"The bigger the lie, the more they believe." - Bunk
Det. William "Bunk" Moreland interviews a corner boy who's trying to remain silent. Bunk points out the futility of his silence - the kid's own running partner has already rolled in exchange for some lunch. Bunk opens the door to the interview room and signals to Det. Edward Norris, who in turn nods to Det. Michael Crutchfield who walks the corner boy's partner by the open door - just as he is handed a McDonald's bag. Meanwhile, a rookie cop has prepped three sheets of paper that say: True, True, False. Bunk verifies the order as they march the corner kid to the Xerox machine and duct tape his hand to the glass - explaining that it's a flawless lie detector test. "Professor" Sgt. Jay Landsman oversees the exam. Starting with easy questions (name and place of residence) the machine verifies his answers: True. But when Bunk asks the boy whether he and his friend Monnel shot Pookie, the boy denies it, and the machine reports its verdict, "FALSE." Landsman swears the machine is never wrong, and the boy gives up the truth on the spot.
Dets. Shakima "Kima" Greggs and Leander Sydnor stake out Marlo's lair in the surveillance van while Dets. James "Jimmy" McNulty and Kenneth Dozerman watch from a nearby school roof. Bored, Dozerman mentions to McNulty a story he heard about a police report Jimmy wrote including details of being blown by a whore while on assignment. McNulty, asks Dozerman if he believes everything he reads.
The surveillance continues as Marlo and Snoop inform a dealer that the new split is sixty-forty. Realizing he has no choice, the dealer gives in. After the meet with the dealer, one of Marlo's new hires whispers something to a young boy who takes off on a Vespa, and Greggs and Sydnor radio Det. Lester Freamon, who picks up the boy's tail in his unmarked car.
At the roll call room in the Western District, Sgt. Ellis Carver in his S.I.C. uniform presides over an unruly group of officers, including Officers Lloyd "Truck" Carrick and Anthony Colicchio. The group complains about the lack of overtime and court pay, now five weeks overdue. Carver insists that promises previously made will eventually be kept. But when he returns to the readouts and informs them that everyone must make due with their vehicles in their current state of repair, the officers erupt again.
While Carver is reporting to Maj. Dennis Mello about the officers' discontent, they're called to the back lot, where a fight has broken out over a vehicle returned in disrepair. Carver feels he should break it up, but Mello is content to let the men exercise their frustration with their fists.
Freamon and Sydnor, who've been following the kid on the Vespa for a half hour, now watch as he waits for Chris Partlow with Michael Lee. Once the message is delivered to Partlow, the kid rides off, and Michael remains. Chris tells him to check on his corner, and he'll get word to him if the meet is on. As Lester climbs in his car to follow Partlow, he gets a radio call from McNulty: Marlo's on the move, but following him is pointless since they know where he's going.
Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti, his Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf and Norman Wilson meet with Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burell and Deputy Comm. for Operations William A. Rawls. The police can't provide a drop in crime stats with the budget cuts, and Carcetti can't provide more money - it's all going to schools. When asked where else they can trim, Rawls suggests the investigation into the murders in the vacants. Carcetti points out that headlines saying they're giving up on the murders won't look good. Rawls suggests suspending it temporarily - and lifting the ten-hour cap from secondary jobs so the rank and file can get their extra income elsewhere. Carcetti agrees. Once the meeting is over, Carcetti taunts Norman into saying what he's thinking: That he should have taken the money the Governor offered.
Chris meets up with Marlo, who tells him the dealer agreed to the 60/40 split so Chris's guys can stand down. They both know they're being watched, so they bid their goodbyes and head off. With no new developments, and no OT to show for their time, Greggs and Sydnor bug Lester to call it a day.
Duquan "Dukie" Weems is heading up Michael's new corner but his workers don't seem to want to answer to him, especially Spider. When Michael drops by, Dukie's inability to run his own corner is obvious. Michael sends him home to wait for Bug and takes over - checking the count with a now compliant Spider.
Back at the Detail office, McNulty, Dozerman, Greggs, Sydnor and Freamon file for the OT they know they won't be paid. When Greggs asks Lt. James Asher - busy with the model of his beach house - what he's heard about OT payouts, he shrugs, claiming he's not in the loop, which is no surprise to any of them. As they all head out, Lester offers to buy a round or two.
Col. Cedric Daniels gets the news from Burrell and Rawls that the vacants investigation is getting put on hold. He's also being relieved of his take-home vehicle.
At their new place, Michael tells Dukie he doesn't need to put in time on the corner to get paid; he's doing enough taking care of Bug. Dukie scoffs at being a nanny but Michael insists that it's a valuable duty and, before Bug gets home, Dukie's time is his own.
At the bar, McNulty, drunk, complains to Lester and Greggs about the OT cuts and lack of surveillance vans or cameras. Bunk shows up, and when the bartender won't accept their OT slips as pay, they debate knocking over a liquor store to pay their bar tabs.
In the "smoking lounge" on the loading dock outside the Baltimore Sun, City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes talks about layoff rumors with veteran police reporter Roger Twigg and City general assignment reporter Bill Zorzi. Haynes heads back to the newsroom and checks up on his reporters, nudging them to make the e-dot and double dot deadlines. He spots reporters Olesker and Lippman looking out the window at smoke and shames them into finding out what it is. He calls the photo desk to ask them to surprise him with a pretty picture of the fire as he returns to writing his budget lines for the deadline.
Carcetti meets with City Council President Nerese Campbell and the U.S. Attorney. The Mayor asks for help with resources for the vacants investigation. The US Attorney wants him to turn over the Clay Davis investigation to the Feds in exchange. Carcetti insists it's State's Attorney Bond's call - and Bond has decided to keep the case local. After the U.S. Attorney leaves, Campbell and Wilson chide Carcetti for getting caught up in the politics of who hangs Clay Davis - and for shutting out the Feds when they are in desperate need of help.
Watching Marlo, Greggs and Dozerman see him head into a Holiday Inn with a woman. "P**sy call" says Greggs. But inside, Marlo sends the girl to a room to watch TV while he goes to the conference room for a New Day Co-op meeting already in session, including Proposition Joe Stewart, Slim Charles, Calvin "Cheese" Wagstaff, Hungry Man and Fatface Rick. Prop Joe is lobbying for the eastside dealers, who are being displaced by Johns Hopkins' development, to have dibs on the new market along Route 40 and at Turner's Station. Marlo shakes things up with the suggestion that Prop Joe let Slim Charles have a stab at the new territory. Slim Charles declines and whispers to Prop Joe not to "sleep on Marlo." Meanwhile, Marlo and Cheese exchange a look.
Bubbles sits alone in his sister's basement. She has to go to work and won't let him stay inside when she's not home. He tries to convince her to just lock him out of the main house, since he has nowhere to go. But she insists that he follow her rules and forces him to leave.
McNulty and Sydnor are on Partlow, who pays a visit to the Mitchell Courthouse.
Inside the Courthouse, State's Attorney Rupert Bond is confronted by A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman and Daniels with the news that the plug's being pulled on the Major Crimes unit and their investigation into Marlo Stanfield and the vacants. Bond asks what this means for his Clay Davis investigation - if Lester Freamon's shipped back to Homicide, there is no case. Daniels has a few minutes with the Mayor and plans to ask to keep the Stanfield investigation going, Bond asks to join him. Meanwhile, Chris Partlow enters the courthouse and approaches the group unrecognized, asking them for directions to the criminal clerk's office.
Haynes, Phelps, Metro Editor Steven Luxenberg and a dozen other editors gather in Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow's office as he runs the metro budget meeting. Phelps and Luxenberg admit that they're chasing the Daily Record on the story on MTA cutbacks but blame their lack of a transportation reporter. Klebanow scolds their inability to do more with less. Haynes gives the City desk rundown. When Regional Affairs Editor Beth Corbett reports they have 15 inches on University of Maryland not making its desegregation goals, Executive Editor James C. Whiting III who has joined them, squashes the story based on a personal connection to U.M. Dean of Journalism Gene Robbins, who insists things have changed for the better. Haynes, obviously irritated by the blatant dismissal of a good story, attempts to protest Whiting's bias by mock-mispronouncing Robbins's name and mentioning off-handedly that he is white.
Partlow spots McNulty as he leaves the clerk's office. McNulty goes in after Partlow and sees what he's been looking at: the file for State of Maryland v. Sergei Malatov. Rejoining Sydnor in the car, McNulty tells him that Chris was looking up the Russian they locked up in the docks case several years back.
In the newsroom, Haynes calls Alma Gutierrez and gives her a lesson about the word "evacuate." Rewrite man Spry explains: You can evacuate a building, but to evacuate a person is to give him an enema. At the desk next to Gutierrez, Scott Templeton, a metro general assignment reporter, complains about Baltimore as a news town, pointing out that hardly any stories go national from the city. She mentions the dead bodies in the vacants from last year, but he counters by reminding her that the case hasn't been solved.
Haynes spots an item at the end of the City Council agenda, a vote on a variance to change the zoning on two parcels of land in a real estate exchange. The owner of one of the parcels is Ricardo Hendrix, aka, Fat Face Rick. Haynes orders Price to find out if it's Campbell or Carcetti behind it and calls on Alma to head to Rick's property - a strip club called Desperado's - to insist that until she gets a comment from Rick as to why he's trading property with the city, they'll put his picture on the cover of the paper. Templeton is obviously put off when he's assigned to write background while Alma gets the choice assignment.
Daniels and Bond catch Carcetti on his way out of the building - unbeknownst to them, their meeting had been cancelled. The Mayor gives them two minutes on the spot. They make their plea to not shut down Major Crimes, but Carcetti insists there's no money. When Bond says it's the same unit investigating Clay Davis, the Mayor offers two men for Clay, the rest is shut down. As they watch the Mayor and Wilson go, Daniels bitterly notes: "So one thieving politician trumps twenty-two dead bodies. Good to know."
At the bar, Carver, Dozerman and Colicchio bring Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk up to speed on the latest budget cutbacks. Herc, sporting an expensive suit, asks them to run some tags, promising to buy the next round now that he's making money in his new job as an investigator for a prominent defense attorney.
In the newsroom, Haynes brings Klebanow up to speed on the City Council dirt story - Fat Face Rick sells a building to the city for $1.2 million, and they sell him a better property to relocate his club five blocks away for $200k -' and so far they've found at least $40k of campaign donations to Campbell from Rick Hendrix and others at the same address. Klebanow gives it front page, below the fold. Haynes gets a call from Nerese, speaking off the record, who insists they need the property for redevelopment and it's in the city's interest to make Mr. Hendricks relocate. He asks her about the $60k donated to her campaign. When she doesn't object he knows there's at least $20k in contributions they haven't found yet.
McNulty, obviously inebriated, calls home to Beadie from the bar, telling her that he's working late and insisting that his slurred speech is just caused by fatigue.
At the newspaper bar, Haynes and the team celebrate a job well done. Gutierrez is happy with her contributing line and to be working for the Sun. But Templeton, obviously dissatisfied, has his sights set on the Times or the Post.
At home, Ofc. Beatrice "Beadie" Russell checks on her kids and looks out the door into the night, waiting for McNulty.
Daniels breaks the news to Freamon and his team about their investigation being shut down. Greggs and McNulty are back to Homicide. Dozerman is assigned to tactical for now. The Lt. is doing a 4-12 in the Northern and Freamon and Sydnor are assigned to State's Attorney's office for the Clay Davis investigation.
In the newsroom, everyone's impressed with the late-breaking page-one story. Templeton requests the reaction story, but Haynes has already assigned it. In a thinly veiled dismissal, he tells Templeton to stay hungry.
At his law office job, Herc proudly reports to his boss Maurice "Maury" Levy that he got the info run through his police buddies in exchange for buying a round at the bar. Levy educates him that as a prominent defense investigator, he should be buying all of the rounds: "You need to learn a little something about the expense account."
Greggs and McNulty return to Homicide, and McNulty stares down a rookie sitting in his old desk until he finally takes the hint and moves. He slumps into his chair, miserable. "The prodigal son," notes Landsman.
'This ain't Aruba, B*tch' - Bunk
Walon conducts a Narcotics Anonymous meeting at a church, where an addict named Dee-Dee shares with the group. When she finishes with time left in the meeting, Walon calls on Bubbles to speak. He starts by cracking jokes but, when he searches for something more meaningful to say, remains silent.
At the Detail's office on Clinton St., Detectives Leandor Sydnor and Lester Freamon review documents from the investigation of State Senator R. Clayton "Clay" Davis. The records show donations to daycare centers and basketball programs - but no community services appear to have taken place. Sydnor points out the obvious - Davis is stealing from his own non-profits - but Lester alludes to the bigger picture: The money on record hints at cash that's never even shown up on paper. The drug war is lost, Freamon adds; no amount of seized dope will make any difference. But to follow the profits and prove how drugs flow through Baltimore, making the entire city complicit - well, that would be a career case.
Beside two S.U.V.s in a vacant lot, Marlo Stanfield, Chris Partlow and Felicia "Snoop" Pearson discuss business. Chris has felt police surveillance slip away - no tails, helicopters or cameras. With Snoop eager to get back to work, Marlo gives his orders: Hit Webster Franklin's corners to force him onto their package, take out June Bug for mouthing off and find Omar.
Chris, after assuring Marlo they'll handle everything, warns that Omar will come right back at them. Marlo brushes off the warning and asks if Chris has set up a meeting for him at Jessup Correctional Institution. Chris hands his boss a photo of the Russian, Sergei "Serge" Malatov, and assures him he's on the visiting list.
After Bubbles' N.A. meeting, Walon approaches him outside the church and asks why he clammed up in front of the group. Bubbles answers with a shrug, and Walon gently lectures him that while everyone laughs at their mistakes, there's a lot to be said between jokes.
"I thought you might stand up and talk about Sherrod," Walon says. Bubbles turns to escape, but Walon grabs his arm, telling his friend he needs to let the boy's death go. Bubbles shoots back that he hasn't missed a meeting, but Walon isn't talking about showing up at a church - Bubbles needs to reconcile the way he feels.
At the homicide unit detectives James "Jimmy" McNulty, Shakima "Kima" Greggs and William "Bunk" Moreland kick back while Det. Michael Crutchfield reads the Baltimore Sun, pointing out that Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti has lifted the cap on secondary employment as a peace offering for their unpaid overtime.
Crutchfield says he's already rounded up a lucrative security job at a jewelry shop, and Greggs remarks that guarding trinkets has taken priority over solving murders. Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman steps into the conversation, noticing that homicide has had a quiet night.
McNulty, eager for a punching bag, jumps in to add that the bodies should start piling up now that the Stanfield investigation has been shelved. He blames Pearlman's office for letting the investigation collapse and allowing gun charges against Snoop and Chris to languish in court. Pearlman walks away, pointedly saying goodbye to the others, and when dispatch calls with a body, McNulty snatches the slip and stalks out.
In the parking garage, McNulty searches level after level, unable to find his unmarked car. When he finally locates it - on the top floor - he punches the gas only to hear the flap of a flat tire. Past his limit, he jumps out of the car and kicks in the door panel.
Carcetti, Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf, Norman Wilson and State Delegate Odell Watkins meet at City Hall. The discussion centers on Carcetti's gubernatorial strategy, which Steintorf suggests propping up with a rise in test scores among the city's third-graders.
With the police budget gutted, Carcetti can't run on the crime rate, and he wonders about postponing the campaign for five years. Steintorf cautions him that five years in Baltimore might swallow any chance he has. He adds that Council President Nerese Campbell's recent real estate scandal makes Carcetti vulnerable - if voting him into the state house means handing the city over to a corrupt mayor, he can't expect much support. As the meeting wraps up and the mayor leaves, Watkins asks Steintorf whether Carcetti's running for governor two years into his mayoral term feels a little thin, but Steintorf tells him "thin" is business as usual.
City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes finishes a cigarette outside the Baltimore Sun and runs into Scott Templeton as the reporter returns with a story: Single mother of four dies from blue-crab allergy. Haynes gives him an "attaboy" before turning back to his smoking buddies and pointing out that the single mother of four is always catching a tough break.
In West Baltimore, McNulty finally arrives at his crime scene - via city bus. Ofc. Bobby Brown, waiting outside a row house, watches the detective step down to the curb and asks him why he didn't take a cab. McNulty replies that he'd never get reimbursed. Inside the house, Brown leads McNulty to the body: a 67-year-old woman who died in bed with a pillow over her face. It's probably natural, says Brown, stepping aside for McNulty, who guesses that she died in her sleep.
Back at the Sun offices, an editorial meeting is underway, and Executive Editor James C. Whiting III explains the education story he has in mind, telling the editors and reporters that he wants to illustrate how the school system has failed the city's children. Education reporter Scott Shane hesitates to defend the schools, but he notes that they're one of many institutions that have failed the kids. Haynes doesn't believe the story can be told without addressing parenting, drugs and economics, but Whiting worries about getting bogged down in details and prefers to boil the story down to something straightforward.
