from the very beginning, having thought The Corner tragic and wonderful and absolutely deserving of (I think) its Peabody Award. So I was more than ready to watch The Wire and have enjoyed every minute of it.

I also was frightened by the fake wake, especially since some blog prognosticator or other had thought Jimmy might eat his gun.

I was furious that Levy wiggled out of the trap. My, my, Marlo looked stunning in his suit, didn't he. And his slipping out of the real estate meeting to go back to where he's most comfortable was masterful. Tim's right; his days are numbered.

They did a great makeup job on Dukie, making him look "raggedy". But I couldn't help but hope he really was going to enroll in school, until I saw the rest of the sad scene. And Prezbo, so sad. Knowing, really knowing the truth but, like me, not willing to completely give up hope.

Hated to see Narese land on top. But good to see Pearlman in her judge's robe, recusing herself from Daniels' trial.

George D from the 415 said...

At odds with the way the Sun crucified the ending (and was rightly blasted as was pointed out here earlier) The Chicago Trib gave one of the best reviews of the finale aside from a quick swipe at the paper story line (which would be expected) but its a small note halfway through:

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2008/03/the-wire-comes.html

Anonymous said...

It must have really chafed the suit-wearing Marlo that the guys on the corner didn't know who he was but were saying that Omar was killed after being surrounded by 8 or 9 guys!

pnm said...

There’s nothing to add that hasn’t already been said better by posters above. Great ending to the best show ever on TV; the Wire elevated the medium beyond the “idiot box” or “bastard machine” unlike any show since, and most likely hence, unless we all get lucky.

To David Simon, whose baby was beautiful and poetic, as well as ugly and hard to look at, thank you for allowing us to experience The Wire. We feel changed by it, beyond any other show we’ve watched.

And to Tim for turning the PNM household on to the Wire, just before season 3. Without you we would never have watched. And also thanks for the decos, which enhanced each episode for us, giving us an even deeper appreciation.

To both Simon and Tim, thank you for giving a fuck when it wasn’t your turn to give a fuck. We are all better people for it.

Vajra said...

Duquan isn't the new Bubbles because he doesn't have even a thin line of familial support. Bubs came from the solidly working class Black community before it was ravaged by drugs. Dukie is a product of that conflagration.s

Anonymous said...

Loved the last scene with Marlo. Omar's name lives on even after he's dead while Marlo isn't even recognized on the street. Not quite justice but certainly Marlo was denied the one thing he wanted most. It's better to burn out than to fade away.

The series ends with both Omar and McNulty turning into legends in each of their respective fields.

Anonymous said...

Are you reading the Elliot Spitzer news? It seems like something right out of The Wire!

Anonymous said...

Simon does a lot of reprises. Final "Homicide: Life on the Streets" line was Meldrick saying something like "The thing about this job is it's got nothin' to do with life." Crosetti said the same thing to Meldrick in the series' opening scene. Both scenes took place in an alley. Full circle.

bdgavin said...

Tim,

Thanks for a decons over the last couple of seasons. It's been great being able to put our thoughts down after digesting each episode. I've never even wanted to do that for a show before. That's how much The Wire has meant to me. I wasn't sad after watching last night's episode. I was satisfied. I loved it. I thought it was a beautiful sendoff. The fact that there won't be anymore hasn't kicked in yet. I won't be sad until later.

Some thoughts on the show:
I was happy to see McNulty and Lester land softly. I didn't want them to go down in flames, but I thought would definitely be punished somehow. McNulty seemed to be preparing himself for the worst over the last few episodes. If Lester, with that younger, gorgeous woman, I wouldn't even care about not working anymore. I'm so glad they brought back Shardene. Lester has hobbies outside the job.

I was sorry to see Dukie deteriorate so quickly. You could see he was halfway addict and halfway his old self being guilty over his every addicted move. One second he was smiling when Prez agreed to give him the money, and a split second later he looked regretful.

I clapped when Slim Charles stepped out and shot Cheese. That's been in the making since Prop Joe died. I just didn't know who he would kill, Cheese or Marlo.

Someone said the odds don't look to good for McNulty and Freemon, since their fates rest in Marlo's hands. I'd say they're 60-40 in the clear. Marlo isn't necessarily going back to the game. If he does go back to the corners, he may end up dead rather than with the crown on his head.

The Sun and other newspapers really dogged the show this year. I rate it as on part with Season 3. In my order from best to least best, S4, S1, S5 and S3 tie, and S2. They're all fantastic, though.

The Sun had a clear ax to grind with Simon. They dogged the newspaper storyline all year and then mentioned the horrible ratings every week. They held Simon to standards they should be operating under as a newspaper, rather than standards of a TV show!

The only complaints I had from this year were that the pace felt a little rushed and they could've gone deeper into explaining media consolidation's negative impact on newspapers. Simon said that the critics' missed his main critique of the paper, that it's not that they were covering the serial killer, but what they weren't covering at all. With a couple more episodes he could have emphasized this more--with reporter contact with other people or stories worth telling, and the editors shutting them down in favor of sensationalist BS.

I loved Jimmy's facial expressions this episode. His accent seemed to be even sharper than usual. "What did you see fella?" The contempt on his face when he looks at Scott kills me. At first I thought he hated him because he was somewhat of a mirror to McNulty's actions, but then you see McNulty hates him because Scott is doing it for fame and glory while McNulty is doing it because he's addicted to policing--and that was the only way he knew how to take down Marlo.

