Monday, March 10, 2008

We'll all be safe from Satan/when the thunder rolls: My thoughts on The Wire Finale

Warning: This article will refer to characters and events from all five seasons of The Wire. I IMPLORE you to be familiar with the series and watch them on DVD or HBO before reading this article.

I realize I've been doing a lot of talking about TV on this "FILM" blog lately but the fact of the matter is that visits to the theater have not been in the budget lately (haven't had a lot of free time either and the two tend to go hand in hand). But who needs Donny Osmond and Martin Lawrence when you've got the conclusion to quite simply the greatest television series ever? Oh sure, I love the Office and Arrested Development, Deadwood and Battlestar Galactica, love them dearly (my relationship with The Sopranos is a tad more complex [if there's interest I'll comment on it at a later date]). But there is no show that has more purely engaged me as a viewer. It's broadened my consciousness, causing me to reconsider the institutions that I live and work in every day (being in the education racket it's little wonder my favorite of the bunch is season four) and even more importantly has made me consider the people I live alongside in a city of millions. In renouncing the traditional themes of good versus evil creator David Simon and his incredibly gifted collaborators create empathy for every single character (with a notable exception I'll be mentioning later) no matter where or how they live.
I could go on and on about favorite scenes (Boadie learns chess, Prez's first day, Carcetti's phone calls, Kima says goodnight etc), favorite characters (Carver, Omar, Prez, Stringer, Norman, Gus and of course BUNK), favorite lines by Clay Davis (Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit) but let's talk about last night's finale. I was surprised (and somewhat pleased) to hear that rumors of McNulty's death or suicide were greatly exaggerated (though they teased it nicely with the start of the Irish wake). Considering the absolute mess his life had become, driving many a man to put his service revolver in his mouth, it would've been a logical turn of events. Some may even say that many of the characters got off too easy. I disagree, McNulty gets to live and possibly save his relationship with Beadie, but he's no longer doing the only thing he's truly happy to do, the only thing he CAN do, being a murder police. Daniels FINALLY became commissioner, but his ideologies regarding juking the stats (WHICH HE WOULD'VE BROUGHT UP ANYWAY grrrrr) got his ass-kicked out minutes after he was sworn in. Even I was surprised to finally empathize with Marlo. His brief time hobnobbing with the rich and powerful in Baltimore away from the criminal element has essentially severed his connection with he streets. His power base is gone, he may be a free man but like McNulty he can no longer do what he excels at. In true Wire fashion no character really won, at best their were those that didn't completely fail. Carver got promoted but I can't imagine working under the newly christened commissioner Valchek will be fun. Some may say that the cyclical nature of the characters and institutions may make the ending seem too pat, but history demonstrates time and again that the names may change but people basically remain the same. It's fitting (and tragic) that Michael is the new Omar and it was devastating (I got completely teary) to see Dukie become the new Bubs. Jeez is that depressing.

There's only one weak spot in the shows environments and that has been the media section. Don't misunderstand, there was plenty of intriguing material at the Baltimore Sun but of all the character I felt that only Gus Haynes was presented with multiple dimensions. Everyone else was a goody-two shoes cub reporter, bumbling money and awards hungry editor, cynical reporter on their way out or an opportunistic bastard. The other institutions always made you reconsider the "bad" guys and the "good" guys. Valchek, Rawls, Landesman, Avon, the Sobotkas, the kids, Bunk, McNulty, Carver all alternatively got moments to show off the angels and demons of their inner nature. Maybe it was the crunch of episodes predicated by the writer's strike, but these newsroom characters didn't really get an opportunity to expose alternate sides to themselves.
But if the most critical thing I can say is that eight of the shows hundred plus characters came off as not completely multi-dimensional then that's a damn good show. The Wire could make you laugh as hard as the best sitcom, put you on the edge of your seat better than the best police procedural and make you wonder more about the world you lived in better than hours of cable news. I will miss it, but if it had to end, I'm glad it ended like this.

All right readers, lay it on me. Tell me your thoughts on the finale, the series, favorite lines, moments and characters in the comments.

1 comment:

brian said...

1. "F*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck f*ck."
2. Omar walks down the street for cereal. A bag of money drops out the window.
3. McNulty blasting the Pogues, misjudging a turn and slamming into a wall.
4. Michael and Dukie talking about the piss balloons summer's past.
5. Bubs finally eating with his sister. [Not special for the scene, but for the happy ending that Simon rarely gives out.]