Templeton sides with the boss, saying the story of one classroom doesn't need a lot of context. Haynes disagrees, but Whiting has made up his mind - and thinks Templeton might be the right reporter to lead the charge. After the meeting, Haynes and the rest of the newsroom clamp down on deadline, and reporter Suzanne Wooton walks by his desk. She says she forgot to add the numbers to a port story, so Haynes inputs the figures as she tells him: Overall cargo is down 12 percent, but roll-on, roll-off gained 6.4 percent. Wooton gives him the heads-up as Templeton and managing editor Thomas Klebanow sidle toward his desk. Klebanow says he wants Templeton to write the colour copy for the next day's Orioles game, and Haynes responds with an unenthused, "You're the boss."
Freamon, camped out in his car near a vacant lot on McCulloh Street, finally gets what he's been waiting for when two S.U.V.s pull in. Marlo, Chris and Snoop step into the night to converse, and Freamon sees the sloppy habits he knew would eventually materialize.
Haynes wakes up in his bed experiencing a moment of dread, and his wife asks what's wrong. He tells her to go back to sleep and picks up the phone to call in to the Sun. Rewrite man Jay Spry answers, and Haynes says he's worried he mixed up the numbers from Wooten's port story. Spry pulls the article back from the copy desk and reads the stats back to Haynes, who relaxes after hearing the correct data.
The next morning at the morgue, McNulty waits to meet with the medical examiner about his old woman from the row house, when he hears an argument break out between an assistant M.E. and two Baltimore County detectives he knows: Kevin Infante and Nancy Porter. Refusing to take a body on as a murder, Infante storms out, and Porter gives McNulty the details.
The body of a man who died doing speedballs in his bathroom fell between the toilet and bathtub, suffering post-mortem injuries when the paramedics pulled him out using his neck for leverage. It looks like strangulation, Porter says, even though it's not. The two detectives go to breakfast, and when they finish, McNulty finds Freamon waiting outside to tell him about Marlo's repeated meetings in the McCulloh lot. McNulty tallies the resources needed to bring the kingpin down - a few weeks and some surveillance gear - but knows the tools are out of reach. Freamon suggests searching for an alternative source of funding.
Marlo arrives at Jessup Correctional Institution to meet with Sergei but receives a nasty surprise when he finds Avon Barksdale waiting to cut a deal. The incarcerated gangster says that he's an authority figure in the prison, explaining how he figures that Marlo plans to bypass Prop Joe's Co-Op and get the same product by dealing directly with Sergei's boss, Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos. Avon has "nuthin' but love" for west-side crews, he says, but his fee for putting people together comes in at $100k.
Templeton sifts through the Orioles home-opener crowds, searching for the hook to his colour story, but the fans aren't giving the quotes he needs. People on the street brush him off; a spectator complains that steroids have ruined baseball; It appears the super fan he wants to feature doesn't exist.
Freamon and McNulty find the back door to their continued investigation of Marlo in a downtown Baltimore parking lot. FBI Special Agent Terrance Fitzhugh drives up in his government-issue Crown Victoria and asks the two detectives why they can't meet in his office like normal people. McNulty says he'd rather keep his name off the front-desk register. Fitzhugh, not surprised at McNulty's sneaking around, asks for the details, and they tell him about the suspended investigation into the body-filled vacants, promising a big headline if the Feds can stitch up the last bit of casework. Fitzhugh promises to run it up the flagpole.
When Templeton returns to the Sun offices after the game, he promises Haynes he got "good stuff." A 13-year-old kid put in a wheelchair by a stray bullet couldn't afford a scalped ticket at the gate; unfortunately, no photographers were available to get art. Haynes starts asking questions to track the source down and get a shot, but the kid, afraid to get busted for skipping school, was sketchy about his background. Templeton gets to work writing the copy, and Haynes sends a rewritist to the clip file to see if she can track down an old story about the boy's injury.
At the detail office, Sydnor and Pearlman sit in front of a stack of subpoenas intended to establish financial accounts at Clay Davis's hearing. When Sydnor asks whether Davis sees the indictment coming, Pearlman replies that Clay Davis has been waiting for the other shoe to drop his whole life. In fact, across town at Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell's office, Davis has already shown up to call in a marker. But the commissioner can't help him - a Grand Jury is beyond his influence. Davis promises that he'll remember this lack of support. After he stomps out, Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls enters with a stat report, its numbers massaged "as much as we dare."
McNulty meets back up with Fitzhugh at the parking lot downtown, but the FBI agent arrives bearing bad news: the U.S. attorney won't touch the case as a matter of personal vengeance against City Hall. Fitzhugh says he'll find out what happened, but he tells McNulty to give up on any federal backup for his investigation.
In the Sun newsroom, Haynes still can't track down Templeton's 13-year-old source, and when he tells the reporter that he needs more than a nickname and description to run the story, Templeton resents the implication. Just as Haynes tries to explain that he's not implying anything, Whiting walks up and pats Templeton on the back for a job well done. When Haynes tests the waters before protesting further, Whiting overrules him.
That night in West Baltimore, Snoop, Monk and O-Dog stake out Webster Franklin's corner crew, getting ready to send a message. "Let's get all West Coast wid it," O-Dog says, and as Snoop pulls up to the corner, he fires shots wildly out the window, hitting nothing. Snoop screeches to a halt, hops out of the truck and draws aim on a running silhouette, which she drops with one shot.
At a bar downtown, Bunk, McNulty and Freamon drink away the sting of their dismantled case and talk about how the "misdemeanor homicides" of dozens of young, black males catch less attention than one missing white girl in Aruba. Bunk turns to McNulty, "This ain't Aruba, bitch." Still, McNulty muses, there must be some way to sort out the mess. Then his attention shifts to a young woman at the end of the bar ...
The next day, Chris, Snoop and Michael Lee, set up outside a house to murder June Bug, and Michael asks why Marlo put the order out. Snoop tells him people on the street say June Bug disrespected Marlo, and when Michael questions that justification for the killing, Snoop warns him to watch his mouth. Chris sends Michael around back to catch anyone who escapes, and Snoop sets off down the street to disable a series of police cameras. Out back, Michael hears gunshots and screams, and when the back door flies open, takes aim with his 9mm, only to see a young boy escaping. Michael lowers the weapon as the boy runs away.
At the homicide unit, McNulty sweats out his hangover with a compress on his face while Greggs points out that he's wearing the same clothes as the night before. Sgt. Jay Landsman interrupts - then compounds - McNulty's misery with a homicide call and, out of pity, sends Bunk along for the ride.
Marlo arrives back at Jessup to meet Sergei, but the Russian makes it clear he has no use for Marlo or the money the gangster added to his canteen account. Sergei has seen worse prisons; this is nothing. Marlo responds that Vondas might want to accept his money a bit more readily - and Sergei could take the credit for setting his boss up with the income. Sergei nods, and as the meet ends, Avon flashes a west-side gang sign at Marlo from across the room.
Bunk and McNulty arrive at the homicide scene, where the first-responding officer waits for them, babysitting the corpse of a homeless man whose life of drugs and booze mark the likely suspect in this "homicide." But McNulty, still pickled in Jameson and carrying a pint in his pocket, has other plans. He sends the officer away, promising to wait for the crime lab, and once he's alone with Bunk, sets to constructing a murder scene. Bunk watches in horror as McNulty falsifies the signs of a struggle and then grabs the corpse by the neck, recreating the same postmortem strangulation marks he saw at the morgue. Bunk tells him repeatedly to stop, and once the job is done, refuses to take responsibility for any part of it. McNulty speaks for the first time as his friend leaves, "There's a serial killer in Baltimore, Bunk. He preys on the weakest among us. He needs to be caught."
"They're dead where it doesn't count." - Fletcher
Det. William "Bunk" Moreland shows up early for his shift and finds Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty still drinking, having spent the night searching through unsolved murder files for a companion case to his fabricated homicide. Bunk warns him they'll both end up in jail and argues that Marlo's not worth it. McNulty insists Marlo's murder cases can't just go away because the mayor and the Police department can't find money to pay for the investigation - he came back to work this case because they promised it would be worked. Bunk threatens to go to Landsman, but when McNulty calls his bluff, Bunk backs down, telling McNulty to keep his name out of the case file.
Alma Gutierrez wakes up at 5 a.m. to buy a copy of the final edition of the Sun, eager to see her first front page story (the triple homicide). Unable to find the paper at an all-night drug store, she drives to the printing plant, only to discover her story's been cut down to 12 inches in the Metro section - below the fold.
Meanwhile, McNulty spots a victim with a red ribbon tied around his wrist along with a report of another unsolved homeless murder that was investigated by the deceased Det. Ray Cole. He heads to the all-night drug store for a spool of red ribbon. Back at the office, he snips some pieces and replicates the knots, dirties it up with his shoe and places it in an evidence envelope for Det. Cole's unsolved case file. Bunk watches an energized McNulty finish typing up his report and when he catches a glimpse of the finished product, orders McNulty into his "office" and chastises him again.
McNulty proudly explains his plan: he found an open homicide with a red ribbon, wrote a red ribbon into Cole's open case and decided to add a ribbon to the original victim to create an instant serial killer. Bunk wants nothing to do with it.
Deputy Commissioner for Administration Stanislaus Valcheck gives Mayor Carcetti advance notice about the latest quarterly crime stats. Pointing to the 4-percent increase in crime for two quarters in a row, Valcheck suggests the mayor fire Police Commissioner Burrell and Deputy Ops Rawls and make Valcheck acting police commissioner until he retires.
In the meantime, Cedric Daniels can be groomed for the commissioner's job. Carcetti promises to think about it and later shares a laugh with Norman Wilson about how City Council President Nerese Campbell and the ministers would deal with "Commissioner Valchek." Still, the increase in crime poses a problem. Carcetti accepts that with the budget cut to the bone, he can't complain when the rate goes up. So as long as Burrell "owns the numbers," the mayor will hold off on a leadership change.
At the Sun, Gutierrez is disappointed with City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes' explanation of why her story was gutted. Fellow reporter Michael Fletcher explains it: The victims lived in the wrong zip code.
At the medical examiner's, McNulty sneaks the ribbon onto the wrist of his victim. When the body gets to Assistant ME Diane Lerner, the detective receives the finding he was looking for: Cause of death is homicide by strangulation.
There's a commotion in the newsroom as Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow and Executive Editor James C. Whiting III round up the staff. Amidst speculation that they've been bought again, or perhaps earned a Pulitzer, the real news is announced: another round of cutbacks has been ordered by the owners in Chicago. Foreign bureaus in Beijing, Moscow, Jerusalem, Johannesburg and London will close, and there will be a fresh round of buyouts in the newsroom. Whiting gives the staff their marching orders: Do more with less.
When Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell and Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls meet with the mayor, they present a different set of crime stats than those Valcheck reported. Their numbers show no drop in crime - but no significant increase either. Carcetti challenges Burrell, insisting he wants clean numbers, and Rawls watches silently as Burrell stands by the stats.
When they leave, Carcetti and Wilson discuss how to replace Burrell, given that he faked the numbers. Knowing the ministers and Nerese Campbell won't accept the white Rawls as Police Commissioner, they decide Wilson should leak the news that the mayor is considering Daniels for the job, to feel out the reaction.
Marlo and Snoop arrive at Little Johnny's Diner on the waterfront with a briefcase full of cash. Explaining that "the Russian" sent him, Marlo hands the briefcase over to counterman Andreas and asks that his gift be passed along to Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos.
A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman presents the case against Senator Clay Davis to the grand jury. Outside, Det. Leander Sydnor and the prosecutor get an earful from impatient witnesses (mostly bankers) waiting to testify, but remain unimpressed.
At the Homicide unit, McNulty talks loudly about the red ribbon he found on his victim, hoping Det. Frank Barlow will make the connection to his own open case. Barlow is oblivious - much to McNulty's frustration and Bunk's satisfaction.
Unable to keep up with their increased cash flow, Marlo and Chris Partlow visit Proposition Joe Stewart to learn how to launder money.
Klebanow and Whiting call in Sun staff members one by one to discuss buyouts. Veteran police reporter Roger Twigg gets a choice - either the copy desk or the buyout - and decides he might as well get to work on the Great American Novel. When the managers call Gus in, they assure him that they need him there to transition the reconfigured team.
Sensing something is bothering his friend, Duquan "Dukie" Weems asks Michael Lee if he wants to talk. Michael confides that the last job he had to do with Chris Partlow (an attack on a family, during which Michael let a little boy escape) got to him. Dukie tries to talk Michael into spending a day at Six Flags with his little brother, Bug. Michael begs off at first - he has his corner to run - but he's tempted.
Partlow and Slim Charles wait impatiently while Marlo and Prop Joe meet with the Pastor inside an East Baltimore church. Inside, the Pastor and Prop Joe explain to Marlo how they clean money with good works projects - financing hospitals and schoolhouses on the Islands that never actually get built.
A drunken McNulty picks up a woman at a downtown bar. Meanwhile, at another bar in another part of Baltimore, Wilson meets Haynes for a drink, leaking the information from a "City Hall source" that Carcetti is planning to fire Burrell and is looking at Daniels as a replacement. Haynes agrees to write a story that will test the reaction to Daniels.
Michael hires a driver to take Dukie, Bug and himself to Six Flags for a day of rides, games and flirting with girls.
Haynes assigns the Daniels story to reporter Scott Templeton, but when he asks what Templeton knows about Daniels, the reporter can't answer, while Roger Twigg reels off an in-depth bio. Knowing he's lost the opportunity, Templeton hands over the Daniels photo as Twigg takes over what may be his final story for the Sun. Haynes leaves Templeton with the task of feeding Twigg some react quotes.
Marlo meets with Vondas, who doesn't want dirty money - meaning bills that are literally unclean - from the street. He prefers the clean way Prop Joe delivers his money and sends Marlo away.
McNulty tries again to talk up his red ribbon case, and this time Barlow reacts, remembering he had a vagrant with a red ribbon, as Bunk watches with disgust.
When Marlo and Snoop ask Prop Joe to clean their money, Joe offers to do it free of charge because they're in the Co-op. Marlo tells Prop Joe and his nephew Cheese that he'd like it if they'd float the word that he's offering a $50k reward for information on Omar's whereabouts. Joe wants to let sleeping dogs lie, but Cheese is intrigued by how badly Marlo wants Omar.
McNulty and Barlow present the red ribbon cases to Landsman who doesn't care about a serial killer of vagrants. McNulty, determined to get some attention, calls Gutierrez at the Sun to tip her off to the story. They meet at a diner and he feeds her the details - suggesting there's a signature that indicates a serial killer.
Templeton hands in an incendiary react quote for Twigg's new Police Commissioner story, suggesting that Daniels has been badmouthing Burrell since the election. When Haynes asks who it is, Templeton demurs, preferring not to name his "high ranking City Hall" source. Haynes pushes, and Templeton finally says the source is Nerese Campbell but insists it is not-for-attribution.
At the Grand Jury room, Pearlman questions Senator Davis's driver, Day-Day, pressing him about how he was able to draw three salaries working three jobs at the same time.
Cheese comes to Chris Partlow with information about Butchie, suggesting he might know Omar's location. Cheese asks that Prop Joe not be told he was the one who provided the information, as he pockets his $50k from Chris.
When Michael returns from Six Flags to check on his corner, Monk gives him a hard time for leaving his post all day without telling anyone and warns him that Chris has already heard about his absence.
When Prop Joe presents an untrusting Marlo with the documentation for his new off-shore account, Marlo worries that he can't actually see his laundered money. Prop Joe urges Marlo to get a passport so he can take a trip and visit his money in person.
At the end of Twigg's shift, Twigg and Haynes drink and reminisce about what drew them to the newspaper business.
The story about Carcetti considering Daniels as Police Commissioner is front page news, and Rawls' phone goes unanswered as Burrell tries to reach him. Meanwhile Pearlman congratulates Daniels, who's upset by the unattributed quote implying he was gunning for the job.
When McNulty searches for the story about the killer of homeless men and finds it buried in the Metro section, he tosses the paper in disgust. Later, Landsman ridicules the placement that McNulty's "Ripper" story rated and tells him he can work his serial killer case for another day or two; then he's back in rotation.
Daniels meets with his ex-wife Marla, now a City Councilwoman, and she urges him to go to Burrell and tell him he's not behind the job shake-up. She warns that Burrell will come forward with the file he's got on them from the old days. Daniels wonders if he would, given he's sat it on for so long already, and suggests that an old assets investigation and "loose talk" couldn't do much damage anyway.
But Marla warns that if it's about his own survival, Burrell will use the file and ruin everything they've both worked for. Taking Cedric's hand Marla reminds her ex-husband that they've already lost enough.
Snoop and Chris bust into Butchie's place, tie him up and torture him, trying to get him to talk about Omar. When Butchie won't give up any information, they kill him. Chris slaps Butchie's wounded worker, Big Guy, and tells him to make sure Omar hears everything that happened. Snoop wonders why they're doing this when it will just make Omar come after them, but Chris counters: "Marlo wants Omar, what else you need to know?"
