March 10, 2008

The Wire Season Finale Recap - MAJOR SPOILERS

Jeremy gave you the first blush reaction to the series finale of The Wire along with the general theme of the finale, but here's a blow-by-blow as best as I can. I guarantee this is the best recap you'll find anywhere on the internet.

The show opens with Rawls, Daniels, the State's Attorney, Pearlman, and Carcetti plus cronies in the Mayor's office. He's obviously been just informed that there is no homeless serial killer. In addition, he learns that the evidence against Marlo is tainted. Not a good day, but what to do? Daniels wants McNulty and Freamon shit-canned ASAP. Rawls is seeing a power play to hold on to the Commissioner's position. Carcetti is seeing his shot at the governor's mansion flying out the window. The solution? Bury it with a promise that Rawls can head up the Maryland State Police once Carcetti wins.
Freamon confronts a heretofore unseen Clerk at the courthouse with evidence that he's the leak of sealed courthouse documents to all the drug kingpin defense attorneys. He confesses immediately, and throws in a taped phone call on Freamon's behalf. Freamon brings the news to Pearlman, who for some reason is not all that thrilled to see him. Freamon, unaware that the gig is up, explains to Pearlman how they can follow the money.

McNulty and Freamon realize that Daniels and the higher-ups know that they faked the homeless killer. What they can't figure out is why they aren't being paraded around in handcuffs yet. They realize that they can't look bad yet. McNulty is struggling to keep up appearances that he is working the case for Jay Landsman. As luck would have it, our favorite piece of shit reporter Scott Templeton is helping out. Seeing a homeless man in the shadow of The Sun's building between Calvert and Guilford Streets, Templeton decides to fabricate that he ran off someone dragging the man into the van. The homeless man isn't playing along, and unfortunately for Templeton, the undercover detective playing a homeless man is right there to tell McNulty that it's bullshit.

Over at the paper, Augustus tries to spike the story after the police state on the record that the "incident" is unrelated. Templeton's bosses go to bat for him. Augustus' friend has finished following up on all of Templeton's quotes, and he found that quite a few were wholly fabricated. Armed with evidence but facing management that doesn't want to hear it, Augustus sits on the information as long as he can. Templeton blows up at Augustus for even questioning his account of things, screaming about the notes all being on his pad, which he throws towards Alma. Alma notices there are no notes in the pad, and goes to Augustus. Long story short, Templeton eventually wins the Pulitzer, Augustus is demoted to the copy desk and Alma gets a cushy job in the Carroll County bureau. (for non-Marylanders, the county seat is Westminster. Yeah, it's po-dunk.)

Also not helping McNulty's attempt to let the homeless killings die, a legitimate murder actually turns up. The victim bears a ribbon, but it's white not red. The detectives know they're dealing with a copycat. Already nauseous over having to let McNulty stay on the force after his shenanigans, Rawls and Daniels demand that McNulty solve the murder. The killer, luckily, left a key piece of evidence, a business card. This ties into another legitimate homeless death, and leads McNulty to the homeless dude with the business card obsession. Bunk and McNulty bring him in, and the guy clearly killed those two and is clearly insane. They all realize that they can pin all the homeless murders on him, and Rawls in fact argues this. He points out that killing two and killing six is still getting him stuck in the mental institution, and it solves a lot of their problems. McNulty refuses, and Rawls announces only that he's being charged with the two, but that he is a suspect in the other four murders.

Ok, that's the first 30 minutes or so.

Back to Marlo. Only Cheese gets bail. Marlo orders him to kill Michael. Marlo and Maurice Levy meet and figure out that the police must have had an illegal wiretap to be able to crack the clock code and get arrest warrants on Marlo and Snoop so fast, since neither of them were actually anywhere near the drugs. Levy confidently approaches Pearlman to let her know what he knows, only to have her throw back that they found the source of his courthouse leaks. We're at a three way impasse now, with Levy knowing the wiretap is illegal, Pearlman being able to prove (via taped phone call from the Clerk) that Levy is illegally obtaining docs, and with Marlo hanging in the balance. Of course, two attorneys can't exchange personal favors to settle a defendant's matter, but that's exactly what they do. Pearlman's deal is that Marlo's case gets put on the "stet docket" (which is the backburner, only the State can pursue it if they want) so long as Marlo stays out of The Game. Think of it as attorney-granted pre-trial probation. Chris cops to all the murders. Snoop is already dead. And Monk and Cheese cop to possession with intent to distribute. (I might be wrong on Monk and Cheese. I can't remember their final disposition.) The deal is accepted, and Marlo is a free man out of the game.
Marlo is not so good at clean living. He attends a real estate function with Maurice Levy, looking at a beautiful view overlooking the harbor. He chats with Levy a bit and then asks where the bathroom is. Levy tells him, but Marlo, clearly uncomfortable, bolts instead. Later we see Marlo still in his suit approaching a corner. He feels disrespected by the pair in standard long white t-shirt dealer attire, and asks if they know who he is. Before he can tell them one pulls his iron and tries to shoot Marlo. Marlo deflects the gun and pulls some kung-fu shit on him, causing both to flee. As Marlo stands there with the pusher's piece at his feet he sees his arm is grazed. He smiles and tastes the blood. Of Avon and Stringer, Marlo is clearly Avon. He had the smarts to run the game, but never the desire to graduate to the next level.

