Watching The Wire: Season Two: Episode Twelve: "Port in a Storm"

"Business, Always business."
– The Greek

Teleplay by David Simon
Directed by Robert F. Colesbury

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, James Ransone as Ziggy Sobotka, Pablo Schreiber as Nick Sobotka, Melanie Nicholls-King as Cheryl, Michael Potts as Brother Mouzone, Bill Raymond as The Greek, Michael K. Williams as Omar Little, Maria Broom as Marla Daniels, Al Brown as Major Stanislaus Valchek, Robert F. Chew as Proposition Joe, Kristin Proctor as Aimee, Tray Chaney as Malik "Poot" Carr, Robert Hogan as Louis Sobotka, Charley Scalies as Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa, Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman, Chris Ashworth as Sergei "Serge" Malatov, Richard Burton as Shamrock, Leo Fitzpatrick as Johnny, Jeffrey Fugitt as Officer Claude Diggins, S. Robert Morgan as Butchie, Luray Cooper as Nat Coxson, Kelvin Davis as La La, Bus Howard as Ott, Lance Irwin as Maui, Jeffrey Pratt Gordon as Johnny "Fifty" Spamanto, Benay Berger as FBI Supervisor Amanda Reese, Tommy Hahn as FBI Special Agent Salmond, Kevin McKelvy as FBI Agent, Doug Olear as FBI Special Agent Terrance "Fitz" Fitzhugh, William L. Thomas as FBI Agent, Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as Senator Clay Davis, Brian Anthony Wilson as Detective Vernon Holley, Michael Willis as Andy Krawczyk, Lev Gorn as Eton Ben-Eleazer, Brook Yeaton as "White" Mike McArdle, Gary "D-Reign" as Frog, De'Rodd Hearns as Puddin, DeAndre McCullough as Lamar, Richard Pelzman as Little Big Roy, Doug Lory as Big Roy, J. Valenteen Gregg as Chess, Jon Garcia as Ringo, Paul Majors as Officer MacGraul, Schuster Vance as Walt Stokes and Michael Salconi as Officer Santangelo

The Summary:

Read about leaks, walls and ocean fishing beyond the link...

The Recap:

The day opens with sunny skies and music, down in the docks things are quiet at the Santa Ray has been delayed. Nick calls at his uncle’s house and knocks the door. Out on the water a patrol boat is fishing something out. The stevedores gather to watch. Nick arrives at the meet point where Frank headed to last night and finds his uncle’s car abandoned. The patrol boat arrives at the dock; the stevedores rush up towards it as Nicky arrives to check Frank’s office. He sees the commotion at the dock and runs there, a body is lifted from the water and lowered down while everyone watches. The cover is pulled back, it’s Frank, his throat has been cut. Nicky stands there as homicide is called in. Silence reigns…

Cue the credits…

At the Detail’s office Freamon, Kima and Daniels are going over the end game situation. Vondras has gone to ground, Stephen Rados seems to be little more than a driver’s licence. Freamon receives a phone call from Landsman

In homicide thirteen headless and handless bodies have turned up in the mid-Atlantic region, the speculation is four dozen of these in total. Freamon tells him to pass these to south east. Looks like the Greeks are taking care of business.

Stringer is in hospital, he’s checking up on Mouzone who’s recovering nicely thanks to the clean passage of the bullet and Omar calling the emergency services. Stringer assures Mouzone that he’ll find who did this. Mouzone tells Stringer that there’s no need, and also asks him to inform Avon that the incident is considered absolved. Mouzone is going to handle this. He will handle ‘them’ himself. Stringer asks Mouzone who came at him; Mouzone doesn’t answer and dismisses Stringer. Its clear Mouzone knows exactly what happened and why.

Nicky rages in Franks office over the death of his uncle, he’s restrained by the other stevedores and then mollified by the arrival of his father Louis, who just tells him “lets go”. Nicky does so.

