In The New York Times, Alessandra Stanley reviews the episode (spoilers, obviously) and assesses the show as a whole.
“The Wire” ended at just the right time: too soon. And it’s not that Mr. Simon’s series was the only intelligent drama on television. The difference is that most smart shows try to dazzle viewers with what they don’t know: “House” on Fox throws out the rarest diseases and most far-fetched diagnostic tools to update Sherlock Holmes and “Numb3rs” on CBS twists every crime to fit an advanced mathematical formula.
“The Wire” worked with primary sources that anybody could grasp if they looked closely out the window on the train from New York to Washington. It’s the same view of Baltimore — abandoned row houses, gutted factories and bullet-pocked store fronts — that McNulty takes in when he parks his car and looks down at the city from afar.
“It is what it is,” is what McNulty and others would say to end a conversation. “The Wire” was what it was, and that was a lot.