The Wire (season 2)

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The Wire (season 2)
The Wire - Season 2.jpg
DVD cover
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 12
Original network HBO
Original release June 1 (2003-06-01) – August 24, 2003 (2003-08-24)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 1
Next →
Season 3
List of The Wire episodes

The second season of the television series The Wire commenced airing in the United States on June 1, 2003, concluded on August 24, 2003, and contained 12 episodes. It introduces the stevedores of the Baltimore port and an international smuggling organization led by a figure known only as "The Greek", while continuing to examine the drug-dealing Barksdale Organization and the Baltimore Police Department. While continuing the series' central themes of dysfunctional institutions and the societal effects of the drug trade, the second season also explores the decline of the American working class, and the hardship its members endure during the transition from an industrial to a post-industrial society.

The second season aired Sundays at 9:00 pm ET in the United States, to wide acclaim from television critics. The season was released on DVD as a five-disc boxed set under the title of The Wire: The Complete Second Season on January 5, 2005 by HBO Video.


The second season, along with its ongoing examination of the drug problem and its effect on the urban poor, examines the plight of the blue-collar urban working class as exemplified by stevedores in the city port, as some of them get caught up in smuggling drugs and other contraband inside the containers that their port receives. In a season-long subplot, the Barksdale organization continues its drug trafficking despite Avon's imprisonment, with Stringer Bell assuming greater power.

McNulty harbors a vendetta against his former commanders for reassigning him to the marine unit, a job he'd feared being assigned and hates. When thirteen unidentified young women are found dead in a container at the docks, McNulty makes a spiteful effort to stick the murders within the jurisdiction of his former commander. Meanwhile, police Major Stan Valchek gets into a feud with Frank Sobotka, a leader of the International Brotherhood of Stevedores, a fictional dockers' union, over competing donations to their old neighborhood church. Valchek demands a detail to investigate Sobotka. Cedric Daniels is interviewed, having been praised by Prez, Major Valchek's son-in-law, and due to his work on the Barksdale case. He is eventually selected to lead the detail assigned just to investigate Sobotka. Daniels is assured that when the investigation is successfully concluded, he will move up to head a special case unit with personnel of his choosing.

On the port, life for the members of International Brotherhood of Stevedores Local 47 is increasingly hard and work is scarce. Sobotka, leader of the Local, has taken it on himself to campaign for an expansion of the port and dredging of the local canal. Lacking the union dues needed to fund the lobbying, Sobotka has become involved with a smuggling ring. Around him, his son and nephew also turn to crime, as they have few other opportunities to earn money. It becomes clear to the Sobotka detail that the dead girls are related to their investigation, as they were in a container that was supposed to be smuggled through the port. They again use wiretaps to infiltrate the crime ring and slowly work their way up the chain towards The Greek, the mysterious man in charge. But Valchek, upset that their focus has moved beyond Sobotka, gets the FBI involved. The Greek has contacts inside the FBI and starts severing his ties to Baltimore when he learns about the investigation.

After a dispute over stolen goods turns violent, Sobotka's son Ziggy is charged with the murder of one of The Greek's underlings. Sobotka himself is arrested for smuggling; he agrees to work with the detail to help his son, finally seeing his actions as a mistake. However, the Greek learns about this through his FBI informant and has Sobotka killed. The investigation ends with the fourteen homicides solved but the perpetrator already dead. Several drug dealers and mid-level smuggling figures tied to The Greek are arrested, but he and his second-in-command escape uncharged and unidentified. The Major is pleased that Sobotka was arrested; the case is seen as a success by the commanding officers, but is viewed as a failure by the detail.

Across town, the Barksdale organization continues its business under Stringer while Avon and D'Angelo Barksdale serve prison time. D'Angelo decides to cut ties to his family after his uncle organizes the deaths of several inmates and blames it on a corrupt guard to shave time from his sentence. Eventually Stringer covertly orders D'Angelo killed, faking it as a suicide. Avon is unaware of Stringer's duplicity and mourns the loss of his nephew.

