And so Jane After Dark has come to the end of The Wire. I need to watch it again to catch more than the one-eighth I caught the first time around. But after watching all five seasons, spanned over most of this year, the thing that keeps popping into my head is that the bureaucratic end of things is really no better than the drug dealer end of things.
In some ways, the drug dealers have more ethics than the suits. At least when a druggie does something that wrongs others in the system, there's no messing around. They're shot. They know they have it coming, and they step up and take it, just like Snoop did, asking if her hair looked ok before being gunned down. Just like Proposition Joe did when he closed his eyes and waited for the inevitable bullet to the head.
Ah, how good it is to get back to The Wire. I've been steered off track by other DVDs landing on my doorstep for Jane After Dark, so season five of The Wire has been a while coming. One again, the show blows me away with the writing, characters, cinematography and realism. I'm just part-way into season one, but I love all of the references to everything that's happened thus far in the series, and the crew's continued attempts to bring down Marlo's organization. And, apparently, Omar is still in the game ...
Well, well, well. How interesting to see the purchase of the nail gun we saw in the first episode of season four of The Wire come back around to bring everything together. "It's a tomb," says Freamon in "A New Day," and it all makes sense to me. Well, some of it makes sense anyway.
And then there's the teetering decision of whether Freamon will keep getting crap from the higher-ups about going out and looking for Marlo's bodies, using up manpower, and upping the murder rate of the city, or whether they'll do the right thing and actually do their jobs. Oh, the bodies that rolled in.
I'm well into season four of The Wire (just finished "Margin of Error"; read my other Jane After Dark installments), and getting into the guts of the Baltimore political scene and how it's all interwoven with the cops and drug business.
Oh, those kids! It really makes you see how they've gotta be extremely driven to get out of that life, because a lot of the adults are just priming them to continue the drug business into the next generation. Not only their parents -- which is really sad -- but people like Marlo, who has his minions handing out back-to-school cash to build goodwill with the kids. At that rate, those kids don't have a shot of clawing their way out of a life of crime.
It will take me another run-through or two to really fit all the pieces together, but I'm digging how all of the characters have evolved ... or not ...
Well, holy cow. I did not see that coming, although from what you've all said, I was prepared for just about anything to happen on The Wire. Except that!
I feel like season three ended on a high note. Well, sort of ... at least for McNulty, now walking the beat in the Western Division. Even though he's wearing a uniform, which is just weird for him, he's talking and laughing with the residents, and that's really what it's all about. And Rhonda and Cedric are together (oh, that chiseled butt of his!).
Even with all the busts, though, the drug business sails onward, with Marlo moving up in the hierarchy and Dennis' boxing gym virtually deserted, all the kids lured back into the streets. But mostly, season three was all about Episode 11, "Middle Ground"; in particular, a few penultimate scenes...
After a brief break to watch season four of Weeds last week, Jane After Dark is back with The Wire. I'm half-way into season three, and while there are definitely parts of this show that put me to sleep (ducking and running for cover), it's still a brilliant drama. My teenage son popped in for part of an episode, decided it was too "real," and promptly lost interest.
To help me organize my thoughts, let's take a look at a few characters:
Stringer Bell. I'm really digging Idris Elba dressed up in his fancy suit, running the real estate company, working with government officials, and holding drug meetings using Robert's Rules of Order. It's fascinating that there's this whole hierarchy within the gangs that most of them respect and follow.
As John Howard noted in the comments in last week's Jane After Dark column, I really haven't talked much about Omar yet. I just finished season two of The Wire, and to be honest, most of my thoughts right now revolve around the Sobotka clan.
First of all, how stupid was Ziggy? The guy's always been a live wire, and you could see the bad karma building throughout this season, with him flashing money around, showing off his Italian leather coat, and going a little bonkers with the stolen Mercedes. Things were bound to go bad for him, and they did just that when his deal with Double-G went oh so wrong.
