breaking up is hard to do

I’ve been awol on HH the last month or so, trying to gather my thoughts. Right now my primary feeling is one of panic: What am I going to watch now?? There were a lot of moments in the last two episodes that I loved, and the season, despite a lot of my doubts early on, really did come together. The whole “greedy Jewish lawyer” bit got laid on a bit thick in the last episode, but seeing Levy and Pearlman face off was deeply, deeply gratifying. Like Shoals, I relished seeing Cheese get it. I admired Michael’s smarts in taking out Snoop. (And did I ever like to see her die — a little just vengeance was the cherry on that sundae. Or should I say just desserts?) And Gus on the copy desk! That was a nice touch. There were a lot of nice touches. Marlo punching that guy on the corner was like… whoa. I know I’m not the only one who feels like I lost my best friends. My only recourse now is to start over at season 1, episode 1. To see the whole thing in its glory.


My one huge sticking point with the last two episodes is Dukie. Are we really to believe that Dukie, who has survived so much, would be driven to his Sharad/Bubbles addiction because he lost Bug and Michael? What is his tie to the homeless guy with the cart? I just don’t buy it. I also will admit that I was so hysterical at the end of episode 59 that I could barely see through my tears and was reduced to yelling at jetset, over and over, “Fuck you, Simon! Fuck you!” Not one of my most mature moments. But I felt that scene was so manipulative, so punishing, that I couldn’t deal with it. It was gratuitious. The Wire can really veer towards the sadistic — and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

But this isn’t just about me falling in love with Dukie. We’re always talking about the show’s nihilism/bleakness, and I accept that. But the last two episodes seemed to apply that principle of unhappy endings unevenly. We’re asked to believe that Freamon, McNulty and Kima can all rise to the occasion and be their best selves — improbably staying friends after she blows their cover and destroys their careers which, as much as they welcomed, I doubt could be papered over with a beer — but Dukie can’t be his best self. He survives a crack mom, the torment of his peers for years, poverty, hunger, filth, and then falls under the sway of a homeless junkie (who was that guy??) and starts using? Really? And yes, I get it. I get that the characters from the street bear a bigger burden of doom than any other characters. I know that what little “agency” is in circulation is not spread evenly, which is part of the point. But it was too much: too in your face, too “take that,” too cartoonish, too predictible, too unbelievable, just too much. So while I’m depressed there’s no more Wire, I’m also relieved. I can’t do this anymore.

Now tear me apart, you dogs.

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20 Comments on “breaking up is hard to do”

  1. huh. maybe i’m not sensitive enough, but i was feeling more like the finale just sort of summed up where the show had been heading all along, and the fates of all the characters made perfect sense.

    i’d like to have seen things go another way with certain characters, but i don’t really think it was in any way unbelieveable or that there was enough to gainsay what happened in the world of the wire.

    again, maybe i’m not sensitive enough, but the “greedy Jewish lawyer” thing didn’t register on me at all. sure, levy’s a scumbag, but it’s like saying the wire is laying the “violent black drug dealer” thing on too thick also. c’mon.

    also- that whole post that was taken down about levy and black/jewish relations was a little nutso. good job on taking it down.

  2. Boston Matt Says:

    about dukie…

    I think you’re discounting the ease with which someone can slip into habits that are commonplace all around them, especially when they’re growing up. Look at all the abuse victims that become abusers. Sons and daughters of alcoholics that become alcoholics themselves.

    Dukie grew up in a house filled with drug addicts, and its remarkable that he lasted as long as he did. And then, suddenly, he’s all alone, with his only “friend” being the junkman. He sees no hope. His new father figure shoots. His old parental figures shot. All the kids around him sling.

    As bleak as it is, i think Dukie’s end is very realistic and true to the character. Of the 4 boys, the most unrealistic was Namond’s.

    As far as the scene in 59 being manipulative… in fiction, every scene is manipulative, that’s the point.

  3. CAL Says:

    Got to disagree with one of Boston Matt”s statements. Namonds situation was the result of what I teach in my mentoring program. I see results like these more often than you would imagine. The right recipe was there for him to make the turnaround: A caring responsible mentor. a dramatic change in his environment, and an increase in his access to and success with education.

