The police arrest Marlo and most of his crew, but then Kima tells the truth about McNulty's scam; plus, Michael shoots Snoop, and Bubbles celebrates his sobriety
Sonja Sohn, The Wire

”The Wire” recap: The big bust

In the best scene of this beautiful hard night of The Wire, Michael, his ears perked after Snoop told him to leave his iron at home, turned a gun on the coldest killer on TV. Marlo’s crew still doesn’t understand how they fell so fast, how the entire team is sitting behind bars, with Chris up for a murder too. They figured it had to be the boy, and so Michael had to be put down. ”It how you carry yourself,” said Snoop, her Bahmore accent thick. ”Always apart, always asking why when you should be doing what you told. You was never one of us, and you never could be.” There was no sobbing or pleading or pissing her pants. Snoop, her blank expression never changing, turned to look out the driver’s side window and ran a palm over her braided head. ”How my hair look, Mike?” ”You look good, girl,” he said somberly, before pulling the trigger.

Everybody was betraying one another in this cold town. Marlo’s crew thought Michael had flipped, so they were preparing an empty row-house grave for him. He had to kill a woman he feared but respected. Herc, who had filched Marlo’s cell number from Levy, lied to the for-once-stumped lawyer’s face. (Levy’s jaw might drop further if Lester pounces on the whiskey-soaked scoop he gleaned from Clay Davis.) Marlo, upon learning that Omar had been calling him a punk on the streets, boiled over the fact that none of his men had bothered to tell him. ”Marlo step to any motherf—er, Omar, Barksdale, whoever!” roared Marlo, driven to rage for the first time we’ve known him. ”My name is my name!” At the Baltimore Urban Debate League, we got to peek back in on Namond, blossoming into a trophy-toting orator under the care of Bunny Colvin and his wife. The mayor, upon seeing Colvin for the first time since he sold him down the river, tried to shake Bunny’s hand, but the proud man wouldn’t take it. Gus went to Walter Reed, the site where so many young men and women have been let down, and gathered more evidence against Templeton. And, finally, hardest of all, Kima, torn up by McNulty’s headlong dive off the deep end, was forced to turn on her friend and wise up Daniels to the whole serial-killer mess.

I relished seeing Bunk suck on his cigar with Chris at his knees in cuffs, the glorious rapid-fire arrest and seizure of so many of Marlo’s team, Lester drunk and horny, and Carver assuring Herc that ”you’re the tits.” And this was a night to celebrate Bubbles, clean and sober and looking like he just might make it yet.

I do hope we get to hear a little of Fletcher’s piece on Bubbles in the finale. (In fact, I wish David Simon, under the byline Mike Fletcher, would post the article in full on The Wire‘s website.) He was hanging out with Reginald in the basement when Bub’s sister called him to the stairs with a plastic sack of deodorant and shampoo. Bubbles invited her and the family to his anniversary at AA and then offered to cook up a pot of macaroni and cheese to celebrate, but she’s still got too much protective covering to root him on from the wings. Fletcher, and Steve Earle, and the other holding-ons in the church were there for him, though. Bubbles, all buttoned-up, stood at the front of the room and finally shared his story. He talked about walking by the park, at the magic hour when the sunlight is soft, and remembering when as a boy he would watch the girls go by and smoke a little herb. Desperate to recapture the breezy innocence of his daydream, he thought hard about giving himself back over to drugs. ”I didn’t get high,” he told the room. ”But I had this moment, wanting to feel that way again.” He spoke about the loss of his friend Sherrod, felled by bad junk, and the guilt and sadness that go along with remembering. ”Ain’t no shame in holding on to grief,” he said. ”As long as you make room for other things, too.”

NEXT: What’s going to happen to Dukie

Dukie, the night’s terrible heartbreak, also got to daydreaming. After Michael dropped Bug off at an aunt’s house deep in the quiet, mystifying suburbs, telling his little brother not to cry as he tied the boy’s shoe, Michael and Dukie idled outside the junkman’s den. Dukie, whose pocked and discolored face suggests he’s already dipping into drugs, no longer has Bug to care for, and now he’s losing Michael, who must shed his friend to protect him from Marlo’s wrath. Dukie, loath to leave his last tether to childhood, started reminiscing about a summer afternoon of piss balloons and ice cream off a truck. ”Do you remember that day, Michael?” The harder boy finally got out a somber ”I don’t.” These two do not yet know, or have reason to believe, that life can hold more than loss and more loss. Earlier in the season, when Dukie asked Cutty how one made his way out into the wider world, the boxer couldn’t give him an answer. He’s trapped here, as if behind a barbed-wire fence, without anyone to help him pull himself out.

So, after the credits rolled, I stomped around the house in a fit of rage and tears, the way I always do following the penultimate episode in every season of The Wire when I realize just what losses we’ll have to endure this go-round. I was supposed to go to bed now, knowing that Dukie had wandered into that mad carnivalesque shadow world, clutching his backpack straps for protection? Damn, I hate this motherjacking show. (To comfort myself, I looked up the terrific actor who plays Dukie on the HBO website and was happy to read that in real life 16-year-old Jermaine Crawford likes to sing and dance and eat crab legs. Yay, youth!)

How about the rest of you? Whatever nagging misgivings you’ve had about the season so far, can we agree that all is forgiven after this mighty episode? Did Kima do the right thing by turning McNulty in? Will the wiretap hold? If Marlo and Omar had met mano a mano in the streets, who would’ve prevailed? Is a drunk Lester — ”Shardene better be awake too because I doooo believe Lester Freamon’s in the mood for love!” — still a sexy Lester? (Yes, that Shardene from back in the day!) Dukie’s tentative stumble to the dark side ripped my heart up; which tragedy on The Wire cut you the deepest?

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