“It’s Baltimore. No one lives forever.”
Here we ago again, for the last time. Season 5 of The Wire is sadly its last season. But it’s still SO good. I’ll try to keep this review shorter than the Season 4 one but I make no promises. Read on as I tell you my opinions on the series, episode by episode.
Season 5 picks up 15 months after where season 4 ended. Baltimore is circling the drain and no one has any money. Like season 2 focused on the ports, season 4 focused on the schools, this season focuses on the press and specifically The Baltimore Sun newspaper. I thought there was absolutely no way this city could get more bleak, but I was wrong.
Episode 1 – “More with Less”
The Stanfield Organisation is still going strong despite a the Major Crimes unit being on them 24/7 for over the last year. Marlo Stanfield is becoming much more threatening than Avon ever was. He is truly evil. His aide, Chris, goes out looking for Sergei Malatov, the nasty piece of work from season 2. It’s awesome how some old characters are getting a mention, hopefully they’ll get some face time as well. It seems like the show is coming full circle.
Well I may have thought McNulty had turned a new leaf but he’s now back into his old habits of drinking and then having sex with the nearest woman, usually in that order. He get’s even more depressed when he’s sent back to Homicide after the Major Crimes unit is disbanded. It’s a depressing life as a Police officer in Baltimore apparently. The Western district is similarly low on morale, with men fighting in the car park and Carver not being able to do a thing about it.
It’s not all doom and gloom however. We’re introduced to the newsroom in this episode and it seems like a great new location for the series. Bubbles is also clean now. So he looks the part, despite the fact he’s still living in a basement. Hopefully he can make the final step and get over what happened with Sherrod.
Episode 2 – “Unconfirmed Reports”
Bubbs, or Reginald, is one of the most interesting characters in this series. He’s finally over his drug addiction, in fact he’s been clean for over a year yet he can’t move on with his life. The reason; Sherrod. He can’t take that crucial next step until he opens up. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon because it seems he still blames himself. I love Bubbles, he remains one of the saddest characters in the show. Which is really saying something.
“McNulty? What are you doing? McNulty? STOP.” McNulty went of the deep end this time. But you can’t really blame him for once. He’s been pushed to the edge by the lack of money and low morale in the Police department and is now inventing a fake serial killer. It made perfect sense at the time. Sort of. Well he starts strangling a corpse.
AVON BARKSDALE! Avon makes his return. He’s no longer the king of the drug game, he is however king in the prison and he knows how to get Marlo in touch with Sergei. It’s so cool seeing Avon back, and he’s still the king of sorts. As I said earlier, this series really is coming full circle. Could this also mean a return of Vondas and The Greek? Well after what they did in season 2, I hope someone gives them a taste of their own medicine. But this is Baltimore after all, it won’t work out like that.
Episode 3 – “Not for Attribution”
Wha-? McNulty? WHAT? Why does he keep doing this to himself? He has a good job, a woman at home who loves him. It’s difficult to see him continually messing it up! Even his best friend Bunk says it’s a bad idea. Then again, McNulty is probably not in a good state of mind with all the alcohol he’s been drinking. It’s tough though because this is Baltimore, no one cares about the murder of a few homeless guys. Things get worse when Lester agrees with the idea and offers to help. This series is getting into some really dark places, it’s spectacular.
If I had to pick a way in which Marlo could be made even more evil I’d say; kill Butchie. Butchie the lovable blind bartender. His bar has always acted as a neutral meeting area, so it’s shocking to see him murdered and tortured there in such a violent way. It just goes to show you that Marlo really has no rules. He better die at the end of this series.
Not sure how I like the Baltimore Sun yet. I like the characters and it’s The Wire so it’s amazingly well written but nothing seems to be happening just yet. Hopefully the serial killer sub plot will make an impact on this at some point.
Episode 4 – “Transitions”
A minor character I’ve never mentioned here is Officer Anthony Colicchio. He’s been here and there in the past few seasons, but he has always been violent. This episode was no different as he dragged a commuter out of his car for getting on his nerves. He’s the ugly side of the law, the violent, aggressive nasty side of the law. That’s the thing with The Wire, good luck rooting for either side.
