Friday, August 21, 2009

The Wire, Season 2, Episode 11: "Bad Dreams" (Veterans edition)

Almost to the finish line on "The Wire" season two, folks. As always, we're going to look back in two slightly different versions: one for the people who are watching the show at roughly the same pace I'm writing about it and don't want to be spoiled on what comes down the road, and one for people who have watched the entire series and want to be able to talk about all of it. This is the veteran version; click here for the newbie edition.

Spoilers for "Bad Dreams" coming up just as soon as you get me two hot dogs and a strawberry soda...
"You know what the trouble is, Brucie? We used to make s--t in this country. Build s--t. Now we just put our hand in the next guy's pocket." -Frank Sobotka
When we get to this point of each season of "The Wire," I tend to rail a lot against the screenwriting crimes committed by George Pelecanos. In season one, he killed off Wallace. Here, he sends Frank Sobotka walking to his apparent doom. In later seasons... well, you veterans are probably already cringing in memory of what Pelecanos did to your favorites.

But it's reductive to single out these penultimate/Pelecanos episodes just because they often (but not always) feature the deaths of beloved characters. Yes, the deaths hit, and they hit hard, but all the non-lethal parts of them hit nearly as hard. This is the point in each season where things that had often seemed like intellectual abstractions start to take on emotional heft - when you see how much misplaced faith Nick has put into his relationship with Vondas, when you see Beadie smile at a job well done in tailing Vondas to his hotel room, when Frank nails Bruce and the state of the American industrial economy to the wall with the line I quoted above.

David Simon likes to compare each season of "The Wire" to a novel, and Pelecanos' episodes always have the sensation of reading the last 70 or 80 pages of a really good thriller - one like, say Pelecanos' own "The Turnaround" or "The Sweet Forever." What may have taken a long time to read in the early going now flies by. You know the players, the conflicts, the stakes, and now you just want to see what happens next, and whether people come to the end you want for them or not(*). So some of the power of these episodes tends to come from their position in the season, but it also comes from the fact that Pelecanos is really, really good at this. Simon has said that in season one, several of the big moments that wound up in Pelecanos' "Cleaning Up" were originally going to be in the Simon-written finale, but George's take on them was so strong that Simon let him handle it.

(*) What's funny is that, for all the talk - including by me - about how Pelecanos and Simon are such kindred literary spirits, his books on average tend to be more optimistic than "The Wire." They're operating on a much smaller scale than what the show is doing - "Drama City," for instance, is what a season of "The Wire" would be like if it were only about Cutty - and not everyone's story turns out as well as they deserve, but the success rate is generally higher, and the overt bad guys (as opposed to the systemic problems) tend to get bumped off in the end. Pelecanos is always much more brutal to Simon's characters than he allows himself to be to his own.

Obviously, the killer sequence here comes at the very end, as Frank's fate is irrevocably changed during the long walk from his truck to where The Greek and Vondas are standing. It's a testament to how well the series has trained its audience that Pelecanos' script and Ernest Dickerson's direction can mine so much tension from a point of view montage of a fax being sent, transferred by mail cart to a secretary, and entered into a computer.

There are shows that try to get a lot of mileage out of springing surprises on their audience - only giving them a small part of the story so their minds can be blown when they find out the whole truth. "The Wire" rarely operates that way. Like the Greek dramas Simon likes to talk about, it tends to lay out everything that's going to happen well before it happens. It doesn't cheat, doesn't hide. It turns you into an omniscient observer of this world, and then it drives you crazy because you know how badly things are going to go, and when you see characters who don't know as much as you do. There are so many moments in "Bad Dreams" alone where I wanted to scream (or have screamed) at the screen, trying to warn characters about fates that in my head I know are unavoidable.

I want to tell Omar not to trust Stringer. I want to scream for Kima to pay attention to the old man in the sweater walking past her in the parking garage. I want to tell Ronnie to not let Sobotka leave the detail office under any circumstance, even if that would require Herc and Carver to entertain him with a song-and-dance number while they waited for Frank's lawyer to show up. And you know I shouted like hell the first time I saw Frank walk toward The Greek, even as I knew the info in Fitz's fax was slowly, inexorably making its way to Agent Koutris' computer.

But it's a TV show, not an interactive experience. Ronnie can't hear me any more than Stan Valchek can listen to reason, and so Frank walks out of the detail office and into the hands of a couple of ruthless international gangsters.


