Unlike the daring way in which the season started, with the police scattered to the four corners of the city, the reunions felt a bit indulgent, taking us away from the (what-we-believe-to-be) realism which otherwise marks the series. Two moments in particular felt off -- the parallel dinner montage of Griggs and Daniels explaining to their spouses why they're abandoning the law to be police again, and Stringer's return to economics class (as student, and then as teacher). Both just felt like artificial crowd-pleasing devices in ways that I didn't think The Wire operated.
So what grabbed me these episodes? The Sobotkas. Completely wrenching seeing all three of them stuck (and in Ziggy's case, stupid) in a 21st-Century Baltimore which no longer values what they can provide, and in which all the choices seem like bad ones. It's a Springsteen album without the uplifting music to counterbalance the depressing lyrics, and when Frank Sobotka unleashes on Bunk and Beadie with regards to the grand jury, it didn't feel like histrionics at all:
SOBOTKA: We didn't know shit, goddamnit! You want us to dance with a grand jury, we will! What do you say, Johnny? What do you say to any question?
SPAMANATO: I take the fifth commandment.
SOBOTKA: And if they offer you immunity to testify against your union brothers?
SPAMANATO: I don't remember.
SOBOTKA: Don't remember what?
SOBOTKA: What you're forgetting, Detective, is that every I.B.S. local on the East Coast has had its ass in front of a federal grand jury two or three times already. You want to throw your summonses, throw 'em! You want to subpoena our records? Shit, you don't even need a subpoena no more. Our books have been open to the Justice Department for eight years. We're here through Bobby Kennedy, Tricky Dick Nixon, Ronnie "The Unionbuster" Reagan and half a dozen other sons-a-bitches. We'll be here through your weak bullshit, no problem!