Washington Post Style Reporter
Monday, March 10, 2008 12:00 PM
Washington Post style writer Teresa Wiltz, who has followed this season of "The Wire" on washingtonpost.com's Channel This blog, was online Monday, March 10 at noon ET to take questions and comments about the last episode of the critically acclaimed HBO show.
The transcript follows.
Teresa Wiltz: Hello everyone! I'm still in mourning for "The Wire." I thought last night served up some powerful moments, and I still can't help but wish that we'd been given another 3-5 episodes of to answer the unanswered. I'm eager to hear what you all thought, so fire away.
Formerly of Washington: Great finale last night, but in your article today you seemed to have confused a few points. Chris was talking with Wee-Bey in the prison yard, not Cutty, the Barksdale muscle who is doing a lifetime sentence for multiple murders. We assume Cutty is still running the gym. You also seemed to think the shot of Michael stealing from Marlo's people was indicative of Michael filling Marlo's previously held role, when in fact it appears that Michael is filling Omar's role. Even shooting the guy in the kneecaps is reminiscent of Omar shooting a Barksdale crew member during a robbery. Also, during this season we saw Michael question the ordered killings of many players; maybe this was the beginning of his own moral code? As a streetwise man once said, a man's gotta have a code.
washingtonpost.com: 'The Wire': The Last Edition (washingtonpost.com, March 10)
Teresa Wiltz: Yes, I missed the call on that one -- it was indeed Wee-Bey, not Cutty, in the yard with Chris. What do you think they were confabbing about? It looked like it was serious business.
Cleveland: Teresa, please tell me there will be a feature film, like "Sex and the City." That can be the only reason why Marlo was left alive. Also, any chance for a spin-off or some other work by David Simon for HBO? Thanks.
Teresa Wiltz: I think Marlo was left alive because in David Simon's world view, no good deed goes unpunished, and the bad guys don't always get what's coming to them.
I don't know of any plans to turn "The Wire" into a movie. I do know that Simon has a new miniseries coming out on HBO called "Generation Kill," and he told me that he was working on a pilot for a series about New Orleans musicians.
Washington: So, Marlo can't put $10 million in his pocket and disappear? The game is really that compelling? And is Herc the biggest hero in the series for stealing Marlo's cell phone number?
Teresa Wiltz: Good question. Simon leaves that question open, but with some mighty strong hints that Marlo won't be able to stay out of the game. He clearly was turned on by his little scuffle on the corner. Also, don't forget that he was ticked off mightily that Omar was dissing him in the street and no one bothered to tell him. So the lure to avenge his own name might be too strong a pull. Me, I'd take the $10 million and run!
Three Sheets: That's my rating for the finale, on a five-sheet scale. (All praise due to whomever came up with that signature line for Clay Davis, though I wished he'd made a final appearance beyond the OnDemand teaser.) There was actually a bit of poetic symmetry in the demise of Dukie. One junkie leaves the club (Bubs), another joins. It's how they do, according to the calculus of the streets. For every triumph, a tragedy.
Teresa Wiltz: Hello Three Sheets: I'd give it a four sheets out of five. Maybe a 4.5. I liked the finale, and yes, you are right, there was a definite poetic symmetry with Dukie taking Bubble's place in the junkie pantheon. I just wish it weren't so. I think that scene broke my heart more than any other scene -- more than Michael becoming Marlo/Omar. (I saw echoes of Marlo in the new Michael; many of you saw Omar.)
Columbus, Ohio: I regret that the show is coming to an end. There are so many things that were left undone. I would love to see Templeton exposed for making up stories, love to see Rawls being outed, and love to see Levy facing some time in jail. Oh well, at least I got to see them pop Cheese.
Teresa Wiltz: As a journalist, I wanted to see Scott tarred and feathered and marched through the newsroom. I too was hoping to see Levy do some time. I was a little surprised that Herc leaking Marlo's cell phone to the cop shop didn't come back to haunt him.
Gainesville, Fla.: Sad to see Dukie go the drug route. What is the history behind the junkmen with the horses? Is that a B-more tradition?
Teresa Wiltz: According to my colleague Michael Fletcher, the real life counterpart of the fictional Mike Fletcher on the show, the horse-drawn carts are indeed a B-more tradition. But mostly, he says, they are used to sell produce.
I'm still heartbroken about Dukie. He was one of my favorites.
