The Wire 2:11 and 2:12

It feels like forever since I was last writing a Wire response. And to think that I left the season’s last two episodes just sort of hanging there . . .

Sorry about that. I didn’t realize that’s when the holiday break would get in the way of the reviews. I promise it won’t happen again. 🙂 And now for the reviews themselves!

Episode 2:11

What’s up with these next-to-last episodes? Last season we lost Wallace. This season, we get Sobotka walking to what we all know is his doom. (Though considering how ready the Greek was to kill Nick (we see the hitmen next episode all set to take him out), it’s important to remember Frank was a done deal the moment he walked in to talk to the cops. Quite a different tone from the approach all the union folks took earlier in the season.)

Still a hard scene to watch.

And how impressive is this show, where Ziggy can show up and have a heart to heart with his father, and I actually feel bad for him. As much as I disliked the kid, he doesn’t deserve his fate. (Well, he still killed a guy, but it’s kind of like Fate led him down that path. In a better world, Ziggy would be the moron sitting behind me in one of my college classes. Annoying and a complete idiot, but in no danger of going out and killing anyone.) (There’s some discussion online about whether Zig’s “the same blood don’t flow in our veins” comment to Frank is to be taken literally or not. Certainly it could go either way. Maybe Ziggy’s not really Frank’s son? An interesting thought.)

And can I just say how much I loathe Valchek? What a petty, simpleminded person. Blind to anyone’s troubles but his own, and this is one of the leaders of the police force in Baltimore. No wonder the place has problems. The difference between Valchek and Ziggy is that Valchek is an idiot by choice. He has the opportunity to break free of his idiot chains, but he happily sits in them, listening to the sound of them jangle. Ugh.

Omar vs. Brother Mouzone is an interesting side plot, though I’ve never really felt it was given the attention it needed. But then again, the two characters are both larger than life in the middle of a show that is anything but. Stringer tries to get tricky, and once again we see that perhaps Stringer isn’t quite as tricky and smart as he thinks he is. (Something that comes up again next episode, where Avon tries to get Stringer to see past his college business class. It feels like Stringer looks at the legit side of things as being superior to the street side of things. That the legit trumps the street. We’ll see how that works out for him in the long run.)

It’s a great episode from start to finish. One in which we know how it’s going to play out from the beginning, but where we’re still riveted by what’s going to happen next. I love this show. 10/10

Episode 2:12

And just like last season, we conclude the season with an ending that isn’t really satisfying by traditional standards, but which feels inevitable by the Wire standards. The mid-level chumps get arrested. The leaders move on to other things, and we’re left wishing the cops could have been just a little faster. So close! Though if the show taught us anything last season, it’s that even when they’re caught, the bad guys are excellent at getting away with murder.

I want to talk about the crooked FBI agent for a bit. When I first watched the show, it seemed clear that the guy was in the Greek’s pocket, taking money in exchange for giving him tips on what’s happening for any investigation against the Greek. But this second time through, it seems much clearer to me that the FBI guy is actually just doing his job. McNulty’s FBI friend doesn’t get angry at the guy. He blames himself for not realizing what was happening. In other words, the “crooked” FBI guy is no more crooked than McNulty and Kima are for pumping Bubs for information and then turning him loose when they help him.

Remember back toward the beginning of the season, when the Greek gave that FBI guy information that led to the seizure of all those drugs? That’s what the man thought he was doing. Keeping an informant active so that he could get the dirt on worse people. Of course, we know that the “informant” was actually much worse than anything the feds were able to get done because of the information he gave them, but that doesn’t make the FBI crooked. Just incompetent.

Which is worse, when you get right down to it.

Interesting to see Herc and Carv treated like afterthoughts by the division, but when you get right down to it, that’s also how they treat themselves. They’re jokes. They steal money. They do stupid things, and then they try to dodge the blame whenever things go bad. (Then again, so do some of their superiors, so maybe I’m being overly harsh here.) How they respond to this situation in different ways is something to watch for in future episodes.

This episode shows the effects this season has had on the characters. Daniels and his wife aren’t sleeping in the same room, and she looks like she can’t stand him. Kima can’t stand her girlfriend. Bubs (Bubs!) has seriously regressed from where he was at the end of last season. McNulty seems like he has his act together for the moment. Beadie, meanwhile, is right back driving around the docks. Tons of character growth, but she’s not allowed to change.

The second season turned out to be a blast, even as disconcerting as the transition from season one to season two was back at the beginning. By putting characters first and illustrating complex problems and conflicts through their lives, the Wire manages to be thought provoking without being preachy. It’s got a message, but it doesn’t shove it in your face. We’ve now seen society’s problems from the point of view of the drug dealers, the cops, and the dock workers.

Time to start breaking new ground elsewhere.

9/10 for me on this episode. Good stuff, but not quite at the same level as 2:11. Catch you next week!

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