Directed by: Brad Anderson
Story by: David Simon & Ed Burns
Teleplay by: Ed Burns
"You play in dirt, you get dirty." --McNulty
At a Korean-run carryout joint, Namond Brice flashes his wad of cash as he treats Michael Lee, Duquan "Dukie" Weems and Randy Wagstaff. When Dukie orders "yakame with turkey grease" Namond and Michael crack up and a defensive Dukie wants to know what's so funny - it's what his mom always orders. Michael gently explains that turkey grease "makes the drunks, you know, throw up all that liquor they was drinkin' so they can get back to swilling that shit." As the boys, joined by Donut, chow down on Namond's largesse on some steps on the commercial strip, they discuss Little Kevin, and Randy is frightened to hear the word is he's dead, up in the vacants. Officer Eddie Walker walks by and runs the boys off of "his Avenue," telling them to get back to where they belong. Fed up, the kids brainstorm how to send Walker a message, and when Michael gets confirmation from Donut that Walker goes to the club on Stockton - the after-hours joint that the Western police favor - he assures him he's "got this one."
Concerned about Sgt. Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk's bad stop-and-search of the politically connected Minister, Reverend Frank Reid and the Minister himself pay a visit to Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti to lean on him about supporting a civilian review board for the police department - otherwise how can they trust any investigation of any complaint? Mayoral aide Norman Wilson points out to the men of the cloth that the Police Department has a black Commissioner and I.I.D. director, but Rev. Reid counters that they've heard Burrell's authority is being limited. Carcetti assures him he takes the problem seriously and asks them to trust the process. When they leave, Wilson and Carcetti ponder the rock and hard spot he's between: Even Royce - a black mayor - did not risk a rebellion among the rank-and-file by implementing civilian review. And on a smaller scale, if Carcetti moves overtly to have Sgt. Hauk fired, he pisses off the rank and file; if he doesn't, he pisses off the black political infrastructure.
At Edward Tilghman Middle School, Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski continues to fight the good fight, overseeing practical math problems as he struggles to explain the area of a circle to Charlene Young and watches as a boy, Perry, is knocked in the testicles by a comrade using the tape measure. In the project class, Ms. Duquette quizzes the group on what takes courage outside of being on a corner. To illustrate bravery, she asks Namond to stand on a box and do a trust fall, relying on his classmates to catch him. Namond balks, but Howard "Bunny" Colvin eyes him and he reluctantly climbs up, warning: "Y'all drop me, we gonna have more than words." He's exhilarated by the exercise, but when other volunteers are solicited, Albert bolts from the room with a string of profanity and a concerned Colvin follows on his heels. Later, in the lunchroom, Randy is shunned as he tries to ply his candy on the usually receptive kids. Word has even seeped to the lower grades of Tilghman is out that Randy's a snitch.
Parked at an intersection in a yellow cab, Omar and Renaldo debate whether they've lost Slim Charles' trail. It was at this same intersection where they lost the man on a previous run. Just as Renaldo is fed up with the tedium of their stake out, Slim's SUV drives by and they follow. They follow him back to Proposition Joe Stewart's appliance store, much to their surprise. Says Omar, "on this caper, the more we learn, the less we know." When Renaldo begs for a bathroom break, Omar just hands him a roll of toilet paper and orders him to squat in the alley.
Colvin and Mrs. Rennert, a new social worker - the previous one has left the project in the wake of her expressed doubts about its merit - talk to a crying Albert, urging him to unburden himself. Finally he comes clean: "I went home yesterday. My ma's on the couch, she dead." His grandmother made him come to school. Heartbroken, Colvin understands - the boy just wanted to be with his mother. The profound emotional neglect on some of these kids is stunning.
Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman and Col. Cedric Daniels address the homicide unit in their new capacities as head of the courthouse Violent Crimes Unit and the department's Criminal Investigation Division, respectively. Emphasizing they have a mandate for change under the new administration, the pair asks for feedback on how to improve things. They're bombarded with suggestions, from "better witness protection" and "more proactive investigation" to "more scotch," "loose women" and above all, "pay hike." Laughing at the spirit of optimism, Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs notes to Sgt. Jay Landsman, "Sounds like a new day, don't it? Department's finally gonna get what it needs. State's Attorney's office too." Landsman is non-committal, saying only that Daniels and Pearlman make a nice couple.
Meanwhile, Wilson hands over a decree from the Mayor to Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls, ordering all police commanders to avoid mass arrests and emphasizing community-based and higher-end law enforcement. When Rawls asks hungrily why they don't just fire Commissioner Ervin Burrell, Wilson explains they don't have the political capital to do that just yet, using it as a segue to explain the delicate situation with Sgt. Hauk and the ministers. Rawls suggests that they let Col. Daniels handle it, since the sergeant is under his command now, and the ministers might be more inclined to accept the decision of a black commander.
The corner has taken its toll and Sherrod stumbles into Bubbles' garage late at night, admitting to having messed up the count on a package, and asking to be taken back in. Bubbles, pleased to have him, feeds him hotdogs and promises they'll find a way together to pay back the "cheddar" that Jo-Jo is claiming Sherrod owes.