  4. Ben Says:

    I have to disagree about Dukie, he was weak, and in the street, the weak characters get screwed. I accepted Wallace’s death, he was gonna snitch, I never held it against Bodie. Same with D, he was always weak and would have been taken out much earlier had he not been kin. Same goes for Randy, you can’t tell me these kids don’t know the harsh repercussions from snitching in any context. Never felt his story was unjustified. Michael was the only one suitable for the streets and therefore the only one who could flourish there. Lest we forget though, Dukie’s folks were alcoholics, not dopers, so at least he’s not following their exact paths.

  5. crushed Says:

    Dukie’s sudden transformation was shocking. When he appeared outside Tilghman Middle School, I expected him to finally ask Prez for help. It was the moment I had been waiting for all season… the reconciliation of Dukie and Prez. How to get “from here to the rest of the world”. Instead, in a sadistic twist, Dukie lied, scammed, deceived and conned his old teacher out of $200. I was horrified. It felt like a knife to the gut. I had to look away.

    What the hell happened? Why would he act like this? I’ve been racking my brain for answers…

    The only explanation I can come up with is that Michael’s cold abandonment crushed Dukie’s spirit. The loss of his childhood friend devastated him and made him suicidal. Dukie was so hurt by Michael’s betrayal that he did not want to live anymore. As soon as Michael told him he didn’t remember their past and drove away, Dukie walked into that stable and started shooting up that very night to take the pain away.

    I think Dukie was driven to heroin by despair and loneliness. Michael and Bug were his only family. Losing them was too much for his heart to bear. It pushed him over the edge and Dukie fell into the abyss.

  6. Boston Matt Says:

    The despair of his situation, the end of his childhood, and the end of his friendship with Michael, those all thrust him into the abyss.

    Him going to PRez was no doubt manipulated hy the junkman. He could have guilted Dukie into getting “rent” money or something like that. Look at teh scolding way he asked Dukie about what he got.

    Everyone’s a hustler on this streets.

  7. Jay Smooth Says:

    Hard as it was to watch (especially if you’ve seen it IRL) Dukie’s fate was the most realistic and believable of them all.. all the reasons you list for saying “REALLY?” are exactly the reasons he can so easily to fall into this way of living, which has been modeled for him all his life..

  8. Russell Says:

    First, to Boston Nat – Namond’s ending also makes sense in that he was the biggest mama’s boy amongst the four kids. He was most open to getting a good strong father figure like Bunny.

    Second, to Ben – Just a note about D’s murder back in Season 2. I always felt the irony of his death was that he had finally found his strength to reject Avon and Co. and was willing to rot in a cell w/o Avon’s protection. He was weak for the game but at the point of his murder he was showing no signs of snitching. This made it all the more frustarting to hear other characters talking about him after his supoosed suicide: i.e. “He always was weak.” etc.

  9. d'angelo Says:

    D’Angelo was always the strongest character to me. He was the only one who had the courage to stand up to both Avon and Stringer. He wasn’t a snitch (like Stringer). D’Angelo swallowed all those years and he was prepared to do his time. He was even using that time to better himself by working in the library and studying literature.

    I will always love D’Angelo for refusing to give up Wallace. He gave Wallace money and told him to go back to school. When Stringer came to him because he wanted to put a hit on Wallace, D;Angelo stood tall and protected his boy. He told Stringer that Wallace left the game and to leave him alone.

    Bodie and Poot were always the weak ones. They were spineless and unquestioning. When Stringer ordered them to kill their homeboy Wallace, they carried through like brainless minions.

  10. Joe Crawford Says:

    Freamon and McNulty and Kima’s reconciliation makes perfect sense. They were aware from the /jump/ that they needed to take the heat for what they were up to. Why else to insulate everyone else as much as possible? They knew it could go south. Kima was just being Kima – stand up cop. She had her own internal code she had to live by, not unlike McNulty. Bottom line, things change, and Kima is good natural police just like F and McN. Speaking as a man in his late 1930s – friendships don’t necessarily die because friends do stuff that hurts you.

    Dukie is lost because he has no assets, noone to steward him, save the junkie junk man. It’s incredibly sad, but it does happen. Is there hope for him? I think so, we see Bubbles got out, one day at a time.

    Not in any way trying to tear you apart — I think your opinions are heartfelt and come from a place of fanhood. That this show can brook disparate opinions about the decisions made speaks to how powerful and well done it is. Life is ambiguous, not pat, hard and sometimes wonderful. So’s The Wire.

