Here at the WaiverWire, we have several writers who are into just more than the sporting world. That’s why when the website Grantland (and this bracket is the idea of those who run that website, not ours) released a 32-person bracket of characters from the television series The Wire, we felt obligated to fill out the bracket ourselves. Each day until completion, three of our writers (Mike Aurigemma, Greg Kaplan, and Vinny Ginardi), along with guest blogger Michael Cresci (CresciReviews, check it out) will give an in depth look at each match up. In the event of a tie, we will use and outside viewer to break the score. Here is the bracket and today’s match ups:
For Day One results, click here.
For Day Two results, click here.
For Day Three results, click here.
For Day Four results, click here.
For Day Five results, click here.
For Day Six results, click here.
#1 Omar Little vs. #2 Michael Lee
MC: Omar is almost definitely winning this. It’s going to be an interesting final four and there’s a chance I talk myself out of Omar but every time I see his name I immediately know he’s one the round. So allow me to talk about Michael for a moment.
Michael was always a character I liked and I thought his arc was incredibly important (though it always sort of upset me). The Wire made the brilliant choice of introducing the kids later in the show and a sort of cycle was established. Instead of sticking to the characters we knew the show shrewdly showed us where these characters came from by show what it’s like to grow up in the hell hole of inner city Baltimore. We see how someone becomes Bubbles through the journey of Dukie. We see how someone gets out and becomes like Bunk or Bunny through the journey of Namond. We see how someone becomes a Wee-Bey or Chris through Randy. And then the real kicker is Michael’s transformation into Omar 2.0. I can’t explain how happy this made me. Despite my liking Michael he never quite made it into my favorites list but the idea of him becoming the next Omar was so surprising while simultaneously being so natural was brilliant. It’s something you feel like you should have seen coming but there’s no way to have seen it coming. Genius. But still, Omar is the President’s favorite and who am I to argue?
The Pick: Omar Little
MA: Well we are finally down to the top dogs going at it and this is a fantastic face off. These two characters basically became the same person by the end of the show. Omar was the original Robin Hood in Baltimore who was an amazing character who just broke down so many barriers. He was a revolutionary persona that just got rid of all types of stereotypes throughout the show. There is a reason that Obama thought he was the best character on the show and maybe on all of television. There really are not enough words to describe how important and how great of a character he is. People can point at how he did not go out fighting and was not able to get away from Marlo, but sometimes that is how real life is. I mean who could have thought the little kid was going to be the one to kill him, but in reality it is not always the main guys going at it and that is just another reason why this show is so good.
The one main difference between these two is that we get to see Michael before he became like Omar. When we first met Omar he was already this big dog and had this huge reputation. We never saw what made Omar that kind of person and how he ended up the way he did. If you wanted to make the case for Michael I feel like that would have to be it because we see his character develop all the way from the start. In the end even though my heart really wants me to pick Michael my head wants me to pick Omar because I know that he really was the most important character on this show and should at least get to the finals.
The Pick: Omar
VG: Omar gets a bit of a challenge here in Michael Lee, but it will be Omar who is once again moving on. As I mentioned in his last match up, Omar was a living legend who people feared. After his death, his legend only grew. Also, his word choice in every situation makes him even more likable.
As we see with the series finale, Michael essentially becomes Omar. While he takes his role in The Game as shotgun-wielding thief, Michael lacks the flair and theatrics that made Omar special. He can take his place, yes, but he will never be Omar.
The Pick: Omar Little
GK: What an intriguing match-up. Arguably one of the best of these Elite 8 head-to-heads. In my opinion, Michael turns into Omar 2.0 by the end of Season 5. He is always one step ahead of the game, a game in which he wanted no part of being involved in originally. We never got the true story of what made Omar the person he was, but I’m sure it had something to do with the falling out of the game like Michael went through.
I know this pick is definitely not popular with our other writers, but I’m going with Michael. Look, Omar was the most bad-ass character in the show. The utterance of his name sent people scrambling on the street and ducking for cover. Stash houses would throw their supply and money out windows without putting up a fight just by thinking Omar was out there waiting for them.
However, once Omar got Stringer and set his scopes on Marlo, he seemed to plateau as a character. His evolution was finished once he returned to Baltimore to avenge the death of Butch. As for Michael, we were only scratching the surface. Should there have been a sixth season in the works, Michael is why I would’ve watched above any other character. He out-smarted what were supposed to be the smartest in the game. He turned on Chris and Snoop, even killing Snoop, the ruthless force of Marlo’s ring.
With Omar, I knew what I was going to get every episode. With Michael, the possibilities are endless. That untold future is why I favor Michael ahead of Omar. I just wanted to know more. Plain and simple.
The Pick: Michael
THE WINNER: Omar Little (3-1)
#1 Bunk vs. #3 McNulty
MC: We’re conditioned to watch cop shows a certain way. There’s a handsome main character who fights for what is right and whips out witty lines while displaying a big heart. He often has a funny black partner. Boy oh boy does The Wire ever turn all of that on its head. McNulty and Bunk appear to fit that exact mold on the surface but The Wire is an entirely different beast than anything ever put on film. McNulty and Bunk share one of the show’s greatest moments, the completely silent investigation of a murder scene. It shows their skill, intimacy, and emphasizes the nature of their work. The two are like a married couple through many of the seasons.