Arlington, Va.: At the end of the show, were the police arresting Kenard or Bug? The scene went by so fast I could not tell. The producers would need to explain why Bug would be involved in crime. And I think they killed Cheese out of popular demand. That wasn't a necessary plot point, so if you speak to David Simon, find out if that was done to give the people what they wanted.
Teresa Wiltz: It looked to me like Kenard killed Omar. Kenard was a particularly compelling character ... one exceedingly cold-blooded preteen.
Herndon, Va.: About as good a finale as one could hope for -- although I thought the "Sun" keeping the fabricating reporter, instead of firing him, was a bit much. And would a drug kingpin who could "retire" with his millions feel that compelled to get back to the street? Also, it's a bit jarring to see the actor playing the sleazy criminal lawyer now "starring" in a new Arby's commercial!
Teresa Wiltz: I too thought that was a bit much. Falsifying facts is taken very, very seriously at newspapers. In real life, Scott would have been out of a job -- fast.
Washington: I really liked the finale, and yes, it did make me cry -- particularly the scene with Dukie at the end. I thought most loose ends were tied up, but would have liked to have seen Cutty and Randy. It was Wee-Bey that was in the prison yard conferring with Chris, not Cutty. I do have a question: There is a scene in Season 3 when Brother's man is searching for Omar in gay bars, and in the background at one of them Rawls is seen with a drink in his hand. Why do you think nothing else was ever made of this? Is it perhaps just enough to show the inner struggle that must be going on within Rawls, leading this double life while ruthlessly trying to move up the ladder within the police department?
Teresa Wiltz: Hi Washington. That's a good question. I don't know what the significance of Rawls at the bar was. Maybe some Wireheads out there can enlighten us?
West Virginia: I'm a former Maryland resident and journalist, so I have loved this series from the beginning. It's so real it's scary, and that may have turned people off. I also found the dialect and slang so real it was hard to understand at times, and I wondered if others did as well. I started watching with closed captioning on and it really helped me follow the story. Although I'm a former reporter I have to say, my favorite story lines involved the decline of good-paying jobs at the docks and what that does to a family, and the education season, which showed how daunting the problems were. I will miss it!
Teresa Wiltz: Hey West Virginia -- I have a number of friends who told me that they couldn't stomach watching "The Wire" because it's too real. I for one really liked the grittiness of the show; that's what pulled me in. It rarely had a false note, though there were a few this season. Closed captioning is a good idea. I used my DVR constantly to rewind when I missed bits of dialogue. At times I found the exchanges between Chris and Marlo to be cryptic to the point of total incomprehension.
Washington: Ms. Wiltz, enjoyed your recaps. What was the point of the "corny" ending regarding Marlo going to the corner? There was no point to make as far as I was concerned. Although I'm actually against killing (my love for the show aside), gotta show some love to Slim Charles for whacking Cheese.
Teresa Wiltz: Thanks Washington! I think Simon was making the point that Marlo will end up back in the street sooner rather than later, notwithstanding a virtual guarantee that he'll be indicted. He was supremely uncomfortable in that suit, hobnobbing with Levy's cronies. And yes, Slim Charles capping Cheese was a karmic retribution. I also love that Slim shut him up midsentence.
Seattle: A great ending to one of the greatest shows ever. I used to live in Albany, N.Y., where Pulitzer Prize-winner Bill Kennedy was revered as the Scribe of the City. Could David Simon be considered the scribe for Baltimore in much the same way?
Teresa Wiltz: Hi Seattle. I think that Baltimore holds a very special place in its heart for David Simon -- he put B-more on the map, warts and all. At the end of the day, "The Wire" is a love letter to the city. I don't think it's an accident that he wrapped the series with a montage of what looks like real city folks and scenes.
Ellicott City, Md.: I thought it was a great ending to the best TV show ever made. Any thoughts about David Zurawik (Baltimore Sun TV critic) trashing it? As far as I'm concerned his idiotic review validates Simon's criticisms of the Sun.
washingtonpost.com: 'The Wire' finale is a cop-out for a once-great show (Baltimore Sun, March 9)
Teresa Wiltz: Hey Ellicott City -- I think that Zurawik has some points worth considering. I didn't watch the show as a critic last night, because I wanted to get the whole emotional impact. I would agree that the newsroom scenes weren't as nuanced as the rest of the show; I think that the whole McNulty/serial killer thing strained credulity 'til it was busting at the seams; but I still found it to be incredibly compelling television.
