Watching The Wire: Season Two: Episode Eleven: "Bad Dreams"

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"I need to get clean"
-- Sobotka

Teleplay by George P. Pelecanos
Directed by Ernest Dickenson

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, 2. Domenick Lombardozzi as Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk, James Ransone as Ziggy Sobotka, Pablo Schreiber as Nick Sobotka, Michael Potts as Brother Mouzone, Michael K. Williams as Omar Little, Chris Ashworth as Sergei "Serge" Malatov, Al Brown as Major Stanislaus Valchek, Bill Raymond as The Greek, Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman, Luray Cooper as Nat Coxson, Robert Hogan as Louis Sobotka, Bus Howard as Ott, Doug Lory as Big Roy, Richard Pelzman as Little Big Roy, Benay Berger as FBI Supervisor Amanda Reese, Toni Lewis as Assistant United States Attorney Nadiva Bryant, Kevin McKelvy as FBI Agent, Doug Olear as FBI Agent Terrance "Fitz" Fitzhugh, William L. Thomas as FBI Agent, Kelli R. Brown as Kimmy, Edwina Findley as Tosha Mitchell, Tom Mardirosian as Agent Koutris, Gordana Rashovich as Ilona Petrovich, Brook Yeaton as "White" Mike McArdle, Keith Flippen as Bruce DiBiago, Aphrodite Georgelakos as Unknown,. Clifton Gross as stevedore, Steve Lukiewski as stevedore, Jackie Sawiris as Unknown, Paul G. Sepczynski as stevedore, Derren M. Fuentes as QRT Leader Torret, Tommy Hahn as FBI Special Agent Salmond, Merritt Wever as Prissy, Lev Gorens as Eton Ben-Eleazer, Charley Scalies as Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa, Jeffrey Pratt Gordon as Johnny "Fifty" Spamanato, Elisabeth Noone as Joan Sobotka, DeAndre McCullough as Lamar and David Simon as David Simon - Reporter

The Summary:

Nick is asleep, at 6am his parents house is opened with a traditional Baltimore alarm clock – the door being busted down and officers in protective gear bursting in while yelling ‘Freeze’. At Pyramid Inc. the Detail go to work, while Bunk and Freamon head up the team which busts into GG’s place. The search of Pyramid is fruitless, it’s been cleaned out and the only hint of any wrong doing left is some heroin powder near the drain (which featured at the end of the last episode if you recall). GG’s place is likewise cleaned out and Freamon looks exasperated. Bunk points to the blood stain on the floor.

The homes of the various ‘persons of interest’ are hit. Carver and Herc find Nick’s stash of cash and his vials. They present this to Nick’s father, mother and Aimee, but Nick is not present – he’s with another woman (after his night of drinking over Ziggy) and as such he’s escaped the BPD. For now.

Cue the credits…

Frank walks out of his home, oblivious to the events which are going on elsewhere, he picks up his papers and notes that Ziggy’s shooting is featured on one of them. As he walks off down the street the feebees note ‘that target 27 is on the move.’ Valchek is in the back with them.

Back at the office Daniels is explaining to Bea why they haven’t picked up Spiros, the message which triggered this flurry of activity (“Shut down”) indicates to them that Spiros is not the boss man, they were mistaken, so they’re leaving him out on the streets in the hope it leads to the real boss, a man we know is called The Greek, but the Detail have never even seen. Bunk and Freamon come in to reveal that Double G is going to dodge his warrant thanks to the actions of one Chester Karol Sobotka, that’s Ziggy to you, me and everyone else on the docks. It seems the homicide department failed to pass on the information, naughty Landsman. Bea adds a note to GG’s photo – deceased.

Outside an angry Daniels walks past Herc, Carver and McNulty – he ignores them as he gets into the car. McNulty brings the duo (and us) back up to speed, Eton, Sergei/Boris and the madam are caught and the feds are waiting on Sobotka.

Sobotka himself is in the office, attempting to sort out a criminal lawyer for Ziggy. The FBI hit the dock workers offices, a puffed up Valchek strutting in front of them. Frank and Horse are handcuffed, the feebees look out of the windows, waiting.

Nick arrives back home, his mother is too upset to talk, downstairs his father is putting things back in order after the search, also almost unable to talk – “It’s gone, and the money too…” Nick is then told to go to the police with his father.

Sobotka is finally taken out by Valchek, to a horde of reporters and photographers, David Simon is amongst them – he’s the one asking “Is it just you, or is it the whole union.”

Daniels tears (justifiably) into Landsman over the GG debacle, he asks what Landsman took from the scene, Landsman realises that all the other evidence, all the files, they are gone and he had a chance to call the Detail and ensure that the all that ended up as evidence. It’s gone now. Daniels is mollified somewhat by Landsman’s shamed expression and they talk about Ziggy.

In the various interview rooms Herc and Carver (our dynamic duo) interview Eton, Bea and Kima handle the madam and Fitz and McNulty deal with Sergei/Boris. For the most part they’re getting nowhere, but McNulty’s decision to call Sergei “Boris” gets some small reaction from him.

