The Wire - season finale (spoilers)

So the season finale of The Wire is now available on demand, and I watched it last night.


What an amazing piece of television, and what a great setup for season 5. McNulty is back on the team, maybe now sober. They know what’s going on with Marlo but have no idea how to prove it. The fat guy from the homicide division has a conscience. Namond was the only one of the kids to come out of things OK, somehow, partially due to Wee-Bey doing the right thing. Omar is rich. Bubs is even more messed up than before, but might be getting help. Carcetti is abandoning doing the right thing for future hopes of power. Bodie realized how shitty his life was but couldn’t get out. The Greek is back. Swedgin made a cameo. Cutty is getting some from the formerly judgmental nurse.
A few things I missed:
(1) Marlo saw the ring that Michael had. Was that somehow the same ring that Omar stole from Marlo? Did that crooked cop arrest Omar and steal it from him then?

(2) Was it Michael who killed Bodie? I kind of thought it was, but then that seemed to contradict what happened later.

(3) Marlo and Snoop and Chris said they had two things for Michael to do, but I couldn’t really understand what either one was. One had something to do with the abusive dad, but that’s already a closed book, right? Did anyone follow that?

One thing that seemed poorly done was Marlo telling his henchman to follow the Greek guy on such short notice. Isn’t that guy going to be super-paranoid about being tailed given the context of the meet? How many guys in unmarked cars does Marlo have following him around all the time who are trained in unobtrusive surveillance techniques?

Overall, another fantastic season. My only overall complaint is that I got a little sick of them making the point that teaching kids just for the test is a bad idea. I got it the first time.

Yes, and Michael took it when they threw paint on him.

100% definitely Michael. I don’t think it contradicts anything.

He is their hit man du jour, Chris’ apprentice. I think it was that last hit that was the one other thing he needed to do.

I found this finale incredibly depressing. I mean, tear-provokingly so. I don’t know what made me sicker-- Bubs’ breakdown, Michael’s downfall, Dukie’s surrender to the corner, Randy’s abandonment, Bodie’s failed rehabilitation, Carcetti’s waffling, Colvin’s program’s failure, or what.

The upside: Omar wins! McNulty’s back! Namond is living in the pink! And that’s about all.

Except that Chris earlier said that the first guy he killed shouldn’t be someone he knew, and it seemed like the next guy was his “first”.

I thought Chris was trying to protect him, but that Mike wanted to do it, so he did. It was definitely him-- I saw his face.

I think the comment’s from Chris to Michael at the end was basically saying “Okay, you’ve killed someone you know and a complete stranger. It should be easy from now on.”

I think the ending was a beautiful mixture of heartbreak (Bubs and Dukie especially) and triumph (Omar and McNulty).

Another great season…but I have to admit, I was a little confused by everything that happened in the last episode of this season - I probably have to watch it one more time.

But there certainly seems to be no lack of direction for the next season!

Anyone else notice Omar’s deal with Prop Joe was “Twenty cents on the dollar” and Joe told the Co-Op that Omar offered “Thirty cents on the dollar.”

Nice little scam by Prop Joe, huh?

I think it was, but apparently there’s a good deal of debate about this.

One of them was that Michael got to take over Bodie’s corner. I’m not sure what the other one was off the top of my head.

I think the teachers have to deal with that bad idea every single day; I found it utterly realistic that they’d continue to bring it up.

Great finale. I love Bodie. And I really think he went out on his own terms. Also, I hope Carver follows through and tries to become Randy’s foster parent.

Any particular questions, DMark?

So, Omar ripped off the big shipment, and then sold it all back for 20 cents on the dollar? Wouldn’t it have been wiser to sell it elsewhere for more money? Or was this his plan from the beginning?

And with Michael running around killing folks at the end, I was wondering who the first dude was, and why…and then also wondering (like others have asked) if he was the one who killed Bodie.

So Garcetti decided NOT to take the money from the Governor, or did he take it? I know he pissed off his assistant, but that all wrapped up so fast I wasn’t sure what he took, and from whom, or what he didn’t take.

What was the gift Michael gave to the teacher at the end?