Washington: Did you notice that the conversation that Detective Sydnor was having with Judge Phelan at the end of the episode was almost identical to McNulty's conversation with the judge in Season 1? Maybe Sydnor is the new McNulty (and Carver the new Daniels for that matter -- Carver even took money with Herc in Season 1).
Teresa Wiltz: Hmmmm ... hadn't noticed that. You've got sharp eyes/ears, Washington. Did anyone else notice that? Comments?
Gaithersburg, Md.: Of course Marlo stayed in Baltimore -- where would he go? Remember, he told Joe "you'd be getting into some trouble in no time," Bodie didn't even know there were radio stations outside of Baltimore, and Wallace couldn't live on the shore. Marlo is Baltimore through and through, and his home is the streets. My question is, how would you rank the seasons? I see them as fourth (the best season in the history of TV), first, third, second and fifth, although I think Season 5 will be better on repeat viewings (much like Season 2).
Teresa Wiltz: Hey Gaithersburg -- yes, Marlo might be scary, but he clearly is scared of the big bad world outside Baltimore. Remember when he went to the Caribbean to check on his offshore money? He couldn't handle it. I think my favorite season was Season 4. I loved the story line with the kids, and I am truly sad that only one of them made it out okay.
Washington: After the Glass and Blair fiascos, would a newspaper really be that quick to look the other way when evidence mounts that a journalist is faking stories? I felt that part was a bit unrealistic; that the truth would be Scott hanging from the rafters. What's your impression of the Sun's brass pooh-poohing Gus?
Teresa Wiltz: Hey Washington -- no, a newspaper would not look the other way. As I said before, faking stories/sources/quotes is the quickest way to land yourself on the unemployment line. I did, however, think that there were echoes of truth in the Sun's pooh-poohing of Gus -- not on the falsification aspect, but in the whole Corporate vs. Old School Newsman way. The newspaper industry is very much in crisis, and there is a lot of shuttering of overseas bureaus, etc. -- and the Sun, as part of the Tribune Company, has been pretty hard hit.
Rawls: I believe that Rawls shares the same last name as one of David Simon's particularly hated ex-bosses from his days at the Sun. I think that gay bar scene may have just been a further shot at the real Rawls. Simon has not attempted to conceal at all the level of disdain he feels for his former employers.
Teresa Wiltz: Interesting. Obviously, there's no love lost between Simon and the Sun -- but to me, if you want to get your digs in, why make your character a possibly closeted gay man? If you're going to show your disdain, maybe make Rawls the serial killer.
Silver Spring, Md.: I love Gus! I find myself channeling him when I encounter someone who is lying to my face. Such persons usually are pushing some "urban renewal" scheme and pulling wild numbers out of the air. Although the show is gone, the memory of Gus will help me keep my sanity.
Teresa Wiltz: Silver Spring: Gus is the man! (So is Clark Johnson, who directed the first "Wire" and this final episode.) But Gus came out okay in the end -- he was happy to see Mike Fletcher filling his shoes.
Bremerton, Wash.: Three Questions: Was that Dukie's body on the sidewalk in front of the school? Whatever happened to Sister Barksdale? And what was the finale title "-30-" referring to?
Teresa Wiltz: Hi Bremerton -- no, that wasn't Dukie's body on the sidewalk, although for a moment, I really was afraid that it was him, or Michael. We last saw Dukie in the shooting gallery with the junkman and his horse. I don't know what happened to Sister Barksdale -- anyone else out there remember? And the final title, "-30-", refers to the way we newspaper scribes used to end our stories back in the old days -- to signify to editors and copy editors that they'd come to the end of the story.
Washington: I think that Wee-Bey and Chris were just kicking it in the prison yard; I didn't get the feeling they were hatching any plans. Both men played basically the same role, just on opposite teams. Wee-Bey was Barksdale's main hit man, and Chris was the only one left of the two-pair hit team of Stanfield. Both end up in jail for all the bodies they dropped for their respective bosses.
That definitely was Kenard getting arrested. We are left to think Bug is at his Aunt's home, where Michael last left him. I was sad to see Dukie shooting up, but I supposed that kid never had a real chance in life. And no way is Michael setting up to be the new Marlo. He did not respect Marlo's way of leading. He definitely was taking over the Omar role, as I can't see Michael "putting a gun on a citizen," as Omar has said. Overall, good ending, but I wish we had a full season and were not left with a measly 10 episodes.
