THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 5 (The End) - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 5 (The End)

July 28, 2010 by  

In THE WIRE’s sixth episode, Detective Lester Freamon reminded his colleagues that they were building a case against Avon Barksdale’s crew out of small pieces, “and all the pieces matter.” Those five words tell the audience everything they need to know about this once-in-a-lifetime program.

After five weeks of work on The Wire Project, I cannot decide what to do next. Do I dive directly into the Season Two DVDs that taunt me from my bookshelf? Or would it be wiser to watch all thirteen episodes of Season One again, in appreciation for the master craftsmanship of David Simon? Your feedback on this dilemma would be appreciated!

As in previous installments, I will kick start the conversation with my friend Heather’s help, as we react to the final two hours of the season. In the discussion thread that follows, I would love to read your thoughts about the series’ characters, storylines, and themes.

There will never a bad time to introduce yourself to this world, because The Wire is a sociological experiment that may never yield clear answers.

Erik: If my calculations are right, you and I have known one another for 18 years.

Heather: Seriously? Wow, we’re getting old…

E: In that time, we’ve shared an affinity for a number of shows

H: Indeed. Like the Collected Works of Aaron Sorkin, abridged. (And by “abridged” I mean Studio 60 sucked)

E: Fair point. In our teenage years, L.A. Law was considered high drama

H: It’s the real reason I’m a lawyer. I just tell people it’s because of To Kill A Mockingbird because that sounds higher-minded.

E: Thanks for admitting that publicly. After finishing the first season of The Wire, I’m convinced that I wouldn’t have “gotten” this show before the age of 25

H: Good point! I can now see why it invites multiple viewings because I think I’d get even more out of it at 40 or 50…

E: It’s why I brought up some of the shows we used to watch, because I feel that L.A. Law, ER, or NYPD Blue were well-written, but also sprinkled with helpful hints so that the viewer did not get lost

H: And they were not remotely this dense to begin with. I said this earlier, but David Simon is going somewhere with this story and he does not care whether he is going too fast for us. It’s like television boot camp.

E: TV executives are, by necessity, obsessed with earning viewers in the 18-34 demographic, and The Wire’s web of characters and plot would leave many in that category puzzled

H: Did this show do well, ratings-wise? I can’t believe it, but I really have no idea.

E: I don’t think it had huge audiences until the finale, which must have resulted in hundreds of thousands of confused people

H: This isn’t like Friends, where you can jump in again just at the end. Man, listen to us, we’re only one season in and we’re already smugly superior.

E: I’m actually typing with my pinky fingers extended…Once we dissect the pivotal plot points of the final 2 episodes, we’ll go from “smugly superior” to “desperately in need of other opinions”…So, within the barrage of big picture twists and turns, what was the most powerful moment of these final two hours for you?

H: This is going to sound silly, b: Who is having the Best Week Ever? Lester Freamon! He’s back in homicide and living with a hot stripper, whose boyfriend is not inconveniently serving 20 years

E: We officially have company in our love affair with Det. Freamon, and her name is Shardene

H: I’m happy to share! He has enough awesome and tiny furniture for everyone.

E: So, after 13 episodes of hearing ambitious drug dealers talk about “The Game,” it turns out thatFreamon has more game than anyone?

H: Totally!

E: Over/Under on the number of Daddy issues Shardene has: Two & A Half. Which side do you take?

H: Smart money is on the “over.”

E: Thoughts on the final scenes?

H: The ending was so…beautiful…graceful…heartbreaking and then I heard Omar whistling and I actually “woo’d.” I’m trying very hard to focus on the positives here because there were so few and the bad was so very bad.

E: The final montage was perfectly edited, and tied up a closet full of loose ends. I rewatched Episode 1 on DirecTV last week, and my jaw dropped when McNulty revealed the Marine Unit was the last place he would want to work

H: In his defense, that was before Lester told him never to answer that question…Poor Santangelo, back in uniform on the street because he refused to spy.

E: And without the Homicide folks there to watch his back…

H: You know, I feel like we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves by going right to the end rather than talk about Cleaning Up. I also know that I’m avoiding it because that scene with Wallace just utterly broke my heart. I have never been so unhappy to see something coming.

E: Considering that you called me on your lunch break Friday in tears, describe why Wallace’s fate really got to you…

H: He was just a child. And those were his best friends they sent to kill him.
It was the mirror of the scene with D’Angelo and Wee Bey from Hunt. Wallace was oblivious.

E: With all we’re exposed to on TV, I think it’s rare to infuse an audience with dread. Wallace’s last steps were dripping with it, and I was affected, too

H: I think that the worst was when Poot took the gun from Bodie and finished it. I read all of Poot’s actions as trying to be merciful to Wallace, not drag it out. Did you?

E: Poot treated it like business, while Bodie really did make it seem personal

H: Bodie seemed angry at Wallace for not getting it, for not seeing the danger and defending himself. Probably easier to blame Wallace for being naive than think about how he literally used his best friend’s body to climb the ladder.

