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Review/Meta on The Wire S3 - Finale (Changing the world ain't as easy as it looks)

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We don't need to dream anymore, we have everything we wanted. - Stringer Bell to Avon Barksdale.

Then we fight the lie. -Slim

This isn't going to be that in depth, mostly impressions and stuff that stuck out for me. And done fast, because have little time tonight to write it.

* Bunny's Hamsterdam starts to get notice. Burrell not trusting the Mayor's reaction decides to back door the Mayor and go to Tommy C and let him know what's up. He's not completely wrong about the Mayor - the Mayor will most likely hang Burrell out to dry on this. But he is wrong about the Mayor's delay - it's not to provide the best spin, it's to decide if there's a way they can keep on going with the project, because Bunny's little project = legalizing drugs - is working. Actually working. So Burrell calls Tommy and tells him what's going on - hoping Tommy will rain hell on the Mayor and let Burrell off the hook. Tommy discusses it with D'Agostino, who provides excellent advice - get more information. Find out what is going on. So Tommy goes to Colvin - the source. While D'Ag tries to chat up Jimmy McNulty - who of course sees right through her, shuts up like a clam and leaves. D'Ag underestimated him - she saw the stereotype. This is a guy who solves major crimes for a living, who has worked undercover and dealt with a lot craftier people. D'Ag needs to get over her smart self. (Can you tell I don't like her? ;-) ) Tommy is more likable in how he obtains the information - providing Colvin with the chance to show him what he did. And he's struck with the nature of the problem. Colvin looks at Tommy and asks - "what do you want out of this? What's your agenda?"

Colvin can read people too.

* Later, when the whole thing falls apart, and Tommy decides to take it to the press - the Mayor is screwed and screws Burrell. Burrell wonders why it took Tommy so long, as does Rawls. But Burrell goes to the Mayor - threatens him and barters a deal. He's going to throw Colvin under the bus, and stand as a wall between the Mayor and the Council. Which works in theory except Burrell under-estimated Tommy and didn't know Tommy's agenda. So when Burrell gives his speech about it all being Colvin's fault, Tommy counters that actually what Colvin did was understandable under the circumstances and gives a rousing speech worthy of any great public speaker. Making Burrell, Rawls and Mayor Royce sweat buckets, while his friend Tony Gray is about to kill him.

* Jimmy McNulty's arc - I rather love McNulty's arc which is amongst one of the few hopeful and positive bits in the season. (He is amongst my favorite characters. I just adore him and the actor playing him - apparently I have a character type, who knew?) McNulty through a series of events begins to slowly realize he's going after the wrong things and somewhat self-destructively. As he tells Beadie Russell at the end - I've come to realize all the things that made me great at what I do, make me horrible at everything else. And what is it your good at? She asks. And he states going after that case...but going after that case didn't make him happy. He tells her that it's like he's been pouring everything he has in one glass, but that glass has a hole in the bottom of it, so it just falls out and he's never ahead. He can't win. And he's decided he has to stop pouring water into that glass.

His visit to Beadie is foreshadowed earlier when he literally does a U-Turn on the way to tracking the trail of burner phones - to say hi to a female cop that he mistakes for Beadie Russell in a cop car. And then again in not one but two painful dinner conversations with D'Agostino who first uses him for sex and then wants to pump him for information, treating him like a whore - which he realizes his been acting a bit like for some time now. I've got no better place to be than the Wire - he tells Lester in Slapstick - the same episode where Peryz kills a cop by accident.

So when Beadie asks him to come in for a drink, he surprises her and says not tonight, but I'd like to come in and meet your kids. In short - I want a long term relationship with you, not a short term one.

Later he goes to Daniels - who says, look it was a great case, you were right about that, but I have to be able to trust the people working for me -

McNulty - Fair enough, Thanks. But...this isn't for me any longer. I need to do something else. It's not you. It's me.

And he tells Daniels the place for him is The Western which is now run under Bunny's right hand man, the real Jaye Landsman (can't remember the character's name - it's a nice inside joke - since the Wire series started with McNulty under the character Jaye Landsman, the Wire is filled with these nice bits of irony, which I adore.). He wants to become a beat cop. The Western is his home. He was happiest there. Happiest as a beat cop.

McNulty takes Lester's advice finally and lets the case go. It's over and he let's it lie and moves on.

