Saturday, August 23, 2008
A quick note on the fifth season of the Wire (spoilers)
I am finally watching the fifth season of the Wire (four episodes to go), and also reading some of the old press about it. The fake serial killer plot to generate police funds is often cited as a willing suspension of disbelief problem, but I wanted to say this: the serial killer is the perfect counterpoint to the Wire. The serial killer, so popular in film and television, is attractive because evil is localized in this one figure -- take out the figure and the evil is gone. But just as Lost is about mysteries, and Battlestar Galactica is about character, the Wire is about systems: evil -- if you want to call it that, and probably shouldn't -- is diffuse, living in the structure people find themselves in. You cannot get rid of the problem by removing a bad guy -- you cannot even destroy the drug trade without taking into account the schools, the ports, and the press, and probably a dozen other things. Nothing highlights the Wire's stunning accomplishment demonstrating that you have to see the contexts, the big picture of systems, than the inclusion of the serial killer plot, which is nothing more than a convenient fiction both for the characters on the show, and in real life.