Friday, July 10, 2009

The Wire, Season 2, Episode 7: "Backwash" (Veterans edition)

We're now into the second half of our trip through season two of "The Wire." As always, we're doing this in two versions: one for people who have watched the entire series and want to be able to discuss it from beginning to end, and those who aren't all the way there yet and don't want to be spoiled about later developments. This is the veteran post (click here for the newbie version).

Spoilers for episode seven, "Backwash" -- including some thoughts from the episode's author, Rafael Alvarez -- coming up just as soon as I enter the modern urban crime environment...
"What do you think they grew up to be? Stevedores. What the f--k you think?" -Frank
The drug characters who were so important to season one of "The Wire" have mostly been sideshow players in season two. And even in "Backwash," they're only slightly more prominent than they were in the season's first half. But before we get to talking about the stevedores, and Daniels putting his career (and marriage) at risk, I have to start with Stringer Bell.

How cold is Stringer? He moves through this episode, visiting the loved ones of D'Angelo Barksdale, the man whose death he ordered, and he's as calm and smooth as if he were waiting on a customer at his copy shop. He puts into motion a deal with Prop Joe -- some of their superior real estate in exchange for the superior package Joe is getting from Vondas -- and even though Avon clearly wants no part of it, you can see that Stringer is going to go ahead with it, anyway. Hey, he killed off D'Angelo without anyone the wiser; what else can he get away with?

Because Stringer so rarely shows emotion -- and when he does, it's anger -- it would be very easy for him to come across every bit as robotic as the Rotterdam equipment Frank Sobotka is so afraid of. But Idris Elba shows Stringer always thinking, always calculating the angles in any encounter, whether he's seducing D's girl to get more information on him or offering a comforting hand to Brianna Barksdale while she suffers a tragedy that he knows he caused. Though Avon was technically the boss of the organization, there's a reason the first season focused more on Stringer, and it's the same reason I suspect Stringer was left free at the end of that season while Avon went to jail: he's the more original, compelling character, and Elba's is one of the show's most electrifying, if subtle, performances. (Which isn't a knock on the terrific Wood Harris, by the way.)

Great as Elba is, though, the episode still belongs to the stevedores -- particularly to Frank, whose motives begin to seem a bit less pure, and Nick, whose actions begin to seem a bit less clever.

While Frank's actions with The Greek have always been questionable, there wasn't previously much chance to argue with the goal he was trying to achieve with those actions. He wasn't buying anything for himself, was using Vondas's money either to pay for Bruce the lobbyist or to help out union men down on their luck. But two sequences in "Backwash" suggest that he's not only a criminal, but a tunnel-visioned one.

When Frank gets a look at the documentary about the robot-equipped Rotterdam port, it's like the worst horror movie he's ever seen. The speaker ducks his question about stevedore hours, because both men know that these robots will be putting men like Frank and Nick out of business. But at the same time, the man's comment about the increased safety of these machines is driven home at the episode's end, when New Charles loses a leg during a night off-load. Robots aren't at risk like that -- and, for that matter, they can't steal cans and aid smugglers the way that Frank and Horseface can.

As Frank notes, "Can't get hurt if you ain't working," and the robots would certainly put more of Frank's union brothers out of a job. But as we see in his argument with Bruce, what Frank should have been concerned about -- and a long time ago, at that -- wasn't the fate of himself and Horse, but that of younger guys like Nick and Ziggy and Johnny 50. As I've written before, these guys were raised in an environment where they were taught that this was the only possible lifestyle for them, when other men in similar situations made sure their kids were prepared to do something different, and better, than his old man. Maybe the kids with the stolen Tang couldn't have grown up to become astronauts, but they surely could have grown up to be something with more of a future than a stevedore. But Frank doesn't want to see that. He thinks his way is the only way, and he's become so obsessed with his plan that he's willing to violate the long-standing black/white turn-taking arrangement so he can run for a second term as union treasurer.