Elsewhere in Baltimore Bubbles and Johnny are spectators for a street side overdose; apparently ‘the bomb is the bomb’. They walk away. Nearby Santangelo directs traffic, if you recall he was busted down by Rawls at the end of the last season over his involvement in the Detail’s case, or more importantly his refusal to snitch on the Detail. No good deed goes unpunished. Bubs raids the back of the ambulance while Johnny keeps an eye out. As he departs he’s caught by Santangelo, Johnny failed as lookout.

The Detail arrive at the docks, homicide is already there. Landsman remembered to call Daniels this time and he tells the lieutenant the details, it seems Frank didn’t go peacefully; he tried to defend himself but was overwhelmed. Bea starts to cry at the site of Frank’s body. She feels guilty over this as she was involved with everything from the start. She’s not responsible, but that doesn’t stop her feeling bad.

Herc and Carver are still waiting for Nicky, Herc is feeling hard done by and wasted here. Carver is ‘starting to sound like McNulty;. Herc plans to move back to narcotics and go elsewhere, Carver on the other hand is considering sticking behind Daniels.

In Valchek’s office Daniels is giving the Polish captain the skinny. Valchek is not too bothered about this. But Daniels is happy as well, the case has resulted in the creation of the major crimes unit with him at the head. It’s a winner for Daniels. They then talk about Prez’s indiscrete punch, Daniels angles to have the charges dropped. Daniels lays it out and points out that FBI will write it exactly as it happened and that’ll make Valchek look back. Valchek finally agrees to drop the charges if Prez apologizes, grovels and spends two months on the midnight shift. Looks like Daniels gets to keep Prez as a part of the newly formed Major Crimes Unit (MCU).

At the front desk of the BPD Nicky is trying to turn himself in, but the officer on the front desk isn’t interested. Fortunately Freamon is down there at the same time, collecting some papers and he hears the entire thing while looking at pictures.

Kima and McNulty meet with Bubs about the stolen morphine.

Vondras knocks on a hotel door; he’s come to talk with The Greek about Sobotka’s body resurfacing. The problem now is Nicky, they tried to get him, but the police are looking as well. The Greek is quite philosophical about this “What he says, he says,” and Vondras agrees. They’re pretty safe as they use aliases all the time. So the plan is to finish up their business, there’s a can of 150kgs on the docks which Vondras thinks should be collected. The Greek disagrees; he feels the police are getting to close. The Greeks will be shutting down business completely and moving on.

Burrell and Rawls meet with the FBI, Ronnie and Daniels over the final situation. Everything is looking tidy, apart from Rawls’s fourteen bodies. The phone rings for Daniels, it’s Freamon. Nicky’s talking.

McNulty and Kima are looking for some information from Bubs in exchange to avoid jail. He doesn’t have much for them and is worried. But Johnny goes on to mention Cheese being shot. He tells the story of how Mouzone shot Cheese with the rat shot. He goes on to tell the cops how it looks like they are now sharing.

Nicky meets with the Detail at the office, he’s willing to co-operate entirely because they killed his uncle. He admits he knows the Greeks did it because he told them about the meeting. He tells them about what happened at the end of the last episode, the deal the Greeks offered to Frank. Nicky realises how close it came to him being killed as well, only Frank’s refusal to let him come with him. Nicky then goes on to explain about the deal they had with the Greeks; about the cans, the girls, the drugs. The Detail then let Nicky know that Ziggy was going down regardless. But they are willing to honour Frank’s original deal. Nicky explains about Vondras and the organisation - Eton ran drugs, GG stolen goods, Sergei was the muscle and the mule. He also tells them that the guy who stove in the air pipe on the girl’s can was also dead.

Freamon goes on to show Nicky the picture of Vondras, Stephen and (as we know) The Greek. Nicky doesn’t recognise him at all. Bunk tells Nicky that they know there was a man above Vondras. Nicky knows of him as The Greek. They try to refocus on the picture, confirm that the man in the blue suit isn’t The Greek. Nicky frowns, looks at the picture and points to the man lighting the cigarette “That’s The Greek right there.”

Kima and McNulty look over the details on Cheese, poor Santangelo is out the collar, once again shafted for no reason other than being there. Bubs and Johnny look thrilled as they are released. As they leave Kima asks about the product in the towers, Bubs confirms that it’s great.

