Watching the Wire: Season Two: Episode Ten: "Storm Warnings"

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“It pays to go with the union card every time”
– Ziggy

Teleplay by Ed Burns Directed by Rob Bailey

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, James Ransone as Ziggy Sobotka, Pablo Schreiber as Nick Sobotka, Method Man as Melvin "Cheese" Wagstaff, Melanie Nicholls-King as Cheryl, Michael Potts as Brother Mouzone, Bill Raymond as The Greek, Al Brown as Major Stanislaus Valchek, Robert F. Chew as Proposition Joe, Merritt Wever as Prissy, Benay Berger as FBI Supervisor Amanda Reese, Toni Lewis as Assistant United States Attorney Nadiva Bryant, Tom Mardirosian as Agent Koutris, Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman,. Ted Feldman as George "Double G" Glekas, Jeffrey Fugitt as Officer Claude Diggins, Lev Gorens as Eton Ben-Eleazer, Charley Scalies as Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa, J.D. Williams as Preston "Boadie" Broadus, Chris Ashworth as Sergei "Serge" Malatov, Kevin McKelvy as FBI Agent, S. Robert Morgan as Butchie, Doug Olear as FBI Special Agent Terrance "Fitz" Fitzhugh, William L. Thomas as FBI Agent, Michael K. Williams as Omar Little, De'Rodd Hearns as Puddin, Jeffrey Pratt Gordon as Johnny "Fifty" Spamanto, Richard Burton as Shaun "Shamrock" McGinty, DeAndre McCullough as Lamar, Bus Howard as Ott, Tommy Hahn as FBI Special Agent Salmond, Wes Johnson as Security Supervisor and Kristin Proctor as Aimee
The Summary:

Read about drains, empty diners and depressing text messages beyond the link…

[Note: This is going up without most of the pictures at the moment. Hopefully I'll add a few in later on, but I don't have the time right now.]

The Recap:

Prez is in the Detail’s office, he puts on some coffee, presses play on tape player, which starts playing Johnny Cash’s “I walk the line” and then looks at the information board for their case – triggering a montage showing the various GPS units installed on and information gathered about key members they’re targeting. At this moment they’re nowhere near The Greek or Vondras, but they do have extensive information on Sobotka, Cheese, Prop Joe, Sergei and Double G amongst others.

As Prez himself says looking at the board “Fucking A”. It’s on now, someone cue the credits…

Boadie’s pleased with business down at the towers, the new stuff is just flying out of the stash and into the warm veins of the addicts faster than anything they’ve had before. Stringer arrives with Cheese and some others, Stringer tells Boadie that the Eastside now have the towers 221, 735 and Saratoga. They’ve been surrendered over to the Eastside and no-one is to dispute this. Boadie voices his dissent and Cheese postures at him a bit, Boadie heads over to talk with Stringer and the man explains that the Eastside are responsible for the product. So they stay.

The Detail are talking about how they’re going to move on the individual they know as ‘The Boss Man’ (who we know is Vondras and actually not the top man). They’re after his phone right now, planning to tap it, but there is a chance he’ll be too cautious and switch up. McNulty (and Lester of course) offer an alternative solution; they have GPS tracking on Eton, Ivona and GG. By putting up seven days of travel for each on the computer and tracking the locations where they’ve stopped for a while. One is the diner on South Clinton, which is genuinely The Greek’s headquarters and the other is a currently unknown location on the western shore of Fort Howard (past Edgemere). The plan is to get on these locations and photograph the boss man. McNulty and Bunk are put out on Fort Howard and the Detail rolls out, leaving Prez behind with the GPS computer.

In Sobotka’s Office Frank walks in with a handful of fliers, it looks like he’s trying for re-election and Ott isn’t impressed with this. Sobotka sticks one up on the notice board after he and Ott share words. Ott storms out of the office, leaving just Horse and Frank in there. Horse is the only person apart from Frank who knows the truth of what’s going on at the docks, if Ott gets the position as Union representative then there may be trouble with The Greek.

