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Rinaldo

S02.E01: Ebb Tide

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Story by David Simon & Ed Burns; teleplay by David Simon; directed by Ed Bianchi.

 

We catch up with McNulty on his new job, Bodie drives to Philly, and we get our first look at life among the dockworkers.

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I'm a sucker for the "see where everyone in the gang is now" type of opening episode.  When I first watched season 2, I was dubious about whether I wanted to go on to a new season, new case, and leave behind everyone from season 1.  So it was a relief to see Bodie and catch up with that crew as well.  As with many characters on the show who are unable to leave their milieu, Bodie has never left Baltimore & doesn't know why anyone would want to.  He is surprised to learn that radio stations are different outside Baltimore--but the best part is, after the look of disgust on his face when stumbling upon "Lake Wobegon Days" on the radio, we see him later listening to it again!

 

Of course, we already knew McNulty would be on the boat.  And it does not look like a fun place to be in the middle of winter.  I kind of love how they leave us hanging when his partner says the bosses did him (McNulty) a favor…and before he can explain, they get a call.

Prez probably has the most "explainy" catch-up scene, as he tells his father-in-law what he really wants to be doing (solving cases by following a paper trail).

The Bunk is still working the Gant case; the look of horror on his face when he spots Lt. Daniels working the evidence locker tells us all we need to know about what a humiliating assignment this is for the Lt.  

 

Another thing I'm a sucker for is the scenes of duality through The Wire.  One of my favorites is probably the scene where Daniels & co are ripping through the evidence room looking for the Gant evidence, juxtaposed with Bodie and crew ripping apart the car to try to find the missing drugs.  Yup, despite the foreignness of a bunch of white dockworkers and a Polish church, it's still The Wire and I'm sucked into season 2.

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I just started thinking about the stained glass windows.

Frank's window has nothing religious about it.  It's a picture of some stevedores unloading cargo from a ship.  Valchek's is hardly religious either, but at least it has a dove in it, which is a religious symbol.  Now, I've never seen a stained glass window in a Catholic church that didn't depict either a saint, a religious scene, or a religious symbol.  Often they have a panel that says "donated by so-and-so".  But not Frank's window.  Not even a pretense--he couldn't come up with a patron saint of dockworkers or some such.  I guess this just makes it transparent (ha ha) that the window is a symbol of quid pro quo--Frank makes some substantial donations to the parish in exchange for the window display (promoting his beloved profession) and some face-time with a senator, arranged by Father Lew.  

 

I am not exactly sure why Valchek and Frank even need to bring the windows into it--if they are basically donating money in exchange for influence.  I guess it's a matter of pride.  The window is a display of the glory of (insert one: stevedores or police force), for all the congregation to see.

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As many have pointed out (Alan Sepinwall for sure), the pre-credits sequence at the start of a Wire season is always meaningful for the season as a whole. At the start of the series we had the story of Snot Boogie and the question of why he was always allowed to play if he always tried to run off with the pot: "Got to. This's America, man." And here, Jimmy is looking out at the harbor, the empty factories (where his father once worked), the almost-vanished shipping routes. And the people with enough money to amuse themselves are right on top of it but don't notice -- the only activity around is the party boat, which (having lost its power) is blocking the shipping lane but it hardly matters. Jimmy will have it towed out of the way till the party's over (for a bribe, which is another way it all keeps going).

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I'm a sucker for the "see where everyone in the gang is now" type of opening episode.When I first watched season 2, I was dubious about whether I wanted to go on to a new season, new case, and leave behind everyone from season 1.  So it was a relief to see Bodie and catch up with that crew as well. 
and we get our first look at life among the dockworkers.

I was completely thrown by the new setting and the unfamiliar faces of this new episode.  I really miss the task force dynamic and that nephew of Avon's who was put in jail, so I'm not especially pleased to be tackling an unrelated story.  Once I saw Lester again, I relaxed a little bit.  I hope the old gang still will have plenty of opportunities to interact.  Part of what made the first season great was the chemistry.  

 

Who was the guy who was talking to the three dockworkers who were sitting around in a long narrow trailer or something?  The guy who was dismissing the idea about deepening the channel?  Does he appear again later in the episode?  Is he the leader of some other union?

 

I am finding the dockworkers' issues a little boring (and the characters far less magnetic) compared to the introduction we got to people in S1.

 

The Ziggy character is a bit manic and weird.  He is the only one who has made me wonder why he acts the way he does.  He and the lady cop, who was patrolling the docks, look a bit promising.  Other than those two, I have this strong feeling of wanting my characters back.

