The Wire Final Season

Week 7: This Is The Wire That I Fell in Love With
Talking television.
Feb. 18 2008 7:01 AM

The Wire Final Season

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Dear Jeff,

Kima staring out on the moonlit streets of Baltimore and reciting this benediction to her sleepless semi-son: "Good night, moon. Good night, popos. Good night, fiends. Good night, hoppers. Good night, hustlers. Good night, scammers. Good night to everybody. Good night to one and all." What a spectacular ending to a sublime episode!

David Plotz David Plotz

David Plotz is the CEO of Atlas Obscura and host of the Slate Political Gabfest.

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This is The Wire that I fell in love with. I didn't think there could be a television courtroom scene better than Omar's testimony in the Season 2 murder trial, but last night's Clay Davis soliloquy, culminating with that grand gesture of standing up and turning his empty pockets inside out, topped it. If Isaiah Whitlock Jr. doesn't get an Emmy (or at least his own sitcom) after his performance this season, there's no justice. (Which, as we learned in the Davis trial, there isn't.)

You and I haven't paid much attention to The Wire's directors or writers, but Episode 7 was so great that I want to give all praise to novelist Richard Price (Clockers), who wrote it, and Dominic West, who directed it. West, who plays Jimmy McNulty, even improved his own performance. The Jimmy of Episode 7 is enthrallingly confused: anxious over his escalating fraud, gleeful at helping his colleagues advance their cases, embarrassed at his new sugar-daddy role as "boss."

A few things that stood out for me in Episode 7. First, the obsession with money. From Clay Davis' fee negotiation with his lawyer, to Carcetti's short-lived joy after raising $92,000 for his gubernatorial campaign, to Davis' courtroom peroration, to the judge nudging Rhonda to pick up the check, to the police department and newspaper pouring resources into their homeless-killer investigations, to Omar spurning Marlo's cash, money is the deep theme of the episode. Or rather, the fallacy of money: The police chiefs, the editors, and the mayor think money is the answer. But the dollar isn't almighty: Money can't solve a murder that never really happened.

Second: the continued martyrdom of Bunk. Did you notice how many shots of Bunk showed him squashed, as though a weight was bearing down on him? Watch those scenes of him in the office: He appears crushed in the foreground, struggling with his real police work, while the charade of the serial killer investigation plays out behind him.

Third: the lovely visual joke of Marlo's watches. The cops don't know what time it is!

I suspect that Omar signed his own death warrant this week. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Omar has never killed for sport before, never murdered an innocent. Savino isn't a choirboy, but he never wronged Omar directly. By doing Savino, cold-blooded, on the street, Omar betrays his own code. He's no longer a sanguinary angel, just an outlaw gangster. He may still have his revenge on Marlo, but he may have lost his halo of protection.

Yours with delight,
David