The Wire Final Season

Week 7: No Room for Robin Hood in Marlo's Baltimore
Talking television.
Feb. 18 2008 11:21 AM

The Wire Final Season

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Dear David,

Slow down there, Slim Plotz. You write as if you were watching Chinatown. Last night's episode had its moments—Clay Davis' moment most especially—but it also gave us more of McNulty's wearying, improbable scamming and more Baltimore Sun pedantry, of which this reporter is thoroughly sick.

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And while I'm on a rampage, let me defend Omar's decision to shoot Savino in the head. Strike that, I won't defend Savino's killing, in case I run for office one day and someone dredges up this post as a defense of cold-blooded murder, but I would argue that the killing was of a piece with Omar's methods. That said, I agree with your previous assertion (or was that my previous assertion?) that Omar is finished; there's no room for Robin Hood in Marlo Stanfield's Baltimore.

As you note, Richard Price and Isiah Whitlock Jr., in the breakout performance of the season as Clay Davis (listen to me, I sound like Peter Travers), combined this week to remind us of what The Wire once was—a blunt, complicated exposé of the devastated American city, with jokes. Maybe it doesn't take vast courage to portray a black politician as a criminally conniving ignoramus (Aeschylus!), but the impiety of it all—the cynical nod last week to "Lift Every Voice and Sing" comes to mind—is refreshing.

I'll lay off the episode's manifest weaknesses for the moment, since you've fallen in love and I don't want to wound your tender heart, but because I can't help myself, let me point out one moment in which this episode was too clever by half. It came during the trial, when Clay Davis referred disparagingly to the prosecutor, Rupert Bond, as "Obonda." Maybe when the episode was filmed this seemed like a clever joke, but now, with everything we know about Obama's overwhelming popularity among African-Americans (and coming just several days after the Maryland primary), it fell awfully flat.

Dyspeptically yours,
Jeff

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.

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