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Joe Crawford Says:


    Dukie’s hooked on smack. He needs money. I think you are overthinking his motivation in going to Mr. Prezbo. His addiction is driving his behavior. I imagine the junkies sitting around asking him “who can you get some money from?” That shit will drive you to get money anywhere you might want be able to get. Beg, borrow or steal. Yes, heartbreaking, and as much as we’re seeing Bubbles’ recovery process, through Dukie maybe we get to see a little bit of how Bubbles might have gotten to become Bubbles from being Reginald. Just as we saw smart and spirited Duquan become Dukie.

  12. notsobubbly Says:

    I don’t see Dukie ever recovering like Bubbles. His fate will more likely mirror Johnny or Sherod. He will either die of AIDS or overdose.

    Bubbles was the exception. He had a support system. Dukie doesn’t. Bubbles grew up in a family. Dukie was spawned by crack fiends. Bubbles has a sister who allowed him to stay in her basement and bought him toiletries. Dukie has nobody. Bubbles was an adult who had a job before he became a junkie. Dukie is a homeless drop-out. Bubbles started smoking pot first and got hooked onto harder stuff. Dookie went straight to shooting H at 15. Bubbles has hustle and made money off his depot. Dukie is a follower with no initiative.

    In sum, Dukie ain’t no Bubbles. He’s just another junkie. At the rate he’s going, this kid will be dead by 18.

  13. HonTea Says:

    Oh my god notsobubbly, you’re killing me.

  14. kh Says:

    Should we be outraged that McNulty and Freamon were allowed to happily walk away? They made up lies to deceive the city into fighting a war. They hurt numerous people’s lives to fight this war including parents of the victims. They ran illegal wiretaps and broke all the rules. It is an open secret that they did all this but it got to the point that too many people are too invested in it to stop it and admit that it’s all bullshit. Anyone wondering about what McNulty will do now? It’s easy, he’ll work at Haliburton.
    Their lies destroyed Michael’s life. Their imaginary CI made Marlo’s crew hunt him down and thereby seperate him from Bug and drive Dukie to use. And we thought what Herc did to Randy was bad.

  15. The Hypnotoad Says:

    HonTea, also think of the inevitable situation where Michael robs the wrong crew and gets a huge bounty on him, you don’t think Dukie will snitch on Bugs location for some more dope money? “It’s either play, or get played”

  16. Curtis Says:

    “…friendships don’t necessarily die because friends do stuff that hurts you… That this show can brook disparate opinions about the decisions made speaks to how powerful and well done it is. Life is ambiguous, not pat, hard and sometimes wonderful. So’s The Wire.”

    Joe Crawford? That was superb, man.

  17. JamilWiseGuy Says:

    The junkman with a horse and cart was the only guy that would give Dukwon a job. I think that is the sad commentary meant by Dukie putting a needle in his arm and hustling an old friend out of some money. Makes one think extra hard about every guy asking for change and why they go and shoot it, drink it, or smoke it. Sad but true shit.

  18. ATrumpetAndaDream Says:

    One really sad bit is Dukie selling one of the very few things he has of value – his friendship with Prezbo. His one healthy relationship with an adult. Echoes of Bub’s sister’s kitchen.

    You can almost imagine Dukie trying the same trick on Micheal in any future he has and getting short shrift.

  19. While there are many signs of a doomed relationship, it doesn’t mean the relationship is over or even has to end. All these signs have reverse buttons if you make a change. And even if one partner makes a change, it can be significant enough to improve the relationship overall. So keep that in mind.

  20. Derek Says:

    Ponder on this. What happens to McNulty? No college education, disgraced from the police, no hobbies, no life outside of the police (the job is his life). Kids to support…and an alcoholic. Things don’t look to good…

    As for Dukie? Destined for hell.
    Bubbles? Hard to say, his character seems like it was based on the character from the book, The Corner,l (and that guy took an OD).
    Freemon will be ok, he has his pension, and his hobby which pays the bills.
    Kima? I think she’ll become a ‘house cat’, she has shown where her loyalties lie (with the system, as opposed to mavericks who bend rules, she’ll become the type of cop enforcing the status quo – the type of cop she secretly despises). She would probably learn a lot from how not to do things to survive, but I don’t think she has the political nouse you need to climb the exalted heights. Another Daniels, i reckon…
    Marlo? Dead…

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