Clay Davis comes to Carcetti for help with the Grand Jury case, offering to help the mayor get the ministers' support for Daniels as quid pro quo. But Carcetti and Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf point out that the story about Daniels as an ultimate replacement for Burrell has been out all day, and no one's called to complain. Carcetti sends Davis away to fend for himself.
Marlo arrives at a bank in St. Martin's to see his money.
McNulty explains his serial killer plan to Det. Lester Freamon, as Bunk paces. When Freamon tells him he "f**ked up," Bunk is relieved that someone may finally talk some sense into McNulty. But Freamon means Jimmy didn't go far enough with his plan: It needs to be more sensational. He has to give the killer some twisted fantasies. Bunk leaves in disbelief as the two conspire about next steps - including killing again.
Enjoying his life of anonymity in an idyllic spot, Omar is interrupted from another pleasant day with news of Butchie's murder. His vacation is over.
"Buyer's market out there." - Templeton
While Michael Lee and his crew lounge on their corner, Ofcs. Anthony Colicchio and Lloyd "Truck" Carrick" watch from theirs. Kenard shows up and makes a big show of stashing a paper bag under a row house step. Dumbfounded at the boy's stupidity, Colicchio and Truck go for the bust. When Colicchio discovers the bag is filled with dog excrement, he rounds the corner boys up anyway, causing a traffic jam. Sgt. Ellis Carver arrives on the scene and tries to ease the escalating tensions, but Colicchio loses his temper with an innocent motorist. As the detective beats the man up, the kids cheer.
At the Clinton Street detail office, Det. Leander Sydnor moans when he realizes the $80k withdrawal he's been tracing from State Senator Clay Davis's personal count isn't dirty - it's just a loan he's repaying from his mother-in-law. But Det. Lester Freamon says it's the break they've been looking for. "Head shot," he calls it, on his way out....
Sitting across from Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell, Col. Cedric Daniels tries to convince him that he wasn't going after his job and will decline it if it's offered. Burrell stares at him, unresponsive.
Scott Templeton puts the finishing touches on his clip book before leaving for an interview at The Washington Post. Meanwhile Alma Gutierrez works to substantiate a rumor she picked up on her calls that Burrell might be fired today.
In search of another body for his serial killer case, Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty finds out from the morgue that a lot of homeless are being reported dead after midnight in the Southern district. He calls Freamon to find out who they know working the overnight shift in the Southern.
Proposition Joe buys a floral arrangement for Butchie's funeral, dictating a note that makes it clear Joe is a "loyal friend." Slim Charles doubts that a nice note will keep Omar from coming after them. Prop Joe admits he suspects Cheese was the one who tipped Marlo off about Butchie, but he wants to wait and watch him closely to be certain.
Although he's impressed with the pristine bills that Marlo delivers, Vondas clarifies that by clean money, he also meant he didn't want any sloppy business coming in from the street. When Marlo makes it clear he won't take no for an answer, the Greek agrees he will consider a future relationship as an "insurance policy" against volatile times.
Freamon explains the "head shot" to State's Attorney Rupert Bond and A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman. Since Clay Davis paid back the $80k his mother-in-law gave him for the down payment on his property, it falsifies the loan application (by making the gift a loan).
Under federal law, the penalty is 30years and a million dollar fine. But Bond doesn't want to turn Davis over to the Feds; he prefers to charge Davis with the four counts of stealing from his own charities - with the possibility of 10 years per count - and keep the case in his jurisdiction.
The editor at the Washington Post interviewing Templeton tells him his prose is a little over-wrought, and that he needs more seasoning. Frustrated, Templeton leaves without sitting in on the editorial meeting he had been so eager to observe when he arrived.
Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti, Norman Wilson, Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf, State Delegate Odell Watkins and Council President Nerese Campbell review the list of favors the mayor owes to the Ministers in exchange for firing Burrell. He wants to make Rawls acting commissioner for six months and promote Daniels to deputy ops, grooming him to take over the top post.
Burrell tries to hand over his file on Daniels to Nerese Campbell in order to discredit him, but she insists this isn't about Daniels. Burrell dug his own grave when he gave the mayor rigged crime statistics. She makes a deal with Burrell: If he goes quietly, she will see to it he's taken care of with a six-figure job in Washington. Still, she takes Daniels' file with her when she leaves.
As his parting gift to the Baltimore Sun, Police Reporter Roger Twigg makes a call when no one can get any traction on the Burrell rumor.
Michael Lee's mother bails him out (from Colicchio's round-up) and asks for some money in return. Disgusted, Michael refuses.
Freamon and McNulty track down Freamon's former patrol partner, Ofc. Oscar Requer, and they ask him to alert them next time he hears a report of a male homeless body with little or no decomposition. He agrees, no questions asked.
Omar returns, questioning Big Guy about what happened to Butchie. Learning Marlo was behind the murder, Omar vows revenge.
Det. William "Bunk" Moreland hands Sgt. Jay Landsman a written request for crime lab work on the bodies found in the vacants (a year later, most of the lab reports still aren't in). Once again, Landsman ignores the request. Frustrated, Bunk runs into McNulty, who cheerfully tells him he's looking for the thread in his homeless cases.
Carver reprimands Colicchio for his outburst on the street. The motorist he attacked was a substitute teacher trying to get to his after-school program. When Colicchio refuses to show any remorse, Carver writes him up, accepting that doing so makes him a rat.
Nerese brokers a deal with Carcetti to let Burrell out easy in exchange for his silence about any dirt on Daniels; they settle on a "grip and grin" at the press conference.
When Det. Kima Greggs watches the traumatized child witness to her double homicide withdraw completely from the psychologist, she calls Cheryl to schedule a visit with Elijah.
Clay Davis arrives in good humour to comply with his Grand Jury subpoena, but when Pearlman begins to lay out the money trail they have on him, he bristles and pleads the fifth.
At the New Day Co-op meeting, Hungry Man dresses down Cheese for overstepping his bounds, and Prop Joe apologizes on his nephew's behalf. As the group breaks up, Marlo comes to Prop Joe with a check from his off-shore account, asking for advice on what to do with it. Joe agrees to help him out.
Rawls visits Burrell as he packs up his office. Burrell warns his successor about the impossibility of the job, explaining that the mayor's office sends over a new priority every day. Rawls might think it will be different for him, but Burrell assures him it won't - not for him, and not for Daniels either.
Watching Carcetti's press conference announcing Burrell's departure, City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes translates the subtext for the newsroom full of reporters and editors. "How much of that insight and analysis can we get in tomorrow's story?" Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow asks.
When a bitter Haynes spouts off that Twigg (who they bought out) was the one who could've worked the sources, Klebanow urges him to remain collegial and cut back on his profanity. When the next TV news segment shows video of Clay Davis talking to reporters outside the courthouse, the Sun staff scrambles to figure out why they don't have the story.
Reporter Bill Zorzi, who has been covering the federal courthouse, catches the blame for missing the story, but he defends himself, pointing out it's a city court case. Haynes orders Zorzi and Templeton to play catch up on the story, wondering how anyone could stage a "perp walk" without calling the daily newspaper.
Freamon and McNulty wind their way through the maze of makeshift cardboard-box housing in a homeless Hooverville under the Hanover Street Bridge. McNulty would rather write up the report without going through the motions, but Freamon insists there's too much riding on it and they need to work it like a real case.
With a gun to Slim Charles's head, Omar demands to know where he can find Prop Joe. Slim Charles swears Joe had nothing to do with telling Marlo about Butchie and begs Omar to just "finish it," but Omar seems to believe him and lets him live.
While Haynes and the night editor pore over Gutierrez's story about murdered homeless men, Executive Editor James C. Whiting and Klebanow give Templeton an "atta-boy" for his catch-up reporting on the Davis case. Pleased, Templeton tells Gutierrez the Baltimore Sun "ain't so bad."
McNulty and Freamon get a tip-off call from Ofc. Requer about a DOA, but when McNulty arrives on the scene, he discovers the body is too far gone.
Chris Partlow walks a nervous Cheese down a dark alley to an empty garage where Snoop waits for him with Hungry Man gagged - a gift from Marlo. Chris warns that his boss expects a gift in return.
As Prop Joe continues to take Marlo under his wing, he introduces him to his lawyer (and counsel for many of their Co-op colleagues) Maurice Levy. When they enter the office, Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk sits reading the news of Burrell's resignation. Recognizing him, Marlo asks if he ever found his camera. A bitter Herc informs him it cost him his job. As Levy and Marlo adjourn to the conference room to talk, Prop Joe and Herc gossip about the news of Burrell, who was a year behind Prop Joe at Dunbar - and "stone stupid."
Hanging out in a parking lot, Carver and Herc discuss the Colicchio situation. Herc says Colicchio is too proud to beg, even though he knows he was wrong, but Carver insists he can't let him off because he's learned that everything "matters." As an example, Carver brings up what happened with Randy Wagstaff, chastising Herc for not following through on his promise to make sure Bunk debriefed the boy.
When McNulty stumbles in late, Ofc. Beatrice "Beadie" Russell" confronts him about his recent drinking and carousing, but McNulty refuses to get into it. He gets a call about another body and takes off.
Omar and Donnie scope out Marlo's lair, plotting their strategy. Omar plans to go after Marlo's people first - starting with Monk.
Having found their perfect body, Freamon and McNulty set to work prepping the victim. Freamon reminds McNulty that serial killers start out with crude tactics and mature to become more ornate. As McNulty takes the set of false teeth Freamon has prepared and braces himself to leave bite marks on the body, they argue over who is more twisted.
At his East Baltimore row house, Prop Joe packs a bag while Cheese watches. Joe plans to get out of town while Omar's back, but as he turns to go, Marlo appears in the door. Prop Joe realizes Cheese has given him up. When Marlo informs him he has the blessing of the Greeks, Joe counters with a proposition: He will leave and they'll never hear from him again.
But Marlo knows that Prop Joe couldn't change any more than he could. As Chris steps up, aiming the semi at the back of Joe's head, Marlo nods. "Close your eyes. It won't hurt none."
"Just 'cause they're in the street, don't mean they lack for opinion." - Haynes
Marlo Stanfield and Chris Partlow meet Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos in Patterson Park to discuss their business following the death of Proposition Joe Stewart. Vondas laments that he liked Prop Joe and warns his new business partner that dependability means everything.
Marlo and Chris will be his only contacts; no one else will know his name. Vondas then hands Marlo a mobile phone, instructing him to use it for legitimate calls to show police he has nothing to hide. For business matters, however, Vondas pushes a few buttons on the device, teaching Marlo some new means of covert communication. Nodding, Marlo takes the phone and leaves with Chris, who declines his boss's invitation to celebrate the deal in Atlantic City. "Omar is coming," Chris says.
At the homicide unit, Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty calls Alma Gutierrez at the Baltimore Sun to pass along the latest details regarding his fabricated serial killer. He dangles a sexual motive, but when Gutierrez starts asking questions, McNulty won't elaborate. Hanging up, she runs the story by City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes, who tells her to write up what she has before he rushes off to a budget meeting.
Duquan "Dukie" Weems walks Michael Lee's brother, Bug, home from school in West Baltimore, talking with the boy about his upcoming state tests. They pass Spider and Kenard, working Michael's corner with the rest of their crew, and Kenard tosses his drink, hitting Dukie in the back. Dukie smacks Kenard in the face, but Spider quickly steps up. Dukie swings at the bigger boy but then quickly falls under a barrage of Spider's punches.
Outside the courthouse, State's Attorney Rupert Bond reads a statement to the press, addressing the indictment of Sen. R. Clayton "Clay" Davis. From the crowd, A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman watches her boss in action. Baltimore Sun reporter Bill Zorzi approaches her, irritated that she didn't notify the paper about Davis's "perp walk." Pearlman says she called a reporter - who happens to have left the Sun months ago - and Zorzi leaves her with his card.
Michael leads Dukie to Dennis "Cutty" Wise's gym and offers to even the score with Spider for him, but Dukie declines, not wanting to look weaker than he already appears. Cutty shares a look with Michael as his former student turns to leave and then shifts his attention to Dukie's black eye, instructing the boy to strap on some gloves so he can appraise his skills.
At the Baltimore Sun's four o'clock meeting, Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow makes his choices for the front page. He turns to his staff for any suggestions, and Haynes speaks up about the homeless killings. Klebanow doesn't find the developments impressive enough for A-1 placement, but he tells Haynes to keep reporting and see where the story goes.
Marlo, Chris and Felicia "Snoop" Pearson meet with their attorney Maurice "Maury" Levy at his downtown office. As the lawyer looks over the details of Chris's and Snoop's postponed weapons prosecution, he tells them the charges are nothing to worry about. When Chris and Snoop leave the room, Marlo hands Levy a check drawn on his laundered account, telling the lawyer to contact him when he figures out what to do with the money.
Marlo reads off his new mobile number as Levy writes it down on a Rolodex card, and then he leaves. Thomas "Herc" Hauk walks in, complaining about how he hates Marlo. Levy, smiling, holds up the Rolodex card and tells Herc that before long, the firm will make a fortune litigating a wiretap case on Marlo's behalf. "Joe gave him to us just in time," he tells the ex-cop.
Cutty watches, wincing, as a young boy works Dukie over in the ring. Later, as he closes down the gym, Cutty tells Dukie that learning to fight won't keep bullies away, and he asks the boy why he thinks he's become a target. Dukie shrugs. Cutty understands the situation though, and tells Dukie that the rules of the street don't apply to the rest of the world. But when he asks the coach how to get to that place, Cutty has no answer.
In the newsroom, Gutierrez tells reporter Scott Templeton that she hit a roadblock with her reporting on the homeless murders. Templeton thinks it over, and joins Gutierrez to meet McNulty at a bar. Templeton tells the detective they need more "juice" to give the story legs. McNulty allows the pair to extract a few details from him, and when Templeton continues to push, gives up the mother lode: The killer has started biting his victims. Satisfied, Templeton throws down some money for the detective's tab before rushing off to make the second-edition deadline.
At a high-rise in Baltimore County, Omar and Butchie's man Donnie stake out Monk's condo from a car, planning their revenge for the blind man's murder.
On the way to work, McNulty sees his fake serial killer finally made the front page of the Sun. Back in the newsroom, Haynes puts his troops in order, placing Gutierrez on the police investigation and sending Templeton out to interview the homeless.
At City Hall, Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti and Norman Wilson grill Deputy Ops. Cedric Daniels about his strategy for investigating the serial killer. Daniels needs more resources, so Carcetti signs off on unlimited overtime for two detectives. When Daniels tries to ask for more support, Carcetti cuts him off. With the schools so under-funded that they're teetering on the edge of violating Federal law, the mayor can't spare a dime for more police work.
Herc visits his old partner, Sgt. Ellis Carver, at the Western District headquarters, handing him a slip of paper with Marlo's cell phone number on it. Herc won't divulge where he got the number, but he asks Carver to weigh this offering against his past transgressions - and remind Marlo about the missing surveillance camera after he's cuffed.
In her office, City Council President Nerese Campbell tries to mitigate Clay Davis's outrage over the corruption case. But when he threatens to implicate other party members in the scandal, she loses her patience and spells it out for him: All his connections and allies expect him to "carry the water," and if he betrays their trust, he'll never work in Baltimore again. If he shoulders the burden quietly, however, he could benefit from the same gentle transition that former Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell experienced with a $12k raise for a cushy position. Thinking for a moment, Davis nods in agreement.
Marlo eats Chinese with Snoop, O-Dog and his old mentor Vinson at the rim shop, and Monk walks through the door. Vinson immediately notices the Kevlar vest beneath Monk's shirt and reprimands him - how will they lure Omar in if he can clearly see it's a trap? Chris enters in the midst of the conversation to inform Marlo that Omar sat outside Monk's apartment all night and will likely return.
Templeton scours the city for homeless people to interview, starting with a soup kitchen - where he finds more people are "working poor," rather than homeless, and this is confirmed by the kitchen's founder Brendan Walsh. He hits the streets but among real homeless people he finds more mental illness than usable quotes.
At a secluded spot in the woods, Michael and Dukie stand in front of a row of bottles, each holding a 9mm semi-automatic. Michael quickly lectures Dukie on his stance and grip, and the inexperienced boy squeezes the trigger - but nothing happens. Michael, smiling, shows him how to rack the pistol and chamber a round, but when Dukie tries, the weapon jams. Michael hands him a revolver instead, and when he fires and misses his target, Michael tries to dissuade his friend from carrying a gun.
No one will stop testing him, Michael says, shooting a bottle for emphasis, and you can't pull out a gun unless you're ready to use it. Defeated, Dukie complains that he can't shoot or fight, but Michael assures him that he has other skills.
McNulty types at his desk while Det. William "Bunk" Moreland frowns over the serial-killer coverage in the paper. Sgt. Jay Landsman approaches to deliver Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs to McNulty as the city's response to his press campaign. McNulty expected more backup - surveillance vehicles, cameras - but all he gets is Greggs. Bunk, livid, drags McNulty into an interview room and chastises him for pulling working detectives off of real murders to further his lie. Afterwards, McNulty tells Greggs he'll cover her paperwork so she can work her own cases, though she has no idea why.
