The Wire 2.1-2.2

2.1 Ebb Tide

It’s interesting to see where everyone ends up this season. We got to see some of it in the last season, McNulty is working on a police boat and Lester is in homicide. Now we discover that Daniels ends up getting buried in evidence and Kima still works narcotics, but as a pencil pusher after her close scrape from last season. I also like seeing Prez and that he wants to step up and do some real casework. I liked the arc of his character in the last season and I’m hoping he gets more screentime this season.

We also catch up with some of the boys from The Pit as they go down to Philly to get some drugs. Bodie (J.D. Williams) is one of those characters that seemed to just be there for most of season one, but he has potential for growth. He plays tough even though you can tell part of him is just a scared kid.  The sequence where he’s listening to A Prairie Home Companion is a hilarious juxtaposition of cultures.

The Wire expands its horizons on crime by dropping us into a completely different culture of crime. Down at the docks, Frank (Chris Bauer) works as one of the foremen for shipping and he seems to be tangled up in some sort of operation. His son, Ziggy (James Ransone), is this crazy, bug-eyed kid who desperately wants to get into the world of crime, but is too talkative and overeager. This whole world has a different feel to it so I’m not sure what to make of it yet. Part of me expected the show to keep on trucking with the drug crimes, so I’m not sure what to make of this drastic shift in setting.

A few little things that stand out this episode. I love seeing Amy Ryan joining the show as Beadie, a police officer down at the docks. Also, you’ve got to love how McNulty is still able to screw with his boss by sticking them with a homicide they’re trying to offload to another county. Finally, the ending is such a tease and I think shows that this season is going to be a whole different ballgame. This is a really disorienting episode for a season opener. I’m left with so many questions and feel a bit adrift, but I’ll see how things pan out in the next few episodes and hopefully this one will stick better in hindsight.

2.2 Collateral Damage

After Beadie stumbled on 13 bodies in one of the cargo crates, the question becomes who gets the bodies? The sequence where the cops talk through where the bodies should end up is another great example of how the real-world American criminal system informs the content of the show in a way that is both informative and entertaining. There’s also something a little sick about how unwanted and disconcerted everyone is about offloading the case to someone else.

Already, Frank ends up getting in trouble with the police, but over something that isn’t criminal. Major Valchek (Al Brown) wants to burn the dock boys over a stain glass window in a church. He starts having his officers harass Frank and his men with petty charges and there’s a great confrontation between Valchek and Frank where Frank tells him off for not being mature enough to come to him first and talk it over. It’s a moment where the show demonstrates that criminals in some ways might be more respectable human beings than some of the cops.

Valchek decides that something is up with Frank and has his son in law, Prez, head up a case to investigate. It’s crazy to see how something so personal and petty can spur on a criminal case. Still, I’m glad to see they’re setting Roland up to be a bigger player in this season. It seems his crew is made up of new faces. Part of me wants the old team to get back together, but I think The Wire wants to take the harder road and I can respect that.

Speaking of the old team, McNulty decides to help Beadie with the case. I could see the two of them being a good duo, he’s the jaded veteran with a chip on his shoulder and she’s still wet behind the ears and a bit shocked by what she’s discovered. Once again, McNulty is trying to stick it to his old boss again, this time it’s for 13 murders. We’re still playing a game, but this game feels a lot more morbid than the one last season.

© 2013 James Blake Ewing