The Wire 4:13

I debated clumping the end of season 4 in with the beginning of season 5, but it just didn’t feel right. This season finale deserved its own article, even if that means I’m going to have to book it through the remaining episodes. (By the way, my plan is to do three episodes a week instead of 2 for season 5. It’s 10 episodes total, which means I’ll do 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and then a series finale, all over the next 4 weeks.) But enough of the ground work. Let’s launch into this brutal episode.

Episode 4:13

It’s fantastic television, but this extra long episode doesn’t exactly leave us with many spots of brightness. In fact, I can really just think of one: Namond. Somehow, the corner kid least likely to escape the corner is the one who manages to pull it off. How? By Bunny talking to Carver, who knew Cutty, who knew Wee-bey, who was willing to listen to Bunny because of Cutty’s good word. And then Wee-bey was smart enough to realize he didn’t want this sort of life for his son, and humble enough to step back and let Bunny take over. And also strong enough to stand up to Mrs. Wee-bey, who’s still just a revolting waste of human tissue. But however it happened, Namond’s out.

His friends aren’t so lucky. Michael is now a full fledged murderer, killing people for Marlo. The act has changed him a ton, as he’s pretty much stopped caring about Bug other than to provide his brother with a bedroom and a nanny in the form of Dukie, who has dropped out of high school completely instead of trying to keep dealing with it. (Side note: it’s easy to be frustrated with the school for Dukie’s plight, but in the end, I put the blame for it on Dukie himself. The end of the school year was going to come regardless. This was Dukie’s chance to step up and take himself to the next level. It was going to be difficult, but we saw nothing to make us think it was impossible. Instead, Dukie didn’t even try. He just turned around and left school. Sad.)

And then there’s Randy. The “Snitch” label followed him to the group home, and Carver was unable to save him. Interesting that they even tried the Hollywood ending, with Carver volunteering to be the foster parent for Randy. But this isn’t Hollywood, and the solution isn’t that easy. It’ll be months before Carver could be approved as a foster parent. Anyone want to give odds on how Randy will fare over those few months? It doesn’t look pretty.

And of course the episode has a quick call back to the kids and how they used to be, showing Carver scattering a new pack of kids from the same haunts Randy, Dukie, Michael, and Namond used to haunt. So much happened to that crew over this season. Very tragic.

How about Carcetti? I don’t think it’s clear in this episode just what a betrayal the man has made to his city in the name of his political career, although we get hints of it. (His advisor is truly disgusted, for example.) Let me spell it out in case it’s still fuzzy: Carcetti was presented with a $50 million dollar shortfall in the school budget. He has spent all the rainy day funds the city had in giving the police raises, so there’s no money left to cover that shortfall. He had a chance to get the Republican governor to help him, but he knew that if he did that, the rest of the state wouldn’t want to vote for him if/when he ran for governor.

So he was faced with a decision: accept state money and solve the problem for the kids and his city, but hurt his political chances of becoming governor, OR turn the money down, scrabble through things for a couple of years, and make a run at the governor’s office.

He chose to go for the politically prudent one for himself. This means that Baltimore is now in the same mess it was already in, except needing to cut $50 million or so to balance the budget. And what’s Carcetti’s justification for it? He’ll be able to help the city once he’s governor. It was a despicable choice he made, and I’m sticking to that statement.

Wait for the fifth season to see the fallout.

Rawls has managed to fast talk his way into not just keeping his job, but remaining a powerful force in the city. Powerful enough to yell at Rawls for trying to undercut him, and have Rawls now weak enough to have to take the chastisement silently. Politics is a big factor in the fate of these characters.

You’ve got bodies appearing everywhere. You’ve got the co-op splintering enough that the Greek’s henchman shows up again to smooth things over. Omar seems like he might be in a good position, but he’s certainly put a huge target on his back with Marlo’s people. It’s not a position he’s shied from before, but he hasn’t had too much to do with Marlo just yet.

What about Bodie? I loved the call back to the chess analogy Dee made back in season one, and here Bodie finally sees he’s never going to be anything more than a pawn. The game is rigged, and he’s through with playing, so he goes down guns blazing. Sad to see him go. He was a bit of a weasel, but he was one of the few remaining honest weasels, if that makes sense. So much better than Marlo and his crew.

McNulty feels guilty for Bodie’s death, so he’s convincing himself he can handle going back to the MCU to do the job that just about killed him. Does anyone else have a *really* bad feeling about this? The man was a wreck, and that job already ruined one marriage he had . . .

But I suppose there are a few other mildly bright spots. For one thing, Kima and Lester are bright enough to find Chris and Snoop’s gun, so Marlo’s hitmen look to be in a bit of hot water. For another, Herc looks like he’s actually paying a price for his idiocy. It doesn’t repay Randy back for the world of hurt Herc inflicted on him, but at least he’s not getting off without any scratches.

Cutty seems like he’s well and truly out of the Game now. He’s not even a player with the ladies anymore, having found a suitable nurse. Another ray of brightness.

But all the rays of brightness in the world can’t make up for Bubs and his story this episode. When I saw him hanging in that interrogation room, I just about had a heart attack. I thought he was dead for sure, and props to Landsman for somehow caring enough to see past Bubs’ appearance (and projectile vomit, and the effect it’ll have on the clearance rate) to let Bubs go free. I’ve always liked Landsman, and I think some of that is because I remembered this one single action of his.

Bubs meeting up with his AA sponsor again is especially poignant, as he’s the man who told Bubs that addicts don’t quit until they hit rock bottom. We thought Bubs had hit that a long time ago, but is it possible for the man to go any farther down? I want Bubs to succeed so bad . . .

Anyway. A stunning conclusion to the best season of the show. Brutal, heart wrenching, but riveting. I’ll warn you right now that season five isn’t able to match this, though I will add that the end of season five is the best series ending I have seen . . .

5/5 easily on this one. What are your thoughts?

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