The Wire Final Season

Week 10: What About Cutty?
Talking television.
March 11 2008 2:39 PM

The Wire Final Season

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Hey, everyone,

A few weeks ago, I elbowed my way into David and Jeff's hugely enjoyable conversation to express my frustration that, earlier this season, David Simon seemed to be messing with the moral universe he'd created. McNulty and Lester's crazy made-up serial killings seemed to suggest that the mavericks were no longer the good guys—instead, they'd gone so far beyond the bounds that they'd become a force of destruction. Which felt to me like Simon eating his young.

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Now, at season's end, the world of The Wire has righted itself. Bunk, Kima, and Sydnor are left to represent the best of the police department—knowing, disillusioned, but also honorable. McNulty and Lester are partially redeemed, which feels like the right amount. They're making nice to the women who love them again. Lester ensnared Maury Levy, which salvages some of the Stanfield drug case and gave Rhonda that great scene of Levy smack down. McNulty refused to do Rawls' bidding and pin six murders on a crazy guy who'd done two, and then, of course, he went to rescue the poor homeless man he'd shipped out of town. And Lester and McNulty have made their peace with Kima, and she with them. Melinda, I'm sure you're right that cops rarely forgive other cops who turn them in, but, like you, I loved that scene of mutual forgiveness outside the bar. Especially because McNulty left instead of getting drunk and getting laid. At the same time, I was also with Rhonda when she told Lester that it was on him, not her, that Marlo Stanfield would walk. Who says David Simon doesn't write great women characters?

I also appreciated the last episode for saving the Sun plot for me, at least a bit. In moving from St. Gus and Vile Scott to reporter Michael Fletcher (presumably named for this real and accomplished Washington Post reporter), Simon partially redeemed his and our tribe in the same way he did McNulty and Lester. (Ah, more parallelism.) When Fletcher gives Bubbles the story he's written about him with the promise to pull it if Bubbles doesn't want it to run, my heart embarrassingly swelled. I don't want to hazard a guess about whether there are more lying slime journalists or more who do their job with Fletcher's compassion, but I was relieved that this good guy (plus Alma) got to make an appearance. Which isn't to say that Fletcher would have given Bubs the out if he'd really thought his source—and three weeks of work—were about to go out the window. That felt real, too.

As a Sopranos fan who could only appreciate its ambiguous ending after its brilliance had been explained to me three times, I exit The Wire entirely satisfied. With one tiny exception: What happened to Cutty? As the ex-con-turned-neighborhood-do-gooder, he deserved a cameo in that montage ending. Since he didn't get it, I'll imagine one for him: He's at his boxing gym, urging on a couple of hoppers, while a nice-looking woman his own age smiles on them all.

Emily

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

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