Watching The Wire: Season Two: Episode Nine: Stray Rounds

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"The world is a smaller place now."
-- The Greek

Teleplay by David Simon
Directed by Tim Van Patten

Dominic West as Officer Jimmy McNulty, Lance Reddick as Lieutenant Cedric Daniels, Sonja Sohn as Kima Greggs, Deirdre Lovejoy as assistant state's attorney Rhonda Pearlman, Wood Harris as Avon Barksdale, Andre Royo as Bubbles, John Doman as Colonel William Rawls, Frankie Faison as Acting Commissioner Ervin Burrell, Clarke Peters as Cool Lester Smooth Freamon, Amy Ryan as Beadie "Bea/Beadie" Russell and Chris Bauer as Frank Sobotka.

Seth Gilliam as Detective Ellis Carver, Domenick Lombardozzi as Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk, Jim True-Frost as Detective Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski, Robert Wisdom as Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin, James Ransone as Ziggy Sobotka, Pablo Schreiber as Nick Sobotka, Tom Mardirosian as Agent Koutris, Michael Potts as Brother Mouzone, Bill Raymond as The Greek, Lev Gorens as Eton Ben-Eleazer, Michael Hyatt as Brianna Barksdale, J.D. Williams as Preston "Boadie" Broadus, Tray Chaney as Malik "Poot" Carr, Robert F. Chew as Proposition Joe, Luray Cooper as Nat Coxson, Kelvin Davis as La La, Chris Ashworth as Sergei "Serge" Malatov, Al Brown as Major Stan Valchek, Doug Olear as Terrance "Fitz" Fitzhugh, Charley Scalies as Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa, Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman,Ted Feldman as George "Double G" Glekas, Bus Howard as Vernon "Ott" Mottley, Ed Norris as Ed Norris,Gloria Phillips as bereaved mother, Jay Landsman as Lieutenant Dennis Mello, Brook Yeaton as "White" Mike McArdle, De'Rodd Hearns as Puddin, Richard Burton as Shamrock, Jeffrey Pratt Gordon as Johnny "Fifty" Spamanto, Derren M. Fuentes as Lieutenant Torret, Gil Deeble as Hucklebuck, Gordana Rasovich as Ilona Petrovich, Daniel Ferro as Police Officer, Luke Montgomery III as young boy, Randall Boffman as Bill Anderson and Robert F. Colesberry makes his final appearance as Detective Ray Cole (He passed away in 2004).

The Summary:

Read about yo-yo guns, having the drug blues and a couple of deaths beyond the link...

The Recap:

Boadie surveys the streets of Baltimore as a customer arrives in a car, he wants some 'Bin Laden' and is a little confused when he's told they're selling 'WMD' called so because "it'll destruct yo' ass". But once it's explained that it's the same stuff, different name the guy pays up and drives around to pick up. Inside a nearby house a mother is getting her children ready for school, outside the window she sees Poot and the ground stash of drugs.

A short distance away the rival dealers Boadie and the boys ran off previously are arming up, getting ready to retaliate. Ahead of them a young lad on a bike warns Boadie's crew that they're coming up the alley. And as soon as they round the corner Boadie opens fire. In the house the mother runs upstairs and jumps into the bathtub, telling her son to stay on the floor downstairs. Outside the gun fight continues until broken up by the sound of police sirens. The mother discovers that her son has been caught with a stray bullet and been killed. She screams.

Cue the credits...

The Sobotka Detail are in their office listening to some of the wiretap tapes, it's clear that the warehouse has switched things up and turned legitimate, which indicates that the Detail has been compromised - McNulty surmises (correctly) that it was the second can and the port police stopping it which spooked them. Bunk explains to Bea why they switched the can and she curses herself for thinking of the stop. Lester notes that they're not completely aware of what's going on, because if they did know the full truth they would have left by now instead of waiting the Detail out.

Herc and Carver are watching the warehouse, meanwhile across Baltimore Rawls is at the scene of the shoot out, District Commander Howard 'Bunny' Colvin (Bunny from now on) arrives, but a little late in Rawls's opinion. Bunny was at Washington DC and had to hurry back. They talk about the circumstances of the shooting a little and then Bunny calls it all 'f**cking pointless.' Rawls misinterprets that, assuming Bunny is talking about searching for the shooter, Bunny clarifies that he means the entire situation is pointless, the shoot out, the fighting over turf, the "war on drugs" all of it. Pointless.

Stringer and Boadie are talking about what happened, Stringer isn't too pleased with what happened and Boadie explains. Stringer wants to know who shot the boy and then gets angry because this situation means that the cops are going to be all over them and now they're going to have to time out and lay low. He then offers a little advice to Boadie, telling him that the lad needs to know when to flex on a situation. He then tells Boadie to call Shamrock and get the guns dumped in the harbour.

