Classic Intel - The Wire: Season 3 - Online Review

'seeks to explore the borders between politics and policing and what happens when those who man the borders fire shots across the boughs in pitch black darkness'

The Wire often gets praised for its realism when compared to other, lesser Cop shows but there's a moment in Series 3 where its authentic aesthetic threatens to come crashing down. Late on in proceedings, a key character is 'offed' at the hands of the series' two most comic book creations. There's the threat here of a crisis of confidence. In its third season, with Aidan Gillen added as master political manipulator, does The Wire abandon its authentic roots and go all Game Of Thrones?

It's not quite that bad, though Season 3 does feel as though it is the point at which The Wire felt like it needed to reach for something more than detailing what can be fairly mundane police work. Perhaps it was right to. One of show creator David Simon's subsequent series, Treme, resisted finding grand showpiece moments for almost its entire run, and lost viewers and support because of that fact. The Wire's desire to find something a bit more crowd pleasing leads to the slowly increased presence of Omar (Michael K. Williams) and another attractive arc for McNulty (Dominic West), whose story ends on a fairly uncompromising note of optimism, especially when you consider the places the character has been to previously.

Elsewhere, the theme of the season definitely seeks to explore the borders between politics and policing and what happens when those who man the borders fire shots across the boughs in pitch black darkness. Pandering to the political class of the police, Bunny Colvin (Robert Wisdom) gets an increased role which sees him attempting extreme tactics. Crucially, in order so that we can support him, Bunny's solution, christened 'Amsterdam', is not a creation borne out of a desire to move up in his profession, rather it is more of a message: if you want successful statistics on a piece of paper I will show you what you need to do to get them. The characters around Bunny come to represent the audience: we can see why he has done what he has done, even if perhaps we do not entirely agree with him. Their struggles, of how to reconcile what they know, are amongst Series 3's most convincing.

On the political side Rawls (John Doman) and Burrell (Frankie Faison) represent the police officers too far over to the wrong side, whilst Gillen's ambitious candidate and others within the true political class attempt to take advantage of any situation, police or otherwise, that they can manipulate. Simon takes great joy in weaving strands that intertwine, showing how a political order or idea can go from innocent inception to dramatic and occasionally troubling action on the ground.

What the political focus means is that there is precious little space for the un-political animals already present in the world of The Wire. Bunk (Wendell Pierce) is all but cut out entirely from the meaningful plot, here only because his presence previously dictates that he must stay. A returning Avon (Wood Harris) becomes one-dimensionally unconcerned with anything other than drugs, whilst Stringer Bell (Idris Elba) heads in the other direction. Likeable ruffian Cutty (Chad L. Coleman) gets a bizarrely large focus in a story which is both recycled from shows of yore and which has absolutely nothing to do with the series' main strands. For the first time, elements of The Wire's overall storytelling feel as though they are getting a little ragged.

Still, all that really means is that there are now a few rough edges on what must still be one of the most impressive shows of the last twenty years. Series 3 lacks the impact of the first season, and the focus of the second, but when its good, particularly around the middle sections and the inception of Amsterdam, this is still stellar stuff.

The Wire: Season 3 was playing on Sky Go and is soon to be available on Amazon Instant Video.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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