(Rafael Alvarez will have many more thoughts on the subject of Frank's goals in a bit.)

Whatever you think about Frank, there's no question Nick isn't thinking smart with his foray into the world of drug dealing. Sure, he's better-qualified and more competent than Ziggy -- frankly, I think I'd have a better chance of moving a package than Zig -- but there's too much risk for this reward. We see Nick already starting to develop a big head as he sits on the stoop lecturing Frog (even if he's briefly shamed by the disapproving look from the woman next door), and then he has to go and ignore Frank's advice -- not to mention the warnings Nick himself gave to Ziggy -- about not flashing around money. It's one thing to help Aimee get a nicer apartment, and another to be driving around in a brand-new truck for all the world -- including two knuckle-headed cops by the name of Herc and Carver -- to see.

And if Herc and Carver are going to have trouble explaining how they found out about Nick's business relationship with Frog, let alone how he connects with the murdered girls in the can, at least the detail has started to make enough progress that Daniels can let Lester guilt him into taking the 14 Jane Doe murders off of Rawls' hands.

The inner battle between Cedric Daniels, politically-ambitious ladder climber and Cedric Daniels, natural police, was a running theme in season one. From the moment Valchek rescued him from evidence room purgatory, it seemed like Daniels had struck some kind of balance between the two. He declined Burrell's offer of a district command post in favor of turning the detail into a Major Crimes Unit, but he also refused to make the murders part of the Sobotka case because he suspected it would ruin his MCU plan before it started.

But as we saw last season after Brandon's death, Daniels will, in the end, always choose the right path over the politically-expedient one, even if it hurts his career, and even if it puts a massive strain on his marriage to Marla, who loved that other Daniels more than this one.

Before we get to the bullet points, we're going to do something a little different this week. This episode was written by Rafael Alvarez, who was one of David Simon's old colleagues at the Baltimore Sun (and who has authored the short story collection "Orlo & Leini," and "A People's History of the Archdiocese of Baltimore," which you can read more about, along with Alvarez's own story, by clicking on his name). Alvarez also write "The Wire: Truth Be Told," the only official companion book the series ever got, and after some readers last week asked me about rumors that Alvarez would be doing an updated version covering all five seasons, I e-mailed him for confirmation. He explained that an updated "Truth Be Told" would, in fact, come out by Christmas -- albeit only in the UK, through Canongate Books, but there are easy ways to order that here through the series of tubes -- and then we got to talking about "Backwash."

Alvarez grew up in a family with connections to the Baltimore ports, and had worked there himself, which made his expertise invaluable to the writing of this season. I asked for his own take on the nobility of Frank's goals -- particularly in light of New Charles' injury and the argument with the lobbyist -- and if he had any other memories of the making of the episode. Here's what he wrote:
Frank Sobotka was a very smart man who often mistook his heart for his brain.

A problem with technology is that it now moves faster than the span of a single human lifetime.

One of my first assignments as a 19-year-old reporter in Baltimore was a longshoreman's strike (1977) over complete implementation of containerization on ports that had been worked by muscle for 200 years.

An old union man named Gilbert Lukowski (told me) that no matter how convenient and affordable new technology made life for management "you can't just take a man in the middle of his working life and throw him on the junk pile."

I never forgot that and I tried to instill as much of that philosophy as possible into Frank Sobotka as we built that character. Frank was prescient enough to know that the future was coming no matter what he did but soft-hearted (some might say soft-headed) enough to see a dependent family in the face of each of the men he was responsible for.

(The bigger irony to me is how much of a "dutch uncle" or father figure he was to the union men while his blood son went awry because - in part - frank was so distracted by union business.)

There were two main themes of my childhood as the grandson of a seafarer turned union shipyard worker and the son of a seafarer turned union tugboat engineer: hard work and education.