Teresa Wiltz: Good point about Wee-Bey and Chris -- both were loyalists who took a hit for their bosses.
As for Michael, at the end I saw a hardness in him that reminded me more of Marlo than of Omar. Yes, we saw him playing the stickup man role at the end, but to me, his soul had turned to ice. Pure Marlo.
Springfield, Va.: What is it that former commissioner Burrell and City Council President Campbell had on Daniels that the threatened exposure of it caused him to resign his brief stint as police commissioner? I saw the reference to a file, but I am not sure what that was about.
Teresa Wiltz: Hey Springfield -- beats me! I'm dying to know. Anyone?
Arlington, Va.: Herc's a hero? Did he not also rat out the illegal wiretap? After years of banging hoppers and chasing kingpins, how can he live with himself working for a bastard like Levy? Other questions: Will Nerese be the new Royce? Is Slim Charles cut out to be a CEO? Even with Pearlman on the bench, with Daniels gone, will there ever be a chance at real reform? What sort of career will Greggs have? Will McNulty finally hit rock bottom without the police work that gives his life meaning, or will his exit from the force actually save him from himself? Chris and Wee-Bey are going to be running things on the inside. Marlo's clock is ticking if he goes back to the street. Everyone's going to be gunning for him: Charles, Michael, the cops ... and he'll never get back his connect with the Greeks.
Teresa Wiltz: Hey Arlington. I'm with you: I don't see Herc as a hero, more like someone who's trying to have it both ways. The final scene of him in the bar buying rounds for everyone seemed to underscore the point that he enjoys having money and power. I think Nerese is definitely the new Royce -- minus the quickies in the office. (Remember Herc busting in on him in Season 4?)
I think Pearlman's heart is in the right place, but in Simon's world, there isn't room for real reform. Remember, he sees "The Wire" as a Greek tragedy. I think Kima Greggs will soldier on, doing good police work -- as will Bunk. The jury's out on McNulty, though it seemed at the end that he'd grown up a bit. And I don't know what would happen to Marlo if he got back on the streets; he was always so removed from the dirty work -- left that to Chris and Snoop -- but he seemed to really relish scrapping with the kids on the corner.
Washington: A thought last night was a great requiem to a wonderful series. Kudos to all the actors who made this show so real for us! Like others, I was heartbroken about Dukie but I knew he was lying to Prez. What infuriated my husband and me was seeing Scott Templeton rewarded for his lies, while Gus and Alma basically were sent to Siberia for exposing him. I thoroughly enjoyed McNulty's wake, as well as the back-room machinations of the politicians and law enforcement. Do you know why this series has not garnered the critical acclaim for its actors (Golden Globes, Emmys, etc.) that shows like the Sopranos did?
Teresa Wiltz: Hi there. I also was infuriated by Scott being rewarded for his lies -- Gus and Alma deserved better! But Mike Fletcher, the good reporter was rewarded with a promotion (though Mike committed a cardinal journalistic sin by showing Bubbles his story before it was published).
When Dukie met up with Prez, he already was starting to look like Bubbles, with his junkie lesions. He definitely was hustling Prez, and Prez knew it. I just wish that Prez had tried to save him. The wake was sweet. At first I thought: "Wait! Did McNulty do himself in?" But McNulty's too much of a survivor.
Indianapolis: Dukie with a needle in his arm is bad enough, but taking advantage of the one person who tried to help him turn his miserable life around (Prez) is another level of sadness.
Teresa Wiltz: I agree, Indianapolis. Just showed how desperate he was.
Vienna, Va.: Re: Parallels between Sydnor and McNulty, I thought the whole episode was about parallels. It seemed Simon was trying to relay the message that as one cast of characters cycles out, there always will be a new group ready to come in and take its place. Sydnor is the new McNulty, Dukie is now Bubbles, Michael is now Omar, Slim Charles is Marlo/Barksdale, Carver is now Daniels. And the cycle will continue after these guys, too.
Teresa Wiltz: Good point, Vienna.
Washington: I cringed when Michael Fletcher let Bubbles read his story before it was printed. I know the real Michael Fletcher never would let a source read a story before it was published. I wonder why Simon wrote that? I had to explain to folks at my "Wire" party why that was not done, and they still don't understand. Ugh!
