Saturday, March 1, 2008

Omar Little, R.I.P.

So the episode officially aired last Sunday. Omar Little is dead. Arguably the best character on The Wire, Omar Little was gunned down in a convenient store while trying to buy a pack of cigarettes. He was shot in the back of the head and was killed instantly. He was shot by a young kid, Kenard, who was a corner boy and was "part" of Marlo's crew. Seldom seen in season 4 and 5, Kenard perhaps made the shot heard round the world. No other shot in The Wire's history was larger than that gunshot. Well, to be fair, I'll put it up for debate between Kenard's killing of Omar and and Omar and Brother Mouzone's killing of Stringer Bell in season 3. Either way, Omar was in the show from the beginning, and to see a character taken out like that, it's just heartbreaking.

Omar was definitely not a saint. He was a "bad guy," but at heart he was a good guy. He had a code and he lived by it -- only go after people within the game. Anybody else just is not worth it. He took it upon himself to "police" the other bad guys when he felt they were getting too powerful. When the Barksdale crew was running wild in the first couple seasons it was Omar giving them trouble, and through Season 4 and season 5 Omar was giving Marlo trouble. It was almost as if he was attempting to level the playing field so everyone could have a chance at dealing, making sure not one group had a monopoly. Now obviously that was not his goal, but it was a side effect of his actions.

Omar lived off of his reputation on the streets. He knew that no one would face him man to man and shoot him. His reputation had grown to mythic proportions. It was amazing he lasted as long as he did on the streets. His death, annoying as it was, was a necessary occurrence on the show. David Simon and Ed Burns strived to make The Wire as realistic as it could possibly be, and to have Omar survive throughout the entire series would not have been the most realistic thing to happen. Stickup guys like Omar normally don't live past the age of 25, let alone 30.

And thinking about it, the way Omar died was the only way he could have died. Omar lived by a code, and he would have never think about taking out a kid unless he knew for a fact he was in the game. He took a look at Kenard and thought about him, but then just went on about his business, only to be shot in the back of the head. Being shot in the back is also a key point because no one would shoot him face to face, it would only have to be in the back. And having a kid do it just makes it all the more realistic. Kids get dragged into the game earlier and earlier because they have no choice but to join. Kenard was no exception.

My friend and I argued over Omar's death for over a week and we still have no been able to find common ground. He is so totally against how Omar met his fate. We were both sad when Omar was killed, but I thought it was an OK sendoff where he didn't agree. We both agreed he had to die, but just differed in how he should've went out. The big shootout would have obviously been a better choice for him to die, but it would not have been the correct choice in trying to keep the show as realistic as possible.

Omar will always live on.

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