At the office Fitz is able to confirm that Stephen the Blue suit is a lawyer. But he also has details of the can arriving. Nicky is going into witness protection, Freamon tells him to keep it as quiet as possible, they’ve already lost one co-operator today. Freamon phones Daniels and the pair talk about Nicky’s witness protection. It seems Daniels and his wife are sleeping in separate rooms now.

Fitz picks up a fax and then gets on the phone. He phones to ask after one Agent Koutris, but it seems that Koutris has been called up to counterterrorism and has been there for a year. Fitz looks disturbed, he’s realised where the leak was and now it’s gone.

Herc is still raging over being stuck in the car, he and Carver march out and bang on Nicky’s door. Louis answers and Carver rants at him. Once he’s finished Louis tells Carver his son has handed himself in already, he shows Carver Freamon’s card. The dynamic duo are not impressed.

Aimee, Nicky and his daughter are moved into a motel. They finally have a place together.

The Detail look at the photos Freamon collected earlier, they’re a series of headless, handless bodies. Freamon asks if they kept some photos from the Atlantic Light. Bunk and Bea head out to the Philly office. Herc and Carver storm in, what are they upset about?

Omar is in Butchie’s bar, talking about what went down between himself and Mouzone. Butchie confirms that Mouzone normally works elsewhere and also is so determined and through that if Mouzone had been contracted to kill Omar then they would have met up and one of them would be dead. Butchie blames himself for this; Omar tells Butchie that he’s going after Stringer. A reckoning will be coming for this.

In Daniels’s office, the dynamic duo complaining about the treatment they’ve been suffering now. Carver stands up, he’s planning to switch to Major Colvin’s district, a place where his sergeant stripes will be respected.

Kima and McNulty are taking photos.

Bunk and Bea arrive in Philadelphia; they want to know about something unusual. The security guard is helpful, in a not very helpful manner. Just as they’re about to leave the guard mentions the video tapes.

Kima is with Cheryl, shopping for a stroller. Kima looks less than thrilled; Cheryl on the other hand is ecstatic over all this baby stuff. Needless to say, the two clash over this briefly.

In the motel room Nicky is watching TV with his daughter; Aimee asks him what’s going to happen now. He doesn’t answer.

At the docks the hot can is dumped by the stevedores.

At the office, Kima talks to Freamon about Prop Joe’s ordering from the Greeks. He’s doubled his re-ups recently. Freamon and Fitz continue to watch the cans, nothing’s happening.

Vondras meets with Prop Joe on a bench about the situation. Vondras tells him that there will be new people in a week. Joe’s stash is low and he’s concerned, but the last shipment is ‘lost’ as the police might be on it. Joe is happy to follow this, Vondras leaves without telling him anything more.

At the docks the Detail come to conclude that the Greeks are gone in the wind. Daniels mutters about how ‘if the Greeks hadn’t got wind that they were after them it would have been one hell of a case’. Fitz looks embarrassed and walks away.

In county Stringer and Avon are talking about events involving Mouzone. He’s gone. Avon’s not happy about this, but there is nothing he can do. He’s stuck inside. They talk about how business is down right now, Avon agrees to cut a deal with Prop Joe – at least until Avon’s back outside.

The tape from Philly is multiplex, the Detail see the scene unfold as the guy from the Atlantic Light is caught, beaten and abducted.

Stringer meets with Prop Joe about the re-up; they’re going to have to wait a week. But Avon is now on board. The meet is photographed by Kima, her instincts were good.

Ott and the Stevedores meet together about the situation now Frank is desceased. They are interrupted by the FBI. They’re here to tell them that the Union needs to clean up and elect new officers or be shut down. Ott stands up, pulls his name off the board and leaves Frank’s up there. As he says himself ‘One man, one vote.’ Re-elect Frank Sobotka.