Teresa Wiltz: I agree Washington! I was yelling at the screen. Simon did have Bubbles telling his sponsor that Mike wasn't supposed to do it. I think Simon was trying to make the point that Mike, unlike Scott, wasn't trying to exploit Bubbles. Still -- big, big, big no-no.
Re: Bremerton: Nothing happened to lady Barksdale ... she's just letting Slim Charles run the business. I also think that despite what he thinks about himself, Slim Charles would make a good CEO of the co-op.
Teresa Wiltz: Thanks for this. ... As for Slim Charles, part of being a good CEO is being able to make quick decisions. Offing Cheese was a good start -- not that I'm condoning killing or anything, but if anyone deserved to be taken out for their mendacity, it was Cheese.
San Francisco: Re: Michael as Marlo vs. Omar -- I think Simon set this up for us in the penultimate episode when Snoop tells Michael they he was "never one of us, never could be" because he always was questioning. Michael had issues accepting Marlo's dealings, and despite the "hardness," I see him going Omar's way.
Teresa Wiltz: Good point, San Francisco. I really liked Michael. I hated to see him go over to the dark side.
Fort Washington, Md.: Will HBO rerun the entire series, like they've done thousands of times with all their other shows? I kept missing episodes in the beginning and kept expecting HBO to rerun them, but they never did, so I've never fully gotten into the show. What I've seen is so compelling, and I loved Simon's earlier show "The Corner" -- and the fact that he went to my High School fills me with some pride -- so I'm sure I'd love "The Wire" through and through.
Teresa Wiltz: Fort Washington, I believe you can watch the entire series OnDemand. Don't know about reruns on HBO, but I believe that BET bought the show and will air the reruns.
Dulles Airport: How ironic was it that McNulty and Freamon were both forced out for making up the "serial killer," but the mayor ended up covering it up by indirectly implicating the homeless guy for it all?
Teresa Wiltz: Very ironic, Dulles. Carcetti started out looking like an idealist do-gooder, but by the end he cynically was manipulating the game.
New Carrollton, Md.: Do you think that the fact that the cast largely is African American has kept "The Wire" from getting the Emmy nominations it deserves? "Entourage"?! Come on!
Teresa Wiltz: New Carrollton, it's a mystery to me why "The Wire" hasn't received any Emmy nods. Is it because its cast is largely black? I don't know. What do you guys think?
Roswell, Ga.: I thought the scene with Marlo and Levy networking with the big money in the high-rise and the one that followed on the streets linked with a lot of past scenes. There was the Season 4 scene when Bunny Colvin took the kids to a Ruth's Chris and they felt so out of place that they wanted to leave as fast as possible. Likewise, Marlo was looking to make a quick exit. The real estate developer who Levy introduced Marlo to was the guy who was in on fleecing Stringer Bell, and who cowered on the ground begging Marlo not to kill him at the beginning of Stringer Bell's death scene. Levy and the real estate developer were starting to set Marlo up to be fleeced just like they'd done with Stringer. Unlike Stringer, Marlo knew he was no businessman. He was a gangster, like Avon.
When Marlo was approaching the corner boys, the one Marlo ultimately killed was talking about a time Omar was surrounded by eight or nine guys and got out of it. Marlo knew Omar had been calling him out on the streets, then when he goes to the streets he finds a guy who doesn't know or respect him but is talking of Omar as a hero. Great stuff.
Teresa Wiltz: Ah-ha! Thanks for this, Roswell -- very interesting insights. But did Marlo kill those anyone last night? I thought the kids got away and he got cut with a switchblade.
Washington: The major point that got from the entire "Wire" series was that, for all the things that go on, the major song remains the same (i.e., the drug dealing, the politics). But I do see now (in a way) how kids, who seem to have the world in their hands regarding their life, can have it all end so badly. But even then, it is all still about choice (most of the time). ... See Poot, who is out of the life selling tennis shoes..
Teresa Wiltz: The heart-breaking thing, though, is the kids really didn't have much of a choice. Their choices largely were made for them.
Washington: One of the things that I found interesting about the newspaper aspect of The Wire this season was how decisions are made as to what -- and who -- gets coverage. We've seen this play out with The Washington Post sometimes, i.e. when people who are perceived as prominent because of their race, station in life, etc. get front-page coverage when they are victims of crimes, versus the coverage of another black male found murdered in a certain part of the city. This played out painfully with the lack of coverage Omar's death received and the decision-making behind it. Do you think this is an accurate reflection of what actually happens in newsrooms?