Frank is also being interviewed, but he’s also being offered a deal – if he comes clean he can help himself and his union. The mention of the union is enough to get a reaction from Frank, one of derision about said ‘help’. White Mike is interviewed by Kima and McNulty, featuring the ‘no hands, no face’ conversation. White Mike tries to play dumb, but Kima nails him with the evidence. He sits there quietly.

Frank is with his lawyer, talking about his bail healing.

White Mike has broken somewhat, he’s willing to pass on information, at least the details of Sergei and Eton. Kima is sent out for some food.

Omar arrives for a meet with Stringer; he’s brought friends, big friends. But Stringer isn’t here to cause trouble – directly. Stringer goes as far as to say as much, but Omar makes it clear that he’s still hurting over Brandon. Stringer admits that he put out the hit, but didn’t do the deed. Stringer claims that another man did all the torture, a man seeking to build his rep, a man after Omar. Stringer puts Brother Mauzone into Omar’s sights, claiming that Mouzone is responsible for all the torture which happened to Brandon. Omar agrees to this.

Frank heads out of the lobby, he wants to ‘get clean’ and see his son.

White Mike continues to spill the beans on what he knows, how Mau Mau Willis was killed. Kima wants to know who Eton and Sergei report to, but White Mike doesn’t know and never did want to know.

Frank meets with Ziggy who looks beaten. Frank rails against what the cops did to him, assuming that the police beat Ziggy, but Ziggy coolly admits that it isn’t the cops, indicating with a flick of his head that it’s the other inmates who are responsible. Frank asks Siggy what happened, and Ziggy admits he was tired of being seen as a clown. How Frank didn’t pay much attention to him. Frank tells Ziggy how he worked all for Ziggy. Frank tells him he’s a Sobotka, Ziggy tells him he’s ‘fucked’ and leaves, walking back into the detention area while Frank watches.

Later that evening the Detail talk about the progress, only White Mike is talking and he doesn’t have much. The case peters out when they head towards Spiros, the plan is to stay on him, Daniels asks if Fitz can help out on surveillance, but Fitz admits that the Feds are done with this case now they have what they want – which was the Union. So it’s up to the Detail to do the work.

Frank and his brother sit down to talk about what’s happened, they’ve both got sons who’ve broken the law severely, Frank attempts to brush things off but Louis is more concerned, he has a receipt which indicates heroin. Frank is a little thrown by this, admits he knew that Ziggy and Nick were stealing, but nothing more, needless to say Louis is angry about this, he sees that Frank let them wander down that road by giving them the first step. Louis leaves the room.

At a motel, Lemar is waiting outside Mouzone’s room; he knocks the door and heads inside. Mouzone wants his Harpers, and Lemar heads out to get it. Omar watches this from the shadows.

The next day Frank arrives in his car, walking past the union as he enters the offices, he’s greeted with silence. He takes Little Big Roy’s card from him, he plans to work the ships for Roy, allowing the man to sit on a bar stool but still get paid. After checking in he leaves.

Bunk and McNulty are on Vondras, the man has dressed up in a suit but still wears his flat cap. McNulty speculates on the suit, but he’s wrong, Bunk corrects him as the Bunk man knows his suits. Vondras is on the move and they follow.

Frank works the dock, unloading a container.

Meanwhile. Vondras pulls up into a car park, still tailed by Bunk and McNulty. McNulty struggles with the camera film, inside Vondras gets out of his car with Bea and Kima nearby. Bea is going to be following Vondras, Kima tells her to use reflections and the like to keep an eye on Vondras rather than watching him directly. She begins to tail, using reflections and the like to keep her distance.

Eventually Vondras heads into a hotel and takes the lift, Beadie hesitates before heading in and riding the lift with him. She pretends to search through her purse until Vondras gets off at the fifth floor; heading in the opposite direction for a while then doubling back and watching Vondras enter a hotel room. Room 520 to be precise.

Frank continues to unload containers.

Vondras leaves with a man in a blue suit, McNulty snaps a picture of this, catching another man in the picture, a elderly man in a hat lighting a cigarette who then walks on. Bunk and McNulty assume that the man in the blue suit is the important one and pay no attention to the unassuming gentleman who departs.

Vondras returns to the car park, and leaves with the blue suited man in a different car. No-one sees them leave. Kima drives out of the car park as The Greek walks past her. She doesn’t even look in his direction.

Frank continues to work out on the docks.

Back at the Detail’s offices Ronnie, Bunk, Bea, McNulty and Kima talk about what they found out. The room was registered to a Stephen Rados from northwest DC. The plan is to now run up the paper trail. White Mike is going to be offered witness protection and a long probation, Frank is out with no charges on him apparently. Bea wants to know what happens if she comes at Frank straight and talks with him.

Frank meets with Bruce, it turns out the Grain Pier is dead thanks to Frank’s profile in the papers. They’re all pulling out because they can’t afford to be caught about the money they’ve taken. Frank tells Bruce something as he’s leaving, that the problem with America is that they used to build thinks, make things, but now they just take from others instead, which is the overriding theme of the second season, the collapse of the American blue collar way of life.

