The Wire Final Season

Week 9: No Escape
Talking television.
March 3 2008 11:52 AM

The Wire Final Season

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Dear Jeff,

You're mad at Kima? She's the one cop who has the courage to blow the whistle—the courage to do what she asks her witnesses to do every single day—and you're Stop Snitchin' her? She didn't push Jimmy off a bridge: He jumped himself, weeks ago. She's just alerting the coroner.

David Plotz David Plotz

David Plotz is the editor of Slate. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.

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I knew this week's Sun scenes would be a red flag in front of the Goldberg horns. The "pull all of Templeton's stories" scene was agonizingly stupid. At least it was over quickly. (And I must confess that I'm excited to see how Simon is going to destroy Gus since it's clear that Gus must fall and Templeton must rise. On the upside, Gus will then have time to write his long-anticipated "Letter From Baltimoringham Jail.")

A few years ago, a brilliant journalist named Adrian Nicole LeBlanc wrote a book called Random Family about an extended family of drug dealers, wives, girlfriends, and children in the Bronx. My favorite scene in the book is when, for reasons I can't remember, one of the characters gets a windfall or wins a prize, and the reward is a night out in New York in a limousine. (Forgive me if I mess up the details slightly—I don't have the book in front of me.) She and her friends pile into the limo and set out for Manhattan, but they can't think of anything to do. They don't know where to eat or even where to go. They end up driving back to their derelict Bronx neighborhood and hanging out on the same corner where they always hang out. It's an unbelievably powerful and grim scene about the way poverty not only closes off avenues of escape, but even stops you from being able to imagine those avenues.

It seems to me that this is the essential theme of The Wire this season and perhaps in all five seasons. Again and again, The Wire'scharacters are discovering that they have nowhere else to go and also that they can't even imagine how to leave. Home in Baltimore is horrific, but the great world beyond is a mystery. The Season 4 scene of Bunny and the kids in a fancy restaurant was the most memorable depiction of this, but this season, and particularly last night's episode, has given us many more examples. There's Dukie, driven from his home once again. Michael now must strike out alone into the unknown. Omar escaped to island paradise but couldn't stay away. Prop Joe had packed his bags to leave but was murdered before he could walk out the door. Jimmy—soon to be jobless and womanless—can't escape himself. Templeton seeks his fortune at the Post but can't get a job.Even Gus is in some sense a prisoner, unwilling or unable to find a more congenial newspaper job because he loves sick old Baltimore too much. Only the schizophrenic, kidnapped homeless guy is allowed to leave.

You know whom I want working security at my next party? Those two guys who accompanied Chris to the drug warehouse. They were the biggest men I've ever seen!

David