The Wire 1:13

And here we are. The end of the first season, and I get to talk about the finale and just the finale, all in its own blog post. Ready?

I remember the first time watching the show how disappointed I was with this ending. I didn’t really believe this was it. That the Barksdale crew was getting off so easily. There had to be more to it than this, and so I immediately started the second season. Imagine my surprise, then, when the second season seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with the first season. There were new characters. New conflicts.

What in the world?

What I didn’t realize then (even after the whole first season) was that the Wire wasn’t your typical television show. It wasn’t interested in tidy arcs that went where they were supposed to. It wanted to tell a different story. One focused on depicting a larger problem in everyday life. And one significant part of that problem was that the way our country is dealing with crime is broken. We’re focused on immediate results, and we let the big picture just sort of slink back into the shadows. (In a way, it reminds me of how we handle airline security. Create a bunch of relatively useless hoops so that we can reassure everyone that Something Is Being Done, even if it doesn’t necessarily do any real good toward actually fixing the problem.)

There’s not a lot in this episode to feel satisfied about. Bubbs is back off the wagon. Avon gets a relatively light sentence. D’Angelo gives into the guilt trip his mom puts on him (and gets the worst sentence of the bunch in return), the Barksdale drug crew is going fine. Daniels doesn’t get the promotion he wanted. McNulty gets to go off to the boat he loathes.

Really, the only thing keeping this from turning into a farce is the fact that there are a few bright spots. Lester’s back on homicide at last, for example. Bunk is still bunking. Prez might actually be redeemed. Just enough there to counterbalance a little of the bad, but still more than enough bad to go around.

This is another 10/10 for me for the episode. It’s the sort of television that sticks with you. That makes you think about it later on and get frustrated with how it all ended up. But the great thing about it is that it all somehow felt right. Like this is the only real way the season could have ended. Everything was leading to this point, and it was inevitable. Pulling off a plot like that is hard work, and the show does it beautifully.

But anyway. Don’t let my thoughts taint your experience. Before we start season two, think about what you’re looking to get out of it. Think about where you expected it to go.

And then be ready to go somewhere entirely different.

See you next week!

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