This in a way is all brought about by Stringer Bell's death. RIP Stringer. Stringer was the reason McNulty persued the case. Stringer was his nemesis, his Moriarty. The villain he could never put down. When Stringer dies, Lester asks Greggs how McNulty took it. Greggs responds - like he was kin. Avon Barksdale just isn't Stringer. "I caught him! I finally caught him on tape -" McNulty tells Bunk, "And he didn't even know it!"

Stringer's relationship with McNulty is an interesting one. Stringer - another piece of foreshadowing- calls McNulty - Officer not Detective. McNulty corrects him. Ironically he becomes Officer McNulty again. And when McNulty and Bunk search Stringer's place - McNulty asks...who in the fuck was I chasing...? Because Stringer isn't what he thought at all.

Later over drinks at the railroad tracks, after he takes a piss, McNulty tells Bunk that he's tired. Tired of all of it.

* Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale. Their relationship is tragic. Both want separate things as evidenced by their last conversation. Stringer wants to go legit, to take the game on the road above and beyond. Avon...Avon wants to do what they did before, to dream. Stringer says there's no need to dream anymore - they have it all.

It's not quite clear who sells who out first. Stringer sells out Avon to the cops, because he can't keep his pack with the other leaders any longer. Avon is declaring war on Marlo and won't back off and let it just be business. Stringer's last act is to give Colvin the location of Avon's safe house. The police realize it is Stringer because they've tapped Stringer's cell in a way Stringer can't anticipate - they tapped the signal not the phone itself - and therefore know he has been calling Colvin. He gives Colvin the intell because as he tells Colvin - "you're trying to do the same thing I am, make sense of this game" or rather turn chaos into order. Make it safe and not violent. Just business. What Wallace and D'Angelo once dreamed of.

I don't like Stringer and I do not for one minute think he is right. He hurt others for his own gain with little remorse if any. And he cared for no one outside of maybe Avon...and in the end he turned Avon in to the cops, not knowing what Avon was up to. Granted he was trying to make the Game less violent, more business. But when crossed, he continued to play gangster. There's a hilarious bit between him and Avon in episode 10 where Stringer wants to kill State Senator Clay Davis, and Avon talks him out of it. Also Stringer put out the hit on Omar, and set Omar up. He okayed the hit on Omar when he was leaving church with his Grandmother. And least we not forget, it was Stringer who ordered Poot and Bodie to kill Wallace and Stringer who killed D'Angelo. So, I did not weep for him. Nor was I surprised he was killed - even if I hadn't accidentally gotten spoiled on it - I saw it coming, that was set up in S2. I actually found the whole bit where he died and afterwards rather funny.

Avon - oddly, I felt a bit more sympathy for. He's caught. He'd hired Brother Mouzone to pull people off his territory because Stringer didn't communicate the deal with Prop Joe to him very well.

Stringer and PRop Joe send Omar after Mouzone...who Omar doesn't kill because he figures out that they set him up. Omar tries to back off of them. But Stringer won't let it go. Mouzone comes back into town and hunts down Omar, beating up Omar's boy (geeze, it's dangerous to be involved with Omar on any level isn't it?), and finally confronts Omar in a scene right out of a classic gangster movie or Western...I'm thinking Sergio Leone meets Francis Ford Coppola. (Remember what I said about all these guys in their 30-40s having studied the same films?) Omar is wearing a long black trench-coat, so I'm also reliving Buffy at this point - as Omar does a mean Spike imitiation (except I think I like McNulty's better). We don't see what he tells Mouzone, but we can guess - because Mouzone goes to Avon and basically states - I don't want money, I want vengeance and not on Omar but on who sent Omar. Avon realizes it was the Prop Joe Package. And tries to discourage Mouzone, but Mouzone makes it clear it's either him, String, or his business. Guess who Avon picked? (That's not why I felt sympathy for him.)

What made me feel a smidgen of sympathy for Avon is how he agrees to help Cutty (Denis) who comes to him for help funding the gym. Avon agrees - and gives him $15,000. Watching Cutty struggle with the gym is a beautiful thing. He's fighting for his own redemption. He went down the road of violence and he's trying to save others from it. Avon appreciates the effort and hugs Cutty as does Avon's associate.

