The Wire, considered by many critics to be the greatest drama of all time, explores the various levels of crime and corruption in the city of Baltimore in a very gritty and gripping style. Created and mostly written by former police reporter David Simon, the show is incredibly realistic and moving. You won’t find a more in-depth examination of society, politics, crime or the law anywhere on television. Watch The Wire online now and see why this is the one of the most critically acclaimed dramas in the history of television.
When D’Angelo Barksdale (Larry Gilliard Jr.) is acquitted of murder charges due to a witness changing her story, homicide detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) suspects it is more than a misunderstanding. McNulty meets with the judge privately to share his suspicions that the witness was intimidated by drug kingpin (and D’Angelo’s uncle) Avon Barksdale’s (Wood Harris) second-in-command Stringer Bell (Idris Elba). McNulty suspects that Avon’s drug empire is responsible for most of Baltimore’s drug trade and many unsolved murders.
The judge approaches the police force about creating a special unit to investigate the Barksdale gang, but it is mostly a poorly funded charade created to please the judge. Commander Cedric Daniels mediates between the officers motivated to take down Barksdale and their less enthusiastic superiors.
Electronic surveillance is used shortly after the arrest of low-level dealer Wallace who becomes an informant. While the wire doesn’t connect to Avon himself, it uncovers political contributions by his gang, ruffling the feathers of the higher-ups at the department.
A sting operation takes place that leads to the shooting of Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn), sparking a severe reaction by the police that lets Avon and Stringer know that the police are catching up. Wallace is killed by some low-level dealers after he is discovered to be an informant, and D’Angelo is arrested with a large quantity of drugs. D’Angelo offers to turn in Stringer and Avon but is dissuaded by his mother. Avon is arrested for a minor charge but gets off by having one of his soldiers take the fall for the murders. McNulty and Daniels are reassigned for causing trouble for their superiors.
After over 10 young women are found dead at the port, McNulty puts the pressure on his commanders for reassigning him there. Union leader Frank Sabotka (Chris Bauer) is investigated by Daniels at the behest of police major Stan Valchek (Al Brown) as they fight over the source of church contributions. The season examines the struggle of blue collar dock workers to find legitimate work and the pressure to live a life of crime.
When electronic surveillance leads to The Greek, the man in charge of the port corruption, Valchek gets the FBI involved to refocus the case on Sabotka. When Sabotka’s son Ziggy (James Ransone) is arrested for murder and Sabokta himself is arrested for smuggling, he agrees to help investigators in order to protect his son and make up for his wrongdoings. The Greek gets wind of this and has Sabotka killed. The Greek and his second-in-command are arrested but can’t be identified and are set free.
Meanwhile, The Barksdale gang continues to operate under Stringer as D’Angelo and Avon serve time in prison. D’Angelo is killed for defecting from his family, and Stringer partners with a rival after receiving bad product and suffering at the hands of the neutral criminal Omar’s (Michael K. Williams) stick-ups. Stringer exacts revenge on Omar by having him arrested.
Avon is released from prison while Stringer continues his cooperation with formal rival gangs despite Avon’s feelings on the matter. A young and growing gang leader Mario Stanfield (Jamie Hector) starts trying to take a piece of the Barksdale and company gang, causing a violent gang war.
Councilman Tommy Carcetti (Aiden Gillen) prepares to run for mayor by using his connections to get press and split votes to undercut his competition. Howard Colvin (Robert Wisdom) decides to take action in handling the outbreak of violence by creating areas where drug crimes go unpunished. His program greatly reduces crime elsewhere, but he is found out. This provides a platform for Carcetti to grandstand for his election and causes the higher-ups in the police force to demote Colvin and force him into retirement.
A former hitman for Avon, Dennis “Cutty” Wise (Chad L. Coleman) tries to clean up his act by opening a boxing gym after being released from prison. Unfortunately, he has to work for Avon to fund his project. Meanwhile, it’s discovered that Stringer is getting into real estate to try and become a legitimate businessman, but he falls short when his efforts remain focused on the drug trade.
Stringer agrees to give information on Avon when he feels Mario is on track to destroy the Barksdale empire, but Avon gets notice and learns of Stringer’s responsibility for D’Aneglo’s death. Avon has Omar and another assassin kill Stringer. Avon and his crew are arrested, but Mario’s gang simply takes their place, and the drugs keep moving in Baltimore.
This season examines the school system and how a life of crime is encouraged over an education. Former investigator Prez (Jim True-Frost), becomes a math teacher, but struggles with inattentive and violent students. Colvin attempts to research the causes of the school system failure and help a handful of particularly troubled students, but he is unable to make a significant change. At home, parents insist that joining a gang is more beneficial to the family because it brings in more money. They see an education as a gamble in a world where the black market rules.
Mario continues running his business but does so violently and inefficiently. Carcetti becomes mayor and promotes Daniels in an effort to reduce crime. Cutty takes work rounding up truant students. Former confidential informant and struggling addict Bubbles (Andre Royo) tries to encourage a teenage addict to better his life but fails and ends up accidentally killing him with a poisoned needle. A youth who attempts to help McNulty bust Mario is murdered, and many other students lose family and hope to drug-related violence.
The investigation on Mario ends after Carcetti cuts the police budget to deal with education issues. A senator is investigated for corruption, and McNulty tries to get money for the police department by creating a fake serial killer case.
The local paper also deals with budget cuts, and the series explores the decisions about which stories are told and which go ignored, not only to increase viewership but to protect corrupt politicians and government workers. In the end, the corrupt and fortunate move up, the drug trade continues as normal, youths still lose their lives to gang crimes, and very little changes in the city of Baltimore.