The Wire 2.5-2.7

2.5 Undertow

The episode opens with a pretty funny scene where Ziggy is trying to get one of his dealers to pay up right before he gets beat up from the guys he bought a pack from. This episode made me realize why I dislike Ziggy as a character. Unlike everyone else, Ziggy does crime just for the heck of it. He couldn’t care less about the money. It’s not something he grew up with like many of the kids in the first season, he just does crime because he can and that’s not a compelling reason.

Lucky, among the criminals, Frank remains intriguing. He can sure get going with the rants and sometimes his temper gets the better of him. He’s not afraid to buck those above him when he things he has a good reason. He’s a criminal, but it’s interesting to see how strong his twisted moral compass is and his unwavering conviction. I think it’s another one of the nuances of The Wire’s depiction of crime. Criminals aren’t these amoral beings, they still have a strong code of morals but it’s skewed and twisted with just the right kind of lies to justify the actions. Here, Frank can justify stealing as a way to reach a bigger goal of bringing more jobs for the union in the long run.

This episode is mad about threads. First, we’ve got Omar coming back to help the cops finger Bird in a murder and there’s a pretty funny scene where McNulty takes Omar to buy a suit. The scene could have played it up for laughs, but the situation is funny enough and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Also, Herc goes undercover and shows up sporting his “props” in order to fit the part. He’s actually quite good undercover and it’s cool to see him step up given that he’s often been played as the idiot of the detail.

One thing I do like about how this season is developing is that the crew doesn’t have a real target. Sure, Frank is supposed to be their target, but the team all knows there’s something bigger going on in the case. They don’t even have a clue about The Greek and I like that. Like Avon, The Greek is such a secret that no one would have heard of him and I like that this time it means the detectives don’t have  clue to his existence either.

I’m also digging Stringer’s economics of drugs lesson. Stringer has an inferior product and he knows it. He can either drop the price in order to grab at his otherwise dwindling control of the market or he can go another route. He decides to try some shady marketing and rebrand the new drug, give it a new name in order to get away from the stigma of the poor product they’re selling now. It’s not a long-term solution, but it might tide things over.

2.6 All Prologue

Omar’s testimony might be his best moment so far. The set-up is great. Right before he goes into the courtroom, he sloppily puts a tie on his flamboyant felt suit. Once on the stand, he talks as if he’s chilling in his crib, laying down street lingo, fully admitting that he robs drug dealers for a living. It’s atypical of typical court drama fair and that’s part of what makes it a delightful scene.

McNulty finally has to let the Jane Doe go. He’s tried hard to find her identity, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. I’m glad the show is putting in bits like this. In the real world you don’t always find the answers or get resolution and it’s good to put that within the middle of this story, especially for McNulty’s arc as a character. It’s his last shot at being a murder detective and it doesn’t work out. He’s also trying to get back with his wife. Once again, the show ponders if people can truly change.

Back in the penitentiary, D is trying to find his own way. He’s willing to carry his crimes, but on his own shoulders. He still won’t cheat the system like Avon. There are two great scenes, one is where D talks about The Great Gatsby as a story about how you can try to be a new man, but you can’t escape your past. The other scene is with Brianna when he talks about how she raised him to stand on his own and now she has to let him do that. Sadly, the episode leaves the D story hanging.

2.7 Backwash

The opening scene is whacked. Bodie goes into a flower store to buy something for D’s funeral and what they show him is some crazy flower arrangements with pistols and AKs. Part of me thinks that this is so out there that it has to be inspired by real-world events. It’s too specific to be something they made up. I’m still a bit skeptical about D’s death. We didn’t see a body in the casket. I’m probably programmed to be skeptical of death given how overdone it is to trick people into thinking someone is dead. I think he’s gone for good. Damn.

Meanwhile, Nick makes himself extremely endearing in an early scene where he goes on a little rant. One of the dealers on the street is trying to talk like he’s a Black boy. Nick proceeds to dress him down and remind him that they’re as White as White boys can be. It’s a humorous commentary on the propensity of young White people to act like they’re Black people in order to project some tough facade or be “cool.” Nick won’t have it. If nothing else, Nick sees things as they are.

This episode connects the webs of crime. We find out that The Greek is stealing chemicals that are being used to make drugs that go to Proposition Joe (Robert F. Chew) from the East side. This connection that shows how deep and complex the web of organized crime is. Not only do all the pieces matter, but everything is connected.

This is the piece Daniels needs to get his wire and go big with the case. Turns out, that prostitution isn’t grounds for a wire. It’s a odd bit of bureaucracy and law that says human trafficking doesn’t get a wire, but drugs do. There’s not an explanation or rationale to it. After all, if it made sense, the government wouldn’t do it.

© 2013 James Blake Ewing