Fans of “The Wire” are no doubt smiling right now. Even though tonight’s episode marks the last time we’ll ever see McNulty in the doghouse, listen to Landsman berate his fellow officers, or even hear Clay Davis say “Shiiit,” I’m more than content with the way things ended. In fact, you could even say David Simon and Co. hit a homerun with the 95-minute finale, addressing all the loose ends and delivering a gift-wrapped ending that you just don’t see in season finales these days.
With news of McNulty and Lester’s shenanigans finally reaching Carcetti at city hall, the governor hopeful is absolutely livid. It’s a lose-lose situation from where he’s standing, and in order to protect himself during the upcoming election, he agrees that burying the dirt is best. Daniels doesn’t necessarily agree, but he doesn’t really have a choice. Pearlman is tied to the wiretap, and if McNulty and Lestor go down, so does she. Of course, that doesn’t mean Pearlman is necessarily accepting of her position, and she makes sure Lester knows about it when they run into one another downtown.
Lester relays the info to McNulty, who’s busy trying to wrap up his Red Ribbon Killer investigation, and together they map out a gameplan for the future. As it stands, the two aren’t exactly in trouble, and aside from being forced out of actual police work for the rest of their careers, they probably won’t even face a grand jury hearing either. Still, that doesn’t exactly help with McNulty’s guilt when he discovers that a copycat killer is on the prowl, murdering homeless men and tying white (not red) ribbons to their wrists. Surprisingly, McNulty is quick to solve the crime, and though Rawls would love to pin all of the homeless killings on the culprit (a delusional homeless man himself), McNulty is adamant that he only be charged for the last two murders.
Though none of the higher-ups are especially pleased with McNulty and Lester, you’ve got to credit the latter for digging up dirt on Marlo’s lawyer, Levy. Without it, it looked like Marlo would not only be dismissed from his charges, but that Carcetti and the entire BPD would be exposed for McNulty’s big white (or is it red?) lie. Instead, Pearlman uses the information against Levy, scoring Chris a life sentence for all of the vacant murders, and Monk and Cheese up to 20 years for possession/intent to sell. Marlo, on the other hand, is given a slap on the wrist and a warning that if he ever traffics drugs again, he’ll be right back in jail.
Quick to make good on the details of his release, Marlo puts his connect with the Greeks up on the market, prompting Slim Charles and the rest of the co-op to pull together their money and purchase the rights. Even Cheese (out on bail) is willing to donate more than twice that of everyone else, but after a long speech about sharing the wealth (where he just so happens to reiterate that it was Omar who killed Prop Joe), Slim Charles shoots him in the head. The others are little peeved that Slim Charles would do such a thing (since it means they still have to come up with the final $900,000 for Marlo), but it had to be done, and it only made sense that Slim was the one to pull the trigger.
As for the rest of the episode, well, a lot of stuff happened. As in, way too much to go in to detail here. Still, I’d really like to talk about it in some capacity, so in the spirit of the show’s montage-esque “where are they now” conclusion, I’ve created a quick rundown for discussion’s sake:
1. McNulty – I never even thought of the possibility of McNulty quietly retiring, and as it turns out, it was the perfect decision. Not only that, but his “wake” was one of the series’ finest moments, and only further proved why Landsman is the show’s funniest character.
2. Templeton – Despite his best efforts, Gus simply couldn’t convince his bosses that Templeton was a lying bastard. In fact, they probably knew that Gus was right, but the prospect of a Pulitzer was just too much for them. In the end, it cost Alma her job, and it earned Templeton the top prize. Unbelievable.
3. Daniels/Pearlman – Daniels’ decision to retire was a bit strange (he’d already lied about McNulty and Lester, so why wouldn’t he be willing to pad the stats?), but now he’s practicing law again, and Pearlman is the judge overseeing the case? Call in the cheese patrol!
4. Michael – In a strange twist of fate, Michael has become the city’s new Omar, and his first target is Marlo’s rim shop. This has got to be one of my favorite subplots of the episode, and it only lasted a few minutes. In fact, if they had never included this, I would have been okay with the series ending. Now, I only want more.
5. Carcetti – No surprise here. Carcetti was always going to become governor, and though he had to stray outside the lines a few times throughout his short tenure, I’m confident that in the fictional world of “The Wire,” it was all for the best.
6. Valcheck – Here’s one man who couldn’t care less about padding the stats. I’m so glad the writers didn’t forget about him when choosing the new police commissioner.
7. Duquan/Bubbles – I considered doing separate write-ups about each, but now that Duquan has fallen into the world of drugs, and Bubbles has finally escaped it, it only seemed right. I don’t always write a whole lot about Bubbles, but seeing as how this is my last chance, I couldn’t pass it up. The character is an important part of the show, and though he hasn’t been included in the main story arc for quite some time, his journey most closely parallels that of the city. It’s the best micro vs. macro example you’re going to find on television, and you couldn’t hope for a better actor than Andre Royo to pull it off.
In the end, however, it would be tragic if neither David Simon nor Dominic West were rewarded for a job well done. West has delivered some of his best work this season, and should at least be acknowledged with an Emmy nomination, while “The Wire” deserves a Best Drama win like it’s nobody’s business. Here’s hoping someone is listening.