Here we go. The end of the show. Tons to get through. Little time to do it.
Omar!!! Kenard!!! It’s fitting, in many ways, to have Omar go out by a little rat like Kenard (who had just been in the middle of setting a cat on fire before he decided to kill Omar instead). Here was the man who made Chris and Snoop panic. Who was so feared he could walk to the store in his jammies, unarmed, and still have dealers give him their stash. Killed by a grade schooler. (Fun fact: Kenard was the kid back in season three who “wanted to play Omar” when Bunk was investigating the aftermath of the big shootout that left a kid dead in the neighborhood. Remember that episode?)
Did you really think Omar was going to get a happy ending, though? Not after the way he’s been behaving, and not after watching this show for almost 5 full seasons. Still, a moment of silence for one of the best characters in the series.
McNulty, meanwhile, is finally starting to come to his senses, and it took a whole lot of lying for him to get there. The scene with him hearing about himself at Quantico was hilarious, and watching him unravel as he began to be extorted by the same police who’d been singing his praises moments before . . . priceless. But that scene with Beadie, where he finally opens up and comes clean with her about what’s going on. That’s the scene that gave me hope for him. That made me think he might yet be saved, and that he and Beadie might work out. Because he was willing to tell her the truth, just like he was compelled to tell Kima the truth. McNulty is inherently good, and he can’t stand what he’s been up to (especially not when he’s sober.)
Lester doesn’t seem as worried about it as McNulty. Maybe because he’s not the one out there having to lie about it day after day. Or maybe because he’s closer to the end of his career, and he doesn’t care as much about what he has to do, as long as he can take down the bad guys with him. (Watch him lie to Clay Davis, knowing full well there’s no real threat there, but knowing Davis can’t know that. Lester is one smooth character.)
Carcetti is still telling himself that he’s doing everything for Baltimore, even as he starts selling piece of Baltimore to Clay Davis and Nerese, and half(!) of what he’ll get as governor to PG County. Watching him watch himself on the news . . . it embodies everything I dislike about him. He’s in it for himself, and the rest is just the story he tells himself so he can sleep at night.
But there are good things on the horizon. Bunk has a solid case against Chris, for one thing. The code is broken, and the unit can perhaps get ahead of Marlo for once.
In other tidbits, it was great to see Poot again, working at Foot Locker no less. Funny to see him in such a different element, and nice to see someone else escape the game without too many scars. (He’s Poot. Practically made out of rubber.) Dukie is still looking for something better, even though we all know what he’s looking for is back in school, not in trash cans. (And all the money going to the police makes you wonder what’s happening to those schools, doesn’t it?)
It’s a great episode, with real movement for the characters, and real jaw-dropping developments. 5/5 from me, though telling that I don’t care enough about the newspaper folks to really want to write that much about them. Scott’s a weasel, Gus is cool. What else is there to say?
As I was rewatching this season, there were a few episodes when I wondered if I’d just been too kind to the season in my memory. As a favor to how great the rest of the seasons were. Because there were some episodes in season five that were just okay at best, and yet I remembered saying to some people that The Wire had the best series finale of any show I’d seen. And I remembered not liking the serial killer plot, but still being okay with the season as a whole.
Episodes like number 9 helped me to see I really wasn’t making stuff up.
The biggest thing for me was seeing Bubs finally get some redemption in his life. That scene where he stands up and really speaks to his support group was fantastic. Here’s a character we’ve seen in so many different situations for so long. A character we’ve liked and rooted for, even when he made terrible decisions. A character who came so close to succeeding in a suicide attempt. To see him finally get some good closure to his arc was inspiring. A great moment in a great show.
On the flip side, we see other pieces that aren’t as inspiring. Seeing Herc turn on his former buddies and use them as information sources to help Levy is just maddening. I can’t stand Herc and everything he represents, and yet he seems to be doing just fine when so many other people are suffering. Seeing Michael use the training he’s been given to get the jump on Snoop is good on one hand (this is Michael, and we don’t want him to die), but really hard on the other, because Michael finally completely embraces the murdering lifestyle he’s been getting into step by step.
And seeing him have to say goodbye to Dukie and Bug? How sad was that? Poor Bug, even though we know how Michael’s doing him a huge favor by sending him off to his aunt. Dukie looks like he’s in for a much darker future . . .
Crazy to see Marlo and the gang actually get busted. Lester and McNulty’s grand scheme actually paid off. Go figure. But then we see that they’d made perhaps a few too many assumptions about the intelligence level of their opposition. Marlo had guarded that code to the extreme. Lester assumed drug dealers would be sloppy, and that just saying “a source” gave them information on the drug deals at work. But because Marlo’s organization was such a tight ship, Levy knew enough to tell something smelled off, and Herc was able to confirm it. (Curse you, Herc!! Though really, Levy probably would have been able to weasel without the knowledge. That’s just how he do.)