McNulty and Freamon try to increase the fame of their serial killer by going to speak to actual homeless people. They run into one of the stevedores from season 2; Johnny “Fifty” Spamanto, showing just how fall the union on the docks has fallen since the death of Frank Sobotka and the loss of the grain pier. Freamon uses a pair of dentures to add bite marks to the homeless victims, giving the killings the much need sexual element they need for the publicity. This is getting really weird now, I mean I get the whole “desperate times” thing but I’m with Bunk on this one. Sadly, this can only get worse.
I can’t keep going on about Marlo, about evil he is, what line he’s crossed this time. But he killed Prop Joe! Well he got Chris to do it, naturally, but still. Something bad better happen to him at the end of this season.
Episode 5 – “React Quotes”
Yay Cutty is back! Or should I say Dennis is back. He pops up in this episode to help train Dukie after he gets beaten up on the corner. He advises Dukie to perhaps walk a different path in life, his intelligence means certain doors are open to him that weren’t open years earlier.
The heat is on for Omar. The bait is in place and the trap is set but will he fall for it? Well yes actually, he does fall for it. Apparently even Omar can have his off-days. He’s almost shot to pieces and Butchie’s best man is murdered. It looks like it’s all over for Omar until he picks himself up and jumps from the third story room and, seemingly, disappears from sight. That’s Omar alright. Just goes to show you why he’s everyone’s favourite character, including Barack Obama’s.
Things get more complicated for McNulty when reporter Scott Templeton starts making up things to do with the serial killer. Luckily McNulty uses this to his advantage to get more press on the story. It’s a complicated tangled web McNulty has got himself into here. How long before they start murdering homeless people themselves?
Episode 6 – “The Dickensian Aspect”
Well Omar just up and disappeared. After his fall in the last episode, there’s no trace of him anywhere. This episode shows the beginning of Omar’s rampage. He’s not doing it for money, or drugs. It’s personal, this is revenge. And it’s terrific to watch play out. I reckon Michael K. Williams could carry a show by himself. I’d watch a series about Omar that’s for sure. He’s just so great,
We see another old face in this episode, Nick Sobotka. The port is being turned into condos, just as Frank Sobotka feared. Nick heckles the Mayor and is dragged off by Police. Upon asking who that was, Carcetti is told “That’s nobody, Mr. Mayor. That’s nobody at all.” I was right it seems about things coming full circle, it’s just sad that things haven’t worked out better for the majority of characters.
Ok, so they’re not killing homeless folk, but it’s not much better. McNulty plucks a disabled homeless man off the street, takes a picture of him and then ships him off to a homeless shelter miles out-of-town so no one will ever find him. McNulty gives the man a fake id. It’s really depressing to watch, but McNulty at least seems to be upset about it. The episode ends with McNulty looking almost ashamed by what he’s done. Hopefully it’ll be worth it.
Episode 7 – “Took”
McNulty! Wha- In this episode he pretends to be the serial killer and calls the Baltimore Sun. I go on a lot about how out of hand things have gotten, but it all makes sense. I mean, you can see how things ended up as they have. Marlo has pushed them to this, they’re not doing it to annoy the bosses or for personal gain, this is to take Marlo down. And once you see it like that, you can easily side with McNulty. It just takes someone with balls like him to actually DO it.
It’s the day of Clay Davis’s trial and he’s hired the best defense lawyer in town. We know that Clay Davis is probably the most corrupt guy in town, but he’s so charismatic. The silver-tongued Davis manages to talk his way out of the charges, mainly by playing the race card. He pretends to care about his districts best interests and the people just eat that up. Nothing’s fair in Baltimore.
On the newspaper side of things, one reporter starts getting close to Bubbs, or Reginald Cousins as he goes by now. It’s great to see someone taking an interest in Bubbs as he has such a great story to tell.
Episode 8 – “Clarifications”
NO! No. Nope. Well, that just happened. Omar just got shot in the head, by Kenard no less. Omar is unstoppable and I personally love the fact that he’s taken down so quickly and surprisingly. It’s a fitting death for a guy who’s spent his life on the street. That being said, it was still surprising. What’s great about The Wire is the way life just carries on. The war just continues. Omar’s death for me is the most shocking death I’ve seen on TV, beating even some from The Walking Dead, which loves to kill off its characters. Also, “The Red Wedding”, eat your heart out.
