Warning: Some very minor Wire spoilers ahead. This post will likely only be truly appreciated by people who watched the whole series, anyway.
So my wife and I finally finished The Wire this week, some six-and-a-half years after the final episode. That's not a total delay on our part, as we didn't watch the first season until after the whole show had aired. But it did take us a while to get hooked, and after watching season one in 2009 or 2010, we waited more than a year before watching the second -- and then two more years to watch the third, even though we liked the second season better than the first. We finally got our momentum going and rattled off the last three seasons in the past year -- in no small part thanks to my mother-in-law, who knew we needed some encouragement and gifted us seasons three through five on DVD.
We loved it by the end, but it was a struggle at times. What thrilled some people about the show is what sometimes frustrated us -- namely, exactly how little it insulted our intelligence. Entire plots remained murky to us because no one ever spelled them out with the type of exposition we sometimes desperately needed. Ironically, only in the fifth season did we well and truly fall in love -- and then it was over.
To honor the end of the series -- the end of the series in our house, anyway -- I thought I would tease its serpentine and sometimes inscrutable nature by listing five characters whose names I never learned during the entire course of the series. I will of course learn their names now, in order to post their pictures, and in truth, once I got the idea for this post a week or so back, I unconsciously started paying more attention and may have actually picked up a name or two. However, it's still a good idea for a post, so I'm writing it -- even though it has nothing to do with movies.
Without any further ado:
1. This guy
Actual name: Jay Landsman
Played by: Delaney Williams
How I knew him: That asshole who was either always in a bad mood or always pranking someone, who didn't seem to deserve his position of seniority over the detectives we actually like.
Did I really not know his name? I didn't, and I wouldn't have learned it at all if McNulty hadn't called him by his first name about five times in the last episode. I had no idea what his last name was until I looked it up just now.
2. This woman
Actual name: Rhonda Pearlman
Played by: Deirdre Lovejoy
How I knew her: That woman who seemed like she was always smirking, who once hooked up with McNulty and was always mad at him forever after that, who is now dating Daniels.
Did I really not know her name? I think I must have learned it and then forgotten it, because when her name too began coming up pretty regularly in the last couple episodes, I admitted it sounded familiar. But two or three episodes ago, I asked myself to produce her name on the spot, and I couldn't do it.
3. This guy
Actual name: Leander Sydnor
Played by: Corey Parker Robinson
How I knew him: Lester Freamon's right hand man, for all intents and purposes.
Did I really not know his name? I did not get a whiff of the character's name until I just looked it up now. Completely went over my head.
4. This guy
Actual name: Dennis "Cutty" Wise
Played by: Chad L. Coleman
How I knew him: The reformed criminal who opened that boxing school.
Did I really not know his name? I didn't, but I forgot that I didn't know it because I know Coleman from The Walking Dead, and could always refer to him that way when I needed to mention him to my wife.
5. This guy
Actual name: Butchie
Played by: S. Robert Morgan
How I knew him: "The blind guy"; Omar's friend.
Did I really not know his name? Had to look it up just now.
Honoroble mentions: Amy Ryan's character (but she wasn't in it very often after the second season), the corrupt drug attorney (they called him by his name, Maurice Levy, a bunch of times in the last few episodes), Domenick Lombardozzi's character (I learned his nickname "Herc" early, but then forgot it, and never knew his first name), the character who commits the final drug kill to avenge a previous kill (no spoilers) in the final episode (Slim Charles, played by Anwan Glover)
Was there ever any doubt? Lester was the man.
Honorable mention: Omar. Also the man.
Least favorite character:
My wife and I referred to him as "the charisma vacuum." Was there ever any worse casting choice in the whole series than making Wood Harris the leader of the Barksdale gang and leaving Idris Elba as the lieutenant?
Dishonorable mention: Jay Landsman. He was a jerk.
Thanks, The Wire, for being a terrific show -- eventually.