I thought they arrested the guy and girl who killed all the people and then put them in the abandoned buildings…but weren’t they out on the street for the last scene with the shooting or did I confuse that and get that out of order? How did they get released so fast?

The results of the test…I understood that they were artificially skewed with lofty ways of saying the students were all still stupid, but were the scores considered OK to meet the state requirements? I believe the answer to my question is yes - but again, it was thrown in with just a quick sentence and after all the build up for this stupid test, it seemed to be an overly quick wrap-up to that storyline.

Now, having listed my questions, it seems perhaps I should not have eagerly watched this episode at 1:00AM on a school night…maybe I was more tired than I thought I was.

Eh, Bunny already took in Namond. Might be a little much for Carver to take in Randy.
I wouldn’t mind seeing next season Carver try to follow up with Randy and finding out he ran away.
After his foster mother recovers would/could she take him back? I remember them saying her burns were serious but maybe not debilitating.
Okay correct me if I’m wrong but the saga of the ring went like this right?
Fat conveinence store guy has it, Marlowe takes it from him.
Omar takes it from Marlowe.
Officer Fisher takes it from Omar.
Michael takes it from Fisher.

Another detail I remembered, in the final montage when Carver chases off the younger soon to be corner boys, he sees the graffitti reding: Fayatte Street Mafic Forever. Namond, Michael and Randy’s names are in the same color and Duqons is scribbled in in a different color. It fits his outsider yet still part of the group status.

And what happened with Herc? The only bit of dialogue I got out of his hearing was “conduct unbecoming”.

A little much? I think it would be perfectly consistent with the character. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky ending. In fact, I think it would be unnecessarily nihilistic of the writers to leave Randy where he is, when Carver’s been given an express (albeit time-consuming) way to get him out. Not to say things can’t go awry, of course—I still remember Wallace from S1, so your running away scenario is perfectly plausible—but I think it would certainly be realistic for Carver to follow up.

You’re right, but it’s Marlo and Officer Walker. :slight_smile:

Yeah, and Kennard and Donut’s names were up there too. Donut cracks me up.

We’re never told explicitly, but given Bunk and Greggs’s reactions to his plight, I’d say he’s toast. Bad police, that guy. Not bad like Walker, of course, but bad nonetheless.

I’ll answer your questions in my next post, DMark.


I don’t know if it was his plan from the beginning – it certainly seemed as though it was Butchie who first planted the seeds of selling the drugs back in the first place – but their dialogue indicated that 20 cents on the dollar was a damn good price. I’m assuming that’s “on the dollar” of the retail value, rather than wholesale. Plus, where else could he have sold it, whether for more money or not? The Co-Op represents, as far as I’m aware, every significant drug trafficker in Baltimore. And Omar’s not in the drugs business himself, of course; he just wants to make the traffickers feel pain.

Which first dude? The one Michael shot in the face?

Carcetti didn’t take the money. He either put his gubernatorial ambitions ahead of the kids or put the good he could do in two years as governor ahead of the good he could do with the money, depending on how cynical you are about his character. Personally, I feel like if he really loves the city as much as he sometimes seems to indicate, he wouldn’t be up and out in two years regardless whether he accepted the state money or not. Kind of fly by night. Even O’Malley was mayor for more than two years. (And I wonder if he accepted the state money.)

It was Dukie, and he gave Prez a set of expensive-looking pens. Not sure what the significance of the gift was, except to show (1) that the bond between the two of them was already fading a bit now that Prez didn’t have Dukie in his class, and (2) that maybe Dukie was slinging at that point, which is how he was able to afford the pens in the first place.

They made bail on the gun charge. (Remember the guy going to Central Booking with the bail bondsman to spring Chris and Snoop is the one who sees Bodie getting into McNulty’s car.) The police don’t have enough evidence – okay, any evidence – to charge them on any of the bodies in the vacants, at least not yet.

I’m not sure about this one either. It seemed from Prez’s scene with Grace that the kids did better than they had the year before, which she explained to him was still really, really awful. But I don’t know if they met any of the state requirements. There’s an interview with David Simon where he says that out of all the high schoolers in the Baltimore school system (and I know that the kids in S4 were middle schoolers), only seven percent performed up to state standards on the tests. Seven percent. Jeez.

