Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Wire: Season 4

Will was right, Season Four of The Wire was emotionally draining. It is heartbreaking to watch these kids get chewed up by the system at such a young age, for different reasons.

Michael is a leader -- poised, courageous, charismatic, smart, athletic. He is a perfect big brother to Bug. Yet when an abusive parental figure returns, he turns to Marlo, Chris and Snoop for an answer, since Social Services wouldn't work. (Brief aside to compare this to Anakin Skywalker turning the the dark side.) Watching him pull the gun on the corrupt police officer, then kill Bodie (how could they kill that guy?!?), then kill the last guy was absolutely horrifying, as another promising youngster gets sucked into a life of crime. At least he's still a good big brother.

Randy's a good kid, too, just a little bit to eager to make a buck. What a shame that cooperating with the authorities on a murder (albeit to save his own ass) gets him labeled a snitch. My stomach sank near the end of the last episode when he returned to his new room in the group home to see "Snitch Bitch" painted on his bed, and he comes out swinging against the older boys.

Or was Dukie's fate even worse? Here's a kid whose "family" life couldn't have been worse, yet Prezbo (whose growth as a teacher is one of the lone encouraging storylines of the season) helps him out, and brings out his technical skills. Yet he's scared to leave Prezbo and his friends for high school, and ends up slinging for Michael.

Then there's Namond. Jana was steamed at the end of the show when Bunny and his wife took him in. "That's the one who least deserved to end up good!" she said. Couldn't agree with her more. Namond was just a little rat, and even though he shows some good qualities and vulnerability, he's still a rat. Therein lies the complexity of The Wire, which is why it's so brilliant. (How vivid was the portrayal of Namond's Straight Out of Hell mom? She made Wee-Bey look like a great guy.)

The other storylines were good too, but paled in comparison to the boys' journey.

McNulty is sober and in a committed relationship, even though his drunk former partner keeps trying to pull him out of it. Good for him, but bo-ring. Jana said it's like that episode of Friends where Fun Bobby stops drinking and isn't fun anymore.

Herk is a major league screw-up. Didn't need a full season to see that one coming. I love that Fuzzy Dunlop keeps coming back, though.

Good for Carver, taking Bunny's parting advice and becoming a real police officer. His heartache over Randy's fate was palpable.

Bunny's back trying new, creative ways to reform a broken system, but the powers that be still won't let him. So frustrating.

Omar's trip to jail was fun, but the rest of his capers weren't. What's he going to do now that he's rich? Move to Key West?

Bubbles becomes a father and an entrepreneur, but it all goes wrong and he ends up killing the boy. So sad.

Cutty goes from aimless ex-con to ladies' man. Attaboy Dennis!

Freamon wants to open up every vacant in the city and find dead bodies. Attaboy Lester!

It was hilarious to watch Carcetti in the early days of his campaign, when he was behind in the polls and had little chance of unseating Royce. Makes you wonder if all politicians have such high levels of self-doubt bubbling under their confident veneers. Good for him rejecting the advances of his campaign strategist.

Would someone please ship Burrell and Clay Davis off to Delaware?!?

Season Five came in the mail yesterday, and it focuses on ... newspapers! How can it get any better than that? Michael goes to Wisconsin on a football scholarship? Randy opens a vending business in Annapolis? Dukie starts a blog and writes about sports and pop culture? We can only hope.

One more season to go until I officially make my decision on whether The Wire of Sopranos was the better show. It'll be tough.

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