I'm three episodes into season two of The Wire. I tried watching it online as Usama suggested in last week's Jane After Dark comments (thank you for that awesome site!), but decided to just buy the DVDs, because I stop and start a lot and need easy access to it. So I looked around town and found a fairly reasonably priced season two at FYE. It's new; no one seems to have any used sets, which makes me think - as you all have suggested - that no one ever gets rid of their DVDs of The Wire. They keep them around to watch again and again. I'll probably just buy each season as I work my way through the series.
And speaking of starting and stopping, The Wire does not get any easier to watch while doing something else at the same time. Whenever I try to do that, I end up replaying those parts again, because there's way too many subtleties to be only half-paying attention.
As in last week's Jane After Dark column, I'm still a bit lost on exactly what's happening, but that doesn't seem to really matter. The characters are so interesting to watch. It's almost like you're watching a documentary about the real thing, rather than a scripted TV show. I took the suggestion of some of you and started watching with the subtitles on. It really does help!
I noticed that Alan Sepinwall is also blogging on The Wire -- and writing a masters thesis on each episode. He even has two different versions -- one for newbies and one for veterans. I'm the anti-Sepinwall, just trying to grasp the storyline and get the basic gist. But I did read his newbie editions and found them helpful.
I never intended to watch The Wire next in my Jane After Dark pursuits. In fact, I planned on watching Veronica Mars, as many of you suggested. But a good number of you also recommended The Wire, and I had season one sitting here, so I popped it in one night.
I'm not gonna lie to you. It's been slow going. Here's how it went down:
Episode 1: I was completely lost, so I watched it twice to see if I could grasp it the second time around. Then I read the detailed synopsis on The Wire's official HBO site. Clearly, this show is not meant to be watched while you're doing something else. You need to sit down and focus on what's going on.
(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.
(S05E09) "Deserve got nuthin' to do with it." - Snoop
One down and one to go. The penultimate episode. Talk about depressing. After next Sunday, there won't be any more new episodes of The Wire. I don't think I've been this bummed out about a show ending since Six Feet Under went off the air and let's be honest -- The Wire is way better than Six Feet Under, or anything else... ever. With the finale so close, this episode set a lot of stuff up as you'd expect. Everything that's been percolating all season started to boil over and now all that's left to find out is who gets burned and who doesn't. Quoting Stringer Bell's last words, "get on with it motherf*ckers!"
(S05E08) "A lie ain't a side of a story. It's just a lie." - Terry Hanning
Rest in peace Omar Little. Wow. Honestly, that's all I really want to talk about. So let's get everything else out of the way first. I'll come back to Omar. Where to start then? How about my weekly rant on Scott Templeton? When I first saw that quote at the head of the episode, I was wondering who the hell Terry Hanning was. I figured he must hold some weight if his quote was the one selected to grace the episode though. Then we saw him. The military vet that Scott "interviewed" under the bridge the day he went slumming with the homeless. I've been waiting all season for a moment like this.
(S05E07) "They don't teach it in law school." - Pearlman
McNulty finally got his wish. After weeks of lies, Carcetti caved to the potential implications of a serial killer running amuck. For a man with aspirations to run for governor of Maryland, that can't happen. So Jimmy's case finally became a true red ball and the floodgates opened. Not even McNulty could have expected the insanity that came along with the department's complete cooperation. As it stands right now, McNulty can have anything or anyone he wants. While he and Lester had been feverishly awaiting this moment, it quickly turned into exactly what they didn't need.
(S05E06) "If you have a problem with this, I understand completely." - Freamon
I thought the theme of this season was supposed to be newspapers and the media? Maybe it's just me, but more than any other season of The Wire, this one seems to be focusing the least on its stated theme. Other than the steady story of Scott "worst journalist ever" Templeton, we really don't see The Sun as much as I'd like. I love Gus Haynes. He's a great character and I hope that the final four episodes take a little more time to dig deeper into his role.
That being said, I realize this is the final season and I'm hugely appreciative that any and all plots (new and old) are being addressed. Most shows don't take the time to wrap everything up properly. Remember the final season of Alias? What a mess. I just think things could be a bit more evenly balanced.
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