After watching the final episode of the first season of The Wire, it is really interesting to note how good a job the season does of framing itself by paralleling events from the first episode. For instance, just as in the beginning, we get a scene in the courthouse which features Jimmy McNulty and Stringer Bell, and as Stringer exits, he quips to McNulty, “nicely done”, as McNulty has succeeded in putting away Avon Barksdale, albeit not for as long as he would have wanted, and without having successfully put away Stringer as well. “Nicely done” is, of course, the same thing McNulty says to Stringer in the first episode after Stringer intimidates witnesses out of testifying against DeAngelo, and by throwing in this line, The Wire brings the season full circle to some degree. Similarly, in the beginning of the season, when McNulty is starting to stir up trouble in the police department, Jay asks McNulty where he doesn’t want to be, warning him that that’s where he’ll end up if he keeps this up. Later, Lester Freamon tells McNulty that when he stuck his neck out too far, the brass asked him where he didn’t want to be, which got him stuck in the pawn shop unit. Sure enough after all of this foreshadowing, Rawls tells McNulty in the last episode that he wants to see him land on his feet, asks where he doesn’t want to be, and sure enough he tosses McNulty exactly where he doesn’t want to be: the boat. There are other examples of this, such as Poot teaching the same drug exchanging methods to a younger dealer as DeAngelo had taught him in the beginning, and McNulty and Bunk’s repetition of their mottos: “what the fuck did I do?” and “you happy now, bitch?” All of these work well with the general message at the end that not much has changed in the police department, in the government, and in the drug world by the end of the season, and not much ever changes.
Still, it got me to thinking back to the Brunsdon reading, and more specifically about the conversation regarding how this show was meant to be watched. I noticed the parallels between the first episode and the last episode because I watched them within a week of each other, having binged on the series for this class, but would I have noticed all of them if I had watched these 12 weeks apart, as those who watched the show from start to finish did? And if I might have missed them, does that mean this show is meant to be watched in a binge, or is it David Simon’s intention to have many things go over many people’s heads? Additionally, I am led to question the value of re-watching such a show. I have been through the entire series once before, so I noticed all the foreshadowing, from the scene where Lester tells McNulty about his experience of being asked where he didn’t want to go, to all the events leading up to Wallace’s death, and I spent those scenes this time trying to remember if I saw the future events coming the first time I watched. Regardless, I will encourage anyone I know who has watched this series once to watch it again, as the re-watch value is extremely high.