After a critically-acclaimed and groundbreaking first season, HBO’s The Wire returned to TV, this time focusing on the ports and harbors of Baltimore.
After the Barksdale drug and murder case is forcibly closed by Acting Commissioner Burrell and Colonel Rawls at the close of season one, the detail goes their separate ways. McNulty is demoted to harbor patrol, Greggs is assigned to desk duty, Daniels is sent to the police archives downtown, and Prez is re-assigned to the suburbs. Carver, who has been promoted to sergeant, is sent to the southeastern district, commanded by Major Stan Valchek.
Valchek has a suspicion towards Frank Sobotka, the president of the local dockworkers’ union, who appears to have more money than he should. The docks are in disrepair and work is scarce, but Sobotka continues to thrive financially. After a dozen dead women are found in a container on the docks, Valchek assembles a detail consisting of Detectives Bunk Moreland and Lester Freamon, as well as the officer who discovered the dead girls, Beadie Russell. The case begins as a straight-forward drug and murder investigation, but spins out from there as more and more is discovered through subpoenaed wiretaps.
Back on the street, Stringer Bell continues to run the Barksdale empire while Avon and D’Angelo face prison sentences. Enforcers Bodie and Poot remain on the corners, while hitman and stickup artist Omar continues to rob the dealers and hoppers throughout the city. Proposition Joe, a more soft-spoken, less violent drug lord, runs the east side ring with help from his nephew Cheese.
Over the course of the season, Frank Sobotka’s nephew Nick looks for more income due to the lack of work on the docks. Nick’s cousin and Frank’s son, Ziggy, is an immature, troubled dockworker who joins Nick in a search for work. They get entangled in a web of drugs and stolen money on the east side while trying to scrape together enough cash to get by.
Frank, looking to help his union get consistent work, joins forces with a group of international criminals in an attempt to reinvigorate business. The criminals are led by a mysterious figure known as “the Greek”, who brings drugs, money, women, and stolen goods into the port via his henchmen Glekas, Spiros, Eton, and Sergei.
If you enjoyed season one of The Wire, season two won’t disappoint. I would suggest that you watch the seasons in chronological order, otherwise it might be quite confusing at times. It’s different in certain parts, due to more of a focus on blue-collar, primarily white dockworkers, which is in line with the demographics of Southeast Baltimore (a primarily white section of a majority black city). However, the new characters, especially the Greek and his organization, are very intriguing. They have the same calculating business sense that Stringer Bell does, but in a different context of criminal activity.
As we’ve grown to expect from The Wire, the second season contains unexpected twists, outstanding acting and writing, an all-too-real sense of inner-city issues, and a number of new characters thrown into the urban environment of Baltimore. I was slightly disappointed with some parts of the plot; for example, drug addict/confidential informant Bubbles is rarely featured in this season – a shame considering Andre Royo’s acting talent.
But the appeal of the new plotline and the characters that come with it far overshadows any minor complaints about season two. It’s not as much of a “hood story” as season one was, but it will still satisfy fans looking for a continuation of themes from the highly-praised first season. I feel like season two improves upon repeat viewing, once you take the time to analyze it critically. David Simon has handcrafted a wonderful series – one that is second to none among crime dramas.
Created by David Simon
Executive Producers — David Simon and Robert F. Colesberry
Co-Executive Producer — Nina Kostroff Noble
Co-Producer — Karen L. Thorson
Story Editors — Ed Burns and George Pelecanos
Starring Dominic West, John Doman, Frankie Faison, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, Deirdre Lovejoy, Wood Harris, Wendell Pierce, Idris Elba, Amy Ryan, Larry Gilliard Jr., Andre Royo, Chris Bauer, Domenick Lombardozzi, Seth Gilliam, James Ransone, Pablo Schreiber, Jim True-Frost, Michael Kenneth Williams, Tray Chaney, Robert F. Chew, Delaney Williams, J.D. Williams, Al Brown, Paul Ben-Victor, Bill Raymond, Lev Goren, Leo Fitzpatrick, Method Man, Ted Feldman, Chris Ashworth, Charley Scalies, Michael Potts
“The best show on television. Period.” —The San Francisco Chronicle