–30– (The Wire)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Wire episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 10
Directed by Clark Johnson
Story by David Simon
Ed Burns
Teleplay by David Simon
Featured music "Way Down in the Hole" by The Blind Boys of Alabama
Original air date March 9, 2008 (2008-03-09)
Running time 93 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Late Editions"
Next →
List of The Wire episodes

"–30–" is the series finale of the HBO original series The Wire. It is the tenth and final episode of the fifth season. With a running time of 93 minutes, it is also the longest episode of the series. The episode was written by series creator/executive producer David Simon (teleplay/story) and co-executive producer Ed Burns (story). It was directed by Clark Johnson, who also directed the pilot episode and stars on the show.[1] It aired on March 9, 2008.[2] The episode's writers were nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.[3]


Title reference[edit]

–30– is a journalistic term that has been used to signify the end of a story.


This is seen in the lobby of the Baltimore Sun, as an excerpt from a longer Mencken quote displayed on the wall when Alma talks with Gus after she has been demoted to the Carroll County bureau. The full quote reads "...as I look back over a misspent life, I find myself more and more convinced that I had more fun doing news reporting than in any other enterprise. It is really the life of kings."

Non-fiction elements[edit]

Steintorf mentions "U.C.R.s" (Uniform Crime Reports[4]) statistics to Daniels and Rawls when worrying about a 10% decline over the quarter.

A "one-party consent call" is a call where only one party gave agreement for recording (as opposed to two-party consent call). In Maryland, it is illegal to record such a call,[5] and may explain why Pearlman could not better leverage her tape with Levy.

Joe Mitchell, to whose style Gus likens the piece written for Bubbles, was an American writer known for his portraits of outcasts.

Gus alludes somewhat sarcastically to Tom Wolfe, a writer who is associated with New Journalism, when copyediting a story. Gus has been seen throughout the series as a proponent of a "dry" form of journalism.[6]

Gus mentions other cases of reporters who made up stories: Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and Jack Kelley.

Pearlman alludes to two other cases where "lying cops don't automatically kill a case". She is trying to convince Levy, but to be more precise, those cases really concern the legality of the evidence obtained.[7] In the second case mentionned, Ceccolini - 435 US 268 (1978),[8] the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals ruling that the illegal search performed by an officer during one of his breaks when entering a shop (that had been under previous surveillance for illegal gambling), examining an envelope containing policy slips on the cash register and asking the clerk whose envelope it was, that led to the conviction of the shop owner based on the testimony of the clerk, had to have its findings suppressed along with the guilty verdict. In the first case however, Everhart - 274 Maryland 459 (1975),[9] the Court of Appeals reversed the Court of Special Appeals ruling that an initial illegal search, which was deemed to be the basis for probable cause for the issue of a search and seizure warrant, did not make the latter illegal, and thus, in this case the final ruling does not support Pearlman's point.

Pearlman puts Marlo's case on "stet docket" (stet meaning "let it be" in Latin), a specificity of Maryland law, defined by Md. Rule 4-248.[10]


The Blind Boys of Alabama's version of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole" plays over the episode's closing montage. This version of the song had previously been used as the theme music for the show's first season.

During the scene where McNulty plays a board game with Beadie Russell's children, the song that can be heard playing in the background is "Rich Woman" by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant from their 2007 album Raising Sand.

"Body of an American" by The Pogues is heard during McNulty's staged "detective's wake", making it the third time the song was used in the course of the show's run. Also, "The Broad Majestic Shannon" can be heard echoing out of the bar in the scene after the "wake".


Starring cast[edit]

Although credited, Michael K. Williams and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. do not appear in this episode.

Guest stars[edit]

Uncredited appearances[edit]

  • David Simon as Sun staff member
  • Rebecca Corbett as Sun staff member


Mayor Tommy Carcetti and his staff are stunned to learn from the BPD brass that the "Red Ribbon Killer" was a fabrication, but decide (despite protests from Pearlman and Daniels) to wrap the case up quietly rather than inform the public, so as not to hurt Carcetti's chances of becoming governor. Those responsible will be reassigned and kept out of the way in return for silence. Chief of Staff Steintorf offers Acting Commissioner Rawls a permanent position as Superintendent of the Maryland State Police[tone] following Carcetti's election in return for his cooperation. Steintorf implies that Rawls cannot be appointed permanent Commissioner because Rawls is Caucasian, but his race will not be an issue for the Maryland State Police.