Carver visits Det. Lester Freamon at the detail office on Clinton Street to deliver Marlo's mobile number, attributing its discovery to "police work." After Carver leaves, Freamon calls the number, pretending to order takeout. Marlo answers and quickly hangs up, giving Freamon all the confirmation he needs.
That night, Clay Davis speaks with radio host Larry Young to deliver the message of his innocence to the masses. Young plays along, giving Davis the platform to rally his troops by announcing a speaking appearance for the next day.
With Marlo's number in hand, Freamon appeals to Daniels at Police Headquarters to supply the tools he needs to investigate the drug lord. Daniels has nothing to give, though, and when Freamon pushes back, his boss explodes with the frustration of the past few days. If a serial killer doesn't rate more than two detectives, he demands, then what's a phone number worth? Ashamed of his outburst, Daniels apologizes for not being able to help.
On deadline in the newsroom, Haynes rounds up the latest on the serial killer. Gutierrez hasn't received any case updates from the police, but reporter Mike Fletcher has put together profiles of the victims. Templeton returns late from his foray in the streets, offering up a heartbreaking story about a family of four living under the Hanover Street Bridge. But when Haynes asks for info on the source, Templeton lies, giving his editor the name of an incoherent homeless man he interviewed earlier. Haynes orders up 30 inches from Templeton, and when he sits at his desk to edit copy, state editor Tim Phelps muses that Clay Davis lucked out, having this serial killer to bump him off the front page in a single news cycle.
McNulty and Freamon meet up, searching for a way to parlay their manufactured murderer into a wire tap. The killer has to call someone, McNulty decides. A phone call from the serial killer would be enough probable cause to file for a court ordered wire tap - they'll just put Marlo's phone number on the actual tap. McNulty's phone rings - his ex-wife calling - but he ignores it, telling Freamon that they'll need another "victim" to set the next phase of the plan in motion.
When McNulty arrives at the home of his ex Elena McNulty she tells him the boys are upstairs. Sean and Michael McNulty hang out in their bedroom, and Jimmy apologizes to Sean for missing a play he performed in. Promising to see the boys next weekend, Jimmy heads downstairs, where Elena tells him that his girlfriend, Ofc. Beatrice "Beadie" Russell, called her to ask about him. McNulty doesn't want to hear it, but Elena warns him that his heavy drinking and late-night escapades are about to drive Beadie away.
Bubbles drops in on Walon at work and asks his sponsor to come along with him to the clinic. Bubs needs to get an HIV test, but he's afraid to do it alone. Walon goes with him, and after a nurse manages to draw blood from his damaged veins, they get the results after a short wait. Walon opens the envelope, and informs Bubs that the test was negative. He can't believe it, and tells Walon they must be wrong. Realizing that Bubs is looking for some sort of punishment, Walon tells him, "Shame ain't worth as much as you think. Let it go."
Haynes wants Templeton to get to work on the school series, but the reporter pitches instead to do police ride-alongs to coincide with the serial killer case. Haynes agrees it's a good idea - for Gutierrez. Wanting more, Templeton grabs his notebook and leaves the office to find a pay phone. Dialing his own mobile phone from the booth, he keeps the line open and begins to take notes.
Beadie stops by Bunk's office, looking for some guidance about how she should handle Jimmy. Bunk tries to tell her that the pressure from the serial-killer case has driven his partner to drink, but she knows better than to buy an excuse like that - she just wants to know if there's an end in sight. Caught between loyalties, Bunk admits that he can't tell her what to do.
When McNulty makes it to work, Landsman tells him that his serial killer called the Baltimore Sun with a message. Surprised, McNulty leaves to meet with the editors and investigate. As Templeton provides his own fictitious details, McNulty realizes he's found his wire tap and eggs the reporter on, trying to lend validity to the story. By the time the conversation ends, even the skeptical Haynes believes the call was legitimate.
At police headquarters, McNulty watches Freamon hook up the illegal wiretap on Marlo. McNulty will report day after day of silence from his serial killer, but Lester will monitor Marlo's calls and accredit any leads he catches to a criminal informant.
Outside Monk's apartment, Omar and Donnie decide to make their move but after kicking in Monk's door, find that they've charged into a trap. Gunfire erupts as Chris, Snoop, O-Dog and Michael unload on them. After a few moments of trading fire, Omar dives behind a sofa and finds Donnie lying dead beside him. Out of ammo with the soldiers closing in on him, Omar bursts through a sliding glass door and onto the balcony, leaping from an easily fatal height. Snoop, Michael and Chris race onto the balcony and look down expecting to see his body, but Omar has disappeared.
Freamon monitors Marlo's phone from the Detail's office on Clinton Street, but when a call comes in, he hears a click, a strange hiss, then nothing. Miffed, he wonders how to solve this latest mystery.
"If you have a problem with this, I understand completely." - Freamon
Chris Partlow and his crew search the area around Monk's condo for any sign of Omar Little, while Snoop checks local hospitals and Monk - posing as a detective - interviews the neighbours. Marlo Stanfield pulls up to the condo to meet Chris, who has nothing to show his boss, and surveys the high balcony where Omar leapt before disappearing. "It doesn't seem possible," Marlo says.
At a Baltimore port, Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti cuts the ribbon for his New Westport Project with developer Andrew Krawczyk, following the Democratic National Committee's advice to "put his name on something." As Carcetti's brief speech concludes, a group of longshoremen heckle Krawczyk, vilifying him for gutting the ports.
Back at the same high rise that Chris and his crew just finished searching, Omar fashions a makeshift crutch from a broomstick in a utility room. Hobbling out on his injured ankle, he finds the coast clear and slips away.
Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty sits with his feet propped on his desk at the homicide unit, reading the latest reports on his serial killer and explaining to Det. William "Bunk" Moreland how the reporter has started to make up his own story. McNulty's waiting for an afternoon press conference to inject his false investigation with funds. Bunk, however, has reopened the files on real murders and tells McNulty he's starting at square one with all the vacant cases - because he plans to actually do his job. McNulty shrugs off the insult and promises Bunk any cars, overtime or lab work he needs after the city releases funding for the serial killer search.
At the Baltimore Sun offices, reporters Scott Templeton and Alma Gutierrez read Templeton's story about the call he received from the serial killer. As Alma imagines that he handed the killer his business card, Executive Editor James C. Whiting III and Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow walk over to compliment Templeton on the story.
When Klebanow asks the reporter what he has planned for the next day, Templeton pitches the first idea that comes to mind: A night spent with the homeless. Whiting likes it and leaves to speak to City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes. Klebanow also informs Templeton that national news outlets have picked up the story and requested interviews with him, which the reporter agrees to.
After Klebanow leaves, Gutierrez admits that she wishes she'd kept the story to herself. Across the room, Whiting updates Haynes on Templeton's new assignment, and when the city editor remarks that Templeton has already taken the reins on the education project, Whiting kills the earlier plan. The "Dickensian aspect" of homelessness, he says, will take priority through the end of the year.
Det. Lester Freamon, needing help to keep up with his secret case against Marlo, talks to Det. Leander Sydnor at the detail office on Clinton Street. Trying to preface his message with an indictment of the department's politics, Freamon divulges the illegal wiretap he's running on Marlo. "If you have a problem with this, I understand completely," he says, urging Sydnor to leave now if he has any doubts. After taking a few moments to think, Sydnor follows Freamon inside.
Bunk pores over a homicide file, and when Sgt. Jay Landsman and Det. Vernon Holley step up to his desk, he tells them he's curious about what Randy Wagstaff would have to tell him a year after his name came up in a murder file. But Landsman arrives bearing his own paperwork - a folder packed with sealed indictments and confidential transcripts that Holley found in Proposition Joe Stewart's shop. Bunk asks who they don't trust at the courthouse.
Freamon gets Sydnor up to speed on the wiretap, explaining that all the mobile phone conversations sound routine, with no codes or suspicious numbers discussed. But, he's also logged five calls, each 30 or 40 seconds long, with no conversation whatsoever. Sydnor chews on this for a moment, but McNulty walks through the door, stopping in mid-sentence when he spots Sydnor. Freamon continues, though, telling McNulty he needs manpower to track Chris and Monk.
McNulty asks whether Freamon has seen the newspaper - the city will have to throw money at the homeless murders. When Sydnor questions how that case relates to Marlo, Freamon says it's hard to explain.
As Carcetti prepares to address the media at police headquarters, he complains to Norman Wilson and Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf that this serial killer conference will blot out his development news from earlier that day. When the mayor steps up to the podium, he admonishes the press for skipping the ribbon-cutting ceremony and focusing on the negative. He then launches into a heartening, off-the-cuff speech declaring that those in power should be judged by how they care for the city's most vulnerable inhabitants.
Promising that the killer will be stopped, Carcetti directs questions to Acting Commissioner William A. Rawls, who quickly allows Deputy Commissioner of Operations Cedric Daniels to provide detail on the department's tactics.
Bunk visits a group home in West Baltimore to interview Randy Wagstaff, who has toughened over the past year. The detective tries to use the threat of jail time for obstructing justice as leverage, but the boy has no intention of trusting the police again. Stalking out, Randy pushes a younger child on the steps and announces that the police are wasting their time trying to mine him for information.
As Rawls and Daniels leave the press conference, Rawls congratulates his subordinate on his performance, and the Deputy Ops. replies that he was just following the mayor's lead. Ready to discuss added support for the investigation, Daniels wilts when a dubious look from Rawls communicates the real message behind the pageantry: Solve the murders, just don't raise the cost. "Don't look so shocked," Rawls tells him. "You're running with the big dogs now."
McNulty and A.S.A Rhonda Pearlman meet Judge Daniel Phelan in his chambers, seeking a court order to tap Templeton's phone at the Baltimore Sun. The judge denies their request, not in any hurry to make enemies in the press, which irritates McNulty. As Pearlman and McNulty leave, they cross paths with Daniels, who hands Pearlman the file of leaked grand jury documents.
At the homicide unit, Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs waits for Bunk in his cubicle holding the file to her triple murder and eyeing the sea of folders on his desk. When Bunk returns, she tells him that an informant has tied her triple back to Marlo, and Bunk shakes his head, griping that forensic work for 14 of the vacant cases still hasn't left the lab. Greggs asks him whether he intends to take "no" for an answer.
Bunk and Greggs arrive at the trace lab and interrogate the supervisor, who bemoans the budget cuts that have razed his department, too. When Bunk pushes further, the supervisor levels with him the truth: A temporary employee mishandled the evidence pulled from the vacants, and now the lab has no idea which scene the various samples came from.
McNulty walks a request for surveillance teams into Landsman's office, but the sergeant denies it - speeches and photos won't pay for an investigation.
Marlo meets with the Co-op for the first time since Prop Joe's death and pins Joe's murder on Omar. Marlo announces that he's taken over Joe's connection and has decided to end these meetings. After promoting Cheese and telling the Co-op members that the package's cost will rise, Marlo leaves.
At the Sun, right after Haynes explains to education reporter Scott Shane that his series has been scrapped in favor of the homeless issues, Templeton appears in a television interview, assuring the host that he has no fear of returning to the streets to report. Haynes shakes his head.
McNulty meets Freamon to tell him about the lack of surveillance support, noting that the bosses need another body to remind them how serious the situation has become. Freamon agrees, saying he'll call their man in the Southern District.
As Fatface Rick returns from the Co-op meeting, Omar jumps him, holding a beer bottle to the back of his head until he can get his hands on the gangster's gun. Omar tells Rick to let Marlo know that he's waiting in the streets for him, that he's saying Marlo lacks the heart to face him. Rick agrees to deliver the message and asks whether Omar killed Prop Joe. When the stick-up man laughs in response, Rick replies, "Didn't think so."
At homicide, Bunk scrapes for new leads by running names from Greggs's casework through the database. The name "Michael Lee" turns up a homicide file - the boy's stepfather Devar Manigault who was beaten to death in the street. Bunk snatches his keys and leaves.
At Carcetti's office, Wilson and Steintorf agree that his performance at the previous day's press conference caught good play from the papers; homelessness could be a campaign issue. Thanks to the governor's cuts on medical and housing aid, the murders might just provide the political solution they've hoped for.
Bunk visits Michael Lee's mother at home, and she immediately suspects that he's investigating her son. But Bunk starts asking about her boyfriend Manigault's murder, calling it a crime of passion and suggesting that she's at its center. Michael's mother claims she knows nothing, but when Bunk threatens to drag her to women's detention, she tells him that she believes Michael, Chris and Felicia "Snoop" Pearson killed Manigault.
In the wiretap room Freamon and Sydnor match surveillance photos of Monk and his corner crew to mysteriously silent calls recorded at the same time. Pointing to Monk's mobile phone, which the gangster looks at from too far a distance to read a text message, Freamon concludes that Marlo's organization has started using pictures to communicate.
McNulty, drunk, stands outside at night, ranting to a statue of General Armistead about his pathetic department, shouting out his justifications for fabricating a killer. His mobile phone rings with a call from Ofc. Oscar Requer, tipping McNulty off to a fresh body. But, by the time the detective arrives at the scene, police and TV reporters have already set up around the corpse.
In West Baltimore, Omar hijacks an S.U.V. as it makes one of Marlo's cash pickups at a row house. Shooting one man in the knee with his shotgun, Omar scares the rest of the crew off. He picks up the cash, throws it in the S.U.V. and torches the vehicle, reminding the injured man at his feet to tell Marlo he destroyed the money. Omar points out that the buckshot in his leg might earn him some mercy from Marlo and tells him, "He ain't man enough to come down to the street with Omar."
Templeton, spending his night with the homeless for the follow-up story, wanders the streets, searching for someone coherent enough to interview. Frightened by barking dogs and strange vagrants, Templeton still hasn't found anyone by the time a bakery truck swings by in the morning to give the homeless leftover doughnuts.
Then, among the crowd waiting for food, he makes eye contact with a young man. Templeton buys him some milk to go with his doughnut, and the man opens up, telling the reporter how his tour in Iraq eventually landed him on the streets.
McNulty visits Freamon at the detail office, bearing the bad news that they won't be able to make any new bodies. Lester compounds the problem by telling McNulty about the picture messages, which will require new equipment - and more time - to capture and decode. McNulty leaves, but while waiting in traffic, a homeless man grabs his attention, stumbling through traffic and obviously in bad shape.
McNulty brings him back to the detail office, snaps a mobile phone picture and lays out a plan for Freamon. He will drive the man to an out-of-town shelter and send a photo of him to Templeton along with a promise from the killer that no one will find any more bodies - only photos of the victims. Freamon, though somewhat aghast at McNulty's sick machinations, has found his probable cause for collecting mobile phone photos.
When Templeton arrives at the Sun to work on his copy, Haynes asks him to make a few calls to follow up on the story he wrote about a single mother who died from a crab allergy. Through another reporter, Haynes heard that people in the neighborhood were saying that the dead woman's sister, who has a history of fraud, gambled away the scholarship money that his article had generated for the woman's children. "It's not urgent," Haynes says, but he asks Templeton to look into it.
Later, after Haynes praises the reporter's story about the Iraq veteran, Templeton assures his editor that his calls checked out. He says another woman in the neighborhood uses the surviving sister's name every time she gets arrested, ruining her reputation.
McNulty drives the homeless man ("Mr. Bobbles") to a shelter in Richmond, VA, providing a faded I.D from a dead homeless man whose body had stiffened too much to become a victim of the serial killer. The social worker there thanks McNulty for bringing the man in, and the detective leaves, feeling guilty.
"They don't teach it in law school." - Pearlman
Detective Lester Freamon and Detective James "Jimmy" McNulty huddle in the utility closet of the homicide unit. Freamon has rigged a phone wire to mask as Marlo's mobile number and orders McNulty to stick to the script as he dials a number.
When Scott Templeton answers his cell phone at the Baltimore Sun, McNulty reads from a scripted serial killer rant, accusing Templeton of making things up about him in his newspaper reports. A panicked Templeton, shocked to get an actual call, rushes to alert the other reporters and editors to what's going on and to get Det. McNulty on the phone.
Ignoring his buzzing mobile phone, McNulty starts to enjoy his performance and, playing up a heavy Baltimore accent, he begins to ad lib. Meanwhile, in the wire tap listening room, Vernon Holley springs into action to trace the first call he's ever picked up on the serial killer tap.
In a tourist-heavy area of the Baltimore Harbor, Detective Leander Sydnor waits with a mobile in one hand (the mobile that the phone company paperwork has linked to the serial killer wire tap) and a police radio in the other. McNulty's serial killer warns Templeton that they won't even be able to find his victims any more, as Freamon sends two photos of McNulty's homeless foil, "Mr. Bobbles," over the re-routed phone line. When Sydnor hears over the police radio that the call has been traced to the Inner Harbor, he switches off the mobile, wraps it in foil, and pockets it. As the police swarm the area he shows his badge and pretends to help search for the serial killer's mobile phone.
