Grand Finale

In this season of The Wire, we saw recurring themes from throughout the series. A large recurring theme we see is corruption in politics. After learning the serial killer was a hoax, Carcetti quietly withholds the information from the public to help him achieve his goal of becoming governor. Carcetti knows that if the public finds out his chances of becoming governor wouldn’t happen. Additionally, Carcetti bashed the governor for neglecting the homeless, so if the public discovers that the homeless murders were a lie, then Carcetti looks even more uninformed and unfit for governor in the eyes of voters. With all of this weighing on his mind and a spot as governor on the line, Carcetti withholds the information from the public for his good. Fortunately for Carcetti, his actions get him elected governor. This situation brings to light the question of what moral lines individuals in politics will cross to climb the ranks and if those decisions are worth the risk. For people like Carcetti we observe their dishonorable actions pay off in the long run but for people like Burrell their choices to act immorally leave them with nothing.

We see that in today’s politics, deception. It is difficult to move up without doing something suspicious. However, this does not just pertain to politics. We saw this with the Barksdale clan in previous seasons. Stringer ordered a hit on D’Angelo while he was in prison to protect his spot as a higher up in a major drug organization. Without ordering the murder on D’Angelo, the whole clan could have been busted if D’Angelo decided to talk. This operation proved that things needed to get done to protect your place on the totem pole, no matter how suspicious the jobs can be. This is also shown more recently as the series comes to an end, after everyone gets locked up, Snoop tells Michael that he is needed for “serious business.” It is not until after Michael sees Snoop talking to the person he was supposed to kill that it was a set-up to kill him instead. Michael was the target because he was seen talking to the police, and they wanted him dead because they believed that he was the one that snitched despite Michael telling snoop that he wasn’t the one. Michael was smart enough and didn’t fall into the trap.

All in all, we consistently peeped drug circles and politicians do shady things to protect their position in their own organizations. David Simon uses to The Wire to continue to show how the world functions.

14 thoughts on “Grand Finale

  1. Shira Greer

    Overall, I found the conclusion of The Wire to be frustrating. It was disheartening to see Kenard shoot Omar, the Stanfield case be buried as a cause of McNulty and Freamon’s shoddy police work, Scott winning a Pulitzer Prize for his fabricated Sun stories, and Dukie turning to doing drugs. In these final episodes, there were no major triumphs of good over evil, which is what most viewers, myself included, often hope to see. The Wire gave us no such ending, and thus the conclusion of the show felt incomplete in my view.

    However, although I found the ending disappointing as a viewer, putting aside my feelings and looking at the ending more critically, I find this ending to be completely in line with the rest of the series. At its core, The Wire is ultimately about how institutions have triumphed over individuals, and thus it would be out of place for the series to end with individuals triumphing over institutions simply to please viewers. Instead, the series stayed true to itself and gave us a quieter, more nuanced ending that speaks to Simon’s view of not only urban life, but American life in general, in which the politics of bureaucracy are king and individuals are simply at the mercy of the institutional forces reigning over them. In this sense, The Wire ended just as it should have, forcing viewers to ponder how the same structures and institutions featured in the series affect their own lives and the lives of those around them.

    1. A'kayla Williams

      I agree with you and felt especially disappointed when Kenard killed Omar and witnessing Dukie turning to drugs. I personally was looking forward to a “happier” ending, but as you mentioned, it would have been unrealistic. I appreciated Simon turning Bubbles story around and enjoyed watching his transformation. Overall, Simon’s ending to The Wire makes sense and is true to what America is like, him giving us an alternative end would’ve been misleading. I would love to discuss this more in class with everyone else.

