The Wire Watchalong: Season 2, Episodes 9 and 10

The_Wire_Season_2Welcome to the Inanimate Blog watchalong for The Wire. Every week all summer we’ll be watching two episodes and posting our thoughts. We’re not recapping each episode in detail; that’s what Wikipedia is for. This week is Season 2, Episodes 9 and 10.

S02E09

Sam: That stupid duck. I told them last write-up that the duck shouldn’t be drinking alcohol. I hate that The Wire is so realistic. No fairytale endings for ducks in this show.

Emily: In a lesser show, we wouldn’t have even seen the duck ever again, nevermind showing that actions have consequences.

Sam: That’s exactly it. The duck died because of course the duck died. Ducks die if you give them alcohol. And in this show, we have to deal with it.

Emily: This episode was all about things reaching their most logical conclusion. You put McNulty in a room with two prostitutes and people are going to get naked.

Sam: I did enjoy that a lot, at least his writeup of it. “There were two of them, I was outnumbered.” Yeah, that’s all it was, too, Mr. Horndog himself. At least the semi-botched raid went better than his accent. I will admit to being amused at the British actor playing an American doing a bad British accent, because, again, it’s so realistic. Whatever Dominic West’s natural accent might be, Jimmy McNulty would have a terrible British accent.

Emily: I keep going back and forth on how I feel about the accent. On the one hand, at least it was a bad accent. On the other, it felt a little too meta to have the English actor playing an American do an English accent, even if it was a bad English accent. It gets done all the time on far worse shows although in those cases it usually turns out that the American has this flawless British accent in their back pocket that they can pull out at will. I will give them credit for not doing that.

Sam: I’m actually going to argue in favor of the show for a minute here. I feel like it was very slightly winky, but only because the story itself dictated that it happen and they took a minute to revel in it. It was clearly demonstrated earlier in the season that McNulty was always the obvious pick to go undercover, and they cast a British guy in season 1 presumably without any thought to what he might get up to in season 2. They did pick British instead of, oh, French for his fake accent, but I can’t fault them for anything but a slight moment of winkage.

Emily: At least Dominic West didn’t play Oliver Cromwell in The Devil’s Whore until long after this episode was shot. I would be giving them the biggest eye roll if those two shows had been made the other way around.

Sam: On the other side of the world, or what might as well be, there’s still trouble in paradise for the Barksdale organization. It all seems to be coming down on Stringer’s head; he makes a deal with Prop Joe to sacrifice three of the towers to get a better supply (including 221, which was D’Angelo’s tower! RIP), but he looks to even Joe to reassure him that Avon will go with it. It’s the least confident we’ve seen him yet. And to top it off, his mid-level management can’t even dispose of guns properly, particularly guns that may have caused the accidental death of a nine-year-old.

Emily: Fortunately for Bodie et al, all of the competent homicide detectives appear to be working on the detail.

Sam: Fortunately for all the drug dealers, really, including Nick Sobotka of all people. Though his name has started to come up for that detail, as it happens, which can’t mean anything good for him. The one cheerful moment was when I was skimming Wikipedia for this episode to remember points I wanted to make, and I noticed for the first time that there’s a section at the bottom for the Deceased of that episode. I am completely charmed to see that the denizens of Wikipedia included “Ziggy’s duck” in that list. RIP Wallace, D’Angelo, and Ziggy’s duck.

S02E10

Sam: Speaking of Ziggy… hoo boy. This show sure knows how to pack them in; after watching the episode, I mostly just remembered Ziggy. But there’s a ton of really significant stuff happening. Curse good writers who make the best use of their time!

Emily: I like that they used the huge number of things happening to casually drop that Kima’s wife is pregnant. Her already justified anger at Kima getting entrenched in the reconstituted detail is even more understandable now. She does not want to be a single mother and she’d prefer to have a lawyer’s income to support their expanding family.

Sam: Right? They’re just like Oh, hey, she’s already seriously pregnant. No big discussions (that we saw), no fertility rigamarole (that we saw), just actual, meaty plot developments. Basically, she’s been right all along (that Kima’s job is dangerous, demonstrably so), and now she has an even more compelling reason. Kima seems a wee bit apprehensive about the whole thing, though.

Emily: One of the most apprehensive members of the detail gave no fucks. Prez just up and punched his father-in-law which is a big deal on its own but its an even bigger deal than it would be because his father-in-law is Valcheck.

Sam: And yet, the crowd failed to erupt in spontaneous applause, as I was cheering them to do. I did like that after Daniels did his In Charge routine right then, he clearly showed later that he didn’t really regret Prez’s actions. I don’t think anyone regrets the opportunity to see Valchek get popped. What a smug bastard. However, as satisfying as that was is as frustrating as the rest of the case is. They join forces (albeit unwillingly) with the FBI, and suddenly they have all this manpower, but then there’s this goddamn mole working for the Greeks, or at least in touch with the Greeks, and the detail stays one step behind yet again.

Emily: That mole is pretty much the only thing that might keep the Greeks from being taken down. I still miss focusing on the clean efficiency of the Barksdale gang.

Sam: Me too. Especially since the Barksdale gang also misses the clean efficiency of the Barksdale gang from last season. This show just drives me nuts. I know I’ve been harping on the realism this time, but it’s really getting me down. The good guys can’t catch a break because good guys don’t always catch breaks in real life. Sometimes the bad guys win. Sometimes the good guys win, but it’s never black and white- I can’t imagine that they’ll be able to do significantly more damage to the smuggling this season than they did to the Barksdales last season. And yet, I want them to. I want it to be all sunshine and puppy dogs and rainbows because the good guys come in with bigger swords and slay the dragon after all. But they’re not going to because that’s not how life works. And if this show has shown us one thing, it’s that it’s as true to actual, real life as a show’s ever been.

Emily: At least we have someone who seems to know what he is doing. Brother Mouzone means serious fucking business.

Sam: He is the very definition of Serious Fucking Business. We knew he was serious when he showed up at the end of last episode lookin’ all crisp and clean and intimidating, but we sure as heck see he means business this time. He’ll just shoot a guy, no pussyfooting around with threats or anything. And now that I’m writing this, I realize the one bit of whimsy The Wire does have, who operates outside the bounds of good and bad and everything that the rest of the characters are beholden to. Prop Joe mentions he knows one man in Baltimore who could possibly take down Brother Mouzone, and I sure can’t wait to see if he does it. See you next week?

Emily: See you next week!

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