Was happy to see Carver come away with another well-deserved win. As much as Herc is an idiot, it's still enjoyable to see how happy someone tells him he did good. He's a big puppy that needs to be coddled.

I'll miss this ritual almost as much as The Wire itself. I'm going to watch the finale 5 more times before I get sad.

When asked by Alan Sepinwal whether he would be writing about these characters again, Simon said he had no plans to but, never say never. He said he didn't think that the way of telling their story would lend itself to a movie. I think the way to go is to have another season (8-12 eps) 5years down the road, and do it every few years. Probably not going to happen, but I'd like to see it play out that way rather than have a movie or nothing. I think the greatness of the show would suffer if they had to cram a story into a 2 hour movie. It wouldn't feel the same.

I say McNulty becomes a private investigator. If he can't be a cop, I'd like to see him in that capacity sometime down the road. He likes getting into trouble too much not to be some sort of detective of some sort for the rest of his life.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think Norman Wilson is tipsy in the early scenes with the Mayor? It's a subtle but highly believable plot device that a top aide might hit the bottle before and during work under those circumstances. Notice Norman's laughing and giddy outbursts when the rest of the table is taking things quite seriously. An interesting parallel about urban crises and how one can escape.

If there is such a thing as "required reading" then "The Wire" must ultimately become required viewing. Season 4 standing alone needs to be canonized among the very best of American arts and letters.

Anonymous said...

FYI, David Simon and Ed Burns were interviewed today on NPR's Talk of the Nation (audio avail later today on npr.org).

Anonymous said...

David Simon once again putting the b in subtle ethnic stereotypes:

Herc labeled a goldmine by Levy and his reward? Dinner at the Levy's with a cheek-pinch/Hebrew phrase.

Dozerman's head shake two weeks ago at his partner's strawberry soda.

Alex said...

It feels right to see "the connect" go to Slim Charles and Rick. They are both quite sane (as Wire drug traffickers go), they both show a Stringer/Prop Joe impulse to skip needless drama and operate like businessmen, and they both showed dignity and guts when Omar threatened them earlier in the season. The Greek has quiet, methodical customers he can depend on again--things always seem to break his way . . .

hickcity said...

Glad you made it to the dining room at your sisiter's, Bubbles. If Scott had done something redeeming BEFORE knowing his game was all a lie, the journalism critique would have been richer. Sorry we let you down, Dukie.

Anonymous said...

I accidently deleted the last episode from my DVR. :(

Did any of those montages show what happened to Donut? I grew up in New Jersey in the 90's when Newark was the car theft capital of the country, and kids were killing people and themselves almost every summer day in stolen cars. At the end of last season when Donut ran that stop sign in the stolen SUV after waving to Namond, I thought that was indicative of what would eventually become of his character.. getting maimed or killed in an accident.

I also wondered what ever happened to the dirty cop, Officer Walker, who broke Donut's fingers?

Anonymous said...

I know I'm nitpicking here, but did anyone else feel that homeless murders were closed a little too conveniently?

It just so happens that there's a copycat murderer who happens to be the crazy guy with all the business cards?

Beyond this one sticking point (which I blame on a lack of episodes), I really enjoyed the finale. This was definitely the best/smartest/most rewarding TV series I have ever had the pleasure of watching.

Anonymous said...

well, anon, copycat murders to high-profile strings of serial murders are historically fairly common.

But if that's a leap for you, the next part isn't a leap: if one or two of the murders are traced to someone who is too whacko to stand trial and will be committed to a mental institution upon proper evaluation, they won't prosecute the first murders because it would be redundant. Only if the murders continue after the mentally-ill guy is locked up would those cold cases get a second look.

It's sometimes really hard in serial murders to tell what's a copycat who acts after seeing the first perp get all the attention.

chicoperico said...

The Wire season finale also means an end to my Sunday evening ritual. Watching the Wire in silence, no interruptions as my kids were in their beds was a great way to end/start my week.
Thanks Tim for all the great decos over the years. Your reviews are always on the money. I've enjoyed your commentaries since your days at the CoCo Times (the only reason I read that rag).
Some thoughts...Some great acting and writing went in to creating one of the greatest cast of characters ever on television. I'll miss them all but my favs - in no particular order- were:
Bunk- absolutely owned every scene he was in.
Bodie - real soldier; Bunny; Stringer; Slim Charles; Kima

My only complaint on the seires finale: No Clay Davis scene.
SHHHEEEEEEEEET!

Anonymous said...

the phrase "the full Templeton" for particular forms of lying seems to have entered the blogging lexicon.

detroitnewsie said...

Ditto on Norman owning the opening moments. My heroes of the night, Daniels and Slim Charles.

My one critique; I really couldn't buy Dukie's addiction, not after growing up experiencing the worst effects of it in his own family. It just didn't play real for me.
Well, one more hink too-why would the guys think just because they pay Marlo, the connect is going to accept them. Seems Marlo let things slip pretty quick once he was the man in charge; I would think the Greek would look elsewhere. But that's being petty.

