Beginning in October, I watched all sixty episodes of The Wire, from the very first episode of the first season all the way through the final episode of the fifth season. It had been a few years, and as I watched the show, I initially cheered as my favorite character, Omar Little, made his walk walking through the alleys of Baltimore, whistling “The Farmer and the Dell” and shooting up Barksdale, and later Stansfield crew, soldiers, and lieutenants.
I liked what Omar said about “A man’s got to have a code.” Omar knew what kind of a person he was: he made his living robbing drug dealers, and when they rolled on him, he rolled right back on them. Basically, he willingly participated in an eye-for-an-eye culture, and always took it so damn personally when people near him were killed. If he’d just stop sprouting off about his code, maybe he’d realize how little his code elevated him from the drug hoppers: okay, sure, he had a code. Even when he escaped the game, he came back for his vengeance after Butchie was killed.
And then there comes that final, fateful episode. If you’ve never seen The Wire (but think you might want to), you might want to stop reading now. Omar gets ambushed by Marlo’s crew, and has to jump off a balcony to escape, breaking both legs in the process. A couple of episodes later, Omar gets some cops to roust a Stansfield crew, and then, limping to the corner store, passes a bunch of kids pouring light fluid on a cat.
“Every man’s got to have a code,” but Omar Little’s code apparently thinks it’s okay to light cats on fire.
One of the kids, a little punk named Kenard, follows Omar into the corner store, and shoots him in the head. If Omar’s code has opposed torturing little animals, maybe Kenard — who is like maybe eight — wouldn’t have followed Omar, virtually unseen, into the corner store.
So: Omar Little. Fuck you. Fuck your code. Any man who talks to much about his code but is cool with cats getting lit on fire deserve what he got.
As for me, my new favorite character on The Wire? A man with a real code: Bunk Moreland.