Some thoughts on The Wire, season 5

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 07, 2008

NOTE: don’t read any further if you haven’t watched episode 6 of The Wire’s 5th season. SPOILERS.

I’ve been meaning to write a post on my thoughts about season 5 of The Wire but luckily Heaven and Here beat me to much of what I was thinking. The highlights:

Too many characters, too many stories, too much telling and not enough time for showing, which is why it feels more like a conventional TV show than in years past.

Unnecessary cameos. What is this, a reunion tour? Hi Nicky, hi Randy! (Although I think the Randy thing is interesting in relation to his dad…did Cheese get the way he is through a similar trajectory? And I suspect that Randy will come back into play…the season 4 kids are the only ones, besides the drug dealers themselves, who have any evidence of wrongdoing by Marlo, et. al.)

How are they going to wrap this up? I don’t care what happens to Carcetti or McNulty or Freamon or Daniels and we’re obviously going to get some sort of closure on either Omar or Marlo, but if they leave the Dukie, Bubs, and Michael threads significantly hanging, I’m gonna be pissed. (Prediction: if Marlo gets got, it will come from within…either Chris or Michael or both.)

The whole McNulty/Freamon thing: blah. Same thing with the newspaper angle…not as interesting as I thought it was going to be.

But all the rest of the seasons started slow and built into something…they coalesced. Maybe this one will as well?

The only thing I really like about McNulty’s manufactured investigation is how it affects so many different things in the system. Carcetti running for governor on the homeless issue. The newspaper switching their focus from the schools to the homeless. All the little things that pull resources and energy away from the Marlo Stanfield case. Pulling Kima off her triple. Motivating Bunk to reopen the case files on the bodies in the vacants. Everything is connected, unexpectedly.

Oh, and I love the “Dickensian” stuff in the newsroom…it’s Simon’s little shoutout/fuck you to the real media’s coverage of the show, frequently called Dickensian. Heaven and Here on the term’s misuse:

Something that has been bothering me about the deluge of stories on the show lately (which is , as Shoals said to me earlier today, “split now between nay-sayers and people drowning in their own adulation,”) is the loose use of the term “Dickensian.” Some stories are simply grabbing onto the upcoming plotline of the Sun editor assigning a story on “Dickensian” kids, but more often than I like, I see lazy writers using Dickens as a sort of shorthand for intricacy, urban despair, and nightmarish institutional breakdown, as if he owned the patent on all that.

Maybe much of the media criticism we were promised in season 5 is meta?