February 4, 2008

Season Five, Episode Five

So many aspects of Season Five of The Wire are developing a similar pattern. For this final season, David Simon is struggling with an issue that every other great show before his struggled with...How on earth do I end this thing? There have been many clunkers from which to get ideas from: the Seinfeld final episode that ended in prison, the Sopranos cut to black cliffhanger, and the golden retriever wedding on Punky Brewster. So here we are, halfway through the final season and what have we learned? That Marlo is officially the man in the Baltimore drug trade, and that the police have no funds to stop him. That Jimmy can’t keep it together for more than a year, and that he’s letting it affect his “work.” We’ve also learned that Carcetti can’t get anything done and already has a foot out the door of the Mayoral Mansion.

Five hours, and all we have for it are the themes that this season's previews told us about months ago. I’m way past the stage of wishing for a big shoot-‘em-up finale, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some resolution to the patterns we have seen develop over the years. Can Baltimore be saved in the manner of many urban renewals lately, i.e., Chicago, New York, DC? Will the police ever stay serious about fighting crime for longer than a few months? And for me, will McNulty and Omar be the next presidential ticket to announce for ’08.

That being said, this was a solid episode, not because of the major themes that we have grown to love, but for the focus on Duquan and his plight. He’s fighting for his life and in just this episode he looks to two ways out, that if you know Dukie, would never work. The idea of him shooting someone in the street or fighting them off with his fists is at best sad. By the end of the episode he is resigned to staying in Baltimore unless he can find another way out. He asks Cutty what he can do about it and Cutty tells him there’s a world beyond Baltimore and that Dukie is smart enough to find it. To this a confused Duquan responds, “How do you get from here to the rest of the world?” Simple exchanges like this are what drove the show in the past. Now they are few and far between.

If Dukie and Cutty provided us the most subtle moment of the night, then Omar provided us with the biggest proof yet that David Simon has one other problem with this fifth and final season. Season four was so great, that there was almost no way to top it. How could there be better writing than last year? Or more in depth characters? So far Simon’s way of topping his previous efforts is by crafting everything into the television equivalent of a Wrestle Mania steel cage match. To recap: Jimmy is “biting” dead homeless men, Clay davis drew out his famous Shiiiiit to about seven seconds and five syllables, and lastly Omar’s latest feat. Omar has always been a little untouchable, but last night we got a tast of Omar the superhero. In a firefight that took place in a two room apartment with six people, Omar managed not only survive all of the hundred or so bullets fired at him, but he somehow jumps through a fourth story window and “flies” away. Chris, Snoop and Michael look over the balcony with disbelief and the episode fades out with a final shot of Omar’s sign, a great sawed off shotgun, casting its shadow on the clouds above.

This scene makes me want to do something drastic. There will be no Omar’s wisdom this week, because he was too stupid to know that the apartment was an ambush. He never made mistakes like this before, but now that Simon needs a superhero we get a reckless move, and a flying killer in a capelike trench coat.

In regard to last week’s post, I have a big update on Marlo. He smiles again in episode five. When he gets the go ahead from The Greek to exclusively sell his heroine he grinningly tells Chris that he feels like his has a crown on his head. One way or another, this new gleeful Marlo will definitely go down this season.

Another o-fer on last night’s quote. At least it was from a major character. When Gus tells Templeton to canvas the homeless for react quotes he tells him, “Just ‘cause they’re in the street doesn’t mean they lack opinions.” Not bad.


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