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The Wire 5.10 - 30 - Series Finale

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, 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.

The Wire 5.9 - Late Editions

The Wire 5.8 - Clarifications

Let’s not beat around the bush: Omar Little is dead. Understandably, that’s going to piss off a large percentage of fans, but not exactly how you might think. You see, David Simon has already stated that Omar was never meant to play a major part in the series (in fact, he was only supposed to appear in a handful of episodes), and as such, I was wholly expecting his eventual demise. But at the hands of a three-foot corner boy? To use the term anti-climactic wouldn’t do it justice. Sure, the shot to the back of the head was pretty cool, but to see a badass like Omar taken down by some random pre-teen ranks right up there with the senseless drowning of Charlie in last year's season finale of "Lost." Still, it was bound to happen – just like Clay Davis’ acquittal the week before – and if nothing else, Omar’s death may just be the break McNulty needs to catch Marlo.

After helping Bunk fast track some lab work on his murder investigation (which, by the way, resulted in a warrant for Chris Parlo), Bunk decides to repay the favor by gifting McNulty a piece of paper he found on Omar’s body. The information doesn’t seem to be anything new (it’s mostly just names and designated hangouts for all of Marlo’s major players), but every little bit helps, right? Maybe not.

Following a trip with McNulty to the FBI in order to retrieve a criminal profile for the homeless serial killer, Greggs gets to work on paring through all the potential suspects. Embarrassed that Greggs would even be willing to waste so much time on a bullshit case, McNulty pulls her aside to tell her the truth. As you can imagine, Greggs doesn’t take the news very well, but McNulty is willing to stick it out for a couple more days – especially now that the mayor has granted him unlimited resources, including surveillance teams and rental cars with GPS.

With Carver personally assigned to run point, the surveillance teams are working like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, they haven't really resulted in any big breakthroughs. That is, until Sydnor makes one hell of an accidental discovery. While following one of Marlo’s men through an unfamiliar part of the city, he stops by the side of the road to check out his map. By pure luck and pure luck alone, he happens to realize that the clock images Marlo and Co. have been using for communication directly correlate to a book of Baltimore maps. Having officially cracked the code, Lester has not only made his first giant step towards building a case against Marlo, but has also uncovered the citywide monopoly he’s built between Monk on the Westside and Cheese on the Eastside. How exactly this will be used against Marlo is still uncertain, but with only two episodes left, we won’t have to wait very long to find out.

The Wire 5.7 - Took

The Wire 5.6 - Dickensian Aspect

It’s hard to imagine this season of “The Wire” becoming any more twisted, but alas, tonight’s episode upped the ante on the homeless serial killer case to the point where even McNulty is beginning to rethink the predicament he’s gotten himself into. With Carcetti’s harbor-side shopping mall getting little media coverage, the governor hopeful directed his attention to the ongoing investigation with a press conference that assured the local and national news affiliates that the city police would do whatever he takes to stop the murders. It was quite the speech, but as we know all too well, it meant very little in regards to getting anything done.

McNulty’s still only getting one detective to help, and Landsman has squashed his request for a surveillance crew yet again. Heck, he can’t even get a wire tap on Scott’s cell phone, since doing so would likely put his judge friend in hot water with . So, it seems like McNulty and Lester are back to square one – despite the fact that Sydnor has begrudgingly come onboard, if only to put Marlo away for good. McNulty can’t even dig up a fresh body anymore, since every homeless person that kicks the bucket is immediately bum rushed (no pun intended) by every cop in the city.

Leave it to Lester, then, to discover Marlo’s method of dealing over the cell phone just before hearing the bad news. As it goes, Marlo using his phone for drug-related business, but instead of actually talking to his middlemen, he’s sending them photos. In order to catch him in the act, Lester needs access to a different kind of wiretap (one that would allow the interception of files), and believe it or not, McNulty actually has a plan. Thanks to Scott’s dumbass decision to begin making shit up in his articles (which McNulty is more than happy to brag about to Bunk), McNulty devises a new strategy that has the killer contacting with a text message stating how displeased he is with Scott’s depiction of him. Instead of leaving dead homeless around the city, he’s going to kill them, send a photo of their dead body to his cell phone, and then get rid of the body. McNulty jumpstarts the whole operation by “kidnapping” a homeless man and shuttling him out to D.C., but when he begins to realize just exactly what he’s doing, you can disgust on his face. It’s a brilliant scene that shows McNulty for who he really is, and I completely expect him to fess up as early as next week.

Meanwhile, Bunk continues to play it safe by working real cases. He’s re-opened all of the vacant murders with the hope of stumbling onto something he didn’t notice the first time around. That includes interviewing Randy (who clearly wants nothing to do with the police) and checking into the murder of Bug’s daddy. Suffice it to say that Bunk is one lucky motherfucker, especially after learning that a temp working at the city lab has disorganized all previous blood work on the vacant deaths. Still, when he goes to question Michael’s mother about the guy’s death, it’s clear that he wasn’t expecting the answer he was given. What? Michael was bragging about his mother’s boyfriend’s death he’s rolling with Marlo, Chris and Snoop? Too good to be true.

