The Wire (TV Series 2002–2008) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement.

  • Set in Baltimore, this show centers around the city's inner-city drug scene. It starts as mid-level drug dealer, D'Angelo Barksdale beats a murder rap. After a conversation with a judge, Det. James McNulty has been assigned to lead a joint homicide and narcotics team, in order to bring down drug kingpin Avon Barksdale. Avon Barksdale, accompanied by his right-hand man Stringer Bell, enforcer Wee-Bey and many lieutenants (including his own nephew, D'Angelo Barksdale), has to deal with law enforcement, informants in his own camp, and competition with a local rival, Omar, who's been robbing Barksdale's dealers and reselling the drugs. The supervisor of the investigation, Lt. Cedric Daniels, has to deal with his own problems, such as a corrupt bureaucracy, some of his detectives beating suspects, hard-headed but determined Det. McNulty, and a blackmailing deputy. The show depicts the lives of every part of the drug "food chain", from junkies to dealers, and from cops to politicians.

  • The streets of Baltimore as a microcosm of the US's war on drugs, and of US urban decay in general. Seen not only through the eyes of a few policemen and drug gang members but also the people who influence and inhabit their world - politicians, the media, drug addicts and everyday citizens.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The series is a well-planned story arc, with a different focus each year, and Baltimore is the star. Throughout the five seasons, the story is about one police unit and one drug network, so that we get to know each character very well.

    The first season .is an immersive experience in the drug trade and a deep introduction to the characters, both on the street and among the police, and the efforts of the police to set up the wire, which the police need to track down the drug dealers, who are very, very clever.

    The second is about the harbor, with its desperate workers, human trafficking, and corruption. The people protecting their rackets- which they need in order to survive- are an even match for the police. In this season, there's a lot of death.

    The third continues the work on the wire, and again how it affects the police and the people on the street. The work of both the police & the drug dealers comes to desperate measures. Some senior members of the police even set up a zone where people can buy and sell drugs freely, which works well but is wiped out by the city administration.

    The fourth is about the politics of the city, all entwined with the drug violence and the police. There's a fascinating focus on teenagers, who become fully developed characters, and how the schools try to cope.

    The last of the five seasons wraps up all the story lines via the Baltimore Sun. The newspaper runs into one roadblock after another, but it's eventually able to reveal the extent of the drug trade, the police work, the failing schools, and the dreadful corruption at the top of the city.

    The same characters are present through all the seasons: we see how they change and what happens to them. Each has his or her own story, and each of their stories affects other characters and the story itself. All five seasons are a perfect whole.

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