But in the end - Avon and Stringer do each other in. Avon tells Omar and Mouzone where Stringer is. Stringer is trapped. He can't get out. And there's nothing he can say to dissuade them. They ripple him with bullets execution style. Bunk - who comes on the scene much later, tells McNulty afterwards that he knows it was Omar or Omar was involved. It's the same casings. McNulty isn't so sure - doesn't seem to be Omar's style. While Omar for his part - throws his gun into the river at the end of the episode, clearly done or just getting rid of evidence. Avon does feel remorse for this. He tells Slim that he doesn't care. Not any more. What's the point of corners? There's no war. It's a lie. Marlo didn't kill String, it had nothing to do with Marlo. Slim responds - but we are in a war already Avon, if it's a lie then we fight the lie, we continue to fight, no matter what.

Meanwhile Stringer tells the cops where to get Avon - and they get him. Enough to put him away for a while - might even be able to add the charge of conspiracy to commit murder - since Stringer was the source of info on the Warrant and Stringer was obviously killed - a nice ironic circle , since in the beginning what made McNulty go after Stringer was he killed a witness. McNulty makes Avon read the Warrant and see Stringer's name and Avon has the same shell-shocked expression that Stringer did when he realized Avon sent Mouzone and Omar after him. Betrayal. By a best friend. A painful thing. Few things more painful than that.

And unlike the last time he went to prison - he doesn't have stringer, he doesn't have his organization, he doesn't have his sister...instead he has his new rival Marlo smiling at him.
No war. Stringer got his wish, oddly enough.

Very satisfying ending for a noir tv show.

* The tragedy of the piece is Bunny, who tried to make things different. He gets royally screwed. Loses John Hopkins, loses his Major's pension - thrown back to Lt., and his vacation saved up. It's the only way he can save the people beneath him. Rawls and Burrell are as selfish creatures who will chew your ass to save their own. Carcietti is not wrong when he states that it is those at the top, the system to blame, not people like Colvin who tried, albeit inappropriately to make it better.
Bunny is my hero.

And it is a comedy of errors in a way - a deft examination of what would happen if you legalized drugs. And why we don't. Not simple by a long shot. It's not unlike smoking. Sure it kills people. But if people choose to go that route? Let them. Preventing it, making it illegal just kills more people.

S3 is far less preachy than S2, more show than tell, and comical at times. Herc can't handle what Bunny does. And is happy at Bunny's downfall. But Carver, Greggs, McNulty all see the reasons he did it. Carver and McNulty expecially. Carver's arc mirrors McNulty's in a way - he stays with the Western and at the end he's visiting the gym with the kids and Cutty.

* Perez or Pryzwb tells Lester - he probably was never meant for this job anyhow. That the charge against him, an administrative charge - easy enough to overcome - is for failure to communicate that he is a police officer. And Lester asks and I love this line - "What were you supposed to do instead?"
The Lester/Perez relationship I adore.

Interestingly enough - the only one of Avon's crew not to get caught was Bodie. Bodie stays alive.

* Daniels gets his promotion, finally. Major Daniels. And the girl - Rhonda Pearlman. As they have sex, we see Cutty punching his bag - having lost his boxers to the corners again, but he fights to get them back - to bring them back to the gym. He follows his old boxing coach's advice - what you have to do is not give up on them. Show them that you are always in their corner. That you won't give up. I like Daniels a lot, but he didn't solve this case and for a while he did his damnedest to block it. That said - he and Pearlmen worked hard to get the wire tap. And he did support his unit. He reminds me a lot of my current boss actually. He even sort of looks like him - which is a bit distracting. (Current Boss isn't as attractive thank god and a shade lighter in color, just a shade). But the soft spoken manner (I need close captioning for Daniels alone) and the support - yep that's my boss. Even the bits I don't like about Daniels - yep my boss. Good thing I like my boss well enough or I couldn't watch this show. In short Ricky Gervais in The Office is evil boss, Lance Reddick in The Wire is good boss.

* Finally, Bubbles - who tells Colvin life was good with Hamsterdam. He was selling t-shirts, people left them alone. Now Bubbles has a new boy helping him, they hunt old metal and sell it. Bubbles is a scavenger, who takes in strays. I adore him but I don't see a happy end for him.

Overall? A rating. Solid A. Everything held together. Sure it was slow at times and I admittedly wondered what the McNulty/D'Ag bit was going - but it fit with the larger themes and arcs. The whole thing worked for me.