Omar becomes overconfident and lets himself get shot by a minor character; plus, McNulty realizes where his scam is taking him, and Dukie tries to find a way out

”The Wire” recap: End games

Right before Omar died, shot by that little dirt sack Kenard (who also was torturing a cat in this episode, that dog!), he bellowed on the corner that ”Marlo Stanfield is not a man for this town! You dig?” Well, Omar, with his strange, steely code of honor and elusive Robin Hood identity, apparently isn’t a man for modern-day Baltimore either. He hit the tile after buying a soft pack of Newports, Kenard’s chubby little wrist wobbling under the weight of his gun. That was it. Omar didn’t meet a glorious end, with his guns blazing and trench coat fluttering in the wind. He died like most of the people on The Wire, suddenly and without a lot of witnesses. The Sun scratched a story about his death, and in the cruelest turn, the morgue even switched up his body tag. After that leap into the night out the balcony window, after his ”Spider-Man s—,” Omar died a brutally banal death. And, sadly, it was the right way for the favorite character of so many Wire fans to go out.

Omar was too cool to ever confuse himself with a superhero. McNulty, on the other hand, continues to suffer mightily from his swollen ego and misguided righteousness. In what might have been my favorite line of the entire season — thank you, crime master Dennis Lehane! — McNulty fessed up to a furious Beadie that he had cooked up the whole serial-killer mess and knew he was bound to get buried in the hole he was digging. ”You start to tell a story,” he sputtered, ”you think you’re the hero, and then you get done talking…” I’ve had some real misgivings about this truncated season. I’m sure part of my concern is wondering how it could live up to the months-long heart attack of season 4. More than that though, the serial-killer angle seemed to stray dangerously close to limp sensationalism. However much everyone’s in on the joke, the plotline never grabbed me by the throat. So to see McNulty last night exhale his confession, defeated by his own hubris, seemed a welcome return to the show’s street-weary roots.

Earlier this season the man whined about how Marlo doesn’t get to win, they do. But just as Omar couldn’t bring the kingpin down with simple honor and incredible drive, it’s not looking like McNulty will be the one standing at the end of this showdown. The man is screwed, and last night he sounded like he was coming down from one bear of a manic episode. And hearing those Quantico boobs nail him so effortlessly in their psychological profile — a high-functioning alcoholic with a major beef with authority — further punctured his bloviated shield of invincibility.

My question, though, is how can this all pan out? Is our favorite lug seriously going to get busted? His unraveling has been so fast and furious that the idea of him wilting in jail or drunk and depressed in some gutter or worse just seems half baked. But that line of his, about not understanding how he started a hero and ended up the jackass, helps make this whole story line resonate a little deeper. And Beadie was right when she warned her wayward man that in the end, all there is for you is family, that and a few friends who might as well be family. McNulty has shredded just about any respect Kima and Bunk might have had for him, but damn, they do still love him. (Crap, me too.)

NEXT: Good old police work

And even Bunk (oh, how I will miss him and his cigar at the end of all this) took a little advantage of the serial-killer biz to rush the DNA results on his cold case. He’s been the perfect counterbalance to McNulty’s cowboy this season. ”No shucking, no jiving, just good old police work,” he barked at his old friend. So the lab proved Chris is his man, and it’ll be good to see Bunk take the bastard down. And after the way Snoop and Chris dismissed Michael, who warned that an egomaniac like Marlo would want to know if his name was being dogged on the streets, it’s easy to think those thugs will try to take the kid with them. Just leave Bug alone, for the love of God!

A final musing about Dukie. It was worrisome seeing him take to the streets last night, bored and kicking cans as he got shot down from job after job. (Poot, who I can never really forgive after he went after my beloved Wallace, was in ref stripes at a sneaker store saying Dukie had to bang a little while longer until he was old enough to get a job there. It’s kind of like being told as a teenager that you can go off to fight in a war but you still can’t buy yourself a drink.) But then Dukie hooked up with a junk man who at first I thought was Bubbles, and I hallelujahed that the two were finally going to connect. Alas, it was another junk man. Now am I nuts, or wasn’t Bubbles once running a similar trade, selling Hanes T-shirts and whatnot out of his cart? So then, here’s my question to you: Could The Wire be setting us up to see Dukie as a younger Bubbles, a good, heartful boy who couldn’t make it out of the neighborhood, inevitably stumbled into a poisonous life of drugs, but 20 years from now might, if he’s crazy lucky, straighten up the way Bubbles seems to be doing himself. Oh, Dukie dear, I think I’d rather you go the dancer route.

Oh, fine, one more line of the night, this exchange between Gus and another newsman: ”Weird shit, talking to a psychopath like that.” ”I talked to Dick Cheney once.”

But what did you all think? Is McNulty slammer bound? Can you spit like Snoop? Is the newspaper angle as invigorating to you as past seasons’ themes, or has it already wrung itself dry? And with Omar gone, is Bunk your new favorite character?

Episode Recaps

The Wire
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