Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching The Wire again from the beginning, and I’m nearly at the end of season four now. When I first watched them all, season four was my favourite, but time has eroded my memory so that all I could pin that on was Prez and Bunny Colvin taking it in turns to be Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. When I finished off season three the other day, with the Brother Mouzone scenes and Stringer’s death and all that brother-against-brother shit in the Barksdale crew, I thought to myself ‘Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. This is way better than I remember. It might even be better than season four in the middle school!’
Season four of The Wire is the best one for the same reason that season four of Mad Men is turning into the best so far. They started again. McNulty’s barely in it. Prez starts afresh as a teacher. The Major Crimes Unit is non-operational. The streets are different because Marlo doesn’t abide by the rules. The only Barksdale people left are Bodie and Slim Charles and they’re absorbed pretty quickly. The mayoral race starts to link the drug traffic to the bigger picture of a city in crisis, and what David Simon has been wanting to say about society starts to get said.
Those scenes in season three with Omar, Avon and Stringer, Brother Mouzone; they were all so amazing that it was actually difficult to breathe during some of them, but there was a story arc that was pure television. There are so many arcs through season four that the apparent disorganisation of the whole thing removes our expectations of the televisual and lets us become completely involved.
It’ll probably be a good thing when I’m back at uni and thinking about something other than box sets.