The Fifth and Final Season
HBO's hit television crime drama The Wire is an intense show. The first four seasons were amazing and its fifth is no exception. Season five continues to offer the same high quality of entertainment with topnotch writing, engaging storylines, riveting characters, and intense drama. For those unfamiliar with the series, it is based in Baltimore, Maryland and looks at the Baltimore Police Department's (BPD) major crimes unit using wiretaps and pen registers to unravel the complex ties of the local drug trade. One of the show's strengths is its ability to go beyond the common cop show, as The Wire expands into additional territory and has a variety of multi-faceted characters. For more details about this amazing series, refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one, season two, season three, and season four.
Season five is the last of The Wire. Like the first four seasons, it is an intense experience. This season changes things up and focuses on the media's perspective of crime in the city. The media is represented by employees at the Baltimore Sun and their internal struggle to report the "news". At the same time, the criminal element, the police, and the mayor's office are integral pieces to the story. For fans of the series, season five will not disappoint. However, you might feel a little sorrow when the final minutes of the series finale roll and you know there will be no more of The Wire. Nevertheless, it is a fantastic season.
Fifteen months after the closing of season four, the city of Baltimore is in a fragile state. Mayor Carcetti had promised the citizens and the public workers of Baltimore to stop crime and to fix the problems in the educational system. Unfortunately, Carcetti overtaxed himself. In order to make good on his promises to the citizens, he moved as much money as possible to the school system. In the process, the police department faced a lot of financial cutbacks. The promised bump to police salaries forgotten, overtime slips ignored, and equipment neglected.
The worst of the cutbacks came to the Major Crimes Unit, which was responsible for taking down Avon Barksdale and focused on bringing Marlo Stanfield to justice. Carcetti, Commissioner Burrell, and Deputy Commissioner Rawls made the decision to disband the unit. When Lt. Daniels found out, he and Rhonda went to the mayor and tired to convince him to keep the unit active. They were able to keep Freamon and Sydnor on the job. Freamon and Sydnor were tasked to prep for the case against Senator Clay Davis. The rest of the team was sent to homicide. Further up the ladder, political games are afoot as the crime stats rise and the bodies stack up.
At the same time that the city faced major cutbacks, the Baltimore Sun followed in suite. In general, since the rise of the Internet, print media has not been able to compete. The Sun fired the majority of its seasoned investigators. The city desk editor Gus Haynes (Clark Johnson, Homicide: Life on the Street) is one of the few veterans kept on staff. He is responsible for working with a small team of junior journalists. Amongst them are Alma Gutierrez (Michelle Paress) and Scott Templeton (Thomas McCarthy). Alma is at the beginning of her career and looking to work her way up the corporate ladder. While she is eager, she has morals and ethics. Templeton is another story. He has moved from paper to paper and is willing to do almost anything to get recognition.
While the police cutbacks are settling in, McNulty reacts in a bad way. He drops any ethics that he has left. He feels that if the bosses are going to ignore the murders and fake crime statistics, he will take matter into his own hands. McNulty stages a series of murders -- a serial killer is running rampant in Baltimore and killing homeless men. At first, McNulty's serial killer is ignored by all the other things happening in the city. Templeton fakes a story about his involvement with the killer and it becomes national news and McNulty's case turns into a red ball.
Afterwards, McNulty and Templeton become at the bottom of lies. McNulty uses his red ball case to get resources to fund the Major Crimes Unit and other police work that had been previously ignored. Freamon is able to continue focusing on Marlo. It comes at a cost, as McNulty piles on the lies to get more resources, while he loses the respect of Greggs and Bunk. Meanwhile, Templeton becomes a favorite of the paper's editor and executive editor. Haynes gets suspicious of Templeton's technique and his concerns are brushed away.
As the story continues, the relationship between McNulty and Templeton's action play a vital role in the main plot development. There are several subplots that add to the story or detail a critical aspect. Some of the subplots include Bubbles facing his personal demons and coming to terms with Sherrod, a major power shift in the drug world as Marlo moves against Joe, Michael and Dukie continuing their independent life, Alma struggling with being a small fish in big pond, Carcetti running for mayor, Omar returning for revenge, and more.
Overall, season five is an excellent addition to the series. The season's focus of the media's perspective gets pretty intense. Part of what makes it so intriguing is how well the stories are written and how the plots and subplots fit together. The result is an entertaining, intriguing, and intense drama. The show also does a fine job with its character development, touching upon all kinds of emotions: compassion, fear, hatred, pain, anger, happiness, etc. David Simon and team outdid themselves once again. For fans of the series, The Wire's fifth season is a must. Newcomers will want to start with season one and work there way to season five.
1. More With Less: As McNulty and the detail continue staking out Marlo's crew, Sergeant Carver is welcomed by a cauldron of discontent from officers coping with unpaid overtime. Meanwhile, City Editor Haynes of a local newspaper copes with corporate downsizing, and with the help of reporters Gutierrez, Price and Templeton breaks a front-page story that links a politician to a co-op drug dealer.