Valchek is meeting with some FBI agents about Sobotka, he’s looking to get the entire thing rolled up quickly, Valchek isn’t interested in the big picture, he wants revenge on Sobotka for the humiliation he felt over that stained glass window. He also asks the Feds to keep an eye out for his surveillance van, looking to push them a little for this favour and thus avoiding further loss of face. Valchek’s all about his pride and Sobotka’s really dented it.

Boadie and his boys aren’t happy about the new situation, but there isn’t much they can do about it. Boadie spots Bubbles buying from one of the Eastside crew and heads over with a little ‘patter’ and then he undercuts the Eastside prices. Cheese is amused by this turn of events and looking for a little friendly competition.

Herc and Carver are once again lugging things around, this time it’s for Prez and Lester, Herc offers to help set it up but is dismissed by Cool Lester Smooth. They’re feeling a little unloved as they leave the office, passing and meeting with the FBI agents who are heading in to talk with Daniels. Who looks less than impressed when the two men walk through his office door.

In Butchies a couple of his clients are talking about the difference between East and Westside in Baltimore. For Butchie the difference is defined by Pee-Wee Matthews who went up to New York and got in with “them Italians” (The Mafia) in order to get the connect. As such things were run as a business, not with all the bodies which get dropped in modern times. Butchie’s dog starts barking, it’s Omar Little. They chat a smidge and then Omar hands over some money in a bag, a little for ‘his people’ and a little for Butchie. Butch suggests that maybe it’s time Omar considered retiring, Omar isn’t ready for that.

Ziggy is at the car park, he’s ripping the cars in traditional Ziggy fashion, racing about in one of them with the stereo on loud. Johnny 50 is a little concerned, but they get the job done. It turns out that the cars are being loaded into cans, and the hole in the fence is to make it look like an outside job.

Nicky’s lovely misses Aimee is taking out the laundry when she notices a stash of cash in the roof space.

Kima arrives home, Cheryl meets her. They’re still fighting a little about Kima’s work interfering with Cheryl’s pregnancy. Kima sits down on the sofa and they relax together, Cheryl has Kima feel her stomach as the baby is kicking. Kima isn’t really feeling connected to it though.

Aimee is having a talk with Nicky about the money – Nicky tells her that he got it from the Greek guy at the warehouse, but she doesn’t buy his story. He then tells her he was saving for the her and the new apartment and he hands the money to her. She’s still upset and refuses, so he walks to another room.

Cheese is chatting with two of his boys when they meet one sharply dressed gentleman with an associate, the very same gentleman we saw at the end of the previous episode, the man from New York, the one even Stringer and Joe are afraid to have killed. Brother Mouzone himself. Cheese mocks him a little. Mouzone tells Cheese that he’s here to protect Avon’s interests. Bubbles watches as Mouzone insists that Cheese leaves and goes back to Eastside. Cheese attempts to talk to Mouzone – trying to distract him before swinging, but when he goes for the man Mouzone produces a gun and shoots Cheese in the shoulder with rat shot. Mouzone then goes all Dirty Harry on Cheese and drives them off. Politely.

Daniels and Ronnie are talking with the DA about where to proceed in the case, the focus is on waterfront corruption, America seeking to solidify its borders in the wake of 9/11. Daniels wants to push for the whole case, but the main target must be the Union.

Prop Joe is talking with his nephew Cheese. Cheese is keen to get back and shoot Mouzone, but Prop Joe explains just how dangerous Mouzone is. Cheese suggests a bounty, but Joe knows that any bounty will just have Mouzone coming straight at the person who posted it and that’s effectively suicide. But there is one boy who could do it, but he won’t take contract money. Joe reaches for the phone.

The special agents including Fitz arrive, Lester and Bunk stand up and put on a big show, acting like a pair of cowboys from a western. Needless to say, everyone’s amused.

