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The Wire: -30- (series finale)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Mar 10th 2008 8:21AM

The Wire: -30- (series finale)
(S05E10) "...the life of kings." - H.L. Mencken

History repeats itself. Just like Daniels said, what's the point if one generation is too busy training the next how not to do the job? More than anything, that was the biggest message that came across in the series finale of The Wire. But there was one more too. You always hear the saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it," but over the course of five seasons and sixty episodes of The Wire, David Simon systematically explained why things that are broken don't seem to get fixed either. And now it's over.

For the most part, the finale played out exactly as I expected it. There weren't too many surprises or jaw-on-the-floor WTF moments. It was just what viewers deserved. A perfect ending to a perfect show. Hey... at least the screen didn't go black.

Essentially, it picked up right where it left off last week after Rhonda and Cedric put the pieces together. They went to Bond and Rawls who in turn went to Carcetti, Steintorf, and Norman. The choices? Go public and try to make sense of it all with the hope of being forgiven by the people or... bury it deep. Guess which choice won? At this point, it all unraveled slowly as things logically played out.

Lester and Jimmy got off relatively easy, each only having to file their papers rather than get fitted for orange jumpsuits. It made sense though. If you want to keep quiet, you can't go firing two veteran cops. It would draw too much attention. Considering where they would have ended up (Jimmy back on the boat and Lester in the pawn shop unit) early retirement ain't too bad. Unfortunately, only Lester was in line for a pension since Jimmy had just barely cracked thirteen years on the force. I love the idea of him having a future with Beadie though. That scene with the two of them on the porch when she smiled and put her head on his shoulder was great.

Speaking of McNulty, how great was his "wake?" Landsman and the rest of the department actually held an Irish wake for Jimmy's career, complete with McNulty lying on the pool table! Probably the best scene of the episode, especially because we got one of Landsman's speeches, much like when Nolan (glad they paid tribute to Robert Colesberry again) died during season three. He nailed it for Jimmy though: "natural poh-lice." After all, he did clear those copycat murders pretty quickly once he remembered that bum who collected the business cards. Jimmy still had it.

Moving on, let's talk about The Sun. No one wanted to hear what Gus had to say. Scott was a huge liar right up until the end and Klebanow and Whiting could have cared less. That scene where McNulty called him out was classic -- he can't figure out why Scott did it though. They got their Pulitzer in the end, so who cares? Quoting Norman, "everyone's getting what they need behind some make-believe."

At The Sun, any dissenters got tossed aside. When Alma stood up for Gus and brought up Scott's empty notebook that was supposedly filled with notes, she got bumped to a county bureau. And for Gus' troubles? He and Fletcher flip-flopped jobs. No longer the city editor, I'd suspect that Gus is slightly more comfortable with the downsized responsibilities of a reporter. Honestly, I'm surprised he didn't get fired.

I think my favorite moments of the episode were with Rhonda and Levy. Seeing the two of them position against each other and do their best to blackmail the other was great. Part of me wants to be angry at her for putting Levy in a position to help Marlo walk with his money, but what else was she going to do considering the possibility that she too could face jail? With that in mind, she manipulated a pretty good deal. She had Levy by the balls since Lester uncovered DiPasquale as the leak and was still able to get Chris and Monk life sentences.

Marlo's ending was superb though. He's going to get a ton of cash for selling the connect to The Greek to Fat Face Rick and Slim Charles. You've got people like Levy and Krawczyk pushing him to become the next Stringer Bell, which just means dumping all his money into Krawczyk's pockets, and all Marlo can think about is the crown he gave up. So he jacks two kids on a corner, gets his arm sliced by a knife, and then tastes his own blood as he admires the real estate he just took. The best part? They didn't know who he was. Even at his height, he kept a low profile. He really can start over if he wants to.

Then there's the remainder of the co-op. Are they all really going to be able to work together? I think so. They've got a common goal and I think that with Cheese's murder ("payback for Joe"), there aren't any more instigators. Slim will be a good leader for them.

