The Wire S5

Jul 14, 2013 12:56

The season's plot being built on a house of lies is apropos. The whole thing about The Wire is that it's so very close to reality. Those stories, similar ones, even more dramatic and heartrending ones, but we don't hear about them because reality is raw and messy and lacking in tidy arcs and clever foreshadowing. The only way to fund the real investigations is to make up a fake one; the only way to get people to care about the homeless is to make up fake homeless people, as if there aren't enough of them in the world to speak for themselves; the only way to give us a sociology lesson is to write an HBO series.

This is breathtakingly bold storytelling, IMO more than anything the show has ever done. In narratives both real and fictional (and those in the spectrum between them), there's the privilege of presumed impartiality. We suspend some level of disbelief and accept that our little window into the world is flat and clear, even though we know it could be wildly and intentionally distorted or even just the lens for glasses the storytellers honestly don't realize they need. So to pop that out of the camera and show it to the viewer, and let us decide for ourselves how accurate it is, shows an incredible amount of confidence in the narrative and the audience alike. It's a cool narrative risk, but also a pretty intense personal one, IMO, because I don't think storytellers necessarily know what their themes are saying about them, even before exposing the angle they're coming from. Even the best storytellers are just aware that there's stuff they don't know they're saying. So to give such an intense, multifaceted criticism of an institution full of authorial avatars, who are in and of themselves storytellers who the narrative contends get too much trust, is fantastically impressive.

But it's also relevant to the series' mission to show us the drug war and its casualties. The stories you think you know, they have narrators who are unreliable for these reasons. I think it's also about the difficulty Simon must have had in getting this story out into the world. The cases that get attention are the sexualized thrill-kills, the CSIs and SVUs. McNulty ultimately creates a story along the lines that the people in power expect to see. Marlo and associates have 22 bodies on them and are actual serial killers. But they know to do it subtly, so nobody will bother dealing with them. And you can watch McNulty flail over his head, but also just be shocked, at how the men being KILLED isn't enough - hell, them just being DEAD when they didn't have to be should be enough. No, he has to give these increasingly salacious details which get progressively more and more difficult to deliver.

McNulty became my favorite of the season and you know exactly when: when he crossed himself and then snapped the neck on his first body. Because it's so obviously  a self-destruct thing and you know it's going to collapse somehow or other - but I still get it. Career suicide, but with almost a happy ending, as his non-wake at the end shows him surviving and laughing. I was pretty fond of Freamon from the very beginning, but I think my favorite moment for him was when he sits down and gives Jimmy the "if it's worth doing it's worth doing right" talk. I absolutely love how Jimmy's own addictions of alcohol and adrenaline keep him in the game, particularly paralleled with the way Kima comes full-circle and ends up with the family she wasn't ready for back in S1.

Dukie broke my heart, as much sense as it made. I thought his arc was incredibly realistic. It's a totally believable angle from which to view the housewife vulnerability problem. Even though Michael really does have the best of intentions, and even though Dukie really is much better suited to caregiving than dealing (particularly since he's hopeless at violence), it's completely dependent on that which isn't dependable. And Dukie doesn't have any sort of support network, so he just turns inward and starts insulating himself from the pain of the world. Dukie is someone who's been failed by everyone around him - his family, Michael, even his buddy he met in the shoestore who can't help him get a job. By the end I don't think he was really hitting Prez up for money, so much as, he was giving the world one last chance for someone to step in and give him a place. But no one did, and so he turns inward and starts trying to escape with the high.

I was so surprised and pleased to see how many stories ended on a hopeful note. McNulty is dead; long live Jimmy. Namond's got a future as an activist. Rhonda and Cedric are happy and successful. Bubbles' story this season was particularly poignant - the way he thinks he deserves to have HIV and be a pariah because he's so used to being on the outside, but actually, he seems to be on a path to a good life.

So anyway, wow, perfect show.
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the wire

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