I agree with Jeffrey Goldberg: the first episode of The Wire’s final season was disappointing.
I was enjoying myself just fine for the first 20 minutes or so, becoming reacquainted with some of my favorite drug dealers–the intensely lovable psycho-killer Snoop most of all–and scandalous cops. But then we entered the newsroom of the Baltimore Sun, and it was straight-up whiskey-tango-foxtrot time for me. I thought the show stopped dead, just about the time we were introduced to the saintly city editor and the darkly ambitious white-boy reporter.
In our early glimpse of the Sun newsroom, we’re not seeing much in the way of gray: just asshole bosses, a fantasy-camp city editor, a brooding and envious general assignment reporter and his naive-seeming Hispanic colleague, who gave us the most unrealistic moment last night: After she is publicly humiliated by the grammarians of the city desk, she actually seems grateful. Give me a break.
I also thought the newspaper scenes were unusually lame for such a great show. One of the best parts of The Wire is the moral ambiguity. Look, for instance, at Omar: he makes a living stealing from drug dealers, and yet he’s the most ethical character in the show. (As Dylan sang, “To live outside the law, you must be honest.”) I was crushed when Stringer Bell was killed at the end of Season 3, even though he was a drug kingpin. And I’m not the kind of person who roots for the bad guys.
The problem with the newspaper scenes was the transparency of the characters. I could tell the good guys from the bad guys after a few lines of dialogue. The show is normally much more interesting than that.