I debated doing a post on both the finale of season three and the first episode of season 4, just because I’m running a bit behind (I think), but in the end, I thought this one deserved a post all on its lonesome. Why? Because when this season was filmed, the producers didn’t know if this was the series finale or not, so it was filmed as if it was.
First off, a bit of an aside I’ve been sitting on until the season was over:
In many ways, season three was a commentary on the Iraq War. It’s not necessarily as easy to see that now, watching it years later, but the connections are clear once you know it, and nowhere as obvious as in the title of this episode: “Mission Accomplished.” Viewing the episode (and series) in that light bring whole new meaning to scenes. Think about Avon talking to Slim Charles about war, and Slim says it doesn’t matter if the war was based on a lie or not. They’re still in war, and they need to fight on that lie.
Did I just blow your mind?
I know it surprised me when I first found out about it. But it really is true, The season even starts with its own 9/11: when “the towers” come down. Think back on that scene, and then realize it aired September 19, 2004, 3 years after 9/11. The imagery is unmistakable.
But this blog isn’t the place where I’ll get into all of that. I just wanted to make sure you were aware of it before we left season three behind us. Because the season stands well on its own, no matter what. That’s a testament to the strength of the show. But there are elements now and then that feel out of place, perhaps, and I can’t help but wonder if those elements make more sense when seen through a different lens.
But really, what was accomplished in this season? Failed hopes and dreams. Stringer dead. Avon in prison. Hamsterdam dismantled. Bunny in disgrace. The unit got some good things done for the police, but McNulty left it, Prez is totally off the force, Kima’s relationship is in ruins . . . and Marlo is back on the streets, selling drugs and more vicious than ever. Sure, the “bad guys” from the first season are done, but there are now “worse guys” in their place. (I loved the scene with Avon seeing Marlo in the courtroom, which felt like a callback to the first episode, where McNulty and Stringer meet in a different courtroom.)
Lots has happened, but nothing has changed. And that’s kind of the point.
The only people who seem to really be happy are the people who have decided to get out of the game. McNulty goes to the beat. Cutty just keeps on boxing. Prez is sad, but realizes maybe he never wanted to be in this at all. It’s kind of a depressing look on everything, but pretty realistic too. The Game chews you up and spits you out, regardless of which side you’re playing.
But it’s nice to see McNulty figure things out, at least for this season. And good to have pockets of hope here and there, peppered throughout the overarching “nothing will save us” mantra of the show. (Actually, that’s not quite true. What could save everyone would be effective communication across the board. For people to stop putting themselves first all the time. But enough people need to do that at the same time that it seems doubtful they ever will . . .)
It’s a great final episode of the season. I love that the show takes its time to give us little pieces like Cutty boxing, or Prez talking to Lester. Ways to tie things up without actually tying anything up. McNulty turning down a drink, for example, but wanting to meet Beadie’s kids. That says volumes, and in such a subtle way, because we know the character so well.
But the show is by no means finished with its critique of our country and way of doing things. It’s time to head to school.
But that’s for next season. See you next week!