Monday, February 25, 2008
The Wire, episode 59: "Late Editions"
Like Randall Cunningham in 1998, the fifth season of HBO's "The Wire" is having a resurgence at it nears the end. It started off strong, hit a lull in the middle, but now it's finishing in splendid fashion with the instant classics that were the last two episodes. Omar's death at the hands of Kenard in ep. 58 shook up the world (or at least the message boards), and 59 manged to top it in terms of sheer quality and number of memorable moments.
Marlo's "My name is my name" speech channeled Michael Corleone in "The Godfather," the quiet Don unleashing a strong burst of emotion. It was a showstopper; the camera pans in on Marlo, and any excess sound in the jail that could take away from the moment ceases. All we see or hear is him and his unprecedented anger. Jamie Hector has played the role with frightening, calculating control and hushed wickedness; this marked the first time that we had ever heard Marlo raise his voice. Those 30 seconds belong on the resume, Mr. Hector. At 1A.
Snoop's murder at the hands of Michael also resonated, deep on a number of different levels. Betrayal, truth, tenderness - it was all there. And Snoop's soldier-style exit might end up immortalizing her highly detestable character; all gangster's want to go out like that. When you live the life that she lived, and you do the deeds that she did, death is not only expected, but easily accepted. She knew it was her time to go and she was at peace with it. The game is the game.
Finally, we had Mike, now marked for death, dropping Bug off at an aunt's house and leaving Dukie to a life on the streets. I consider "The Wire" to be an American tragedy, and these were the two most tragic scenes to date. Bug has now lost both his nanny and the only true parent he's ever known; the tears that ran down his cheeks as he said his final goodbye's was enough to make a grown man cry. Even stoic, hardened Mike almost lost it. Dukie has now lost his best friend (and really, we all need friends like Michael), and as Bubs nears a full recovery, he is just beginning to enter the abyss of homelessness and likely addiction. When he tries to reminisce with Mike about the time the crew launched a urine balloon attack on the Terrace Boys in the Season 4 premiere, he's left hanging; Mike tells him he doesn't remember. At 14, Michael's already forgotten what it was like to be a kid. Some sad shit.
This was an iconic episode with multiple iconic scenes, on par with the penultimate episode of "The Sopranos." It was dark and exceedingly depressing, the very epitome of what "The Wire" is all about. Absolutely brilliant.
And now we're down to the last one. How will it end? What will be the fate of McNulty, Marlo, Templeton, etc? Us On Demanders will have to wait two weeks to find out. The finale will NOT be airing a week early. You know it's true what they say, life really isn't fair.