the wire season two: i can’t believe they killed SPOILER

In fact this whole post is one big spoiler, so if you haven’t got half-way through series 2 of The Wire then stop reading. If you’re watching on BBC2 right now, then step off this motherfucker. Serious, yo, back up or yo ass is gon’ get spoiled, f’real.

Still here? Well, don’t say you weren’t warned. The fact is, I still can’t believe they killed D’Angelo.

Sure, I know why Stringer did it, it makes sense in narrative terms — I’m talking about the writers of the show. Because to me, D’Angelo Barksdale was the heart and soul of The Wire. The show opened at his trial, and even though he left the courtroom he remained on trial, in a battle for his soul between the game and something better. I wanted him to be there until the end, because I was truly gripped as to which way he would go.

The other characters are, to some extent, locked into their roles. McNulty’s battle with his demons is compelling because of the vicarious thrill of watching his legendary exploits, but we know his drinking and whatnot can’t ever overwhelm his love for his kids, and his fierce and contrary desire for justice. I thought maybe Daniels’ ambition would cause him to betray the trust of the detail, but it doesn’t seem to be going that way. And the shark-like Stringer Bell is fascinating, but in his Shakespearean power machinations he’s more the calculating Iago than the tormented Macbeth.

The only other character with as much scope to go as far to either the light or dark side is Bubbles. I love Bubbles; his relapse at the end of season one was heartbreaking. From the spoilers of later series I haven’t avoided I understand that his progress both up and down — and further down — is central to the show. But somehow I can’t see his story being as compelling as D’Angelo’s. Maybe it’s the big soulful eyes, but D’Angelo just burned himself into my consciousness. Maybe it’s the soft-spoken speeches on chess or the Great Gatsby. But I wanted him to make it.

I understand why he was killed, in dramatic as well as narrative terms: it’s almost like the creators proving a point. Life is random, cruel, unexpected, and so is our show. Still, without him there’s a soul-shaped hole in The Wire.

Update: If you haven’t reached the end of Series 3, back the fuck up because there’s another big-ass spoiler pointed straight at your grill. Now they’ve killed Stringer! Two of the three who formed the psychological centre of the story are gone. Again, I understand the contrary desire to deprive us of resolution, but can’t they give us something! I’m dyin’ here! Now we’re stuck with Avon and Marlo, two characters who are pretty similar and not that interesting. I was expecting Avon to go next, in the next stage of Stringer’s machiavellian rise to power.

Still, in the way of light relief, I always crack up whenever Cutty introduces himself as Dennis Wise.

41 thoughts on “the wire season two: i can’t believe they killed SPOILER

  1. Chris Beaumont

    While I feel your pain, it’s cause is rooted in the fact that you’re hanging onto the conventions of regular TV that The Wire spunks all over. Lesser TV is too afraid to kill off it’s star characters when the narrative demands it. D’Angelo and Stringer had to go, surely; the former far too nice, too intelligent and kind, to survive, while Stringer too evil and Machiavellian to not have his deviousness catch up with him.

    It’s lamentable to see them go, but it’s right and poetic too, and helps to give the show it’s authenticity. Other shows would stretch as much air time out of them as they could, until it becomes impossible to care too much what happens.

    While it’s choc full of highly developed character arcs and wonderful performances that bring them thrillingly to life, the show isn’t about them. Well, it is about them, of course, but it’s about more than them, and to focus on them is to underplay the other narratives that really make the show great, in my opinion.

    The Wire is about holding a mirror up to American society, it’s about the death of the American working class, about the numbers game that’s killing policing and schooling, it’s about the political machine that ensures nobody is responsible. It’s leading characters are the justice system, the police department, the schools, the streets, and the political machinery that infests it all.

    In the light of all that, this or that character’s life or death become a mere device in the painting of the bigger picture.

    Having said all that, I was gutted when D’Angelo was killed too! Frankie Sebotka also, though that was a little more inevitable.

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