Wednesday, March 28, 2012

COMES A DAY YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER IT'S ABOUT YOU OR ABOUT THE WORK: Everyone receives their sentences this week on The Wire (Sepinwall, Ariano), and nearly everyone's asking the same question: was it worth this? 

For the police, yes, some drug dealers are going away, but with Wee-Bey accepting all the heat on the murders because Dee ultimately doesn't turn on his family, the Barksdale Organization is still in business with Stringer and Brianna in charge with a never-ending supply of pawns willing to sacrifice themselves for a chance to move a few spaces on the board, and St. Sen. Clay Davis is just as corrupt as we've imagined, but a free man.

Oh, Dee. He had his chance.

Oh, Bubbs.  You had a chance, maybe. But drug addiction is hard, so I'm not angry. Just sad.

Oh, McNulty. When you mention in the first episode that your nightmare scenario is being transferred to the boat, don't be surprised you end up there.

But, still, there's hope. Kima's alive, and proving that she's good police by an objective standard, even if not Bunk's. Lester's promoted (and in love?), Carver's promoted (with a chance to do better), and Omar's still Omar, still in the game - just in the South Bronx for now.

Yeah, I get it now. I understand why so many people wanted me to start watching this show. What a rich, deep story, yet one with some of the traditional twists, turns, and thrills of any drama. Yes, it's depressing, but everyone once in a while there's hope, there's proof that gestures of decency, bravery, and honesty can yield tangible results. No, West Baltimore hasn't been cleaned of drugs, and the Police Department hasn't exactly rewarded the right people, but some bad people are going away for awhile and that makes some of this worth it, right?  Right?


  1. Your last thoughts go to the reason I didn't watch the Wire until now.  I spend a lot of my days dealing with people who have done bad things to children and/or have no real moral code.  So, it's hard for me to watch tv where more people do more bad things in general.  I figured I could always stop watching if it was too much, but the story has been so rich that I haven't wanted to turn it off.  I've had to turn away at a few things (I didn't watch Wallace's death), but I've just really enjoyed the writing and the acting. 

  2. Marsha11:17 AM

    Right. Because while the Game always goes on and on, can you imagine how much worse it would be if the cops stopped trying?

    More to say later.

  3. It was definitely worth it, depending.  If the goal is to "win" then it's never going to be worth it.

  4. Andrea2:35 PM

    I admit it.  I used to love watching old repeats of Law & Order, NCIS, etc.  This show has made it impossible to watch any procedural show.  We were watching Luther, a BBC cop show (staring Idris Elba), and the cop work just kind of happened, and I found myself getting annoyed at how conveniently they found answers.  It is not fair to view other shows through the prism of this one, but sure is going to be difficult to do so.   

  5. Here's the end of season montage, if anyone is interested in rewatching:

  6. Maggie7:51 PM

    I'm not saying I didn't like this finale, but after the intensity of the prior episode, I thought it felt like a bit of let down and, as Adam's post suggests, kind of unsatisfying.  I think, however, that the fact that things didn't wrap up cleanly and completely simply adds to the realism of The Wire.  

  7. Jordan8:19 PM

    Seasons tell a story much more than individual episodes do.  You'll find that each season follows a similar structure, with the final episode serving as the denouement.  The Wire is fairly original, as shows go, and the first season serves to teach you how to watch it.  Both the format of the seasons, as well as the individual action (the "fuck" investigation shows you how they do things, later on they'll investigate silently).  That and when you see the name Pelecanos, shit's about to get real.

  8. Marsha11:06 PM

    The Wire isn't the only show to do the penultimate-episode-is-the-action-packed-one thing. Buffy did that a few times, and the Sopranos nearly always did, if I remember correctly.

  9. Marsha11:13 PM

    I"m not sure what I want to say about this episode, other than that there are some scary-good performances in this season, and a lot of them are on display here. Bubbles has only one scene here - maybe 90 seconds, but every line and every facial expression counts. He broke my heart with those three words - "Don't tell her." (Though I would have liked to see some acknowledgement from McNulty that he screwed up their previous interaction.) 

    So many things I was rooting for, but had no right to expect from this show. The deck was just too stacked against Bubbles, and the Game was just too strong and all encompassing for Dee. (When your MOM sells you down the river, what do you really have to fall back on?) It's just too hard to break free from the only thing you've ever known, whether it's Dee and his family, Bubbles and the addiction, McNulty and his bad attitude or Kima and her police work. The message of this season seems to be that change is really, really hard, and that TV and movies have conditioned us to believe that not only is it possible, but likely to happen, when nothing could be further from the truth in "real life." I wonder if I'll manage to have optimistic feelings for any characters in future seasons.

    When the closest you get to a happy ending is that Kima is alive and Omar seems pretty pleased with himself, that's a pretty depressing season of TV. But damn if it wasn't one of the best ones I've ever seen. On to Season 2!

  10. This finale really blew me away.  Sure, it wasn't action-packed, but I was stunned by the realization at the end of both how much and how little had been accomplished. As we end the season, the task force has put major players in jail, while many others are dead.  But the game keeps going - new people fill in the places of the guys who are gone, and the drugs keep flowing.

  11. There are a few more "happy" endings for the season.  Herc and Carver learned something and seem likely to be better for it moving forward in their careers (no more rip and runs).  Daniels lost the promotion to Major but gained his own love for the job back.  Lester got saved from the pawn shop unit to be real police again AND Shardene.  Sydnor and Prez got to be real police.

    On the other side, things worked out for Stringer (stayed out of jail), Bodie and Poot got promoted.

  12. Marsha2:31 PM

    Fair enough, though I might say that Lester (still my favorite character) is the only one who really and truly got a happy ending (insert salacious joke here). Maybe Prez and Sydnor, too, though I'm less invested in them.

    While Herc seems to have learned something, he didn't get his promotion, and I don't know that the learnin' will stick. Carver seems to regret the choice he made, and I have no doubt that THAT will come up again in future seasons, given the admonition that everything on this show comes around again. Daniels' loss is equal to if not greater than his win.

    As for Stringer, Bodie, and Poot, no ending in the Game is a happy ending. Just a less dead one.