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The Wire Virgin Diary – Sometimes things gotta play hard

My review of the first season of 'The Wire' comes to a close. Will the valiant men and women of the Baltimore PD - all six of them - be successful in their endeavor to take down Barksdale's crew?

My Virgin Diary for the first season of The Wire is coming to a close. I don’t always end up enjoying the shows I take on for these columns during the summer, but I’ve really dug The Wire. I’m not convinced it’s the greatest show of all time just yet, but I hear it gets even better in future seasons. Speaking of future seasons, I’m probably going to take next week off – to recover from Comic-Con – before I start in on the second season.

Episode 11: “The Hunt”

The aftermath of the attempt on Kima’s life was felt all throughout Baltimore, but most to the people who were closest to her. McNulty blaming himself was a natural – though obviously incorrect – reaction. It lead to one of my favorite moments in the series thus far: in the hospital following his reaction to hearing the recording of the shooting, it’s Rawls who sits him down. I’ve always hated Rawls; basically he’s not a bad cop, just an incredibly selfish one. In this moment, his was the voice of reason: if Rawls who hates McNulty – and his work as a part of the detail – can withhold blame, then he should snap out of it.

Cheryl and Bubbles had a much different relationship with Kima than McNulty did. The moment where Cheryl touched Kima’s highlighter stain was heartbreaking, as was the awkward moment when the commissioner wouldn’t speak to her at the hospital. Bubbles, though, has the potential to have it the worst. Setting aside the tune up he took from the homicide detective, the twenty that McNulty gave him represents his potential relapse. I still don’t think Bubbles makes it out of this season alive.

Barksdale’s crew had to move in to overdrive when they realized who was in the back of Orlando’s car. D’Angelo’s fear of being shot was another great moment. I’m not sure why he thought he was in danger; Bodie can talk all he wants, but D’Angelo had nothing to do with the hit on Orlando.

Episode 12: “Cleaning Up”

I’m thankful that “Cleaning Up” wasn’t the end of this first season; there was a definite feel of closure, even though nothing was actually closed. I’m curious how the narrative structure will work in the final episode.

I was interested in the introduction of D’Angelo’s mother; she dressed down Avon pretty hard. More importantly, she was right. D’Angelo should have never been put in that position; it’s not to say that he’s overly important to the operation, but if Stringer and Avon are having some trust issues – obvious by the way Wallace was taken out without D being involved – then why put him in a position to get caught. Unless, of course, he wanted D to get picked up, but I can’t thing of any logical way to explain how that would work.

I hated that Kima was so little of a part of this episode. Sure, Wallace’s story really was the emotional center of everything that happened in “Cleaning Up,” and I wouldn’t want to take away from that, but it seemed like she was almost forgotten after the first scene with McNulty in the hospital.

The political connections to this story have been slow to develop, but in these final episodes, they’re becoming more important. As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s interesting that the State’s Attorney fell over himself to put distance between the money, while the Senator tried – and failed – to wield power over Daniels. I’m very interested to see where this side of the story goes.

Episode 13: “Sentencing”

I’m not sure what I expected from the season finale, but that wasn’t it. I didn’t expect everything to get wrapped up in a nice little bow; The Wire is supposed to be a smarter show than that. I guess I thought Barksdale’s crew would be taken down, only for someone else to move right in and take over, furthering the whole idea that when you take down one organization, another is waiting to fill its place.

Instead, we got a whole lot of crap. Because D’Angelo let his mother whip him into shape, the real depth and breadth of the case went away, and it sounds like very few people will be doing serious time. Surely We-bay will be in jail forever, but even his deal feels like a cop out.

That being said, I completely understand why the story went the way that it did. The Wire is a smarter show, and wrapping everything up wouldn’t have fit with the ethos of the show. I guess I’d just hoped for a little more than what we got. At the end of the day, nothing was changed by the work of the detail, but I guess that’s the greater point.


Photo Credit: HBO

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One Response to “The Wire Virgin Diary – Sometimes things gotta play hard”

July 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Yeah, it’s not a show about justice or good guys taking down bad guys. It’s really a show about how the systems in place work (or more often than not, how they don’t). As the show moves forward, it isn’t just the police system, either.

With that being said, prepare yourself for a different flavor in season two. There is a pretty big shift in focus, though it’s not a complete shift. The change is a little jarring (or it was for me, at least), but it’s one of my favorite seasons in retrospect.

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