With HBO's recent announcement that The Wire has been painstakingly restored for a Jan. 5 digital HD release, fans have an excuse to re-watch (and re-dissect) the entire series anew. Series creator David Simon offered side-by-side video comparisons on his "Audacity of Despair" blog to show how the new 16x9 full-frame HD format improves upon small but important moments throughout the series.
The remastered version got us thinking about The Wire series finale, one that came too soon for any devotee, but which also proved to be one of the most satisfying series endings ever. It was heartbreaking and hopeful, and there's probably a split among viewers as to which vibe was the final takeaway. When you think back on "-30 -" which comes to mind first: bright teen Michael (Tristan Wilds) on his path to becoming the next Omar and sweet Dukie (Jermaine Crawford) conning his former teacher Prez out of cash to buy drugs, or recovering addict Bubbles (Andre Royo) finally being invited out of the basement and to a seat at his sister's dinner table?
Wilds, Royo, Crawford, and castmate Sonja Sohn talked to Yahoo TV about their take on the finale, including what they think their characters would be up to now — and whether or not they believe there could, or should, be a Wire reunion.
On the series finale:
Sonja Sohn (Det. Kima Greggs): Yeah, it was appropriate. If I had a problem with the ending, it probably would be that we had a short season that year. [HBO cut the final season from 13 episodes to 10.] I believe that the ending… there was something that felt very clipped about how the show ended. I felt that we did not organically get to that ending in a way that allowed for real resolution for fans, for us to just be able to go, "OK, we can breathe a sigh and walk away from this." There were so many little moments that needed to lead to where we ended, that the writers didn't get a chance to put on screen. But as far as Kima making the decision that she made to reveal to Daniels that [McNulty and Freamon] had gone too far? Yeah, I think that's completely in line with the character, and I don't have any problems with that.
Andre Royo (Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins): When I read the script of the finale, and being a TV junkie, growing up watching so much TV, I looked at [David Simon] and was like, "Are you sure this is strong enough? Where is the big f--king… Really? I'm just walking up the stairs. That's it?" He was like, "Yeah, that's it. You just walk up the stairs." I didn't know it was going to be as impactful as it was, because for me, damn, I want to have a girlfriend and put the baby carriage down. I want a different ending. He was like, "No, this is not Disney, man. This is not a Disney show. All you need to do is walk up them stairs." I remember watching the finale somewhere in Los Angeles with a big group of people. Of course, I know what's happening, but when I walked up the stairs and sat down at the table, people were crying. I was like, "Oh s--t, David was right."
Tristan Wilds (Michael Lee): My favorite moment was [during the series' penultimate episode]: Michael's decision to give up his little brother. Trying to say that, "He's going to have a better life than me. I'm going to give him to someone who I know will make sure he has a better life than me… This is for the greater good." Michael's ability to do that, understanding how strongly he feels about his little brother, how he'll give up the world to make sure his little brother's fine… that was one of the biggest parts of it for me."
Jermaine Crawford (Duquan "Dukie" Weems): Everyone basically wants to adopt me. [Laughs.] The one thing people always come up to me and say is how much I've grown and changed. And then they always go right back to wanting to adopt Dukie. It was really an honor to play that character, because people really connected to him in that way.
On what they imagine their characters would be doing now:
Sohn (who plays witch Lenore on The Originals): Kima's girlfriend Cheryl wanted her to get a law degree. I would think that she and her girlfriend stayed together, and Kima got tired of being on the street and realizing that not a lot changes. That she might be able to do more good if she became a public defender — not a prosecutor… I think she might have come around to that and said, "I'm going to fight for justice in a whole other way." Then she'd use her connections in the police department to defend her clients on the street. Or she might have become a social worker, because she wasn't so into the law thing. I think she could have said, "You know, Cheryl? I'm going to be a social worker, because I want to help these folks on the street. That's why I became a cop to begin with. I didn't become a cop to climb up the ladder, I became a cop to affect change in these neighborhoods."
Wilds (who's working on a follow-up to this Grammy-nominated debut album, New York: A Love Story): I think Michael, the way that he ended up, you see that he's becoming more in the realm of an Omar-like character. He was the killer, of course, but he was a killer with a conscience. It's fun to think, maybe he found his way out or maybe he went back and got his little brother, but I feel like in the world of The Wire, there aren't many happy endings, and the happy endings that do come, come with barbed wire. But I like to think Michael is in a good place. He's a Robin Hood; he steals from the rich to give to the poor.
