The Wire: Ebb Tide   Rewatch 
August 13, 2014 3:04 PM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Having made their move on Avon Barksdale, The Baltimore Police Department's Drug Detail is decommissioned and its members have been scattered: McNulty's riding a boat in the bay, Daniels is hunkered down in Evidence, Greggs is on desk duty (still can't type!), Herc & Sergeant Carver are back on the beat though in separate divisions, and poor Prez is back in the Southeastern under his father-in-law's thumb. Freamon's with Bunk now, real police in Homicide.

This season continues to follow the Barksdale Organization as they adapt to having their leader in jail, opening with their struggles acquiring drugs from NYC. Meanwhile Bunk prepares for the murder trial of Barksdale soldier 'Bird,' hassling McNulty for his supposed eyewitness and lynch pin to the case (not to mention totally crazy stick-up man) Omar Little, who is in the wind. Stringer Bell scrambles to account for lousy product and decreased confidence in the Barksdale Organization product, eventually working at cross-purposes to Avon's machinations from inside the clink.

But International Brotherhood of Stevedores Secretary & Treasurer Frank Sobotka Chris Bauer is quickly introduced as a new opponent for BPD and focus shifts to include the trouble brewing in Southeastern District. Rather than the project housing, soldiers, and drugs of season one, season two confronts the BPD with a struggling middle class desperate for work after the collapse of regional industry, unions and the political power they wield, and human trafficking. Sobotka donates a beautiful stained glass window to the local Polish church and in doing so pisses off Major Stan Valchek, who had his own window commissioned as a surprise and subsequently relegated to an upstairs hallway. Sobotka has also taken it upon himself to aid a flagging union by smuggling cargo past customs (pretty much solely represented by eventual Detail member Beadie Russell (Amy Ryan)) for a mysterious and shady Baltimore resident called The Greek, employing his nephew Nick and wild son Ziggy as go-betweens.

Petty vendettas, troubled families, international crime: A new facet of Baltimore's—America's—Humanity's woe is revealed in the Southeastern District as a new case begins.

"Ain't never gonna be what it was" - Little Big Roy
posted by carsonb (12 comments total)
Every episode I prayed that someone would kill Ziggy.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:53 PM on August 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

Hmm, I guess one could take the epigraph as a meta-comment on the change in focus for Season 2. I remember David Simon saying, very roughly paraphrased, that this was when "the show became the show." What a great way to expand the scope of the series. I've noted some grumbling about the shift to the docks and heard more than a few cite this as their least favourite season, but I love everything about it. Even Ziggy.

"He ain't fired man, that's his father."
posted by Lorin at 6:32 PM on August 13, 2014

I love that they stumble on Prarie Home Companion, and keeps listening to it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:49 PM on August 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

Just dropping in here to say I love Beadie Russell. She's not the flashiest or most charismatic character on the show, but she's warm and reliable and hard-working. She's real po-lice in an unexpected way.
posted by donajo at 8:08 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

The decay of American society is a gigantic theme (if not The Theme) of The Wire, and this season provides a wholly unsubtle example of that with its constant backdrop of abandoned industrial buildings. The context of Little Big Roy's comment is a barfly bullshit session where they're talking about the feats of their stevedore fathers. It's echoed in another epigraph later in the season when Frank says, "They used to make stuff here," or something to that effect, a lament about the death of American industry.

A little less later in the season Prop Joe waxes rhapsodic about the operating procedures of his predecessor, the man who ran the drug trade in Bmore before the current crop of gangsters. He says it was run like a business, and if someone had to get shot it was pure business. But the youngsters in charge these days shoot a cat for nothing. And the business is that much harder to run for that reality.
posted by carsonb at 8:35 PM on August 13, 2014

Nobody had to know Prop Joe's predecessor's name because he didn't have to 'Rep' anything, he was just running business. But Barksdale is a brand name, and that brand needs to be maintained. Gun violence and protecting real estate is the way that gets done now, and it's a shame piled on top of a shame and then some.
posted by carsonb at 8:36 PM on August 13, 2014

The crate full of bodies is one of the series most visceral moments, along with the murder of the man responsible in a few episodes time. I really like this series. The fall of Sobotka, and, more importantly, his family, is a great tragedy, and is a closed arc over one season: the Barksdale empire will need another season to wrap up.

I love Jimmy messing with homocide here. Its always fun when we get to see police on this show be really good at their jobs.

I agree that Beadie Russel is an excellent character. She doesn't actually get to do much, but every scene she is in she brings such a complicated performance.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:03 AM on August 14, 2014

That thing about 'when the show became the show' is really apt--by the end of the first season, 'The Wire' already had a broad scope for a cops-and-crooks show, and the second season pilot just goes ahead and introduces a whole new group of people.

And yeah, Beadie is a great character.

I think Zig is too, though almost every moment with him is just excruciating. He's every bit as confined by his circumstances as D'Angelo.
posted by box at 5:16 AM on August 14, 2014

This is my favourite season, mostly because of Frank. It's also the point where those friends of mine who dropped the series as not all its cracked up to be dropped out. Took me a while to accept the switch in focus too but it really becomes something special here.
posted by vbfg at 6:09 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jimmy and Bunk, such a special friendship:

"It ain't the same up there without your ass."

"Oh no?"

"Better, actually."
posted by Lorin at 7:59 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

(Vague spoilers herein)

I also liked this season, and if I had to pick the least of the seasons I'd go with 3, or at least the first half of it, which starts out (re-)introducing a lot of characters in the police and political bureaucracies, and the viewer needs to a) get acquainted with their place in the system and their desires and b) care about those things, really fast. I fell off the wagon a bit around then.

Season 2 had a sense of conventional mystery about it, at least along the edges, that made it feel different from all the other seasons. What are those women doing in the container? How does this tie in with the other activity at the docks, and how complicit is Frank? We want him to be fundamentally, well, not too corrupt. He's fighting for something, not just looking for bucks.
posted by sylvanshine at 3:32 PM on August 14, 2014

I like that in the Greek diner, when Zig is denied a seat at the table where his cousin is discussing the deal, he slinks off to the counter and is right next to The Greek, but neither Zig nor us know it yet.
posted by riruro at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2014

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