Boadie cleans the guns in the car, sticks them in a bag and dumps them out of the window over the bridge and into the river. They land on the deck of a boat instead. Oops.

Nearby Nick is talking with Vondras about the situation, Vondras tells him that Frank's right to be cautious and then they move on to talk about drugs. Vondras explains that Nicky's a little small time for them and hands him White Mike's number instead. Nicky remembers White Mike, he went to school with him - Vondras assures Nicky that Mike will be no problem now and then hands him a slip with containers on it, all clean, they are to be disappeared. They are to be taken to Newkirk street in order to test the water and see if they are stopped or not.Nicky leaves and Vondras talks a little about how he's confident that the police are not fully onto them.

In the streets the police are out in full force, breaking heads and arresting everyone, shooting a kid means the police have to provide a display of force. One guy protests "I'm clean", the cop retorts "What are you doing in the Pit then?", the guy replies "Saying no to drugs" and the cop retorts again "Don't just say no to drugs motherf**ker. Say 'No, Thank you.'". I love the dialog in The Wire. I really do.

At Prop Joe's place Stringer is talking with Joe about the situation and the plans. It seems that Stringer is considering cooperating despite Avon's unwillingness to do so. Joe tells him about one Charlie Sollers, a heroin dealer who was massive in his time but did it all without ever being known. The guy sold dope, no reputation or anything, and as such the Police never even got a whiff of him. That's how Joe prefers to do business, and Stringer seems inclined to agree. They strike a deal, Stringer giving up half of his towers to Joe in exchange for a connect to the boat. The question is if Avon will accept it, Stringer thinks he will.

Ziggy is out with Steve, they're looking at a parking lot filled with cars. It seems Steven has an idea, or at least Ziggy has one. A bit later in Dolores's, Ziggy talks with Johnny 50 about his idea. Then he banters a little with the other patrons over Steve's preferred drinking habits before New Charles strides hops back in, he's up on his feet foot again after his accident last episode. He asks about the duck and then the stevedores mull over a new name for New Charles. 'Stump', 'Peg', 'New Peggy' and 'Tilt' are all suggested and New Charles (who receives some money from Dolores) settles on Ziggy's suggestion of Tilt.

McNulty is on a pay phone, calling about the girls, he denies any involvement with the police and refuses to tell her where she lives. She smells a rat as his story is terrible, and she hangs up on him. Kima notes how much he sucked at it.

Outside Dolores's Nicky runs into Ziggy, who takes a pop at him before staggering off with Steve's lead in his hand. Inside the bar is quiet and when Nicky asks what's up with Ziggy Dolores refuses to answer. Nicky notices that poor Steve is dead on the pool table. (Just in case you've forgotten, Steve is the duck, not a man).

The Detail is back talking about the coded conversations they've heard on the wiretap. They come to realise that the warehouse is shipping coke and heroin, and in serious quantities. Kilos, no ounces. Daniels identifies that this means they're on the main stem. Ronnie lets them know that they can set up a wiretap anywhere they need to at this point and Daniels notes that all they need is a new number to listen to. Daniels lays out the plan for the coming days and the team breaks up. Lester hangs back to talk with Greggs and McNulty about their angle on the girls and the prositution. Lester suggests that the further away McNulty sounds, the more believable it is. McNulty demonstrates an awful English accent - nicely sending up himself in a bit of self aware humour.

In the Diner, Vondras is talking with Eton about the chemicals that they have been getting. The Colombians are trying to offer half of what they owe (two hundred thousand instead of four hundred thousand) and Eton wants to know what The Greek will do about this. Vondras responds that The Greek will be smart.

Homicide is full of suspects at the moment. Landsman is less than impressed with this and talks with Cole and his partner about this. Boadie's name is mentioned and Landsman wishes to know why Boadie isn't here and being thorougly interrogated. Cole responds that the have cars waiting at Boadie's grandmothers already.

Ziggy is with Double G at the back of the electronics store, he's outlining his plan. Apparently he's planning to rip cars, he wants about fifteen thousand per car. Double G isn't keen on this because stolen cars are hard to shift. But Ziggy suggests that they consider shipping the cars out to Europe and butters up Double G a little.

In Daniel's office one James Cromwell walks in with Lester. Cromwell of Knightsbridge, Stepney and Mersey. Lester's suggestion has paid off, McNulty has a cover identity which might well work. It's gone as far as getting him a pick up from the shuttle despite his awful English accent. It's just a shame they're not back up on the wire when they tackle this; but as Daniels notes, with a little luck they could be. As they turn to leave Daniels muses about how odd it is that there are no files on Sergei/Boris and asks McNulty to talk with Special Agent Fitz about the database. McNulty admits he made a point of pissing off the guy because of what happened in the Barksdale case. Lester then tells McNulty to also look up George "Double G" at the same time.