I didn't have any fear with the wake scene; it was a bit too jovial even for a wake. However, I was holding my breath when Kima and Bunk moved in on the body; did anyone else think they saw a telltale ponytail?

Although I was leaning toward Phalen as the leak, I did notice a hint after Clay said you wouldn't have to look past the grand jury-DePascale is pictured on the cast page on HBO's site.

I had steeled myself for at least one sucker punch-Simon was kind in that the finale just flowed. Another homeage to Baltimore; the crab segue from McNulty's Trouble game to Bubs on the bench with Walon.

Thank you Tim for the generous gift of the decons and board; and to all the posters who stayed shared your many insights while remaining civil and respectful and thankfully (sans one or two) spoiler-free, you've enriched my Wire experience immensely. No doubt.

Anonymous said...

I too am a Wire fanatic. Loved this show right from the start! Loved the finale.

The one mystery I keep puzzling over is the relationship between Bunny Colvin and Stringer Bell. I think it was Season 3, where they met up in a cemetery?

What was that about?

Anonymous said...

Addiction and alcoholism are often 2 and 3 generations deep in inner-city families, so much so that there's an argument about genetic vs. social-learning theories. There may be a genetic predisposition, which needs only a trigger. Dukie's triggers--can't get hired anywhere until he's older, not going to school, losing his adopted family of Michael and Bug and the security of being taken care of by them. Then some guy gives him work.

Dukie's downward spiral may have been shortened, but in truth it may have been more unrealistic of Simon not to show at least one of the four Season 4 kids as being already addicted.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 2:15 PM: po-lice work.

Stringer and Avon Barksdale had their business and friendship bonds falling apart. Colvin met with Stringer and got the location of a safehouse where Avon's guns and people were along with some other information. Stringer was later killed by Omar and Brother Muzone, after Avon gave up Stringer's whereabouts and set him up.

It was kind of mutual or reciprocal betrayals all around. Colvin turned the information over to the detail, and Stringer's name ended up on the paperwork.

Last night when they ordered a hit on Michael from Marlo's crew, I thought a dead Michael was going to end up as a name on the paperwork as the informant, since the targets thought he was snitching anyway.--CO

Anonymous said...

To anon at 1:37 and anon at 1:50:

I think what the first Anon was getting at is that McNulty solved two murders in about 30 seconds. The white ribboned victim had a business card. "Eureka, a business card!" McNulty said to himself. "Hey rookie cop, did your dead homeless guy have any business cards on him? He did? The killer must be the crazy guy who asked me for a business card several weeks/months ago. Case closed!"

Maybe I missed something, and I will have to go back and watch the earlier episode where Jimmy first meets the copycat killer (#3 or 4 of this season), but that all seemed a little too easy, even for a natural po-lice like Jimmy McNulty (Bunk: "Motherfucker, you ain't that good!"). But then once the case was down, Anon #2 has it right regarding the aftermath, linkong him to the other murders, etc.

Otherwise, fantastic episode, fantastic series. In my opinion, The Wire will go down as the greatest television series ever. The Sopranos, at its absolute best, was probably its equal and The Sopranos did come along first and changed the way we think about televsion. But the Sopranos also had a lot of filler and wasted episodes. As a series, from beginning to end, nothing touches The Wire. I don't think there was ever a mediocre scene, let alone a mediocre episode. Thanks and congratulations to David Simon, Edward Burns, the tremendous cast, writers and crew for giving us this amazing series. Can't wait to see what they bring us in the future (and please, please, please don't judge their future work based on The Wire. How can you possibly top that? I will be happy with something half as good). Thanks also to Tim and the many posters who have put together one of the most intelligent, collegial, and valuable blog/message boards on the internet. It has truly added to my appreciation of The Wire and for that I am grateful.

B-More Wire Head said...

My apologies for rubbing my fellow commentors the wrong way with my Shardene comments. The broad looked frumpy to me. lol

And the great Cutty-Nurse mystery is officially solved.

My only dissapointment is in Rawls not getting "outted". He pulled off a great ongoing ruse.

I too, want to know the relationship between between Bunny & Stringer. That relationship was personnal. Like two relatives or a mentor and mentee. Bunny also referred to Stringer by his "Christian Name."

And when commentors say that Michael is the new Omar and Dukie is the new Bubbles, we aren't talking literally, but in figurative reincarnative aspect.

And the Sun Paper TV Critic took the Sun Story line very, very personally and it showed in his critiques. He should've Manned up and had some integrity.

I personnally miss Donut. Being a former youth mentor in Baltimore, I've met Donuts before. His smile stole a lot of scenes.

I also was very surprised Marlo's people took their punishments so lightly while Marlo walked (Monk & Cheese had to take up to 30 years on the drugs and Partlow life without parole). If I was them it wouldn't sit right with me that Marlow walked. I can see if he was going to continue to wear the crown. But he was leaving the game and in effect leaving them.

Lastly, Tim I forgot to do so before, but thank you for this forum and your dead-on decons.

It was a blast my friend. ;o)

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice Ronnie's weird accent when she was blackmailing Levy? On other blogs they're saying it was a Ballmer accent coming out. I thought it was very strange. My husband didn't notice it because he doesn't watch as much as me (or as obsessed!)

anyone?

Anonymous said...