Vondras is with The Greek at a restaurant, he is troubled and worried, unable to eat. But The Greek is quite calm. The Greek tells him that there’s only one thing to do now, silence Frank and his nephew permanently – as apart from Eton, the madam and Sergei – they are the only people who can identify The Greek and Vondras. Vondras mentions that Ziggy is the lever which can be used to move these two, if the witness happens to change his statement and refuse to testify then Ziggy walks. Vondras likes both Nicky and Frank you see, especially Nicky – as The Greek notes here.

The dynamic duo are camping outside Nicky’s place, Nicky still hasn’t returned and they’re getting tired of waiting.

At Mouzone’s motel a car arrives with Tasha and Kimmy all dolled up. They walk up to Lemar and distract him before he’s hit from behind by Omar who then knocks Mouzone’s door with the safe code. Mouzone opens the door and is shot in the gut by Omar. Omar stands over him and the two men talk, Omar tells Mouzone why he shot him and why he’s going to kill him in a moment. Omar talks about Brandon and what happened to the boy last year, Mouzone tells him that he’s wrong and then tells him to ‘do what he will’. After a moment Omar un-cocks his gun, he’s decided not to shoot him. The two talk a little shop about the bullet before Omar calls in the shooting and leaves. Mouzone will live.

Frank is in his office when the door knocks, in comes Bea. Frank feels betrayed by her; she wants him to talk with him. They talk about why Frank did what he did, why he let this happen. Bea tells him to come in and come clean, the pair both get emotional – they have a long friendship. She leaves him a card and walks out, telling him he’s better than this.

At Vondras’s place Bunk and McNulty conclude Vondras may have ditched the Benz.

Nicky meets with Vondras, Vondras is here to make things right for Nicky and Ziggy. Vondras explains, handing him a passport with Vondras on it under a new name. Nicky asks what can be done, Vondras tells him ‘We ask for only loyalty.” Then they talk about hockey.

Frank has headed into the Detail’s office, he’s looking to protect Ziggy and Nicky. A decent prison for Ziggy and probation for Nicky is offered. Frank then tells them he’s willing to give them everything, the girls, The Greek, everything except the Union. Ronnie then tells him that they need a Lawyer before they go any further.

Before he leaves Freamon asks why Frank stopped using the phone, Frank tells them he knew it was flagged.


The Greek, Blue Suit and Vondras at the restaurant. Horse at the Office. Frank on the Phone with Nicky. Vondras tears up his passport. The Greek hands him a new one. Nicky smokes. Fitz faxes the details of Frank’s deal. Frank meets with Nicky.

Nicky tells Frank that the Greeks want to talk with him under the bridge. Frank rages at Nicky over the heroin. But he blames himself for all this. Blames himself for the loss of the Grain Pier, Frank refuses to meet with the Greeks, he tells them he’ll talk to the police instead. But then Nicky tells Frank that the Greeks can make Ziggy’s charges fall through - in exchange for loyalty. Frank kicks the fence in frustration before agreeing to this. Frank tells Nicky to stay, that he’ll talk to the Greeks himself, alone.

The Greeks arrive for the meeting. The fax travels in the FBI office. Sobotka heads towards the meet. The fax arrives with a clerk and is entered onto the system as Frank arrives. An email of the details is sent, Agent Koutris sees it, especially the name “The Greek” and picks up the phone. As Frank walks up to the Greeks, The Greek’s phone rings and then the man says to Vondras “Your way, it won’t work”…

The Review:

Bad Dreams is just an amazing episode, like the previous season's penultimate episode "Cleaning Up" a huge amount happens in this episode, events for the storyline and emotional moments abound. In particular it's the way the episode builds up towards a climax which is both surprising and inevitable, a lot of the acting weight lands heavily on Chris Bauer's performance as Frank and he's more than equal to the task. I'm often surprised I don't see Chris in more things as his portayal of Frank over this season endeared me to his character immensely, Frank is one of my favourite characters in the show and probably my favourite one in season two.

It's also great to see all the pieces fall in place for the various plot elements, especially Koutris who has a some what sudden appearance which takes time to pay off. He was introduced to show how large and deep the Greek organisation runs and also to show why they're so well informed. If they've got people willing to pass on information where haven't they? A few favours here and there and in return they get information. I'm sure to Koutris it doesn't feel like he's doing that much wrong, he probably looks on the relationship like one with a C.I. but the consequences are massive. Then again, considering the scale of things it's also possible that Koutris is exceptionally corrupt or The Greek has something else over his head which caused the original corruption. "We don't talk about this, and in exchange you give us a little information." It's hard to tell from what little information we have.

Naturally I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that Frank is heading into a bad meeting now, if only the FBI hadn't been involved. But that's one of the things which I've noticed about The Wire, the FBI are not a great organisation in it, they're like a bunch of cowboy builders - swooping in to complete the job as fast as possible and leaving problems behind when they go. The FBI may have great resources, but if they hadn't been brought into this case by Valchek then the Greek and all of his people wouldn't have been tipped off and bailed out. One small pebble, one huge outcome - the butterfly effect in action!


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