At GG’s storeroom he’s looking for some goods when Ziggy arrives. Everything went smoothly and Ziggy is looking to hand over the bill of ladening and get paid. GG refuses to finish the deal here. They walk into his office to talk where GG asks how he can be sure Ziggy isn’t trying to pull a fast one. Ziggy reminds GG that he could have taken some pictures of the cars, except “someone” broke it by throwing it on the floor after Ziggy had a ‘kodak moment’. Ziggy even has one of the cars outside, GG is a little upset about this but hands Ziggy an envelop of money. Ziggy counts the money, it’s half of what he was promised and he gets angry over this. He pushes GG too far and the man beats him before stuffing the envelop in his pocket and kicking him out of the store. Ziggy sits in the car outside, raging.

He then grabs a gun out of the glove compartment, heads back inside, shoots one of the workers, clips GG, shoots him in the back several times and finally shoots him dead (in the face). He throws the money down at the still alive shop worker and staggers outside, sitting in the car. Almost broken with the realisation of what he’s done he puts on the radio, lights a cigarette and waits for the cops to arrive. He’s not only killed one man and injured another, but he’s also screwed the Detail and they don’t even realise it yet.

Bunk in a life preserver! It seems that the Bunk doesn’t sail well and isn’t too happy about the cover of a fishing trip. Until he gets a rod in his hand and then he’s completely comfortable.

At Butchie’s Prop Joe is talking with Butch, he tells the man that Stringer Bell is looking to make things right between Omar and himself. If you recall Stringer and Omar have a fair history between them, Omar’s robbing of Stringer’s business and Stringer having Brandon abducted, tortured, killed and dumped (and setting Omar’s van on fire to boot). But Butch doesn’t feel that this is right, the Barksdales aren’t to be trusted. It looks like Joe’s either playing the inbetweener for Omar/Stringer again, or that he’s got an angle to play.

Landsman has Ziggy in the interrogation room, he’s rather pleasant and jovial here, giving Ziggy his statement to sign and even lighting a cigarette for him. Landsman is of course quite content here because he’s got a slam dunk murder with the suspect confessing. Good for stats. Ziggy asks if he could change something in the statement. He wants the word ‘said’ in the statement where GG was asking not to be shot to be changed to ‘begged’. Ziggy’s clearly broken up over what’s going to happen to him and in shock over what’s happened. But he’s not really remorseful about GG.

Carver and Herc change over with one of the Special Agents, apparently things are quiet.

Bunk is enjoying himself out on the boat now, he’s removed the life preserver and broken out one of his cigars.

Kima and Bea are talking about motherhood, at least Bea is telling Kima what it’s like to be a mother and a police officer. Bea’s not as sold and determined on the job as Kima is, she’d be able to back off and put the kids first. But Kima certainly wouldn’t.

Ziggy is cuffed and lead out of the interrogation room, Landsman asks him if he wants to make a phone call. But unless there’s a chance Ziggy could get out on bail he’s not interested. He can’t.

The Feds are now working with the Detail, they have a far longer reach and are even looking to track cans in LeHarve. The Diner hasn’t resulted in any leads, so Bunk and McNulty are back out on the water. Fitz files a report about the investigation. Agent Koutris notes it on his computer and recognises the names, especially Eton, Ilona, Sergei/Boris and Pyramid Inc. He picks up the phone, hazard a guess who he’s calling?

Frank and Horse are talking about the Devil when Nicky walks in looking shocked. He’s just heard that Ziggy shot two of the Greeks and is locked up. Frank is beside himself with rage at Nicky who is supposed to look after Ziggy, Nicky just asks Frank where he’s been as a father.

Koutris is at the local gallery, he’s talking with The Greek about the case, he spills pretty much all of the information to the Greek.
Vondras receives a text message in the diner, it’s in Greek. He turns to the owner of the diner and tells him to contact Eton with a messenger. Avoiding using phones and so forth. He then leaves and outside he is missed by Herc and Carver who are arguing with each other as he gets in his car and drives past.

Kima on the other hand remains alert. She spots Eton go on the move.

