Take a Drink: whenever Ziggy is a dumbass
Take a Drink: every time a character does. Take Two: if it’s anybody but a longshoreman
Take a Drink: whenever Valchek bitches about something
Take a Drink: for every picture he receives of his surveillance van
Take a Drink: every time Frank Sobotka goes apoplectic
Take a Drink: whenever Stringer Bell drops some business school knowledge
Do a Shot: whenever somebody is confused by fancy future tech like digital cameras or MSN
Do a Shot: when a whiteboy drops the ‘N’ word
By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
After the undiluted heroin high of Season 1 of The Wire, (note to self: find better analogy before posting), Season 2 was an incredibly jarring comedown. Where was Omar? What’s up with the high rises? Who are all these white people?
These sexy, sexy white people…
Season 2 gets to all that eventually ,so don’t despair, but it’s sudden transition showed just how epic a scale David Simon had planned for his series- he wasn’t interested in only drug dealers and murder police. His Wire would shine a light on very facet of Baltimore’s criminal hierarchy it could. This season keeps the first’s storylines moving, but focuses on a new one- Baltimore’s blue-collar dockworkers, the criminal enterprises they get mixed up in, and the Eastern European crime syndicates who take advantage.
The switch from the streets to the docks was a ballsy one, opening up a whole new world and cast of characters. Simon proves just as adept at exploring it as the corner, and it provides just as compelling a source of drama. Chris Bauer is simply excellent as union leader Frank Sobotka, frantically trying to preserve a dying way of life, and clueless son Ziggy (James Ransone) and more capable yet still ultimately incompetent nephew Nick (Pablo Schreider) who can’t keep their fingers out of the cookie jar. Don’t fuck with them Slavic cookies, though…
You’re liable to lose a hand or two.
The Barksdale cartel story keeps building as well, as Idris Elba’s Stringer Bell uses the business principles he’s picking up in community college to start to buck up against his placeholder status for Avon, who’s making his own waves in prison. Once again, character drives incident, which drives tragedy, a much more overt motif in this season as the spillover of this war affects main characters and innocent bystanders alike.
I’m not even getting much into the cops here, to whom Amy Ryan is a nice addition, but the interoffice politics and procedural elements become even more complicate and lifelike this season. On the filmmaking front, the directors push the show even further into a more cinematic style was common on TV at the time, with some truly excellent camerawork, transitions, and creative flourishes like music-set montages (my favorite- case cracking set to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, although the season-ending montage is devastating). Even more so than the first, Season 2 of The Wire feels like one 12 hour-long film… and a damn fine one at that.
Ziggy, man. Ransone does pretty well, actually, with the character’s arc, but often his overly broad and… just annoying brand of humor seems at odds with the more intelligent and thoughtful show around him.
Otherwise known the Davis McAlary effect.
Also, sometimes it’s hard to shake your “Cool… but what’s Omar up to?” feeling about the new cast and setting.
Season 2 of The Wire is a bit weaker than the spectacular first season, but… wait, did I just forget about Brother Mouzone?! Damn, Omar’s testimony is just classic. And that duck, man! Yeah… there’s no such thing as an even comparatively weak season of The Wire.
Btw, this is where you recognize Schreiber from. You’re welcome.