My own experience was much more Bruce the lobbyist than Frank the union man. My father always held education above everything because he knew it was the only way a man could respond to changes in the economy beyond your control. He never wanted my brothers or I to work on the waterfront with him. And when my one brother (a natural mechanic) truly desired that work, my old man made him get there through a respected maritime academy instead of just following him down to the waterfront the way Ziggy followed his father.

So my argument would be that if the waterfront (or any industry) is a pie, technology is going to change the way that pie is made, sold and distributed. If union men are willing to put some of their hard earned salaries and whatever influence a father can have with their children toward education, the next generation can have a piece of that pie even if it doesn't resemble anything the old man would recognize.

They may not be running the show, but at least they'll be able to get in the door.

It might be noted (by me if not Simon) that Frank Sobotka had a little bit of a Messiah complex, even to the point of laughing when the polish priest asked if he had been to confession lately.

The most memorable story I would tell about writing "Backwash" are two things that please me greatly.

No. 1 - I was able to get Robert Irsay's face in the middle of the union shack dartboard (it flashes on the screen for half a second when Bruce leaves Frank's office). Maybe six people in the country got that when it first aired and I promise you that all of them are scholars of pro football Baltimore.

No. 2 - The story that Bruce the lobbyist tells frank (I liked that the lobbyist was Italian-American and not a WASP because it proved my point about education serving a working class eager enough to get a degree any way they can) about his grandfather pushing the knife sharpening wheel, that was taken directly from a story Frank Zappa (born in Baltimore Dec. 21, 1940) told me in a 1986 interview about his early Baltimore roots.

When Zappa's grandfather (Charlie Colimore) died in 1941, Frank and his family moved to a rowhouse apartment in the 4600 block of Park Heights Avenue. Zappa remembered there was "an alley in the back and down the alley used to come the knife sharpener man-you know, a guy with the wheel. And everybody used to come down off their back porch to the alley to get their knives and scissors done."
Some other thoughts on "Backwash":

• Getting back to the idea of season one characters taking a backseat so far in season two, McNulty makes his first appearance of the episode at the 55-minute mark. And as much as we all love Dominic West in the role, and as crucial as he was to the first season, it's a testament to how strong the ensemble is -- and how well Simon and Burns and company have already established the city as the real star of "The Wire" -- that I didn't even notice his absence until he turned up in Elena's backyard.

• Herc and Carver provide particularly strong comic relief in this one with their misadventures in "the modern urban crime environment," and Carver's fake British accent as he declares Herc to be "Head. Dick Head." Also, Herc raving about the wonders of technology is nicely intercut with Frank's reaction to the Rotterdam film.

• Bodie's visit to the florist was more in the "so sad it's funny" category, but I have no doubt that there are many inner-city florists that have a back room featuring Uzi-shaped arrangements made up of flowers with "strong colors."

• Wee-Bey's line about how D'Angelo killed himself in a way he knew his loved ones would have to carry is very similar to a line from both "Homicide" book and show about cops who commit suicide knowing that colleagues will have to deal with the crime scene.

• Ziggy gets punked by Maui with the fake paternity suit papers, whose obsession with playing "Love Child" on the jukebox over and over and over should have been a bit of a tipoff, no?

• Joe says his philosophy is "Buy for a dollar, sell for two," which makes him an ideal business associate of Vondas and The Greek, who say it as "Buy for a nickel, sell for a dime."

And now we're up to the veterans-only section, where we talk about how developments in this episode will echo over the rest of this season, and the series:

• The florist Bodie visits is the same one Prop Joe will use when arranging Blind Butchie's funeral in season five.

• That light going out in Marla's bedroom more or less signals the end of the Daniels marriage. I'm not all the way through the episodes yet, but as I recall, we don't even see her again until we find out Cedric's sleeping on the couch, right?

• As one marriage ends, another is born, with Prop Joe planting the seeds with Stringer that will grow into the New Day Co-Op.

