“Ain’t never gonna be what it was.”

Season 2 of The Wire is often lamented by fans as the weakest in the series. This complaint, I think, arises due to the viewer’s sudden immersion in the strange and remote world of the Baltimore docks. Whereas the coming seasons exploring the school system or the newspaper mesh seamlessly with the Baltimore we were … Continue reading

On The Wire: Thirteen Essays on The Wire, Season 1

Our regular readers, if they exist, will no doubt have noticed that our output has slowed to a trickle of late. While there are many reasons for this, the most significant is that we have been spending a lot of time focusing on releasing several e-books via the Amazon Kindle. While our most exciting project, … Continue reading

“all in the game…”

Like an essay that introduces, builds and restates its argument, Season 1 of The Wire ends as it began, by addressing the tent-pole themes that have supported the narrative since the first episode. Having worked its way through numerous sub-themes that gave its overall argument shape, it is able to present a much clearer view … Continue reading

“This is me, yo, right here.”

Amidst all the tying of loose ends that naturally pervades the final hours of a complex season of television, deeper meanings and themes can often be obscured by the inevitable flood of plot development and resolution. In the case of the first season’s penultimate episode, titled, “Cleaning Up,” this effect is amplified by Wallace’s murder, … Continue reading

“Dope on the damn table.”

The cold open of episode 11 of The Wire picks up almost exactly where episode 10 left off. It is perhaps the first time we see such direct linear continuity between episodes, and there is good reason for this. Whereas episode 10 spent most of its run-time building towards the climactic shooting of Shakima Greggs, … Continue reading

“And then he dropped the bracelets…”

Episode 10 of The Wire opens on a drug-free Bubbles sitting on a park bench, struggling to come to terms with his new status as a recovering addict. Over the course of this simple, but powerful scene, he goes through several different emotions in quick succession. As children play and families stroll, Bubbles sits in … Continue reading

“Maybe we won.”

The Wire is filled with metaphors. In fact, one could make a fairly decent drinking game out of taking a shot each time an on-screen event appears to carry a deeper thematic meaning. Many of these metaphors are easy to spot, such as D’Angelo’s explanation of chess in episode 3 and the desk-moving debacle of … Continue reading

“Come at the king, you best not miss.”

Episode 8 of The Wire is opened with the quote: “Come at the king, you best not miss.” While this is undoubtedly one of the most memorable quotes from the entire series, it is actually the official title of the episode that gives us the primary theme. The Wire’s episodes are generally titled quite innocuously. … Continue reading

“A man must have a code.”

“A man must have a code,” is the quote that guides episode 7 of The Wire, but even before the quote appears on the screen at the end of the credit sequence, the cold open of the episode presents us with one aspect of the phrase’s double meaning. In the case of this first scene, … Continue reading

“…and all the pieces matter.”

The quotation that opens episode six of The Wire’s first season has a double meaning. The first meaning is most apparent if we place the quote within the larger context of the conversation in which it arises. In this scene, Freamon and Pryzbylewski are having a discussion while monitoring the wire they have on the … Continue reading