Teresa Wiltz: Hi Washington. It has been a good decade since I've been on the metro news side of things. I covered crime in Chicago for the Chicago Tribune (parent company of the paper on "The Wire"), and I certainly had my share of front-page stories about nonprominent murder victims; I certainly sought those stories out. Unfortunately you can't write about every murder, and a case like Omar's sometimes is relegated to a brief. Sometimes it's not, and the reasons why are complicated: Is it a slow news day? Is this reflective or a larger pattern or trend in society?
Do prominent people get more play in the media? Yes. Are all newsroom editors as callous and uncaring as the Sun's editors? No way.
Roswell, Ga.: Marlo dropped one of the two -- the guy who was telling the story about Omar and was the most confrontational with Marlo. The other guy ran off. I think the guy Marlo shot was the one who knifed him in the struggle. Then Marlo licked his blood as if to say he had missed the streets while he had been wearing the crown.
Teresa Wiltz: I agree with the symbolism of the blood licking, Roswell, but I didn't see a body at his feet when the camera panned away. I just saw him alone. Any one else see this?
Washington: My husband read somewhere that David Simon based the story of the lying journalist who was protected by his higher-ups on his own experience. So I think his point was that even though the guy should have been fired, in real life sometimes they do get protected.
Teresa Wiltz: I heard this too. There was a lot of buzz about this at the beginning of the season.
Bethesda, Md.: The folks who hawk produce from horse drawn carriages are known as Arabbers, and they have been a uniquely Baltimore phenomenon for at least the past 100 years. I can't think of any other American city that has horse stables tucked away between the alleys of row homes.
Teresa Wiltz: Thanks, Bethesda!
Plot twist: One little plot twist that I caught was Cheese, just before getting shot, blaming Omar for killing Prop Joe. I guess that's what they all assumed, when in fact it was Chris and Marlo.
Teresa Wiltz: I saw that too, Plot twist...
Waldorf, Md.: The writers on "The Wire" are brilliant! They know how to get the most out of each of their characters. Did you see right before Snoop was shot, when she asked Mike how her hair looked? Mike said "you look good, girl." I never really had looked at Snoop as a girl before that. That moment made me see her for her feminine side. So at least for me, I thought this made her look a little more human then the hit woman monster she portrayed.
Teresa Wiltz: I loved the way Snoop handled her impending death, Waldorf. Loved the how-does-my-hair-look line, and I thought Michael's "you look good, girl" line was especially tender, given that he was getting ready to blow her brains out. But it was just business -- one of them was going to get got.
Gus is a soldier: I'm sure that he is indeed pleased to see a strong talent like Mike Fletcher is holding it down, but how could he get shafted like that and not be boiling inside?
Teresa Wiltz: I think he was more sad than boiling. He was boiling when he confronted his bosses, but at the end, talking to Alma, he seemed more resigned than angry to me. He knew what time it was, but he loved journalism enough to stay in it, even after he was demoted. Personally I expected him to quit in a huff, but that's hard to do when you've got a mortgage to pay.
Washington: Hi. What was the point of the montage, about one hour in, of different views of the city and the sun setting and rising?
Teresa Wiltz: Washington, I think Simon was illustrating that life goes on, that the more things change the more they stay the same. And it was a way to tie up a lot of loose ends quickly.
Alexandria, Va.: Why do the majority of "The Wire" fans list Season 4 as the best? I agree, but in your opinion what makes us connect with that season, more than, say, Season 1?
Teresa Wiltz: Alexandria, for me it was the kids who made the show resonate. You saw how rigged the system was against them, how decisions from the top had a ricochet effect.
Atlanta: I moved to Atlanta six months ago from the Maryland suburbs (Prince George's) and have watched "The Wire" since the beginning. I truly will miss this show. Hope a movie is coming soon. In Season 1 Herc and Carver did take some drugs.
Teresa Wiltz: A movie would be fabulous, Atlanta. I'm not holding my breath!
Washington: I agree that this season could have been stretched out another three or four episodes. There were some things thrown out that never were resolved, like Rawls being spotted at a gay bar in Season 3, I think it was. Also, was your impression that Levy knew that Herc was the source of Marlo's cell number? I can't believe Valchek was made commissioner either.
Teresa Wiltz: No, I don't think Levy knew; he was too happy with Herc at the end. And I happily would have watched another three episodes -- I wanted to know more about some of the characters, like Rawls and Cutty and Randy and....
