Port in a Storm
The Wire | Season 2 | Episode 12

Port in a Storm

TV-MA | 1 HR 3 MIN

Directed by Robert F. Colesberry
Story by David Simon
Teleplay by David Simon & Ed Burns

"Business. Always business." - The Greek

At the cargo terminal, stevedores and checkers gathering at dawn for a day of work notice a police launch idling in the harbor, a policeman struggling with another floater. About the same time, Nick knocks on his uncle Frank Sobotka's door and learns he never returned home the previous evening. Fearing the worst, he races to the desolate spot under the Key Bridge where Sobotka was to meet Vondas and The Greek the evening before and finds Sobotka's truck parked and locked. At the dock, the longshoremen — including Sobotka's colleagues Ott, Maui, Moonshot, Little Big Roy — meet the police launch. Nick arrives at the same moment and sees, as the policemen lift off a body — Frank Sobotka — stabbed, throat slashed and blue from 18 hours in the water.

Stringer Bell visits Brother Mouzone in the hospital, inquiring of his recovery. Telling Mouzone that "we got your back" and "whoever did this, we find 'em," Stringer finds Mouzone even colder and more remote than usual. "I appreciate the offer," Mouzoune says, "but that won't be necessary. Inform Mr. Barksdale that any obligation he feels might have with regards to this incident, it's absolved, along with our agreement." Stringer, unable too resist asking if Mouzone knows who shot him, is dismissed with a curt "Thank you for your concern."

Nick, consumed with grief and guilt, is watched over by Horseface and others at his uncle's office. When he grows angry however and tries to leave, vowing to "kill 'em, all of 'em. Fucking Greek bastards," Coxson and La-La stop him, reminding him of Ziggy's fate. Instead, with his father, he turns himself in at police headquarters.

Omar, visiting Butchie at the ghetto bar, tells him that, incited by Stringer, he shot Brother Mouzone, whom Stringer said had killed Brandon. He didn't actually kill Mouzone, Omar explains, because Mouzone seemed genuinely puzzled when Omar accused him of killing Brandon. Butchie confirms Omar's insight, explaining that Mouzone works his evil "mostly up north — New York and Philly." Omar, realizing he's been played by Stringer, is furious with himself. "I'm going at Stringer," he vows, and when Butchie gives him Stringer's phone number, he's off.

In Valchek's office, Daniels explains that the night before, Sobotka had agreed to spill the beans on the Greeks. "So he lays down with gangsters, gets up with his throat cut. I almost feel sorry for the sonofabitch," Valchek says in a rare moment of sympthy. When the conversation turns to the contretemps with Prez, Valchek says he intends to bring charges against his son-in-law. Daniels, at his cunning best, explains all the witnesses to the incident — FBI agents and his own detail — wrote up reports on what they saw, and included the fact that Valchek incited Prez, a subordinate officer. Valchek backs down and demands a slap-on-the-wrist punishment for Prez. Daniels smiles secretly, having saved his man.

In Burrell's office with Rawls, Daniels and the FBI's Reese and Fitzhugh, Pearlman explains that Sobotka was planning to cooperate with police before he was killed. Burrell wonders if they have a leak in the squad. Daniels trusts his people, he says, and Pearlman has everything under lock and key at the courthouse. Only Fitzhugh seems uncertain, but he says nothing. Daniels explains that all the suspects in the case have been picked up except for the number two man — Vondas — who's still at large because they are "hoping he'll lead us to number one." He admits, however, that Vondas has eluded his tail at the moment. But when he's picked up, Pearlman says, they have a solid case of racketeering, drugs and prostitution against him. As for the union, Reese explains, with Sobotka dead, the FBI has an inconsequential case against a subordinate or two of his. But, she adds, "the important thing... was to make a public example. Either the union jettisons the current leadership, or we have enough to get that local decertified." Rawls remains obsessed with the 14 unsolved murders on his hands. "When, oh when, do we get to that bit of business?" he asks.

Vondas, the detail learns, has dumped his Mercedes in a parking garage, abandoned his home as well as cell phone calls and text messages. They do not realize that he is visiting The Greek at a hotel in downtown Baltimore to discuss how much effort should be put into killing Nick, who, having realized they've killed his uncle, is more inclined to spill his guts to the police. "I am thinking there is nothing to be done at this point," The Greek responds. They also discuss the 150 kilos of heroin soon to arrive at the cargo dock, and decide to let it remain there. "Lambs go to slaughter," The Greek says. "A man — he learns when to walk away." They also discuss providing good legal help for Eton, Serge and the Russian madam, all in police custody, so no one will flip.

