All In the Game

Tonight, the final season of The Wire begins on HBO. It’s an event of iPhone-release and Obama-speech like proportions, a time for critics and journalists of all stripes to abandon any pretense to critical distance or objectivity and simply fawn, shouting hosannas to the blog-heavens. Everyone with a keyboard and an HBO subscription will compete to find the most overheated way to describe the show; will be shut down when everyone logs in to look for synonyms for “incredible.” All hail David Simon, messiah of upper-middlebrow television; all sing the praises of Omar, McNulty, Avon, and Lester.

Of course, I’m in no way immune. I spent the weekend watching season four for a second time, and I’ve skimmed through the previous three seasons over the last month and a half. I remain convinced that it’s just as good as everyone says it is, and just as worthy of every superlative I or any other writer can hurl at it. Fortunately, the gatekeepers of our culture seem to be doing a pretty good job.

I won’t be surprised, of course, if this season provokes a backlash. A smart friend who has already started watching season five told me the other night that he was worried about the direction he saw it taking, and Mark Bowden’s Atlantic piece has folks like Ross concerned that the journalism-centered season will be too focused on settling Simon’s scores than on continuing the show’s honest-to-pay-cable record of outstanding television.

I don’t know! I hope not, of course. Either way, we’ll start to find out tonight. Meanwhile, here are some predictions for the final season. Unlike The Vulture’s awesomely wonky reading of the show’s print ad, I didn’t base these on any advertising material, nor on any pre-season articles on interviews. I have no inside knowledge, but this is what seems likely to me.

>>Bubbles will find some measure of redemption.
>>McNulty will find himself just as frustrated, possibly even more so, working in a system that supports his work as he did in those that didn’t.
>>Marlo will be arrested, but the case against him will not be strong enough to give him the punishment he deserves.
>>Chris and Snoop will both die.
>>Michael will replace Marlo as the reigning drug king in West Baltimore.
>>A returning Avon Barksdale will help push out Marlo.
>>Prop Joe will work with the police, stay out of jail, and remain a powerful but diminished force in the Baltimore drug trade.
>>Carcetti will make a decision that annoys the police department after promising to be on their side.

Add your own below.