The Wire 2.8-2.10

2.8 Duck and Cover

McNulty goes a bit crazy in the opening of this episode. This season has given him a pretty good arc where he’s tried to come to terms with things not going the way he wants, so I get him flying off the handle at this point. However, it’s here that Daniels is finally able to get him back on the team since he decided to pick up the murder cases. It’s a second chance for McNulty. It may not be the one he wants, but it seems to be stemming to growing tide for now.

Now it feels like the team is together but it’s taken its time to get here. While a lot of interesting things have happened along the way, it feels like there isn’t much of a case yet. With the number of episodes for the season slowly dwindling, I’m wondering how far this case is going to go. It still feels like we’re in the setup phase of the case.

There are a lot of good sequences with Frank in this episode. He gets his older brother a cushy position on the union committee, but his brother won’t have anything to do with it. He knows Frank is up to something and refuses to get into something dirty. It’s a good scene that forces Frank to face his own corruption, which he has avoided or circumvented most of the season.

Frank also begins to catch on that something isn’t right. He catches news that Beadie is working a big city case and finds out that his phone is flagged to not be disconnected even though he’s three months behind on the bill. Frank and the dock workers don’t have the paranoia of Avon’s crew, but he’s also a lot quicker to pick up on when he’s being watched.

2.9 Stray Rounds

The opening scene of this episode might be one of the best sequences of the season so far. Bodie and his crew get in a gun battle over turf. Once again, The Wire presents violence in a way that undercuts its enjoyment. The camera perspectives and editing make the fight disorienting and spatially confusion. Also, the way the sequence is framed makes the sequence’s chaotic aftermath more impactful.

Even this late in the season, I feel like the show is introducing stuff that probably should have come up sooner. We find out that the Greek has a connection inside the FBI and it opens the question of how big this operation actually is. On the one hand, the gradual reveal of the operation this season keeps things interesting, but on the other hand, it feels like the case lacks the purity of focus of the first season.

Perhaps that’s the point, perhaps things are supposed to be messier this time around. There’s a scene where Valchek gets upset because the unit still hasn’t gotten anything on Frank. They’re chasing an operation without knowing who the big players are. Once again, I feel I should give the show the benefit of the doubt. It’s played the long game in the past, I’m just left a bit bewildered in the moment with some of these arcs that don’t seem to be leading anywhere yet.

One arc that I thought progressed strongly so far this season is Stringer Bell’s attempt to keep the drug operation alive. His latest move is to go half and half on the towers with Proposition Joe in exchange for the product he needs to keep his customers. Avon isn’t going for it, but Bell seems determined to find a way to make the deal work. Also, the episode teases us with new muscle entering Baltimore and I’ve got to say the little tease has me interested because the result is not what I was expecting.

2.10 Storm Warnings

A lot of casework goes down in the opening scene of this episode. It’s set to Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” and I love the tempo of the sequence. Prez rearranging the board and putting all the pieces together is intercut with the detectives out on the street working to get the information. It’s a good way to bring the season to where it needs to be as there hasn’t been nearly as much casework done as they need to get things going.

The season cribs some of its structure from the first season by having the higher ups force the case. Valchek decides he doesn’t like Daniel’s pace and gets the FBI involved with a union corruption angle. There’s a great moment where the FBI gets together with the crew. The show could have built a lot of tension between the two groups, but instead I like that the tensions between them are a bit more unspoken and never take over the story the show is telling.

On the streets, there is a much more volatile alliance being forged. The East and West side are working the towers together now and tensions rise. At first, it starts as price competition, but when Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts) enters the scene, things get violent. The last episode teased Mouzone, and I’ve got to say this new muscle is intriguing. He’s the educated killer and not what you expect from muscle. It’s a bit too early to fully size him up, but his character has promise.

But the crazy scene this episode is when Ziggy finally loses it. After getting screwed over on a smuggling deal, he guns down one of The Greek’s men. It’s a quick, shocking display of violence. What’s more impactful is the aftermath. I haven’t liked Ziggy at all this season, but the remorse he feels over the murder elicited a surprising amount of sympathy from me. I was expecting Nick to be the criminal with a conscious this season, but it’s Ziggy whose pangs of guilt prove moving this season.

Adding the murder to everything else, the operation ends up getting shut down. Nick is losing it over Ziggy and everything seems to be unraveling for the criminals. The final sequence of this episode ends with another great sequence of editing. The crew is frantically at work on writing up a search warrant as the criminals are clearing out every bit of evidence they can from their operation. The scene ends with the last trace of evidence being washed down the drain. This time instead of being too early, the team is going to be too late.

© 2013 James Blake Ewing