The Wire, Season 4

Damn you, Netflix. Damn you for being so right about me. Netflix said I’d be 100% on board with this season (i.e., 5/5 stars) and well well well, Netflix was correct. Television at its finest.

I’m pretty sure that my only two complaints about this season are (1) NOT ENOUGH DOMINIC WEST. But then again, the world itself does not contain enough of this beautiful, talented man, so my complaint is somewhat unfounded. (2) I understood maybe 12% of what Felicia “Snoop” Pearson said. No, seriously. She (who was a “he” to me until I Wikipedia’d her) speaks literally the weirdest dialect of English I have ever heard. I’m currently reading “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace, so I apologize in advance if his style/tone influences this and upcoming posts, and I also apologize if this sounds racist in any way, but I feel like after watching 4 seasons of this show, I’m able to understand (or at least decipher) the SBE (Standard Black English) used by the characters. Snoop is a different story. She creates vowels that I didn’t know existed. She places emphasis on syllables that aren’t in most peoples’ speech. What.

Moving past that, holy SHIT David Simon hired some fantastic kid actors. It’s absolutely fascinating to watch the special features and see the kids who played Randy, Michael Lee, Namond, etc. talk about their characters. It’s hard to place them as these innocent kids and brilliant artists when they’re so genuinely believable as terrible, terrible youth. But it’s really cool at the same time to watch them perform these heinous acts of violence, disrespect, what have you. Because it makes it that much more real. The Wire is a very “real” show. Television critics tell us so, Baltimore residents tell us so, professors and policemen and everyone else tell us just how awesomely gritty this show is and why it’s groundbreaking and all that. But until I saw this season, until I saw kids embroiled in the plot and realized that it’s kids like these who grow up to be people like Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale and Marlo Stanfield, I didn’t quite get it. And now I do. Little single-digit boys running around on the corners. This stuff is happening.

Oddly enough, it makes me want to go to Baltimore. I want to meet these people. I want to see who McNulty and Bunk and Daniels and Carcetti and Boadie and all them are based on. And Bubbles. It’s all a very real and beautiful symphony, an opera, but one that starts and stops in the middle. There is no crescendo or final chord. It all keeps going.

I absolutely loved watching Bunny teach those kids. And Prez, for that matter. To see these cynical cops re-invented, re-invigorated as teachers was such a beautiful message, and one that could have been told with cheese and sap but wasn’t. Prez is an awkward guy, but he’s got so much heart and such a good head on his shoulders that you have to root for him. And Freamon. I love that guy. I love his bowl legs and his determined stare and his ruthless pursuit of the truth. He’s one of the show’s central heroes, and he makes miniature dollhouse model thingys in his spare time. What a man.

The main purpose of this season, I think, was to chronicle how corrupt the government is, so much so that even a major political figure who is openly AGAINST government corruption and is ACTIVELY fighting to restructure and all that, can only enact so much change. Carcetti is a fantastic character, too, but he is powerless to a point. And he doesn’t even know where to go to get answers. It’s all very disheartening, but it’s a message worth receiving in any case.

As always, the acting is truly superb. Standouts this season for me were Clarke Peters as Freamon, Wendell Pierce as Bunk, Jermaine Crawford as Dukie, Maestro Harrell as Randy, Tristan Wilds as Michael, and Julito McCullum as Namond. I found myself drawn to the kids, who fit in superbly to this family of actors already together for three years. How do they do it? And how will they end it? That remains to be seen. I look forward to it. And, for the record, I still miss Stringer Bell.