David Simon’s The Wire is widely regarded as the greatest television drama of all time.
Simon used his journalistic experience to give the HBO show a deadly accuracy in its portrayal of the drug and law enforcement scene in Baltimore’s streets. The actors in it hardly seemed like actors – just normal, real-life people buying and selling drugs and others trying to nab them and their overlords.
This show was often so realistic that it seemed like one was watching a documentary.
Here are the best ten episodes from this crime drama series:
1. “Middle Ground”
One of the best things about The Wire was nobody, not even the most likable characters, on the show was safe. This episode from season 3 saw the unexpected death of Idris Elba’s Stringer Bell, the suave mobster who everybody thought was untouchable. He was killed by Omar Little and Brother Mouzone who cornered him. When Bell, the calm, business-like professional, realised they did not want his money, he resigned himself to his fate. “Well, then get on with it, m*****f*****,” were his final words.
This episode probably had the biggest death in the series. Michael K Williams’ Omar Little, one of show’s best characters (if not the best), who robbed street-level drug dealers, was dispensed with unceremoniously by a boy drug dealer. His death was so random for such an iconic character that there was outrage among the fans. And yet, the world in The Wire, works just like our world. There are no designs, no patterns to it, just chaos.
The episode that established Omar Little as a figure feared among drug dealers and even high-level mobsters. Two of Barksdale’s men, Wee-Bey and Stinkum, are ambushed by Omar with his trademark shotgun. It was in this episode he uttered the words of warning seeping with bravado that has become associated with him: “Come at the king, you best not miss.”
4. “Old Cases”
This episode from the first season taught many how versatile the f-word can be. Detectives Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland are investigating the murder of a woman. The masterful thing about this five-minute scene is McNulty and Moreland communicate solely using different iterations of the f-word. It is one of the best scenes in the show and, I daresay, for any drama show, ever.
5. “Cleaning Up”
Before Michael B Jordan gained limelight in Creed series and Black Panther, he played the role of a young drug dealer in The Wire. His character, an innocent boy called Wallace, was killed in a heartbreaking scene in the first season.
6. “Late Editions”
A running theme in The Wire is that unless the system is transformed from the ground up, things will go on as depressingly as usual. American prisons will continue to be crowded with small-time drug dealers, and there will be no end to the war on drugs. No episode demonstrates that more than Late Editions, in which a new generation embraces the ways of the older generation.
Simon, who was a journalist before he made The Wire, decided to end the show in the way many journalists in North America end a story: -30-. The episode underlined once again that there has to be systemic changes in the United States. It was a depressing ending, but so is life.
8. “The Hunt”
Apart from what goes in a criminal organisation that manufactures or smuggles drugs, The Wire offered insight into the corruption in the police department. There were few episodes in the show that demonstrated that than this episode from the inaugural season.
9. “All Prologue”
Once again, an Omar Little episode. And Williams is incredible in the role. The character is in the court for the Bird murder trial. His conversation with a lawyer goes like this: Maurice ‘Maury’ Levy (the lawyer): You are amoral, are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You are stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our city. You are a parasite who leeches off…” Omar cuts in, “Just like you, man.” Levy continues before stopping, “…the culture of drugs. Excuse me? What?” Omar finishes, “I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. It’s all in the game though, right?”
10. “The Cost”
Barksdale crew members Wee-Bey Brice and Little Man attack detective Kima Greggs and Orlando when the drug deal turns out to be an ambush. It was a particularly action-heavy episode of the show.
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