I like that even in this episode, even as Frank is being set up for what looks like a permanent fall, the show allows him the depth that marks him as one of the more complicated characters in the show's history. As Rafael Alvarez said in his comments about "Backwash," "Frank Sobotka was a very smart man who often mistook his heart for his brain." And so the show is allowed to admire Frank's ends - as it does when he puts in a hard day's work in place of Little Big Roy, and as it does when he gives Bruce a piece of his mind - even as Louis Sobotka is invited to cut right through all of Frank's self-rationalizations, and to tell him that trying to save the union doesn't justify turning Louis' son into a drug dealer. (Imagine how angry Louis would be if he knew about the role his brother played in the deaths of the Jane Does.)

An incredible performance throughout the hour, and the season, by Chris Bauer as Sobotka. He's gotten more post-"Wire" work (including his current stint on "True Blood") than someone like Larry Gilliard, but none of those parts have been as rich, as complicated, or as compelling as Frank.

As we did at this point in season one, we see the case coming together, but not as strongly as it should be. Ziggy not only killed off Double-G, he gave The Greek advance warning to clean out both the warehouse and electronics store - the latter because Jay Landsman was too tunnel-visioned to alert Lt. Daniels, or secure the scene, or do anything that might have led the detail closer to those 14 open murders. (To Landsman's credit, he at least recognizes how badly he screwed the pooch, where he wasn't quite as remorseful when he failed to alert Jimmy about a Barksdale-connected murder in season one.) They had Frank in the office, ready and willing to cooperate, but they let him go because Ronnie wasn't stubborn enough to tell Frank to call a lawyer then and there. And thus far, the only person in custody who seems willing to talk is White Mike, who probably wouldn't recognize The Greek any more than Kima did.

It'd be enough to make you cry... if, that is, "The Wire" hadn't already told you that tears won't be enough.

Some other thoughts on "Bad Dreams":

• The other major story of the episode pits our two larger-than-life bad-asses against each other, as Omar buys into Stringer's story and goes after Brother Mouzone, only to realize that the gut-shot man calmly praying to his deity couldn't possibly be the same one who tortured and mutilated Brandon. Though if Omar is savvy enough to see this, why would he believe Stringer in the first place? Butchie could smell something off about things when Joe approached him in the previous episode, and it's not like Stringer didn't have a previous face-to-face opportunity to share this information with Omar.

• The recap of this episode takes a literal reading of Ziggy's line about how "the same blood don't flow for us, pop" and suggests that Ziggy is letting Frank know that he knows they're not biological father and son. But there have been enough mistakes in various recaps on that site over the years (on this show and on "The Sopranos") that I don't take them as gospel, and I always viewed that as a metaphor; Frank is Ziggy's father, but Ziggy inherited none of his father's abilities or temperament. Either way, a haunting scene from both Bauer and James Ransone, particularly when Frank has to watch his son walk back into the holding pen and realizes he can't protect the kid anymore from the awful fate he's trapped in. (And it's a fate that Frank set up, by putting Ziggy's cousin and best friend in business with The Greek in the first place.)

• Though nobody on the detail recognizes The Greek (they assume the man in the fancy suit must be the boss), it's still a pleasure to watch Beadie successfully tail Vondas - and, almost as importantly, to see that Bunk and the others trust her to do it. As The Bunk says, she has come a really long way from the clock-puncher we met at the start of the season.

• While The Greek seems to be utterly without emotional attachments (making him more like Stringer), it's interesting to see that number two man Vondas is (like Avon) capable of letting business be complicated by his affection for certain underlings, in this case through his odd surrogate father relationship with Nick.

• Don't blink or you'll miss David Simon as one of the reporters out for Sobotka's perp walk. He's the one shouting out, "Is it just you or is it the whole union?"

• Even amid the tragedy of this one, we get some good nickname-related humor, including Sergei lamenting, "Why always Boris?" and more wacky stevedore nicknames like Big Roy (a small guy) and Little Big Roy (a huge guy).

And now we've come to the veterans-only part of the review, where we talk about how events in this episode will play out in the finale, and over the course of the series:

• Sergei will again have to suffer being called "Boris" by Marlo in season five, though as I said at the time, I felt that was an attempt at stretching out a running gag at the expense of character, as Marlo doesn't seem the type to be aware of the existence of "Rocky & Bullwinkle," let alone Boris Badenov or any other stereotypes about Russia.