Though Daniels and Pearlman have been informed of the falsified killings, McNulty and Freamon continue to operate under the assumption their plot has remained a secret. With the Stanfield crew behind bars, Freamon tries to identify the drug kingpin's mole within the courthouse. It is revealed that prosecutor Gary DiPasquale has a gambling problem with annual losses three times larger than his salary and that he took out a third mortgage on his home. DiPasquale admits to leaking courthouse documents to drug defense attorneys as Freamon points out that through the course of asset investigations, DiPasquale was the only "bogey" in the courthouse. Freamon then tells DiPasquale to resign quietly to avoid criminal prosecution, but not before recording a telephone conversation with attorney Maurice Levy whom DiPasquale admits has been paying him for the court documents.

Freamon meets with Pearlman at the courthouse, where he provides her the identity of the mole and his recorded conversation with Maurice Levy. Pearlman, despite being happy to have such strong evidence against Levy, is still angry enough to reveal her and Daniels' knowledge of Freamon and McNulty's duplicity.

Dukie asks his old teacher, Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski, for money, supposedly so he can get an apartment and enroll in a GED program. Prez agrees to help, but says he will visit the college next week, and if Dukie isn't there, they'll never see each other again. Dukie takes the money but leaves to spend it on drugs; Prez sees this and drives away, disappointed.

Journalist Scott Templeton, who longs for a Pulitzer, finds an inebriated homeless man and calls 911 claiming the man is being kidnapped. When police arrive, Templeton tells them the man was being pulled into a van; the man is too drunk to confirm or deny Templeton's claims. McNulty, who was playing with his partner Beadie's children at home, is one of the officers called to the scene; he suspects Templeton is lying, and an undercover police officer later confirms these suspicions. Rather than charge Templeton for making a false statement, McNulty lets him leave. When McNulty gets home, Beadie is pleasantly surprised at how early he has returned and that he has not been drinking. McNulty says he sees her house as his "home".

Meanwhile, drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield and his lieutenants remain imprisoned. Having been informed of Snoop's death, the group agrees that Michael was an informant and decide that eliminating him is a top priority, although Chris appears to remain skeptical. Cheese is the only member of the group able to post bail - Monk has violated parole, Chris has been charged with murder, and Marlo is refused bail on the basis of his status as alleged kingpin and ability to intimidate witnesses and jurors. Marlo instructs Cheese to assemble the Stanfield crew's remaining muscle to hunt down Michael.

Freamon arrives back at headquarters and tells McNulty that Daniels and Pearlman know the truth about the "Red Ribbon Killer" and the illegal wiretap. McNulty wonders aloud why, if the Commissioner and City Hall already know, the two of them haven't already been fired and arrested. Freamon replies that Mayor Carcetti is desperate to save face after using the serial killer as an excuse to run on a platform of poverty and homelessness. Thinking about it, Lester says, "we've got almost as much on them as they do on us."

While Fletcher hawks newspapers on Bubbles' morning shift, Bubbles reads the article Fletcher has finished about him. Bubbles is touched that Fletcher finds his life story so inspiring, but at the same time, has reservations about revealing the details of his friend Sherrod's death to the world. Fletcher maintains that readers would find Bubbles' life story thought-provoking, but Bubbles remains unconvinced.

In the Sun's newsroom, Haynes adamantly refuses to print Templeton's false story about the attempted abduction. His superior Klebanow accuses him of having a personal vendetta. Klebanow moves Templeton's article to another editing desk, and warns Haynes that his attitude could cause problems for him down the line. Haynes outright accuses Templeton of lying about the "abduction".

Lawyer Maurice Levy goes through the Stanfield arrest warrants, convinced something is amiss. Herc assures him that a wiretap is the most likely means by which Marlo was brought down, and Levy learns that the only four people who knew the group's meeting code were the four arrested. Considering the speed with which the code was broken (mere hours after their arrest), Levy is confident that the police used an illegal wiretap to decipher the code beforehand. He later tells Pearlman he's aware of this discrepancy, making it clear that whatever fraud was present in the case will be aired in court.

Unfortunately for McNulty, another homeless man is found murdered, with a white ribbon tied around his wrists. McNulty, Bunk, and Kima arrive on scene,[11] distraught that McNulty's fictitious serial killer has inspired a copycat. Camera crews immediately begin to arrive on the scene as they argue, though it's fairly obvious that McNulty is now feeling great remorse for taking this course of action. As the incident appears on televisions across Baltimore, Mayor Carcetti is watching as well, exasperated.

Bubbles allows Walon to read the article Fletcher wrote, which leaves Walon with a smile. "This guy gets you," he explains to Bubbles, going on to say that the article didn't pull its punches and weighs him objectively, and in the end convinces Bubbles that it's not the negative aspects of the articles that he fears - indeed, Bubbles admits that since Sherrod's death he's been unwilling to call himself a fundamentally "good" person. Bubbles finally agrees to have the article printed.

