The Wire Final Season
How my hair look, Jeff?
Omar. And now Snoop. That's too much for any Wire-lover to bear.
But of course her murder made perfect dramatic sense, and I'm embarrassed I didn't see it coming. Omar and Snoop were dark mirrors of each other. They were both street eloquent, but her eloquence sprang from profanity, his from the absence of it. He mesmerized with his soulful criminality; she mesmerized with her soulless murderousness. Omar was gay; I can't remember if Snoop was ever explicitly identified as gay, but she certainly suggested it. He was an independent businessmen; she was a classic organization woman, mindlessly obeying orders. It's also fitting that their young murderers are mirrors too. Kenard, conscienceless and psychopathic, kills thoughtful Omar. And Michael is at war with himself, his sweet soul blackened and hardened by his sick work: He is having exactly the kind of battles with himself that Snoop didn't.
Incidentally, wasn't that final goodbye between Michael and Dukie the saddest scene The Wire has ever given us? Michael cannot, or won't let himself, remember their gleeful hijinks of two years ago, because he knows that happiness can never be reclaimed, so there's no use wallowing in it. And then Dukie trudges forward into Boschian hell, his first step on his way to becoming Bubbles.
They threw that word Dickensian at us again, but the right literary adjective is Shakespearean. This spectacular episode vibrated with brilliant speechifying—Bubbles facing up to Sherrod's death, Snoop musing on how no one "deserves" to die—and Marlo roaring at the discovery that Omar had been calling him out on the street. For much of the past two seasons, Marlo has been a cipher: Snoop and Chris did so much of his dirty work that it was hard to understand why he was in charge, instead of them. The jail scene clears up any doubt. As Marlo rages at the idea that his name was mocked in the street, he reminds us of the violent intensity that brought him to power. "Let them know Marlo step to any motherfucker. … My name is my name!"
("My name is my name" could, in fact, have been the episode's title, what with the Rumpelstilskin-like excitement when Bubbles reclaims his given name, Reginald, and finally faces up to his sorrow about Sherrod.)
Do you still think Marlo's going down? I'm not cashing in my chips just yet, but I think The Wire'spointing toward exactly the ending I've expected, given the show's neo-Marxist philosophy: The only redemption will be individual. We've seen Namond's salvation; Kima and Bunk will retain their honor; and Bubbles will save himself. But at the institutional level, everything will get worse: Marlo and crew will walk free because of the corrupted investigation, and they will reclaim the streets.
You look good, boy.
David Plotz is the Editor of Slate. He's the author of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank and Good Book. He appears on Slate's Political Gabfest.