Directed by: Joe Chappelle
Story by: David Simon & Ed Burns
Teleplay by: David Simon
"Lambs to the slaughter here." - Marcia Donnelly
Snoop pores over nail guns at a suburban home improvement superstore, and is quickly educated by a middle-aged sales assistant as to the finer points of the power tools. Despite some cultural differences, she emerges from the store with the Cadillac of nail guns ("He mean Lexus, but he ain't know it," Snoop later assures Chris Partlow) having tipped the salesman generously for giving her a proper schooling. Waiting in the parking lot, Chris gets the report from his number two: "F**k jus' nailin' up boards," Snoop tells him. "We could kill a coupla mutha f**kers with this right here."
Meanwhile, in the Clinton Street offsite detail office, detectives Lester Freamon and Kima Greggs meet with Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman to review the members of the Marlo Stanfield organization who've been caught on the wire - most of them street level dealers who aren't dumping cell phones more often than every month, dealers that include Fruit among others. Freamon, for his part, is mildly disappointed in their target: Marlo Stanfield hasn't turned out to be as sharp or as fierce as they thought - no bodies that would suggest violence can be traced to the drug organization, and the group's liberal use of cellphones means that eventually, it will be relatively simple to build a conspiracy case. Marlo, Freamon reasons, is no Avon Barksdale. Nonetheless, they want another 30 days on the taps, as well as subpoenas for documents - the latter not for Stanfield, but to follow up on the Barksdale money trail. Why now, Pearlman wonders? Freamon tells her he couldn't back to researching the Barksdale finances because other casework intervened. She is put out by the timing: "Four weeks before the Baltimore City primary you hand me a stack of drug money subpoenas that hit a dozen key political figures," Pearlman fumes. Freamon assures her the Lieutenant approves and feigns indifference to the coming election.
In the stretch run of that campaign, Councilman Tom Carcetti breakfasts with a former mayor and political mentor, who credits him with having gains some political profile by running citywide, but doubts that any white candidate can be elected mayor in the majority black city. Deputy campaign manager Norman Wilson cuts them off - Carcetti's behind schedule once again.
Greggs heads into Lt. Asher's office with a stack of mundane paperwork for his signature, burying the drug money subpoenas between a fan requisition and vehicle logs. Distracted by blueprints for his beach house, Asher signs them, no problem. Greggs delivers the signed stack to Freamon: "Cake."
Bodie and Lex discuss Lex's troubles with his baby's mother while they supervise a corner crew of young slingers, including a young runner, Namond Brice, who's reading Don Diva magazine while on the job. As Lex carries on about his girl, Patrice, taking up with one of Marlo's guys - Fruit - Slim Charles pulls up, checking in on why things are so slow. Bodie complains that he has been forced off the Fayette Street because Marlo wanted that real estate and the new corner isn't prime. He is angry at being pushed off his old strip and would like to beef with Marlo's crew, but Slim Charles cautions him. "Ain't like the old days," he says to Bodie. "Nary a Barksdale left, so you on your own out here."
At City Hall, Herc and a fellow member of the mayor's security detail arrive with the mayoral SUV. Royce fields messages from his secretary as they head out, putting off a donor - developer Andy Krawcyzk, it seems - and playing games with Carcetti's people, who are demanding two debates. Royce sighs, "That lost-ball-in-high-grass motherfucker Carcetti needs to get used to life in the wilderness." Meanwhile, Carcetti speaks to a listless crowd at a senior center, whereas Royce holds forth at a media-laden podium at a new harbor-front development site, after which he learns that the developer is being pressed to donate more to his campaign in exchange for some street access right-of-ways.
Back on the corner, Namond's friends - Randy, Michael and "Dukie" - try to lure Namond away to hunt pigeons. When Namond asks Bodie if he can cut out early for "back-to-school stuff," Bodie tells him he shouldn't bother as he isn't much of a student. Nonetheless, with business slow, Bodie relents and pays Namond for a half day. He complains to Lex about Namond's work ethic, saying he only employs the boy out of respect for his father. He tells Namond to come early tomorrow: "It ain't always gonna be this slow. Least I hope it ain't."
