The Wire Season 5 premiered on HBO in 2008 and marked the final ten episodes of the series. In it, the investigation of Marlo and crew continues; however, with little funding going into the police department, the manpower and technology that the investigators need are not available. McNulty takes it upon himself to manipulate the mayor into giving them funding, and this action begins to tie together every storyline yet, along with a few new ones such as The Baltimore Sun newspaper. This The Wire Season 5 review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS.
The Main Plot
What this season does perfectly is the interweaving of plots. The main plot of the season revolves around the stories of Carcetti, Marlo, McNulty, Freamon, and the Baltimore Sun. Carcetti’s withholding of police funding is furthering his downfall as he begins breaking promises one by one. The lack of funds leads to the running rampant of Marlo’s crew, and thus the fake serial killer which McNulty creates. Events spin out of control as McNulty creates more killings, Lester wiretaps Marlo to decipher a new code, Marlo and Omar battle it out, and characters begin to learn of McNulty’s plan. All the while, the Baltimore Sun, with a rogue and lying reporter, is writing on the serial killer. These plots are balanced and brought together for an exciting end, along with the secondary plots beside them.
Now, initially, the fake serial killer seemed irrational and almost too bizarre for The Wire, which in the first four seasons was highly rooted in reality. While I do still believe it was at least a little far fetched, I began to be far more invested as the season went on. McNulty’s drunkenness and subsequent guilt show that he was completely irrational, but still well within character. The way the Baltimore Sun reporter was able to add to this drama was also both brilliant and humorous. It led to another parallel for one of the main themes of the show, corruption. We have seen it in the police, the government, the schools, and now in journalism.
This was all to find and hopefully arrest Marlo’s crew, who has now been allowed to run rampant. With this newfound freedom, Marlo begins acting irrationally. He calls back Omar and starts killing every major player who gets in his way including Prop Joe. The funding coming in for the serial killer finally pays off in the arrest of Marlo. Unfortunately, with the unethical method which led to his arrest, Marlo alone is back on the street. Knowing he is under intense watch, he tries to get into business with new wealth. It leads to one of the best character conclusions in any show I’ve ever seen. Marlo realizes he can’t live a normal life and goes back on the street to purposefully risk his life. He shows his power and ability to instill terror in a quick succession of scenes. It leaves him literally smelling and lusting over his own blood, a sign of pure evil, and symbolically showing that the evil on the streets is not gone.
The Side Plots
Bubs’ and Omar’s stories are some of the few street stories which have been threaded from the first to the last episodes; however, my feelings about their ends are very different. Bubs has become my favorite character throughout the series. His redemption arc is believable, beautiful, and powerful. In this final season, we already know he is recovered and that in all likelihood he will not relapse. But now he is struggling with believing in himself. He is trying to come to terms that his addiction and Sherod’s death were not entirely his fault. Even recovered, Bubs can’t believe he is a good person anymore, and the final season gives him the exact conclusion he deserves.
Omar has also been one of my favorite characters to follow. He is a morally complex character who was never destined for a glorious, valiant, or heroic death. It was obvious from the beginning that his death would be meaningless and probably unexpected or quick. And it was. The placement within the episode though was probably my least favorite moment of the show as a whole. His death was quick and abrupt as expected, yet it was placed right at the beginning of an episode. The scenes that followed had humor and tension, yet rarely touched on the fact that Omar was just killed. The humorous moments felt wrong having just lost a great character, and the tense moments left me not really caring. It’s possible that the directors were going for this feeling to make you realize he is just another death that no one cares about, but just because it was the intention does not mean it was executed well. He deserved something a little more, even if that was putting his death at the end of an episode to allow the audience to reflect on his death during the credits.
The school kids from last season were not followed as much, but I loved what we did see. Dukie and Michael’s stories were tragic, but it seems like there is some hope In a Bubs-like redemption for Dukie in the future. Namond performs what may be one of my favorite scenes in the show. And Randy seems to be getting along alright, but it is still sad to see him faking a new personality. Cutty felt unexplored this season, and even though he may not play an important role here, it would have been nice to see some conclusion for his character. Pearlman and Daniels have a touching final scene that helps show, although they may not have ended where they wanted, their honesty and morality still gave them a worthy conclusion. Finally, Valchek as police commissioner is absolutely hilarious and I should have seen that coming a mile away.
Overall, The Wire Season 5 was once again a brilliant chapter in the series. The main plot unfolded and intertwined in a way that truly shows the talent of the writers and directors. It provided some of the most satisfying, powerful, and artistically genius conclusions to most of the characters’ stories; however, there were some missteps that felt like they came from a slightly rushed season. While this season may get a good amount of hate (compared to the others at least), I still think it is as worthy as the rest and has some of the best final episodes of any show I’ve watched.
Season 1 Review: Here
Season 2 Review: Here
Season 3 Review: Here
Season 4 Review: Here
Season Ranking and Final Thoughts on the Series: Here
See other TV/movie reviews or what I plan to watch next here: Review