State's Attorney Rupert Bond and Rhonda Pearlman are told by Carcetti's chief of staff to settle the Stanfield case out of court as quietly as possible, using whatever leverage they can to keep the illegal wiretaps from being brought to light. Pearlman meets with Maurice Levy in his office and plays the taped conversation given to her by Freamon. In it, Levy is incriminated by offering to purchase sealed court documents - an offense for which he could serve 10 to 12 years. Pearlman blackmails him into settling the Stanfield cases out of court; Chris Partlow will plead guilty to all of the murder charges in the vacant row houses and accept life imprisonment without parole, Monk and Cheese will plead guilty to possession with intent to sell and serve up to 20 years each, and the charges against Marlo will be abated under the agreement that he step out of the drug business permanently.

Fletcher allows Haynes to read his article on Bubbles in the newsroom, and Haynes wholeheartedly approves. Afterwards, however, Alma approaches him and reveals that the notebook Templeton had thrown during their earlier argument was empty, despite claims from Scott that it contained notes on all the details of the attempted kidnapping. Pushed over the edge, Haynes takes the file he's compiled on Templeton's indiscretions and confronts his superiors in their office.

McNulty is berated by Daniels and Rawls, equally upset about his fabrication of the murders and the new copycat killer. They encourage him to catch the copycat quickly, allowing the press to assume he's the original killer and clean up the whole mess; regardless, they explain, this will be the last case McNulty ever works. McNulty proves himself again: upon seeing that business cards were left on the body, McNulty instantly identifies the killer as a particular mentally ill homeless man with an obsession for calling cards.[12] The department charges the man with two of the six murders (both of which he actually committed and for which McNulty feels "responsible", as they are from a copycat) and allows him to be sent to a psychiatric facility rather than put on trial. Rawls demands McNulty attempt to get a false confession out of him for the other four murders, but in a final act of insubordination, McNulty refuses to charge him for crimes he did not commit.

Nevertheless, Carcetti and the BDP hold a press conference in which they state that they believe the man to have been culpable for all of the murders. The media and the public are led to believe that the "Red Ribbon Killer" has thus been caught. Carcetti, looking to cement his claim to the governor's seat at the upcoming general election, takes a great deal of credit for both the toppling of the Stanfield enterprise and the catching of the Red Ribbon Killer. Immediately afterwards he promotes Daniels to Commissioner, with Rawls serving as an adviser at City Hall.

Marlo, now prepared to "give up the crown," meets with the remaining members of the New Day Co-Op to negotiate a price to sell his drug supply connection to The Greek after his release from prison. He names his price at $10 million, which the Co-Op members can attempt to raise between them. The group agrees that this price beats their only alternative, which is to resume selling low-quality drugs from New York. Later the group meets in a parking lot, where Ricardo reminisces about the "old days" under Proposition Joe's leadership, which causes Cheese (Proposition Joe's nephew) to pull a gun on him. Cheese acknowledges his role in his uncle's death, and is promptly shot in the head by Slim Charles. Though Clinton "Shorty" Buise complains that Cheese was going to contribute funds, Charles justifies his action by saying "that was for Joe." They all depart, leaving Cheese's body behind.

The BPD hold a mock wake for McNulty, as is tradition for detectives who died before their retirement (previously shown in episodes Dead Soldiers and Corner Boys). Freamon, who has enough time in to take full retirement, attends with Shardene in tow. Several officers, including McNulty's sergeant Jay Landsman, express dismay at his permanent departure from the homicide department, acknowledging that McNulty was "real murder police" and the best detective in the department in spite of (or possibly because of) his character flaws. McNulty and Freamon make amends with Kima, who admits that she informed Daniels of their lies; McNulty acknowledges that if she felt she had no other recourse, he trusted her judgment to do the right thing. Freamon takes Greggs into the bar to drink with their colleagues, but McNulty decides to head home. He and Beadie sit on the porch and she tenderly rests her head on his shoulder and holds his arm, suggesting that they have reconciled.

Shortly afterwards, Commissioner Daniels is told by Carcetti's Chief of Staff Steintorf to manipulate the crime statistics to make it appear crime is dropping during the next two calendar quarters, an order he flatly refuses. Daniels, fed up with the "numbers game" which he says caused the problems in the department in the first place, states that from now on all of his statistics will be clean, and real police work will resume. Steintorf is then told by City Council President Nerese Campbell that Daniels will juke the stats or resign as commissioner. Campbell sends Daniel's ex-wife, 11th District Councilwoman Marla Daniels, to him with the file threatening Daniels over his days as an Eastern District DEU sergeant. Daniels agrees to step down for personal reasons and decides to make use of his law degree. His last act before departing is to award promotions within the department, amongst them being Ellis Carver's promotion to lieutenant.