Gaithersburg, Md.: Herc is just an insecure kid who needs "atta-boys," whether it was scoring higher than Carver on the sergeant's test or snitching to Levy. Daniels got into some trouble when he was a cop in the Eastern district -- nothing specific was mentioned, but since he came up in narcotics, it's safe to say he was taking/getting a lot of drug money (much like Herc and Carver in Season 1 ... and there's the Carver = Daniels storyline coming full circle).
Teresa Wiltz: Good point, Gaithersburg. Looks like Herc found his home with Levy, wouldn't you say?
Silver Spring, Md.: The two corner boys Marlo gets into a beef with survived. The one who stepped to Marlo ran off around the corner. The other, who pulled the gat, can be seen in the next scene running off in the distance. Very hard to see at night, but I DVRed it.
Teresa Wiltz: Thanks, Silver Spring.
Washington: I definitely think Sydnor is the new McNulty! That scene with the judge was eerie, in fact, and I think it was a way to show that McNulty's and Freamon's work will go on through the work of their protege, Sydnor. Sydnor learns how to be "real police" from them. At the end of the first season, as he and Prez are packing up boxes after the close of the Barksdale investigation, and he says wistfully that this was the best police work he ever had done.
Teresa Wiltz: Interesting observation, Washington. After all, Sydnor was the one who cracked Marlo's code, right?
Port Republic, Md.: Can someone enlighten me as to why McNulty stops his car and pulls over randomly with Larry in the car at the end? Refresh my memory, but was he still in Richmond during this scene, or had he just entered Baltimore? I loved how Norman couldn't restrain his laughter about the whole serial killer bull! He takes pure joy in watching how the "game" is played. And FYI: Only Season 5 is available OnDemand, so you'll have to buy or Netflix the other seasons.
Teresa Wiltz: I think he was driving into Baltimore, Port Republic. It was a cinematic moment -- like he was the all-knowing one who could see into the future. The montage seems to be from his point of view, because the camera comes back to him at the end. Slightly hammy theatrical device, I'd say. I love Norman! He had the best one-liners.
I'll have to check OnDemand. I watched some of the first season OnDemand before Season 5 aired.
Washington: "I saw echoes of Marlo in the new Michael; many of you saw Omar." I don't think there's any question that the writers portrayed Michael as the new Omar. He was wielding a shotgun, took out Vinson's kneecap (Marlo's mentor -- how did you not know who he is when you write weekly about "The Wire"?) and had an accomplice to rob a player in the drug game. All reminiscent of Omar. I don't know how one would see echoes of Marlo in that scene and not Omar.
Teresa Wiltz: We'll agree to disagree, Washington.
Baltimore: While I admit that the newspaper story line was not one of the strongest in the series, I think the point Simon was trying to make was that, while very real, important and consequential things are happening everyday in the city, the newspaper fed into the overall inaction by ignoring these stories (multiple murders get buried in the interior of the Metro section) and making up whatever they felt could most benefit them (the homeless stories). This is echoed in other story lines throughout the history of the series.
As to the popularity of the series, the best explanation I ever heard was by Bill Simmons of ESPN.com: "Now I'm wondering if I avoided 'The Wire' because its central themes -- drugs, corruption, urban decay -- were realities that I simply wanted to ignore. Instead of being haunted by a show like this, it was easier and safer to skip it entirely. Most people feel this way, I'm guessing; it's the only conceivable reason why five times as many people would watch "The Sopranos" instead of a show that's better in every way. See, when most Americans dabble in inner-city TV shows or movies for our 'taste' of street life, we're hoping for the Hollywood version. We don't want despair and decay, we want hope and triumph. We don't want the zero-sum game of drug dealers killing each other, we want The Rock coaching juvie kids and turning their lives around in two hours. We want them to win the big football game, we want the movie to end, and we don't want to think about these people ever again."
Teresa Wiltz: Baltimore, I agree that everyone was complicit in "The Wire." No one was clean; even the good ones were compromised -- except for maybe Gus, who was painted as all good by Simon. I think Simon idealized Gus as an antidote to where he sees the newspaper industry going today.
I think the Simmons quote is on-point. "The Sopranos" feels like fantasy to a certain degree; "The Wire" never will feel like escapist fare.
Teresa Wiltz: That's it for today, everyone. Thanks for all your wonderful questions. It was fun.
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