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April 25, 2014

Jane After Dark: The Wire season two - on the waterfront with Amy Ryan

by Jane Boursaw, posted Jun 13th 2009 2:06PM
Amy Ryan in The Wire
I'm three episodes into season two of The Wire. I tried watching it online as Usama suggested in last week's Jane After Dark comments (thank you for that awesome site!), but decided to just buy the DVDs, because I stop and start a lot and need easy access to it. So I looked around town and found a fairly reasonably priced season two at FYE. It's new; no one seems to have any used sets, which makes me think - as you all have suggested - that no one ever gets rid of their DVDs of The Wire. They keep them around to watch again and again. I'll probably just buy each season as I work my way through the series.

And speaking of starting and stopping, The Wire does not get any easier to watch while doing something else at the same time. Whenever I try to do that, I end up replaying those parts again, because there's way too many subtleties to be only half-paying attention.

I like Notatoad's suggestion to "sit in a room, by yourself, with all the windows and doors closed. don't have any food, any drinks, any lights. nothing can distract you from the show. every second is crucial. don't re-watch any episodes, one episode flows beautifully into the next and re-watching will break that flow. watch one episode every day. the episodes need time to sink in." Yes! I get that now! However, I probably won't wait a month between seasons, just because that would be torture for me to wait that long to see what the next season brings.

I'm digging the whole waterfront theme of season two. For some reason, having that focus, along with the dead girls in the shipping container (and the one Jimmy fished out of the harbor), is making it easier to understand what's going on and follow the storyline.

Amy Ryan as the newbie cop is knocking me out. She's so not-in-your-face that she fits right into the real-world feel of The Wire. It's all about the subtle nuances with this show. Some people might call it slow-going; I call it awesome. There are so many really stupid shows with throw-away jokes and storylines on TV these days, The Wire reminds us what a thinking-person's show is all about.

But back to Amy Ryan. In Joel's interview with her this week, she mentioned that she doesn't care whether she does drama or comedy, as long as it's good material. Watching her in The Wire once again reminds me of how versatile she is, whether it's as a green cop in this series, a drug-addled single mom in Gone Baby Gone, or Michael Scott's soul mate in The Office. This girl can do it all. The scene where she finds the bodies in the container, and then again later, when she has to leave for air lest she throw up or pass out -- that's some serious acting. As in, I could imagine myself doing and feeling the exact same way in that situation.

Another character I'm loving is Stringer, played by Idris Elba. You just KNOW there's going to be trouble after he beds down D'Angelo's girl, while at the same time telling her she needs to visit Dee in prison once in a while. Stringer is a good example of a character who walks the line between good and bad. He's just trying to do the best he can with what he's got to work with.

So far, Jimmy McNulty is sort of taking a backseat to some of the other goings-on. This season seems to be more ensemble-oriented with everyone getting similar airtime, whether it's Jimmy delighting in making the office guys take on the dead bodies, Nick and Ziggy stealing a container from the docks, or Bunk and Jimmy feasting on blue crabs in an interrogation room at police headquarters. Each scene is integral, even the little ones, like where the tiny dog kills the rat. I'm not really glomming onto the whole union-lobbyist storyline yet, but I'll get the hang of it.

I continue to love The Wire more and more with each new episode. More next week!

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Aether

I guess I should say, since I most likely will have to defend myself, that by that I mean his motives remain the same. Which can be a bit boring. But I love the idea of the "Businessman" gangster and I thought it was interesting how scholarly they made him.

June 16 2009 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aether

Oh, indeed. To go without out mentioning Omar would be just down right scandalous. Personally, I liked Stringer up until Season 3, where I began to realize how truly selfish he was. But you know economists, they're known for being "opportunists" more than followers of ethics. Nothing against economists, I'm just say that when you look at things through an economist's point of view, personal gain is the goal. I just feel like he came up as more of a savvy, greedy bastard but I don't want to get to into that or it'll reveal spoilers. Stringer sure was both smart and stylish in his mannerisms. Omar though, I feel has more depth.

June 16 2009 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Howard

Unless I missed it somewhere, you've now done a few of these posts without mentioning Omar, who is one of the best characters ever. I can't remember what season it was in, but the scene where he goes to the store to get a box of cereal is one of my favorite from the show.

June 15 2009 at 9:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rodney

Plus this season has the greatest "Wire" line of all time:

"Fool, if it wasn't for Sergei here, you and your cuz both would be cadaverous motherf**kers."

June 14 2009 at 2:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Usama

Oh wow, the same thing happened to me. Having read that chapter really made season 1 all the more interesting. Plus living in Chicago (and that student having done his research in Chicago) helped.

I'm so glad you're receptive to our recommendations. I remember when I started season 2 I was pretty disappointed. I was really looking forward to the show exploring the drug war more. If I had the advice of some of the commentators here I think I would have been more appreciative my first time through that season. (I have yet to watch that season a second time actually). I eventually did get into the season but I feel I robbed myself from some of the subtleties you mentioned, at least in the first half of the season.

June 13 2009 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam

Stringer Bell is definately one of the most compelling fictional characters ever, regardless of medium. It's funny, I read "Freakonomics" first, then watched "The Wire" (although they came out in opposite order), and I'd totally reccomend reading and viewing both. One of the chapters in "Freakinomics" deals with a MBA drop-out who used his business acumen to sell drugs, and be quickly moved up through the ranks and was exceptionally good at moving product. He was so smart that he made all of his money, then he went straight literally months before the organization he worked for was busted by the Feds. Seeing Stringer on "The Wire" really reminded me of this guy. However, the guy in "Freakonimics" really didn't engage in street behavior, so it's real interesting to watch Stringer toe the line between using tactics he learned in the street and those he's learning in business school. Another aspect of "Freakonomics" that is really echoed in "The Wire" is how the drug trade really isn't that profitable for anyone below middle management. For the hoppers to dealers like Brodie and Poot, the money isn't exactly rolling in.

June 13 2009 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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