Stringer also struggles with the loss of his drug suppliers and bad quality product. He again goes behind Avon's back, giving up half of Avon's most prized territory, "the towers", to the eastside Baltimore drug lord Proposition Joe in exchange for a share of his supply. Avon, unaware of the arrangement, assumes that Joe and other dealers are moving into his territory simply because the Barksdale organization has too few enforcers. He contracts a feared assassin named Brother Mouzone. Stringer deals with this by tricking his old adversary Omar into believing that Mouzone was responsible for the vicious killing of his partner in their feud in season one. Seeking revenge, Omar shoots Mouzone, but realizes Stringer has lied and calls 9-1-1. Mouzone recovers and leaves Baltimore, and Stringer is free to continue his business with Proposition Joe with new consent from Avon Barksdale.


The second season continued to follow characters in the police and those involved with the Barksdale drug-dealing organization. The returning starring cast included Dominic West as Officer Jimmy McNulty,[1] whose insubordinate tendencies and personal problems continued to overshadow his ability.[2] Lance Reddick reprised his role as Lieutenant Cedric Daniels, who was sidelined because of his placement of case over career but used his political acumen to regain some status.[3][4] Sonja Sohn played Kima Greggs, who had transferred to a desk job but could not resist the lure of a good case.[5][6] Deirdre Lovejoy starred as assistant state's attorney Rhonda Pearlman, the legal liaison between the detail and the courthouse.[7][8]

Wood Harris and Larry Gilliard, Jr. reprised their roles as newly incarcerated drug dealers Avon and D'Angelo Barksdale.[9][10][11][12] Idris Elba's character Stringer Bell took over the operations of the Barksdale Organization.[13][14] Andre Royo returned as Bubbles, who continued to indulge his drug addiction and act as an occasional informant.[15][16]

The police were overseen by two commanding officers more concerned with politics and their own careers than the case, Colonel William Rawls (John Doman) and Acting Commissioner Ervin Burrell (Frankie Faison).[17][18][19][20] Wendell Pierce portrayed homicide detective Bunk Moreland, who became more involved with the core case.[21][22] Previously recurring guest star Clarke Peters joined the starring cast and his character, veteran detective Lester Freamon, joined the homicide unit as Moreland's new partner.[23][24]

The new season also introduced a further group of characters working in the Baltimore port area, including Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos (played by Paul Ben-Victor),[25] Beadie Russell (Amy Ryan),[26] and Frank Sobotka (Chris Bauer).[27] Vondas was the underboss of a global smuggling operation,[28] Russell an inexperienced Port Authority officer and single mother thrown in at the deep end of a multiple homicide investigation,[29] and Sobotka a union leader who turned to crime in order to raise funds to save his union.[30]

Also joining the show in season two were recurring characters Nick Sobotka (Pablo Schreiber), Frank's nephew;[31][32] Ziggy Sobotka (James Ransone), Frank's troubled son;[33][34] and "The Greek" (Bill Raymond), Vondas' mysterious boss.[35][36]

Returning guest stars included: Jim True-Frost as Detective Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski;[37] Seth Gilliam as newly promoted Sergeant Ellis Carver;[38][39] Domenick Lombardozzi as errant Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk;[40][41] J.D. Williams as Barksdale crew chief Bodie Broadus;[42][43] and Michael K. Williams as renowned stick-up man Omar Little.[44][45]