I did notice that accent and wondered what it was about. I almost thought it may have been British.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing to add except to also add my thanks to Tim and his decons, not one of my friends or family watched The Wire, so Tim and all of you were my only way of breaking down the episodes and hearing everyone's opinion. I'll miss that. My question was how did Cheese get out of jail? I thought he and Monk were going to get 20 years for possession with intent, and there he was coming up with the 900 K to pay the Greeks. I also lol when he got his, thanks to the great Slim Charles. Thanks again to all for sharing this incredible experience. Deb

Anonymous said...

Deb --

Monk wasn't allowed to pay bail because he was still on parole for some violation he committed a few years earlier. Cheese was allowed to pay bail, apparently because he was not "on paper."

Anonymous said...

When Sydnor was in Phelan's office, who/what was he talking about? He mentioned the Major and the Commissioner. Was he referring to Daniels and Rawls?

Dennis Foley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis Foley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

No other show on TV can end with a guy getting shot in the head and a 14 year old stick-up boy and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. My 10pm date with HBO will be missed!

Anonymous said...

Cheese was out on bail and even though Levy and Pearlman cut a deal, Cheese had not yet agreed to it. A lawyer can't just make a binding plea agreement on a defendant's behalf-the defendant has to sign off on it. He was killed before he had the chance.

As for the soldiers being ok with Marlo walking, here's how that's possible (although its pure speculation since the show never got into it). Chris was probably getting life anyway, since the prosecutors had his DNA (and some corroborating evidence) at the scene of a brutal murder. Might as well take the rap for all 22 murders. He's a loyal soldier and as long as Marlo makes good on his promise to take care of his "people", he probably won't try to take it out on Marlo. All in the game. Monk was arrested with several kilos of raw heroin in his car. Not really much wiggle room. Cheese is dead. So, really, Monk is the only one who may have an issue with Marlo walking but, what can he really do? It's easier for Marlo to get to him inside of prison then it is for Monk to get Marlo on the street-we saw in season 4 that Marlo has muscle inside prison, plus Chris is in there now. And its not like Marlo ratted him out-he just got luckier than the others.

And the scene with Sydnor: the Commissioner was Valchek and the Major is unidentified, just whoever is running his unit. Sydnor is the "new" McNulty!

Anonymous said...

Attention all you Clay Davis fans: if you want some more "Sheeeeits" and giggles from Isaiah Whitlock, Jr., check out "25th Hour," a great Spike Lee joint that came out in 2002 or 2003. Excellent cast (Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson in her prime, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Anna Paquin, to name just a few) that includes Whitlock as Clay Davis's long lost DEA agent brother.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of question for you savvy types:

1) I have watched the show since the first season, but I can't recall what was in Daniels file that was going to wreck his career. Can you enlighten me?

2) My understanding was that only a few cops knew about McNulty's scam. Landsman didn't know. So what do the cops at his wake think is his reason for resigning?

ppage said...

" Same as it ever was..." as The Talking Heads sang.

People covering their asses & landing on their feet when they don't deserve it. Bargaining, wheeling & dealing. Always happens. And Simon showed it beautifully. I kept flashing back to Rome (the HBO series as well as my own knowledge of history) & realized that urban decay & spin control have been around forever.....Absolutely fantastic series & finale.

"There you go giving a fuck...." My father keeps telling me that in so many words. I have more of Gus & Bunk in me but I'm learning. The institution is bigger than the people inside. Just gotta remember that some times.

The actor playing Scott did a good job. You really hated that opportunistic brat. (You're not like that,
Tim, but there is a slight physical resemblance).

Daniels: his staccato delivery was spot on as usual. What did he do that was so incriminating ? Did we ever find out?

I also loved the montage with the original theme song. Was that Tom Waits?

McNutty must be good in bed. Beadie sure puts up with a lot of shit (don't care if he's good with her kids when he's sober).

Levy = The Devil

For some reason I thought Avon Barksdale might show up at the end.

Play the Kima drinking game the next time you rewatch an episode: take a shot every time she rolls her eyes, shrugs her shoulders, or utters, "huh".

Again, thanks for the killer decons, Tim!

Dennis said...

It was at an accelerated pace, but with the speed with which Jimmy solved the copycat murders and how he handled the scene at Templeton's "gray van" crime scene, I thought it was Simon's way of saying when McNulty's head's right, he's a damn fine cop.

With Jimmy realizing what he'd done, and even with him failing to adhere to Rawls' request to tie all the murders to the mentally unstable copycat, I still found it hard to swallow that he should be so "OK" with contributing to those copycat murders.

Also:

- Prez comes outside and he has a beard; so we know he's grizzled;) And I get that and with the way he reprimanded the kid who knocked away his fellow student's sandwich he's more comfortable in that environment. Yet, Dookie's an old fave of Prez's and he cares enough to to throw a few dollars Dukie's way. But I don't get why he drove away so quickly once he dropped him off. I'm not talking the Hollywood ending where Prez throws him in the car and takes him to detox, but what about at least one little speech? And count me among the folks who felt that Dukie's spiral was too speedy.

Overall, I was pleased with the finale and much more so than say how Homicide closed out so many years ago. It wasn't what I'd hoped it would be but it wasn't far from it, either. And I had huge expectations after the first four seasons.

bdgavin said...

