Saturday, 9 March 2013

TV: The Wire (S2) (9/10)

Why did I watch it?
Continuing with my re-watch of the first two seasons before moving on to new territory with the rest of the show.

What's it all about?
For those not in the know, The Wire is set in Baltimore and each season focuses on a different area of life in the city. Season two sees the action move from West Baltimore's towers and low rises to it's port, where an international smuggling ring exploit the hardship of the local stevedores to smuggle girls, uncut drugs and electricals into Baltimore. What starts as a pissing contest between fellow Poles, Major Valchek and stevedore union chief Frank Sobotka, and the discovery of a body in the water near the port ends up as another detail for Lieutenant Daniels and gang.

Should you watch it?
Equally as brilliant as the first season once the pieces fall into place, the season's focus shifts up the drug chain from dealers to suppliers through the smugglers but as with most things in David Simon's Baltimore, everything is connected and it turns out that the smugglers (and by connection the union) supply Proposition Joe who cuts a deal with Stringer. This link ensures that the likes of Stringer, Avon, D'Angelo and Omar still feature, although less prominently than the first season, replaced with the characters of the stevedore union.

Central to the season is Frank Sobotka, excellently played by Chris Bauer, who finds himself torn between looking out for his union  and future generations of the traditionally local workforce and doing the right thing and setting the right example to his son and nephew. He is truly horrified at the discovery of thirteen dead girls inside a can on his dock but can't bring himself to break his connection to 'The Greek'.

Stan v Frank
What really struck me about the story's beginning was the initial infighting between jurisdictions and departments, led by Homicide Major Rawls, over the ownership of the thirteen Jane Does, something I can well believe after reading David Simon's book, Homicide - A Year on the Killing Streets. This kind of gritty, self serving, inhumane approach to homicides really cannot be found anywhere else but The Wire. Also, as with the first season, season two's ending is far from the fairytale ending to be expected in most films or TV shows. 

The penultimate episode, Bad Dreams, finishes with one of the best set of scenes I think I have ever seen on a TV screen. Played out over an fitting Greek song 'Efige Efige' (translated to 'He Left'), the montage displays the fortunes of Frank swinging 180 degrees through a series of events elsewhere at precisely the wrong time. A masterpiece.

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