But this is my last Wire recap, so I better work it. When we started this project over a year ago, I predicted:
Even if I had never read a word about The Wire before watching its pilot episode, "The Target," I'd probably recognize (I hope) that this is not a world in which it's likely that McNulty is going to decimate the Avon Barksdale drug ring, become a hero, and live happily ever after.Well, the Barksdale drug ring did get decimated, only to be replaced by the Stanfield Organization, and now whatever cabal Slim Charles et al can hold together, for as long as he wears the crown. McNulty doesn't get to be a hero -- far from it -- but he does end up with a happier life, so long as he stays away from active policing. And there's always another McNulty behind him (Syndor).
And another Royce (Carcetti, Campbell), and another Burrell (Valchek), and another Omar (Michael), and another Bubbs (Dukie). Oh, Bubbs. After five seasons, when it looks at the start like this junkie/informant was just a side character to the police and the criminals at the start of the show, it turns out that his long, slow walk to the top of his sister's stairs is the most moving emotional journey of the show's five seasons.
(Almost as satisfying? RIP, Cheese.)
So what did we learn? The system rewards and perpetuates bad behavior -- leadership in politics, law enforcement, government, and the media all look to the wrong metrics for success, and always make compromises which impede the pursuit of the right outcomes. The stories which look best are the ones which get promoted, along with the assholes responsible. Still, individual victories are possible -- look at Bubbs, or Prez, or Namond and Cutty, or Carver, Bunk and Kima's steady, conscientious work -- though most reformers end up failing (Bunny, Stringer, and Carcetti -- if he ever believed what he once said), and the wrong people often end up with unhappy endings.
I'll probably do a string of posts in the next few days -- funniest scenes, favorite non-major characters (Donut! Norman!), rank-the-seasons, etc. Right now, I'm left with that scene with Fletcher and Bubbs, with Bubbs wondering what the point is of telling his story, the good and the bad, Sherrod and his sister? "What good is a story like that? ... What good do of that do to put that in the newspaper?", Bubbs asks. Fletcher responds, "People read about it, think about it, maybe see things different."
That's why David Simon told this story, and it's up to figure out what to do with what we've seen.