In a vacant, stripped rowhouse, Snoop and Chris - using a handgun with a silencer - shoot a begging man to death, promising him only that they will keep his death quick and clean. Snoop pours quicklime on the body which is then wrapped in a shower curtain. They exit with their box of tools.
While hunting pigeons, Randy explains to Namond that a white bird in particular might be a homer and worth as much as $400. As they try to catch the bird, Dukie throws a bug bomb - a bottle with bugs trapped inside - and the sound scares away the quarry. Namond and Dukie trade insults and then a few blows before Michael interposes. The boys all walk away from Dukie - save for Randy, to whom Dukie confides to Randy that the pigeon wasn't a homer - it didn't have a metal tag. Nemo's been letting Dukie clean out the coop. "He's schoolin' me."
At the Middle School, assistant principal Marcia Donnelly is reviewing the teacher shortage with principal Claudell Withers when a newly assigned math teacher, Roland Pryzbylewski, arrives suited up and briefcase in hand, to claim his new profession. He hasn't received his certification yet, but staff shortages in the system mean he will be getting classes nonetheless. They are dubious about his qualifications until he tells them he used to be a city police. That, at least, bodes well in their minds.
Similarly, Major Cedric Daniels, now in command of the Western District, is going over staffing reports with Lt. Dennis Mello, when patrolman Jimmy McNulty knocks and is urged - not for the first time - to get out of a radio car and return to investigative duties, for which there is a desperate need in the district. McNulty declines, and Mello tells Daniels that McNulty is in the wrong place. For us, yes, Daniels concedes. But for McNulty, maybe not.
Back at Bodie's corner, plainclothes D.E.U. Sergeant Ellis Carver and Off. Anthony Colicchio pull up. Carver gives Bodie and the others a light teasing for not greeting him properly - and demonstrates his intimate knowledge of their activities - when McNulty arrives on the scene, greeting Bodie as "Mr. Entrapment." "You know how he beat the wiretap a year ago?" McNulty tells the other police. "Claimed entrapment because he was clocking in Bunny Colvin's Hamsterdam. I s**t you not." On his way back to his car, McNulty orders Bodie to shut down his operation and be gone in an hour. Carver waits for Bodie to say a proper farewell. "A good evening to you, Sergeant Carver." When Colicchio, asks what that was all about, Carver teaches him: "You bust every head, who you gonna talk to when the s**t happens?"
Back at Carcetti's campaign headquarters, Tommy's staff rakes him for being behind on his schedule for the day, including his latest agenda item: dialing for dollars calls. He launches into a fake call, "I don't give a flying f**k about what you think, or what your concerns are. Though I do care about what your cute little blonde wife thinks about so many things..." His strategist, Teresa D'Agostino, waits him out before giving it to him straight: "You need thirty thousand dollars in the next three hours. No bulls**t, Tommy, you hit your number or die in this room." But Carcetti spends more time doodling and playing darts than making calls, sick as he is with having to ask supporters for money all the time. Eventually, and with reluctance, he begins to make the calls.
Outside a nightclub, Lex watches in darkness as Patrice, his baby's mother, gets cozy with her new man, Fruit. He surprises them as they leave, shoots Fruit in the head, then greets Patrice, who flees horrified. Lex saunters away, leaving Fruit dead on the pavement.
In the wiretap room, Caroline and Freamon hear the buzz about Fruit's murder and note that Fruit's phone has been inactive for the last couple hours. When Freamon joins homicide detectives Bunk Moreland and Ed Norris to review the details of the shooting, Norris asks him if this hurts Freamon's investigation, losing a guy they had wired. But Freamon notes they've got several wires at the street level and with or without Fruit, they are progressing. Bunk gives Freamon Fruit's cellphone as a consolation prize - he can pull other numbers off it - and they discuss the fact that Marlo, who seems to be the new power in West Baltimore, has been so quiet. Freamon finds it strange that Fruit is the first body to hit the pavement in months, "and it's Marlo's boy who falls." Bunk agrees that it's suprising that someone holding as much real estate as Marlo wouldn't generate bodies.
When Marlo gets wind of the killing, he wants to know who the f**k Lex is. Tote and Chris tell him that he's working "some rag-tag corner over Hilltop now," but that Fruit wasn't killed over drugs or turf, but over a girl. Disappointed in the bluster and lack of logic shown by some of his lieutenants, Marlo shares a look with Chris before rejecting their offer to kill everyone on Bodie's corner in retaliation. Why stack bodies when no one was actually trying to war with them, Marlo asks, adding: "Just the boy Lex. He did one of ours, so he need to fall."
