… studying for the Bar exam will summon all memories of those dreams and passions. Thus, you’ll seriously consider dropping the pen and paper in the middle of the day in order to finally pursue your dream or passion.
Thoughts on Season 4 of The Wire -- SPOILER ALERT. Don't read if you plan on watching this show and haven't!
The disclaimer is primarily for my friend Brooks who is about to start this season of The Wire.
I’m going to try to keep this as short as possible. Although, I get the feeling I might ramble. I was told by a number of folks that this was the best season of T.V. ever. This is a bold assertion. It’s an assertion that sets the bar impossibly high for a T.V. show. However, it was true. There are so many things that are damn near perfect about the show in general — and specifically about season 4.
I’m not going to go through a step-by-step analysis; rather, I’d like to use two separate scenes from the last episode of this season to show just how raw the show is. And more importantly, to evidence what this show is all about.
In the last 15 minutes of season 4, two separate scenes shook me to my absolute core. However, I was fully expecting them throughout the entire season. And that’s what makes this show so incredible. David Simon is a master at giving you just an ounce of hope and then yanking it away from you. You know good and well at the beginning of season 4 that things likely won’t be better after the season ends, but you hope. You become so emotionally invested in each and every character that really all you can do is hope that things will be, even slightly, better.
The first scene that emotionally drained me and broke me like maybe no scene in television has is when Duquan approaches Prezbo after he’s been transferred to high school to give him a Christmas present. Duquan has been shaped and molded by Prezbo throughout the season. Prezbo is literally the first adult in his life to care or invest in him. Duquan has clearly gone out of his way to get Prezbo a set of pens to put on his desk. Duquan is proud and you can tell he has thought long and hard about this. Prezbo, who was warned by the school administrators about getting too close to one single kid, gives him a very generic “thank you” and tells him to “stop by anytime he wants.” I was devastated. Literally, I sat in my chair and held back tears that were certain to stream from my face at a rate similar only to a small child.
How simple would it have been for Prezbo to embraced Duquan at that very moment? To have told Duquan how much he meant to him? And to have promised that everything was going to be OK?
All season long you know that something bad is going to happen to Duquan. I’d convinced myself that Duquan was going to end up dying, and I was going to feel the same way I did when Baby G died in that baseball movie that Keanu Reeves was in. But this was worse. This was way worse than Duquan just dying. Unfortunately, in one scene that lasted less than two minutes the only person that he really cared about rejected him.
After the show ended, I attempted to describe what watching this scene felt like to Reckner. As I described the situation and the build up, Reckner broke out into tears. She’s never seen a single minute of The Wire, but she understood what this meant. There are few specific scenes I remember from T.V. shows. This scene will forever stay with me as one of the rawest and most emotionally draining scenes of T.V. I’ve ever watched.
Bodie’s death is the second scene that not only rocked me to my core, but also exemplifies what this show is really all about. More so than any other scene in season 4, this typifies what Simon is trying to tell his audience. Bureaucrats can attempt to make changes. Teachers can attempt to teach. Politicians can attempt to craft legislation that helps. But at the end of the day, shit just isn’t going to change for kids like Bodie. Bodie is unquestionably one of the best characters on this show. From the beginning, you sympathize with him. And you like him because he’s not an awful person; rather, he is a likable kid who ended up with a bad family in a bad situation.
Frankly, if you’d told me before season 4 that Bodie was going to die I could have told you exactly how it would have happened. Again, there is really no surprise when things happen on the show. It’s simply that for even a second you hope that it won’t. And for that second, your mind runs and runs about what these kids lives would be like if their imminent demise didn’t occur.
Bodie’s death is raw. It’s about as raw as Wallace’s death in season 1, which I could write another 10 pages on the parallels between the two. However, I’ll try to stay focused. Bodie died holding it down. It’s tough for a middle-class white kid with a law degree to understand, but Bodie died because he was one of the most principled people on the show. He never wavered in what he believed in. He respected the rules of “the game”. And he represented an antiquated set of principles that at least treated your foe with an ounce of respect. Regardless of that, he was shot in the head twice while standing on a corner that he had earned.
When this happened, I was left breathless. The Wire had captivated me in a way that I’d never been captivated. It was a very strange feeling. On one hand, I wanted the show to end immediately. I didn’t want another bad thing to happen to any of these kids who I’d started to care about. I figured that if the show just ended after these two scenes that I could at least create my own ending for the other characters. On the other hand, I wanted this episode to last another three hours. I wanted the kids to get revenge. I wanted Prezbo to realize his mistake. I wanted real, tangible resolution to awful problems.
Instead, I got another five or ten minutes of heartbreaking T.V.
The Wire is simply the best show to ever run. Season 4 is the best season of T.V. ever. That’s all there is to it.
I’d love to hear y’all’s feedback on these thoughts.