So where are we now? Ah yes, one more shining Scott Templeton moment. After the homeless killer (sort of) is arrested, the paper sends Templeton over to pick the killer out of a photo lineup. You know, since he scared the guy off earlier. McNulty sits him down and tells him that he knows he's totally full of shit. He tells him that there was no first phone call and the second one was him. He tells them that he knows there is no grey van. He tells them that he sent the pictures to him. He explains his lie, and tells Templeton that they're both tied up in the same big lie together. Templeton is visibly shaken, and bolts from work. Unfortunately, he never suffers any repercussions.
What about Dookie? Glad you asked. He showed up at his old middle school wanting to talk to Pryzbylewski but looking a little ragged. He explained that he needed $200 to rent a place, and hopefully an extra $150 to get his GED over at the BCCC. Prez tells him he's too young to work, with or without a GED, but offers to go with him and write the checks if it turns out Prez is incorrect. Dookie hedges, and tries to get Prez to give him the cash then. Prez agrees, but tells Dookie that he is going to call BCCC in a few days to make sure he registered. If he did Prez said he could continue to count on him. If he didn't, Prez said he would never see him again. Later we see Dookie hand the money over to the a-rabber that has been training him. At the end we see Dookie and the a-rabber shooting up.

If Marlo is going to leave the game, he has to do something with his connect with the Greeks. It would be poor form to just hand it over, so instead he offers it to the other former co-op members for $10M. Any one of them can pay it, or they can pool it. They have to pool it since no one has the money up front. Getting together in a vacant lot, they realize that they're still $900K short. Cheese offers to pay the balance, on the logic that they'll all be making it back anyway. Big Man (don't know his name) balks a little, recognizing that the balance of power would be shifted. Cheese responds by putting his iron in Big Man's face, making a little speech. Once the speech is over and Cheese holsters, he is shot in the side of the head. Our boy Slim Charles didn't like Cheese's disrespect for his own uncle, Prop Joe. Cheese's speech was about his shifting allegiances. Slim Charles proved to be a loyal lieutenant to the end, even after Prop Joe was in the grave. The co-op was still $900K short thanks to Slim Charles, but we later see Slim Charles and another talking to Vondas. In my opinion, Slim Charles is still serving as escort in this scenario, and the new kingpin is negotiating the terms. Slim said he isn't cut out for leadership, and there's no reason to think that has changed.

Freamon and McNulty retire from the force. Freamon with pension, McNulty without. Rawls gets his Maryland State Police position. Daniels is briefly Commish, but he refuses to cook the books. His Western record resurfaces via Nareese, and he resigns rather than cook the books for Carcetti. Rawls is up and out, Daniels is in private law practice and we don't know any other colonels. Who is going to be Commish? Oh, I forgot Valchek. Good ole Stan has risen through the ranks and taken the reins. I'm sure that'll get the department cleaned up. In other news Carver made Lieutenant. Herc played both sides of the illegal wiretap so well he is loved by Levy (tipping him to the wiretap) even though he built the whole case himself by giving Marlo's cell number to the cops in the first place.
Only three characters left! Can you tell this was quite a 90 minutes? Lord only knows what I'm forgetting.
First Bubs. The reporter who has been befriending Bubs has completed his write-up. Augustus is all for it and gets it space on the Sunday front page. The only problem is that Bubs isn't comfortable with the article, especially since it covers Sherrod. Bubs consults his sponsor and decides to let it run as is. He didn't necessarily have that power, but the young reporter gave it to him as a courtesy. The article runs on the front page, and Bubs' sister finally trusts him enough to let him eat at the table upstairs.

I didn't forget Michael. Michael is on the run. People want him dead. What's a former enforcer to do? Well, there is a vacancy in our stick-up boy department. Michael's credentials are impressive. First, he has beef with the drug trade. Second, he knows how stuff works. Third, he's not afraid to shoot a guy in the kneecap with a sawed-off shotty if he gets any lip. Congrats Michael, the position is yours.
Also, we saw Sydnor chatting with McNulty's old friend Judge Phelan and giving him the low-down on what has transpired with Marlo. Sydnor leaves the judge's chambers with The Wire's famous last words "Leave my name out of it." Good luck with that Sydnor.

I'm leaving out a lot of the little things, but I defy you to find a better recap anywhere on the internet. Long live The Wire. Long live Baltimore. Martin O'Malley can go f--- himself.

I give the finale five WMDs, two red-tops, a lake trout, two Hamsterdams, and four Bunks.

3 Responses:

Jeremy said...

A spectacular interview with David Simon about the finale that offers some major insights into plot development and decisions made by the writers years ago that affected what we saw last night on the screen. A long read, good for skimming, but an important read for Wire fans.

I feel so much more satiated by The Wire finale than I ever did by The Sopranos finale. I think the difference between the two is that The Sopranos was David Chase fucking with the long-time fans. The Wire finale was a reward by David Simon to the long-time fans.

Staci said...

What about the fake wake, Reddish? Kima copping to ratting them out? McNulty picking up the homeless guy in Richmond?

J-Red said...

I remembered all three of those things Staci, but it was 1am and I was trying to concentrate on wrapping up the major story elements.

The fake wake and Kima admitting to ratting out McNulty and Freamon were relevant in that it showed the forgiveness that they received, even if most people there didn't realize exactly what they had done. Kima getting forgiveness ties back into her conversation with Carver about how he felt after ratting out the short-fused detective for pulling the high-school teacher out of a car.

McNulty picking the homeless guy up was a redemptive act that allowed the show-ending montage.

Those were redemptive acts that played well if you watched, but don't play well in a recap for people who didn't see the show.

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