The Wire: Stray Rounds   Rewatch 
September 6, 2014 10:30 PM - Season 2, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Bodie's plan to increase sales backfires tragically. So String's gotta make some tough decisions, change tactics, take account for the inevitable crackdown. With Sobotka and The Greek spooked and ready to turn tail the Detail has to adapt as well. Their investigation feels on target despite a minor tantrum from Valcheck, and when the prostitution investigation goes international inside Freamon's assessment of McNulty's bad accent is spot on.

Shooting over to the docks, Ziggy hits a mark with New Charles' new nickname but fires wildly with his game companion and his sideline sideline scheme with Johnny Fifty. And Avon tries dodging a bullet by hiring muscle down from NYC with more bodies on him than a Chinese cemetery.

"The world is a smaller place now." - The Greek
posted by carsonb (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In this episode we find out an FBI agent is leaking information to the Greek. I can never decide if he is actually corrupt, or he genuinely is getting good information on the war on terror. It also seems like a slightly hand wavey way to make the Detail fail here; the point is meant to be that the inherent way the system is structured means the detail can't really succeed, but here this is just plain incredibly bad luck. Without the dodgy FBI guy they would have easily taken apart the whole operation.

We get to meet Colvin here, which is fun, someone who will become much more important later on! Meanwhile, Ziggy has a plan that actually works, demonstrating that while he's a fuck up, he's not actually a complete idiot.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:00 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I hated the corrupt FBI agent because it felt like such a cheap deus ex machina- if you were playing The Wire d20 and you got to the reveal that the reason the DM's pet NPC, The Greek, was always one step ahead of you was because he had somebody you had no way of knowing about feeding him your every move, you'd flip the table and slash his tires on your way out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:18 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think it's a deft move on the writers' parts to reveal (to viewers) the FBI leak now. Up to this point the FBI has been a fount of resources and information, it should really come as no surprise that they're too good to be true. You get all these gadgets and all these warm bodies and a huge amount of networked connections all across the country and your investigative world opens up. Good police like Lester and McNulty get taken in by the allure, by the sheer effortlessness of the ordeal. They just have to hold their noses a bit in the traditional sense of disrespecting the spooks. But they're so used to the pencils and typewriters and hand-to-hand cheap way of policing that they just blindly appreciate the seemingly no-downside goodness of the FBI helping them fit better into these too-big-shoes investigations they're getting themselves into.

All those networks are what makes the world a smaller place. But it's not the FBI at the center of this web, they're just a part of it. More people like The Greek plumped in the center, tickling the strands and getting annoyances (Columbians, the FBI) caught and tangled up in each other.
posted by carsonb at 1:18 PM on September 8, 2014

I like how Bunny and Stringer are parallel characters within their organizations in many ways. Both are looking to reduce the violence and attention to the drug trade by means they have available to them (which Prop Joe largely continues). It's a lost cause of course, because the system isn't interested in it's own ultimate objective, but only in the system itself.
posted by juiceCake at 7:26 PM on September 8, 2014

I like your argument carsonb, and I'm ok with the FBI not being this perfect thing, but I feel like last season did that better by having them far more focussed on corruption than the drugs. Actually thats hit on in the conclusion to this season as well. The informer thing feels very coincidental.

Also, wouldn't the higher up FBI guy tell everyone else about his contact, rather than waste FBI money? Or is he really corrupt, so why does this not come to light when Jimmy's friend (I forget his name) tells him about it at the end of the season.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:13 AM on September 11, 2014

I get the impression that the 'higher up' FBI agent (who used to be in San Diego but is now counter-terrorism in DC) is 100% in the pocket of The Greek. They seem to have a real relationship that probably pre-dates their respective careers. Maybe they went to school together, or are brothers or cousins; their relationship is not explained this season, only hinted at, but I get the idea that it transcends their current endeavors.
posted by carsonb at 10:59 AM on September 11, 2014

I get the impression that the 'higher up' FBI agent (who used to be in San Diego but is now counter-terrorism in DC) is 100% in the pocket of The Greek.

I totally disagree. Remember when agent Fitzhugh first calls agent Koutras about George Glekas? Koutras clearly worked a case that involved this organization. The group (The Greek, Vondas, GG, Eton) discuss the local police asking around and mention San Diego, at which point GG scoffs and rolls his eyes.

Now, that doesn't totally mean Koutras isn't in The Greek's pocket, but remember how the Detail let Omar run free in Season 1? They had solid info that could have cleared Stinkum's murder for Ray Cole, but chose to keep Omar on the streets instead (and get a clearance for themselves). My read is that Koutras knows The Greek has an organization that does dirt, but overlooks it because they feed him info that advances his career.

A police is only as good as his informant. And Koutras has a very, very good informant.

posted by rocketman at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2014

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