Valchek is at the Detail’s office and he’s mad, he feels that the Fed have also let him down. Daniels tries to talk with Valchek, but the man isn’t having any of it. He then presses Prez, telling him that it’s time to leave the Detail and return to the district. Prez snaps and punches him in the face. POW! Valchek leaves. Daniels tells Prez to come into his office. Lester watches Eton’s car head down towards Fort Howard. He phones Bunk and lets him know. McNulty notes that they’re ‘on the boss’.

Vondras and Eton talk together on the waterfront about Ziggy’s actions. Vondras tells Eton to clean up GG’s store, the warehouse, everything and then they throw the phones. Bunk and McNulty see them do this. McNulty notices that Vondras has sent a text message.

At the Diner Herc and Carver see Nicky arrive. He heads inside and asks the owner of the Diner about Vondras, the guy denies all knowledge of him. Nicky leaves, warily.

Lester and Fitz are telling Bunk and McNulty about Prez’s actions. The lines are dead as well, it’s clear that the phones have been dumped. McNulty then asks about the text messaging he saw Vondras perform. He’s trying to see if it’s possible to reverse engineer the text time and track down Vondras’s details. It’s possible, but it won’t be easy.

Mauzone and Lamar are at a bench near the towers. Lamar has failed to pick up the right magazines for Mauzone. Boadie and his man watch this, marvelling at how effective Mauzone is and also wondering why he’s running the Eastside guys off.

Fitz has no end of dead ends. So it’s up to McNulty’s hunch about this.

At the cell phone company the man at the desk is impressed with this trick, McNulty’s managed to pull it off, the company got everything from the phone at that time. But the supoena is only enough for the number and account name. A warrant is enough for the full records, but they don’t have one right now. They do manage to convince the guy to let them see the last 24 hours though. But the problem with that is, it’s in Greek.

At the office they’re up on the message with what appears to be Babel Fish. They translate the text and to their dismay it reads ‘Shut Down Immediately’. Not good news for the Detail.

Nicky is at a play park, drinking on the roundabout. Prissy arrives (she’s either a relative or a long time friend) and they talk about Ziggy and how much of a screw up he is/was. And that’s the thing about Ziggy, he might be a screw up, but he’s family and what’s happened to him is cutting Nicky up.

Bea’s asleep at home when she receives a phonecall. It’s Kima, the raids are on – Bea’s in. She just needs to drop her kids off with her parents.

At the office Ronnie is waiting on the warrants to be typed. While elsewhere the Greeks move fast to clean up everything they can. Paper work is grabbed, drugs are flushed away down the drain and the chances of catching the Greeks drop measurably…

The Review:

Did you wonder what Koutris's role was in the show last week? Well now you know, because of him the Greeks are almost beyond reach. They've had a sniff of Vondras and still have no idea that he's just the number two in the organisation. The Greeks are major league players, way beyond the scope of the BPD and with the corruption inside the Feds they're probably even beyond the reach of the FBI. While it's possible that things could turn around they're now

I have no idea what Prez was thinking when he hit Valchek, it seemed a little odd for Prez to do it. But then again Prez is impulsive, rash and has been pushed around by Valchek pretty much forever. I suspect the punch was partially from Prez and partially on behalf of the viewer, cause lets face it, Valchek needs a good punch for the way he acts.

On the whole Storm Warning acts as the peak of the momentum which has been building all season, it's an exceptionally fast paced episode, even making use of a montage to compress time (which is unusual for The Wire) and bringing everything to a head ready for the penultimate episode. Which is another George Pelecanos special and following in the footsteps of The Wire's first season it'll break the wave which has been building.

Single Lines:
I love that Boadie’s definition of “Westside hospitality” is effectively delivering a smack down onto any gangster who enters the Westside without permission.

How on Earth is Kristin Proctor (Aimee) not a major star by now? She’s fantastic looking, great at acting and feels very ‘real’. This crime needs to be set right, someone cast her now!

Likewise I've really grown to like James Ransone (Ziggy), especially after watching him in Generation Kill, where he's just superb. It's clear he's not a one trick pony in the acting department.

Trivia: Lamar is played by DeAndre McCullough, one of the people who featured in The Corner (both the book and the miniseries) and is the inspiration behind D'Angelo.


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