Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things That Are Awesome: The Wire: Season 4

My brother BW and I are currently embroiled in season 4 of The Wire. IT'S SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. I think this one might be my favorite so far. Each season has focused on different aspects of the drug trade. Season 1 was mostly about the cops and the dealers and their various machinations. (Here, have this video of one of my very favorite S.1 scenes as D'Angelo Barkesdale lays out the game.) Season 2 featured, you know, more drugs but also the stevedores at the harbor and how their jobs are falling off and life sucks for everyone. (At one point, I said to BW, "Um. Will I *CARE* about Polish dockworkers at some point?" Cue to 10 episodes later when I'm weeping over Polish dockworkers.) Season 3 was more drugs and the mayoral campaign. (Season 3 was probably my least favorite season so far. But that's like choosing my least favorite kind of chocolate. No such thing!)

But, oh, Season 4, with your focus on the crumbling school districts of Baltimore. YOU ARE BREAKING MY HEART. BW assures me that I'll be weeping by the end. Gee, can't wait!

Seriously, everyone should watch this show. Volstaag, you would totally like it. Dan Mac, are you still watching?

Confidential to the email girls: Ring, ring!


EGT said...


I feel like the Polish dockworkers should go around singing "Livin' on a Prayer." I'm fairly sure that would increase the awesomeness of the show by 17,425%.

Dan Mac said...

Oh wow, you changed the layout. I like it. I read everything through rss now, so this could be months old, but it's fresh to me.

I finished Season 4 about a month ago. I'm right with you on the seasons' hierarchy; like offspring or children, one doesn't have favorites, but 4 comes in right behind 2 in my estimation, and it also raised my opinion of Season 3.

3 was slightly disappointing, in that it was missing a strong, central narrative arch. Continuing the stories of Carcetti and Bunny Colvin helps validate the happenings of Season 3, and folds it into the more cohesive narrative I was missing (and thoroughly enjoyed in the other seasons). The unceremonious end of the Barksdale empire disappoints emotionally, but if I had only one word to describe The Wire it would be integrity, and the creators' uncompromising delivery of an unvarnished view of the world is what sets the show apart. Stringer doesn't end in glory; when he goes out the world keeps right on without him. It's a powerful message, and I think the more courageous choice, than having things finish with the now cliche Scarface/Godfather/Scorcese spectacle and grandeur.

Season 4 also delivers something else previously absent: characters in whom you invest emotionally, in a sympathetic way. I grew to care about Frank Sobotka, but I wouldn't say that I was emotionally connected, or sympathetic to him, or anyone else in the series. Or say D'Angelo; I felt bad about what happened, but I wasn't exactly sad for him. In the question of "Which is the greatest show of all time? (You have only two choices.)" I had to acknowledge that Battlestar Galactica made me feel in a way that The Wire couldn't. Again, that goes to the integrity of the show's message and format, and isn't a flaw, and anyway, I wouldn't choose one show over the other unless at gun point, and then I'd prolly just flip a coin. Back on topic, in focusing on the children, The Wire finally offers characters whose trials are emotionally meaningful.

Omar at times defends his actions by asserting that he's never killed anyone not "in the game." I assume bringing innocent (to varying degrees) kids who still have a chance to escape the corners was a conscious choice, intended to operate on us emotionally. Actually, my uncle teaches in Brooklyn, and he refuses to watch The Wire because it was too close to his real life.

And I finally felt genuinely sad over a character's fate; I won't blow up who, though. Also: Weebay's back!

Holding on Season 5 for now. As I think I've said before, I despair to live in a world without The Wire.

Sorry to spill words all over your comments page. On this topic I couldn't help it.

"Lady" Bea said...

EGT: Nothing could make "Livin' On A Prayer" awesomer.

"Lady" Bea said...

Dan Mac: No, the layout change is totally new! Today, in fact. Mame and I got bored with the brooooown.

And heh, no one is capable of being succinct about "The Wire." It's too awesome. It's truly hard for me to articulate how good it is, how intricate and well-acted and brilliant.

I think you're right about Season 4 making Season 3 seem better. I always liked Bunny Colvin and I am really digging him this season. (Plus, him popping up on "Supernatural" gives me the giggles!) And I'm very proud of Prez as a character. Good for him, actually TRYING for these kids.

I also think you are spot-on about the kids in Season 4 being a more emotional "in." These poor kids. Dukie is my favorite; I just feel so terrible for him. And Michael, he's so stoic and such a natural leader. Clearly, he'll end up as the next Stringer Bell or something. NOOOOOOOOO.

If you're bummed about "The Wire" being over, my brother would recommend "The Corner." He got it recently and he's been mainlining it (Poor choice of words...) when he's not hectoring me to watch "The Wire." Did you check that out?

Volstaag said...

Jeez! I thought I was on the wrong blog. How about some warning when you're gonna do a make-over. I'll check out the Wire pilot, but it better have lots of gratuitous sex and violence.