Note: Spoiler alert, if you have been comatose or under a rock for the past 59 episodes of The Wire, and don't want to be reminded of it, then DO NOT read ahead.
With the season and series finale airing next week, March 9 at 9 pm, I could not resist writing a quasi-assessment of the greatest television show I have ever laid my eyes on. Few shows contain the realism, entertainment and adhesion that The Wire has. Sunday's penultimate episode was in many ways a microcosm of the total series at large. Four quick points:
- The scene in which Carcetti's aide was in the office with Rawls and Daniels, with the aide imploring - more like demanding - that the police department bring the crime numbers down 10%. "This thing is a tanker, you can't expect us to turn this ship around like that," said Rawls. The same ole' games. Police department being handcuffed, and then given the impossible, and if that impossible is not given, then the police department falls on the scimitar. Seasons 1-4 had the same elements in it, and with an idealistic new mayor, Carcetti, promises of change were made. Yet, when it came down to it, even the most well-intentioned politicians fall prey to the crippling machinations of their predecessors. School system deficits leads to police budget shortfalls which leads to more criminals experiencing carte blanch. The faulty system prevails! God help us.
- Kima "snitching" to Daniels should have been expected. Remember in Season One, when she was in the hospital, and Bunk came to her to identify the shooters who put her in there? Well, she ID'd one of them but WOULD NOT point out the other. Notice I said would not. Bunk gave the best speech he could to assure her that it was Wee-Bay who shot her, but Kima didn't see him so she wouldn't play ball. An interesting scene at the time, who knew that it would persist as Kima's defining role? Her integrity and commitment to doing honest cop work involved her turning in her closest co-worker and friend McNulty. Many question why she did it. Did she have to do it? I wish she hadn't. But I don't blame her. She did what she felt was right...in other words, she capitulated to her conscience. Something rarely seen these days.
- Michael and Snoop produced arguably the best scene of the season. The poignance of the kill emphasized the dichotomy of Michael and Snoop. The way Snoop reacted when the gun was pulled out on her was telling - it was as if she really believed that "deserve ain't got nuttin' to do with it" and when it is your time, it is your time. That's how true assassins think and carry themselves. Micheal, who constantly questioned Marlo's indiscriminate killings, was told before he pulled the trigger by Snoop that "you were never one of us, and you never could be." Well, she was right. Snoop was soldier, Michael is more CEO. Soldiers are followers, CEOs are thinkers and hence leaders. Mike only got into "the life" because Chris embraced him and did him a favor. He cared about Bug, his younger brother, and protected him. That was his number one mission in life. Everything else fell in line. But for Snoop, the life was all there was. Soldiers die for a cause, CEO's always think a step ahead. I will be real surprised if Michael ends up expired when this series end...
-Bug and Duke and Bubbles. Another emotion-packed scene that left any tender heart in tears, or the hardest heart feeling like "Dang..." As stated earlier, Bug was everything to Michael. But Mike knows that Marlo will retaliate, so he has to protect the people closest to him. Duke is now living with a junkie...time will tell if he is using too. Reginald - the guy formerly known as Bubbles - is probably the biggest feel-good story of The Wire series. We have all seen his regression and progression from a drug junkie/police informant/streets salesman/mentor to Sharrod. As someone who has frequented a few AA and NA meetings in his lifetime, the veracity of that scene hit home for me. When Reggie opened up - finally - about Sharrod and ended with the line "There's no shame in holding on to grief, as long as you make room for other things as well," there wasn't a thawed heart in the room (for the record, I was the only one in the room). I wonder if Fletcher will end up writing that story on him and if his sister will finally let him upstairs.
- How about Marlo and his blow-up in jail? For the first time in the past three seasons, he snapped and misplaced his cool (I don't want to say "lost" because he regained it quickly). The thing that gets me is, why didn't his lieutenants tell him about Omar? I have had numerous discussions with colleagues about this, and I haven't heard a satisfactory answer yet. My guess is that either they were ashamed that Omar was getting the "best" of them - which is an indictment on them not doing their jobs - or that Omar had them shook and feared that Marlo would have been killed if he went at Omar himself. I am inclined to say the latter, knowing that Marlo would not have resisted a showdown with Mr. Little to protect his reputation. After all, his name is his name.
Now you wonder, how could Zet do a psuedo-review of the penultimate episode of the fifth season of The Wire without incorporating his livelihood, the media? Doing that, would be so un-Wire like. Unpredictability is David Simon and company's calling card. Who am I to break away from what works?