No. in
Title Directed by Story by Teleplay by Original air date
14 1 "Ebb Tide" Ed Bianchi David Simon & Ed Burns David Simon June 1, 2003 (2003-06-01)
"Ain't never gonna be what it was." – Little Big Roy
Jimmy McNulty is sidelined to harbor patrol. He discovers a corpse in the harbor and pays back Colonel Rawls by proving City Homicide bear responsibility for the investigation. Major Valchek feels slighted when the boss of a local stevedore union named Frank Sobotka donates a more impressive gift to a local Polish church. Sobotka meets with other union leaders and learns that a crucial pier is still in a state of disrepair. Sobotka instructs his nephew Nick to see The Greek regarding payment for a clandestine container that he is smuggling through the port. Later, Port Police Officer "Beadie" Russell stumbles across The Greek's container and discovers the bodies of over a dozen young women inside.[46]
15 2 "Collateral Damage" Ed Bianchi David Simon & Ed Burns David Simon June 8, 2003 (2003-06-08)
"They can chew you up, but they gotta spit you out." – McNulty
Officer Russell is assigned the murders of the thirteen women discovered in the cargo container. McNulty offers to help and again ensures that the case goes back to Rawls' homicide department. Valchek strikes a deal with Acting Commissioner Burrell—in return for supporting Burrell in his aspirations for promotion, Valchek demands Burrell set up a detail to investigate Sobotka and his union. Sobotka, angry at not being informed of the container's contents, considers cutting his ties with The Greek and demands a meeting. "Horseface" complains of sudden police pressure to Sobotka and the two come up with a plan to further embarrass Valchek. In prison, Avon Barksdale's relationship with his nephew D'Angelo begins to sour. Bodie Broadus finds that the new shipment of drugs for the Barksdale Organization is missing.[47]
16 3 "Hot Shots" Elodie Keene David Simon & Ed Burns David Simon June 15, 2003 (2003-06-15)
"What they need is a union." – Russell
Nick is concerned over how he is to provide for his girlfriend and their daughter. He joins his errant cousin Ziggy and other dock workers to steal containers for Vondas and the Greeks. Avon confers with Stringer Bell about troubles with their drug supply and D'Angelo's growing distance. Frank Sobotka attempts to court political favor in order to fulfill his hopes for the regeneration of the docks. Omar Little signs up some new partners in crime. At the request of Wee-Bey, Avon deals with an abusive prison officer who also deals drugs to inmates. His methods horrify D'Angelo.[48]
17 4 "Hard Cases" Elodie Keene David Simon & Joy Lusco Joy Lusco June 22, 2003 (2003-06-22)
"If I hear the music, I'm gonna dance." – Greggs
D'Angelo confronts Avon about the bad package and washes his hands of the business. Avon brokers a deal to give up the prison officer for a reduction in his sentence. Valchek specifically requests Lieutenant Daniels for the Sobotka investigation. Daniels negotiates with Burrell and secures the promise of his own major crimes unit after the Sobotka investigation ends. Sobotka chastises his son and nephew about their unauthorized smuggling deal with the Greeks; he defends his own illicit deals as a means toward regenerating the ailing dockyard. Ziggy continues to enjoy his new-found wealth. McNulty takes a personal interest in the murdered women and is pressured to find Omar for Bunk Moreland.[49]
18 5 "Undertow" Steve Shill David Simon & Ed Burns Ed Burns June 29, 2003 (2003-06-29)
"They used to make steel there, no?" – Spiros Vondas
Ziggy's inability to move a package of drugs costs him his Camaro and nearly his life as he falls foul of East side dealers. Seeing his cousin in danger, Nick attempts to parley with one of the dealers but discovers that they have torched Ziggy's car. Daniels sends his detail out for some hand-to-hands as they half-heartedly step up their investigation of the docks. Officer Russell gets information from an old boyfriend who indicates that the union computer may be useful in tracking containers. Sobotka's frustration with the Greeks begins to grow as he is once again denied a meeting with their boss, remaining defiant even when his payment for smuggling each container is tripled. Donette visits D'Angelo and tells him that he is being supported; D'Angelo remains cynical. The Barksdale family's drug trade continues to falter because of supply problems.[50]
19 6 "All Prologue" Steve Shill David Simon & Ed Burns David Simon July 6, 2003 (2003-07-06)
"It don't matter that some fool say he different..." – D'Angelo
The detail continues to look for the source of the union's money and begin to monitor container movements. Detective Greggs tracks down a lead on the murdered girls. Stringer, concerned over D'Angelo's distancing from the organization, goes behind Avon's back to deal with the problem once and for all. Nick requests help from the Greeks to solve Ziggy's problems. As Sobotka outlines his plans for the docks, several of his union colleagues express suspicion at the source of his income. Omar emerges from hiding to testify against Bird.[51]