• Based on the way the rest of the season plays out, how necessary is Fuzzy Dunlop, anyway? It's not like they actually hear anything valuable on the mic before Frog throws it away. I suppose an argument could be made that Herc and Carver wouldn't have bothered watching Frog at the moment when Nick drove up if they weren't listening in on the mic. Either way, ol' Fuzzy will not only provide additional comedy, he'll serve as the template for Jimmy and Lester's homeless killer scam in season five.

• Here we see the first bits of bad advice that Ziggy will complain about after he fights Maui in the next episode. And speaking of which...

Coming up next: "Duck and Cover," in which McNulty practices a new driving technique, Frank pays his bills, and Ziggy gets a lift.

As to when you'll see this review? That's an open question. Like I mentioned earlier in the week in the "Sports Night" review, I'm on vacation next week, and late the following week I'll be heading to California for Comic-Con and then the Television Critics Association summer press tour. So these reviews are going to be published on a very irregular schedule from now until at least early August, if not for the rest of the summer. You may not get any reviews in a given week (and I wouldn't be holding my breath next week), or you might get two in one week, at any day or time when they're done. It's unfortunately the best I can do given all the time I'll either be off or occupied with other business. But we'll get it done, fret not.

What did everybody else think?

25 comments:

Fernando said...

Great choice of screen cap this week.

Marla Daniels sure has a way with words. Season one gave us "the game is rigged" speech, and here she gives us "the bad old days". So simple yet says so much.

I think i said this in a Mad Men review but this Rotterdam presentation reminds me of the Season 2 Mad Men presentation of the Missile Defense System, for the sheer terror it invokes in a character.

I know Season 4 is your favorite season (as most people's is) but for me nothing beats Season 3, which has a lot to do with the way you just described Stringer.

Dan said...

Aren't Herc and Carver using Fuzzy Dunlop so that they can write the $1,250 microphone off as an expense to their CI?

Anonymous said...

My absolute favorite line of Wire dialogue is coming up, I believe in the next episode. It's Ziggy on top of the can screeching "Baaad advice!" (IIRC, the full line includes "You motherfuckers gave me baaaaaaad advice!") Besides being hysterical, it perfectly captures the impotence of Ziggy's character -- we can't tell if he's trying to upbraid them, or trash talk them, or just whine, we can't even tell if he realizes he was set up, but whatever his goal, it's just about the most pathetic and out-of-place response he could give.

digamma said...

Thanks for that Alvarez quote! It answers a question I've had for years.

Longtime David Simon fans have a good idea of what primary sources went into The Wire. Burns was a cop and a teacher, Simon researched the detectives, they both researched the drug corners, Bill Zorzi knows City Hall, and Simon and Zorzi know the newpaper game. But I always wondered what background research they had done on stevedores. Now I know!

alynch said...

Aren't Herc and Carver using Fuzzy Dunlop so that they can write the $1,250 microphone off as an expense to their CI

Yeah, I believe that's the case. Herc & Carver could've just said that they saw Nick walk up and talk to Frog, but then they would've had to eat the $1250, so they instead claimed that a CI told them in order to scam some money.

Kevin said...

I don't understand Daniel's wife's position, that he's lost his ambition. If he had, he's still be down in the basement in the evidence locker.

Heading up his own crime unit, getting back in Burrell's and Rawls' good graces, and wanting to clear the murders of 14 dead girls is not ambtitious enough for her?

It's not like Kima's wife, where she's putting herself in danger at times.

troy said...

Fuzzy Dunlop also breaks the camel's back for Herc in season 4, no?

Ditto on the thanks for getting Rafael Alvarez to weigh in.

Ryan said...

Alan, apologies for an off-topic (though somewhat related) question: Do you happen to know the proper pronunciation of the title of David Simon's forthcoming HBO series about the rebuilding of New Orleans? Is it pronounced "Treem?" "Treh-may?" Something different entirely?

Chip said...