The newspaper side of the show becomes truly exciting in this episode. It’s never been bad (c’mon it’s The Wire. It doesn’t have bad moments) but this plot has been weaker than others throughout the series. The only really likable character is Gus and don’t even get me started on Scott Templeton. Well it looks like Gus finally has enough evidence to accuse Scott of being a liar, and he does exactly that. Hopefully Scott will get his comeuppance
Omar was one of the most entertaining characters I’ve ever seen on TV. This show has possibly been the best thing I’ve ever watched. There are only two episodes left. I don’t know what I’ll do when it ends.
Episode 9 – “Late Editions”
Things are starting to wrap up now. In this episode the Stanfield Organisation is more or less taken down. Marlo, Chris, Monk and that complete idiot Cheese are all arrested, in a very satisfying sequence which left me with a huge smile on my face. The problem is, the Police cannot declare the wiretap so they attribute it to a snitch. Malo quickly suspects Michael. Michael has been up and down in my opinion since season 4 but he has an excellent scene in this episode with Snoop. It’s on of my favourite scenes ever in the show, it’s just brilliant.
The walls are being torn down around McNulty as well, after all his lie could only last so long. The surprising thing is the way he’s found out, Greggs snitches him out. I guess she just couldn’t live with it, but I’m not sure how I feel about this. I always liked to think they were close, it’s a shame to see her be the cause of McNulty’s downfall. Over at the newspaper, I’m starting to really like the story. It’s a moment where you just want to shout at the screen, Scott might win a Pulitzer for his fabricated stories. It’s frustrating, but I can’t wait to see how it ends.
Episode 10 – “30”
So it’s over. The greatest TV show is wrapped up in an extremely satisfying way, with many elements coming full circle and all characters getting the closure they deserve. The episode started with Mayor Carcetti trying to wrap his head around what McNulty had done. It’s been clear for a while that McNulty and Freamon have been making waves in Baltimore with their lies but now it’s reached the top. But luckily, it has to be kept secret or it would ruin countless careers. Daniels is not happy with this, obviously.
It’s a shame Gus didn’t get more to do in this season. Out of everyone at The Baltimore Sun, the only characters who were really of note were Gus and Scott. Gus does work everything out and takes what he’s learnt to the higher-ups. Sadly, this gets him nothing, Scott’s story will bag him a Pulitzer, they don’t care if it’s made up. Talking of Scott, he’s been a pain in the arse all season and has been a truly horrible character sometimes, but he gets an amazing scene in this episode with McNulty. Jimmy has had enough of Scott making things up so he confronts him, telling him that the made everything up and that he knows Scott made everything up as well, and Scott looks terrified. It’s great to see that Jimmy isn’t just agreeing with Scott’s rubbish, and it’s even better to see someone finally tell Scott what they really think.
And as far as coming full circle goes, the young characters on the show soon start walking the same path as their older counterparts. Michael starts robbing, becoming the new Omar. The addict role, a la Bubbles, is sadly taken on by Dukie and Sydnor has a scene with Judge Phelan similar to McNulty’s in the first season. This doesn’t come out of nowhere, you can really believe that these characters would end up here. It shows the that the system HASN’T changed, the cycle will continue until there is some radical change.
The series ends with the theme song from season 1, with McNulty staring out over Baltimore in his old leather coat. Despite the problems that are so obvious in Baltimore, there’s still hope.
So that was final season of The Wire. Things were wrapped up expertly, and the characters met with their respective fates. We re-met with the majority of the characters of the previous seasons (like Prezbelewski, now sporting a sweet beard, above) but it felt right. It didn’t feel like we were meeting with these characters as fan service, that wouldn’t have worked on this show. A lot of people find this season to be the weakest, but I disagree. It’s not as enjoyable as my favourite season; 2, and it’s not as brilliant as season 4. But it still reaches a level most televisions shows can’t even dream of (except Breaking Bad perhaps). The newspaper section of the show isn’t as strong as previous plot lines but it’s still enjoyable, and Gus is a great character. The serial killer aspect of this series was unexpected but amazing, and Marlo was a surprisingly excellent replacement for the Barksdale clan.
I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said hundreds of times. The Wire was usually bleak, often tense and sometimes funny but it was always brilliant. I’m glad I waited to watch it now, when I can actually appreciate it. It’s incredibly intelligent and thought-provoking but not preachy. It’s an enjoyable show to watch, despite how depressing it can be. I won’t waste more time saying how great this show is, just do yourself a favour and watch the best television show of all time. The only problem is that afterwards, most shows can’t hope to compare to its brilliance.