• As Nick learns in the finale, Frank was a fool to listen to Vondas' pitch, because there's no way he could have made Ziggy's confession go away. That does raise the question of what would have happened without Koutris' urgent call. Maybe Frank survives that initial meet under the bridge, but Vondas gets to him once he realizes they can't make the case go away.

• Stringer, of course, has gotten far too cute with Omar and Brother Mouzone, and that will come back to bite him in season three - while leading to the greatest superhero team-up since Superman and Spider-Man took on Doctor Doom and the Parasite. In retrospect, I wonder how things would have gone down had Stringer just bluntly told Avon, "Look. You're in here. I'm out in the real world. I see how things are going. Muscle, even Brother Mouzone's muscle, isn't going to solve our long-term problem, because everybody knows we've got no product, and the only person willing to sell it to us is Joe. I've just arranged to make us a ton of money, and if you have a problem with that, we can talk about it after you've gotten out and I've handed you your cut." Or would that have just ended the partnership even sooner? It's "The Wire." You can't change the fates. I just really want to sometimes.

Coming up next: The season comes to an end with "Port in a Storm," as the detail tries to put a charge on Vondas and The Greek, while Stringer has to deal with the mess he made with Brother Mouzone.

In theory, you'll see that review a week from today. But, as mentioned in several other posts this week, I'm going to be taking some vacation days next week (and will be away for all of the following week), so no promises. Worst comes to worst, you'll get it sometime during that week after Labor Day, when I'll be back at work full-time.

What did everybody else think?


Stealth said...

I felt that was an attempt at stretching out a running gag at the expense of character, as Marlo doesn't seem the type to be aware of the existence of "Rocky & Bullwinkle," let alone Boris Badenov or any other stereotypes about Russia.

Probably everyone in jail calls him Boris.

Jake said...

That picture will never not depress me.

Dan said...

Since Alan loves to look at the chain of events that lead to somebody’s demise, what if Nick doesn’t cheat on his girlfriend and wake up in the wrong bed? Then he’s arrested in the raids and isn’t out on the street to meet with Vondas, and convince Frank to do the same. Maybe Frank, Nick and White Mike all start singing immediately and the detail gets to Vondas and the Greek before they skip town. But, because Prissy is able to track Nick down at the park and drown a bottle together, he’s able to dodge an arrest that might’ve saved his uncle’s life.

Though if Omar is savvy enough to see this, why would he believe Stringer in the first place?

I didn’t think Omar completely believed Stringer, that’s why he shot Mouzone in the gut first and took the time to talk to him before actually killing him (and maybe why he only knocked out the guard).

Tina said...

Thanks, Alan, I'm not able to rewatch with you, sadly, but I can still remember watching the end of this episode, wanting to run to Frank and warn him. Hadn't had that feeling that strongly since wanting to tell Diane Russell not to go off with that Jimmy Liery guy.

Unlike traditional drama, The Wire is full of these important moments that tend to go the wrong way (Buffy the Vampire Slayer did the same thing). Usually what happens is that everything works out happily, at the last possible, most dramatic minute. Here it's sadder, but truer to life.

Yes, Frank taking the deal wouldn't have worked out in the end. But his yearning to try to have it put right is one of the great things about this complex, flawed character. Like Simon's other Frank (Pembleton), one of the greats.

Anonymous said...

I've always read more into Frank's comment back to Ziggy that they are more alike than they know.

The most glaring similarity is that they both can not keep their new illegal money hidden. Ziggy with drinks and the duck necklace, Frank with payments to stevedores and fatefully, the Catholic Church for a stained glass window.

Kevin said...

Two things I was wondering watching this episode.

The first, is the Greek so squeaky clean that Agent Koutris can call him directly from his office to the Greek’s cellphone with alerting any suspicion from someone else in the FBI? One would think in the age of Billy Bulger and John Connolly that phone calls out of an FBI office to felons would be monitored a bit more closely. And while it’s laid clean how messed up and inefficient the Baltimore PD is, is the FBI really so efficient that an IM pops up on Koutris’ screen the minute anyone mentions “The Greek” in a report?

