Fortunately it ended in a surprisingly satisfying -- *almost* uplifting -- manner, which I was not really expecting.
Yes, it was a pessimistic finale, and the message was loud and clear: Nothing Changes. Bad guys win, good guys lose. Everything we’ve seen happen in this city over five years is part of a never-ending cycle, there ain’t no nostalgia, there’s just the street and the game, and cooking the books, and institutions mistreating the ethical, rewarding the corrupt.
And yet, miraculously, while none of our main characters escaped completely unscathed, most of them did okay. There are no happy endings for the city, but for a few individuals there just might be some hope.
I’m delighted that Freamon and McNulty didn’t get taken away in bracelets (you totally called it, Bex!) because even though they would have deserved it I had remained on their side throughout the season and didn't want to see either of them go down. And for them to both (instantly) forgive Kima really made me happy. It would have been nice to see that piece of shit newspaperman, Scott Templeton, get his comeuppance, although his showdown with McNulty was enormously gratifying.
As for Marlo… his ending was the most ambiguous of all. I don’t actually see him as the new Stringer Bell, because he had no desire to go legit, he was forced to. He was clearly uncomfortable at the party thing of Levy’s, and the way I read that last scene was that he left the party and went out to the corners because that’s his home, that’s where he belongs. So was he saying goodbye to his home in that scene? Or had he reached the conclusion that he could never give up the game? (Lovely touch that the boys he intruded upon were talking about Omar but had no idea who Marlo was. After his flip out in the previous episode that his name was all he had, that rocked hard.)
It was great seeing Prezbo one last time (I would have liked to see Cutty too though!), even though his scene was one of the saddest in the episode.
I can’t decide what my favourite scene was, but it’s a toss up between McNulty’s fake eulogy, which was funny and moving and perfect (oh how I love you, Jay!!), and Slim Charles shooting Cheese in the head after his speech about the game, which was a perfectly timed piece of dark comedy. I just loved how no one cared that Cheese was dead, just that Slim Charles (the sentimental motherfucker) had cost them money. Genius.
I also liked seeing Michael taking over Omar’s role (he’s so *right* for it too: smart enough to survive longer than he should, against all odds, and strangely moral, if unforgiving), and Sydnor taking over from McNulty (when he told the judge to "keep my name out of it", my heart swelled with nostalgic joy).
I adored the long montage – and loved that it was set to the original season one version of “Way Down In the Hole” – particularly seeing Bubbs finally get his invite into the house, which made the tragedy of Duquan ever so slightly more bearable. And I remain hopeful for McNulty, who should give up being a cop forever and focus on his family, because that's the only time he ever really seems to be truly happy.
IT WAS ALL SO PERFECT AND GOOD. *CRIES*
Oh God, I am going to miss this show more than words can say. Thank you, David Simon and crew, for this brilliant and brutal modern masterpiece. I salute you.