I think Prez was taking Ms. Donnelly's advice about not getting too close to his former students. Prez is doing this for Dukie's own good and for his own sanity. Tough love. Also, he told Dukie in so many words that if he used the money for drugs that their relationship would end.

Also, while we might want Prez to drag Dukie away or try to convince him to get out of the streets and off drugs, that wouldn't fit within The Wire. That would be more appropriate on another show, a different network.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:44pm
It was never spelled out what dirt Burrell had on Daniels...only the suggestion that early in his career as cop in the Eastern District, he was involved with some shady money-related stuff. And as I recall, he and his wife lived pretty damn good on a lieutenant's salary.

Trixie said...

Now THAT was the way to end a series! The final episode had small satisfying moments, rather than big Hollywood crescendos.

LOVED the ending montage. It was true to the series and was a beautiful way to give us insight on some loose ends. Kennard in cuffs - 3 seconds of pure joy. The Pulitzer ceremony - 3 seconds of pure nausea.

But at least we got to see Scottie get completely dressed down by the one guy who knew for a fact that he was lying. (I watched "Syriana" over the weekend and up popped Scottie working for the CIA. I wanted to yell, "Don't believe a word he says!!)

Sad as it was, I could totally believe Duquan's accelerated descent. If I were him, I would want the pain to go away, too.

Tim: Thanks for letting us know what *30* meant - I had no idea. And, oh yeah, for everything else.

ppage: Agree, Levy is the devil, or one of his minions that sold his soul a long, long time ago. He may have the blackest heart of all.

One of the Anonymouses: I picked up on the change in Rhonda's accent as well. The actress is American (I've seen her interviewed) so I chalked it up to a Bal'more attitude coming through while trying to face down the Evil One. Brilliant acting if that was the intent.

And, to everyone, thank you for making this a much richer experience. Group hug.

Anonymous said...

Rhonda may have been doing the same thing with her accent that Lester Freamon did with his: What I mean is, successful, educated people who came up from regional or ethnic settings have learned to talk the standard talk and erase some of the background flavor, but the flavor is there when they want to use it. They are good mimics.

My favorite story about this type of thing comes from a newsroom: Benjamin Bradley, the Wash. Post editor of Watergate fame, being a cultured gentleman who could talk street when he needed to, like Lester, and (as it turns out)like Ronnie.

Watch Laura Dern or Dianne Ladd sometime--able to move in or out of the Southern accent they came by honestly. A thing of beauty.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, basically Daniels had "far too many assets" for a person of his pay grade. This was the FBI investigation referenced in Season 1 that was shut down by Burrell. Basically, there was a Narcotics unit in the Eastern District that had been skimming money. Surmising from Daniels' response to Prezbo's beating of the kid at the projects in Season 1, Daniels did things to protect his people but didn't necessarily skim money too...or maybe he did so that they wouldn't suspect him of being an informant. The latter is highly plausible. The FBI was never able to prove anything, as stated in Season 1 but there was enough to allege something damaging.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, we get hints of Rhonda's background as she looks at her whole career vanishing while standing with Daniels outside of the courthouse. We can also surmise that her interest in McNulty and Daniels is plausible (even in a Southern town like Balmer), just because she's taken the path that she chose.

ppage said...

Anonymous,
Thanks for the Daniels explanation.

Anonymous said...

Re: Prez: I think he knew what would "probably" happen to the money he gave Dukie, but he was trying to give Dukie an adult choice. He clearly let him know what the consequences would be if he chose wrong--they couldn't be friends or even mentor/student any more. He said as much.

Dukie has no one, but if he will rip off Prez, he needs to know the consequences of his actions.

BTW, Dukie's quick descent is probably partly due to the relative purity of the packaged product, and partly due to the reasons pointed out above. Also the time line--the returned foreign bureau fellow investigating Scott didn't come back with the answers the next day, Jimmy didn't descend into dispair over his creation overnight, etc. Time has passed.

Rita said...

For Wire fans now with time to fill I suggest looking into the writings of H.L. Mencken.

Mencken is a true ancestor of David Simon in the way he reveled in showing how irrational and hypocritical the system is.

Although Mencken's hay day was 50+ years ago, he is,
alas, relevant in this age of fundamentalism and ignorance.

Sam said...

Just wanted to add a few thoughts-TG thanks for the decons and the forum to post our thoughts and add questions.

1. Slim Charles' killing of Cheese was as much a business move as it was sentimental. After watching Prop Joe build the co-op and negotiate a truce w/ the Barksdale clan SC had to watch Marlo essentially destroy both. Pretty clear if Cheese is drawing a gun on Rick over a "nostalgic" comment (and bragging about all the money he has-which I took as Prop Joe's cash not his) imagine what he will do next after they get the connect and he has more money and muscle behind him. SC also knew that Cheese was behind Joe and Hungry Man's deaths-only a matter of time before they come for him as well. I also took the different players not having the money more as a negotiating tactic (Tall Man says to Cheese but you will be putting in more than your share after he offers the 900) I didn't think anyone wanted to tip their hand or put in more than absolutely necessary. Anyone else feel that way?

I don't know about anyone else but ever since S2 (which is when I think Cheese was introduced) I have found his character one of the more frightening ones-and props to Method for that (the deadly glare, the lip, etc) he was hardly the deadliest character on the show but came through as pure street thug.

