The Wire 2.11-2.12

2.11 Bad Dreams

This time, the raids go down differently. The team has been one step behind the whole time and this is no exception as they show up only to find the remains of evidence destroyed. I like that this season the criminals have the upper hand most of the time. The first season felt like a pretty even playing field, but this time around the team is fighting for every small victory.

Back with the old crew, Stringer Bell is trying to turn Omar on Brother Mouzone as the guy who brutalized Brandon. Omar always seemed more shrewd that most of these guys, so it’s a bit disappointed he gets played this easy. I do like the way it ends up going down and how the sequence plays out, but it seems like an uncharacteristally dumb moment for one of the smarter characters in the show.

Frank is one of the best characters this season and I think this episode gets to the heart of why. He’s fighting for something good, but using illegal and unjust means to get to it. In this episode he’s forced to face all the bad choices he made and as he tries to justify them, he begins realizing how messed up his ideas were. He tries to work a ship for another man in order to win the trust of the union back, but it’s too late. His ship is sinking, he’s lost his son, he’s losing the grain pier, and the union will probably fall apart.

The unit still has one more lead: tailing Vondas (Paul Ben-Victor). Of all people, Beadie ends up following him and it results in a strong sequence that’s suspenseful in the low-key way that makes The Wire so compelling. The best bit of it all is when The Greek slips right under the noses of the cops as they mistake another man for their target.

2.12 Port in a Storm

The Greek did in Frank. The Wire does a fantastic job of humanizing the villains which does make it tragic when they die. Once again, we don’t actually see the killing. We know it’s going to happen in the last episode, but here is when we see the body. The scene where Beadie sees him is one of the show’s more touching moments and without any grandiose talk.

We also see the aftermath of Brother Mouzone’s scrape with Omar. Stringer Bell shows up and talks about hunting down Omar, but Brother says it won’t be necessary. What makes this scene so chilling is the sound design. The constant, steady heartbeat reinforces that Brother Mouzone is cool, collected and detached, even after almost being killed.

Speaking of cool and collected, The Greek won’t let greed get the better of him. He decides to pull out and leave that one last shipment behind. The cops hope he’ll show, but know it’s a long shot. Greed is often the downfall of villains in crime stories and I like that The Greek is above the siren’s call of more money when he knows the risks are high.

Bubbles shows up again and tells McNulty and Kima about the east/west debacle that is heating up in the towers. I’m assuming this is a setup for the next season and I like that we get a tease of that this time around. I think it will go a long way to avoiding the slower setup of this season. When Kima and McNulty snap a shot of Bell and Proposition Joe together, it’s a great image of what could be in store for the show.

The episode rushes to tie up some loose ends as well as leaving a few dangling. Nick turns himself in and fingers The Greek as he’s a bystander in one of their photos, Boris finally gives up the murders and we get just a bit more detail about the girls who died, but not much that we didn’t already know. After the glacial speed of this season, this episode feels a bit rushed, but I’m surprised how well things end up shaking in a way that feels satisfying by the end.

But the bit I love the most is that The Greek gets away. Crime stories often end time and time again with the good guy getting the badguy but that’s not a realistic portrayal. We don’t always get our man. There’s a great montage near the end that reinforces this idea: crime keeps on going, it’s just a new set of faces doing the deed.

© 2014 James Blake Ewing