Season 5
Season five

January 6, 2008 - March 9, 2008

Dominic West as James "Jimmy" McNulty
Reg E. Cathey as Norman Wilson
John Doman as William Rawls
Aidan Gillen as Thomas Carcetti
Clark Johnson as Augustus Haynes
Deirdre Lovejoy as Rhonda Pearlman
Tom McCarthy as Scott Templeton
Clarke Peters as Lester Freamon
Wendell Pierce as William "Bunk" Moreland
Lance Reddick as Cedric Daniels
Andre Royo as Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins
Sonja Sohn as Shakima "Kima" Greggs
Seth Gilliam as Ellis Carver
Domenick Lombardozzi as Thomas "Herc" Hauk
Michael K. Williams as Omar Little
Gbenga Akinnagbe as Christopher "Chris" Partlow
Jamie Hector as Marlo Stanfield
Neal Huff as Michael Steintorf
Jermaine Crawford as Duquan "Dukie" Weems
Corey Parker Robinson as Leander Sydnor
Tristan Wilds as Michael Lee
Michael Kostroff as Maurice Levy
Michelle Paress as Alma Gutierrez
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as R. Clayton "Clay" Davis

Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 5

The fifth season of the American television drama series The Wire premiered on January 6, 2008 and concluded on March 9, 2008. It consisted of ten episodes, each running approximately 55-93 minutes in length. It follows the newsroom of the The Baltimore Sun and examines the continued failure of the city to recognise its own problems.


HBO announced on September 12 2006 that it commissioned a fifth and final season consisting of 13 episodes,[1][2] but which was later reduced to ten.[3] On April 30, 2007, production for Season 5 officially began. Filming wrapped early in the morning of September 1, 2007 and the first episode aired on January 6, 2008.[4]


In an interview with Slate on December 1, 2006, David Simon said that Season 5 would be about the media and media consumption.[2] A major focus would be journalism, which would be dramatized through a newspaper modeled after The Baltimore Sun. The theme, according to Simon, would deal with "what stories get told and what don't and why it is that things stay the same."[2] Issues such as the quest for profit, the decrease in the number of reporters, and the end of aspiration for news quality would all be addressed, alongside the theme of homelessness. In the same interview, Simon indicated that no other theme seemed substantial enough to warrant a sixth season, except possibly the large influx of Hispanic peoples into Baltimore. He noted, however, that since no writer on the show spoke Spanish or had any intimate knowledge of the city's Latino population, the field work would be too cumbersome.[2] At the Night at the Wire event on June 9, 2007, Simon stated that Detective Sydnor is the only character who remains morally clean by the end of the show, but not perfectly since "after all, this is The Wire." He also hinted that Mayor Carcetti might make a run for governor, continuing to mirror the current Maryland governor and former Baltimore mayor, Martin O'Malley.

The series will continue the shows examination of the devaluing of human life and institutional dysfunction.[5] The increased scope of the season to include the media will allow this theme to be explored through an examination of "the people who are supposed to be monitoring all this and sounding the alarm — the journalists."[5] In particular Simon has spoken about the devaluing of the reporter in terms of downsizing a newspaper staff and the management expecting to do "more with less" when he asserts that in reality, you can only do "less with less".[5]

The series realism has been reported as being maintained particularly through the accurate dialogue and use of contemporary slang.[5]


At that Night at the Wire event, fans were allowed to tour the Baltimore Sun newsroom constructed for the show. The real newspaper allowed the show to use their name but stipulated that no current employees could appear in the series.[5] The newsroom was an entirely built set constructed at the show's out of town soundstage.[5]

The actual Washington Post newsroom will also feature as one reporter visits for an interview.[6] The Wire is the first production to be allowed to film at the location, even the film All The President's Men about the papers role in breaking the Watergate scandal had to build a set to represent the paper.[6] Creator David Simon has previously remarked that he was inspired to enter journalism himself by the work of the Post on that story.[7]

Cast and charactersEdit

Main article: Season five cast

The season five starring cast consists of:

Actor/actress Character Role
Dominic West Jimmy McNulty Homicide detective
Reg E. Cathey Norman Wilson Senior Mayoral aide
John Doman William Rawls Deputy Commissioner for Operations / Acting Commissioner
Aidan Gillen Tommy Carcetti Mayor
Clark Johnson Augustus Haynes City Desk Editor
Deirdre Lovejoy Rhonda Pearlman Assistant State's Attorney
Tom McCarthy Scott Templeton General assignments reporter
Clarke Peters Lester Freamon Major Crimes Unit Detective
Wendell Pierce Bunk Moreland Homicide detective
Lance Reddick Cedric Daniels Colonel / Deputy Commissioner for Operations
Andre Royo Bubbles Recovering drug addict
Sonja Sohn Kima Greggs Homicide unit detective
Seth Gilliam Ellis Carver Sergeant in Charge - Western District
Domenick Lombardozzi Thomas "Herc" Hauk Defense investigator
Michael Kenneth Williams Omar Little Stick-up man
Gbenga Akinnagbe Chris Partlow Drug organization chief enforcer
Jamie Hector Marlo Stanfield Drug kingpin
Neal Huff Michael Steintorf Chief of Staff
Jermaine Crawford Duquan "Dukie" Weems Corner boy
Corey Parker Robinson Leander Sydnor Major Crimes Unit Detective
Tristan Wilds Michael Lee Corner boy
Michael Kostroff Maurice Levy Defense attorney
Michelle Paress Alma Gutierrez Crime beat reporter
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. R. Clayton Davis State Senator

It has been rumored that Homicide stars Richard Belzer[8] and Clark Johnson[9] will guest star in the fifth season. Johnson directed the final episode of the show and was rumored to play the city editor of Baltimore’s daily newspaper.[4] In their October 16, 2007 profile of David Simon, The New Yorker confirmed that Johnson will play Gus Haynes, "a city editor who tries to hold the line against dwindling coverage, buyouts, and pseudo-news."[5] They described an early scene from the season where Haynes rants about a reporter inserting a charred doll into scenes of fires to eke more sympathy from his readers.[5]

The Washington Post announced on 3 September, 2007 that Thomas McCarthy will join the cast as a morally challenged reporter.[4] The character's name was given as Scott Templeton in HBO's preview of season 5.[10]

On October 28 2007 HBO aired a preview of the fifth season featuring interviews with Lance Reddick, Tom McCarthy, David Simon, Clark Johnson, John Doman, Seth Gilliam, Wendell Pierce and Dominic West and footage from the fifth season. Reddick introduces the idea of the fifth season being about the media; McCarthy states that it examines how the media "reflects, informs and manipulates"; Simon says that "the more graphic our crime, the more we like it, the more we pay attention. There is a little bit of a mockery of that in what we've constructed for season five"; Johnson said that newsroom storyline is fascinating and "a great way to end the series"; Doman warns to expect "complexities and complications"; Gilliam says that there is "creativity" in how people approach their jobs; Pierce that all the characters have to make choices; West that McNulty goes outside the system due to his lack of faith in his superiors; Simon concludes by saying that the season is really about "just how far you can go on a lie". The footage included scenes of Sonja Sohn as Kima Greggs being quizzed by reporters; reporters reflecting on why crime in certain areas is not covered; low morale in the police department; Carver briefing Western district officers; Jimmy McNulty drinking; Bunk Moreland refusing to get involved with something and "Fitz" telling McNulty that "you guys are shut out across the board".[10] Returning guest stars seen in the promo include Dennis Mello as Jay Landsman, Benjamin Busch as Anthony Colicchio, Ryan Sands as Lloyd "Truck" Garrick and Doug Olear as Fitz. It also features several as yet unidentified newsroom characters.[10]

Several ex-Baltimore Sun reporters will appear in the season.[5] Rebecca Corbett who was Simon's former editor at the Baltimore Sun and now works at the New York Times will have a recurring role.[5] Writer and former political reporter William F. Zorzi will have further screen time after his season 1 cameo.[5] Steve Luxenberg, the editor responsible for hiring Simon at The Sun will have a role.[5] Simon's wife Laura Lippman will also appear.[5]


David Simon will continue to act as the shows executive producer and show runner.[5] George Pelecanos will return as a writer and contribute his seventh episode to the series.[5] Political journalist William F. Zorzi will continue to write for the show.[5] Chris Collins will return as a staff writer.[5] David Mills will write the fifth episode of the season.[11]

The IMDb lists a number of potential directors including returning directors Joe Chappelle for a further two episodes,[12][13] Ernest R. Dickerson,[14] Daniel Attias,[15] Agnieszka Holland,[16] Seith Mann,[17] Anthony Hemingway,[18] and Clark Johnson.[19] New directors include co-directors Scott and Joy Kecken[20] (Joy Kecken has previously written for the show under her maiden name, Lusco), starring cast member Dominic West making his directing debut,[21] Johnson has been independently confirmed as the director of the finale by the Washington Post.[4]


The fifth season focuses on the media and media consumption.[56] The show depicts the newspaper The Baltimore Sun, and in fact elements of the plot are taken from accounts of real-life events (such as the Jayson Blair NY Times scandal) and people at the Sun.[57] The season, according to David Simon, deals with "what stories get told and what don't and why it is that things stay the same."[56] Issues such as the quest for profit, the decrease in the number of reporters, and the end of aspiration for news quality would all be addressed, alongside the theme of homelessness.