2. Alan Sepinwall's interview with Simon confirmed some of my own thoughts before the finale on the serial killer story line and Lester and McNulty's actions-and if Bunny was pushed out of desperation to attempt legalization then their actions aren't so unbelievable either. I need to go back and rewatch when Bunny was introduced (if I remember the line was a brief scene pulling up to the towers and saying something like "exactly what are we doing here") to his sit down with Carver about being an occupation army. I think that is in part what Simon was trying get across, we have forgotten that this war on drugs has a daily casualty toll that goes unnoticed and it's not just the tragedy of the hoppers and addicts but the obvious impact on the communities and what it does to the cops that work those beats. Yes the Hamsterdam and Serial Killer plots were a bit much and tested the limits of believability but it is TV (and compared to standard TV cop or legal shows I found it more plausible even with its problems).

3. One thing struck me in terms of the McNulty/Freamon conspiracy-and it was when Ronnie was describing how easily Levy could get to the truth (the phone company records being the key). That seems to me to be the one thing M & F would have known (or should have known) and the prospect of risking not just their careers but jail time, as well as the case, would have given them pause even with their desperation.

I am also having trouble remembering if after Lester got Marlo's number from Herc, did he go back to Daniels and ask for a few men? I seem to think he did and was turned down but can't remember for sure (if so which episode was that?) Because if that wasn't done it would seem with Daniels as Deputy Ops that would have been a natural point for Lester to leverage.

4. The actor who played Klebnow really deserves some credit-as much as Whiting was a blow hard-Klebnow made my skin crawl because he was so reminiscent of former passive-aggressive bosses I had in the past. That being said, I have to agree with anon (3/10 @ 8:07) it was probably the one time in five seasons that the characters and storyline were written in such a fashion. It was pretty clear who we were supposed to root for (only thing missing was the Imperial March whenever Whiting walked into the room). Considering how much "pipe was laid" in earlier seasons that paid off for in the rest of the show I just wished we had been introduced to at least one of the newsroom characters earlier (Twig, Gus, Alma, Templeton) give me something. That for me made this season problematic (with the serial killer storyline as well).

TG mentioned either in this decon or the earlier one that "the Dickensian" aspect has made its way into newsrooms (or will). The first time I heard it and considering how often it was used in the newsroom episodes there is part of me that wonders if that is something that was actually uttered by the two editors who W & K are based on when Simon was at the Sun. Anyone know for sure?

5. Like others I really enjoyed many of the episodes this season (7 & 9 were excellent I thought). I also thought finale was excellent, couldn't ask for more. Yes Dukie seemed to descend quickly, but some time has passed b/c he looks like he has been on the street when he shows up at the school. And I also assumed that he was being pressured by those in the stable that hey you want to stay here you need to start pitching in with something (in addition to the general desperation of the situation). I also took it that even though Prezbo said no (like Bubbles sister, Dukie would be going back to him in the future won't get 150-300 dollars but maybe a 10 or 20). Did I hear correctly that he was able to get $300 from Prezbo but only told the Junkman he got $200? And yes he def. lacks the family support network that Bubbles had and this clearly doesn't end well for Dukie (although there is always hope somewhere in the future-Bug or Michael are the closest thing he has to family or even an adult Namond could possible help) and as I write this I have to remind myself that he isn't real (but there are thousands of Dukies, Michaels, and Randys out there and the real question we should be asking as a society is what can and should we do to help?)

McNulty did seem to solve the crime quickly but they did a lingering birds-eye shot of the business cards in Ep. 9 when he approached the body so they set that up. Also in the FBI profile they said that killers of the homeless usu. come from that cohort. Oh and the show was only 95 minutes so he didn't have a lot of time.

I thought the opening was excellent-Carcetti lost for words was great. I wasn't crazy about Norman's "make believe line"-seemed a but overwrought but more than made up for it w/ the Road to Damascus and Fell off his Ass barbs-classics.

The scene w/ Ronnie and M&F was great-esp. b/c there is still this tension/affection between her and Ronnie (seems to be a mixture of I can't believe I fell for train wreck like you but for some reason I still like you and don't know why). And ppage I think the show has more than established that McNulty is not just good police but is apparently also a talented Lothario (and if anyone remembers his comment to Alma has other attributes as well-one of several crude but hysterical moments in that episode.)

6. So all that being said if I had to rank the seasons: S4, S1, S3, S5, S2 with S5 and S3 close but the newspapers making the difference (and really enjoying the Hamsterdam plot and the rise of Marlo).

7. LATimes had a brief but good interview with the cast on their site worth a read. Can't thank them enough for the brilliant work and making those characters seem so real and wonderful (even when they infuriated me or scared the piss out of me).

Thanks David Simon, et al for a great show-I loved it from the first broadcast of episode 1 and the dice game story. And to this day the Roberts Rules of Order scene still makes me laugh. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Cheese had the extra money to kick in from giving up Prop Joe and before that, for giving up Butchie. One of the last things Prop Joe said before he died was, if his nephew had extra money (from some such goings-on as giving up Butchie)it wouldn't take long for him to start flashing it around.

