Season finale: The Wire

Only the good die young

 

So this is it. The last episode of The Wire ever. What are we going to do with ourselves now?

Possibly the best TV series in the world ever, The Wire has spent five seasons changing the nature of television itself – all with minimal viewing figures. It’s examined the nature of institutions and society. It’s created characters that will last in the memory for years to come.

It’s made us think.

And now it’s over.

As with previous seasons, season five took what we’d already seen and built on it by examining a new institution and its relationship with others. This time, it was the turn of the media and in particular newspapers. 

Surprisingly, given that show supremo David Simon was a former Baltimore Sun journalist, this has been the least realistic of any of the show’s many depictions of Baltimore life. A seemingly pre-Internet paper filled with one-dimensional heroes and villains, it’s as if Simon’s slightly bitter brain wouldn’t let him see further than the miseries that led him to quit at the end of the 90s. And unlike seasons two, three or four, in which the institution being examined was the main focus of the story, the work on the ‘Baltimore Sun‘ seemed to have minimal effect elsewhere. Simon seemed to want to get something of his chest and he was going to use The Wire to do it.

More satisfaction was to be had elsewhere, with various plots and sub-plots either finished off – usually for the worse – or tied together to create a new plot. Institutions are shown, once again, to hate anyone who would try to change them, with only the efforts of individuals to change getting any traction. Standards and principles are crushed by compromise and ‘fitting in’, whether that’s in the drug trade, schools, politics or the police. There were few happy endings – unless you count cameos by well loved characters – as is the nature of The Wire. And indeed, in true Wire fashion, you’ll have to have been paying attention for five seasons to see exactly the implications of everything Simon and co throw into the final episode or the mirroring of the various institutions in each others habits and behaviours.

So get your tissues out and get ready to cry – The Wire is over and some much loved characters are going to be gone forever. This wasn’t the best season of the show, but it was the one where everything changed, even though ultimately everything stayed the same.

Tension: 10/10

There is a much better review of the final episode here if you’d like. It’s spoilery though – what you lose in one place, you gain in another.




  • Matt_c

    Agree about it being the least realistic… I just didn’t buy the McNulty scam, and I agree totally about the analysis of the newspaper institution; it was more like a return to the first series’ ‘police’ criticism with bonus journalists! You never got inside Templeton’s head. He was just swanning around being smug.
    My only tinge of disappointment was that the conclusion was always defined by what had gone before. By that I mean to say that it was obvious Dukie was going to end up in that yard and Aiden Gillan wasn’t going to turn into a demon snake. (The only surprise came a couple of eps back in the Korean’s convenience store. Gutted.) But we don’t watch it for suspense, we watch it for the journey. And it’s over now… Bugger.
    Back to Lost, I guess. And now I can start on Heroes. And try and get my hands on Homicide: Life on the Street. TV never stops giving!!

  • The serial killer stuff was very dumb.
    Homicide: Life on the Street – Michelle Forbes. Nuff said.

  • I’ve just finished watching the fifth series and I did really enjoy it. The serial killer plan was ridiculous but interesting. I would have liked to have seen more about the newspaper people – it didn’t really go deep enough into those characters. I intend to re-watch it again soon though to see what I make of it on second viewing as definitely merits repeat viewing.

  • “I intend to re-watch it again soon though to see what I make of it on second viewing as definitely merits repeat viewing.”
    Doesn’t it always? 😉