  2. Cameron Keeley-Parker

    Great final post guys. Good job pointing out how Carcetti’s ambitions caused him to withhold the information about the fake homeless killings. Throughout the season, I was wondering how the general public would react to the fake killings, but as we’ve seen thus far, they still have no clue that they’re fake. I feel like this is due to two reasons: Carcetti’s ambition and the press’s inability to focus on anything other than a Pulitzer Award. First, Carcetti’s desire to be governor negatively impacted and prevented the news from reaching the public. When I saw him do this, and throughout the season, it reminded me of something ProfSi said in class. She stated that once politicians/elected figures get into office, they’re never satisfied and always aspiring for more power or a higher position. David Simon perfectly portrayed this through Carcetti’s character. He went from councilman to mayor, and almost as soon as he became mayor, aspired and made moves to become governor before even completing his mayoral term. In addition, I believe the Sun is partly responsible for the failure of the news from reaching the public. The Sun had its reporters focus on stories that would best earn them Pulitzer attention instead of helping the Baltimore population. If the Sun hadn’t focused so much on winning the prize, then they could have had more reporters focus on pertinent issues and possibly caught wind of the scandal (Carcetti’s aid even makes a comment where he wishes he was back with the Sun so he could report the scandal).

  3. Camryn Williams

    I agree with Shira, in that the final episodes and the ending were frustrating. It was definitely hard to see how the show ended, considering everything that has happened throughout the show. I think Simon is really trying to emphasize the idea that endings don’t always turn out the way we would like, especially in these final episodes. The idea that David Simon did not waver or give into a happy ending shows how much the series touches on important issues that may not always be easy to talk about. The Wire would not be the Wire if it did not end with us feeling frustrated or disappointed in the lack of answers.
    The ending only shows what has been previously conceived throughout the show. The corruption seen in these final episodes shows just how deep the Baltimore Police Department as well as the Baltimore Sun had gotten. These final episodes bid a farewell to our favorite characters, as well as exemplify the recurring themes seen throughout the show.

    1. Joseph Angrick

      I agree with everything that you said and I was frustrated with the ending of this series as well. I think that this could be Simon’s way of adding a call to action in the end of his series. He knows that we, the viewers, are going to be unhappy and that we are rooting for justice and a better life for those in the Wire. With the frustrating ending Simon could be saying that happy endings don’t exist in real life and if you want to see them you are going to have to go out and change something in the world. We can’t just sit back and hope that the world changes for the better.

  4. Avery Solsbak

    I absolutely loved the finale of The Wire. You touched on this a bit and I want to expand on it, the idea that life goes on. From the beginning, it’s been clear that The Wire is essentially a Greek tragedy in the modern day. Whilst watching the finale, it somewhat seemed like so much was happening and was changing. However, when you really think about it, not much really changed. Carcetti became the governor, Scott won a Pulitzer, Kenard killed Omar, Mcnulty and Freamon were fired, Namond is getting a good education, and so much more, but what really changed? Sure Omar is gone but it was pretty clear that Michael will take his place. Valchek became Commissioner and will be just as willing to juke the stats as Burrell was. Marlo walked and his final scene implied that he would return to his former life. The ending montage even recreates the scene from season 1 where they throw a rock at the camera. All of this leads me to believe that the show is sending the message that it always has, that things don’t really change all that much, or at least not that quickly. Every character in the show that sought to make big changes failed to do so be it Colvin or Mcnulty. The institutions, both legal and criminal, continue to reform themselves in new but similar ways.

    It’s not entirely hopeless though, while many aspects of the world portrayed in the show are the same, certain small things have changed for the better. Cheese, who sought to continue on with Marlo’s heartless way of doing things, was shot by Slim Charles in the name of Prop Joe, indicating that loyalty and rules (such as the mode of operation used by the Barksdales) would once again be a tenet of the game. Mcnulty, in the end, does not choose to have one last drink with the police department, instead choosing to move on in a healthy way Bubbles, who has always been the heart of the show, finally kicks his addiction and spends time with his family. After watching The Wire in its entirety, I think I finally understand its core message: Change is not impossible, but it takes time, a lot of time, and it won’t happen because one brave person decides to stand up and do something. It will take all of us, and it will really only happen one person at a time.

    1. Joseph Angrick

      I really like your take on the ending of the Wire and we think we even this in the ending montage where it has scenes from all the seasons. This montage helps to see everything that has happened throughout the entire series and help realize that the beginning wasn’t much different from the end. While, McNulty’s actions failed to make a change, I think that Colvin’s actions did make a change and we can see this through what Namond was doing in school. However, like you said it wasn’t a big change and more people like him have to step up and do good deeds to better Baltimore. I also think that with insight into the Baltimore Sun, we that the lying and corruption might be getting worse with time. Simon could be saying that if one thing improves, education, one thing gets worse, the Baltimore Sun. Overall, i agree that change is very hard to come by and takes a very long time.