Fifteen months after the fourth season concludes, Mayor Carcetti's cuts in the police budget to redress the education deficit force the Marlo Stanfield investigation to shut down. Cedric Daniels secures a detail to focus on the prosecution of Senator Davis for corruption. Detective McNulty returns to the Homicide unit and decides to divert resources back to the police department by faking evidence to make it appear that a serial killer is murdering homeless men.

The Baltimore Sun also faces budget cuts and the newsroom struggles to adequately cover the city, omitting many important stories. Commissioner Burrell continues to falsify crime statistics and is fired by Carcetti, who positions Daniels to replace him.

Proposition Joe teaches Marlo Stanfield how to launder money and evade investigation. Once Joe is no longer useful to him, Stanfield has Joe killed and usurps his position with the Greeks and the New Day Co-Op. Stanfield lures his enemy Omar Little out of retirement by having Omar's mentor Butchie murdered. Michael Lee continues working as a Stanfield enforcer, providing a home for his friend Dukie and younger brother Bug.

Omar returns to Baltimore seeking revenge, targeting Stanfield's organization, stealing and destroying money and drugs and killing Stanfield enforcers in an attempt to force Stanfield into the open. However, he is eventually shot and killed by Kenard, a young Stanfield dealer.

Templeton claims to have been contacted by McNulty's fake serial killer. City Editor Gus Haynes becomes suspicious, but his superiors are enamored of Templeton. The story gains momentum and Carcetti spins the resulting attention on homelessness into a key issue in his imminent campaign for Governor and restores funding to the police department.

Bubbles is recovering from his drug addiction while living in his sister's basement. He is befriended by Sun reporter Mike Fletcher, who eventually writes a profile of Bubbles.

Bunk is disgusted with McNulty's serial killer scheme and tries to have Lester Freamon reason with McNulty. Instead, Freamon helps McNulty perpetuate the lie and uses the funds for an illegal wiretap on Stanfield. Bunk resumes working the vacant house murders, leading to a murder warrant against Partlow for killing Michael's stepfather.

Freamon and Leander Sydnor gather enough evidence to arrest Stanfield and most of his top lieutenants, seizing a large quantity of drugs. Stanfield suspects that Michael is an informant, and orders him killed. Michael realizes he is being set up and kills Snoop instead. A wanted man, he leaves Bug with an Aunt and begins a career as a stick-up man. With his support system gone, Dukie lives with drug addicts.

McNulty tells Kima Greggs about his fabrications to prevent her wasting time on the case. Greggs tells Daniels, who, along with Rhonda Pearlman, takes this news to Carcetti, who orders a cover-up because of the issue's importance to his campaign.

Davis is acquitted, but Freamon uses the threat of federal prosecution to blackmail him for information. Davis reveals Levy has a mole in the courthouse from whom he illegally purchases copies of sealed indictments. Herc tells Levy that the Stanfield case was probably based on an illegal wiretap, something which would jeopardize the entire case. After Levy reveals this to Pearlman, she uses Levy's espionage to blackmail him into agreeing to a plea bargain for his defendants. Levy ensures Stanfield's release on the condition that he permanently retires, while his subordinates will have to accept long sentences. Stanfield sells the connection to The Greeks back to the Co-Op and plans to become a businessman, though indications are that ultimately he will not be able to resist the lure of the corner.

As the cover-up begins, a copy-cat killing occurs, but McNulty quickly identifies and arrests the culprit. Pearlman tells McNulty and Freamon that they can no longer be allowed to do investigative work and warns of criminal charges if the scandal becomes public. They opt to retire. Haynes attempts to expose Templeton but the managing editors ignore the fabrications and demote anyone critical of their star reporter. Carcetti pressures Daniels to falsify crime statistics to aid his campaign. Daniels refuses and then quietly resigns rather than have his FBI file leaked.

