Series finales are a cruel assignment for anyone who has slaved over a show for years until its bell tolls. It’s especially daunting for a rarity like “The Wire,” a show that has burrowed deep into the psyches of its ardent, often evangelistic fans.
The characters have been so finely drawn and fully fleshed out over the previous 59 episodes. How can one final hour (or even an hour and a half) do them justice for all eternity?
For David Simon, the mandate for episode 60, “30,” was the same as every other “Wire” episode. Tell the story as truthfully as possible for the characters and their situations, and don’t pull punches, even when you want to. That’s why Dukie wound up shooting up in one of the final scenes. That’s why Alma and Gus got demoted at the Sun for complaining, and Templeton got his Pulitzer. That’s why Carcetti made it to the governor’s mansion on little more than a trumped up serial killer case. That’s why lawyer Levy managed to turn his own bust into a win for Stanfield that only enhanced his reputation as the reigning legal eagle for Baltimore’s drug kingpins.
And that’s why the seg — written by David Simon and Ed Burns and helmed by Clark Johnson (who was such an electrifying addition to the cast this year as bloodied-but-not-bowed city editor Gus Haynes) — opens with Mayor Carcetti flailing around in his office trying to wrap his head around the magnitude of what has gone wrong in the police department while Carcetti’s media whiz, ex-Baltimore Sun staffer Norman Wilson, can’t stop laughing. He may be in PR now, but Wilson’s hasn’t lost his reporter’s calculus.
“They manufactured an issue to get paid. We manufactured an issue to get you to be the next governor. Everybody’s getting what they need behind some make-believe,” Wilson sez of the faux homeless serial killer case. “I wish I was still at the newspaper so I could write on this mess. It’s too fucking good.”