Once again pursuing the pigeons, Namond and Randy spy Dukie, who's been beat up by a rival gang, the Terrace Boys. Namond wants to hit back, but harder, and Randy gets an idea. It starts with Michael stealing a bike off a Terrace kid, setting the gang off after him, until they turn a corner and are ambushed by our boys - all of whom have armed themselves with balloons filled with their own urine. For a moment, it seems perfect until Namond wets himself with his own balloon and the rest of the boys panic, dumping their balloons and fleeing. As the Terrace boys give chase, Randy, Namond, Dukie and Michael do not come out on top.
En route to a meet-and-greet with an eastside community group, Carcetti gets news that Royce just made a $300,000 buy of television advertisements, then throws a fit listening to his weak radio spots. He can barely contain himself by the time he meets with local activist Victorine Simmons, but once he calms down and takes a tour of her drug-addled community, Carcetti is moved to actually help - even though Royce has instructed city agencies not to take constituent service calls from his challenger. Nonetheless, Carcetti - calling bureaucrats at him and pulling favors - finds a way to get it done. Later, on the campaign trail, Carcetti encounters his fellow Councilman and one-time friend, Tony Gray, who he tacetly allowed to challenge Royce before revealing his own intention to run, thereby using Gray to split the city's black vote. Carcetti tries to placate his old friend, but Gray bitterly tells him: "F**k you, Tommy."
At an orientation session for the coming year, the Tilghman faculty revolt against the useless lessons of whatever theory-of-the-moment is being pushed by the school system for the coming year, just as the Western District officers, in similar fashion, interrupt their own useless lesson on terrorism response training with their own complaints: "...if them terrorists do f**k-up the Western, could anybody even tell?" Prez takes in the bitter cynicism of the veteran teachers, wondering what his future holds. McNulty, laughing at the roll-call room rebellion, is accosted by Bunk, who tries to squeeze McNulty for info on Lex - and plan a boy's night out with Jameson's and Glen Livet. Instead McNulty directs Bunk to Carver, who he says has learned the job, and offers an invite to dinner with Beadie and the kids, much to Bunk's dismay.
Carcetti grills Wilson on whether he can really get the black vote. "Black folk been voting white for a long time," Wilson assures him. "It's y'all that don't never vote black." But personally, he tells his boss in a ball-busting moment, he won't be voting for Carcetti. The deputy campaign manager admits he'll be voting for "one of them bruthas." Carcetti manages to laugh.
Prez gets his new classroom: a battered room with desks and papers strewn everywhere. He loves it. Or perhaps, the idea of what he will soon make it.
Another slinger in Bodie's crew, Little Kevin, approaches Randy, asking him to run down to Bodie's corner with a message for Lex: "Patrice say he should come up the playground after nine." For a few dollars, Randy is willing to run the errand.
When Lex shows up to see Patrice, he encounters Snoop, tries to flee, then turns to see Chris, gun pulled. Meanwhile, Carver and Bunk stake out Bodie's corner a short distance away, looking for Lex, but see no sign of him and Carver assures Bunk he will come back tomorrow to jack Lex when he returns to the corner. A short time later, Little Kevin tells a stunned Randy what his message to Lex triggered: "Chris and Snoop, pow!" then hands him another bill, telling him to "just be cool."
D'Agostino delivers the latest poll numbers to her boss: "Royce 35, you 26, Gray 20, 19 percent undecided." Carcetti starts yelling - he needs to be at thirty percent of the vote by this point, and he needs Tony Gray - his former friend on the council and the third man in the mayoral race - to be taking a larger bite out of Royce's lead by splitting the black vote. Convinced he can't win, he storms out.
Late night, Snoop and Chris use their new nail gun to secure an ad hoc mausoleum in a back alley. Contemplating his future, Carcetti gets a warning from a cop for drinking in Federal Hill park after curfew. And, as a siren goes by, Randy sitting up late on his front stoop, worried about Little Kevin's words, is ordered back inside by a foster mother who seems to parent him closely.