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I said this season felt lighter, more comedic but in its last few episodes the story that finally emerged was a full-blown classical tragedy. Or Shakespearean maybe. The Greek is not even Greek. Did Frank Sobotka have to die for his personal flaws or because the gods of commerce so ordained? Probably both. The season began with a Jane Doe being picked up as a floater and ended with a John. Not a John, a Frank but we knew that from the moment the previous episode ended with him walking away. The actual death happens off camera, the naked corpse being brutal enough. As with D’Angelo, whose death we did see, the only narrative mercy was clarity. Frank died returned to his best self and remembered as such by the union he made his life’s work. One man, one vote. Had he lived it would have been messier. While he never gave in to the Greek’s temptation to buy something for himself, something he could touch, the ideal was already compromised by the need to remain in power, to stand for re-election, to continue to be the big man on the dock, the secret source of compensation for injuries and hours missed. So it ends, all for nothing, just a few more soldiers down in the long slow war of industrial attrition. Frank dead, Nick in limbo, Ziggy in purgatory. All that remains of family Sobotka is a last stray post card of the surveillance van landing on Valchek’s desk. Frank’s ghost has the last laugh and it’s enough to make you cry.



I don’t believe Ziggy would have shot Glekas even though his reaction to it and Nick’s on hearing of it were so perfectly written and acted it hurt just the same, powering through the initial disbelief. I believed in Ziggy’s having reached the end of his rope with being the punchline of every joke but I don’t think he would have taken it out on the jokers, that’s not how it works. He did eventually go up against Mauro but not unprompted not reflexively. On his own initiative he tried to humiliate Frog who should have been below him in the food chain and does made a laughing stock of the duck and I like ducks. Maybe that’s the problem I like ducks more than Ziggy. However pitiable he became, I couldn’t root for him. If I had been able to I would have believed in the shooting because I would have wanted it, as it is all I can see is how the story wants it. Without Glekas and their power over the shot assistant the Greeks would have had no last temptation to offer Nick and through him Frank.

In fact this whole episode practically hangs a lantern on any potential dis-suspension of disbelief, deploying a boatload of cinematic techniques the show normally eschews. A montage to the barely diegetic "Walk the Line," the camera blurring to represent Ziggy’s state of mind after shooting Glekas, the whole lone gunman comes to town schtick used to frame and script Brother Mouzone’s arrival. Which is another thing. Mouzone and increasingly Omar are straight out of Western mythology, more legends in waiting than real characters. It makes a kind of sense that in a world like this people would need stories but you print the legend you don’t get to meet it up close and personal. Vondas and the Greek fall into the same kind of territory, they act as almost allegorical forces of evil. Vondas gains a little motivation at the end with his ambiguously fatherly feelings for Nick but otherwise they carry out their business as impersonally and implacably as the invisible hand of economic theory. Spirits of pure capitalism everywhere and nowhere and gone in the morning. “Pleased to meet you” but my name is not my name.

Stringer knows all the theory of invisible hands and while the tragedy of the docks plays to its end the new story is being set up in the unauthorized alliances he’s making with Avon’s rival. If that weren’t trouble enough he may have already signed his own death warrant in sending Omar up against the Brother Mouzone. Stringer looks like a poker player, rarely expressing emotion but he has tells and can’t hide his surprise when the Brother sets him the trap of using the plural to describe his attackers. Next season could be interesting. I hope Beadie is in it.

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hazelk

May 2012

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