In a final montage, McNulty gazes over the city; Freamon enjoys retirement; Templeton wins a Pulitzer; Carcetti becomes Governor; Haynes is sidelined to the copy desk and replaced by Fletcher; Campbell appoints Valchek as commissioner; Carcetti appoints Rawls as Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Dukie continues to use heroin; Michael becomes a stickup boy; Pearlman becomes a judge and Daniels a defense attorney; Bubbles is allowed upstairs where he enjoys a family dinner; Chris serves his life sentence alongside Wee-Bey; the drug trade continues; and the people of Baltimore go on with their lives.


Main article: episodes
Season # Series # Title Story Teleplay Director Original airdate
1 51 More with Less David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Joe Chappelle January 6, 2008
Wire51 "The bigger the lie, the more they believe." - Bunk
The Stanfield Organization continues to operate despite being linked to 22 bodies found in vacant houses and undergoing a year of surveillance by the Major Crimes Unit. Education budget deficits and ambitions to become Governor leave Mayor Carcetti forced to make funding cuts. His broken promises to the police department destroy morale and cause the closure of the Major Crimes Unit. Detective Jimmy McNulty is sent back to homicide and returns to his old habits of drinking and infidelity. Similar cutbacks in the Baltimore Sun newsroom make it increasingly difficult for city desk editor Gus Haynes to do his job but he is still able to break a major story linking city council president Nerese Campbell and drug dealer Fat-Face Rick. Bubbles is recovering from his heroin addiction but is struggling to come to terms with his role in Sherrod's death.[22][23]
2 52 Unconfirmed Reports David Simon, William F. Zorzi William F. Zorzi Ernest Dickerson January 13, 2008
Wire52 "This ain't Aruba, bitch." - Bunk
Reporter Scott Templeton submits an unverifiable story about a boy attending the opening day of the Baltimore Orioles baseball season. Haynes is dubious but is forced to run the story by his senior editors. The withdrawal of the police investigation emboldens Marlo Stanfield and he orders several murders and tries to contact international drug trafficking organization "The Greeks". Detective Lester Freamon continues to observe Stanfield even though he has been assigned to the Clay Davis corruption case. Bubbles takes a job at a soup kitchen. McNulty becomes increasingly frustrated in the underfunded homicide unit and takes the drastic step of faking a homicide with the intention of drawing funds to the department by creating the illusion of a serial killer.[24][25]
3 53 Not for Attribution David Simon, Chris Collins Chris Collins January 20, 2008 Scott & Joy Kecken
Wire53 "They're dead where it doesn't count." - Fletcher
Stanfield turns to "Proposition Joe" Stewart for help cleaning and laundering money while Stewart remains unaware that Stanfield is trying to usurp his connection to The Greeks. Stanfield also places a bounty on information leading him to Omar Little. Cheese gives Stanfield the whereabout's of Omar's advisor Butchie. Chris Partlow and Snoop torture and kill Butchie to lure Omar from retirement. A false statistics scandal gives Carcetti the political ammunition to fire commissioner Ervin Burrell. Carcetti leaks a story heralding Cedric Daniels as a potential replacement. Daniels is worried that Burrell will reveal his shady past after Templeton invents a quote implicating Daniels in Burrell's departure. McNulty continues to work on his serial killer plan despite warnings from his partner Bunk Moreland. Bunk enlists Freamon to talk to McNulty but is dumbfounded when Freamon offers to help with the plan.[26][27]
4 54 Transitions David Simon, Ed Burns Ed Burns Dan Attias January 27, 2008
Wire54 "Buyer's market out there." - Templeton
Freamon and McNulty draw more attention to their fake serial killer by sensationalizing the murders. McNulty's compulsive behaviour jeopardizes his relationship with Beadie Russell. Campbell learns of Daniels' history but convinces Burrell to leave quietly with the promise of a comfortable replacement position. Sergeant Ellis Carver puts his principles first in the Western District and his former partner Herc is shamed by his integrity. Stanfield convinces The Greeks to consider him an insurance policy and continues to assimilate Stewart's contacts including Maurice Levy. Omar returns to Baltimore and quickly learns that Stanfield was responsible for Butchie's death. Stewart prepares to leave town fearing reprisal from Omar but is once again betrayed by Cheese and murdered by Partlow as Stanfield watches.[28]
5 55 React Quotes David Simon, David Mills David Mills Agnieszka Holland February 3, 2008
Wire55 "Just 'cause they're in the street doesn't mean that they lack opinions." - Haynes
Stanfield takes over as The Greeks' Baltimore distributor and is given a phone and a code to use to contact them. Stanfield gives the number to Levy and Herc steals it and passes it on to the police department. Freamon appeals to Daniels for a wiretap but is unsuccessful. McNulty leaks further details of his invented serial killer to the press and the story gains momentum. When Templeton stages a phone call from the serial killer McNulty uses it as probable cause for a wiretap. Freamon sets up on Stanfield's phone while the homicide unit believe they are manning another, disconnected, wiretap of the killers phone. Dukie struggles with bullying and Bubbles learns that he is HIV negative. State's Attorney Bond announces the Davis corruption case. Campbell convinces Davis to protect his fellow politicians and he embarks on a publicity campaign suggesting that his race has motivated the charges. Partlow sets up an ambush for Omar which he narrowly escapes by jumping from a balcony.[29]
6 56 The Dickensian Aspect David Simon, Ed Burns Ed Burns Seith Mann February 10, 2008
Wire56 "If you have a problem with this, I understand completely." - Freamon
7 57 Took David Simon, Richard Price Richard Price Dominic West February 17, 2008
Wire57 "They don't teach it in law school." - Pearlman
8 58 Clarifications David Simon, Dennis Lehane Dennis Lehane Anthony Hemingway February 24, 2008
Wire58 "A lie ain't a side of a story. It's just a lie." - Terry Hanning
9 59 Late Editions David Simon, George Pelecanos George Pelecanos Joe Chappelle March 2 2008
Wire59 "Deserve got nuthin' to do with it." - Snoop
10 60 -30- David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Clark Johnson March 9 2008
Wire60 "...the life of kings." - H.L. Mencken