Kima going to Daniels with the truth makes total sense. Remember, this is the same Kima who wouldn’t name Weebey as a shooter back when Bunk asked her to to make things easier for the murder police. She might be like McNulty in some ways, but when it counts, she’s too much of a straight shooter to cover things up just to keep them covered. So she tells. Who knows where it will go, but that ship has now sailed, and it totally makes sense that someone finally can’t live with what McNulty and Lester have been up to.
Too many other highlights to name them all: Lester pumping Davis for information, Marlo finding out about how Omar had been publicly making fun of him, Augie cameo, and more. The penultimate episode each season is always a doozy, and this one is no different. The serial killer stupidity is stopped. All we’re dealing with is the aftermath, and that all makes sense. I love this episode. 5/5
After revisiting it, I stand by my earlier statement. This is the best ending of a show I’ve ever seen. It’s practically perfect. I can’t think of things to criticize. Why? Because it brings the whole series full circle. Sydnor is McNulty. Dukie is Bubs. Michael is Omar. Valchek is Burrell. Nerese is Royce. Carver is Daniels. The finale is a full reset back to where we were in the series premier, and that feels so right. All the problems we’ve looked at are still there. Nothing has been solved. And as depressing as that is, how could it be any different? This is the point this show has been making all along, and to see it all snap into focus like it does in this episode is just incredible. Coupling it with the version of the theme song from the first season? Even better.
Are there things that are upsetting? Of course there are. Daniels is strong-armed out of his job, replaced with Valchek. Unbelievable. And why? Because Daniels wouldn’t do the thing Burrell was fired for doing. And sure, someone might try and claim Carcetti doesn’t directly know what Daniels is being told to do, but let’s be honest: Carcetti put a weasel in charge of his career, and then stepped back and let that weasel work his magic.
The fallout from the serial killer case is pretty spot on. Seeing Carcetti wheel and deal with Rawls and others in order to make it out of that tight spot politically was pretty epic, even if it was depressing. And I think that’s why in the end I accept the serial killer story. Yes, it’s far fetched, but if you had a McNulty and a Lester who decided they needed to do it to get their way, it played out pretty realistically, all told. And the fall out is completely believable. McNulty and Lester lose their jobs over it, but they don’t lose them publicly for those reasons.
The copycat killing by a random insane homeless guy that miraculously shows up to give them all an out? That’s a bit weaker. But then again, I think they would have found an out no matter what. The whole point of this season with the newspaper arc is that people don’t really care about the truth. They care about what they’re told is the truth, and there’s a huge gap between those two points. What’s worse, the newspaper folks aren’t able to keep doing what they’re supposed to be doing: reporting the truth. They’re too worried about keeping their jobs or winning awards to be able to do what they should be doing. Or they’ve lost their jobs. In other words, the same ills that affect the schools, the police, and the blue collar workers affect the papers as well.
It’s one big mess, and it’s all connected.
But hey, at least Kenard got arrested, right?
Interestingly, Marlo and McNulty end up in similar positions: ousted from the thing that defined them. The difference is that I think McNulty had finally come to see that police work was killing him, and I have hope for his future. Marlo, on the other hand, is thrust into a Stringer Bell position, when all he really wants to do is be Avon. Judging from the last scene we have of him going back to the corners just for the thrill, I tend to think things won’t last long for him. But you never know.
It was hard to think that Bubs would be able to top last episode’s developments, but him sitting down to eat with his sister managed to do it, quickly and effortlessly. His journey was complete at last. Seeing Cheese get gunned down also felt nice. I was cheering Slim Charles big time on that one, enough that I felt guilty for being so happy someone got killed. But Cheese . . .
In the end, I don’t know what else to say about this show. A year and a half ago, I wrote a post about how awesome the series is as a whole, and that’s still true today. This is a show that got me to view our society in a different light. It’s eye-opening and compelling. Still the best television series I’ve ever watched on so many different levels.
The finale is an easy 5/5.
Thanks so much for watching this with me. It’s been a long process, and it’s been harder to do sometimes than I thought it would be at first. Any time you take something you love and turn it into a commitment, it can bring surprises with it. Jobs feel less fun than hobbies, you know? So I don’t know if I’ll be doing any more series revisits anytime soon, but it’s been a very fun experiment. So once again, thank you.
If you want a good read, check out this interview with David Simon, the creator of the show. It contains a wealth of information for Wire fans, including tidbits like the fact that the real life person Omar was based on actually survived with light injuries a jump from a balcony two floors higher. It’s a case where they made the jump shorter than real life, because no one would have believed it, and even then, people still didn’t believe it. Some great stuff here. Cheese is Randy’s dad?! Read it.