FA MOUS LAST WORDS

THE WIRE (2008)

Crime Scene - - CONTENTS - By AN­DRE PAINE

The Wire’s mon­tage end­ing.

Some shows end with a bang, oth­ers with a whim­per. Af­ter five com­pelling and often bleak sea­sons, The Wire’s fi­nale got it right. As a fea­ture-length con­clu­sion to one of the most ac­claimed TV shows of all time, the clos­ing episode had to be some­thing spe­cial. Creator David Si­mon’s mas­ter­stroke was an end se­quence that felt like a sep­a­rate mini-series com­pressed into five min­utes. As dis­graced cop and boozy phi­lan­derer Jimmy Mcnulty (Do­minic West) con­tem­plates the Bal­ti­more sky­line, a mon­tage re­veals the fates of char­ac­ters you’ve lived with over 60 episodes.

Si­mon cre­ated a series that her­alded a new Golden Age of tele­vi­sion. A for­mer news­pa­per re­porter, his drama had the rev­e­la­tory im­pact of rig­or­ous long-form jour­nal­ism. The grimly re­al­is­tic por­trayal of Bal­ti­more was also a mi­cro­cosm of the Amer­i­can city in the early 21st cen­tury. The Wire ex­plored the war on drugs, pol­i­tics, law en­force­ment and the fad­ing power of the print news me­dia.

In the fi­nal episode, the city in­sti­tu­tions have be­come in­creas­ingly cor­rupt. The

“The ex­tended mon­tage shows who’s up and who’s down ”

am­bi­tious Mayor Carcetti (Ai­dan Gillen) is col­lud­ing with the po­lice on a cover-up over the so-called Red Rib­bon Killer and de­mand­ing a set of dodgy crime sta­tis­tics. Mean­while, the city’s news­pa­per is de­scend­ing into fake news de­spite the protes­ta­tions of a se­nior jour­nal­ist. Ac­com­pa­nied by the theme song, “Way Down In The Hole”, the ex­tended mon­tage shows who’s up and who’s down in the world of The Wire. It’s de­press­ing – if re­al­is­tic – view­ing as the pow­er­ful pros­per, while the weak in­vari­ably suf­fer.

Even more wor­ry­ing is the sense of a new gen­er­a­tion fol­low­ing the same crim­i­nal path. Drug ban­dit Omar (Michael K. Wil­liams) is no longer on the scene, though young thug Michael (Tris­tan Wilds) looks set to fol­low his ca­reer of armed raids on fel­low crim­i­nals. Dukie (Jermaine Craw­ford) is slid­ing into ad­dic­tion, while drug dealer Marlo Stan­field (Jamie Hec­tor) is re­luc­tant to go le­git­i­mate. But there are signs of hope: the home­less Bub­bles (An­dre Royo) has kicked drugs and been wel­comed into his sis­ter’s fam­ily home.

De­spite his ef­fec­tive­ness, Mcnulty’s out of the homi­cide squad as a re­sult of his Red Rib­bon Killer scam: fab­ri­cat­ing mur­ders in­volv­ing dead home­less peo­ple in or­der to in­crease po­lice re­sources. He re­ceives the tra­di­tional send-off for de­tec­tives who leave be­fore re­tire­ment – a boozy mock wake. This episode ends with him track­ing down the va­grant he dis­placed while fak­ing the se­rial killer case. “Let’s go home,” says Mcnulty, who you hope has fi­nally con­quered his de­mons.

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