The Wire, Season 3

I finally get it.

I finally get why this show is considered by many to be the most brilliant show of all time, and the worst part is, I can’t explain it.

I can’t explain it because I still don’t fully understand it. I don’t understand it, but I get it.

Does that make sense?

Nope. I know. It’s a mindfuck, in a different way from something like Lost or The Sopranos (which still stands as my favorite drama), and I probably haven’t detected or decoded 75% of the genius of it. But I’ve never seen so many facets of human emotion conveyed so realistically, so tightly, so efficiently. And this season brought out some truths that were truly shocking.

HBO shows have a challenge before them. They have fewer episodes per season to set the stage and allow their viewers to get to know the characters. Yet HBO shows are almost always brilliant, because they only take on shows that can accomplish this feat. The Wire has an insanely huge cast, too, with so many storylines, that it makes their accomplishment seem that much greater. In this season, we saw the dissolution of the Daniels marriage and the Greggs marriage, the dissolution of the Barkstale-Bell partnership, the demotion of McNulty to the streets, the fall of Stringer Bell, the breakdown of Prez, and so much more. I hardly know any of these people, and yet I feel like I’ve known them for years.

The most shocking moments for me this season were seeing Rawls in a gay bar and watching Stringer Bell get whacked at the hands of Brother and Omar. Someone actually spoiled this little plot point for me, though for some reason I remember them saying that it happened at the end of Season 4, so the whole murder actually came about as a surprise anyway. Stringer Bell was by far my favorite “street” character (Daniels and McNulty are tied on the other side), so this was a huge loss for me, but I’m even more curious now to see what’s in store for the next two seasons. Idris Elba delivered something special this season. He became an entrepreneur, a boyfriend, a leader, something more whole than the sum of his parts, and that’s probably why he was taken out. He was more powerful than Avon Barksdale would ever be, and for that he was eliminated. It’s hard to believe that such a pivotal member of the clan was removed, and that we won’t be able to stare at that beautiful man anymore, but it did make sense. Maybe it’ll make even more sense in the context of the two seasons I have yet to watch.

I do wish we had seen more of Bunk Moreland this season, though I respect the show’s decision to abandon some storylines when they become irrelevant or unimportant and pick them back up again when the time is right. And I think that’s the case. But in lieu of him we saw a bit more of McNulty, about which I am not complaining. (Any Dominic West is alright with me!) He’s gone through so much in the past two seasons, from being shipped to the ships to his own decision to return to the streets, that it’s impossible not to be fascinated by this guy. He’s attractive, smart, assertive … and lonely. Why do all these characteristics converge in a single human? Perhaps the next two seasons, we’ll find out even more.

Cutty—sorry, Dennis—’s storyline is so promising, too, and it all comes down to one thing: Chad L. Coleman’s honest eyes. This man conveys more in his eyes than I’ve ever seen in any other actor. It’s like we’re actually watching a guy who just served a stint in prison and then came out to open a boxing gym. Seriously. Cutty is a real man, walking the streets of Baltimore, and he’s playing out the sin and redemption storyline so beautifully. This whole season (well, the whole show) has been about sin and redemption, and forgiveness on a personal and inter-personal level. The characters on the show seek forgiveness from others, but only because they think that it’ll make it easier to forgive themselves for what they think are their transgressions. They ask each other not to judge, then worry when no judgment happens. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s innately human. And it has something mysterious to do with the police profession, which is something I’ll never know about.

I’m hoping for a bit more Lester Freamon in the future, because Clarke Peters is a total badass. Also, wasn’t he dating that stripper? Whatever happened there? And while I am rooting for any cause that involves Lance Reddick being shirtless, I was sort of unable to buy the whole relationship between Daniels and Perlman. She’s bedded the two hottest men on the law side, and though she’s a great actress, she’s not the most gorgeous of the lot. What’s the deal?