Stringer really is a great character. The plotline between him and Avon, especially their last scene on the rooftop, is what makes s3 one of my favorites.

Monty said...

To Marla, ambition means getting promoted. Taking 14 homicides that appear to have no hope of getting solved is probably not going to get you any stripes.

DolphinFan said...

The comment about Bob Irsay was very welcome because any negative comment about the late and VERY unlamented owner who moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in the middle of the night (I wish I was kidding about that). I'm a little surprised they weren't firing away at that board with something a lot stronger than darts, to be frank. And if anyone has any doubts about the vile, drunken bigot Irsay was and likes the CNNSi Vault feature, there's a 1986 article about him and Baltimore that could almost have been written by David Simon himself--it's that angry and that insightful.

Matt said...

Ryan: It's "Treh-may," or at least that's how Bill Moyers pronounced it.

Matt said...

Also, yeah, thanks for identifying the guy on the dartboard. I always wondered who that was.

Anonymous said...

@ Ryan
A New Orleanian here. It's more like truh-may. Accent on second syllable.

Savvy Veteran said...

This is one of my favorite episodes. The first time through (which, admittedly, was only a couple of weeks ago), without really knowing that McNulty would be irrelevant in season 4 and how well the show would handle it, I was extremely impressed with how Simon & co. left out their "main character" for almost the entire hour without the quality suffering. Maybe the first time that the show actually blew me away.

Eyeball Wit said...

Frank Sobotka was a very smart man who often mistook his heart for his brain.

A problem with technology is that it now moves faster than the span of a single human lifetime.


Rafael--thanks for the insight (and the Bob Irsay slam and the Frank Zappa story.) It's interesting that Frank doesn't play into the "Stupid Polack" stereotype that dates back to All in the Family and beyond. Stubborn, yes, stupid no.

And thanks for pointing out the show's obsession with education (and how it's sometimes at odds with practical intelligence.) Wallace teaching the girl to do math using drug corner examples.
Herc beating Carver on the sergeant's exam. Stringer in community college. Kima in law school and Daniels having his law degree, which gives him options and ultimately a parachute.

And in season two, we've got the stark contrast between the ill-fated Ziggy and his older (?) brother, who went to community college and was literally able to disappear from the life that destroyed his brother and his father.

Early on, there was much bile hurled at Ziggy here. My counter was that Ziggy wasn't so much an irredeemable idiot, as a fish out of water
(much as I would be on the docks, or Alan would be working a package on a Baltimore corner, his protests notwithstanding.)

If Zig were a college junior at Towson State, I think we see a different, better, happier, and much more hopeful Ziggy, who's on his way to a happy, or happier, ending. The Zig on the docks is really the only one who really sees how "f&*ked" they all are, and his acting out makes perfect sense in that context (even if it isn't easy to watch.)

But to Frank, having Ziggy on the docks is a symbol, showing his union brothers that he's got skin in the game. I don't want to take the religious analogies too far, but he's pretty much sacrificing his son.

One point I'm surprised that Frank didn't make in the light of New Charles' injury is that, back in the day, before the union pushed safety, this kind of thing probably happened every week not once a year.

I say that as a guy who had two grandfathers killed in grisly workplace accidents (an oil tank explosion and a window washer falling off a building) in the not-so-good old days before OSHA.

lizkdc said...

I don't understand Daniel's wife's position, that he's lost his ambition. If he had, he's still be down in the basement in the evidence locker.

Marla's one of my favorite small portraits in the show. Her gradual withdrawing from Cedric in S2, while melancholy, I always thought had a lot of power and evidence.

From her point of view, I think, Cedric is being frustratingly naive, in a way that's rather a betrayal. Their identity as a black couple is part of this.

Their marriage seems to have started out as a partnership--the two of them, smart, elegant, proud, tough, mutually ambitious--making their own place and rising through the ranks of the city. There was a point to prove. Them against the world. Now Cedric is no longer *in* that game same way Marla is (like when we see him refusing to mingle at the fundraiser), leaving her on her own. At least in her head. Outwardly, Cedric supports her even after the split. But inside, he's not with her.

