The Wire 2.3-2.4

2.3 Hot Shots

The opening scene of this episode is probably one of the funniest scenes of the show. It’s a gag that is set up in the previous episode, so you’re not going to get it if you haven’t seen the last episode. Once again, this is a sign that The Wire is playing the long game. Also, the pacing is just right with the editing to make it all work. But what sells it is Bunk and Lester trash-talking and mocking the interviewees. I wonder if that bit was improv or written. I imagine written, given how constructed the show is. Regardless, it’s a great bit of acting.

Another great moment in this episode is when McNulty shows up to tell Brick and Lester about the murders they’ve been stuck with. Before he can get a word in, they proceed to dress him down and walk through everything he’s going to tell them. It’s on the verge of being a bit too self-aware, but done in just the right way with enough bitter sarcasm that you see it coming from the characters instead of being the creators acknowledging McNulty as a fictional character.

Omar is back in town. We’ve known this since the end of season one, but we haven’t heard of him since. I’m glad the show isn’t making him a regular character every episode. Getting bits and pieces of his story here and there means we’re not getting too much of a good thing. It’s interesting to see how he’s running his new racket and I’m wondering how he’ll factor into the changing drug scene.

Frank’s cousin, Nick (Pablo Schreiber), seems like he’s going to fill the role of D to a certain extent. Unlike D, his story feels a bit too stereotypical. He’s down on his luck, low on cash, and finding living a life on the straight and narrow isn’t getting him anywhere. On the one hand, it gives the show a way to explore crime as something motivated by a desire for good: he wants to get a home for his girl and their child, but on the other hand, it’s a story we’ve seen countless times and so far this take on the story doesn’t feel unique enough to be justified.

Three episodes in, and we’re still learning about how much the game has changed. Frank is spending resources and time lobbying to get what he wants to get more jobs for the docks. He’s go to play politicians, make some subtle donations to those on the fence, to get the votes he needs. We see an old familiar face in the political scene, so some of the players are the same even if this is a whole different ballgame.

I’m intrigued by human trafficking being the instigating crime of this season. While most people know about the prevalence of drug activity, human trafficking is in the top 3 of global crime industries, but doesn’t get nearly as much depiction in the media. I’m glad The Wire at least brings some social awareness that this is something that happens in America, but I hope it might get at the scope of it more.

2.4 Hard Cases

In the last episode, Valchek found out his crew isn’t doing anything so he decides to give Daniels the detail. And Daniels decides he wants a lot of familiar faces with a chance of making this detail long-term. With Valchek pulling so much weight, it looks like he’s getting a shot. So wait, the crew is getting back together? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad, but it takes 20% of the season to get there? I get that The Wire is playing the long game, but this might be taking things a bit too slow.

I’m digging Beadie’s character. A lot of the characters in this show either fall into the weathered, jaded group or the young, eager yuppies. Beadie exists in the middle. She’s new to the game, but she’s been around the block with life so she’s not a kid, but she’s also not as emotionally deadened to the horrors she witnesses on the job.

It’s funny to see how dated technology is in this episode. The show isn’t that old, this season came out ten years ago, but we’ve made a lot of strides since then. Digital cameras are a revolutionary idea that people are still trying to understand. Also, the original X-Box is a new thing and it’s so funny to see Avon playing it on a portable DVD player. I wonder how much will the datedness impact people’s appreciation of the show going forward. I still remember this technology, but I imagine the next generation will find some of this stuff baffling.

Speaking of Avon, he’s set up a sweet way to beat this prison term. He sets up a bad batch of cocaine to be smuggled into the prison and then promises the warden to finger the guy who did it in order to shave some months off his first parole hearing. Avon tries to get D in on his scam, but D wants no part of it. It’s interesting to see how Avon is using the justice system against itself, using the rules to get ahead of the game.

As good as that stuff is, we still have to deal with Nick and Ziggy. The more we get into this story, the more I wonder why Nick puts up with Ziggy. I get that they’re cousins, but Nick gets that Ziggy is going to get them into trouble and yet he keeps him along. I think the story needs Ziggy to have something Nick needs. A connection in the docks or maybe Ziggy is getting the cash from his old man that Nick needs. As it stands, I think Nick realizes he needs to cut Ziggy loose, but I don’t know what he’s waiting for.

There’s a wonderful dinner sequence in this episode. Both Kima and Daniels have to tell her and his respective significant other about the detail. Without a word of dialogue, we get the setup of a beautiful candle-lit dinner where it’s clear the news didn’t go well. The pacing of the action and the intercutting between the two scenes is done just tight enough to give it a good flow, but with enough space between each moment for the repetition to not feel too tight. It’s one of the best sequences of the season so far.

© 2013 James Blake Ewing