"The Wire" is sadly coming to the end of its glorious five-season run, and last Sunday's episode -- #58, "Clarifications" -- was another near perfect hour.
I must confess to being slightly less enthused about some elements of this final season -- OK, one element: the far-out portions of McNulty and Freamon's shenanigans concerning a made-up serial killer -- but for the most part, it has been unbelievably good.
Actor Wendell Pierce, portraying Det. William "Bunk" Moreland, has been a giant this season, alternating between rage at the broken machine that is the Baltimore police department and criminal investigation system and disgust with the actions of his partner, Det. Jimmy McNulty (played brilliantly by Dominic West), who has crossed the line between impassioned public service and Ahab-like myopia.
I felt that season four of "The Wire," with its focus on the educational system and the lives of four unforgettable young kids, was the run of episodes that lifted the program from merely being a timeless, stone classic to, seriously, becoming the all-time best series ever produced for television. The show's continued examination of the next stages in the lives of these kids during this season (albeit not the show's main focus, which has shifted to the role the media plays in the life of a city) has been even more heartbreaking, if that's possible.
RIP, Omar D. Little. The writers and actor Michael K. Williams deserve an amazing amount of credit for creating one of the most memorable characters in the history of television. A black, gay, Robin Hood-esque stickup artist, an antihero who we shouldn't have had any affection for (a "predatory motherf--ker," as Bunk once called him) who made his living ripping off -- and killing, if necessary -- drug dealers and other crime world figures became a dominant figure in the life of the show.
In terms of "The Wire," the gunning down of Omar was a tragic event, a little like Jesse James getting shot down by the "coward" Robert Ford, slain in a corner store by the pre-pubescent banger whose sidewalk faux-gunplay with his friends ("My turn to be Omar!") in season three inspired Bunk's tongue-lashing of Omar in that memorable park bench discussion about the negative impact his actions were having on the community and children ("All this death! You don't think that ripples out?").