THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS SOME MINOR SPOILERS ABOUT THE WIRE SEASON 5
The final season of The Wire has resulted in more ink spilled than all of the previous four seasons combined. I tried keeping track of all the articles, but I got distracted and fell behind. Fortunately, someone else has been keeping up with the incredible crush of stories. Simon has made the New Yorker, The Atlantic and Columbia Journalism Review, and those are just the highlights. Why the sudden tidal wave of spilled ink over a television show no one watches? That's an easy one. This season The Wire is, in part, about journalism, and there's nothing journalists love more than the chance to engage in a bout of public navel gazing.
Now, those in the journalism racket, particularly the newspaper industry, need to engage in a little navel gazing. Newspapers are on the way out, and true believers like Simon are understandably upset. Simon had a long career at The Baltimore Sun before he ended up in his current role, and he has some pointed opinions on his old paper and the state of the industry. To an extent, he has a point, but his criticism is beginning to overshadow the show itself. Simon's ranting has made the part of the Wire set in the Baltimore Sun newsroom the main event for this season, which is unfortunate, since it's disappointing. Simon's using the show to settle old scores, and the newsroom characters seem to lack the nuance of the drug dealers and cops. Part of my indifference, I think, can be attributed to the fact that the journalist characters have only been around for a few episodes, as opposed to a few seasons. There is no way a long time viewer can feel the same way about the intrepid city editor Gus Haynes as he feels about Omar or McNulty.
Still, I can't help but be disappointed by the newspaper storyline thus far. It's just not that interesting. The real story this season is about Marlo, and whether his reach will exceed his grasp. He's making a play for control of the entire city, but he's made some serious mistakes, and the tension there is almost unbearable. Will Omar's return cause so much trouble that the Greeks will have second thoughts about dealing with him? Will McNulty's gambit pay off? Or is there someone else Marlo should be worrying about? I have no question that it's going to end badly for him, which is exactly what should happen, but when one person is knocked off the throne, another rises to take his place. Now, if only the newspaper subplot had half the tension of the Marlo plotline we would have something that might top season four. Unfortunately, it's predictable and just can't compete with all of the other characters and stories Simon and his crew have put so much time and effort into building over the years.
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