More thoughts... I've got plenty:

  • Dukie. Sad. I still can't figure out why Prez gave him any money though. By the way he handled his new students, Prez isn't a fool now. I suppose he wanted to believe Dukie had a chance, but all it took was one look. Donnelly saw it and wouldn't let him into the school. I think what surprised me the most was that Dukie didn't even try to hide it and run with his lie of getting a GED. Prez gave him the money and Dukie just walked off with the arabber to go and shoot up. The new Bubbles. Again, sad.
  • On the flip side, the original Bubbles finally got redemption via Fletcher's front page story. It seemed that something public like that is what it took for Reginald's sister to see that his rehabilitation was real. She let him upstairs. He's finally out of the basement -- in more ways that one.
  • For those that are curious, the title of the episode "-30-" is journalistic slang for "the end." It refers to the practice of ending telegraph transmissions with XXX, aka "30."
  • This episode's quote refers to what H.L. Mencken thought the job of being a newspaper reporter was: the life of a king.
  • We never really found out precisely what was in Cedric's file, other than his involvement with the Eastern vice squad and the missing money. What was his link? He was willing to resign over it to help Marla and Rhonda keep their jobs so it must have been huge. I say that because despite his anger for McNulty and Lester and what they did, he said he still cared about them. He had dirt too and wasn't that much better of a person if you look at it that way. Why air out your own dirty laundry when you can just make a clean break?
  • Great to see Lester show up with Chardene at the "wake." I was hoping he'd hop on the felt with Jimmy though.
  • Jimmy had a great line when Landsman was pressing him about the manpower and the lack of work: "I can't make shit up, can I?" And Jay had a great one at Jimmy's wake when he said if his body was ever on a corner, he'd want Jimmy to work it. A true compliment.
  • When Rawls and Daniels both confronted Jimmy in the interrogation room, I was really expecting Rawls to whip up both his middle fingers and say "these are for you McNulty," just like in the pilot episode.
  • Do you think Levy realized that it was Herc that leaked Marlo's number? I'm thinking yes. By doing that, it really did earn Levy some serious street credit. He got Marlo off because of what Herc started and Levy must have put two and two together since his Rolodex was the only place Marlo's number was written down.
  • Anyone else catch David Simon's quick cameo in The Sun newsroom?
  • I'm glad Kima came clean with Lester and McNulty. I was surprised Lester forgave her so easily though. If she had kept quiet, he and Jimmy would still have jobs and they could be working to fight Levy and keep Marlo in jail. That's worth being a little bitter about I'd say. Then again, Lester was drunk. And he did accomplish a lot. No sense in holding a grudge.

Then, as the previous four seasons ended, a montage filled the final minutes. Set to The Blind Boys of Alabama recording of "Way Down in the Hole" from season one, we saw everyone assume their new roles. Michael, the new Omar -- double barreled shotgun! Sydnor, the new McNulty, griping to Judge Phelan. Governor Carcetti. Mayor Campbell. Superintendent of State Police Rawls, who's skin is just the "right color" now. Police Commissioner Valchek! Kenard got arrested. The Honorable Judge Rhonda Pearlman. Cedric Daniels -- a lawyer. Chris and Wey Bey chillin' in jail. We saw the basement where the first detail started, phone still on the floor. The docks. The low-rises. It was just brilliant, tying every last little thing together.

Then Jimmy made one final honorable move, bringing Larry the bum home to "Bawlmor." You'd think after everything he's seen, he'd want to drive that guy as far away as possible. I know I'll keep coming back though. "...all in the game..."

Which season of The Wire is your favorite?
Season 1 - The Streets415 (22.6%)
Season 2 - The Docks167 (9.1%)
Season 3 - The Hall347 (18.9%)
Season 4 - The Schools780 (42.4%)
Season 5 - The Media130 (7.1%)

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42 Comments

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WhiteBunk

Hey WIRE fans: I am a film-maker who made a Wire Homage / Parody.

Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__CSXuSDEw0

April 18 2008 at 1:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
WhiteBunk

Hey WIRE fans: I am a film-maker who made a Wire Homage / Parody.

Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__CSXuSDEw0

April 18 2008 at 1:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AnotherView

The last scene with Mcnulty looking across the skyline of Baltimore has him peering into the future seeing how everything will play out if he walks away and does nothing. Then he turns to the vagrant and says let's go home. he is pOlice. I think he blows the whistle and stops all the bs.

March 14 2008 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
smikwily

One of those shows I almost missed, but am very glad that I didn't. The Mrs and I rushed through the show over about two months as well. I loved every minute of it, but I didn't think she was getting into it. By the time we caught up with the live airings, she was very upset to find out that it was the last season.

A great show and far from the "soap opera" that ER has become. One of the more realistic feeling shows on TV with enough personality for the characters that you care about them, but not enough that you wince when you see them on screen.

The finale was very well done and felt like a great wrap to the series, with the feeling that the characters will continue to go on, even if we aren't watching them through the window.

March 12 2008 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
seanwalter7

The first 3 seasons were better than the last two. Season 4 had very little McNulty that alone made it not as good as the rest. The writers of the Wire are really cynical dudes. In the end nothing changes. It was a good ending but, but I feel bad for McNulty, I couldn't envision a good future for him. For Wire fans one of the show writers Richard Price wrote a book called Clockers in the early 1990's. It is a great wire like story and a classic book. Spike Lee's movie version was a piece of GARBAGE so read the book.

March 12 2008 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LEXIE

the wire was the best show on television! i looked forward to watching the sunday episodes a week early every monday! Iwould even be late to work just to see the show monday morning. call me obsessed , yes i will take that, but you can also call me sad because the best show, with the best characters, and the best storylines has just ended. thanks david simon and ed burns for helping me see baltimore through your eyes!
lexie...."a loyal and faithful fan " :)
" i got give up the crown" marlo stanfield

March 11 2008 at 10:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LEXIE

the wire was the best show on television! i looked forward to watching the sunday episodes a week early every monday! Iwould even be late to work just to see the show monday morning. call me obsessed , yes i will take that, but you can also call me sad because the best show, with the best characters, and the best storylines has just ended. thanks david simon and ed burns for helping me see baltimore through your eyes!
lexie...."a loyal and faithful fan " :)
" i got give up the crown" marlo stanfield

March 11 2008 at 10:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Loubay

here is my take on The Wire.....best damn show period.
my take on the Marlo scene is that he wasn't going back to the streets, it was a test to see if he could live without any reprecussions of the crown. An episode or 2 ago when they were in the look up Marlo made a statement to the effect that his NAME is his rep. See what might have gotten lost is that as big as he was in B-More not alot of people knew what he looked like. i think he was checking to see if the corner boys would know that he is Marlo if he was to walk down the street

March 11 2008 at 9:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
said it 1st

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo
I refuse to believe that it is over... I loved the show.. it was so real and i agree with the real wire fans who saw that everything came full circle.... Michael is the new Omar
Marlo is the new king pin.( i.e Stringer).(cant let go of that gangsta ish)... if you noticed.. when the crew came to see Marlo in jail and he said he was giving up the life... they told him... he didnt know anything else.. gone always be a gangsta.. i think that he just tried to convince himself that he could give it up... anyway I would not be surprised for it to come back.. and where the hell dis this Shardene thing come from... OMG.... D'Angelo Barksdale's girl. but also the one who bugged the strip club.. now that was a moment for me.. man i could go on and on but i won't... i will definitely miss it...Sunday nights at 9... what to do now... i guess i'll paint my nails...lol

March 11 2008 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cuttie type

anyone know when the dvd series is coming out????
when walk in the garden............

March 11 2008 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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