Back at the Baltimore Sun, Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow and Executive Editor James C. Whiting III gather around Templeton as he relays what the killer said. Just as they ask if the guy threatened him, Templeton receives an alert on his mobile phone: the photo of a new apparent victim - the homeless man that McNulty dumped in Richmond.
State Senator R. Clayton "Clay" Davis tries to talk defense attorney Billy Murphy into taking on his case without receiving his full fee up front. Davis offers $25k up front and $25k when Murphy seats a jury. Murphy insists on his full $200K fee, but Davis counters that he's giving him a great publicity opportunity going up against State's Attorney Rupert Bond. Charmed, Murphy tells Clay to save his silver-tongued salesmanship for the jury.
In the homicide unit, Sgt. Jay Landsman, Dets. Shakima "Kima" Greggs, Edward Norris, Holley and others review the wire recording while McNulty meets with Templeton and the editors at the Sun. Glad to put Templeton in the hot seat, McNulty asks if it sounded like the same guy. Templeton falters but then assures him it did; he just didn't remember the guy having such a heavy Baltimore accent the first time. Klebanow asks about whether it would hurt to publish the photos sent to the phone, but McNulty says it would help to have people looking for the man, who may already be dead. He warns them not to indicate where the mobile phone call came from though.
On his way out, McNulty urges Templeton not to worry; the killer's just using him. When Templeton says he resents that, McNulty eyes him and suggests he shouldn't since it's working out well for him. Haynes picks up on McNulty's innuendo and regards Templeton with suspicion.
Cherry and Savino find Manny dead and Vincent tied up. Vincent explains Omar ambushed them and left him alive to pass along a message to Marlo: Omar is waiting and Marlo's not man enough to come down in the street. Omar knew they held the stash without being told and flushed the entire four kilos of heroin.
McNulty and A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman track down Judge Phelan with an amended wiretap order. Now that the serial killer has sent photos to the Sun reporter, they need a couple of computers to conduct surveillance. As the Judge signs off, he suggests they check the Governor's alibi - noting that a serial killer of the homeless is bad news for Carcetti's gubernatorial challenge because he was elected mayor on a law-and-order ticket. Meanwhile, Carcetti, who has been feeling good about the $80k in donations he's solicited for his gubernatorial primary campaign, throws a fit and demands to talk to Police Commissioner Rawls immediately when he hears the news about the serial killer's latest call to the Sun.
Det. William "Bunk" Moreland reviews the file on Michael Lee that he ordered from the state archives, when Landsman orders Bunk to join him upstairs at a meeting called by Deputy Commissioner for Operations Cedric Daniels about the serial killer case. Bunk, furious that McNulty's bogus killer is monopolizing so many resources, refuses to go. At the meeting, Daniels doles out the assignments to the detectives, strategizing how to attack the investigation now that the mayor has lifted all bans on OT for this case. Meanwhile, over at the Sun, Haynes divvies up reporting tasks on the hot story.
On Michael Lee's corner, Duquan "Dukie" Weems reads through the want ads, looking for a job he can do but Michael points out he's too young for a legit job and needs to take care of Bug after school. Just as Dukie is exhibiting his skills as an exotic dancer, Sgt. Ellis Carver and Ofc. Baker pull up and cuff Michael for a ride downtown.
Carcetti holds a press conference about the homeless slayings, promising he will bring the killer to justice.
Freamon disconnects the wire that had been rerouted to the serial killer's (Sydnor's) phone (the real wire is set to Marlo's mobile phone). He informs Det. Frank Barlow that he'll be able to capture pictures and voice the next time the serial killer calls. McNulty tries to convince Landsman that Greggs can keep working her triple, but Landsman insists she be pulled off to work up the backgrounds of the slain homeless victims (per Daniels' orders). He commends McNulty for turning the tap back on paid police work and asks him what else he needs for his case.
A disgusted Bunk chastises McNulty and Freamon for what they've created, but Lester insists they're just a week or two away from getting Marlo. Bunk calls the lab again for his tracework on the vacants cases as Carver delivers Michael Lee to the interview room. Bunk shows Michael the homicide photos of his dead step-father and notes that he doesn't even flinch when he identifies him. Bunk tries to get the boy to tell him who did it since whoever it was had to be full grown and more vicious than Michael, but Michael just stonewalls him.
In the parking lot, McNulty runs into a frustrated rookie Detective Christeson who complains he's close to solving a murder case if he could only get more help. McNulty offers to reassign a couple of detectives and cars from his serial murder case for the detective and write up the hours under his case.
Greggs walks through the circus of reporters gathered outside the modest home of the parents of one of the homeless victims. The parents admit that they'd given up on their son and knew he would probably die on the street, but they are still devastated and guilt-ridden by the reports of how he died at the hands of a serial killer.
Haynes argues with Klebanow and Whiting about Templeton's purple prose, but Klebanow says he'll edit the piece himself.
At home that night, Daniels and Pearlman watch the news, in disbelief over the media frenzy. Pearlman shoos him away so she can prepare to be Bond's second for the Davis case, which starts the next day.
McNulty complains to Freamon that things have spiraled out of control - now FBI behavioral profilers are doing a voice analysis of his fake call. McNulty is interrupted by a call from Landsman asking if he needs academy help canvassing the shelters. McNulty refuses, offering up Mr. Bobbles' name and last known address (from the ID he got off of the homeless guy he dumped in Richmond). Hanging up he tells Freamon the problem with making this a "red ball" is people are now treating it like a red ball. He begs Lester to finish off Marlo, and quickly.
Clay Davis enters the courthouse with Billy Murphy at his side, running the media gauntlet as the reporters eat up his proclamations of innocence and quotes from Aeschylus.
Norris comes to McNulty having heard what he did for the rookie, Christeson, and asks for similar treatment so that he can interview a witness for a rape-murder case he's been working. McNulty agrees as Bunk listens with disbelief.
After Freamon's detailed testimony of Clay Davis's finances, Billy Murphy passes up a cross-examination - to Pearlman and Freamon's surprise.
While serving patrons at the soup kitchen, Bubbles spots Sun reporter Mike Fletcher looking for a story about what it's like to be homeless. He brings him to a Hooverville to show him around, refusing Fletcher's twenty dollar bill and urging him to just write it like it feels.
Lester and Sydnor intercept a photo sent from Marlo's phone of a clock that reads 5:50, followed by a quick call to Monk. Sydnor guesses it's the time for a meet and heads out to watch Monk. When he hasn't moved for an hour and a half, Sydnor calls Freamon who tells him to come back.
When Bond questions Clay Davis's driver Day-Day about the $40K salary he received as executive director of a charity, Day-Day explains he didn't see any of the money, it all went back to Clay Davis (except for the occasional cash kick-back from his boss).
Pearlman is pleased with the testimony, but then on his cross-examination, Murphy gets Day-Day to admit that he cashed the checks to give the money to Davis, which means there's no proof Davis received it. Further, Murphy establishes that Day-Day is getting immunity for testifying against Davis, undermining his credibility with the jury.
Det. Crutchfield comes to McNulty with another sob story about needing OT, and when McNulty relents, Crutchfield assures him he knows the drill, calling him "boss." Greggs hands off reports from interviewing the homeless victims' families and notes it was rough to hear how upset the parents were about the details of how their son died. A guilt-ridden McNulty considers this impact for the first time.
Haynes rereads Templeton's published story and tosses the newspaper with disgust as he heads into the cop bar Kavanagh's for a drink. He spots Major Dennis Mello and checking out Templeton's cover for his food poisoning story, asks him, theoretically, if it's possible for a woman to go through the court system with a false ID. Mello says no, given the ID is linked to fingerprints - he tells Haynes someone's yanking his chain.
Omar grabs Savino on the street, shakes him down and shoots him.
Lester calls McNulty asking for more man hours and cars for surveillance to figure out what the clock code means. McNulty says they're giving him plenty of man hours, but now word is out around the office that he's giving out money and hours to people to work other cases. Lester warns him he's going to blow it. Lester needs seven or eight detectives and they consider whether there's anyone in the District that they trust. Greggs calls McNulty in a rage, unable to assemble the children's IKEA furniture McNulty recommended she get for Elijah's overnight stay.
Omar shows up on Michael's corner and orders Michael to tell Marlo he'll kill all of his muscle until Marlo comes down to the street. Michael breathes a sigh of relief Omar that didn't recognize him from the shootout at Monk's condo.
On the stand, Davis charms the courtroom and jury with his testimony about how things really work in the poor neighborhoods he represents. He admits that all of the charity money did go into his bank account but insists he didn't keep a dime, it all went back out in cash, because that's how it works in his district: It is strictly cash and carry. People know where to find him so they approach him directly for help. He pulls at the heartstrings with the lists of requests he gets for Similac, burial costs, etc. as the courtroom erupts into applause.
Carcetti reviews the budget implications of trying to do more for the homeless. Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf warns him that if the serial killer investigation goes on for a month he'll be forced to lay off teachers - a disastrous move for a gubernatorial candidate in an election year.
Outside the courthouse, Bond and Pearlman stare in amazement wondering what just happened as Clay Davis makes his victory speech to the media hoards.
Regional Affairs Editor Rebecca Corbett and Haynes discuss Templeton's purple prose and Haynes confides that he gave Templeton a chance to own his mistake in the food-poisoning story, but Templeton came back with a lie about stolen identities. They wonder: If he'll lie to avoid a correction, would he lie to make a story better? Haynes admits he is haunted by Templeton's story about the boy in the wheelchair on baseball's opening day, but is reluctant to call a reporter a liar.
When Elijah can't sleep, Kima sits in the window with him bidding goodnight to everybody, starting with the Moon, stars, po-pos, fiends, hoppers, hustlers, and scammers. Goodnight to one and all. The Baltimore version of Goodnight Moon.
"A lie ain't a side of a story. It's just a lie." - Terry Hanning
Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty presents a detailed report about the serial killer investigation to Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti, Norman Wilson, Commissioner William A. Rawls, Deputy Commissioner for Operations Cedric Daniels and other police commanders. McNulty asks for surveillance resources for several "persons of interest" and requests that Sgt. Ellis Carter run the surveillance team.
When he points out they will need decent undercover cars, the Mayor orders them to go to Enterprise if they have to, he's sparing no expense. After Carcetti leaves, Rawls tells his team the bad news: They'll actually have to catch the serial killer. But the good news is the mayor finally needs a police department more than he needs a school system.
Duquan "Dukie" Weems stops in an athletic shoe store looking for a job, but the salesman, Poot, informs him the manager won't hire anyone under 17. Poot recognizes Dukie from hanging out with Namond on the corner and admits he got tired of that life. He encourages Dukie to hold out a while longer and come back when he's old enough.
McNulty fills Carver in on what he and Det. Lester Freamon really want him to do with his surveillance teams - watch Marlo Stanfield and his crew, not the serial killer suspects. McNulty explains that he's throwing people over to Freamon's investigation of Marlo and writing up the hours and paperwork under his serial killer case.
Carver suspects they have an illegal wire tap, knowing he gave Freamon Marlo's mobile phone number from Herc two weeks ago, but McNulty claims to know nothing about that. Carver finally agrees to the scheme and when he asks about how they'll get decent cars, he is stunned to hear they have been granted an open account at Enterprise car rental downtown.
Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf and the budget director review priorities with Carcetti about how to avoid cuts to school funding while giving the police department what they need to solve the serial killer case. Carcetti informs them he's speaking at a vigil for the homeless. Norman interrupts with the news that Maurice Dobey from "P.G." (Prince George's) county is suggesting he may run for governor in the Democratic primary, and U.S. Congressman Albert Upshaw is threatening to back him. Though Dobey can't win, he could do damage to Carcetti's bid for the Statehouse, and Carcetti realizes he has to meet with Upshaw to try to put a stop to it.
Carver addresses his hand-picked surveillance team - including Officers Kenneth Dozerman, Brian McLarney, Bobby Brown, Lloyd "Truck" Carrick - all of whom are pleased with unlimited O.T. and the pristine rental cars.
On a cigarette break at the loading dock at the Baltimore Sun, City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes talks with Bill Zorzi and Jeff Price about whether Scott Templeton is hyping the serial killer story, but they decide it's real enough, which means they'll be writing homeless stories until the end of the year (the cut-off for Pulitzer submissions). Back inside, Haynes gets a call that there's a homeless vet in the lobby wanting to talk to Templeton's editor - the reporter won't take his calls so he's showed up in person.
Michael Lee relays Omar's message to Chris Partlow and Snoop: Omar is calling Marlo a coward for not coming down to fight him on the street. Michael is certain Marlo would want to know but Partlow and Snoop are insistent they don't want to bother him about it right now, vowing to take care of Omar themselves.
Dozerman and Truck are interrupted from admiring the state-of-the-art GPS in their rental car when Omar approaches (recognizing them as cops) and alerts them to where two corner boys have hidden their drugs. After the officers bust the two guys, Omar approaches, scaring off a group of young boys who know he's trouble. Young Kenard remains behind, watching Omar as he scares off the remaining corner boys and disposes of their drugs. Next, Omar identifies the safe house forcing the guys to turn over another stash, which he also dumps. He calls out "Marlo!" again, shouting into the empty street.
Haynes goes to meet the homeless veteran Terry Hanning who indicts Templeton's story about him as full of lies. Haynes gets Templeton to sit down with the vet and Templeton insists his reporting was accurate. Haynes tries to determine whether Hanning could have been drinking or exaggerating, but the man insists he knows what it is to tell a story, and he would never embellish the details of a battle - it would be too disrespectful to his fellow Marines. Templeton insists to Haynes that the guy is off, but Haynes cuts him short and tells Templeton to track down some of the other men in the unit and find out what happened that day outside Fallujah. They will write a correction if it wasn't accurate.
Swallowing his pride, Det. William "Bunk" Moreland asks McNulty to sign his lab report request, finally giving into McNulty's scheme in order to expedite the lab work he's been waiting almost a year for.
Omar enters a convenience store to buy cigarettes when Kenard comes in and shoots him in the head, killing him. Dets. Norris and Crutchfield arrive at the scene and call Bunk, figuring he'd want to know about the murder, given his history with Omar. Bunk finds Omar's list of the top guys he was hunting down in Marlo Stanfield's operation.
Freamon and the surveillance team remain stumped by the clock code Marlo is sending and receiving on his mobile phone. Leander explains to the team they are trying to identify the pattern of the meeting times.
Going over the resupply plan, Marlo informs a surprised Chris and Snoop that Omar is dead, killed by an unknown kid for no apparent reason.
Enroute to Quantico to hear the FBI profile of McNulty's faked serial killer phone call Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs and McNulty discuss their respective relationships. When they hear the final report, McNulty is taken aback by the accurate psychological profile they lay out (of McNulty, who faked the voice of the killer).
Reporter Mike Fletcher tells Haynes he's interested in spending time with Bubbles to write a profile and Haynes grants him a couple of weeks to pursue it. Gutierrez gives Haynes the news of Omar's murder (not knowing who he is), and Haynes tells her to write up a fire and scratch the murder - there's no room.
Carcetti and Wilson meet with 4th District U.S. Congressman Albert Upshaw, asking what it will take to stop him from running Dobey in the primary. Carcetti promises that when he takes the statehouse, he will help his district, but Upshaw says it's going to cost the mayor more than his word.
McNulty is disturbed to arrive home to find Beadie and her children gone, and a note suggesting that this could be his future.
Bunk finally gets his lab work back on the DNA samples from Michael Lee's murdered stepfather and is pleased to find out there's a match for Chris Partlow.
Freamon meets with the US Attorney, trying to get them to take the Clay Davis case using the false loan evidence he'd gathered (the "head shot"). But the US Attorney refuses, furious that Bond kept the case for himself and not only lost it, but managed to turn Davis into a near-martyr for the black community.
Bunk tells McNulty Omar is dead and hands over Omar's handwritten list. He also reports he has positive DNA on Chris Partlow for the alley beating but acquiesces to McNulty's plea that he hold off on serving the murder warrant because Freamon claims he's close to taking down Marlo's entire operation.
Det. Frank Barlow blackmails McNulty into giving him a car and covering his weekend golf trip to Hilton Head, threatening to blow the whistle on his OT-distribution scheme.
When Freamon reports that Marlo just got a call, Sydnor checks in with the rest of the surveillance team and they discover that none of their subjects have picked up a phone. Freamon realizes there's another person in the network they don't know about.
Dukie helps a junk peddler load an empty refrigerator onto his cart, and the man offers to pay $10 if he helps him take the scrap to the weigh station. With no other job offers, Dukie agrees.
When Greggs readies to compare the FBI profile of the serial killer to a huge stack of files on known sex offenders, McNulty can't stand the guilt anymore and whisks her away to an interview room to fill her in on what he and Freamon have been doing. Greggs, stunned, insists to McNulty he can't be doing this.