 

Lake Wobegon is such a mid-western cultural touchstone.  I liked seeing how alien it sounded to Bodie, too, Misstify.

 

The thing I liked best about this episode was how dreary and cold and winter-y it was.  That was what made this episode feel like The Wire the most for me, because the cold felt so real and was such an economical way to set a new tone.

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Who was the guy who was talking to the three dockworkers who were sitting around in a long narrow trailer or something?  The guy who was dismissing the idea about deepening the channel?

 

If I recall the scene correctly, that was Nat, who is also in the union.  He thinks their goal (with the city politicians) should be restoring the grain pier.  Frank thinks that won't bring in enough jobs, and instead they should go after people to deepen the channel.  Yes, that stuff does get a little boring.  You can think of it as Frank wants plan X and the other guy wants plan Y.

 

Thankfully, we still have Bodie and Stringer and their supply problems.

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That last point is key: the dock folks aren't replacing the Season 1 people in the story. Our universe is expanding, like a Dickens novel that keeps adding more and more characters and plot threads as it goes, while keeping the old ones.

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More on the union guys' scene: I couldn't recall if they mentioned this in ep 1, but they do: Nat, the guy who is arguing about the grain pier, is the union president. Frank is the treasurer. (You can go through the whole season without knowing that, but if you're detail-oriented, there ya go).

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Just finished rewatching. It made me recall how disconcerting it was (even watching years after it aired, and with warning from commentators) to see such a different focus and new characters (which turns out to be a regular feeling at the start of each season). In a DVD commentary a few episodes later, Michael Knight remarks that he'd felt the same, and wondered if he and some of the other actors in the story were being written out to make the series more "approachable." And then as it continued he realized what was happening.

 

McNulty putting in all that extra time and work on calculating tide tables and drift, just to stick it to his former bosses, is such classic Jimmy. And pitch-perfect writing and acting; as usual with him, I can feel and understand the impulse to do it, at the same time I'm thinking, what an asshole.

 

I remember one of the few times I had a strong disagreement with Alan Sepinwall's writeups had to do with this episode. He carried on so about Ziggy's compulsion to expose himself, I was expecting a phallic feast in this season. And in fact it was one quick scene in this episode, and that's it. (OK, and a glimpse of a jpg on someone's computer in a later episode.) Hardly worth going on and on about. I wanted to call him out for classic straight-boy overreaction to the horror of being made to view a penis (never mind how many boobs are paraded before us on HBO). But it was years after the post and discussion, and nothing to be gained. So at least I get to kvetch about that for a moment here.

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Yeah…I think Ziggy's "exposure" was so brief that I always end up blinking and missing it.  To be fair, the bar patrons and bartender act as if he does this all the time.  Reactions like "Oh no, not again…don't do it Ziggy" kind of thing.  I agree that Sepinwall made it sound like WE would be seeing a lot more of Ziggy.  It would have been more accurate to say the denizens of the dockworkers' bar got a lot of exposure to him.  

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I finally got around to watching ep one. I liked it. Who is that female cop patrolling the shipyards? I know her so well, but don't know how. I suck at figuring these things out on the net so thank you if anyone knows.

It was great to hear Prarie Home Companion. Even better it seems he liked it!

I hope Ziggy isn't a main player. I'd be fine to see Mcnulty fish him out next episode.

The Wire is somewhat like Gosford Park for me. I think I could watch an episode 10 times and still not know names.

Intrigued by the dead girls. Wondering if that was trafficking gone bad? I can't believe a bunch of corpses would be of use.

I like how above it was described as a story expanding. I, too, missed the amazing and phenomenal cast of season one and hope this groups sucks me in. I think they will. I have a lot of faith in this show.

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I finally got around to watching ep one. I liked it. Who is that female cop patrolling the shipyards? I know her so well, but don't know how. I suck at figuring these things out on the net so thank you if anyone knows.

Amy Ryan. She had a big role in Gone Baby Gone that won her some awards, but possibly she's best recognized (other than from The Wire) for her role as the new HR person on The Office.

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possibly she's best recognized (other than from The Wire) for her role as the new HR person on The Office.

 

Holly, from The Office!  Thank you, Rinaldo.  I wasn't able to place her, either.

 

That last point is key: the dock folks aren't replacing the Season 1 people in the story. Our universe is expanding, like a Dickens novel that keeps adding more and more characters and plot threads as it goes, while keeping the old ones.

 

Thanks to all who made this reassuring point.  The one I miss the most is the Lieutenant, who seems to be stuck in the evidence room.  Looking forward to more of him.

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