-30- (The Wire)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to 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. With a running time of 93 minutes, this tenth and final episode of the fifth season is 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]


Mayor Carcetti and his staff are stunned to learn that the "serial killer" was a hoax, but decide to end the case quietly to salvage Carcetti's chances of becoming governor. Steintorf offers to let Rawls run the Maryland State Police in exchange for his silence. McNulty and Freamon, unaware that their scheme has been exposed, discover that Gary DiPasquale, a prosecutor with severe gambling debts, leaked courthouse documents to Levy. Freamon tells DiPasquale to resign quietly, but not before recording a telephone conversation with Levy. When Freamon gives Pearlman the identity of the mole, she reveals her and Daniels' knowledge of the detectives' duplicity. Meanwhile, Dukie asks for money from his old teacher, Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski, ostensibly to get an apartment and enroll in a GED program. Prez is disappointed when he sees Dukie spending the money on drugs.

Templeton finds an inebriated homeless man and calls 911, claiming the man is being kidnapped. When police arrive, he tells them the man was being pulled into a van; the man is too drunk to confirm or deny the claims. McNulty is called to the scene and suspects Templeton is lying, which an undercover cop later confirms. Rather than charge Templeton for making a false statement, McNulty lets him leave. McNulty returns home, where he is mending his relationship with Beadie. In jail, Marlo and his crew learn of Snoop's death and agree that Michael must be eliminated; Partlow remains skeptical. When Cheese posts bail, Marlo instructs him to hunt down Michael. Freamon informs McNulty that Daniels and Pearlman know about the hoax and the illegal wiretap, and realize that the mayor is covering it up to save his own career. Fletcher writes up a human interest story about Bubbles, who is touched but has reservations about publicizing Sherrod's death.

When Gus refuses to print Templeton's false story about the attempted abduction, Klebanow accuses him of having a personal vendetta and warns that his attitude could cause problems for him down the line. Gus later has a confrontation with Templeton. Levy goes through the Stanfield arrest warrants and realizes, considering the speed with which the clock code was broken, that the police used an illegal wiretap to decipher the code beforehand. He later tells Pearlman about the discrepancy, making it clear that whatever fraud was present in the case will be aired in court. McNulty, Bunk, and Greggs arrive at the scene of another homeless murder, and are distraught that McNulty's fictitious serial killer has inspired a copycat. Local news crews watch the detectives arguing. Walon reads Fletcher's article and convinces Bubbles that it's not the negative aspects of the articles that he fears, but Bubbles' own unwillingness to call himself a "good" person. Bubbles finally agrees to have the article printed.

Pearlman and Bond are told by Steinhorf to quietly settle the Stanfield case out of court to keep the illegal wiretaps from being brought to light. Pearlman meets with Levy and uses the taped conversation given to her by Freamon to force him to settle. As part of the deal, Partlow will plead guilty to the vacant murders and accept life imprisonment; Cheese and Monk will plead guilty and serve up to 20 years each; and Marlo will be freed on the condition that he leave the drug business. After Gus agrees to run Fletcher's article, Alma reveals that a notebook Templeton had thrown during their argument was empty, despite Templeton's claims that it contained notes on the attempted abduction. Gus takes his file on Templeton's indiscretions and confronts his superiors. McNulty is confronted by Daniels and Rawls, who order him to quickly catch the copycat so that the press will assume he's the original killer and resolve the whole mess. Regardless, they tell McNulty that this will be his last case.

McNulty instantly identifies the killer as a mentally ill homeless man he had previously encountered. The BPD charges the man with two of the six "murders" and sends him to a psychiatric facility. Carcetti holds a press conference taking credit for both the "serial killer's" capture and the Stanfield arrests, then promotes Daniels to Commissioner. After his release, Marlo sells his connection to The Greek to the remaining members of the New Day Co-Op. Later, while the group meets in a parking lot, Cheese pulls a gun and admits his role in Proposition Joe's murder. He is promptly killed by Slim Charles in revenge. McNulty's colleagues hold a mock wake for him, with Landsman giving the eulogy. McNulty and Freamon make amends with Greggs. When Daniels refuses Steinhorf's request to manipulate crime statistics, Campbell sends Marla the file threatening Daniels over his prior corruption allegations. Daniels agrees to step down and decides to make use of his law degree. Before leaving, he promotes Carver to lieutenant.

In the closing montage, Carcetti is elected governor while Campbell becomes mayor; Valchek replaces Daniels as Commissioner, while Rawls takes his job with the state police; Pearlman, now a judge, recuses herself from a case Daniels is arguing; Sydnor complains about Valchek to Judge Phelan; Marlo tries to blend in as a "legitimate businessman" and is confronted with the fact he has lost his street cred; Spider runs his own crew on Bodie Broadus's former corner; Dukie and the arabber shoot heroin; Michael and a partner stick up Vinson, deliberately emulating Omar; Partlow and Wee-Bey Brice converse in prison; the remaining Co-Op members meet with Vondas and The Greek; Templeton wins a Pulitzer Prize while Gus and Alma are demoted; Bubbles sits down to dinner with his sister; Kenard is arrested; and McNulty locates the vagrant he displaced and drives him back to Baltimore. The series ends with a final shot of the Baltimore skyline.


Title reference[edit]

-30- is a journalistic term that has been used to signify the end of a story.[4]


…the life of kings.

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[5]) 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,[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] In the second case mentioned, Ceccolini - 435 US 268 (1978),[9] 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),[10] 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.[11]


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


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. ^ Kogan, Hadass (2007-10-01). "So Why Not 29? | Why did reporters for years end their stories by writing "-30-"?". American Journalism Review Archives. Retrieved 2017-12-12. 
  5. ^ "Crime Statistics". Governor's Office of Crime Control & Prevention. Maryland.gov. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  6. ^ "Is it legal to record my customer service calls? - November 29, 2007". consumerist.com. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "United States v. Ceccolini, 435 U.S. 268 (1978)". courtlistener.com. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "Everhart v. State of Maryland". supreme.justia.com. Retrieved 27 March 2016. 
  11. ^ "Rule 4-248, Stet - West's Annotated Code of Maryland". govt.westlaw.com. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 

External links[edit]