hazelk: (wallace)
[personal profile] hazelk
Six episodes into season two of the Wire now. There’s a different feel to this season so far. Much more comic now we know the characters and things that might have played as disturbing or confusing are just laugh out loud funny.

There’s an interesting scene in episode 5 (Undertow) in which Stringer Bell tutors his crew in how their crappy supply needs repackaging. It’s funny because we know from the previous scene that Stringer got the idea from his macroeconomics professor who not realizing that Stringer’s inferior product was heroin advised him to follow the Worldcom example. It’s also interesting because it shows how good Stringer is as an educator/leader mentor to his dealers. They follow him only partly out of fear, they respect him. Back at the end of S1 Broadie took the job “to take care of” his friend Wallace not just because it was an offer he couldn’t refuse but also because he was flattered to be made it. Stringer is good at what he does even though what he does is so bad.

Work or the capacity for it is a saving grace on this show, the lowest forms of life aren’t junkies or dealers or murderous drug lords but humps. Until now the useless characters have either redeemed themselves like Prez by turning out to be good for something (and prepared to work on it) or dropped from the story. In that sense Ziggy is something new. He’s another crown prince character, being to Frank Sobotka as Prez is to Valchek and (arguably) D’Angelo to Avon but without redeeming talent or self-awareness. Ziggy’s a child-man, whose clowning and wanting and refusal to take no for an answer are indulged by those around him and so it continues. In that capacity he’s not so very different from McNulty but McNulty can do stuff, McNulty will put in the hours to make a case so even when the reasons are spite or pique or intellectual arrogance. McNulty is (ultimately) portrayed as sympathetic where Ziggy is just a accident waiting to happen.

The repacking theme comes up again in episode 6 but this time as tragedy rather farce. D’Angelo put’s his own spin on the Great Gatsby and Fitzgerald’s contention that there are no second acts during a prison English lesson. Life according to D can’t be repackaged, your past is who you are, will always draw you back in. D’Angelo cuts ties with his Uncle rips up his remaining stash, resigns himself to serving his full term against all the advise of his former mentors but there’s no escaping the current of his former life and it rises up to bear him back down. Stringer, afraid D will talk, sends an assassin. In the library with the belt. In this episode McNutly also attempts to repackage his life, rips up the Jane Doe photograph, cuts ties with the investigation attempts to reconnect with his family but it’s cosmetic he lack’s D’s insight and his wife kicks him to the kerb. Finally on the repacking theme there’s Omar ordered to dress for court and merely playing lip-service to the requirement with a tie. Omar’s knowledge of mythology underlines his self-awareness and you can’t rebrand a myth, even a parasitical one.

I love the way all the watery references in this season bring it back to the docks. In many ways this season ought to feel more familiar than the first because I think I know this story, but it’s already clear that the dock workers’ story isn’t going to be the American Boys from the Black Stuff. Ziggy is no Yosser Hughes. This is a story about those still clinging onto work, feeling the chill of the oncoming the tide comes in but not yet drowning in it. And America is different or different than we were in the early eighties/tail end of the seventies, the opposite of work is drugs not dole.
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hazelk: (Default)

May 2012


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