The Wire
Undertow

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Wing Chun: B- | 1 USERS: A
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"They Used To Make Steel There, No?"

Nick and Ziggy are Hardy Boy-ing it up at the public library, looking up the chemicals Glekas wanted them to get. Nick isn't sure that Ziggy even knows what he's doing (fair question, since he's searching on MSN instead of Google), but Ziggy implies that while Nick's people are just dumb lunkheads, guys in the checkers' local are computer-trained. And apparently Ziggy's not that far off, as Nick seems not to be conversant even with what a search engine is. As the first search results come up, Ziggy rhetorically asks why they even care what Glekas wants this stuff for: "If they want it, they want it. I mean, besides, if I don't get some money soon, I'm fucking toasted." Ziggy clicks on the first search result, and ends up at StreetDrugs.biz, where they learn that potassium permanganate is a controlled substance because it's used to process coca leaves into cocaine. Nick and Ziggy lean forward, smirking. I guess if it's probably not for a bomb, it's all good.

Port of Baltimore. A port guy is telling Bunk and Beadie that they "don't have that kind of stealing going on...It's not like the old days." Perish the thought. As the whistling starts to ring out all around, the guy admits that there's "a little" theft, "here and there," but that the new technology has curbed it. Ah, yes: technology. The cause of, or solution to, any problem.

In the tower, Naïve McGee shows Beadie and Bunk, on Ringo's monitor, how it works. Ringo impatiently slaps him away, and then Frank is there, announcing that Ringo's stressed out from misplacing a container of tuna steaks from Japan, which were to have been in Jessup the day before. Ringo sighs heavily, and then tells Frank to bite him. McGee starts to introduce Frank to Bunk and Beadie, but Frank jovially says that he knows who they are. McGee tells the cops that Frank helped to set up the computer system. Who better! He adds that Frank is probably better qualified to explain it than McGee is, and takes off to let Frank work his magic. He leans over near Ringo's monitor as he narrates that they're looking at the Aqua Verde, in Berth 4. He picks up a printout as he explains that "the plan calls for eighty-five moves" -- some containers coming off the ship, and others being loaded back on. He directs the cops to look at Ringo's monitor: "Every time a can goes on or off, the computer creates a record and puts it in the permanent database." Bunk tells Frank that McGee told them that the computer made theft from the docks much more difficult. Frank chuckles that, at the moment, they have 160 boxes missing from Patapsco alone. Beadie looks sharply over at Bunk. Frank adds that the last time they inventoried the truck chassis, they "came up three hundred light." "A hundred and sixty, huh," says Bunk, almost laughing. Frank says that not all of those will be stolen; some are just lost. He picks up a handheld device, like the one we saw Ziggy with way back when, and says that they use radio waves, and that with all the equipment and stacks of containers, the waves can get knocked down; it also happens that a checker makes the wrong entry, "either 'cause he's lazy, he's sloppy, or he's still shitfaced from the night before." The camera cuts over to Ringo, as if to show that he's not going to deny it. Bunk holds out his hand to inspect the handheld, and Frank says that entries can get screwed up if the person using the device has fat fingers, "no offense." Heh. He asks the cops to imagine what it's like on the docks in February: "You're wearing Gore-Tex gloves, trying to punch numbers on that thing..." Beadie asks if Frank's suggesting that's what happened with the container full of dead women. Frank, his face completely blank, shrugs, "Beadie, darling, I don't know what happened there. I'm just saying, if you go by the computer, it might look like there's some kind of dirt going down, when it's really just a glitch in the system." Bunk, casually, says that the Customs seal on the container in question had been broken: "Shouldn't that get noticed?" Frank says that when his guys are offloading a ship that's "the size of a small town," a broken Customs seal might get noticed, but it could as easily be missed. Bunk looks over at Beadie, who looks over at Frank, who offers, "Look, you wanna keep pulling our chain, you can. But it ain't like it's just that one box that went missing. We lose them sumbitches all the time." I.B.S.: A Tradition Of Pride.

Bunk and Beadie head back to their car, past McGee, who asks whether Frank gave them everything they needed. Beadie breezes that he did. Once they've passed the dock guys, Bunk mutters to Beadie, "They're playing us." Oh, no shit?

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