Crawford (who's working on his debut CD and stars in the upcoming big-screen drama Cru): I was just telling Tristan this: I truly believe, deep in my little Dukie heart… I feel like The Wire was a big circle, and I feel like Michael and Dukie were the origins that we didn't get to see of Stringer and Avon. Because Avon always used to say, "You see green and I see red." Dukie was always the brains, the intelligence behind [Dukie and Michael's friendship], and Michael is the person who sees more red, so I hope that Dukie and Michael got back together and became two big kingpins who take over Baltimore. And if not that, hopefully Dukie had the same kind of turnaround as Bubbles, who cleaned up and got his act together.
Royo (who has roles in ABC's Agent Carter and Amazon's Hand of God): That's a scary [question], because I know how hard that transition was for Bubbles and for most people dealing with addiction. I hope his fortitude is strong, and he's still clean. He's probably got a nice little merchandise shop where he's selling T-shirts. Not out of a shopping cart, but a storefront where he has his own clothing line, and he's still having breakfast, lunch and dinner with his sister upstairs, no more basement. He's probably gotten married, and has a good family right now. He's always been a family man. He was always very good at taking care of other people. It maybe was easier for him to get better when he was taking care of somebody else. He always wanted to be that person to help somebody. With that, he found a way to help the one person that was the hardest: himself.
On whether or not they're in favor of a reunion movie or miniseries for The Wire:
Sohn: You don't always make the connection to a project that most of us made to The Wire, so as an actor and fan of the show, I think it's obvious that there's so much more that could be done. Wendell Pierce and I both approached David about this. We were shooting, it was the fifth season, we were shooting very early on in the season, and we were in a bar together. Somewhere in the first three episodes of the fifth season, I had been thinking, "We should do a movie!" And Wendell had some conversations with some folks [about investing in the project], and he and I talked about it… and we approached David in-between takes, and he was reticent, but by the end of the night, he was like, "Here's what I need. Let me know if you can get it together." But he was not on-board by a long shot. He was just saying, "I'd consider it."
I remember having a separate conversation with David [later] about having to come up with a story — this is a month later — and he was like, "You know, I've got to come up with a story, and at the end of this season, there are going to be characters dying, and if I do a film, I'm not bringing characters back, and I think there are characters that people love who are going to be dead…" Then I said, "What about a prequel?" And he was like, "Do you know how old you guys look now? Not you, but … " Of course not me. [Laughs.]
That was one idea, but essentially, the sense was that he didn't want to corrupt the integrity of the show, and it begins and ends with David. If he doesn't want to do it, it's not getting done.
Wilds: I had an amazing conversation with David Simon one time about this. I asked him that question, just thinking like: "Why don't you?" Especially with our Americanized minds, we just think, "Oh, we need to keep going! This was good! We need to keep it going!" But David said, "I feel like franchising something like this, that's the downfall of our society, nowadays." People try to get more money out of something when honestly, The Wire is a book. It's literature. You finish a book, you put it down, and you read it again. You get the same characters, you get the same story, and you get the same emotions, but it's just that book, so wherever your mind goes from there, whatever you think about what happens there, that's up to your interpretation. But it keeps you thinking.
Royo: It's so strange and wonderful to know that people, even now, after the show's been off for, what, six years now or something like that, still come up to me and say, "I just started watching," or "I'm about to watch the first season," or "I watched the series five or six times already." I mean, David Simon is a genius, but I don't think any kind of reunion can live up to people's imaginations on what they hope or what they think is happening with these characters now. I think David always wanted to leave it up to the imagination; not even try to compete with people's imaginations. I think it's best that people run with the ideas they have, instead of trying to show them what we feel the characters ought to be doing.
Crawford: For a while, I really thought we should pick the baton back up. It wasn't until earlier this year, when David Simon and some of my castmates were in New York [for the PaleyFest NY panel] and David was like, no, there's no Season 6, there will never be a Season 6. I respect that so much, because oftentimes in television, series can go beyond the story. And when the story is finished, let that story be finished, and just enjoy and marvel… each episode is 58 minutes and there are five seasons of i … enjoy it.
The Wire: The Complete Series in HD will be available as a full series purchase at iTunes, Google Play, X-Box Video, and Vudu on Jan. 5.