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“Lesson here, ‘Bey: You come at the king, you best not miss.” – Paintball with Omar Little, and the unanswered questions from The Wire

July 16, 2010

A month ago, I discovered what appeared to be the most awesome thing ever.

“Jamie Hector and friends challenge you to a friendly game of paintball. It’s The Streets vs The Law, so join forces with your favorite squad as you go head-to-head against characters from the show, including Michael K. Williams, Sonia Sohn, Snoop Pearson, Anwan Glover and more.”

If that means nothing, I’d suggest that you, your partner, and Mr. Shit head directly to the closest video store, tear through the “for rent” sign, kick in the front glass, wind your way through the spiderwebs, and leap over the rats to the “W” section. See that shelf that reads The Wire? Grab all five seasons and get the hell back home.

Now imagine that you and your best mates, after a donation to Jamie Hector’s Moving Mountains foundation, could join several key cast members for a paintball battle. Outside of being invited by Plant to relieve a Leary’d-out Bonzo behind the kit during the Physical Graffiti tour, or getting the call from Joel and Ethan to compete against Bridges, Goodman and Buscemi at the local lanes, I cannot think of a more awesome collision of fantasy and reality. (Those of you screaming “What about a Vivid Entertainment ‘Fan Appreciation’ video series?” can sit down right now, thank you very much.)

While online reviews of the event largely feature thoughts like “I was hoping it would be more…”, how in THE HELL could paintball with The Wire cast ever live up to your personal expectations? You are waiting for the inevitable moment where Hector takes you aside, with latex-loaded spheroids zooming overhead, drops into his Marlo deadpan, and utters “I wasn’t made to play the son! MY NAME IS MY NAME!” Then, your opponents on Team Law are cordoned by Kima and Lester, when a Jameson-breathing Jimmy blurts out, “Marlo, while a wonderful administrator of his Moving Mountains foundation, is an asshole. He does not get to win. WE get to win!!”

As you would figure, this is not how it went down. Michael K. Williams is not a ruthless antihero that engages in violence that can almost be described as justifiable. He’s just a guy with an unworldly screen presence. Jamie Hector isn’t the most cold-blooded villain in history, rather a regular guy who Patton Oswalt once saw sitting outside at a Hollywood restaurant, eating pancakes, “because that’s how a gangster does it.” Gabe from Videogum, take it away:

The cast of The Wire, unsurprisingly, don’t spend a lot of time on the paintball field. Because they have better things to do. Like be in the cast of The Wire. And so the final round would just be halfway decent paintball enthusiasts slaughtering the cast of The Wire.

As we watch another Wire-free year pass by, I feel it is a good time to examine some of the major questions left behind by this epochal program. As most of my fellow Wireheads (Wirers? Bunk & McNulty beercan-tossers?) would attest, the show created a whole mess of storylines that were never resolved, because…that is what every TV series does. However, the truly great ones inspire you to actually care about the unfinished business. Isn’t that what we really want from our entertainment?

Oh, I will eschew the Doug Benson-style of tardy warnings by advising you to turn away NOW if you have not seen the show, because SPOILER ALERT, and all that. One more time –

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.

Here we go…

1. Dukie. DUKIE??? NOOOOOO!!! How did this happen? The saddest moment in my TV watching career (Tom Hanks as “Uncle Ned”, getting liquored up and punching Alex P. Keaton has finally been dethroned), I spent most of Season 4 planning out his political career, with 30-second advertisements introducing America to his inspirational story, rising out of the streets to clean up the mess left by Senator Clay Davis and Mayor Carcetti. Although the potential for a worlds-collide sequel of Trainspotting, where Dukie and Begby roll through the streets of Edinburgh, leaving a pile of pool cues in their wake, is nigh (Irvine Welsh? You sober ’nuff to write?)

2. The McNulty-Templeton double-hoax. How could the Baltimore Sun allow such a massive story to involve only one reporter? Is this supposed to be a metaphor, revealing how the fall of profit-driven media has resulted in bare-bones staff lacking the resources to adequately cover their beats? If so, Bravo, David Simon!

3. Randy Wagstaff snitches. After his residence was vandalized, and the “stop snitching” crew pummeled the poor kid, was any justice brought to the instigators? And what about Cheese? His last name is also Wagstaff. Do they ever interact during the series (I do not remember it occurring)?

4. How did Omar survive the initial fall from that 3rd floor? For a show that made realism its stock-and-trade, this moment seemed a little too out-there for the show.

5. Kinnard packing heat. Is it any coincidence that a few seasons prior to Omar’s death, we see a group of kids in the street, playing that popular schoolyard game, “Barksdale v Prop Joe Vs Marlo Vs Omar”.  Who says “I get to be Omar!” – yep, Kinnard.

6. Would Simon be opposed to an unofficial spinoff featuring Omar and Brother Mouzone? Why can’t TV offer us more characters with the complex inner-lives, like these two? For a brutal shotgun-carrying bad-ass, Omar was extremely disciplined in his allocations of violence, which followed a twisted morality that was almost (gulp) admirable. As for Brother Mouzone, one moment encapsulates why I loved the show in the first place. His lackey forgot to procure his requested copy of The Nation, and I found my new favorite character. His meeting with Omar was another moment where expectations exceeded what was ever possible. Imagine the possibilities of these two as a team, if they would have survived. C’mon, Simon, let’s do this alternate history!

6. That quick shot of Rawls – you know what I’m talking about. During a scene where Brother Mouzone’s associate is searching every gay bar in town in his quest to find Omar, the camera slowly lands on Rawls, just chillin’.  But the rest of the show never addresses the unanswered question: why is he holding a dry martini, when we all know that Rawls is a beer guy?

7. Reaction of politicos to stories “above the fold”. In a very clever justification for the survival of printed newspapers, we see why a widely-distributed form of media can instill a sense of accountability within our elected officials and other elites. If news is removed from the street-corner boxes, and relegated to computer screens, no one will inadvertently see the most embarrassing escapades of our leaders.

8. The abbreviated nature of Season 5. HBO only signed on for 10 episodes in the final season. What would have been covered in the two additional episodes?

what questions do you have? Throw ’em in the comments.

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