If animal trapped call 410-844-6286

ep50_bodie_01

Wire: we waiting
So, belatedly, I caught up with the final two episodes of Season Four of The Wire. I half-recall mentioning that I quite like this programme, so I won’t do it again. (Everyone’s at it now. Pundits saying it’s better than The Sopranos are ten a penny. But it’s still only showing on FX, so no amount of chatter can actually elevate it to the mainstream. Let’s hope they get this one out of DVD soon. It doesn’t appear to be listed, yet.) Needless to say, this season has been elegaic, moving, funny, at times more violent than any previous season (especially the death of Bug’s father), and deftly balanced between police, the corners, the Mayor’s office and (new thrill!) Edward Tilghman Middle School, where co-creator Ed Burns’ experience as an ex-cop schoolteacher could finally come into play. You wonder if he’s Prez, or Colvin, as both went from the police to the public school system. He’s probably both.

I must say it’s been weird, and not necessarily in a good way, watching this season with a gap of seven days beween each episode. Having watched all the other three in binges, sometimes three or four at a time, and certainly one a day until the end of the box was reached, it made Four a langorous experience, somewhat disconnected. I’ll be honest, I was glad of FX’s “previously on” catch-ups, so labyrinthine and subtle is the plotting of The Wire. You don’t get standard cliffhangers or denouements on this show.

The final episode, directed by Ernest Dickerson, story by the guv’nors, David Simon and Ed Burns, teleplay by David Simon, was called Final Grades (the 50th episode, and a fitting half-century). So much happened (and do I need to point out that I’ll be running through a few SPOILERS?), it would be foolhardy to relate it all, but among the more poignant beats were: Jay Landsman blowing his top as Lester’s tenaciousness at the boarded up vacants, as he uncovers a potential homecoming parade of lime-sprinkled John Does (we later see a sheet of paper added to the bottom of the whiteboard, so many are there), then finding redemption with his sensitive handling of the Bubbles case. The man has a heart under all that blubber. You could see it when he patiently dabbed off Bubbles’ vomit in the men’s room.

The school gymnasium where the body bags were eventually laid out after Lester’s excavations (the nail gun was the key – and didn’t we see it in Episode One?) became a haunting mausoleum, and not a coincidence that this was a school building, with echoes of the Middle School. Daniels even nail-gunned this point home by saying he used to attend this school. It’s so circular. The Major Crimes Unit is back up and running, and guess who’s come back to the fold? McNulty, done with “drinking and whoring” and ready to attack the Marlo investigation with a clear head. We later see Bubbs in a “soft walls” hospital, being visited by NA buddy Steve Earle, but his cold turkey from what he accidentally did to Sherrod will take some time to sweat out.

Prop Joe finds his back against the wall (which still means his stomach is far out in the street), and has to give up his drug connection to Marlo after Omar steals the package. Here, we get a Season Two flashback as the Greek is seen, down by the docks, too, judging by the background noise. The Wire does have a sentimental streak. Omar, meanwile, becomes a default drug dealer, selling back the shipment he jacked at “20 cents on the dollar”. Joe’s affronted nephew Cheese (aka Method Man) says he’s going to “kill him twice.” Carver seeks redemption by attempting to foster Randy, to prevent the “snitch bitch” going into a group home, but he fails, and is last seen punching his steering wheel, as Randy meets more rough justice. “You tried.”

The sense of tragedy that grew out of the sense of hope and a new semester at the Middle School was palpable. Randy, so cocksure with his chocolate and hall passes at the beginning of the Season, ends up in a home, a punchbag. Michael proves to be the corner version of Michael Corleone, the white sheep who goes black (as it were), seen, under the instructional wing of Chris Paltrow (the most innocuously named vicious assassin in West Baltimore) and the boy/girl Snoop, who are finally arrested by Bunk and Greggs for their twilight nail-gun activities. Education comes in many forms. Duquan graduates to High School, where the brand of his backpack might just ensure his alientation. The corner is his only option. Namond fares better, being taken under the wing of Bunny Colvin. (The final shot is of the pleasant, upscale suburb he now calls home.)

A sad end for Bodie, too, who’s been there since the start. I had to look this up, but the idyllic place were Bodie and McNulty ate shit food was Northwest Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum. Another reference back to Season One when “them little bitches on the chessboard” are explained to be pawns. Remember D’Angelo’s lecture on the rules of chess? So long ago now. And what a poetic moment, when Omar collects his clock, repaired by Prop Joe, and we all hear it tick. Someone’s heart is still beating. Even Wee-Bey, incarcerated at Jessup, comes good, giving his blessing to Colvin’s effective adoption of his son, who will never be a soldier. Prez, such a failure as a police, finds that his class have slightly improved their “math” and reading scores in those demoralising, dehumanising tests. He’s found his spiritual home. “Got a pretty good education, now that I think on it,” is Cedric’s remark that resonates. Look at him now.

The finale was, I’m almost embarrassed to say, a musical montage, but it worked, because this is The Wire, and I guess they didn’t even know for sure if there’d be a Season Five when they shot it, so some wrapping up was required. (With, of course, Marlo still at large and the unit back in business, just in case.) Again, I’ve looked it up, and the tune was Paul Weller’s version of Dr. John’s Walk On Gilded Splinters, a huge honour for our boy, I’d say. Cutty’s back at the gym, Herc attends his Internal Investigation hearing in uniform, Pearlman and Daniels break bread with Carcetti as State Sen. “Clay” Davis and the ostrachised Burrell watch from another booth (symbolic of the turning political wheels). It’s a classic, almost soppy ending.