20 7 "Backwash" Thomas J. Wright David Simon & Rafael Alvarez Rafael Alvarez July 13, 2003 (2003-07-13)
"Don't worry, kid. You're still on the clock." – Horseface
Rawls attempts to persuade Daniels to take the Jane Doe homicides but is unsuccessful. Lester Freamon and Russell continue to study the docks' traffic using their cloned computer, and suspect irregularities in containers handled by "Horseface". They track a container back to the Greeks' warehouse. They watch the warehouse and see Sergei Malatov meeting with Proposition Joe. Stringer discusses a business deal with Proposition Joe to revitalize the Barksdale organization, but Avon turns it down flat. D'Angelo's funeral brings together the Barksdale Organization.[52]
21 8 "Duck and Cover" Dan Attias David Simon & George Pelecanos George Pelecanos July 27, 2003 (2003-07-27)
"How come they don't fly away?" – Ziggy
McNulty deals with the disappointment of his failed reconciliation with his wife by returning to his old drinking and womanizing habits while falling further into depression. The detail closes in on Sergei Malatov when they track his cell phone through his truck rental paperwork. Concerned about the union's finances, Sobotka decides to pay the bills and discovers that his cell phone account was flagged so as to not have service disconnected. Becoming paranoid, he smuggles a container without contraband to see the results, and his suspicions solidify when the police pull the container over. Frank and Nick visit the diner to meet with The Greek; The Greek tells him to deliver more disappeared but clean containers to the shut down warehouse as suspicions mount about possible interest from the police. With his business faltering, Bodie moves his crew into new territory.[53]
22 9 "Stray Rounds" Tim Van Patten David Simon & Ed Burns David Simon August 3, 2003 (2003-08-03)
"The world is a smaller place now." – The Greek
The detail is dismayed at the lack of activity from their subjects and realizes that they must be changing their operating procedure. Nick moves higher in the underworld when Vondas allows him to wholesale drugs on their behalf. On the new drug corner they commandeered from their rivals Bodie and crew are involved in a shootout that kills a child. Rawls greets Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin at the scene of the shooting; Colvin disapproves of Rawls' counter-strategy of large-scale strike operations through the Western District. Stringer meets with Proposition Joe behind Avon's back to discuss turning over some West side territory in exchange for a cut of the Greeks' drugs. Avon complicates Stringer's attempted betrayal by hiring feared hitman Brother Mouzone to drive off rival dealers.[54]
23 10 "Storm Warnings" Rob Bailey David Simon & Ed Burns Ed Burns August 10, 2003 (2003-08-10)
"It pays to go with the union card every time." – Ziggy
Ethnic tension over the next union secretary continues to build; Sobotka still plans to run contrary to a long-standing gentlemen's agreement. Ziggy steals several cars from the docks and fences them to George "Double G" Glekas. When Glekas double-crosses Ziggy by halving his original cut Ziggy flies into a rage and shoots Glekas and another young Greek employee. He breaks down emotionally right outside the warehouse and turns himself in. Nick is the first to learn of his cousin's arrest and after facing the wrath of his uncle, drowns his sorrows in a local park. The detail uses satellite technology to its advantage but meets a setback as Valchek turns over control of the investigation to the FBI. Bodie is pleased with the new supply of drugs, but unhappy that Proposition Joe's nephew Cheese is on his turf. Cheese is wounded by Brother Mouzone, further complicating relations between Stringer and Proposition Joe.[55]
24 11 "Bad Dreams" Ernest Dickerson David Simon & George Pelecanos George Pelecanos August 17, 2003 (2003-08-17)
"I need to get clean." – Sobotka
Stringer manipulates Omar into pursuing Brother Mouzone. Omar shoots Mouzone and then leaves him alive having realized his mistake. The detail serves warrants on the targets of their investigation. A raid of Nick's home turns up large amounts of cash and heroin but Nick himself escapes arrest. Frank Sobotka is arrested when the FBI storms the union offices. Valchek ensures the press is there to see Sobotka embarrassed in a perp walk. Sobotka agrees to work with the investigation into the Greeks in exchange for leniency for Nick and Ziggy. In the wake of the arrests the Greeks decide to cut their losses and leave Baltimore. Vondas lures Sobotka into danger by offering him a meeting with The Greek and a promise to help Nick and Ziggy. The Greek receives warning of Sobotka's plan from a contact in the FBI.[56]
25 12 "Port in a Storm" Robert F. Colesberry David Simon & Ed Burns David Simon August 24, 2003 (2003-08-24)
"Business. Always business." – The Greek
The stevedores gather for work as a floating corpse is pulled from the water. Once it is 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.[57]