Slim had that figured out from his encounter with Omar some weeks back. Omar wasn't behind the murder of Prop Joe, and Slim wasn't behind the murder of Butchie.

brueso said...

Aw, I got misty just reading Tim's list of scenes.

So, so many things to savor. But on top of all of it, while watching the montage, I thought- "These are the kinds of shots you never see in television." The regular folks, the architecture. And I did laugh most of all seeing Stan Valchek get his spot. (I'd wondered what he was saying but Tim filled it in "Fits like a glove." I never got tired of seeing that actor).

I was telling someone who was just starting to watch The Wire from season 1 ep 1- like Simon has said himself: it's like Moby Dick. THe first couple of episodes, seemingly not alot happens- no whale, no Ahab, you're in a flophouse with some weird guy with tatoos and spears." But oh how it ripens. But be careful, I told this person- the show will break your heart many times.

Anonymous said...

Man, that was one of the best series ever. I was speechless after it ended. Man.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

Your deconstructions have been a pleasure to read. Maybe one day you can go back over the first 4 seasons. I would pay to read it!

I will miss this show a lot. Just damn good writing and acting. Nothing will quite fill this void.

KC said...

The Wire, much like life shows that justice is rarely served evenly.....

Anonymous said...

Excuse me. I am Nberkeley on sfgate. I did not see the reference to Clay Davis in the final episode. Am I blind or just stupid? I am happy for Jimmy and Beadie, and for Lester and Shardene.

Anonymous said...

A couple random things after glancing through the thread:

How do junkies afford to keep horses?

Those of you saying that Bubbles's sister is a call-back are right. She was in Season 1, when she played - get ready for it - Bubbles's sister! Bubs went to stay with her in a short-lived attempt to get clean, sometime in the middle of the season, I believe.

The Dukie-Prezbo convo is reminiscent of another Season 1 moment. Wallace and DeAngelo had almost the exact same conversation. Wallace saying he wanted to get out of the game and go back to high school, then asking D to borrow some money that he used to buy heroin.

Man, I am going through Wire withdrawal. Hopefully Big Love will do a story arc focusing on the Salt Lake drug wars, but I'm not holding my breath. ;)

suzyq2 said...

I just wanted to add my two cents, go on the record, and sign the guest book at the wake. What an incredible, amazing experience it's been watching The Wire. Thank you again Tim for turning me on to this incomparable show. I remember watching the first few episodes thinking "whoa, this is different, you gotta really pay attention here, what the hell is going on?" Little did I know how satisfying an endeavor that would become. And how it would ruin most any other show I've watched since then.

And thanks Tim for all your de-constructions throughout the years, it added immeasurably to the enjoyment of the series as did all the posters. Thank you all for your intelligent, passionate, and civil discussions.

I thought the finale was great, short of resurrecting Omar from the dead, and Dukie going home with Prez. But that wouldn't have been the The Wire. It's never been about satisfying the viewers, but telling us the truth, no matter how much it hurts. And oh does it hurt.

I didn't feel as sad as I thought I would because the finale was so beautifully done. It was ultimately satisfying, not because it pandered to the audience but because it was true to itself as it answered the questions of what happened next to whom.

And as much as I wanted to see Marlo get his just desserts in a more visceral manner, I think he really did get his. He wasn't about the money, he was all about the crown. And in the end, that's the one thing he couldn't have.

I think someone's call of McNulty becoming a private detective is a good one and gives me some comfort as to his future.

Bubbles bounds up the stairs and as he takes his place at the dinner table we see a young boy sitting there, his sister's son, his nephew--a good reason his sister kept Bub in the basement until she was sure he was on the right path. I am so glad for him.

I too think this show will be so much more appreciated down the road, it will be taught and studied and it will gain the wide audience someday it so richly deserves.

Goodbye Wire, you were a work of art that made me think and feel on such a deep level I'll never be the same.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Season 1, Ep 1 shots of the doors closing to help people keep up - the director of that episode? Clark Johnson, or as Season 5 viewers will remember him - Gus. Great actor, great director, and fantastic imprint on the show.

Anonymous said...

Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.

Anonymous said...

I figure there has to be a callback involved when Daniels is representing his client in front of Ronnie.

Anyone recognize Daniels' client?

KC said...

Was there prior years de-constructions that I missed (and cannot find)? I plan to buy the whole 5 years on DVD and would love to see Tim's comments on Season's 1-4 if they exist.

Not a bad season or episode ever on The Wire. Season 2 has to be at the top of my list however.

Howard said...

There is nothing more to say. The Wire has been the most satisfying, intense story I have ever followed. I would like to thank everyone involved from the writers, to the actors, and the crew for bringing us this wonderful work. While I will miss it, it ended perfectly with us right back where we came in. Thanks for the decos Tim and to everyone else who was along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

Quite a good bit of writing by espn's Sport's Guy about The Wire and death on the streets of LA

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/080312

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the reporter who was snooping around Hamsterdam was in this season? I was kind of hoping they's tie that in somehow. Like someone else said, it was kind of abrupt to meet everyone at the Sun all at once this season.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the scene in Season One when Bubbles broke Sydnor down on his undercover get-up?
...wedding ring
...shoe soles that didn't have the tell-tale broken vials

The cops needed a "homeless" Bubs for their undercover people in the last episode because I noticed that the guy who alerted McNulty that Templeton lied about gray van, was wearing a nice, shiney wedding ring.