And it's about pride, too. The police force *humiliated* Cedric with that basement. How can he still love and identify with policing more then the MarlaandCedric show, you know?

Much as I love Cedric, I symphathize with his wife, and Kima's: when people love their mission even above you, it's hard to bow down.

Anonymous said...

"Second season: the death of work and the destruction of the American working class in the postindustrial era" (David Simon).

The Rotterdam film scenes--a tableau of two working men set against a room of businessman, a tableau of labor and capital--tackle the theme of the death of work directly, looking at its root cause. We see the human reasoning of the laborers confronted with the instrumental reasoning of capital, reasoning "essentially concerned with means and ends, with the adequacy of procedures for purposes more or less taken for granted and supposedly self-explanatory" (Horkheimer). That reasoning here celebrates the efficiency to be gained by introducing new technology to the docks and takes literally no account of the human cost -- "I don't have those figures" -- of the resulting loss of work and its accompanying way of life. (Reading above it seems to be taken for granted that it shouldn't. "Robots" are beneficial, it seems, because that's dangerous work there and there's smuggling and all.) For the two men of labor, on the other hand, it's all about the human cost. "That's efficiency, Nat."That's unemployment, loss of dignity, loss of hope, loss of a way of life, and increased profits for, and the further accumulation of wealth amongst, those who already possess a grotesquely disproportionate chunk of "the pie," scumbag.

I was flabbergasted by some of the interpretation of this episode. Instead of lamenting the failure to provide safe working conditions for the stevedore's it's suggested that it's dangerous work better left to machines. There's an assertion that technology will avoid the criminality engaged in by the stevedores, neglecting that we are shown that the men using technology made cans "disappear" and it took patient, "unreliable human surveillance" (Lester and Beadie) to uncover how. Has technology made banking and other technology-reliant industry safe from criminality?

Instead of lamenting that Dibiago with his leeched income sent his son to a school of privilege and set him on his own course of excessive pie-eating it laments Frank's struggle to hold onto a way of life for the stevedore's and their sons that involves the solidarity of men, where they stand together rather than compete against each other, where if one man falls all are there with him, where social relations are real and however flawed are human.

And what a conception of education: vocational flexibility training, preparation for whatever vicissitudes capitalism has in store for you. If education has become about fostering social conformity (as Frank Sabotka evidently thought) and not the development of a critical, politically informed and responsible citizenry then perhaps there really is no hope of ever taming let alone vanquishing the oppressive god, Capital. Viewing education as preparing one's own child to compete in an ever-unstable labor market is only preparing them for, as Ed Burns put it,

the world of music chairs. The music starts playing, everyone starts going around, and the music stops and you plant your butt on a chair. And you are really happy that you are in that chair and you don't really pay attention to the person who didn't get a spot. And before you can think about that person, or even really think about the fact that you are in a chair, the music starts again. And now you are angling for another chair, and you are spending your whole life trying to get that butt into a chair. What is happening in the greater world, you cant focus on. And the fact that more and more people are going off stage and there is fewer and fewer chairs...you feel a tension the closer you are to the bottom rung of that ladder. It is all about hanging on, not changing things, hoping to hit the lottery."

Compare that to Alvarez's "argument" above of conformist surrender. Instrumental reasoning.

Frank Sabotka's resistance may have been quixotic and otherwise problematic--as was in many ways the work and way of life he sought to preserve--but it was not a pursuit of self-interest and it was not surrender.

Eyeball Wit said...

the world of music chairs. The music starts playing, everyone starts going around, and the music stops and you plant your butt on a chair. And you are really happy that you are in that chair and you don't really pay attention to the person who didn't get a spot....What is happening in the greater world, you cant focus on. And the fact that more and more people are going off stage and there is fewer and fewer chairs...you feel a tension the closer you are to the bottom rung of that ladder. It is all about hanging on, not changing things, hoping to hit the lottery."

