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8/06/2009

The Wire, Season 5

I'm continue to watch The Wire in a torrid pace... Season 5 is yet another excellent show that explores a dying industry with a lot of influence: the media.

(See my review on season 1 on drugs, season 2 on unions, season 3 on politics, season 4 on education)

Unfortunately, it's Season 5, which comes after the absolutely brilliant Season 4. And I love bashing the media (even more so, the people who buy it). So Season 5 was actually a bit of a let down. The story surrounds our usual suspects (cops, drugs, politicians) and adds the media to the center of the story. Quick re-cap: discouraged cop creates a serial killer out of thin air so he can get resources to track his drug target. Morally corrupt reporter finds interests in this story and starts making up shit to sensationalize it and sell papers. Cutting to the end, cop sort of nails his drug target in his last case while reporter wins prizes for his writing.

Season 5 does a good job depicting the pressures the media feels. Take the reporter who spends a few weeks with Bubbles the "homeless" to write a heartfelt story about homelessness. That's a couple of weeks on a story. And a blogger can take that one page story and spin it in all sorts of direction in a few minutes of writing. Who is going to generate more news? Who is going to generate more revenue? (Obviously The Wire is going to be better than Josekin's blog, but you get what I mean...)

And then there's the demand for good reporting, as in reporting on topics that are fun and engaging. In words of the actors, "a blond disappearing from Aruba is more important than inner city drug killings." And editors of the Baltimore Sun is just reacting to that. And the national spotlight on them (due to coverage on the fake serial killer) encouraged them to focus even more on riding the story.

Alas, 10 episodes is too short for a real damning piece on all this. I'd recommend Season 5, but not nearly as much as Season 4.

The Wire, in order of my "recommendability": 4, 1, 3, 5/2.

Just for fun, a quick recap on how the characters did at the end (STOP reading if you still want to see the show...):

Cops
  • McNulty: insubordinate cop brings down two drug orgs... then gets laid off from the force
  • Daniels: straight up commander gets fucked over by mayor and resigned for family reasons
  • Greggs and Sydnor: excellent detectives will continue to serve... as detectives
  • Freamon: Good cop forced to fake serial killer so he can get the drug org... and forced to resign
  • Herc and Carver: both are not very good at their jobs... one lands a great paying job as a double spy for both the police and lawyer who helps drug lords; the other continues up the police ladder
  • Prez: inept cop can't handle a gun but can cracks codes by drug gangs; ends up as a teacher at some half hopeless school teaching math
  • Rawls and Burrel: commisioners trying to be politicians succeeds some, fails some, never did much about crime and finally pushed out and onto better jobs
  • Valchek: how this man became the newest commisioner still confuses me...
I guess unless you loved the job (as either detective or higher up)... don't be a cop

Drugs
  • Dee, Snoop, Bodie, Wee Bay, Bird, etc - all work for the drug organizations and none would make it to the C-level... and all in jail or dead.
  • Chris: Marlo's right hand man kills with or without a conscious; life without parole.
  • Stringer - he tried to walk away at the top; killed.
  • Barksdale - he kept going back to the streets even though he made enough; life without parole.
  • Prop Joe and Butch: I thought the middle man never would be touched; dead.
  • Marlo: ruthless dealer forced out but the street is still in him; Free man.
  • Omar: renegade stick up man tries to enforce his code on Marlo failes; dead.
  • The Greek: Drug supplier remains drug supplier.
The lesson, as usual, don't join gangs... but you can be the supplier apparently

Non-police
  • Pearlman: always balacing between bringing a good case and her career, it seems that she will do well
  • Levy: lawyer helping drug organizations barely survives... and will continue to serve gangs with a target on his back (from Pearlman)
  • Carcetti: aspiring mayor has nice ideas... but falls to politics and turns out to be the same as his predecessors (less the corruption)
  • Clay Davis and Royce: shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit is now my favorite phrase. Corrupt officials will continue their good lives.
  • Templeton: better at writing fiction than reporting real news, he's headed for news prizes and headlines with his sensational and dishonest reporting
  • Gus and Alma: Good and honest reporters relegated to irrelevance
  • Michael Lee: smartest kid in Prez's class also tries to take care of his friends; he ends up on the street becoming like Omar - stick up man with a code robbing drug dealers
  • Duke & Randy: both pretty smart kids, both end up homeless (one in the streets, one in a group home)
  • Cutty: former gang muscle walks away from the game to run a boxing ring for kids on the brink; he's going to do okay
Finally, I wanted to end with Bubbles, one of my favorite characters on the show. Drug addict/ trash man never got away from drugs. He finally turns up clean after accidentally killing his protege Shorrod.
"Ain't no shame on holding on to grief, as long as you make room for other things too"
-Bubbles
Did I forget anyone?

The Wire is one of the best TV dramas I've ever seen. Maybe I will watch it again next week. Highly highly highly recommended.

2 comments:

Laughing Man said...

First off, if you haven't read this, I think you might enjoy it:

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/what-do-real-thugs-think-of-the-wire/

You forgot about Bunk. But I guess there really isn't much to say.

I know he was less of an overall character, but I liked Bunny Colvin. He just couldn't work with the demands and resources given to him, so he gave Hamsterdam a try. I also liked how he ended up taking in Wee-Bay's son in the end with success. He played two different roles in Seasons 3 and 4. I enjoyed his character and performance.

Michael became the new Omar, and Dukie became the new Bubbles! Talk about a cycle. It was really gratifying to see Bubbles not only kick the habit, but to become re-accepted by his sister.

Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiet

The Pretender said...

Sheeeeeeeeeeeeit

The Wire is always worth rewatching because the second time around you get to notice a lot of details, and how it's all about repeating themes.

Examples:
Freamon at the end goes home to Shardene, the stripper/informant from season 2.

The girl who talks first at the NA meeting in season 5 was a hooker in season 3.

Michael is the new Omar, Dukie is the new Bubbles, Sydnor is the new McNulty (going to Phelan), Kima is the new Bunk.

The final crime scene/chalk drawing where Kima is at the end, is where William Gant (the first Barksdale witness that Bird killed) died.

And don't forget Cheese getting what he had coming from Slim for selling out Prop Joe.

It looks like Carcetti made Governor and Rawls made Superintendent. Valchek made commissioner because he has seniority and has the support of the Poles, which I assume were the non-black majority.