Ziggy and Johnny 50 are looking at the cars. Ziggy has a plan of action in mind here.

In the Detail Bea notice a can on the Talco line disappear. They decide not to follow and instead contact Herc and Carver, telling them to see if it arrives and watch what happens. Needless to say Herc and Carver are a little bored.

McNulty meets with Fitzhugh at the FBI offices, the two of them settle old history and then move on. He hands over the pictures of Double G and "Boris" so Fitz looks them up. Fitz finds nothing until he checks deeper and then he gets an Agent Ernest Koutris and phones him. Kourtis answers on the other end, playing down Double G's circumstances, describing him as a small time criminal. After hanging up he then calls a second number, telling the person on the other end that they "need to talk".

At Pyramid Inc. the clean can arrives and is photographed by Herc and Carver. They are told to wait on it.

In the interview room Boadie is being talked to by Cole, they're trying to pull an angle on Boadie and get him to confess. But unlike Dee (if you recall the first season interview between D'Angelo, Bunk and McNulty) Boadie is as cool as a cucumber. At least until the bag containing the guns turns up, he cracks a little at this by reacting to it. But then Cole takes the guns out of the bag and claims to have his prints on one of them, Boadie responds after a moment with "Which one?" Cole hesitates and then points to one of the guns, Boadie's only response is to call for a lawyer.

The Greek is meeting with Vondras, Double G, Eton and others. It seems that someone has leaked that people have been looking into Double G's past (I wonder who leaked that?) and also that the clean cans are not being watched or followed (they are being watched in truth, but Herc and Carver are too well hidden to spot). The Greek decides that a couple more days of this and then they can go back into business. The Greek then starts to talk about the Colombians. He's looking at this in a pragmatic sense, the Columbians are seeking to screw him over on the money, but he has a friend he now owes a favour to, a friend who would be very interested in rounding up these Colombians. Eton's phone rings, it's Sergei. They talk about running another clean can and then bringing the La-Z-Boys back in (the drugs). The entire conversation is monitored by Bea and Bunk. They now have Eton's number and with an affidavit they'll be back on the trail.

Stringer is having the good from his deal with Prop Joe checked, it's raw and pure. So once the police calm down Prop Joe gets three of the towers and the Barksdales are back in business. Things are looking up for Stringer.

At the Detail's office they are putting the pieces together about the Greek's operation when McNulty returns. He hasn't found out much on Double G (Gleakas), and in truth the whole trip may have caused more damage than it helped. But he's not to know about that, not even Fitz is aware there may be a leak involved. But what little information he does have indicates that they move around. McNulty heads off to get ready for his "night out" and Ronnie heads out to get the affidavit.

Double G hands Ziggy the list of cars. It looks like they're in business together.

Stringer is at the funeral home talking to his Lieutenants about the situation. They've all screwed up with these guns and he's not impressed with it all. He tells Boadie to stay behind after dismissing them, Boadie didn't roll an inch in the interview room and displays some intelligence over this. Stringer shakes his hand, they're all good.

Ziggy is in a jewellers, he's trading in Steve's collar for some capital so he can afford the kit needed to start stealing those cars.

Nicky meets with White Mike over the reup. White Mike balks a little at the price, calls Sergei/Boris and then it's all good. He's also a little concerned because an immigrant looking type was dumped near his place dead. But Sergei assures him, if the body had hands and a face it wasn't them. Nicky and Mike conclude the deal.

Prez and Lester were on the wire while this conversation occurred on the phone. Lester gets up and walks past Ronnie, Kima, Bunk and Daniels who are presenting McNulty with his "man's purse". It's a place to hide the mike. McNulty is told the code phrase "spot on" and reminded how things go down. Lester is on the phone by this point, calling about bodies missing heads and hands.

The Greek is sat on the bench with Koutris, after a few moments he hands him a piece of paper and walks away.

Frank, Nat and Horse are celebrating, apparently money has been put aside in the budget and things are looking good for them. Frank asks Nat for another year in office to finish what he started. Nat doesn't agree. But they are interrupted by Agent Koutris walking in and asking for help, he hands a piece of paper to Frank.

"Cromwell" sings "An Enchanted Evening" before being picked up by the shuttle, the rest of the detail pick up and follow.

Koutris is at one of the cans, it's filled with paint pigments but he's been told it contains something else. Everyone watches while the can is scanned. Apparently there's nothing other than the barrels of pigment there. Frank has no idea what's going on (for once), as Koutris walks up to one of the barrels and picks up some pigment crystals.

Stringer meets with Brianna about the new deal with Prop Joe. Stringer needs Bri to break the news to Avon, she's not sure he'll listen to her anymore - she still feels it's Avon who's responsible for Dee's suicide. Of course Stringer knows the truth, it wasn't a suicide and Avon wasn't responsible. But he isn't going to admit to that. Stringer continues to point out how weak the Barksdale's position is and asks her again to try. She agrees.