Also, while it’s understandable for Daniels to be pissed since he took on the dead girls in the can away from Homicide, can he really have any expectation that Landsman should know the Major Crimes Unit is working on a detail with the last name Sobotka attached to it? His only real connection to the case is that they pulled Bunk and Lester out of his unit.

digamma said...

"We used to make s--t in this country. Build s--t."

I would think importing more s--t from overseas would be good for a stevedore.

Anonymous said...

So much is written about the stylistic qualities of Mad Men. But I randomly paused this episode at the frame before the cops busted down the door to Louis' house, at the shot of the picture of Pope Paul II propped on top of the Tv set. Not retro glamourous as Mad Men, but as beautifully designed. Perfect shot, absolutely accurate. I was back in my Polish relatives' homes.

Craig said...

"you veterans are probably already cringing in memory of what Pelecanos did to your favorites."

The firebombing of Miss Anna's house. You could see that one coming for weeks but still, Pelecanos finished it and I still think it's the most fucked-up thing the show ever did to one of its characters.

SPP said...

Seems like the right place to defend the often maligned Brother Mouzone. I see and hear him criticized often for being too Larger Than Life, but I think that's very much the point. He's from New York, a place of much mystery and fear to the street characters of The Wire. In fact, any place outside Baltimore seems to be mythic and unreal to the street characters (Namond's "They got Klan in PG County," for example). Mouzone exists on a heightened reality, because NYC does.

thaflix said...

Marlo doesn't seem the type to be aware of the existence of "Rocky & Bullwinkle," let alone Boris Badenov or any other stereotypes about Russia.

I'm not so certain--I don't think the show ever makes this explicit, but I always imagined part of the reason Marlo and Chris were so ruthlessly efficient was that they had some training in military tactics and possibly did some time in the armed services. Marlo's not particularly knowledgeable about finance, but I never thought he was as parochial as Bodie either.

Anonymous said...

The grown-up Marlo couldn't care less about cartoon characters, sure, but he was a kid once and The Wire mentions more than once that there's a lot of cartoon watching going on in the 'hood. Think of the kid in Ruth's Chris being compared to Fred Flintstone and Bodie complaining that the guys in his crew watch too many cartoons . . .


Anonymous said...

I wonder how things would have gone down had Stringer just bluntly told Avon, "Look. You're in here. I'm out in the real world. I see how things are going. Muscle, even Brother Mouzone's muscle, isn't going to solve our long-term problem, because everybody knows we've got no product, and the only person willing to sell it to us is Joe. I've just arranged to make us a ton of money, and if you have a problem with that, we can talk about it after you've gotten out and I've handed you your cut."

This would have never worked, it would have been taken as a power play by Stringer and Avon would have felt disrespected and his authority threatened. I never felt that Stringer was that respected by the street players because he came off so aloof and Avon could have gotten him removed fairly easy for not playing his role.

Avon was beholden to his street cred as much as Marlo and would have taken something like that as a power play, we saw how he had issues with ideas that did not originate from himself.

Anonymous said...

When I was watching they wire again this time all I kept picturing Frank yelling "PIG!!! PIG!"

True Blood has gotten into my head.

Paul B. said...

"We used to make s--t in this country. Build s--t."

I would think importing more s--t from overseas would be good for a stevedore.

Ha! Good point. That line would have been much more natural for a leader of a steel or autoworkers' union. Perhaps it was conceived during the early stages (I believe I read in an interview that Simon had considered using employees of Bethlehem Steel or GM for Season 2before deciding on the port) and they decided to use it anyway.

Zac F. said...

The first time I watched this episode when Frank is being led to The Greek and company, I was thinking "Dead man walking! Walking the Green Mile!"

Unknown said...

I loved the moment when Omar decided not to kill Mouzone. I think that was a defining moment for his character. It made me like him.

Raymond said...

"Drama City," for instance, is what a season of "The Wire" would be like if it were only about Cutty.

I read an interview with Pelecanos where he said that "Drama City" was born out of writing season three of The Wire. He had so much research about ex-cons that he couldn't use in the show, so he decided to write a novel about an ex-con.

Mike C said...

Pelecanos seems to enjoy the "tragic walk". In three of his five penultimate episodes, a character walks away from the camera in brutal fashion: Carver in the hospital, Dukie to his life of addiction and Frank here to his end.

Anonymous said...

"We used to make s--t in this country. Build s--t."

I would think importing more s--t from overseas would be good for a stevedore.