Meeting with Carcetti and City Council President Nerese Campbell, Clay Davis disparages the idea of Dobey running for governor. Even Clay can't believe the dirty politics of playing the race card and pretending to run an African-American candidate who can't win, just to get payoffs. Carcetti says Upshaw wants too much to keep Dobey out of the race but admits he's still "in negotiations."
Nerese promises to do whatever she can to help Carcetti - if he endorses her for Mayor. Given that Bond lost his case against Clay Davis, she doesn't think he will make a viable mayoral contender. Clay promises his loyalty to Carcetti will only cost two seats on the liquor board.
McNulty checks in with Freamon and reports that Bunk has a murder warrant on Partlow, explaining that he's secured a few days' grace period to wrap up their investigation. McNulty hands over Omar's list, and Freamon notes Cheese Wagstaff's name - someone Freamon hadn't identified as being under Marlo's wing. McNulty also reports that he confided in Greggs, and Freamon gets angry.
Trying to find the location of a possible Marlo meet, Sydnor consults a Baltimore street map and going over the coordinates, he suddenly realizes that Marlo's clocks are a code for Baltimore map grid coordinates.
Carcetti gives a rousing speech at the vigil for the homeless.
At a bar, Freamon watches Clay Davis socializing with a lady friend in a booth. When Davis gets up to refresh their drinks, Freamon goes over to the woman and whispers to her, and she steps away as Freamon settles into the opposite booth. When Davis returns, Freamon greets him and informs the senator it was mostly Lester's evidence that Clay overcame at his trial; he wonders if Davis thinks he can do that again with a Federal jury. Lester hands over copies of the paper trail he has on Clay's illegal loan and tells him he will keep quiet in exchange for his help with information in the future.
At the Sun, Haynes, with the Metro Editor's support, tells Templeton he's cutting the lead to the story about the homeless vigil because it features an unnamed homeless woman. Templeton throws a fit at the implication that he's lying and storms back to his desk. Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow challenges Haynes's decision but Haynes packs up his things for the night, insisting on his way out the door that he's following the paper's sourcing policy.
Carcetti comes home and fills his wife Jennifer in on the day's political maneuverings in his bid for Governor.
Beadie and the kids return home and she informs him next time, she's not going anywhere - he is. McNulty confesses what's been going on, telling her about the invented serial killer case and admitting it's gotten out of hand. Taking it in, Beadie realizes he could go to jail. She tells a chagrined McNulty that he had no right to do this - it impacts her life too.
Sydnor explains the map code to Freamon, who's impressed with his protégé's detective work. Freamon deduces that because all the coordinates seem to be within a 30-40 minute drive, they must just assume that the meeting time is within an hour of getting the clock code. He realizes that one of the clocks indicates coordinates for East Baltimore - and deduces that Cheese Wagstaff must be Marlo's East side lieutenant. Greggs busts in and announces she's not okay with the scheme.
At the morgue, a technician notes that the names have been changed on two body bags -Omar's body bag is identified as a white male, heart attack victim, and vice versa. Amused, he switches the names back, correcting the mistake.
"Deserve got nuthin' to do with it." - Snoop
Det. Leander Sydnor and his surveillance teams cover Marlo Stanfield and his crew while Det. Lester Freamon tracks their coded mobile phone images from the Detail's office on Clinton Street. When Freamon notices a meet scheduled at a new - and remote - location he guesses that he's on to Marlo's supplier. Pulling his teams off the street targets, he converges the resources on a warehouse near the marine terminals.
Snoop and O-Dog meet with Maurice "Maury" Levy in his law office to prepare O-Dog to take the rap for Snoop and Chris Partlow's weapons charges. With a lack of priors, the fall-man faces a few well-compensated years in prison, but he's not thrilled with the arrangement.
Freamon joins Sydnor and his surveillance force a few blocks away from a warehouse that Chris just entered. Freamon orders the men to wait and watch - if Chris feels the location is secure, they're likely to see Marlo's crew arrive to pick up the re-supply. Any Stanfield lieutenant who leaves the warehouse, Freamon says, presents a target flush with narcotics. Pull them over, seize the dope and collect their phones, the detective orders before leaving to come clean about his illegal investigation.
Inside the warehouse, Chris inspects the delivery: More than 100 kilos of raw heroin hidden inside new refrigerators. When the Greek deliverymen tell Chris he can count the packages, he leaves without a word.
At the Baltimore Sun, City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes welcomes the paper's London Bureau Chief, Robert Ruby, back to the states since his office was shut down. After a few minutes' complaining about their parent company, Gus asks Ruby to look into Scott Templeton's reporting - check its accuracy with a fresh set of eyes. Ruby warns him that chasing the reporter might cross Executive Editor James C. Whiting III, but the displaced bureau chief immediately heads to the library to order up the sum of Templeton's work.
Duquan "Dukie" Weems rides the Arabber's cart and stops off at the junkyard to steal metal. Dukie hustles over the barbed-wire fence, snagging his hand as his new boss urges him on. He passes as much scrap over the fence as he can and bails out.
Monk and Cheese arrive at the supply warehouse, offloading the product and quickly leaving. Sydnor and his officers split up to tail the lieutenants.
Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf visits Commissioner William A. Rawls and Deputy Commissioner of Operations Cedric Daniels at police headquarters. In desperate need of an immediate drop in crime to fuel Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti's gubernatorial run, Steintorf wants to see more cops on the street making arrests.
Daniels explains that only quality police work can make a meaningful impact on crime, adding that Carcetti promised him that the statistic games would end during this administration. Steintorf says they'll keep their pledge for systemic reform, from Annapolis if need be, but unless the department becomes creative enough to effect a 10 percent drop in crime by the end of the quarter, Carcetti's ability to help will fade with his shot at the state house. As Steintorf leaves, Daniels steps outside to find Freamon pacing in the reception area.
Rushing through an explanation that his investigation of Marlo never ceased, Freamon tells Daniels that they're a few warrants away from locking up the whole organisation. Before Daniels can catch up, Freamon's mobile phone rings with a call from Sydnor. They've pulled Monk over on a traffic violation and found his vehicle loaded with dope. Lester hangs up and rattles off the list of warrants he'll need to search the warehouse and lock up the rest of Marlo's crew. Daniels smiles in the face of some real police work, picking up the phone to call A.S.A Rhonda Pearlman.
Across the city, police teams take down Marlo's crew, raiding the warehouse while others track down Cheese, Chris and Marlo. Snoop and O-Dog rush to Michael Lee's apartment, where the young soldier watches the bust go down on the news.
At police headquarters, Carcetti addresses the media, touting the $16 million in heroin seized, along with the Stanfield organization's ties to the rowhouse murders. Alma Gutierrez takes notes while Bill Zorzi quietly mocks the mayor in her ear. Laughing, she stands up to interview Daniels, but the deputy commissioner brushes her off with an empty quote about "the good guys."
When she asks for something more substantive, Daniels reminds her that the last time he appeared in the Sun, an anonymous source falsely identified him as a backstabber.
Cheese, Monk, Marlo and Chris sit at central booking, scrutinizing the documents that led to their arrests. Cheese points out that warrants were drawn up "from information received" - code for snitching as far as he's concerned. Marlo asks Chris if there's anyone in their shop who would inform the police, and when Michael's name comes up, Monk jumps on it.
But, in his haste to lay their troubles on Michael, Monk slips up and mentions that Omar called out Marlo by name in the streets. The boss becomes livid, demanding to know what Omar said and ordering his lieutenants to spread word that he knew nothing about it. As for Michael, Marlo's not willing to take any risks.
At the homicide unit, Sgt. Jay Landsman steps up to Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty's desk, pointing to Det. William "Bunk" Moreland's murder charge on Chris and demanding the same sort of progress on McNulty's serial killer case. When Landsman leaves, Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs asks McNulty how long he plans to waste manpower chasing his fake killer, and he promises the case will die down. Later that night, McNulty reiterates the concern about wasting resources to a drunken, celebratory Freamon, who assures him the brass will lose interest.
The next day, at a student debate competition, Namond Brice delivers a rousing speech about fighting AIDS in Africa while Howard "Bunny" Colvin and his wife look on with pride. Midway through Namond's delivery, Carcetti arrives and waits by the door, distracting Colvin. After the event, as Colvin and Namond walk to their car, the mayor breaks away from a Q&A session with reporters to catch up with the former district commander. Carcetti apologizes that he couldn't do anything with Colvin's "experiment" legalizing drugs in the Western, but Colvin has little to say in return.
Levy visits Marlo in jail to discuss the case against him. While Levy expects the judge to deny bail for Marlo and Chris, the others' will post soon. More importantly, Levy and Marlo puzzle through the facts of the case, trying to ascertain who told the police about the re-supply. Only Snoop knew about it, and Marlo knows he can trust her implicitly.
At the homicide unit, Landsman sends McNulty out on a call for a dead homeless man. The detective protests, knowing the body can't provide any leads, but he has no choice. As McNulty leaves, Greggs sarcastically asks whether it's a waste of his time.
Haynes meets Council President Nerese Campbell for lunch at Werner's Deli. Under the guise of seeking information on the upcoming mayoral race but really trying to validate Templeton's facts, Haynes lets the interview drift toward the subject of Daniels and asks whether the deputy commissioner deserves a promotion after undercutting his boss. Campbell replies that's she'd wondered where that information came from, given Daniels' solid reputation. Haynes, with his suspicions confirmed that Templeton had fabricated an anonymous source, nods.
Haynes returns to the newsroom, and when he asks Templeton about the paperwork he requested to fact-check the reporter's homeless Marine story, Templeton says it will take at least three weeks. Haynes finds Metro Editor Steven Luxenberg and says he needs to get into Walter Reed to interview a veteran. After the hospital's national scandal, Luxenberg tells him, no one will speak to a journalist reporting on a story. But, if it's off the record, he can get Haynes in.
Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk joins Sgt. Ellis Carver and his men for a "shift-change party" on a dead-end street in West Baltimore. Herc asks his friend about the Stanfield bust, trying to find out whether the mobile number he lifted from Levy's office found itself at the end of a Lester Freamon wiretap. Carver won't confirm anything, so the two old friends have a beer.
In his sister's basement, Bubbles talks to Sun reporter Mike Fletcher, bringing the writer up to speed on his personal history. His sister, Rae opens the kitchen door upstairs, and when Bubbles invites her to his Narcotics Anonymous anniversary, she remains noncommittal.
Freamon meets up with State Sen. R. Clayton "Clay" Davis at a bar to squeeze some incriminating details out of the corrupt politician. Brandishing the threat of a federal indictment, Freamon wants to know who brokers the laundered drug money in Baltimore. Davis says that the same defense attorneys who handle high-end drug cases - Levy included - have created a sideline dishing out illicit funds to capitalize developers and politicians.
The lawyers take a cut on both ends, but they also protect their street-minded clients from corrupt businessmen like Davis. As the final payment to buy back his case, Davis informs Freamon that Levy sells sealed grand-jury documents, which a source inside the courthouse leaks to him. Davis doesn't have a name but figures Freamon could find one easily.
Snoop pulls up to Michael's corner and beckons him over, telling the soldier that she needs his help with a hit Marlo ordered. But, when she tells him not to bring a gun - that she has him covered - he grows suspicious.
Haynes interviews Sgt. Raymond Wiley, the Marine who lost his hands in the explosion Templeton wrote about, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. While a physical therapist works with Wiley's motorized prosthetic hands, the soldier tells Haynes that his comrades didn't engage in a firefight the day he was wounded. And his friend, Terry Hanning, didn't need to invent combat stories to impress Scott Templeton - he'd seen enough action to recount plenty of gunfights if he'd chosen to. The Sun must have lied, concludes an apologetic Wiley.
Greggs visits Carver at the D.E.U. office to tell him he made a mistake by allowing McNulty to falsify his records. Carver doesn't see the problem, but Greggs advises him to coach his officers to tell internal investigators that they had no idea their paperwork ended up on McNulty's desk. She asks Carver whether he was okay with speaking up about Colicchio's outburst, and when he answers in the affirmative, she nods and leaves, on her way to Daniels' office.
From the back seat of a hack's car, Michael watches Snoop and some Stanfield soldiers set up a trap for him. He pays the driver to rent his car for the night, and then returns to his corner to wait for Snoop to pick him up for the "job." They drive toward the hit, but Michael asks her to pull over in an alley so he can pee.
When she stops the vehicle, he pulls a gun from under his shirt and aims it at her head. Michael denies that he had anything to do with the arrests, but Snoop - level and unafraid - says the way he carries himself, questioning and apart, proves that he was never cut out to be one of them. Michael pulls the trigger, killing Snoop, and escapes down the alley.
Bubbles brings Fletcher along to his Narcotics Anonymous anniversary, where Walon reminds the reporter that anything said in the meeting must stay there. Bubbles watches for his sister to arrive, but she doesn't turn up. In front of the group, he shares a story about a particular day that he struggled to stay sober; then he talks about Sherrod, saying that he's learned it's alright to hang onto grief - as long as you make room for other things too.
After Greggs blows the whistle on McNulty's manufactured serial killer, Daniels brings the news to Pearlman. Piecing together the rogue detective's methods, they drive to evidence control to test the serial killer's tapped number against Marlo's seized mobile phone. Pearlman dials the number from a court document, and after a brief moment, the phone rings, confirming their suspicions.
Michael storms into his apartment, gathering up Bug and Dukie and ushering them into his rented car. He drives his little brother to their aunt's house in Columbia. Narrowly managing to choke back his emotion, Michael says goodbye to Bug and sends him inside with a box full of cash. When he returns to Baltimore, where the entire Stanfield crew must be hunting him by now, Michael drops his friend off at the Arabber's stable, where addicts get high by the light of burning barrels.
"... the life of kings." - H.L. Mencken
At his city hall office, Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti and his staff learn about the fabrication behind Baltimore's serial killer from Deputy Commissioner for Operations Cedric Daniels, Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman and Acting Commissioner William A. Rawls. Momentarily speechless, Carcetti pieces together the lie's effects: Essentially negating every political victory he's scored during the election. The mayor warns Rawls and State's Attorney Rupert Bond that they'll have to take the hit if the fiasco goes public. Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf underscores the importance of keeping the situation secret until they can decide the best way to handle it; going public the wrong way could destroy careers, he says, looking pointedly at Pearlman.
Det. Lester Freamon pays a visit to a Grand Jury Prosecutor Gary DiPasquale at the courthouse - he's found the leak who's selling sealed indictments. Holding evidence that the prosecutor dumped three times his salary in Atlantic City over the past two years, Freamon advises him to come clean and trust in the mercy of a courthouse full of friends. When the prosecutor agrees to cooperate, Freamon pulls a tape recorder from his bag and tells his new informant to make a call.
Outside City hall, Daniels fumes over Carcetti's desire to cover up the scandal, telling Pearlman he's tempted to call Annapolis and blow the whistle. She blanches, saying that it would destroy her career and undo years of working her way up in the courthouse.
Baltimore Sun reporter Mike Fletcher stands at a downtown intersection, selling copies of the paper for Bubbles while the recovered addict reads the unpublished story Fletcher has written about him. Questioning whether the details about his sister and Sherrod are necessary - and not sure why anyone would want to read it - Bubbles can't decide whether he wants Fletcher to run the piece.
Carcetti and Steintorf meet with Bond and Rawls at City Hall, trying to figure out a way to deal with Freamon and McNulty through back channels. Bond sees the merits of the approach, but when Rawls remains tepid, Steintorf walks the acting commissioner into the hall for a chat.
Losing the façade, Steintorf admits that Rawls has some political leverage with the mayor - Carcetti can't publicly blame Rawls without tarnishing Daniels, who the mayor has repeatedly endorsed - so Rawls figures he might barter for an extension to his 'acting' term. Steintorf sees the play coming, and suggests that Rawls come to Annapolis with Carcetti to work as the state police superintendent, a position more suited to his complexion. Rawls returns to the conference room, agreeing that they should keep the problem quiet.
Freamon catches Pearlman in the hall at the courthouse, and the detective explains that DiPasquale has been leaking records to high-powered defense attorneys. He hands her a cassette tape holding the corrupt prosecutor's call to Maurice Levy. Pearlman is glad to have the evidence, but she also eyeballs Freamon, dropping a pointed allusion that she knows the truth about his investigation.
Duquan "Dukie" Weems, looking ragged in dirty clothes, returns to his old middle school looking for Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski. Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly barely recognizes the young man, but she agrees to let him wait outside for Prez. When the teacher emerges, Dukie asks for a few hundred dollars, selling a suspicious story that he's trying to find a place to live and get his GED. Prez can tell the boy is lying, but promises to meet him in the parking lot to find a bank machine.
At the homicide unit, Sgt. Jay Landsman lays into Det. James "Jimmy" McNulty for letting the serial killer case go cold. McNulty, trying to unload the department resources he's been wasting, tells Landsman there just haven't been any new leads.
As the conversation ends, Freamon arrives and pulls McNulty into an interview room. Nervous, Freamon tells his accomplice that Pearlman and Daniels have figured them out. But the two detectives wonder: Why haven't they been arrested yet?