Hope that helped, DMark; let me know if you have any other questions.

Yes, that’s part of the point. No real education happens in the preparation for the tests; the tests are a huge disruption of the process; and in the end, the results are immaterial from the perspective of the actual students and teachers.

Another fine, fine season for The Wire. I liked how they set everything up for next season - Major Crimes is back and McNulty is on board (I thought they he would eventually be back).

My understanding is that the 5th (and final season) will emphasize the media. We got a nice foreshadowing of that when DA Perlemen mentions to Daniels that the bodies Freeman and others have been pulling from the houses has gotten quite a bit of press.

I also liked that Vondas made an appearance - seems as if the writers are foreshadowing elements of Season Two will be back for Season #5. Marlo keeping tabs on Vondas means that I think he’ll eventually make his move in Season #5 to undercut Prop Joe to become the main supplier of drugs in Baltimore. Propr Joe is a marked man now - I think he’ll wriggle free - not sure how, but here’s what I’ll think will happen next season:

Since Freeman and Major Crimes done’t have anything to tie Marlo, et al to the bodies, they’ll focus their attention on the Co-op. Omar, keeping his word to Bunk, will tip him and Freeman off as to the existence of the Co-op. The Wire will be back up and they’ll uncover the linkage between the Co-op and the Greeks. Maybe Prop Joe survives by cooperating with the police in some manner to take down Marlo (and the Greeks). Or maybe he puts a call into Brother Mouzone from New York to take care of Chris, Snoop, and Marlo (it would be a shame not to have him involved in the final season in some fashion).

Of course, there’s still the outstanding subpenas on Clay Davis and others and I think that will tie into part of the story line as well. We got some foreshadowing of that in a previous episode when Carcetti was hobnobbing with some of the prominant Baltimoreans who were listed on the subpoenas. I think it will tie into Carcetti trying to back some kind of urban development project that will backfire because those that can help him with his project are deeply implicated in the drug trade (Davis, and others via Barksdale and likely the Co-op). This will force him to back off his efforts to revitalize police procedures (back to “juking” the stats). Burrell comes back, Rawls gets relegated back to previous post, Freeman and Daniels get reassigned to menial positions; or worse, Burrell throws Daniels to the wolves and the DA is forced to indict him on his shady past - likely Perleman resigns along with Daniels, Rawls back to Divison Head and Valchek !! gets promoted to Deputy Comissioner.

Thanks Gadarene, you cleared it all up for me - can’t believe I missed the bail bondsman getting those two out of jail…I mean, I saw him at the station but didn’t pick up on the fact.

Note to self: Do not watch future episodes of The Wire when it is late and you are tired, no matter how eager you are to see it.

If the following seems disjointed and rambling I apologize. I’m just trying to work out all this stuff in my head…

I wanted to add that, for all of the time and work and caring and innovation by Prez, the only one of the four main kids who came out okay in the end was Namond, who was pulled from Prez’s class for most of the school year.

This is obviously no fault of Prez, or of the kids. Dukie and Randy were both receptive and responsive, while Michael might have been reachable but obviously had issues trusting adults. Donnelly (Ass’t Principal) was right: short of adopting Dukie there’s nothing Prez could do for him, and there would be more Duquans coming along for him to try and help in the future.

This is what’s so rich about this show. The characters have personalities and motivations and they are of their environment. They may or may not (usually not) have a perspective on their lives. If they do, they know they have some choices, some control over their journey. Namond didn’t see that at first, but Bunny helped him (and Michael finally gave him a push). Randy was obviously the most self-aware of the group, because he was in the most stable situation at home.

But your perspective on your life only takes you so far – circumstances plays a role as well. What might have happened if no one spotted Bodie climbing into McNulty’s car at central booking? Little chains of events: Herc is desperate about the lost camera and inadvertantly gives up Randy to Little Kevin; Little Kevin then gives Randy up to Marlo.