  5. Amara

    I agree with Shiro, the ending of the wire was frustrating to me as well. The build-up that was developed throughout the show did not explode like I had imagined. Kernard killing Omar was unexpected, and for me, Carcetti becoming governor was also unexpected. However, I understand that Simon is a realistic body. Thus I should not have expected a happy ending. At least, Raymond had a happy ending. Overall I think the issue with the conclusion of the wire is that it happened to fast. The last episode, at least to me felt like half a season, with a lot of information being stuffed into it.

    1. Joseph Angrick

      I kinda disagree with you that the ending was too rushed. This episode was over on 90 minutes long and I feel like we got all the details and closure that we needed. I believe this is represented of how life typically presents itself. For example, we don’t have any tests for a month and then we have three in one day, we don’t get sick for a year, and then get the stomach bug, the flu, and 2 cavities within three weeks, or we might have no personal stress and then your grandma passes away and your parents divorce within a month. While these situations might be little exaggerated, life does often come in waves. This might just be another example of Simon relating to the real world.

  6. Lauren Stenson

    I see exactly where you are coming from and I also agree with Shira. For viewers it is hard to see the characters that you know and love in hard situations. It would have been nice to see the characters triumph but that would have been unrealistic. I believe that Simon’s purpose of the show was to highlight many injustices that occur in inner cities specifically (not just Baltimore). In order for his show to be impactful and to gain traction he had to make his viewers uncomfortable. He had to be as realistic as possible while also making his series interesting and not too depressing or inspiring. I believe that he ended the series this way because he was trying to make it representative of real life. In reality, a lot of kids who grow up in these surrounding end up like Dukie. At the same time there are those who end up like Namond, Randy, Omar, Marlo, and Bunky. There are police cases that are messy and some that are clean. There are school systems that suck. At the same time there are school officials who care and do the best that they can. There has not been a series that has been as applicable, as meaningful, nor as relevant as The Wire since The Wire. The show was not perfect however, David Simon did an amazing job. It is now almost 11 years since the last episode and I have never seen a better show.

    1. Joseph Angrick

      While I definitely do like the wire, I think your last sentence might be a little strong. Additionally, I like how you bring up Randy because quite frankly I forgot about him. I do not think that Randy got enough screen time towards the end of the series and I would’ve liked to see exactly where he ended up. Randy was quickly developing into one of my favorite characters and while we saw him getting chewed up by the group home, I am curious if he stayed in school or went out on the corner to deal drugs. I think that this is another mistake that Simon made in ending the series.

  7. Caterina Erdas

    Carcetti is not the only corrupt individual in office. William Rawls decides to help Carcetti hid the serial killer situation, which is corruption in itself so that he will be promoted to superintendent of the Maryland State Police once Carcetti becomes governor. McNulty’s corrupt case corrupts all the cases that McNulty gave officers and resources to. Pearlman and Levy blackmail the other about their corrupt actions. Micheal and Dukie have been corrupted. The corruptness is rampant throughout the city because it builds off each other. Like a virus, just one corrupt person can cause a whole lot of damage and more corruption. A virus is also really hard to remove entirely.
    Even though the show has a very jaded and critical image of Baltimore the last scene has an element of Baltimore pride. While trying to right a wrong, McNulty looks over Baltimore, and multiple scenes pass with characters from the show, but then just normal Baltimoreans, until he says, “let’s go home.” Simon’s message is that while America is corrupt, it is our country and we should take responsibility to change it. The Wire educates the audience about the wrongs, failures of this country. But that is the extent of its power. Simon wanted to motivate the viewers to do something about the corruption in our country.

  8. Joseph Angrick

    There is no doubt that corruption runs rampant throughout the 5 seasons of the Wire and i really like how you related the corruption to a virus. Everyone tells a small lie or jokingly blackmails a friend, and while this may seem innocent these actions build off of each other to create something devastating. It is similar to how the Baltimore Sun editor said it always starts with something small, like changing a quote, and then all of a sudden you are making up entire articles that are lies. Once you get into dirt, it is so much harder to get out and I think that this is a point that Simon is trying make. Don’t get in the game if you don’t want to be stuck in the game.

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