Well said by Ed Burns. But also said by someone who hit the lottery: Cop turned Teacher turned Hollywood writer/producer (!)

Vanquishing the oppressive god, Capital

We'll get right on that during our next break at The Gap, right Alan?

Anonymous said...

I'm arriving a little late to this episode's commenting party, but just wanted to thank Alan for the continued insight plus the interesting commentary from Mr Alvarez.

Enjoy your vacation, Alan.

J-CZA said...

In Season Four, Herc uses a tip from Fuzzy as PC to bust Marlo and the African woman at the train station.

Anonymous said...

"Based on the way the rest of the season plays out, how necessary is Fuzzy Dunlop, anyway?"

Guys, I don't think Alan is confused about what's going on with the Fuzzy Dunlop subplot, or specifically why Herc and Carver do it, I think he's asking, how necessary is it to the story of the season?

I'd have to go back and watch it, but I remember it being amusing, the idea of Herc and Carver understanding in a basic way what Freamon (and Prez and Sydnor and McNulty -- arguably Kima, though she's never really shown involved in that side of things) was doing with the wiretaps, but that they didn't actually understand it at all. It's about how they see wiretapping working (and, to some extent, it's about how home viewers see wiretapping working if they haven't watched 'The Wire').

The same with Herc's brilliant plan to (probably illegally) videotape Marlo in season 4.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and, tsk-tsk, Alan...

"Carver's fake British accent as he declares Herc to be "Head. Dick Head." "

Isn't that a Sean Connery -- and, thus, Scottish -- accent?

KyleBlowers said...

"I think he's asking, how necessary is it to the story of the season?"

Alrighty, so ever since I watched Season 2 I have been fascinated with Fuzzy Dunlop and Alan's original question..

I found this intensely interesting analysis of Herc's role in the events of The Wire and Fuzzy Dunlop's significance. (http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/2009/05/29/the-life-and-times-of-fuzzy-dunlop-herc-and-the-modern-urban-crime-environment)

It's tricky, and fast, but it makes sense; Fuzzy's creation is a result of Herc and Carver looking for an easier way of surveilling the street dealing they feel they're stuck with.

They observe Nick meeting with Frog. Not knowing who he is, Herc correctly assume Nick is the supplier, Carver snaps his photo, the truck's plates, and then they get sidetracked as the bug gets destroyed. They trace the truck to Nico's house where they make the connection to Frank Sabotka.

Herc, in typical fashion, sees this as an opportunity to capitalize on that information by registering a false informant so Carver can pay off the $1250 for the destroyed bug and maybe get some $$ on the side.

Fuzzy Dunlop's CI drug intel is the crucial connection Ronnie uses
to tie the smuggling operation with the drug operation since Nick's phone records can be tied with Sergei (the driver) and Frog.

Fuzzy is their key to Probable Cause and it gives them Nick Sabotka. It also gives the MCU the wiretap on Sergei which leads to Vondas, Prop Joe, the Greek and the shephard's headless/handless body, and the rest of critical info for this season.

Now as far as its relevance to characters and the series: in the same way Alan discusses Stringer is emboldened to realize his ambitions by eliminating D'Angelo, the same may ring true for Herc and his scheme to "get his" with a fake CI in Fuzzy Dunlop.

It validates Herc and his selfish want for instant gratification. It could be seen as a catalyst for him to continue stupidly side-stepping protocol as a means of convenience for the rest of the series thinking he can get away with his laziness.

Ahmedkhan said...

If there is one "bright light" for New Charles following his injury and subsequent amputation it's that his injury is covered under the USL&HWA rather than under under either the Maryland state workers' compensation fund or under private insurance. The benefits under USL&HWA are vastly superior and will enable New Charles to maintain financially much longer before he and his family begin to experience financial hardship.