• The Wire Series Finale, “-30-“, S05E10 The Truth & Nothing But It.

Jay Landsman, hater of the negligibly Irish, and excellent Eulogizer

“-30-” the title of the episode is one of the few titles in the history of the show that you don’t really know unless you’re a journalism nerd or, the possible polar opposite, a wikipedia peruser. Wikipedia explains the title thusly:

“–30–” is a journalistic term that has been used to signify “the end” or “over and out” since the Civil War when telegraphers tapped “XXX”, the Roman numeral signifying 30, to end transmissions.

This was the end of the show. But what you could see coming a mile away was that this would not be the end of all of the characters. Simon has not held back in the past with ending major, beloved characters, who we probably thought would be in it until the end. When Stringer Bell was offed, that was a moment for me to think that the show is not beholden to it’s characters. That the show payed homage to the issues, and the show stayed true to this practice until the end.

The most important of these issues to the show being that you do not lie. Simple enough truth and ideal, right? Tell that to anybody who didn’t know what was going on during the back and forths between Daniels, Pearlman, and the Mayor’s Office with Nerese pitching in the extra innings to end Daniels; and that one scene wherein McNulty and Rawls argued over the specifics. The institution and it’s unwillingness to be honest in order to survive peaked with last night’s episode, with Carcetti’s speech to the press, where they tip-toed around the truth, and lying through dishonesty.

The lifers, the my-career first individuals, are the villains of the show throughout the series. In the finale, Daniels continued to straddle the gray line between being righteous and protecting family, by holding his ire back to let Ronnie survive. He would do it back in the day, biting his tongue to help now ex-wife Marla get elected. His decisions are noble because it’s never his career he’s looking out for. He would have thrown McNulty in the Hague even if it meant he had to step down, but since it would require Pearlman to fall on her own blade, as Carcetti would say, he held back. The first amazing moment in the finale returned us to the closed circuit cameras in the Police Department as McNulty and Daniels rode the quietest ride on earth. Norman’s fits of laughter hold a place in my heart, he seems to be the show’s writers voice if they ever had to spend time in a back office deal. The too-perfect connection between the storylines is just too great not to rip into with a snort and a giggle.

Going back to the unadulterated bullshit: Scott Templeton. Pulitzer Prize Winning Scott Templeton. It’s sad to say but this entire plot was pretty easy to see coming. I didn’t include it in my grievances piece yesterday because, well, it’s not that big of a problem. It was only something we could see coming because we’re closer to that plot than to any of the previous focuses, and that we sort of know where The Wire will take us: the success of jackasses.

And finally, the truth telling within the Baltimore Police Department. Rawls being the liar, the stupid fucking asshole of a liar. Trying to pin all of the murders on the crazy man just proved that Rawls is always going to be a Stat Juker, and that’s why he got promoted, again the advancement of the douchebag. McNulty finally finding it within him to stop his inner liar is what saved him, and after he found the reason within him, he was back together with his lady in no time. But before he was free, he had to die. Or, rather, his career had to die.

Here is the last section on The Truth, that I’d like to talk about, the very much above image of Landsman conjures probably one of the best dark senses of humor in the show’s history. Here is his speech from the wake (which I got from NYMag.com):

He was the black sheep, a permanent pariah. He asked no quarter of the bosses and none was given. He learned no lessons; he acknowledged no mistakes; he was as stubborn a Mick as ever stumbled out of the Northeast parish just to take up a patrolman’s shield. He brooked no authority. He did what he wanted to do and he said what he wanted to say, and in the end he gave me the clearances. He was natural police. And I don’t say that about many people, even when they’re here on the felt. I don’t say that often unless it happens to be true. Nat’ral po-lice. But Christ, what an asshole.

And I’m not talking about the ordinary gaping orifice that all of us possess. I mean an all-encompassing, all-consuming, out-of-proportion-to-every-other-facet-of-his-humanity chasm — if I may quote Shakespeare — “from whose bourn no traveler has ever returned.” He gave us thirteen years on the line. Not enough for a pension. But enough to know that he was, despite his negligible Irish ancestry, his defects of personality, and his inconstant sobriety and hygiene, a true murder police. Jimmy, I say this seriously. If I was laying there dead on some Baltimore street corner, I’d want it to be you standing over me catchin’ the case. Because brother, when you were good, you were the best we had.

And that’s a truth I think Simon wanted to get back to, that McNulty at his core is good at being an officer. While the McNulty is Smarter Than Everyone Else code cracking scene happened almost too quickly, I think the eulogy hit the nail on the head and through the bullet-ridden shoe that was pretty good at staying still next to the bottle of Jameson. Putting his badge, his whiskey, and his stupid youth behind him, he was able to sit down on the porch with Beadie and she was able to relax and just be there with him. Once in his life he was just with a woman, and not arguing with her. This is a new truth for Jimmy, and I think he can live with it, as we saw him accept life from his view on the road.


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