City Editor Gus Haynes settles into his desk at the Baltimore Sun, and Regional Affairs Editor Rebecca Corbett points out one of Scott Templeton's stories about the Sun's homeless coverage causing a policy reversal. But she and Haynes recognize it as self-congratulatory hype for the public service Pulitzer. Fletcher comes over to get Haynes' take on his story about Bubbles, and after keeping the young reporter in suspense for a moment, Haynes dishes out compliments. But Fletcher still wants to wait for the go-ahead from his source.
Sitting at the bar, McNulty and Freamon nail down the mayor's motivation for keeping their manufactured killer under wraps. With the election and the highly publicized case against Marlo Stanfield complicating the situation, the two rogue detectives realize they have plenty to hold over their bosses' heads.
As Haynes edits copy, London Bureau Chief Robert Ruby walks up to deliver the research he's done on Scott Templeton's work. Exaggerations, fabricated quotes and sources - if someone re-reports the stories, they'll find all the holes. Haynes takes Ruby's file and places it in a drawer, unsure how to proceed.
Levy meets with Marlo Stanfield at the Baltimore City Jail to tell his client that the judge won't allow bail. More importantly, Levy says, they need to determine how the police cracked the clock code Marlo and his crew used. Knowing the police couldn't have deciphered the puzzle so quickly, Levy smells a wire tap - but it still doesn't add up. As Marlo leaves the meeting, he crosses paths with Cheese and tells him to hunt down Michael Lee once he gets out on bail.
McNulty, at home with Beatrice "Beadie" Russell and her kids, catches a call from Landsman about a man in a gray van who tried to abduct a homeless man. He arrives on the scene to find Templeton, who claims to have seen it happen outside the Sun offices. When Templeton leaves to check in with his desk, another homeless man wants to speak to McNulty. It turns out the man is an undercover detective, and he tells McNulty that Templeton's story is bogus - no man, no gray van. McNulty thanks him and goes home.
Bubbles, trying to decide whether he'll let Fletcher run his story, talks it over with Walon, who brings his friend some crabs from work. Walon suggests that Bubs may be afraid that people will find out he's a good person. Still conflicted, Bubs heads home to his sister's and gives her the crabs.
At the Sun, Haynes demands that Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow pull Templeton's story about the gray van. Templeton loses his temper and yells at Haynes, and Klebanow accuses the editor of letting his personal feelings cloud his judgment. As Haynes stalks out, telling Klebanow that he may win a Pulitzer with Templeton and then have to give it back, the accused reporter shouts at Haynes from across the office, swearing that all the facts are in his notes.
At the courthouse, Levy waits for Pearlman to discuss the Stanfield case. He suspects the police of running an illegal wiretap, and he promises Pearlman that he sees the weakness in her case and won't hesitate to exploit it in court. Leaving, he suggests they meet and talk.
In South Baltimore, Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs and Det. William "Bunk" Moreland get a call for the serial killer - except this is a real murder. A copycat has picked up in the place of McNulty's lie. When McNulty arrives on the scene, Bunk guesses that the bosses will put him on the case, but McNulty surprises both of them when he says that Daniels and Pearlman know he invented the serial killer.
Bunk, aghast that McNulty isn't in jail yet, lays the blame for this murder at his friend's feet. Across town in his office, Carcetti watches the news coverage of the murder, furious.
McNulty returns to the homicide unit, where Rawls and Daniels corner him in an interview room. McNulty admits to his conspiracy but swears he had nothing to do with the latest body. Rawls tells him that the mayor knows the whole story and advises him to solve this murder quickly and make the whole story go away - the longer it takes, the worse the payback will be.
In the squad room, McNulty finds Bunk and Kima poring over the victim's possessions. When McNulty notices a handful of business cards, he rushes out, thinking he's solved the case. Tracking down a deranged homeless man he remembered seeing with a box full of business cards, McNulty also finds a spool of ribbon that matches the latest victim. Surrounded by police and reporters, McNulty has solved his own manufactured case.
At the Sun, Metro Editor Steven Luxenburg looks over Haynes' evidence against Templeton and warns the editor that making more noise could cost him his job. When Haynes steps back into the newsroom, Alma Gutierrez pulls him aside and hands him Templeton's notebook, which is completely empty. Haynes, taking a deep breath, accepts the notebook, grabs the research on Templeton's stories from his desk and walks into Executive Editor James C. Whiting III's office. As Whiting's reaction fades from collegiality to guardedness, Klebanow joins the discussion.
Pearlman meets Levy in his office, cutting to the chase by playing the damning tape of his conversation with the grand jury prosecutor.
Both violating the law, they horse-trade their way to an agreement that Pearlman will shelve the case against him in exchange for guilty pleas from Chris Partlow and both Marlo's lieutenants. Marlo will get to walk, but if he shows up on the street again after the elections, Pearlman promises to reopen the case against him. Levy never finds out exactly why she can't bring her evidence to open court, but the deal proves Pearlman has something major to hide.
Bunk and McNulty interview their homeless suspect, who rambles on, confessing to killing every victim. When McNulty leaves the room, Landsman tells the detective that Templeton is waiting for him in the sergeant's office. McNulty walks in and closes the door behind him before losing his temper and telling Templeton that he knows about the lies because he started the whole charade himself. With that, he sends Templeton - shocked and confused - back to the Sun, knowing the reporter can't breathe a word of it to anyone.
He returns to the interview room to work the homeless man, and when Daniels and Rawls show up to check on the progress, McNulty refuses to manipulate the mentally ill man into admitting to all six murders. Rawls is furious, but Bunk finally nods in approval.
Levy, after meeting with Marlo to explain the conditions of his release, tells Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk that the former detective has become a goldmine. Squeezing Herc on the cheek, Levy invites him to dinner at his house.
Carcetti calls a press conference to announce the homeless killer's arrest, and Rawls explains that he's been charged with the last two murders, though he's suspected of the rest. Because the suspect is mentally incapacitated and bound for a psychiatric facility, the redundant charges wouldn't matter. As the conference ends, Carcetti credits Daniels for the arrest as well as the Stanfield case and announces that he's promoting Daniels to commissioner.
At the homicide unit, Pearlman delivers the verdict to Freamon and McNulty: The bosses can't fire them without drawing unwanted attention, but she won't allow either of them near any police work that would end up in a courtroom. The detectives lament that Marlo and Levy both escaped prosecution, but they have no one to blame but themselves.
Steintorf visits Daniels in his office to congratulate him on his handling of the homeless debacle, but he also tells the soon-to-be commissioner that city hall needs to see a 10-percent drop in the crime stats. Daniels replies that the stats are clean and will stay clean - before and after the election. Steintorf leaves but makes his next stop at Council President Nerese Campbell's office. Explaining that Daniels won't play ball, Steintorf tells Campbell to find a solution if she wants Carcetti's office.
At the Baltimore City Jail, the remaining members of the Co-op - Fatface Rick, Slim Charles and Clinton "Shorty" Buise - discuss business with Marlo, who's auctioning off his drug connection. When Buise asks what Marlo will do next, he replies: "Businessman."
At the Sun, Gutierrez walks out with Haynes after his meeting with the top editors. His speaking out has earned him a demotion to the copy desk, while Alma finds herself booted to a bureau office in Carroll County. Haynes assures her she'll write herself out of the setback in no time, but wonders why they demoted her when he never told Klebanow about the notebook, she replies that she brought it up herself, trying to back Haynes up.
A crowd of police gathers at Kavanaugh's bar for McNulty and Freamon's going-away party. With Landsman offering one of his inspired eulogies, McNulty lays on the pool table, smirking and listening. Freamon arrives, telling the crowd he's officially retired, and Landsman continues his speech, calling out McNulty's record for stirring up trouble, ignoring orders and generally bringing misery to the homicide unit.
But he ends with a high compliment: "If I was laying there dead on some Baltimore street corner, I'd want it to be you standing over me, catching the case. Because, brother, when you were good, you were the best we had."
Daniels' ex-wife, Marla, shows up at his office holding the file on his service - and apparent corruption - in the Eastern District, which Campbell delivered to her as a power play to buy Steintorf's cooked crime stats. Daniels says that caving to the pressure now means working under Campbell's thumb for the rest of his career. Marla asks him to resign for personal reasons, rather than taking both their careers down with him if the file emerges during his confirmation hearings.
McNulty and Freamon stand outside Kavanaugh's, and Greggs approaches, not sure if she's welcome at the party. Both detectives assure her they're not angry that she blew the whistle, and Freamon invites her inside for a drink. As they step inside, Freamon asks whether McNulty is coming, but he declines, telling them that he's going home.
In East Baltimore, Fatface Rick, Buise, Cheese, Slim Charles and a few others meet to talk over the finances of buying Marlo's connection. They're just a few hundred-thousand short of Marlo's $10 million asking price, and Cheese jumps in to add his money to the venture. Fatface Rick chastises Cheese for putting them in this position to begin with by moving on his uncle Prop Joe, and when Cheese protests, Slim Charles pulls out a 9mm. "You've done enough," Slim tells Cheese before shooting him in the head. "For Joe."
Bubbles, sitting on a curb, reads a clipped copy of Fletcher's published story from the Baltimore Sun. When he finishes, he carefully folds it and puts it in his pocket.
As his final official act as police commissioner, Daniels promotes a handful of officers - including Sgt. Ellis Carver to lieutenant. Carver tells his mentor that he heard about the resignation on the radio and tells Daniels he wishes he could serve under him. Stepping down into the crowd, Carver finds Herc waiting to congratulate him.
McNulty drives down to the Richmond shelter where he left the serial killer's "disappeared" victim, Mr. Bobbles. The man has left the shelter, but McNulty asks the social worker where the homeless congregate.
At a downtown office party, Levy introduces Marlo to the real-estate elite of Baltimore, and developer Andrew Krawczyk, among others, pitches the upstart "businessman" with a bevy of investment opportunities. Pulling Marlo away, Levy explains the developers' power but warns the young man against dealing with them alone. "Guys like that will bleed you," Levy tells him.
Later, on his way home through West Baltimore, a group of hoppers try to jump Marlo, but he fights them off easily, grinning when he catches a slash on the arm... At Vinson's rim shop, a handful of drug dealers handle their cash. Michael steps out of the darkness holding a shotgun and, blasting Vinson in the leg, grabs a bag full of cash and leaves...
Det. Leandor Sydnor visits Judge Daniel Phelan in his chambers to apply back-channel pressure to an investigation, asking the judge to look into things but keep his name out of it... Freamon works at home on his miniatures... Herc buys rounds for a bar full of police... Templeton wins a Pulitzer... Dukie shoots up in a back alley with the Arabber... Carcetti wins the gubernatorial race... Fletcher takes over the Sun's city desk... Stanislaus Valchek takes over as commissioner... Daniels puts his law degree to use... Chris meets Wee-Bey in a prison yard... Rawls heads the state police... Fatface Rick and Slim Charles meet with the Greeks... Bubbles sits down to dinner with his sister...
McNulty drives up I-95 from Richmond with Mr. Bobbles in tow, looking to the Baltimore skyline. "Let's go home," says the ex-police.
In the projects. On the docks. In City Hall. In the schools. And now, in the media. The places and faces have changed, but the game remains the same. Times are tough for the detail. Mayor Carcetti has slashed the department's budget to the bone. Police are operating without overtime, some without cars and radios.
As Season 5 begins we are introduced to The Baltimore Sun (recreated in painstaking detail), chronicling the efforts of the harried city editor to squeeze out stories in the face of downsizing by the paper's profit-motivated parent company. As we'll see, the Sun's cuts echo those facing Carcetti and the police department, which must make hard choices involving overtime, equipment and personnel - including members of the detail assigned to monitor Marlo and his ruthless crew.
Irish whiskey. The stick. A good hard case. And women. These are some affinities in the life of Jimmy McNulty. A failed marriage, drunkenness, philandering, disturbing co-workers in the middle of the night, insubordination and backdooring aside, McNulty is good police - both in skill and heart - driven by a propensity for solving cases.
Having instigated the Baltimore Police Department's investigation of the Barksdale organisation, McNulty defied anyone he had to for the sake of the case. Breaking the chain-of-command, he was sent to a no-hope detail with the Baltimore Harbor Patrol. At least he met Beadie Russell there. He also encountered another case worth building: 14 bodies in a shipment container landing him back in the detail. Closure in that case focused his attention back on the Barksdales and a war with a new westside rival. McNulty almost squeezed out a tear when Stringer was killed subverting his efforts on the case. It had become personal. He still managed to find some satisfaction when he handed Avon an arrest warrant citing Stringer as the named source of information. Accepting the victory he was given, McNulty settled into a patrol job in the Western - and a relationship with Officer Beatrice "Beadie" Russell - and started to put his life in order. But, when his collegial street adversary Preston "Bodie" Broadus dies under Marlo Stanfield's order, McNulty returns to Major Crimes and the turmoil that comes with it.
With a law degree under his belt, the career-conscious Lt. Daniels was once on the fast track to becoming a major, and after that, quite possibly a colonel, deputy commissioner or higher. But all that changed when McNulty compelled Judge Phelan to take an interest in the Barksdales. The bosses tapped Daniels to lead a fast, straightforward - and above all, limited - investigation. Daniels understood his charge, but faced with the realities of what was required to pursue the Barksdale case, he found himself drawn inexorably toward a wiretap that his superiors did not want. And when the investigation started to target the money trail, Daniels got behind his unit and jeopardized his career by defying Commissioner Burrell's order to shut it down.
This strained his marriage to his politically ambitious and well-connected wife, Marla, who feared that everything they'd worked and waited for was on the line - especially after Burrell threatened to reveal a long-buried corruption scandal that occurred during the lieutenant's early days in Eastern District. Daniels ignored the threat and brought in the Barksdale case, though Burrell exacted his revenge in the end - assigning Daniels to clerk duty in the evidence room.
That turned out to be short-lived, as another case soon required his attention: Major Valchek's petulant feud with dockworkers' union boss Frank Sobotka over a window donated to a Roman Catholic church in the city's Polish neighborhood. Valchek demanded that Daniels lead his anti-corruption probe of the dockworkers local on the basis of his son-in-law's recommendation. Happy to be out of the evidence room, Daniels agreed. But the probe became meaningful when it tied into drug smuggling, human trafficking and murder. After bringing in some arrests on that second case, Daniels was given a permanent wiretap detail, and set his sights on the Barksdale organization once again. This time, the unit made good on years of police work. Despite constant setbacks, Daniels finally made the rank of major, and did it his own way.
But it wasn't fast enough for his wife, and the marriage broke apart. For a time, Daniels pretended otherwise to allow Marla to better run for city council with her husband on her arm. But eventually, Daniels found a new romance with A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman, and with Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti now backing Daniels' ascent through the department, the pair appear on the verge of becoming a power couple.
Raised by Lt. Daniels as a pup in the Eastern District drug unit, Kima became one of his best detectives after they transferred downtown to C.I.D. narcotics. Her demonstrated ability and her willingness to do the job even changed McNulty's unfavorable view of female police, and soon they even began to empathize with one another about the job, relationships and department politics. When Greggs was shot and seriously wounded in an undercover buy during the first Barksdale probe, her girlfriend Cheryl's worst nightmare came true. McNulty was guilt ridden for having pushed the case, and Daniels became more determined than ever to see it through - regardless of the cost to his career.
Escaping without permanent injury, Greggs initially agreed to limit herself to desk work in order to placate Cheryl, who was contemplating an in vitro pregnancy. But becoming a "housecat" is untenable for Greggs. Pushing paper until she could no longer stand it, she accepted Daniels's invitation to reunite with the unit investigating criminal activity on the Baltimore waterfront. When Cheryl got pregnant, Greggs distanced herself emotionally from her partner and, ultimately, from the newly arrived baby. She lost herself - and the relationship - in fresh casework and fresh sexual conquests, becoming ever more like McNulty. When Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell effectively gutted the Major Crimes unit with a bull-dog supervisor loyal to the department brass, Kima transferred to homicide, where the customary hazing from her new colleagues did little to obscure her talent.
Whether working back on a mope or a moldering John Doe, The Bunk is a skillful, cigar-toting veteran of the homicide detective. As partner, Bunk and McNulty worked in tandem both on and off the job, doing as much damage in bars and, with luck, bedrooms, as they ever manage in the way of police work. Loyal, dry and hilariously profane, The Bunk is married with three kids, and is a student of psychology and manipulation - a good interrogator and a cop for whom a glance or a stray word can tell whole stories. He has a low threshold for bullshit, excepting his own, of course
Demoted to desk work in the pawnshop unit for refusing to be less than entirely aggressive in a politically-connected case, Lester Freamon languished for 13 years in oblivion and developed a sideline making dollhouse miniatures to bide the time. More than a decade later, when knowledge of his original sin had all but disappeared within the department, the bosses shifted Freamon into a special detail with a couple of other aging detectives, thinking him merely deadwood. Instead, Freamon began demonstrating the skills of a consummate investigator, manning the wiretaps for both the Barksdale and Sobotka investigations, assessing the flood of information and remaining steadfast to the mantra that all the pieces matter.
