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S02.E05: Undertow

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Story by David Simon & Ed Burns. Teleplay by Ed Burns. Directed by Steve Shill.

 

The detail to investigate Frank is assembled, Omar is prepped for court, and Stringer has to deal with inferior product.

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Okay, this one had some good stuff.

Eileen Nathan (is that her name?) going over Omar's testimony.  "You suggested a manufacturer…'Australian, or one of those A countries.' "

 

Bodie's brilliant business idea of creating fake competition for their weak drugs, by giving each tower's supply a different name so the fiends think there are two different products being sold.

 

The scene where Ziggy haplessly gets ripped off by Frog, who's supposed to be peddling Ziggy's drugs, and then gets confronted by Cheese, who claims that the amount of money in Ziggy's pocket barely even deserves to be called money.  To top it all off, Cheese makes fun of Ziggy's $2K coat, and then takes Ziggy's car.  You would almost think things can't get any worse for Ziggy, except for the fact that we're only on episode 5!  Honestly, I can't drum up any real feelings for Ziggy, and I watch him sort of as I would watch a natural disaster happening.  

 

Nick also pisses me off a bit.  I understand his anger about the gentrification of his aunt's neighborhood and the fact that he can't afford to live there.  But really--his family SOLD the house--had to have been a few years ago.  It's not "Aunt Treesey's" any more.  I think he's partly angry at "the man" (embodied by the realtor as well as the prospective buyers), partly embarrassed that he was so wrong about being able to possibly afford the place.  His extreme grumpiness combined with his ignorance about search engines makes him practically an 80-year-old in disguise.  He does try to get Ziggy's car back for him, though.  One thing you can count on in the world of The Wire--nephews, cousins, uncles, all look out for each other and bail each other out, whether it's in the police department, drug world, or labor union.

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Yes, Ziggy fancies himself such a wheeler-dealer, and he's so hopeless at it -- even before he comes up against Cheese. (First appearance, right? and a nice job by rapper Method Man, whom David Simon has singled out for praise: unlike all the other rappers who sent word through their reps that they might deign to make an appearance on The Wire, Method showed up to audition like any other actor, and asked intelligent questions about the character.)

 

 

Carver really was on the verge of tears when Daniels invites him back on the squad. All those mixed emotions of knowing that someone you betrayed is giving you a second chance... beautifully acted by Seth Gilliam. (Not that that's a surprise from someone as good as he is, but still... credit where it's due.)


Another fine acting moment: Andre Royo, in just that small moment of Bubbs pointing out that he stuck his neck out with Omar, and deserves a little more than a smile and busfare from McNulty. Someone used to acting deferential because he knows how badly he's screwed up his life, but still thinks he's entitled to better treatment in this case.

 

 

Nick and Aimee house hunting was the sort of small but deep moment the show is so good at: He's often irritating (and the writers mean him to be), but I can empathize with him here: seeing that beyond being unable to afford the house, they no longer fit in to their old neighborhood which is being gentrified out of their (social) class, and it isn't even the same neighborhood now -- it's been reclassified to a different name (a "wrong" one for someone who knows old Baltimore like him) "for real estate purposes." And what a nice touch, typical of the show, that the realtor for the open house is McNulty's ex.

 

Ziggy knowing a little more about computers (and it isn't really much more) makes a kind of sense to me. I don't think we know his and Nick's exact ages, but he seems at least a little younger, which could be a crucial few years in terms of computers in the classroom. A slight bit of exposure would be more than Nick ever had. Or maybe Ziggy had a little more curiosity about them -- a hint that, had his family steered him toward, say, community college rather than assuming he's work the docks like everyone else, he might have managed OK as an office drudge somewhere. (Or not, of course. But it's one of those "in a different world..." flashes, like the hints about D'Angelo, another kid brought up to be part of a family business he's not really suited for.)

 

Oh, one of my top five favorite moments of the series! when Lester joins the detail and asks who they're after.

Prez points at the headshot on the wall.

Lester looks, and does a double take: "Frank Sobotka??"

Prez, busting with pride for his mentor: "How fuckin' good is he?!"

 

I love when plot strands unexpectedly collide (like Elena McNulty, above), but this was an especially fun one, because it carries that realization: "Oh right, they wouldn't know he knew." Similar to Beatrice asking who Omar is.

 

 

And further delights with Omar's prep session with Ilene Nathan. "Fish gotta swim, yknowhatImsayin?" And she seems them off with "Anything with a tie."

 

Which leads to the clothes shopping expedition. "It's a look." "No it ain't." And the punchline "Or I'll be with Muffy at the club."

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Another fine acting moment: Andre Royo, in just that small moment of Bubbs pointing out that he stuck his neck out with Omar, and deserves a little more than a smile and busfare from McNulty. Someone used to acting deferential because he knows how badly he's screwed up his life, but still thinks he's entitled to better treatment in this case.

 

Yes…love that moment from Bubs.  McNulty never really seems to "get" Bubs the way Kima does.

 

That whole scene with Bubs was great, from the bit where he's fondling the grill and muttering about how it's "top of the line" (probably thinking how much he could get for it, if only it wasn't chained down), to the part where he informs McNulty that the "thing" is called a "cleat" and points out that McNulty can't tie a knot.

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"Same as it ever was."  I think I might have cheered.

 

To top it all off, Cheese makes fun of Ziggy's $2K coat, and then takes Ziggy's car.  You would almost think things can't get any worse for Ziggy, except for the fact that we're only on episode 5!  Honestly, I can't drum up any real feelings for Ziggy, and I watch him sort of as I would watch a natural disaster happening.

I don't like the character of Ziggy too much, but it's not hard to imagine these things happening to him.  I also completely believed the actor when the Cheese people left with his car and he was in the middle of the street.  That was great.  

 

Another fine acting moment: Andre Royo, in just that small moment of Bubbs 

Andre Royo is consistently riveting as Bubbs.  I didn't like McNulty in this scene, although I guess that was the point: they were out of sync.  So far, I find Bubbs so much more interesting than Omar, who is a bit over the top for me.

 

My favorite part of this episode might have been the scene between D'Angelo and his girlfriend/ex.  I have loved Dee's storyline from top to bottom, so far, and I do not know where's he going, which is exciting.

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