I think McNulty takes it for being more important to the show and a bit more fleshed out than the infinitely entertaining Bunk. So in honor of Bunk let me just say that my favorite scene in the entire series is probably Bunk convincing Omar he should give him the information he needs.
The Pick: Jimmy McNulty
MA: For me personally this is not that tough of a match-up to pick between. Bunk is more of a role player on a good team whereas McNulty is the real star. I mean who would you rather build around someone like Derrick Rose or someone like Taj Gibson. I mean do not get me wrong, Bunk is definitely an important character who helps bring the show to the next level, but without McNulty there wouldn’t even be a show in my opinion. I said it in the last round, but I really think if you had to pick one main character in this show it would have to be him. Bunk is basically his partner who definitely adds some comedy to the show with him, but I do not think he is a main guy by any means. I do like Bunk as a character for sure and probably enjoy him more than McNulty, but he just does not seem that important to me. There are a lot of other police officers in the show that have bigger roles than him and I just cannot let him get to the Final Four in this bracket.
The Pick: Jimmy McNulty
VG: Whoa, tough match up here. These two got along so well for the first four seasons, just for it to sort of fall apart in season five.
My pick here is actually surprising, which is strange, because it shouldn’t be surprising to pick the one seed.
I realize my pick is hugely influenced on just finishing season five. But in this final season, I really didn’t like McNulty. After becoming a much better person in season four, he came back to the arrogant, drinking, cheating prick that we met in season one. But that’s not really what I had a problem with. I just didn’t but too much into the whole “fake serial killer” thing, even though the idea did work. I respected Bunk greatly for 1) not going along with it and 2) not ratting out his friends.
Also, I love when Bunk swears under his breath. Nobody does it better.
The Pick: Bunk Moreland
GK: Still, without question, my favorite scene in the entire series is when Bunk and McNulty are combing over D’Angelo’s old crime scene looking for more evidence and only saying “Fuck” the whole time as they re-enact the murder step by step. It was some hilarious/brilliant piece of writing.
That being said, Bunk’s character is a fantastic dude, but none of it becomes possible without the influence, for better or worse, of Jimmy McNulty. We’ve been saying throughout this entire process that if there were to be a main character of the show, it would probably be Jimmy McNulty. He made everything work and was the transition from story to story for the most part.
I don’t underestimate the character Bunk was. He was a good, straight cop that wanted justice, but not at any price. There was no situation that was above the process of the law, and Bunk was sick to his stomach whenever Jimmy crossed that line.
McNulty, well, he provided the narrative for everyone else to fall in line. Without Jimmy McNulty, there never is a wire. Without Jimmy McNulty, nobody cares about Avon Barksdale or Stringer Bell. How again was this guy a 3-seed?
The Pick: Jimmy McNulty
THE WINNER: Jimmy McNulty (3-1)
#1 Avon Barksdale vs. #3 Bunny Colvin
MC: We seem to be heading towards an inevitable final four and as a result I find myself with less and less to say. Avon is the clear winner here and that speaks to the depth of the show. Bunny is great character and yet he can’t top the head of the Barksdale crime organization. Watching Marlo rise to the top of the game made me yearn to see what Avon and Stringer’s rise was like. These characters seem so real that I want to watch every aspect of their histories before the show and the moments we don’t get to see. I’d like to see Avon rise to the top of life in prison. I’d like to see Avon do a ton of things because he’s so compelling. That gives him the edge over Bunny who I love but who doesn’t make me desire such story overkill.
The Pick: Avon Barksdale
MA: This is a really interesting match-up because there were a few seasons where these guys really had no roles at all. Avon is someone who is definitely an important character in the show, but could it be that he is overrated. I mean how much does he really do for the show and for his business. Stringer probably had the bigger role and was the one out there in the streets going to talk to everyone, while Avon was up in his office and was not seen for episodes. Maybe that is what made his character so food because at the beginning he was definitely a pretty big mystery especially for McNulty and the rest of his team.
Bunny Colvin was definitely not a factor in the first couple of seasons of the show, but he made his presence felt in the later seasons. He was definitely an awesome character and was someone that you just had to love because you really did not think he was doing anything wrong and always seemed to put his heart into everything. The thing that could hold him back is that his role was not really that important in the show and he was not a main character really at all. With that being said, I really believe that you can say that about so many of these characters because it was such a well-balanced show. I still think that I need to go with Avon and I just do not know what it is about him because his character is not really complex and is not a game changer like an Omar, but it is something about him. He was just a cool character that you just wanted to root for. I just have to keep going back to the swagger he carried himself with and that is the best thing about him.