E: Wallace’s death was a stark reminder of how human lives are simple currency in “the game.” Which brings me to the only new character introduced in the final two episodes, D’ Angelo’s mother Brianna Barksdale
For someone thrown in so late in the story, Brianna cast a large shadow on Avon and his operations

H: I hate her…I know I should be more nuanced than that, but I can’t. I hate her.

E: As a lawyer yourself, do you think Brianna is more or less culpable for the foibles of her family’s business than their attorney?

H: I wasn’t even going to get into Maury Levy, but now that you mention it, he isn’t even pretending to follow the ethical rules. In The Hunt, he was sitting at the bar in Orlando’s telling Stringer and Avon to kill people.

E: Does that make him a less believable character, since we’ve been conditioned to think that criminal defense attorneys try to limit their own exposure?

H: With the State Senator’s aide picking up bags of cash from the towers? I think we’re operating under some unique conditions. I will say, I almost admire that he isn’t bothering to hide it. Just telling his clients exactly how to accomplish their goals.

…Back to Brianna, my strong reaction to her probably stems from hearing that D’Angelo never killed Deidree and that speech he gave about how this is all his family has ever done and he feels trapped and wants out and his own mother sent him away for 20 years to keep the game going.

E: The reveal that D’ Angelo didn’t actually kill Deidree was a true WOW moment. It speaks to the duality of the police and the criminals that someone like Brianna would sacrifice her own in order to sustain her own lifestyle. Avon’s showdown with Brianna over the consequences of D’ Angelo’s cooperation with the police was top shelf acting

H: I think that the writers introduced her at the last minute on purpose – to give me this feeling that some broad I don’t know just swooped in and destroyed the life of someone I have come to care about.

E: Selfishly, I have to close with my favorite moment of the final two episodes, which tied together the pivotal character of the season. After exhausting all opportunities to do “real police work” on the Barksdale investigation, going up and around the chain of command, and seeing his partner shot in the line of duty, Detective McNulty sits in the courtroom and wonders aloud “What the f**k did I do?”

H: Which he had said a bunch of other times during the season, including when Kima was shot, and it means something different every time. I also liked McNulty’s admission that, “This isn’t as much fun as I thought it would be” when he and Daniels were about to arrest Avon…And because he realized that he hadn’t been trying for real justice at the beginning. Like he told Daniels, he just wanted to be the smartest guy in the room. After Kima was shot, he wanted justice, but it didn’t happen.

E: For all the good that came of the Barksdale investigation, McNulty fell back to square one. After all, like Carver told Herc, they’ll never win the drug war because “dealers face beatings over failure, while the cops get pensions”

H: That was a rare moment of insight from Carver. I’m so curious to see where season two starts. Is McNulty still on the boat?

E: Will he begin to fish for crab in the Bering Sea? That’s a Deadliest Catch spinoff I would watch!

H: He’d find a way to be sanctimonious about crab fishing, too.

E: Final thoughts: Did the show live up to the gargantuan expectations we had when we started The Wire Project?

H: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yes, it did. The last four episodes, especially the last two, were the best TV I’ve ever seen. What about you?

E: Considering the limitations of telling such a complex story in 13 hours, I was overwhelmed. The characters were richer than I had envisioned, and each episode was legitimately entertaining.

Heavy drama can often feel like a chore to watch, and The Wire became addictive for me. No more denying David Simon’s genius in my household

Thanks for embarking on this journey with me. We’ll have to find a less-taxing project to collaborate on in the future

H: War and Peace?

Did you feel a sense of closure as the season ended? Which characters are you most curious about going forward? What questions about law enforcement, big cities, and the drug war did the show raise in your mind? Can you find players in “The Game” who were purely evil? Did you notice parallels between episodes 1 and 13? Let’s talk about one of TV’s best written and critically acclaimed series!

THE WIRE Project: Start Over With GMMR
THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 1
THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 2
THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 3
THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 4

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4 Responses to “THE WIRE Project: Season 1, Disc 5 (The End)”

  1. Kath (GMMR) on July 28th, 2010 4:38 pm

    Oh no. I’ve fallen behind. I got the S1 discs to watch along with you, Erik. But one of the discs is damaged and it hurt my momentum.

    But great write up, thanks for sharing!

  2. ltklo on July 29th, 2010 12:33 pm

    If you want to rewatch, I suggest you watch all the seasons and then start from the beginning again. Some characters have limited roles in early seasons and more prominent roles later. You’ll want to start over when you get to the end.

    I saw this once and it’s perfect.
    The Wire > all other tv shows

  3. SaraK on August 10th, 2010 3:12 pm

    I just finished S1 and started S2. I am going to watch all 5 seasons and then go back and rewatch. It seems that is what most people recommend.

  4. Erik on August 10th, 2010 5:41 pm

    Itklo: Great suggestion, as Season 2 is already flying by. I’m 7 episodes in, and cannot wait to make time this weekend for more.

    SaraK: Sounds like we’re on the same schedule. What were your favorite aspects of S1?