When It’s Time, It’s Time
THIS IS #59. FOR THOSE WISHING TO WEEP UPON #58, GO HERE.
Hopefully, by now those of you living the OnDemand lifestyle have gotten past #58. I hope you have, because #59 was like a zillion times more sad. A lot of it was cliff-hanger-y in nature, setting us up for a monster finale. Since I’ve sworn off predictions, I won’t bother with wondering if the Marlo bust will stick, if McNulty’s headed for awful, or if Herc and Levy will be burned at the stake. What I want to focus on is Michael, because those last five minutes were probably the saddest shit this show has ever foisted upon us.
First off, the decision to off Michael—or, as it turned out, his semi-affectionate offing of Snoop, which kind of felt like someone murdering his big sister/guidance counselor. The issue was that Mike didn’t follow orders, thought too independent, and just generally wasn’t cut out for soldiering. Telling that both Marlo and Chris didn’t, or really didn’t want to, believe that this marked him as the snitch. But you’ve got to assume that one of them ultimately gave the order, so I won’t dwell too much on what they think his true nature is.
However, when Snoop lectures him in the car, you could take it two ways. Either it’s proof that Michael should’ve stayed in school, kept the anger inside, and tried to be a normal kid. “You were never one of us,” Snoop spits matter-of-factly. The question is, what was he never? Snoop, the consummate mindless soldier? Chris, who knows how and when to voice his opinion? Or a gangster in general? There’s still the possibility that, in making this move, Michael showed what we’ve suspected all along: That’s he destined to end up like Marlo, because he’s just too smart, shrewd and determined to work for anyone else. Hence that flipping of what Chris and Snoop taught him about how to scope out a potential hit. He took the field manual and used it for himself.
Those last two scenes, with Bug and Dukie, were positively heartbreaking. I’ll admit it, I cried a little. When Bug walked through that door, and the relative (aunt?) closed it with only an ambivalent glance at Michael, you knew that the kid had now crossed over. She may not have known exactly what had happen—with that murder, Michael is now either headed for a grave or in the midst of a power move.
For Bug to stay safe and grow up normal, he’s got to be away from his brother. Ironically, Michael always seemed like a parent, but only when he watched Bug walk away did he finally look like an adult. One who has chosen, or been backed into, a life that’s bad for those around him. Hard to say whether he became a man when he responsibly said goodbye to Bug, or when he decided to throw himself whole-heartedly into the game by offing Snoop.
And then, the parting of ways with Dukie. I guess he could’ve explained things better, but that’s never been Michael’s way. Of course Dukie, the most vulnerable character the show has ever seen, can’t take it. He throws his heart out on his sleeve, hoping for some response, but Mike’s already repressed it all. At first, I was pissed, and then, I realized it was Bug redux. Dukie shouldn’t want to be around Michael. He’s not built for the street life, and that’s the road Michael’s most definitely stuck upon. The four kids are all now officially worlds apart, and to appeal to that fleeting moment of innocence and camaraderie is, for all of their sake, best avoided. Dukie needs to figure out his own way, and Michael can’t be responsible for him anymore—that would be irresponsible.
I know I said no predictions, but as Bubbles heals and Dukie draws closer to the abyss, the similarities between the two are striking. Hopefully—and I say this knowing how dumb it is to root for characters on this show, and how little it was to do with its message—Dukie will find some niche that doesn’t augur total self-destruction. Given where’s he from, and what he’s been through, that small consolation would be a major accomplishment.