Ushered into the detail office, Nick marvels at the bulletin board and its detail on the whole case. "You guys are on all of it, huh?" he says. He tells Pearlman, Freamon and Bunk not to bother with a lawyer for him. "They killed my uncle. I don't need to talk to no one but you people," he says. He knows the Greeks killed Sobotka, he says, because Sobotka met with them the previous evening, after having told Nick of his intention to finger them. Nick felt he had convinced Sobotka to change his mind by revealing the Greeks' plan to bring pressure on the clerk in Glekas's store to change his story. If Ziggy could claim self-defense, he'd walk, Nick says. And Sobotka, apparently agreeing with him, had left to meet with the Greeks.

Nick also explains to the cops that the longshoremen really weren't aware of the girls who died in the container. "We were paid by the can," he says, "to creep the shit off the docks. That's all." He also exonerates Sobotka in any drug dealing, admitting that he did that on his own. Bunk explains to Nick that Sobotka had cut a deal to make things easier on Nick and on Ziggy before he was killed, and the police are willing to extend that deal to Nick. "You can walk with a suspended sentence on the drug counts if you testify against the Greeks and their people."

Nick pounces on the offer and ticks off what he knows of the operation, fingering Vondas ("He told me an' Frank what cans to disappear, and when it got to me an' the drugs, he was the one who hooked that up."); Eton ("their drug guy"); Glekas ("in charge of stolen shit"); and Serge ("he drove for them"). The only lie he tells, trying to save one of his own, is that Horseface is clean. He also tells them it was Serge who went to Philly and killed the Atlantic Light seaman because he was responsible for the death of the girls. And he I'Ds a photo of The Greek, marking their primary target for the first time. Realizing Nick is a prime target now for the Greeks, the police pick up his girlfriend Aimee and his daughter and sequester the three of them in a motel room.

Freamon provides the second reminder to Fitz that the leaks in the investigation seemed to develop only after the FBI became involved. Troubled, Fitz calls the San Diego Field Office and is speechless when he learns that Agent Koutris is no longer there, and in fact was transferred to the D.C. counterterrorism unit more than a year ago.

Stringer visits Avon in prison and tells him Mouzone was ambushed in his motel room and that Mouzone is going home once he recovers from his wounds. Avon is irritated when Stringer tells him he asked Mouzone who shot him. "How you gonna ask a soldier like Mouzone a question like that? Either he gonna say, or he gonna go to work on it. But either way, you ain't askin' such shit." Their relationship is more fragile than ever, but Avon concedes to the alliance with Proposition Joe, and they part nevertheless with knuckles to the window once again.

At the cargo dock in Philly, Bunk and Freamon find security video of Serge driving his car onto the docks and kidnapping the seaman from the Atlantic Light weeks earlier. Confronted with the evidence back at the interrogation room, Serge flips, fingering Vondas as the seaman's killer and explaining that he was murdered because he had killed the women in the container. The fourteen homicides solved at last, the cops press Serge for details on the whereabouts of Vondas and The Greek. He directs them to a downtown hotel room, but by the time the cops arrive, the two are gone, passing through customs at the airport. "Business or pleasure on this trip," a customs inspector asks them. "Business. Always business," The Greek replies, and boards the plane.

At a bar in Baltimore, the squad wraps up the case with a few drinks. Nick has copped to smuggling on the cargo docks and dealing drugs; Serge has cleared up the murder of the girls; White Mike is down for narcotics. The question is whether to bring Proposition Joe in, too, since they have enough to indict him. Greggs suggests they wait, revealing a surveillance photo of Stringer meeting with Proposition Joe. "Major case squad would have some fun with that mess, dontcha think?" she says. And Fitzhugh comes clean with Daniels, telling him that the leak was not in fact with the police squad but most likely through FBI agent Koutris, now with the 9/11 boys in D.C. "I'm guessing Vondas or The Greek was an asset to them. Hooked up like that over who knows what."

It's left to Beadie Russell to sum it up: "I mean we locked some people up, right? But Frank is still gonna be dead and the port is still screwed and the guy who killed the girls, he got killed anyway. And the girls — I mean the ones we locked up, they're probably back in Europe right now getting into another shipping container."