On points, while I was watching it, I’d called Season Four the most satisfying, and the most diverse, but I’ll always harbour a soft spot for Season Two, because it was so daringly different to Season One. Anyone still not up to speed has plenty of time in which to complete this task. Season Five’s a long way off. FX are showing it from the beginning, every episode, if you have access to the channel – which, as far as I can work out, is otherwise filled with Nash Bridges.

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18 thoughts on “If animal trapped call 410-844-6286

  1. I can’t read that entry as I’m saving season 4 for a marathon over a weekend.I was looking through the posts raised at the end of last year, for some music recommendations, and found the following:”I’m sure I’ll get back to The Wire, but it certainly didn’t change my life as the first episode of The Sopranos did, or the first episode of Six Feet Under, or the first episode of The West Wing, all of which had their hooks in me by the first ad break. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare. But people do rave about it. And I’m not raving yet.”I think you’re raving now!?

  2. I can’t read that entry as I’m saving season 4 for a marathon over a weekend.I was looking through the posts raised at the end of last year, for some music recommendations, and found the following:”I’m sure I’ll get back to The Wire, but it certainly didn’t change my life as the first episode of The Sopranos did, or the first episode of Six Feet Under, or the first episode of The West Wing, all of which had their hooks in me by the first ad break. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare. But people do rave about it. And I’m not raving yet.”I think you’re raving now!?

  3. Another amazing year. The real heartbreak of the last episode was Bubbles and Brodie, neither of which deserved it.I loved Landsman seeing the board as he walked in and deciding that Lester was “a Vandal, a Hun, a Visigoth at the gate clamouring for blood!” Still, reading “Rawls sucks xxxx” on the bathroom wall cheered him up some.

  4. Another amazing year. The real heartbreak of the last episode was Bubbles and Brodie, neither of which deserved it.I loved Landsman seeing the board as he walked in and deciding that Lester was “a Vandal, a Hun, a Visigoth at the gate clamouring for blood!” Still, reading “Rawls sucks xxxx” on the bathroom wall cheered him up some.

  5. I think the difference between Sopranos and The Wire is their style. Sopranos goes for a heightened reality that includes music, flashbacks and dreams etc while The Wire doesn’t use any incidental music whatsoever, which makes it feel very real, and it takes a while to fully grasp the pace and story line. I always say, give it 4 eps, if you’re not hooked by then, well, it’s your loss.

  6. I think the difference between Sopranos and The Wire is their style. Sopranos goes for a heightened reality that includes music, flashbacks and dreams etc while The Wire doesn’t use any incidental music whatsoever, which makes it feel very real, and it takes a while to fully grasp the pace and story line. I always say, give it 4 eps, if you’re not hooked by then, well, it’s your loss.

  7. Well spotted, Valentine, re: my initial shrug at the first episode of The Wire. I make no bones about these things. I also disliked Curb Your Enthusiasm on first viewing. Now I revere it. Just goes to show: never trust first impressions. Context is everything. I watched the first episode of The Wire on my laptop, not on the telly, and that made a difference, I think. Also, it’s just possible that the constant badgering on here put me on the front foot.

  8. Well spotted, Valentine, re: my initial shrug at the first episode of The Wire. I make no bones about these things. I also disliked Curb Your Enthusiasm on first viewing. Now I revere it. Just goes to show: never trust first impressions. Context is everything. I watched the first episode of The Wire on my laptop, not on the telly, and that made a difference, I think. Also, it’s just possible that the constant badgering on here put me on the front foot.

  9. Great post Andrew, can’t wait for Season 5 either. And you do know what the subject matter of said season will be don’t you? That’s right: the media. Sharpen that pencil…

  10. Great post Andrew, can’t wait for Season 5 either. And you do know what the subject matter of said season will be don’t you? That’s right: the media. Sharpen that pencil…

  11. Sorry for posting off-topic, but just to let you know that Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions is on Channel 5 tonight at 11pm. Radio Times doesn’t give it a very good critique though.

  12. Sorry for posting off-topic, but just to let you know that Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions is on Channel 5 tonight at 11pm. Radio Times doesn’t give it a very good critique though.

  13. I’m a bit late to the party. I’ve not seen any of The Wire yet, having been catching up with 24 on DVD. DVD and hard drive recorder are my chosen delivery for TV now, for the reason expressed on your blog, Andrew – impatience! I can’t wait a whole week anymore for the next episode, and often put in a three episode session on a Sunday morning when my wife goes out running.My friend finally lent me season1 of The Wire. Region 1, of course. My multi-region DVD player? In the skip. Still, it was only £39 from Amazon, so it’s cheaper to get another one than repair it. Throw-away society? us? surely not…Stephen C

  14. I’m a bit late to the party. I’ve not seen any of The Wire yet, having been catching up with 24 on DVD. DVD and hard drive recorder are my chosen delivery for TV now, for the reason expressed on your blog, Andrew – impatience! I can’t wait a whole week anymore for the next episode, and often put in a three episode session on a Sunday morning when my wife goes out running.My friend finally lent me season1 of The Wire. Region 1, of course. My multi-region DVD player? In the skip. Still, it was only £39 from Amazon, so it’s cheaper to get another one than repair it. Throw-away society? us? surely not…Stephen C

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