When you build things, grow agriculture, etc. within a country, you can ship it overseas. Thus greatly affecting ports.

JAMMQ said...

To me this season will always be when The Wire took that next step from just cops & robbers corner boy stuff to something greater.

How both the corner boys from West Baltimore and the blue collar boys from Locust Point(which has now out-priced all of its former blue-collar residents) all were part of the same game.

Chris Bauer to me always made this season.

Just as many people identified with a D'Angelo or McNulty or whomever in Season One, I identified with Nicky and Frank in Season Two.

Even down to when Nick's mother tells him to go get his father because dinner's ready.

But Frank Sobotka to me was always the pulse that kept this season moving forward.

Cheers to Chris Bauer.

Thanks again Alan.

Tom Murray said...

I think "Boris" is the stereotypical Russian name. Yes, it's true, Marlo probably never enjoyed Bullwinkle's Moose-o-Rama, though from what we've seen of the kids in Season 4, maybe he did- I'm about Marlo's age and caught a little of it- I still think he would be able to put together the Boris reference.

Also, I loved White Mike in this episode.

Chip said...

I know you hate the show Alan but rest assured Chris Bauer gets good work on true blood, character-wise it's a far cry from Frank Sobotka. He's something of a standout in the show imo

Jonathan Buckingham said...

"We used to make s--t in this country. Build s--t."

I would think importing more s--t from overseas would be good for a stevedore.

Where you're wrong is this: most imported stuff goes through Norfolk/Hampton Roads these days because as they say on the show, why would a ship travel an extra day to Baltimore when it can stop in Hampton Roads and let a truck take the cargo north to Balt/DC. That way only takes the truck 3 to 4 hours.

Also, when we used to make shit in this country, the Baltimore Port had quite a bit of stuff going out from its port ie. steel and GM cars. Those products were made right there in Baltimore so the easiest way to ship it was to use that port. More business for Frank and the union. said...

As always, I am thrilled to pounce on another of your terrific episode writeups, and can't recommend them highly enough to other Wire fans: ( I have also included your posts in my compilation of Wire material, (, and am beyond-pumped for your Season 3 writeups...can we assume they will be coming summer 2010?

That said, I must disagree with your interpretation of Ziggy's "same blood" line. Since my first viewing and on through repeats, I have always taken that line as Ziggy's full realization of his place on the American social structure. For all of his smack talk about other cultures, referring to Cheese and other blacks as N's or bad mouthing Greeks or Russians or anyone else, this is the moment where Ziggy finally expresses the source of those insecurities. In my view, the "us" refers to the poor/undereducated, or poor whites, or poor Americans, or the dock workers.

As you have written in these reviews, the younger generation of dock workers was raised believing that their profession made them special, when in fact it made them vulnerable. And perhaps just as importantly, Ziggy was also raised believing that his status as a white, non-immigrant male in America would be his ticket to the good life, and instead he is finding that The System (as David Simon I am sure sees things) cares as little about poor white youth like Zigg as they do for poor black youth like D'Angelo.

Ziggy has killed someone and is repulsed by the act, and when Frank reassures him ("That ain't you Zigg."), Ziggy realizes that he has the capacity for the same kind of violence as the ghetto blacks towards whom, I am sure, he always felt he was morally superior. Since Double G seems first generation American while Ziggy is probably third, Zigg might also be feeling that the American Dream is extended to immigrants, but as the generations pass the ancestors of those immigrants no longer have value within the image of The Land of Opportunity. It is important for first generation Polish, Greeks, Russians, Israelis, etc. to achieve, but as the generations go on and these people all merge into "white," their success no longer matters and they are now just another part of the American underclass.

Thus my reading that Frank's "You're more like me than you know" sentiment is a final plea to his son to believe in the innate goodness of their background and way of life, and he follows that comment with "You're a Sobotka."

Ziggy's response is telling: "F--d, is what I am." Certainly there is a present day meaning to Zigg's statement, because he will be in prison for a loooooong time, and will spend much of his sentence being beaten and whatever else by all of those large inmates who Frank sees through the window.