The Pick: Avon Barksdale
VG: It’s good to see that our bracket has differed a bit from Grantland’s. Here, we had Bunny Colvin advancing to the elite eight with a clean sweep over Prop Joe. That didn’t happen at Grantland.
This matchup is a lot tougher than I initially thought it would be. It wasn’t until the end of season five, when we see Colvin proudly watching Namond at the debate, that I realized how much I really enjoyed his character. He truly tried to make a positive impact on city of Baltimore in season three and a troubled group of students in season four.
But Avon is the man. His finger wag to Daniels is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series and it is just unbelievable how The Wire can make a drug kingpin seem so real, likable, loyal and powerful all at the same time. He ran the entire streets of west Baltimore. And, I really just want to see him match up with Stringer.
The Pick: Avon Barksdale
GK: Of all the Elite Eight match-ups, this one seems like the easiest. Is there any question that Avon wouldn’t move on? The guy ran the streets, it didn’t matter where he was or what situation he was in. Even when it seemed like the streets had gone to Marlo, it was Avon that Marlo turned to for advice on how to truly take over. To me, that shows who truly had control of the streets of Baltimore, even after Stringer was dead.
Bunny was an intriguing guy who provided the most controversial public policy. But, its Avon Barksdale! You don’t top that.
The Pick: Avon
THE WINNER: Avon Barksdale (4-0)
#1 Stringer Bell vs. #2 Marlo
MC: Marlo couldn’t care less about winning this tournament because he knows no one would mess with him whereas Stringer would see this win as a potential boon to business. I don’t think the two men could be more different and this is highlighted when Marlo tries to get into a business (after the police force him to retire) and he could not look more out of his element. Marlo wins in real life but he doesn’t win here as Stringer is just to nuanced and interesting. Marlo’s organization and effect on Baltimore is more memorable than Marlo himself. Stringer on the other hand stands out as one of the show’s most memorable characters from his crazy ass death to his constant clashes with Avon.
The Pick: Stringer Bell
MA: I really think that this is an awesome match-up as it is just two titans going at it right here. This whole bracket was outstanding and this pairing does not disappoint at all. These characters went head to head throughout the show as well and Marlo came out on top in that one for sure. Marlo was the up and comer who was trying to knock off Stringer and Avon and he really just did not care about making friends. He went about his business in an aggressive way and was the opposite of Stringer in that respect. Even people that were not even a problem for him he still wanted to take care of them too and he was just relentless. He was never going to be able to change like Stringer tried to it just was not his personality. He was more like Avon except Avon had Stringer calm him down at times and trying to keep him under control. Marlo did not have anyone like that around him so he was unleashed on the whole city, which was not a very good thing for those living there.
Stringer is tough because he is someone that I can see people hating for sure. It seemed like he was more willing to kill those who worked for him then go out and start a war with some rivals. That does bug me about him because I do not think he was an extremely loyal character by any means. He had no problem having Dee killed and maybe it was because he was sleeping around with his girl too. He even put out the hit on Wallace and Lil’ Man too, but when it came down to going after Marlo and Omar he seemed a little bit afraid and never wanted to start a war. Maybe that was smart of him to do and try to stay out of the spotlight like that, but if he is always like that he was never going to be able to leave The Game alive and that is how it turned out for him. As much as it pains me to say it I am going to have to go with Marlo because I talk about how I love loyal characters and in my opinion Stringer showed a lot of disloyalty at times.
The Pick: Marlo Stanfield
VG: This matchup is very interesting just because of how different these two characters are, despite the fact that they held the same position on the streets.
But here is what we learned about these two characters: Stringer wasn’t made for The Game, and Marlo was. It’s pretty funny actually. We see Marlo at the end of season five at a business like dinner party with Levy and he couldn’t seem more uncomfortable. The irony of it all is that is all Stringer ever wanted. To interact and do business with people who were more…professional.
They do have their similarities too. For one, they are each extremely cautious. They tie up any loose ends before they can hurt them. But Marlo took it to another level entirely. He started killing people on hunches and impulses, while Stringer only ordered deaths when they made sense for his business.
Similarities and differences aside, the pick here is Stringer. He’s just a cooler guy, and much less evil. Plus Idris Elba’s could be the best actor in the entire series.
The Pick: Stringer Bell
GK: Last time I had to make a hard decision like this, I went with who I thought won the match-up in the show. If that was the case, I’d pick Marlo, since he refused to bend for Stringer and eventually bullied his way into the alpha dog chair of the Co-op.
So, you may be asking yourself, why am I going with Stringer in this match-up? Because without Stringer Bell, we never have a Marlo Stanfield. Stringer formed the Co-Op, tried to bring more business into the world of drugs and introduced the art of beating a wire tap. He provided the blueprint for drug dealers like Marlo Stanfield to emerge.
Its that development of the game that Stringer created a situation for someone to knock him off the top. However, without Stringer, it doesn’t matter how powerful a drug dealer may seem. They don’t grow to the level they can max out at because the ingredients weren’t there. Enter Stringer Bell, master chef.
The Pick: Stringer
THE WINNER: Stringer Bell (3-1)