It’s been a while since I reviewed season one. Hopefully it won’t be another 3 months before I get to the stunning season three. Before that, let’s look at season two. After the fascinating, but slow burn of the first season, The Wire returns with the main plot branching out from the previous season’s drug focus, sidelining many of the previous main characters. Changes like this in a proven formula could be detrimental to a show longer in the tooth. Here, there hasn’t been enough cementing their focal point, freeing them to do whatever they want.
Working the docks in Baltimore is an important job, or at least it was. Though unionized, there isn’t enough work to go around, forcing many to turn to crime. Frank Sobotka is the head of the union, and struggles to bring business back to the docks. He is part of a smuggling ring, sneaking all manner of illicit things through the port. In one crate, 13 girls were found dead, suffocated. This brings a large investigation to the docks.
The detail that brought down Avon Barksdale is brought in to investigate Sobotka. While they were arguably the main characters of the previous season, here they feel sidelined. This isn’t detrimental considering the material replacing them is just as interesting, it just seems like an odd stylistic choice. Another main character is Sobotka’s son, Ziggy. He represents the younger generation of dock works, forced to turn to crime to make ends meat. He and his cousin get into trouble throughout the season, culminating with Ziggy murdering a fence out of anger.
Showing how far the smuggling ring extends, we see a mysterious backer known only as The Greek towards the end of a season. Due to corruption in the FBI, who was brought in to investigate Sobotka, he learns of his potential arrest, and flees. He is never identified and evades capture. I’m not sure if he’s seen or heard from again.
While the docks story comprises the bulk of the season, Avon and crew are still seen throughout, though most are in jail. While Avon’s been imprisoned, Stringer Bell as gained more power, and moves to expand their trade with more illegal actives. He and Avon seemed to move and act as one in the previous season, but here we see how that breaks down, with each heading in their own direction. While there are a few interesting scenes, everything here is prelude to season three.
This was an enjoyable season, telling a good story, though the entire experiences feels like a side story. The third season was amazing, but many different pieces needed to be in place before they could tell that story. It seems like the writers were spinning their gears here, shifting the focus from drugs to smuggling, buying themselves time to set everything up going forward. Fun, and definitely worth watching, but there’s an inclination that it lacks purpose.
Enjoy season 2? Feel like the writers were just buying time? Comment below!
Amy Ryan is adorable.