But there is also a deeper meaning to Ziggy's line. To Frank, being a Sobotka, a dock worker, a union man, a "po-lack," a member of the American working class...all of these are badges of honor. To Ziggy, they are all circumstances that helped lead him to prison. And even if he had composed himself enough to not murder Glekas, those circumstances still have not provided him with much of a future. (As evidenced by Johnny Fifty's appearance in S5.) So where Frank finds power and dignity in defining himself as a "Sobotka," Ziggy replaces that with "f--d" because that is the life-track he has been sent on. It's not "F--d is what I am NOW," it's simply "F--d is what I AM." That is his identity, and by extension, the identity of the younger generation of dock workers, of poor people in America, and even, as Zigg is quite shocked to learn, of many American whites.

Anonymous said...

As Rafael Alvarez said in his comments about "Backwash," "Frank Sobotka was a very smart man who often mistook his heart for his brain."

I don't know. You could say the same of Colvin in season 3 with Hamsterdam or of Lester Freamon and the fake serial killer in season 5. They also felt compelled to resist the tide and were willing to go to extremes, to do what they knew was wrong, for the right reasons. Alvarez may think using one's head requires accomodating the inevitable -- one could argue it's that way of thinking, carefully constructed and nurtured by those whom "the inevitable" benefits, that created the Inevitable -- but I'm pretty sure Simon's sympathies lie elsewhere: "there’s a lot of people trying to tilt at windmills all through the world in various ways and I think their efforts are the only possibility for human dignity."

"Uncle Frank, with the big shoulders" was one of "those characters with hubris enough to challenge the postmodern construct of American empire [whom] are invariably mocked, marginalized, or crushed" while St. Louis Sabotka and his Marla Daniels philosophy -- you can't lose if you don't play -- stayed home or sat at the bar and kept his conscious clean. Louis will never collect that $7,000 on the horses. He never could.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, that would be "conscience clean" ... but maybe "conscious" works too.

Eyeball Wit said...

Two words; Amy Ryan.

Her scene with Frank is just about the most gut-wrenching thing in Wireworld IMHO.

Frank has just experienced every father's worst nightmare: knowing that his son is doomed and not being able to do anything about it.

Then his big brother calls him on what he did, letting Zig and Nicky have "a taste on the house" and ultimately arguing that he's no better than some faceless (to Lou) street level drug dealer.

And when Frank is sitting at his desk processing all this, coming to realize just how "f*cked" he really is, she walks in offering something that's smelled a little like absolution.

"There are different kinds of wrong."


"You're better than them you got in bed with."

It could have been soap opera stuff, but Amy Ryan (and Chris Bauer) hold back just enough to break your heart. That Oscar nom is no fluke.

It's a long way from where we first saw Beadie.

And on the topic of personal growth, when Herc and Carver are tossing Lou Sobotka's house, they seem genuinely pleased to find the money because it's evidence, and seem to have no thoughts about taking a taste for themselves as in season one.

Herc even resists taking the opportunity to frisk
Amy, who's probably wearing nothing but that "Bored" t-shirt.

debbie said...

Totally agree that this episode belongs to Amy Ryan. She's just amazing.
Also, LOVE the David Simon cameo. Just one of the many, many things I missed first time around.

Eyeball Wit said...

They included the clip of the David Simon cameo in a season 5 preview talking about the media, and I kept waiting for it and it never came.
It's also the kind of stupid question that television reporters ask.

Drew Johnson said...

You're absolutely right about Pelecanos! I have read all of his novels and he does have an inherently more positive world view than David Simon. Despite that, the penultimate episodes of The Wire that he authored featured the deaths of some truly beloved characters.

Mike said...

Slight parallels between Ziggy being able to live up to who his dad is and in Season 4, Namond being able to live up to who his dad is?

Eyeball Wit said...

Very good point.
SImon is making the point that Frank's world is just as much of a dead end as a street level drug dealer (and his brother Lou tells him so straight out.)

And Ziggy's only hope was to do like his (unseen) brother and try and break free by going to community college or selling real estate or whatever.

The fact that Namond was able to escape (against all odds) is one of the few breaths of fresh air in the stagnant universe of Wireworld.

In a weird way, Kennard, who would later kill one of our faves, saves a life by dissing Namond, and making it clear to everyone that breeding aside, Bay's son is pretty much raw meat on the corner.

goodoldnumbernine said...

The fact that Namond was able to escape (against all odds) is one of the few breaths of fresh air in the stagnant universe of Wireworld.

don't forget bubs

anakzaman said...

