THE WIRE Series Finale: Bowing Out Gracefully

McNultyMASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!!! If you have not watched the finale of The Wire and plan to, or if you are currently still watching earlier seasons and don’t want to know what happens to all your favorite characters, READ NO FURTHER. I do not want to spoil your fun.

For the rest of us, that was just a lovely way to complete the series. No “this was just a dream,” no fading to sudden black, just a bittersweet tying up of all the story threads hanging loose. The episode, entitled “-30-“, was written by David Simon, with its story by David Simon and Ed Burns, the true powerforces behind the series. While the episode was all about endings, like most episodes of The Wire, it took its time getting there, with all the humor and pathos we’ve come to expect out of those characters.

What I personally loved about the finale was that it wasn’t a pure happy ending, but wasn’t a pure downer either. Certain resolutions were unsurprising: Gus getting demoted to copy editor while that putz Scott Templeton wins a Pulitzer; Marlo getting off for his drug crimes; Carcetti succeeding to the Governor’s mansion. Certain ends were heartbreaking: Dukie shooting up, having lied to his former teacher and mentor Prez about going back to school (random note – how awesome was it to see Prez, my favorite character, show up again and be self-confident!!); the fall of Daniels as a direct result of being an honorable man. And certain ends had a transformative redemptive quality to them. I loved seeing McNulty leaving the alcohol orgy of his wake to go sit on the stoop with Beadie, although you could see the worry in her eyes, asking “How long can this last?” I loved seeing Bubbles, having allowed himself to be portrayed as a “good guy” in The Sun, put on his celebrity sunglasses as he sold papers, and be allowed into the main floor of his sister’s house, the basement door finally unlocked. And I especially loved the montage of Baltimore’s faces, which seemed to say to me, “There are a million stories here; we have touched upon only a few.”

My favorite lines from the finale:

At Jimmy’s “wake”:

Landsman: If I was laying there dead on some Baltimore street corner, I’d want it to be you standing over me catching the case. Because, brother, when you were good, you were the best we had.
Bunk: Shit, if you was layin’ there dead on some corner, it was probably Jimmy that done ya.

And Daniels, talking with his ex-wife councilwoman, after she tells him, “The tree that doesn’t bend, breaks, Cedric.” Daniels replies, “Bend it too far, you’re already broken.”

The Wire never deviated from its vision. It never broke.

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