Equally so is the fact that Omar survived last week’s shootout, and after hearing of his courageous jump from a third-story (or is it fourth-story) balcony, Marlo says what everybody else was thinking: “That’s some Spider-Man shit there.” Chris is clearly upset that they let Omar go, and despite Marlo offering a $250,000 bounty on his head, Omar has returned to fight on his own terms. He seems intent on calling Marlo out until he can fight him face-to-face, but Marlo isn’t that kind of gangster. Primitive though he may be, he’s still one of the classier, Stringer Bell-type guys on the block. Still, now that most of the co-op know (or will know very soon) about Marlo’s hit on Prop Joe, Omar might not even have to get his hands dirty. Then again, what fun would it be if he didn’t?

The Wire 5.5 - React Quotes

The Wire 5.4 - Transitions

As the title suggests, tonight’s episode was all about transitions – from expected promotions to unexpected (ahem) demotions – and the biggest of them all was Burrell’s resignation as Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department. Yep, you heard right. After a visit from Daniels assuring Burrell he had nothing to do (or knew nothing about) Carcetti’s plans to replace him, and another visit from Council President Campbell promising a pension and comfy gig if he leaves quietly, the grizzled vet officially threw in the towel. Of course, not before he entrusted Campbell with the dirt he’s got on Daniels – which may or may not affect Carcetti in the future.

I can’t imagine it will, however, since this is the final season of the show, but if it were to go on, Campbell might just have exactly what she needs to deny Carcetti the Governor’s chair and replace him as Baltimore’s new mayor. Then again, if McNulty’s able to raise the profile on his fabricated serial killer, Carcetti will undoubtedly earn serious brownie points by claiming himself a man of the people, and by default, of the homeless population as well.

For the time being, McNulty’s still searching for more bodies, but that should get a little easier over the next few weeks now that Lester's old partner has agreed to give them a heads up on any victims that float his way. You can also count on Alma’s next article about McNulty’s killer hitting the front page; especially when dead homeless start popping up with teeth marks (Lester’s idea) all over their bodies. Sure, it’s sick and twisted, but it’s also pretty funny.

What’s not funny, however, is the fact that no one seems to take Marlo seriously. I mean, McNulty and Co. obviously want to catch the guy (but only because he’s bad), Omar wants to kill him (but only because he drew first blood), and Prop Joe (perhaps the most clueless of the bunch) wants to domesticate him. For being such a smart gangster, Joe sure trusts a lot of the wrong people. Upon hearing that Omar believes he had something to do with Butchie’s torture/murder, Joe decides to take a leave of absence, but before he’s able to get the hell out of the city, Marlo arrives to bid farewell.

Joe’s death is probably the most surprising revelation of the fifth season thus far, but believe it or not, he was the glue that held together Baltimore’s criminal hoi polloi, and with him out of the picture, you can expect some blood to be shed over the next few weeks. Slim Charles will no doubt be gunning for Cheese after hearing of his disloyalty, and without Joe to oversee the co-op, Marlo will probably take out the rest of the major drug runners as well. The Greeks are also going to learn that agreeing to work with Marlo was a bad idea (especially if McNulty and Lester have anything to do with it), and Omar is going to do what Omar does best. Sorry, Chris and Snoop. This truly is the beginning of the end. Here’s hoping David Simon and Ed Burns can piece together an ending a little more compelling than onion rings and Journey.

The Wire 5.3 - Not for Attribution

The Wire 5.2 - Unconfirmed Reports

The second episode of season five has come and gone, and you can officially color me worried. Not for the quality of the show, mind you – because that’s always remained first-class – but of the questionably slow pacing. True, previous seasons of “The Wire” have always taken four or five episodes before jumping into the meat of the story, but with three less episodes than usual this time around, doesn’t it seem like David Simon and Co. should be getting a move on? It seemed like that may have been the case with tonight’s show, but when all was said and done, I still felt like that there was something still missing from the big picture.

With Lester and Sydnor working on the Clay Davis case (who, as we all saw, is so worried about the upcoming Grand Jury hearing that he never once uttered his trademark, confidence-boosting phrase), and the rest of the Major Crimes detail back on Homicide, Marlo has been given the all-clear to get back to business (i.e. killing people). That includes hunting down Omar (who has yet to make his season five debut) and going behind Prop Joe’s back to make a deal with the Greeks. And who other than Avon Barksdale to help the kid out? Sure, Marlo declared war on the Barksdale clan when he was on the rise, but we all know how Avon feels about Prop Joe, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he’s chosen to side with a fellow West-sider.

What Marlo doesn’t realize, however, is that a lack of OT pay hasn’t stopped Lester from bringing the drug-slinging murderer down, and within days, he’s back on stakeout duty. When he discovers that Marlo, Chris and Snoop are already back to their sloppy tactics, Lester enlists the help of McNulty for the case, but without any financial backing from the BPD, the pair go looking for help elsewhere, including the local Feds. Unfortunately, not even the FBI wants anything to do with the hanging 22 murders (nor any other federal task force, for that matter). Bunk and Lester claim that it’s because most of the dead bodies are blacks, so what does McNulty do? He creates an imaginary serial killer by “strangling” an already dead (white) male with the hope of gaining the mayor’s attention. Will it do the trick, or just land McNulty in some serious Vic Mackey-type trouble?

There’s plenty more to talk about – like how Carcetti’s mayoral decisions seem to favor his upcoming run for governor (though is that a bad thing?), how Bubbles is clean but doesn’t seem happy about it, or how the scenes don’t fit in with the main story arc (seriously, who cares about that whiny reporter, Scott?) – but it simply isn’t worth spending time on until it actually begins to matter. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later.

The Wire 5.1 - More with Less

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