The Wire: Waiting for the end


I’m preparing to head down to Philly tomorrow for the Society for Cinema & Media Studies conference. I’ll try to report a bit from the road, but definitely if you read JustTV and go to SCMS, be sure to say hi. A faithful reader came to my presentation at Pomona on Saturday, and it was nice to see the connection between the blog and face-to-face pay-off.

(Speaking of the blog, I always enjoy monitoring what incoming searches are bringing people here. And thus was quite amused to discover that Googling “hockassin” gives this post as the #1 result!)

I returned from Pomona on Sunday in time to catch the penultimate episode of The Wire. Inspired by Shaun Huston’s post, I’ve got some reactions and predictions for the finale beneath the fold.

As most of the blogs I’ve seen attest, this episode was simply perfect in its emotional ups and downs, delivering payoffs and undercutting them. For me, Bubbles’ little triumphs outweighed the uncertainty facing Dukie, as he is left amongst the A-rabs for a potential echo of Bubbs’ fate. But I hold onto some hope that he too might find his redemption, hopefully a bit earlier than Bubbs did.

I also buy Kima’s decision to turn in McNulty. She’s always had more professional than personal integrity (“sometimes things just have to play hard” from season 1), and letting Jimmy get away with his scam would have been a major sell-out for her. It’s ironic that the reason Jimmy told her was because of his own remaining shreds of integrity, not wanting to see good po-lice wasting her time on his bogus case. But his scheme was bound to fail, with no exit plan once the tap was turned on. Hmmm, starting a crusade on false pretenses at the cost of huge public resources and human lives with no plan to get out? Remind you of anything else going on in our world?

And seeing Bunny & Namond having risen above the fray was just a delight, along with Bunny offering a moment of moral humiliation to Carcetti. “Wow, Mr. C – you know the Mayor too?!”

As for what’s to come, here are some predictions for the record – The Wire‘s not a show tied to suspense, as it’s less about what will happen than how it’ll go down. But here’s how I can imagine things playing out:

– The dual corruptions of Daniels’s buried sins and Levy’s courthouse leaks will come together. And Daniels will suffer more than Levy – I could see Levy making a deal that lets the case against Marlo and his crew stand if they let Levy off the hook for his corruption. The show has always shown that the drug game is an extension of larger political forces, and ultimately Levy is a bigger player than Marlo, Avon, Stringer, or anyone on the streets. And it’s completely consistent with the show’s take on Baltimore that kids on the street take the heat for the machinations by the powers that be. And the Greeks and Levy will find a new pawn to head the street division of their business enterprise.

– McNulty will do what he can to spare Lester, Sydnor, Bunk, etc. from the stink of his shit. But he’s going down hard and probably not alone, and I don’t think he can live with himself after that. I see him wrapped around a telephone pole with a bottle of Jameson’s in his lap, and Beadie’s prediction of his wake will come to pass. Meanwhile, Kima will be an outcast among the police. Lester better get off the hook, though, as he’s earned a noble retirement.

– Fletcher will write a stellar profile of Bubbles that captures the dynamics of individuals relationships to social conditions and institutions, but it’ll be Templeton’s fabrications that will win the Pulitzer. Gus will be forced to take a buy-out after trying to nail Templeton. And critics like me will read this as an allegory for how The Wire was treated versus Emmy winning shows. Dickensian indeed!

– Prez will return for the last of the cameos, but won’t be able to save Dukie. The kid’s gotta do this on his own.

As for what song will frame the final montage? I have no idea. But I should be back from Philly in time to find out on Sunday!


      7 Responses to “The Wire: Waiting for the end”

      1. “For me, Bubbles’ little triumphs outweighed the uncertainty facing Dukie, as he is left amongst the A-rabs for a potential echo of Bubbs’ fate.”

        A-rabs? am I missing something here?

      2. 2 Anne-Marie

        I totally buy Kima turning McNulty in, and in exactly the way she did, by bringing in Daniels. I’m less sure about her refusing to talk to Lester – I could see her rejecting what he has to say but I really was expecting that she would need to hear him say it before making a decision this big. But that’s the kind of thing I might not even notice on re-watching – you and Shaun both said what I was feeling about the ebb and flow of the episode perfectly.

      3. Aaron – “a-rabs” or “arabbers” are Baltimore street merchants – see . When Bubbles’s was venturing into street retailing he was called an a-rab, and the junk guys Dukie’s with were referred to as a-rabs.

        Anne-Marie – I read it that Kima was just so sickened by what Jimmy & Lester had done, that she couldn’t even bear to talk about with him. I think Kima’s always had a soft-spot for the downtrodden, per her relationship with Bubbles, so she took Jimmy’s exploitation of the dead homeless more personally than most cops would have.

        Thanks for the comments!

      4. One of the reasons I’ve come around on Jimmy’s story this season is because of how conflicted he was/is about his success. His guilt over good cops wasting their time on his and Lester’s fake case feels true to me, and I agree with your observation that the irony of the circumstances under which he spilled to Kima is more or less perfect.

        Happy to have sparked your will to blog.

      5. I am not reading anything about The Wire until we’re caught up. I just wanted to share a google search string from my statcounter: “getting fucked by elephants”. Looking forward to seeing you at scms, and apologies if you were trying to keep this blog totally PG.

      6. Jason,
        I can’t read this yet, as I don’t want to be spoiled, but I just wanted to tell you I enjoyed meeting you in Philly this past weekend, and really like your site!

      7. 7 olga

        Hi Jason,
        I’ve been visiting your blog periodically because it seems we have some parallels in our lives – mainly media studies and the wire (and SCMS – a friend of mine Marc Siegel gave a paper there, and my girlfriend has given papers there in the past…). I”m currently (like now) trying to finish my own paper on the Wire for the Critical Themes in Media Studies conference at the New School (although from what i’ve been able to discern our approaches are different) and i’m curious to know more about your scms work – if you have a chance drop me a line.

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