"Cromwell" is in the brothel when the girls are paraded out in their lingere. He mulls a little over the choices before asking if it would be wrong to have two. Downstairs Daniels and the uniforms are getting ready to move.

Koutris is on the phone, he's annoyed that there is nothing but paint pigments here. But the voice on the other end tells him it is ther. Koutris then scratches some of the pigment and finds that it's white underneath. The blue pigmentation is just a surface screen.

"Cromwell" has made his choice (pretty good choices in fact) and is being led onto the bed by the two women, he's a little hesitant and once they start on him he has trouble remembering the code phrase. Eventually he remembers it and the police move in. Kima knocks on the door and they are actually let inside without any trouble. The cops start handcuffing the madam and the girls while Bunk and Kima head over to the room where "Cromwell" is. In true McNulty style he's balls deep inside a woman by the time they get there.

The news are reporting on Koutris's success, which is a big hit on the Colombian's business. That's what you get if you mess with The Greek.

Valchek watches this report with Burrell, Rawls, Ronnie and Daniels. Ronnie and Daniels are here to tell them how well they're doing and how close they are to getting the top players. They also mention the brothel, Burrell jokes that they should probably flush any client list they find. Rawls wants to know how close they are to the murders, Valchek on the other hands wants to know how Frank fits into this. He wants Sobotka, but Ronnie and Daniels hold firm, they're unwilling to charge Frank at this point. Valchek tries to rain the thing back at Frank, but Burrell pulls rank on him, telling him that the case goes where it goes. Valchek gets short at all of this, he's determined to do something and storms out.

Brianna talks with Stringer about Avon's thoughts on this. Avon isn't willing to budge, but he's sending the best muscle he can find. One Brother Mouzone. Working on retainer. Stringer seems concerned about this.

McNulty is writing up what happened at the brothel. Bunk is highly amused at McNulty's attempts to explain the situation he ended up in. But McNulty admits he can't lie about this despite the number of departmental regulations he broke. Ronnie reads what happened on his screen, her face pretty much sums it up.

Stringer meets with Prop Joe about Brother Mouzone, Joe's concerned about the arrival of Brother. Stringer says he can't move against Mouzone, but Prop Joe isn't willing to even consider it, Brother Mouzone it seems is exceptionally dangerous. Stringer tells him to move his guys into the towers and not worry about it.

Herc and Carver call in another truck, then Prez and Lester hear the phone call to Vondras. It's about the trucks and about the brothel. Prez suggests tapping that phone and Lester admits they might have probable cause now.

Bunny is looking at the streets. It's quiet out there today. He climbs into his car and drives off. Another car arrives, it has New York plates. A well dressed gentleman gets out and walks up to look at the towers. The Brother is here...

The Review:

I think the first thing to aknowledge here is that this is the last appearance of Detective Ray Cole who was played by Robert F. Colesberry, apart from acting he also produced The Wire and worked on many other projects, for more look here here. His presensce is still a part of The Wire's second season though because he directed the season finale. Still, this is the last time the plodding Ray Cole will semi-bungle his way through a case.

The title of the episode 'Stray Rounds' overtly references the bullet which caught the young boy at the start of the episode, wikipedia also mentions it references the rounds of drink which killed Steve the duck, but I'm also of the opinion it's referencing many other people in the show who are being "hit" with things that were not initially aimed at them. Much like the collateral damage reference from earlier in the season.

You have to respect just how much Boadie has grown over this season, he's really learnt from Dee and has become the last man standing from the famous 'chess game' scene in the first season. Wallace was the first to fall if you remember, Dee died a few episodes ago, but the Boadie still abides. It was great to watch him get the better of Cole in that interrogation room, while he gave one thing away (that he recognised the bag) he recovered it so well that he got out of there without a charge on him. I suspect it was Levy who acted as his lawyer - that man has his fingers in all the dirty Baltimore pies.

There are a couple of notable first appearances in this episode as well as Cole's final appearance. Howard 'Bunny' Colvin is one of them, I completely forgot that he was introduced in this season and of course Brother Mouzone is the other one - I knew he made an appearance, but I forgot how late on it was. Both of these guys are worth keeping an eye on, they are fantastic characters. Even if Mouzone is a little out of style for the show at times (his character style is a lot like Omar as you'll come to realise over time).

Overall Stray Rounds is what I'd call a solid episode, it introduces some key elements while also revealing just how entrenched The Greek's organisation is. The Detail have a hard job if they want to even get Vondras, and they don't have the slightest sniff of The Greek himself at this point. It shows you how well organised they are when you realise that Double G and Sergei, who are effectively lieutenants, have almost no criminal record.


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