Directed by: Christine Moore
Story by: David Simon & Ed Burns
Teleplay by: Ed Burns
"Call it a crisis of leadership." - Proposition Joe
New York enforcer Brother Mouzone and Lamar arrive at the scene of the demolished towers. With Lamar questioning the disappearance of the buildings, Mouzone explains it simply, "Reform, Lamar. Reform." But with revenge on his mind Mouzone immediately sets about finding Omar. On the streets of the West Side, the war between Marlo and Barksdale continues to draw blood. Fruit muscles through the spectators of a crime scene to find one of his men dead. A few blocks away, Justin and Jamal finds Latroy shot to death moments earlier beside the driver's side of Marlo's Denali. Minutes later, Slim Charles and crew report in to Avon that two more are gone.
At the Detail Room, Freamon manages to connect a burner to Bodie after he uses it to call his grandmother. Daniels and Pearlman visit Judge Phelan, pleading with him to speed up the process by which the Detail is able to tap into the burners. By the time the cops have figured out the numbers on the burners, the cell phones are trashed a few days later. Phelan, always playful with Pearlman, is in a cooperative mood: "Best I can do for you is this: you give me a boilerplate affidavit with the [probable cause] from the court report. And as you get fresh numbers for new disposables, you call me any time, day or night, to jump phones."
Afterwards, Daniels asks Pearlman about Phelan's flirtatous behavior towards her. Beneficial as it is to their case, Daniels is only curious to know how long its been going on. Pearlman explains that Phelan has been like this since the first time she stepped into his courtroom. "Bet you won all your motions," Daniels observes.
Bunny Colvin meets with Carver to thank him for having moved the dead body away from Hamsterdam. He appreciates Carver's loyalty, he says, but adds that Carver "ain't shit when it comes to policin'." Colvin's primary criticism is that while Carver has good instincts as a cop, he has failed to develop any confidential sources on the street to tell him what's really going on, and that failure inhibits his effectiveness. He is interrupted, however, with bad news from Lt. Mello, who tells him a local reporter is on to Colvin's scheme. "He's been to the free zones — all three of 'em," Mello says. "Now he's callin' around for quotes."
Colvin quickly arranges to meet the reporter at Hamsterdam and when he's asked who knows about this at headquarters, Colvin lies to him: "Command is well aware of the situation." In a desperate bid to keep the lid on Hamsterdam, Colvin convinces the reporter that prosecution of the dealers will begin soon, and implores him to sit on the story for a couple of weeks. "Bottom line is that if you start throwing calls right now, everyone is gonna shit blue thinking we got a leak. They might come up on the case early, not get all they could out of the work we did down here." The reporter agrees to give Colvin a week in exchange for the exclusive.
Dennis "Cutty" Wise, having pulled his gym together, goes to Hamsterdam to round up young boys he can work with. Carver, supervising a basketball game among the kids of Hamsterdam, urges them to check out Wise's place. When they do show up, however, they are so unruly and disrespectful that Wise loses his temper and runs them off. Later, determined to stick with his plan of helping some of the young dealers get back on the right path, Wise returns to Hamsterdam and apologizes to the boys he pushed away. "I'm new at this coachin' thing," he says. "I got us off on the wrong foot. Didn't wanna leave it between us, you thinkin' I gave up on y'all."
Brother Mouzone, making discreet inquiries into the whereabouts of the man who shot him the last time he was in Baltimore, learns that his name is Omar, that he's not part of Barksdale's gang and that he is gay. For his part, Omar asks his counselor Butchie to put the word out that Omar will pay cash money to get at the Barksdale gang. Butchie says that isn't necessary, and tells him what Omar wanted to know all along: the funeral home location of Barksdale's headquarters.
Theresa D'Agostino, having agreed to be a campaign consultant for Tommy Carcetti, meets with the candidate and his friends, advising him that he needs more black faces behind him in order to get elected Mayor of Baltimore. She points out that the only way Carcetti can win is to ensure that his good friend Anthony Gray mounts a viable candidacy, drawing votes away from Mayor Royce. "Splitting the black vote is the only way to make the math work," she says. Carcetti is stricken with a rare bout of conscience as he considers that Gray, one of his closest friends, will be reduced to playing a supporting role in Carcetti's political rise. "It isn't personal," advises D'Agostino. "It's politics. Live with it or lose."
At his headquarters, Stringer Bell arrives to discover three new bodyguards, two of which shadow him when he departs, much to his dismay. Arriving at a West Baltimore liquor store, he orders the bodyguards to stay in the car while he goes inside. There, he meets members of the drug syndicate — Proposition Joe, Fatface Rick and Phil Boy — who are angry about the ongoing feud between Barksdale and Marlo. They inform Bell that if the matter isn't settled quickly, the Barksdale gang will be cut off. "The boys don't want to extend that good shit if it keeps you and your people out on them corners bangin'," says Prop Joe. He also tells Stringer that he won't be leading the syndicate any longer either if Avon doesn't chill out: "The feeling is it ain't right for you to be at the head of our table, when you can't call off your dog. Call it a crisis of leadership."
