Season three of The Wire continues the series' even-handed dissection of the Baltimore "drug wars," as seen through the eyes of both the police investigators and the drug lords. With charismatic hoodlum Stringer Bell (Idris Elba) emerging as the unofficial leader of the Barksdale drug empire, and with narcotics detective James McNulty (Dominic West) allowing his personal demons to catch up with him vis-à-vis an ever-increasing dependence upon booze, a curious dichotomy is established whereby Stringer often comes off as the more mentally stable and morally responsible of the two men. Even so, Stringer and McNulty are but two of the series' 40-plus recurring characters, meaning that their individual travails are never permitted to overwhelm the series' overall narrative thrust. Dictating the direction in which the 12 episodes of season three will follow is a burgeoning political-reform movement in Baltimore, with the ongoing drug investigation becoming a volatile campaign tool. Before long, "body counts" on both sides are being publicly tallied in a manner that dredges up grim memories of Vietnam. And though the story arcs have become more complex and multi-layered, there is still plenty of time to develop such quirky vignettes as the "trading" of drug-free urine from Baltimore's daycare centers. The season's final episode is titled "Mission Accomplished" -- as grotesquely ironic as when those same two words were prematurely applied to war in Iraq. The most startling development of the season-three finale is the sudden demise of one of the series' main players...with his greatest enemy becoming his biggest mourner.