External linksEdit

The Wire at the Internet Movie Database


  1. John M. Higgins (2006). HBO Renews The Wire. Broadcasting & Cable.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Meghan O'Rourke (2006). Behind The Wire.
  3. David Mills. Just to tease you fans of The Wire. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Wiltz, Teresa (2007-09-03). Down to "The Wire": It's a Wrap for Gritty TV Series. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2007-09-03.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 Margaret Talbot (2007). Stealing Life. The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2012-09-04. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts (2007). The CIA Has A New Man On a Special Mission -- to Hollywood. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  7. Cynthia Rose. The originator of TV's 'Homicide' remains close to his police-reporter roots. Seattle Times. Retrieved on 2006-09-28.
  8. Oldenburg, Ann (August 5, 2007). Belzer character Munches more scenery. USA Today. Archived from the original on 2007-06-25. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  9. Just to tease you fans of "The Wire".... Undercover Black Man (February 28, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-02-28.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Lance Reddick, Tom McCarthy, David Simon, Clark Johnson, John Doman, Seth Gilliam, Wendell Pierce and Dominic West. (2007-10-28). 'The Wire - Invitation to the Set (Season 5 preview) [TV]. HBO.
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Mills_blog
  12. "The Wire" More With Less (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  13. "The Wire" Late Edition (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  14. "The Wire" Unconfirmed Reports (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  15. "The Wire" Transition (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  16. "The Wire" React Quotes (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  17. "The Wire" The Dickensian Aspect (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  18. "The Wire" Clarifications (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  19. "The Wire" The Life of Kings (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  20. "The Wire" Rules of Arbitration (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  21. "The Wire" Took (2008). IMDb (2007). Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  22. "More with Less". Joe Chappelle, Writ. David Simon (story and teleplay), Ed Burns (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-06. No. 1, season 5.
  23. The Wire episode guide - episode 51 More with Less. HBO (2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
  24. "Unconfirmed Reports". Ernest Dickerson, Writ. William F. Zorzi (story and teleplay), David Simon (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-13. No. 2, season 5.
  25. The Wire episode guide - episode 52 Uncomfirmed Reports. HBO (2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
  26. "Not for Attribution". Scott and Joy Kecken, Writ. Chris Collins (story and teleplay), David Simon (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-20. No. 3, season 5.
  27. The Wire episode guide - episode 53 Not for Attribution. HBO (2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
  28. "Transitions". Dan Attias, Writ. Ed Burns (story and teleplay), David Simon (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-27. No. 4, season 5.
  29. "React Quotes". Agnieszka Holland, Writ. David Mills (story and teleplay), David Simon (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-02-03. No. 5, season 5.
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