Marlo, also intent on revenge, waits outside the house of Devonne, the girl who seduced him at the behest of Barksdale, and lured him to the Lake Trout Lounge. As she emerges from her home, Marlo shoots her twice in the chest and puts a final bullet in her mouth.
Carrying the syndicate's message back to Avon, Stringer focuses on the positive: "I just came from Prop Joe," he tells Avon. "He say we can still work this out." But he also tells Barksdale the bad news: "Prop Joe and them niggers, they took a vote. We ain't have the good dope, so even if we win, we lose, 'cause we ain't gonna have the product to put it on the fucking corners." Bell further accuses Avon of "shooting dope without a fucking needle, getting' high on a power trip, playin' soldier." Bell pleads hard with Barksdale to drop the feud with Marlo, pointing out that the stakes are much higher than a few corners, but their talk is interrupted with news that Marlo has killed Devonne. "You still want to talk truce, String," Avon wants to know. Later, Bell makes a call to the Baltimore police department.
At the Detail Room, McNulty and Greggs return to discover that the Barksdale gang has ditched their burners much faster than usual, and so the Detail no longer has any phones tapped. "We just spent $9,000 and change for 18 intercepts," Daniels says, "five of them non-pertinent. That's close to $700 per drug call." In desperation, they hatch a plan — which they carry to Judge Phelan — to try and sell burners to the Barksdale gang. "Let me understand," says Phelan. "You want to sell drug traffickers a series of cell phones that are pre-approved for telephonic intercepts. And you want me to sign off on court-ordered taps on a bunch of phones that — at the time I am signing the order — have not been used for any illegal activity whatsoever." Phelan then agrees to the plan.
Greggs and McNulty press Bubbles into service once again. Bubbles is an acquaintance of Squeak, girlfriend of Bernard, whose job it is to make the periodic run to convenience stores and purchase the burners for the Barksdale gang. Intercepting Squeak as if by accident, Bubbles makes her an offer she finds difficult to refuse. He'll sell her the same kind of cell phone her boyfriend is purchasing but at a seriously discounted rate. Later, Squeak brings Bernard to meet Freamon, posing as a hustler. Bernard is skeptical but Freamon plays his role well and Bernard takes the bait: "We can do business," he says.
Colvin finally faces the music at his Comstat meeting. He shows a variety of photographs of former drug corners, now clean and empty of vice. Plowing ahead, he explains step by step the creation of Hamsterdam, and how the result was a dramatic drop in felony incidents in his district. Rawls gets it even as his incredulous colleagues in the department do not: "Don't you see what he' s done. He legalized drugs!"
Colvin is careful to explain that it is he, not his men, who are guilty: "What I did, I did knowingly and on my own. My men had nothin' to do with it. They thought it was all part of an elaborate trap. So if you need me to fall on that sword, I'm good with that." Rawls, as furious as he is, is also grudgingly impressed with Colvin's outrageous scheme. "Bunny, you cocksucker, I got to give it to you, a brilliant idea. Insane and illegal, but stone fuckin' brilliant nonetheless. After all my puttin' my foot up people's asses to get the numbers down, he comes along and in one stroke, gets a 14 fuckin' percent decrease. Fuckin' shame it's gonna end our careers, but still." As a parting shot, Colvin hands Commissioner Burrell a stack of letters from community associations, ministers, business people, citizens. "All positive," Colvin says. "Happy the dealers aren't on their corners anymore." Oh, and one more thing he adds as he exits: "A Sun reporter is aware of my deployments. I told him a major investigation was pending and he agreed to delay his article."
Later, Burrell reports to an incredulous Mayor Royce what Colvin has been up to. "He did it without our knowledge," Burrell is quick to reassure. He tries to convince the Mayor that they can make it disappear, explain it away as "some sort of new initiative to trap high end drug dealers," but Royce is having none of it. "I trusted you, Erv," he says to Burrell. You let me down. This goes wrong, no tellin' the damage. On this, you walk point."
Brother Mouzone sends his soldier Lamar into a low-end gay bar to see if he can scare up Omar. When Omar isn't in evidence, they try another gay bar, and while Omar isn't around, we do spot Major Rawls, sitting at the bar, off duty and on the prowl. Lamar returns to the first bar, still looking for Omar, and roughs up a customer who irritates him before departing. Omar's man Dante, taking all of this in, follows Lamar to the parking lot and asks if he can help him. Brother Mouzone flattens Dante with a punching, saying to him: "I don't doubt it for a minute."