Is Michael right to trust Marlo and Chris (hey, Christopher Marlowe!), who only want to use him, instead of Prez, instead of Cutty, instead of the social workers and counsellors and polices who have the best of intentions? All of the latter represent the System and its politics and bureaucracy, and they also trust the System (Prez and Carver maybe less so, now). Randy trusted the cops (and its worth noting that the cops didn’t set out to destroy him; Bodie finally decided to trust McNulty, who did not intend to get him killed. As savvy as he is about politics, Norman Wilson trusted the System (and Carcetti) to do the right thing with respect to the schools.

The politial/capitalist System is not a malevolent entity; indeed it is represented by those who either want to help or are, at worst, indifferent to the individual. I liken to the way the Greeks viewed their Gods, as a chaotic force that could help or hinder but could not be predicted or controlled. We all are part of the System, indeed we are the System.

Burrell understands the System and how to manipulate it; Rawls understands the System but not how to make it work for him; Landsman understands the System well enough to stay out of its way; none of these men trust the System. Stringer Bell trusted the System. Bunny Colvin trusted the System, got screwed and trusted the System again, and got screwed again. Bodie trusted that System before it became more “efficient.” Daniels trusts the System.

Marlo understands the System. He (along with The Greek, and George Hearst, and, let’s say, WalMart) is the unobstructed face of Capitalism. As opposed to the more subtle version of capitalism represented by Avon Barksdale, Al Swearingen and, say, Sears or GM.

The System can be manipulated, but changing it is like trying to steer an oil tanker. It requires idealism (Daniels, Colvin, Bell), but it also requires getting a huge quorum moving in the same direction at the same time. And the System has evolved to operate so that most of us are mostly unaware, mostly, that anything needs to be done. Most Americans are no more aware of the situation in these inner cities than we are of the situation in Darfur or in Burma.

“Deadwood” is about how individuals began building the System in 19th century US. “The Wire” is about the breakdown of that System in the 21st century.

Great post, jrepka.

Wait - what? It was 100% definitely NOT Michael that killed Bodie. Marlo and Chris agreed that his first kill shouldn’t be someone he knew. They sent another dude to kill Bodie, and Michael’s first kill was killing that guy - someone he didn’t know. I just watched it again On Demand to make sure. Watch it again. I’m really surprised that anyone thinks otherwise.

I watched it again… and damn you for making me do it because watching Bodie go out was hard… you’re right. It wasn’t Michael. I really thought it was, but freeze-frame slo mo indicates that it was someone else. I apologize for being so certain about it and being wrong. The moral of the story is, never be certain about anything on HBO after only one viewing.

I also wanted to note that the test scores DO have an impact on students and teachers. Prez doesn’t have tenure, and they do track those scores and put a lot of pressure on teachers to get them to a certain level. Students are put into remedial classes and given extra services based on test scores, which leads to de facto tracking and ghettoization (is that a word?) into specific periods. This tends to create classrooms full of low-skills students, who also often have behavior and motivation problems; consequently, they do not get the education their peers get because the teacher spends so much time on discipline. Schools that consistently score below required levels can lose their mandate and be closed. Disaster.

What Donnelly was saying about the way scores are classified was to point out that the government (with the No Child Left Behind bullshit) forces these tests on schools, which alienates everyone. Then, they cook the scores to compensate for their, on the surface, high (read: unrealistic) standards. It’s all a game of rigging stats and wasting time. I agree with the writers of *The Wire * about this and am glad they are exposing the absurdity here. Most people probably think the whole NCLB legislation is a good idea… which it might be, if it were compassionate, realistic, and FUNDED.

End of educational rant.

You got that right - I started to second guess myself and went ahead and watched it a third time, lest I damage my SDMB cred. :slight_smile:

Another thing I liked in this episode was when all Bunny’s student were back in with Prez, and the young kid made a crack about “Your worst nightmare returned!” and the worst of the bunch - the girl that assaulted the other student - told him to shutup, then nobody else encouraged him, so he said “Aw, I’m just playin’” - great scene of how Bunny’s program works and how Prez has control of his class now.

Oh, and Marlo following the Greek is going to end badly. He’s waaaaaaay out of his league there.