As the show concludes, several cutaways show the fates of the series' major characters, many of which establish that the "next generation" is simply following the same path the main characters followed over the past five seasons:

Detective Leander Sydnor approaches Judge Daniel Phelan to complain about the commissioner's incompetence, mirroring the diatribe from McNulty which began the first Barksdale investigation in the first episode of Season One.

Marlo, attending a party held by friends of Maurice Levy, attempts to blend in and become a "legitimate businessman" much like Stringer Bell. Unlike Stringer, but like Avon Barksdale, he feels uncomfortable in such surroundings. Marlo departs quickly from the party and walks to a nearby corner, finding two gang members who have no idea who Marlo is, showing that he has lost his street cred. Marlo beats them and they flee.

At Bodie Broadus's old spot on the corner of Lanvale and Barclay, Spider appears to be in charge of his own crew. Elsewhere, Dukie and the arabber shoot heroin in a decrepit building, a scene reminiscent of Bubbles' relationships with Johnny Weeks and later Sherrod.

Michael Lee and a partner kick in the door to Vinson's shop, threatening him with a shotgun. Michael demands the drug money the group is sorting, and when challenged, shoots Vinson in the kneecap. He and his partner depart, with Michael's mannerisms, attitude and choice of weapon mirroring those of the fallen Omar Little.

Chris Partlow and Wee-Bey Brice, both incarcerated for life with no possibility of parole, converse on friendly terms in prison.

Fat Face Rick (Ricardo Hendrix), Slim Charles, and the remaining members of the Co-Op meet with Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos, who appears to give them a speech identical to the one he gave Marlo when agreeing to supply him. The Greek himself takes his usual position at the bar, listening to the conversation incognito.

Scott Templeton wins a Pulitzer Prize for his work on the "Red Ribbon Killer" case, while Gus Haynes is demoted and Alma Gutierrez is transferred to a less prominent bureau in mostly-rural Carroll County. Gus is able to smile, however, as he watches promising young protégé Mike Fletcher step into the role of editor much like Daniels when he had seen Herc speaking to a group of new officers during the finale of season one.

Daniels becomes a defense attorney; Pearlman becomes a judge. Carcetti becomes governor. Nerese Campbell becomes mayor and names Stan Valchek Police Commissioner. Rawls becomes Superintendent of the Maryland State Police, as Carcetti promised.

Bubbles, finally accepted by his sister, is able to have dinner with his family. Kenard is led away in cuffs by Detective Crutchfield and an unknown officer. McNulty takes the time to locate the vagrant he displaced while inventing the "Red Ribbon Killer" and drives him back to Baltimore. The final shot is of the Baltimore skyline, with cars driving past on the highway in the foreground.



Writers Ed Burns and David Simon were nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award in the category Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for their work on the finale.[3]


  1. ^ "Season 5 crew". HBO. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  2. ^ "HBO Schedule: THE WIRE 60: –30–". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b "60th Primetime Emmy Awards". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  4. ^ "Crime Statistics". Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention. Maryland.gov. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  5. ^ "Is it legal to record my customer service calls? - November 29, 2007". consumerist.com. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  6. ^ In episode 7 for example, he says of Templeton's work about the homeless: "He's writing more as an essayist."; and then he contrasts it with Olesker's: "We've got a column from Olesker [...]. It's pretty powerful without being purple.
  7. ^ Maryland residents' protection against unreasonable searches and seizures derives from two primary sources: the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Leonetti, Carrie. "Independent and adequate: Maryland's state exclusionary rule for illegally obtained evidence". scholarworks.law.ubalt.edu. University of Baltimore, School of Law. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "United States v. Ceccolini, 435 U.S. 268 (1978)". courtlistener.com. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  9. ^ "Everhart v. State of Maryland". supreme.justia.com. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "Rule 4-248, Stet - West's Annotated Code of Maryland". govt.westlaw.com. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  11. ^ After arriving at the scene where Bunk is already waiting for her, Kima first reaction when she sees the wrist ribbon on the body, is to think that Bunk is playing another prank on her, like the first time she examined a body as a part of the homicide unit (Refugees).
  12. ^ McNulty had previously run across this perpetrator in episode four, and in the preceding murder, in episode nine, of another homeless man – whose killing McNulty had at the time dismissed as unrelated – there also had been calling cards left on the victim's body. Ironically, Scott Templeton, who has fabricated much of his part of the serial killer story, had also previously encountered this copycat killer (in episode five) without recognizing any kind of special relevance to his encounter with the man.

External links[edit]