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Season 2 wraps up – gotta love happy endings…

Episode #25: “Port in a Storm”

“Business. Always business.” – The Greek
The stevedores gather for work as a floating corpse is pulled from the water. Once ashore, they all recognize the body as Frank Sobotka. The Greek opts to stop pursuing Nick because the police are on his heels, and walks away from Baltimore. The FBI visits the union hall and tells them that they need to change their leadership or face decertification. The union remains loyal and seals the destruction of their future. Urban reform begins to hit Baltimore as the docks undergo construction. Omar vows revenge against Stringer. Stringer cements his deal with Proposition Joe now that Mouzone is out of the way. Bubbles is arrested and alerts Greggs and McNulty to the relationship between Proposition Joe and Stringer Bell in exchange for his release.

Deceased:

Frank Sobatka

6 Responses to “Episode 25: “Port in a Storm””

  1. Sofia Zinger says:

    We talked a lot in discussion about how American status used to be about what you made. Now, I feel, it’s about the decisions that you have the power to make. Frank seemed to have a lot of power in the union and based on what was around him, but we ultimately see that he hardly had any power at all. Power isn’t based on how much money you have, but on what abilities you have to use it. Despite the fact that Frank had a lot of saved cash, he didn’t really have anything to use it for. The stevedore union was doomed anyway, seeing as their work was being overcome by technology and other priorities of politicians and people in higher positions of power. No amount of underground, shady business could help Frank and his people because even a tiny thing like Valchek’s vendetta could screw him over. Frank was a powerful man in his small group, but in the long run could not overtake the hierarchy so deeply engrained in the Baltimore system.
    This brings up the point of the vicious circle, something that has come up many times in the first two seasons of The Wire. Both seasons so far, despite any progress that has been made, have ended with almost the same scenario as when they started. In season 2, the stevedores are ultimately screwed in the end, just as they were in the beginning, and the Greek’s business continues on as planned. In the first season, there was also a sense that the situation was way bigger than any one case could crack. This reinforces two ideas. First off, it reinforces the idea that it is almost impossible to move up the social ladder in a society where class is such a large factor in upbringing. Second, it reinstates our idea that, though there is hope for an individual or a small group to get caught, it takes much more than a few raids and some arrests to stop the flow of power, drugs and money in Baltimore.

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  2. Andrew Banadda says:

    After finishing the season I can help but feel sorry for Frank Sobotka. At least in the end of season 1, D’Angelo was at peace with himself, finding his moral compass and becoming realized as individual, even though he finds himself in a prison. With Frank, his attempt to be heroic in saving his dying institution backfires( with see this with McNulty and the Barksdale case). Even though he is very unselfish, he is very closed minded. He sees that port life is deteriorating; New Charles losing his leg and not enough ships coming into the port but strong headed in his attempt to revive the port. Yes, he has grown up no knowing nothing but being a stevedore but he failed to push his kin ( Nick and Ziggy) to pursue other opportunities. He should have been concerned about the fate of his kin. This is highlighted between the Sobotka and Bruce interaction in the port office where Bruce talks about his family and that fact that they made sure they were given the option of college or something more than a stevedore. Frank doesn’t see that and he is willing to violate the long-standing black/white turn-taking arrangement so he can run for a second term as union treasurer. He raises the stakes of the game and eventually it all comes back to his family. It is unfortunate that this type of selfishness provides nothing for him, not even redemption.

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  3. Andrew Banadda says:

    Some Thoughts:
    Kima and McNulty- Did it surprise anyone else who quickly they were able to connect/tail Prop Joe and Stringer? Given the difficulty of the detail tracking pagers and numbers to people in season 1

    Even though Frank was a key witness for the case, I do not think it would have mattered had he showed up the next day. I believe he would have given the same information as Nick. He doesn’t know the Hotel where they are staying or the real names of the Greeks. I think the turning point was where Landsman failed to connect the sobotka to the detail case. Other thoughts?

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    Benjamin Meader Reply:

    I was also a bit confused at how they could get a shot of them together so easily. Having written this comment after having seen several episodes in the new season, I am also confused with why they are having such a difficulty tapping Prop Joe and finding his whereabouts. It would seem to me that they have enough info on him that they could set up a wire like they did at Orlando’s. Why waste time following Cheese for the connection? Isn’t the shot between Stringer and Prop Joe, and Bubbles’ info enough?

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  4. Tom Ladeau says:

    Addressing Andrew’s first question, it does seem like a handy plot point that Kima and McNulty were able to get a shot of Joe and String so easily. I am assuming that because of Bubbs’ info, they would have gone to the towers to do surveillance. If String and Joe actually met at the towers, then I can believe that Kima and McNulty might notice them. I would guess that Stringer’s large, shiny SUV stands out a bit, and he is probably not concerned with McNulty and the police at the moment. It does seem like a bit of a coincidence though.

    Just to go off of some of Sofia’s points, I would agree that Frank obviously was in way over his head. He was the head of his organization, and he was dealing with the head of another organization, but the two groups do not compare. As Sofia said, Frank’s small group was powerless in relation to the Greek’s organization (and the political/technological changes/groups). This trouble for Frank is evident when everything starts going wrong in the second to last episode. Frank says, “I gotta get clean,” meaning make everything right and get out of the illegal game. He tries to save himself by promising to talk to the police, and also by declaring his “loyalty” to the Greeks to get Ziggy out. He tries to do too much; his position does not grant him the power required to use the Greeks and save himself.

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  5. Andrew Ostroff says:

    Reflecting upon Season Two as a whole, it is interesting to consider how my perceptions of certain characters changed over time. More specifically, my feelings towards Nick and Frank in no way resemble my initial observations. It was difficult for me to find positives in Frank Sobotka at the outset. In fact, if anything, Nick’s desire to support his girlfriend and daughter, coupled with the responsibility he felt to watch over Ziggy, were humanizing qualities that attracted me towards his character. With time, however, we see glimpses of Frank’s humility and how they contradict Nick’s greed and selfishness. By the end, I found myself recognizing Frank’s good intentions, but these were marred by Nick’s carelessness and immaturity.

    Did anybody else feel this way as Season Two moved along? What’s more, how does The Wire manage to construct characters so that the show elicits these emotions from an audience? I believe the answer here has to do with The Wire’s ability to defer gratification. Said differently, we spend so much time understanding context and internalizing relationships that, by the time a story arc reaches its conclusion, that which we once believed no longer holds the same relevance or meaning.

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