After five relentlessly gritty seasons of exposing the highs and lows of Baltimore and exploring creator David Simon's thesis that people today matter less than ever, HBO's great series The Wire comes to a close tonight. I tore through all the previous seasons on DVD this Fall so I could be here tonight, watching the finale live alongside the show's other fans. But, as I wrote when I asked about your favorite series finales the other day, now that the moment's arrived, I'm feeling overwhelmingly ambivalent. Fact is, I'm just not ready to let Bunk, McNulty, Kima, Lester, Bubbles, Carcetti, and even Marlo go. And I can only imagine how fans who watched and dissected each season over the past five years must feel.
There are so many plot threads still unraveling, and so many stories yet to be connected, that I doubt there's any way tonight's 95-minute finale can tie them all up. Will Lester's shining drug bust end up falling apart? Will Scott's lies grow bigger? Will McNulty recover from his latest downward spiral? I think I may leave the show with as many questions as answers. But in a way, that's exactly how a sprawling series like The Wire should end: messy and complicated, just like it's always been.
HBO has been putting episodes On Demand a week early all season, but the network held the final episode back (and yes, it leaked online — no spoilers in the comments, please!) so fans would watch together. As a result, a very funny preview aired On Demand, featuring Clay Davis and his signature catchphrase: "Sheeeeeeeit." You can watch it, plus the promo for the final episode, if you just read more.