Sergei sits in the interview room with Freamon and Bunk. They replay Sergei’s phone conversation with White Mike about the hands and faces, then they show him the photos of the bodies fished out of the water. Then they go one better and show him a photo of the guy before he was decapitated, the tattoos and DNA match. Sergei/Borish claims innocent. They play the tape and enhance the image. Pulling up Maryland tags on the car, the rental records lead directly to Sergei. He’s facing the death penalty. Sergei admits to being there, but not doing the deed. He tells them Vondras did it, the penalty for using the women and then killing them.

A happy Bunk exits, all fourteen girls are down, plus another one as a bonus. Daniels heads back in and shows Sergei the photo, asking for The Greek’s name. Sergei gives them a hotel and tells them he’ll show them.

The police burst into the hotel room. It’s empty. The Greeks have fled. Leaving only a bottle of Ouzo and cigarettes on the table.

The Greek checks in at the airport. He realises he’s forgotten something. Daniels finds The Greek’s beads in the hotel room.

At the bar the Detail are all present and drinking, the case is at a wall. That’s it, The Greek and Vondras are gone. All they can do is sit now. But Kima has some good news, McNulty shows Daniels a little holiday snap of Stringer and Prop Joe. Looks like the MCU has their first big case. McNulty heads over to talk with Ronnie, Bea watches. Fitz talks with Daniels, he admits that the leak came from the FBI FedCom software. The case failed because the FBI became involved. Freamon offers to buy a round, no-one bites.

At the motel Nicky pulls on his jacket and shoes. Aimee asks him where he’s going, Nicky answers “Work.”

Valchek receives another letter, the surveillance van has made it to Australia, Valchek sounds almost regretful as he half chuckles over Frank’s stunt with the van.

Nicky is dropped off for work by the federal agent. He walks into the stevedore cafeteria, there’s not much work going on. (Re-elect Frank Sobotka!) So he leaves and walks down the road, followed by the agent in his car. He hangs off from the fence.

Closing montague! With "I Feel Alright" by Steve Earle (Waylon in The Wire) over the top of it.

The I.B.S. is shut down by the feds.
Johnny 50 urinates on a can then flips the bird at the port police.
Horse is brought up on charges in court.
Landsman and Rawls look thrilled as the bodies on the board all go black.
Ziggy walks in prison, orange jumpsuit a flashing.
The Grain Pier condominium is opened by Clay Davies.
Bea returns to patrolling the docks.
Freamon takes down the detail’s photos, leaving The Greek’s photo up there alone.
Life goes on in Baltimore, Frog continues to deal.
As does Poot.
The stevedores drink.
Prop Joe checks the new product. It’s good.
New girls are found in the back of a can and moved out be the police.
Life goes on.
Nicky stares through the link fence.
The rain pours.
He walks on…

The Review:

Another chapter in The Wire's story closes and we're nearly halfway through the entire run of the show (25 out of 60). There are going to be additional thoughts on the season as a complete entity up next Sunday, so right now I'm just going to focus on the events of this episode alone. This is of course the first episode in the season which doesn't have Chris Bauer shouldering a massive amount of the plot and scenes, instead Pablo Schreiber has to take over the Sobotka on screen legacy - but he does excellent work, Nicky has been an interesting reflection of Frank all season and Pablo is fantastic in this final episode.

The closing montague brings home the message of entire season as well the scenes of industrial decay are spiced with scenes that show 'life goes on'. The message of The Wire's second season is clear, America's industry is in decline but the people who work with it are not, they'll go to any port in order to try and survive. That's why Frank turned to the Greeks in the first place, to try and facilitate survival for his kid, his nephew and the men in his union. Ultimately all his hard work was brought down, and all because of one idiot sailor with a hammer and one stained glass window in a church.

The episode also sets up the storyline for the third season towards the end, Kima finds the first case for the Major Crime Unit and it's a familiar one. Stringer and Prop Joe look like the likely targets, something I'm sure McNulty will love to get his teeth into as Stringer got away from him.

Next week I'll write up the chapter header for the second season, which will include links to each episode review. It will also look at each major character and what's happened with them over the season, while also looking at the season as an entire entity.

But Port in a Storm was a fantastic finale for the season. Re-elect Frank Sobotka!


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