Millions of hearts broke when season four of The Wire reached its bleak conclusion. The cause of this mass cardiac disintegration was twofold: first, most of the teenage boys in the season's primary storyline seemed doomed to nasty and short lives. And second, the single greatest work of dramatic television in the history of the medium had come to an end. That couldn't be easy for anyone's emotions.

Fifteen months later, The Wire returned for its brilliant swan song. David Simon, Ed Burns, and crew famously dedicated each season of The Wire to an institutional failure (the drug war, the middle class, political reform, the schools) that has contributed to the extended death of Baltimore, and by extension all of America's inner cities. For the show's final go-round, the show takes on the decline of local media. Simon spent years -- several of them tumultuous -- at the Baltimore Sun before he started creating amazing TV shows. Naturally, Simon brings much of his personal disaffection and melancholy to his portrayal of that disintegrating daily.

Continue reading: The Wire: Season Five Review