...had to laugh at that.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking that someone would figure out that Herc gave Marlo's phone number to the police.I loved the ending, makes it all a little easier. But I have always wondered why they cast an actress that seems like Daniels mother or older sisiter to play his wife. Any ideas.

Anonymous said...

The only reason I had HBO was so I could watch The Wire.

I'm glad Michael took up Omar's torch, as was predicted here. Marlo always seemed uncomfortable outside of his domain, so his last scene where he returns to the corner was natural. Was it his own nostalgia or will he still try to wear the crown?

Anonymous said...

ppage,

The montage song is the season 4 opening version of "Way Down in the Hole", performed by the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Anonymous said...

ppage,

do not listen to above anon, it is not the season 4 opening, it is season 1. season 4 was done by domaje, season 1 by blind boys of alabama.

Anonymous said...

Logging on to compliment Tim Goodman and all the posters once again. Not much left to say--but not much willing to let it be over, either.

One more thing: just as "The Full Templeton" is poised to enter the lexicon as a phrase denoting a particularly ripe form of lying, I believe that "empty notebook" (which Alma told to her bosses before her exile, trying to back up Gus) may become a phrase for a hack reporter in the same way that "empty holster" was used by SFPD for a guy with cushy desk jobs who didn't have to be out on the mean streets. I remember that phrase for Frank Jordan.

Scott is the "empty notebook." I love it.--Casual Observer in case this doesn't work

detroitnewsie said...

Hey KC, nice dolphin!

Anonymous said...

Its probably not intentional, but the scene in the bar where McNulty and Freamon are discussing the bosses knowing, McNulty is sitting in front of a sign. The sign, partially cut off by McNultys head and the camera angle, says "TARD".

Anonymous said...

This and That:

* yes, i don't think the news crew were as subtly/fully developed as other crews - labor union, police, etc. - but i am willing to let simon slide on that.
on some level, the pain of his experience as a journalist makes him both a greater and a lesser writer. it's hard not to slip when on the slippery slope of one's own personal experience.

* did anyone mention that shot of the sun going down toward the end? obvious, i know, but i still appreciated its reference both to the end of the series... and to state of the balmor' sun.

* tim, i remember when homicide ended. i sent you an email and was surprised to get an answer back. we both loved the show. i was sort of dumbfounded to have discovered a tv critic i both respected and agreed with. (now if i can just find a mate like that, and no, tim, i'm not looking to you for that one!)

* which brings me to the deco's

* which another poster noted are word scramble of CODE after i rambled on about how the show is a reverie on the perils of not having one... or failing to follow the one that you have

* which brings me to the posters

THANK YOU, Tim

THANK YOU, smart and funny posters

THANK YOU, Simon, Clarke, HBO, All Actors, Writers, Stunt Folks, Camera Folks, the whole slingin' crew.

What a privilege, what a privilege, eh?

For those of us who live the urban life with feeling hearts and thinking minds (try as we sometimes might to close them), Simon was our Homer.

He made art of we know to be true

and that makes the truth, painful as it is, more bearable.

Okay, now I gotta add, just for myself:

postit note to those of us who sometimes think making art is "uselss."

It isn't.

And oh lord, yes, McNutty as detective.

Absosluttely yes.

(i am "wirewatcher" but can't remember my password.) (;-))

seaphoto said...

I think the shot of the sun going down over the water was first shown in the Second Season, but it is a great metaphor for the city and it's institutions

ferrethead said...

Did anyone see the promo before the show? "Generation Kill" or something like that, 'from the creators of The Wire'. Tim, know who's involved with this? Any advance buzz?

ppage said...

Anonymous, thanks for the info re. the montage song.

cooter said...

Tim,
Thank you for this blog. You are your readers have been wonderful to share this season with.

Loved the finale. I was really expecting Marlo to get got on the street when he went out, as his name was a punk ass bitch thank to Omar. Kind of like Omar reaching out from beyound the grave to damage marlos rep.

I also though Herc's camera would come back in one way or another.

I loved the last shot on McNulty and finally getting to see Prezbo again.

In my mind the bests seasons were 4, 1,2,3 and 5.
And even though 5 wasn't my favorite, i did enjoy it.

Question for people in Baltimore:
I live in Baltimore in Hampden, and last July there was a Wire film screw filing here with their trucks on Falls and 36th.

When i checked out the film site when they packed up, their were boxes in trash marked "Weapon Cartridges" which I assumed were left by prop guys.

I was disappointed i didn't see any scenes this season which were filmed here that i recognized.

Anyone from Baltimore see any shots which might have been from hampden?

Anonymous said...

Simon on what so many --virtually everyone--missed:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-simon/the-wires-final-s_b_91926.html

Anonymous said...

What happened to Omar's boyfriend? Did Omar return to B and leave him behind because he sensed it would be his last stand?
Prez: the tragedy is that he DID NOT help Duquan when he could. Last season (4), when Dukie came to him and had a gift, he was telling Prez he needed a bigger kind of help. Prez consulted with his boss who advised him not to care too much; there's another kid like that ever year. So Prez didn't. This is his character; he hasn't the courage to do something truly generous and courageous, but only to make smaller gestures that don't cost him as much.