The Wire is a show that is accepted by many to be the greatest TV series since the millennium, at the very least. It is set in the Baltimore drug scene where the viewer is shown both sides of the story in great depth; the drug dealers and the enforcers of the law. It is not your typical detective series as there are no 'goodies' nor 'baddies' - and it is this that makes the show very unique.
Season One is very slow moving, there is not the constant thrill that a viewer would get when watching 24, for example. But in my opinion, The Wire is in a different league to 24; it is a lot more realistic as a lot of research was done in its production and it's a lot deeper as you get a real insight into the morals of the various characters. Season One was full of fantastic scenes but I have managed to conjure up a list of the best five. *SPOILERS*
#5: 'Where the **** is Wallace?!'
Stringer and the gang's lawyer visit D'Angelo in jail after he's caught transporting drugs under the orders of his uncle, Avon. They try to convince him to go for bail but all D'Angelo is concerned with is where 'Wallace is at'. He's suspicious that he has been killed under the orders of Avon and Stringer because they feared he would give up information of their scandals to the police - D'Angelo's suspicions are correct, and he knows it.
What I like about this scene is the amount of emotion displayed by D'Angelo as he saw a part of himself in Wallace; they both desired to get out of 'the game' and start a new life like 'normal folk'. His emotion is contrasted with the ice cold Stringer, wearing his trademark pokerface because in his position in 'the game' you can not afford to be emotionally attached to anyone. You don't run the game, the game runs you - Stringer plays the game well. D'Angelo on the other hand, he had a heart.
#4: '**** right. It ain't about right, it's about the money.'
The scene begins with Wallace and Poot enjoying some chicken nuggets presumably from McDonald's. Wallace explains the genius of getting rid of the bone, thus inventing the nugget and states that the inventor's idea will have made him very rich. D'Angelo interjects and questions Wallace about why the inventor got paid for his idea. He then explains that just because the man had the idea, does not mean that he got a percentage of the sales of the chicken nuggets. Instead the money goes to the already-rich people who have employed the inventor who is paid a regular wage. Poot states that this is not right, and D'Angelo delivers the awesome line; '**** right. It ain't about right, it's about the money.'
The world is run by money, and the harsh truth is that those who have money, make more money. In contrast those who do not, struggle to work their way up the hierarchy. You can have an idea that could potentially make a lot of money, but if you do not already possess money to make your idea into reality, you won't get paid a penny. The scene ends with Wallace saying; 'He still had the idea though' showing that Wallace does not value money as much as most people do; he himself can be satisfied by knowing that he came up with a world-changing idea.
A masterpiece of a scene.
#3: 'Be a little slow, be a little late.'
D'Angelo goes to meet his uncle, Avon at the hospital where he is visiting a severely injured associate who is unconscious throughout the scene. The scene starts with Avon talking to his associate and explains to D'Angelo how he always used to say; 'Live the life, lead the life - ain't no big thing'. But now that he is injured and possibly on his deathbed, he is incapable of saying it another time. This is one of the very few scenes in the first season where Avon is displayed to be emotional. He explains to D'Angelo, using the example of his injured associate, that no matter how well prepared you are, it only takes one moment of sloppiness and your life can be completely turned around; 'You only gotta **** up once.' It's impossible to never be sloppy no matter how well prepared you are - that's just how life is.
Not only is the script for this scene excellent, but the direction is too. The scene ends with Avon grasping his friend's hand - not to comfort his friend, but to comfort himself. Avon genuinely appears rattled by what has happened and confesses that it scares him. A truly fantastic scene, with a very thought provoking lesson from Avon.
#2: 'You come at the king, you best not miss.'
I'm pretty confident that when you clicked on this article, you were sure that this scene would be in the top five. It is probably the most memorable scene of the season, led by the most memorable character of the show, Omar Little. Stinkum and Wee-bey are plotting to kill a drug dealer from another neighbourhood, Omar's neighbourhood. But somehow Omar always seems to be a step ahead of the whole gang run by Avon Barksdale, and sees the attack coming.
It is not the script of this scene that makes it fantastic, but the style of it. Omar hides around the corner from Stinkum and Wee-bey, and when he sees them carrying out their attack he ambushes them. 'Hey now.' He kills Stinkum and injures Wee-bey who hides behind a car. It is at this moment where Omar delivers his famous quote that is the title of this capsule. If you're planning to damage Omar, you better be very well prepared - because he's sharp.
#1: 'Unless they some smart-ass pawns.'
When I was planning to compile this list, this scene was without doubt going to be at the top of my list. D'Angelo finds Bodie and Wallace playing checkers on a chessboard and offers to teach them how to play chess because 'chess is a better game, yo'. As he teaches them about the king and queen, Wallace and Bodie point out how their roles are similar to Avon and Stringer in 'the game'. Wallace asks how you can become the king, but D'angelo tells him that 'everyone stay who they is. Except for the pawns.' It turns out that the game of chess is a good representation of 'the game' that they play in the Baltimore drug scene.
Bodie and Wallace are the pawns, and Bodie realises this and asks D'Angelo 'If I make it to the other end, I win?' D'Angelo corrects him and tells him that to win, you've got to capture the opposition's king. Bodie quickly brushes this off and then states 'But if I make it to the end, I'm top dog.' Going up in status is the equivalent of winning to Bodie, that's how it is in 'the game' that he plays. D'Angelo explains to him how its unlikely for this to happen as pawns get killed early - just like Wallace does in this season. Wallace gets killed by his friend Bodie who does it to gain respect and possibly move up a position in 'the game'. The scene ends with Bodie saying 'Unless they some smart-ass pawns...' whilst looking like he is in deep thought as he realises that he needs to be clever to fulfil his ambition.
This is without doubt the greatest television scene I have ever seen as it is very thought-provoking and cleverly written.
The first season of The Wire is definitely my favourite season. It is full of fantastic scenes and is the season where D'Angelo is the most prominent - he's my favourite character.
Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on December 23, 2013:
Great list. I'm a huge fan of The Wire and those are some great scenes.