On Metacritic, the second season achieved an aggregate score of 95/100 ("Universal acclaim").[58]

Awards and nominations[edit]

20th TCA Awards

  • Nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Drama


  1. ^ "Cast & Crew - Dominic West as Jimmy McNulty". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Character profile - Jimmy McNulty". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Cast & Crew - Lance Reddick as Cedric Daniels". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Character profile - Lieutenant Cedric Daniels". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Cast & Crew - Sonja Sohn as Shakima "Kima" Greggs". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Character profile - Detective Shakima "Kima" Greggs". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Cast & Crew - Deirdre Lovejoy as Rhonda Pearlman". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Character profile - Rhonda Pearlman". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Cast & Crew - Wood Harris as Avon Barksdale". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Character profile - Avon Barksdale". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Cast & Crew - Larry Gilliard, Jr. as D'Angelo Barksdale". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Character profile - D'Angelo Barksdale". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  13. ^ "Cast & Crew - Idris Elba as Stringer Bell". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Character profile - Stringer Bell". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Cast & Crew - Andre Royo as Bubbles". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Character profile - Bubbles". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Cast & Crew - Frankie R. Faison as Ervin Burrell". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Character profile - Ervin Burrell". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  19. ^ "Cast & Crew - John Doman as William Rawls". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Character profile - William Rawls". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  21. ^ "Cast & Crew - Wendell Pierce as William "Bunk" Moreland". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Character profile - Bunk Moreland". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  23. ^ "Cast & Crew - Clarke Peters as Lester Freamon". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  24. ^ "Character profile - Lester Freamon". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  25. ^ "Cast & Crew - Paul Ben Victor as Spiros "Vondas" Vondopolous". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  26. ^ "Cast & Crew - Amy Ryan as Beatrice "Beadie" Russell". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  27. ^ "Cast & Crew - Chris Bauer as Frank Sobotka". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  28. ^ "Character profile - Spiros "Vondas" Vondopolous". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  29. ^ "Character profile - Beatrice "Beadie" Russell". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  30. ^ "Character profile - Frank Sobotka". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  31. ^ "Cast & Crew - Pablo Schreiber as Nick Sobotka". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  32. ^ "Character profile - Nick Sobotka". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  33. ^ "Cast & Crew - James Ransone as Ziggy Sobotka". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  34. ^ "Character profile - Ziggy". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  35. ^ "Cast & Crew - Bill Raymond as The Greek". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  36. ^ "Character profile - The Greek". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  37. ^ "Cast & Crew - Jim True-Frost as Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski". HBO. 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2008. 
  38. ^ "Cast & Crew - Seth Gilliam as Ellis Carver". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  39. ^ "Character profile - Ellis Carver". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  40. ^ "Cast & Crew - Domenick Lombardozzi as Thomas "Herc" Hauk". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  41. ^ "Character profile - Thomas "Herc" Hauk". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  42. ^ "Cast & Crew - JD Williams as Preston "Bodie" Broadus". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  43. ^ "Character profile - Preston "Bodie" Broadus". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  44. ^ "Cast & Crew - Michael Kenneth Williams as Omar Little". HBO. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  45. ^ "Character profile - Omar Little". HBO. 2006. Retrieved December 19, 2007. 
  46. ^ "Episode guide - episode 14 ebb tide". HBO. 2004. Retrieved August 6, 2006. 
  47. ^ "Episode guide - episode 15 collateral damage". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  48. ^ "Episode guide - episode 16 hot shots". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  49. ^ "Episode guide - episode 17 hard cases". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  50. ^ "Episode guide - episode 18 undertow". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  51. ^ "Episode guide - episode 19 all prologue". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  52. ^ "Episode guide - episode 20 backwash". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  53. ^ "Episode guide - episode 21 duck and cover". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  54. ^ "Episode guide - episode 22 stray rounds". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  55. ^ "Episode guide - episode 23 storm warnings". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  56. ^ "Episode guide - episode 24 bad dreams". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  57. ^ "Episode guide - episode 25 Port in a Storm". HBO. 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2006. 
  58. ^ "The Wire: Season 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 8, 2017. 

External links[edit]