Slight parallels between Ziggy being able to live up to who his dad is and in Season 4, Namond being able to live up to who his dad is?

Slight. But Ziggy was always trying to prove a point whereas Namond didn't try.

Ziggy was always the butt of the jokes and the harder he tried (to get approval from either his dad or Nicky or the other stevedores) he just become more of a joke - which culminated when GG screwed him on the deal and he shot him.

Namond never wanted to work the corners, he never tried to get approval from anybody (maybe he tried to impress Colvin later in S4). He was forced to work the corner by his mom and because of who his dad is but he seemed utterly uninterested in working the corner. See how he preferred reading a comic instead of selling. Or how he took stash home with him. Or how he didn't care when Kenard stole the stash.

Maybe the difference is also because Ziggy is older than Namond, although they are about equal age when it comes to the respective trade.

Anonymous said...

The scene with greek and vondas at the restaurant - I think the waitress is Elena (mcnulty's wife)- this is the pure genious that is the wire - watch the scene again, tell me what you think please................

jjmerlock said...

This is a disastrous episode in the undeniably great accomplishment that is The Wire.

I've been rewatching the entire series with HBO GO, and when the stakes aren't quite as high for you, as you know what's coming, you see things a little more clearly.

And this time through, I'm bringing three perspectives to bear on this sort of a episode - that of a writer, a law student, and a guy who has worked in a US Attorney's office. This time through I've caught everything that is a writer cheat/fix, where end is placed over story. Simon and Co. were guilty of this again and again in the lamentable Season 5, but I prefer to blame HBO for not giving them the extra episodes they needed to wrap everything up organically.

But Alan references the gaping plot flaw and just breezes by it: you would NEVER -as in not under any circumstances, as in multiple people would be fired for such a screw up - ever let a fish like Sobotka swim back out to the open seas if you're sitting in that office. And I've been under the roof when a bad guy comes in, so I know what I speak of. Pearlman is uniformly presented as hyper-competent (one of the things that really doesn't change from season to season), so to make her the leading culprit only compounds what a facile manipulation the writers are guilty of here.

As a law student, I know exactly why Frank needed a lawyer present (I've taken Professional Responsibility). But the idea that you don't helicopter a lawyer in if need be, that you don't place Frank under protective custody, that at a minimum you don't have him tailed and under close surveillance for his own safety and the safety of the case: absurd. Lester Freamon heard this organization state that if the body has hands or a face it's not one of theirs - this is an organization that will do anything to protect its interests, and all of its bacon is in the fire. But to serve message instead of story, the writers foist this one on a public all too busy slobbering hosannahs on the Holy Wire. There is no way that the Detail, knowing how violent, ruthless, and efficient the target is here (they had just seen them disappear the entire case down a drain, by God! They had just watched them close down all operations off a two word text!) would release Frank thinking, "let's let him see if he can make a better deal with the other side."

That is dreadful. To borrow from the great scene between Beadie and Frank, they're better than that, and they're too good to get in bed with material that shoddy. If I didn't love The Wire as much as I do, I wouldn't get incensed over its rare failings, but by making something so good, I've always felt that Simon and Co. ran the risk of the rest of us getting all protective of the integrity of the story.

For another flaw, by the way, highlighted in the same episode, look to the "Omar suddenly isn't the world's most thorough revenge artist" storyline in Season 5. Oh, do tell, SimonCo. He's settling the score on *Brandon* and he's methodical enough to set on Brother Mouzone in cold-blooded, measured fashion. You can't make that same character tragically less than thorough in Season 5 - you just can't.

Anonymous said...

Just rewatched the dinner scene with The Greek and Vondas. Definitely not Jimmy's wife.

Anonymous said...

I think Vondas watched Beadie through the peephole as she walked by the door. I was thinking, just walk up far enough to get the room number.

Coretta said...

While I don't find the episode as completely disastrous as jjmerlock, I do concur that as a trial attorney, I found it implausible (and jaw-dropping) that Rhonda would tell Frank to return tomorrow with an attorney instead of helping him find one right then and there in order to take his statement while the parties were gathered and the witness was ready.

That said, I am so in-love with this greatest of all-time television drama and filled with appreciation at finding this blog and its community, that I can get over it.

timb said...

One doesn't have to be a lawyer to understand not letting the mark go before he closes the deal. Point is, when you're closing, you don't let someone get up and walk away