He is relentless when it comes to chasing leads - property, money, paper, wiretaps, cell phones, players - and he's an excellent mentor for younger detectives who heed his advice. When Freamon's storm of subpoenas for the investigation of Sen. R. Clayton "Clay" Davis drew unappreciative eyes toward the department, Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls offered Lester the choice between his career case and his colleagues' careers. When Freamon agreed to back off, Rawls decided to put the detective's talent to work in the homicide unit, but Colonel Cedric Daniels' newfound clout eventually reinstalled Freamon at Major Crimes during the Marlo Stanfield investigation.
Hailing from C.I.D. narcotics, Sgt. Carver learned a lot of lessons and took advantage of many second chances before he became an effective police sergeant. In the past, he was - along with his running buddy Herc - not at all above some petty corruption and cutting a few ethical corners here and there. During the initial Barksdale probe, Carver provided Burrell with details on the progress of the case behind the back of his lieutenant and co-workers, thereby assuring his own promotion to sergeant. Eventually, Daniels realized that Carver was the mole in the unit and chastised Carver even as the case came to a close. Reassigned to the Southeastern District as a sector sergeant, Carver later finds his way back to Daniels when the port investigation gears up and is offered manpower from the district. Daniels offers Carver the opportunity to redeem himself, but refuses to recognize his new rank, and Carver finishes that probe with his ego deeply bruised. Along with Herc, he escapes to the Western District, where he takes over the street-level drug enforcement unit and goes back to the head-banging, stat-driven arrests with which he is comfortable.
Colvin's drug legalization initiative proves to be an education for Carver, however, and as he begins to see the drug war and policing in a different light, he begins to become real police. His improved ethic eventually earned him the job of acting shift lieutenant in the Western - and a new minefield to navigate as he learns to deal with the officers under his command.
"We tune 'em up, beat 'em down, lock 'em up. The Western District way." Herc is at home on the streets, knocking heads, conducting street sweeps and slapping bracelets on young hoppers. Dedicated and well-meaning on the one hand, Herc finds temptation challenging on the other - especially when there's a payday involved... whether it lines its own pockets or furthers a case through improper means. Herc scored high enough on a sergeant's test to win promotion, but was denied thanks to a lack of political connections - and his long, awkward history of brutality complaints. Determined to make rank, he transferred out of the Western drug unit to the Mayor's security detail, hoping that a year of driving Royce around would achieve what police work did not.
After catching the mayor with an intern under his desk - and subsequently keeping his mouth shut - Herc found himself bumped up the ladder and back at Major Crimes. His promotion didn't last long, though; a lost surveillance camera and some manufactured informants cost him his stripes, then his job.
As a leading Assistant State's Attorney in the narcotics division, Pearlman has been a guiding legal presence through all of the wiretap detail's investigations. A stickler for process, Pearlman's grasp of the nuance of surveillance law and the legalities of complex casework proves invaluable to the investigations of both the Barksdales and Sobotka. However, like everyone else with her eye on office politics and the next promotion, she is often worried about the political implications of the casework.
A tough prosecutor, she once had a soft spot for Jimmy McNulty, leading to an on-again-off-again affair that was eventually discovered by McNulty's wife - and ultimately led to the dissolution of the marriage. Although McNulty was honest enough to give Pearlman no hint of a future together, he still felt comfortable enough to show up on her doorstep every now and then. This ended when her relationship with Colonel Daniels began, and now her career - under a new State's Attorney - is flourishing along with Daniels'.
The number two in the now-fallen Barksdale organization, Bell grew up in the projects alongside Avon Barksdale and his chief enforcer, Wee-Bey Brice. A master of organization with a penchant for economic theory, Bell came close to turning the corner and establishing himself as a legitimate real estate developer, and removing himself from the day-to-day of the narcotics organization, remaining as only "The Bank" with the financial investment behind the wholesale packages.
His efforts to reform the violence and gangsterism of the drug trade - amoral though they were - ultimately led to a complicated series of maneuvers that backfired, resulting in his ambush at the hands of Brother Mouzone and Omar Little - an ambush that Avon Barksdale was required to accept in order to maintain his standing with the New York drug suppliers with whom Mouzone has strong standing.
The now-incarcerated leader of the drug organization that bears his name, Barksdale grew up in the Terrace high-rises and managed to avoid arrest, remaining a furtive but increasingly powerful force in the Westside drug trade. Eventually targeted by homicide Det. Jimmy McNulty, who was beaten in a murder case in which Barksdale operatives intimated state witnesses, Barksdale soon found himself jailed as a result of a prolonged probe by Daniels's detail. Having manipulated state prison authorities into granting his early parole, Barksdale returned to the streets within two years and began reestablishing himself, going to war against a rival crew led by a young insurgent, Marlo Stanfield.
That war ended when Barksdale was betrayed by his No. 2, Stringer Bell, who feared the violence would destroy his efforts to reform the drug trade and emerge as a legitimate businessman. Bell hoped to return Barksdale to prison for perhaps five years and thereby save the organization itself; instead - and after Bell's death - police raided Barksdale's wartime safehouse on a tip and were able to put weapons and conspiracy charges on all of those arrested. Barksdale has five years remaining on his parole backup from the earlier charge. In addition, weapons and conspiracy charges have added another twenty-five years to that sentence.
Barksdale's nephew - the son of his sister - rose through the ranks of the organization and was eventually given the high-rise tower at 221 West Fremont, lucrative territory. But his inability to handle a common argument in the lobby of the building led to a shooting - a slaying that was more panic and self-defense than any intended consequence.
Barksdale saved his nephew from prison by bribing a key witness in the case - and outcome that angered a city judge who, learning from McNulty the extent of Barksdale's organization, pressured the police to begin the probe of the drug crew. Caught by detectives muling a package of heroin from New York, D'Angelo came close to turning state's witness against the rest of his family in exchange for the chance at a new life. A pretrial jail visit by his mother, Brianna Barksdale, convinced him to take a twenty-year sentence instead. Fearful that he would not be able to do the time and concerned as D'Angelo began to distance himself from his uncle inside the state prison, Bell ordered his murder and did so without the foreknowledge of Avon or his sister.
D'Angelo was strangled in the prison library and a lax investigation by state troopers led to the death being classified as a suicide.
As one of Baltimore's most notorious stick-up artists, Omar Little brings another element to the game: the hunt. With his long duster, battle armor and the sweep of his shotgun, he adds an additional element of risk for Baltimore's dealers. Uncomfortable with profanity and careful to rob only dealers and others in the game who can have no complaint to police, Omar shows particular pride when taking off the stronger organizations - though that pride has cost him.
After robbing a Barksdale stash house with two confederates - one his lover, Brandon, and another gunman named Bailey. He soon found himself hunted ruthlessly. Bailey was caught and killed first, followed by Brandon, who was himself tortured in an unsuccessful attempt to make him reveal Omar's whereabouts. In retaliation, Omar took the battle to the Barksdale organization, ambushing the hitters Wee-Bey and Stinkum, killing the latter and wounding the former. Subsequently, he made a point of testifying - in fact, perjuring himself - in a campaign to give a third Barksdale gunman, Bird, a life-sentence in a court trial. Manipulated by Prop Joe into ambushing Brother Mouzone - a gunsel brought down from New York to hold Barksdale territory and make an alliance between Stringer Bell and Joe problematic - Omar realized he'd been used after wounding Mouzone and so let the man live. Mouzone, after working his way back to Omar, learned the story and the two paired up briefly to successfully assassinate Stringer Bell, bringing Omar's campaign of retribution to an end.
Moving on to other targets in the drug world, Omar gets caught in a web of framing and retribution with Proposition Joe and Marlo Stanfield. When he finally pulls off a double-crossing heist, further alienating the two dealers, Omar takes the money and runs. But Marlo remains determined to smoke him out.
Another soldier in Barksdale's line-up, Preston "Bodie" Broadus, grew up the hard way in Baltimore with an economy that couldn't support him. Neither could his mother, so his grandmother took him in. Bodie came up in The Pit under D'Angelo Barksdale's soft supervision, which was at odds with his own style. He is loyal, stoic and willing to do whatever his superiors regard as necessary, up to and including participating in the murder of his young cohort, Wallace, when ordered to do so by Stringer Bell. In return, Bodie was given command of a crew at a high-rise tower, and he held that territory until the buildings were dynamited.
With the Barksdale organization now shattered, he is back on the street, without connections and without territory of his own, operating an independent corner and vulnerable to larger drug organizations. With Marlo extending his reach, Bodie fails to remain independent and has to start selling Marlo's package. When his top crew members Lex and Little Kevin are taken out by Marlo's team, an enraged Bodie throws a fit that lands him in jail. Ofc. McNulty talks him into informing on Marlo, but Marlo has him killed before he can do any damage.
He's tried in earnest to clean himself up, but for Bubbles, drug-free living has always been problematic. Living in vacant houses and abandoned garages, selling second-hand items out of a shopping cart, Bubbles scratches and claws his way through West Baltimore, trying for a little dignity in a life that offers little of the sort. A longtime informant for Kima Greggs, Bubbles volunteers his services when his friend and running buddy, Johnny, is nearly beaten to death over a few dollars. He proves an effective and loyal source of information on the street level, and at one point, falling under the sway of a recovered addict named Walon, he sets out to get clean. But the plan falls through when Greggs is wounded.
Having lost Johnny to the addict's paradise that was Colvin's sanctioned drug zone, Bubbles trudges on through the diaspora of addiction. He takes another addict, Sherrod, under his wing. When a plan to seek vengeance on a bully who's been beating on Bubbles backfires and his charge ends up dead, Bubbles confesses his "crime" to the Homicide squad and tries to take his own life. After cleaning up in a psychiatric hospital, Bubbles tries to make a go of a clean life once again.
Major Valchek's son-in-law was once an impulsive, frightened officer with terrible street instincts and no clue how to handle police work. But marrying a politically-connected major's daughter has its privileges. Valchek managed to salvage Prez's career when the young officer shot up his own squad car and then called in a Signal 13, claiming to be under fire - as obvious a cry for help as a frightened patrolman can issue. Hoping to resurrect his son-in-law's career, Valchek got him reassigned to the Barksdale, where Prez began as he left off, with terrible instincts and volatile behavior. Held in the office by Daniels, who was unwilling to have Prez on the street, the young plainclothesman began to learn the first lessons of police work from Lester Freamon, and he quickly blossomed - with an ear for wiretaps, a facility with codes, and a gift for chasing down paperwork. He also proved to be honorable and loyal. By the end of the Barksdale and port cases, he became a valued member of the wiretap unit.
Then on a food run in the ghetto, his street instincts surfaced for a final time. Responding to a Signal 13, Prez mistakenly shot and killed a black undercover officer. He was charged administratively with failure to properly identify himself in the racially-charged incident - a charge that he could have deflected if he chose to defend himself. But the incident made Prez reconsider whether he was meant for police work. He resigned and began studying for his teaching certificate. His first year at Tilghman Middle school is an eye opening experience as he encounters administrators who are forced to be concerned with making their statistics and promoting kids whether they're ready or not. He also has to learn how to command respect of his street-savvy charges, and how to be a good teacher without getting too emotionally involved.
During Bird's murder trial of William Gant, Barksdale lawyer Maurice Levy called prosecution witness Omar a parasite while Omar shot back: "Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase." Under the pretense of justice, Levy defends his clients with the same ferocity drug dealers do corners - a defense that also has the attorney crossing ethical lines. McNulty witnessed Levy's courtroom proficiency first hand when his team successfully cleared D'Angelo Barksdale of a murder by suborning perjury. And when Avon pulls off a lethal prison scheme that leads to multiple deaths from tainted heroin, Levy helps him achieve early parole by scapegoating a corrupt guard in the deaths. Whether it's warning dealers to protect themselves by dispatching living witnesses, or explaining state Sen. Clay Davis's "rainmaking" to an embittered Stringer, Levy is an important counsel to the gangsters that can afford his services.
As James "Jimmy" McNulty's go-to city judge, Phelan's signature has caused more headaches for police, politicians and drug dealers alike than any other name in Baltimore. His soft spot for Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman has lured him out on a limb in the past, and McNulty's ever-increasing expectations continue to push the limits of Phelan's good sense.
"There's never been a paper bag for drugs. Until now." When the department brass issued an ultimatum to commanders demanding that they effectively manage the crime rate in their districts, Western District's Major Colvin didn't re-classify felonies or juke the stats, as other district supervisors did. Instead, Colvin actually attempted to reduce the crime, and he did so by attempting something as outrageous as it was effective: he legalized drugs in his district. A career cop emboldened by his pending retirement, and he longed to make a real impact in the community. He ordered his troops to push all criminal elements into three largely uninhabited areas with the following caveat issued to dealers: if you're caught breaking the law anywhere outside of those three locales, there will be a harsh penalty.
It was a long-view strategy to centralize the drug elements of the city, letting them operate with impunity so long as they did the least damage possible to the surrounding neighborhoods, and so long as it achieved a remarkable reduction in crime throughout the district as a whole. But it was also untenable politically. When the plan was exposed by Councilman Carcetti - ambitious to discredit Mayor Royce and his administration - Colvin was made a scapegoat, relieved of duty and forced to retire at a lieutenant's grade. Even as he was destroyed by his innovation, Colvin still managed one last act of police work, passing along a vital tip that resulted in Avon Barksdale's arrest on weapons charges. He faces another impossible task when he's lured back to work by UM Professor David Parenti to be his partner in a school-based program at Tilghman Middle to target at-risk kids. Segregating some of the school's toughest discipline cases into their own special class, Colvin makes headway with some of the kids - and eventually takes in Namond Brice to raise him as his own.
A ruthless and cunning young player, Marlo Stanfield caught everyone off guard with his insurgent campaign against the larger Barksdale crew. Although Stringer Bell was inclined to grant generous terms to the upstart, Avon Barksdale eventually returned from prison and was disgusted to learn that a young, spirited gangster had run his boys off some prime real estate. Belatedly attempting diplomacy to avoid the violence and police attention that would result from a drug war, Bell offered membership in Prop Joe's New Day Coop and the expertise of older heads in money laundering to the younger deal. Marlo rejected any alliance however and as the war escalated, it became clear that he was very much like Bell's partner in outlook.
Gangsters at heart, Avon wanted his corners and Marlo wanted Avon's crown. Even as Avon was forced to give up Bell to appease Brother Mouzone, he began to see that he had both underestimated the costs of war and Marlo as well, and that the territory in question was in no way worth the price. But the war ended abruptly with the police raid on Barksdale's safehouse. At his arraignment in a city circuit court, Avon looks back to see his younger rival taking a seat in the spectator's gallery. Avon mouths "Marlo?" and the younger dealer confirms with a nod. Avon nods his acknowledgement and the crown is passed. Taking control of West Baltimore, Marlo goes head to head with Omar, and eventually joins the New Day Co-op to get an inside look at how they work. Meanwhile, Marlo's crew hides the bodies of those that got in the way in vacant buildings. This works until Lester Freamon uncovers the secret tombs, and Major Crimes is able to turn their attention to Marlo once again.
The politically astute Valchek once said of then-Councilman Carcetti: "He's an asspain when he wants something, but mostly good people." Having aspirations besides warming the backbench, this self-described proud son of the Fighting First District harbors a genuine idealism and a desire to improve the life of the city's diverse population. But those ideals are harnessed to naked political ambitions. With a steady and calculated effort, Carcetti unseated Baltimore's black incumbent mayor, despite the fact that he is white in a majority-black city.
To do so, Carcetti had to play hardball politics. Carcetti is about contradictions: a family man committed to his wife and young children, he isn't above the odd indiscretion. Nor was he above sacrificing Colvin and his drug legalization experiment, even though it was clear to him that there was some merit to the idea. Now that he's made it to the mayor's office, he's dealing with some of the thorniest tradeoffs of his career - including a compromise that would bring state money to desperate city agencies while helping a potential political rival.
The legacy of his father, imprisoned Barksdale hitter Wee-Bey Brice, is a source of street credibility and conflict for the 14-year-old. As he attempts to emulate his father, Namond is given work as a runner on Bodie's corner - a job that Bodie has offered out of respect to the imprisoned Bey, though his son, at times arrogant and entitled, takes it as his due. Having taken the weight for more than a dozen Barksdale organization drug killings, Wee-Bey's steadfast loyalty to Avon kept his family on the Barksdale payroll for some time. But when Briana eventually cut them off and put Namond on the street to earn, it quickly became clear that the younger Brice couldn't live in his father's world. Bunny Colvin, working a school program for troubled kids, took Namond under his wing, eventually becoming his guardian with Wee-Bey's blessing.
A veteran Baltimore Sun reporter, the acerbic Bill Zorzi has been covering the federal courthouse and working early rewrite on Sundays since the paper's buyouts of two years ago. Given to swearing, especially under deadline pressure, when Zorzi takes a hit for not catching a city courthouse story (not his beat), he isn't thrilled with the order to pick up the slack.