Heading out on the payback caper that Michael has masterminded, Dukie, Namond and Randy are having second thoughts about taking on a police officer, but Michael is determined that they go through with the tasks they've drawn straws for. When Walker emerges from the club, Randy signals Dukie, who provokes Walker by keying his car. When Walker gives chase, Dukie leads him into an alley, where a masked Michael aims a gun at him: "You the police like to f**k with a nigga," he says, firing a warning shot to impress Walker as to the seriousness of the moment. Just as Namond's about to toss a can of yellow paint on the officer, Michael spots a ring on Walker's finger - the same ring that Walker took off of Omar and Omar stole from Marlo Stanfield, who, in turn, took it from Old Face Andre. Risking exposure should Walker turn around, Michael pulls down his mask for a better look as he orders the man to hand the ring over. Walker does, and Namond finally tosses the paint: "Payback," says Michael.
Daniels reviews the complaint against Sgt. Hauk, asking Rawls what's expected of him, given that he sees "a lot of smoke, but I'm not feeling much in the way of fire." With no witnesses and no indication of racial or religious undertones or serious brutality, his punishment options are limited. Rawls tells him City Hall just wants him to "do the right thing." Daniels - and even Rawls - are amused at the rarity of such a moment.
The next morning, Carcetti starts his day with a series of visits to city agencies. He reports an abandoned car that needs towing to Public Works, a leaking hydrant to Wastewater Management and a playground that needs cleaning up to Parks and Recreation - but gives no locations, forcing the agencies to spring into action citywide.
Meanwhile, as they enjoy a round of late fall golf, Commissioner Burrell and State Sen. R. Clayton "Clay" Davis discuss Daniels' decision on the Minister's complaint against Sgt. Hauk: sensitivity counseling and two weeks extra duty. Davis explains how and why the decision was put off onto Daniels, but tells Burrell it won't be enough for the ministers - something Burrell already knows. Burrell sees an opening for himself.
At Western District, Walker, in plainclothes, riles up some young cops with his report that he was attacked by three "Bloods" with shotguns: "the paint supposed to be some kind of declaration of war...it's us against them." Ofc. James "Jimmy" McNulty, overhearing, gives Walker a doubtful glare: "Yellow paint, a declaration of war?"
At Tilghman, Colvin praises Namond's progress, suggesting he's doing so well he could go back to regular class. But this doesn't strike Namond as progress. "The s**t they be teaching be deadly." More notably, Namond teases Colvin about his nickname and Colvin, too, responds playfully. A bond is forming between the two.
The Mayor meets with Wilson and the Budget Director, insisting he needs to find the funds for a 5 percent police raise. The Budget Director warns against using the rainy day fund because the national bond houses want at least 5 percent of the budget in reserve, but Wilson and Carcetti think it looks like rain.
Outside of school, some thugs confront Randy, who's walking home with Michael and Dukie, and accuse him of talking to the police. Randy denies it and they challenge Michael for standing with a snitch. Michael throws the first punch and Prez has to break up a serious melee that leaves Randy stunned and bloody on the ground.
The reunited team of Bubbles and Sherrod are having a banner day with the Bubble Depo, making sales and coming across a toppled lamppost, which Bubs figures will get them an easy $100 for the scrap aluminum.
At a westside subshopt, McNulty spots Bodie, taking cover from the cops who are shaking down the corners hard. McNulty explains that the response is due to Walker getting jumped. Bodie is amused at what happened to Walker. "Walker's an asshole," McNulty admits, to Bodie's surprise. McNulty gets a call and has to rush out, but he leaves Bodie with a strange feeling of camaraderie between himself and this police.
As Prez attends to Randy's wounds, with Michael and Dukie standing by, Randy swears he only told the police what everybody knows that Lex went to the playground behind Fulton and everyone says he got killed, and that he heard about it from Lil Kevin. He asks Michael if he's a snitch for doing that much, and Michael responds that because Randy didn't give up any of his friends, he is not. But, Michael cautions, you shouldn't talk to police in general. Dukie reports that now people say Kevin's in the vacants with Lex. Prez tells Randy that Michael is right: If anyone tries to talk to him again, he's to say nothing.
At Police Headquarters, Deputy Commissioner Rawls hands out Carcetti's memo ordering quality police work over making stats to the department heads, including Daniels and Maj. Stanislaus Valchek. When the Chief of Patrol moans about how difficult it will be ("Our people were raised on stats."), Rawls suggests he can replace him if he can't bend Patrol to the mission. As the meeting breaks, Daniels asks Rawls for permission to reconstitute Major Crimes, bring it under the Homicide umbrella, and shake up the personnel - as that unit was all about the high-end. Rawls tells him to go for it. When Daniels leaves, Valchek, who's heard the exchange, commends Rawls for approving an idea from the "anointed fella." Seeing the look on Rawls' face, Valchek realizes with shock that this is the first time Rawls has been tipped to the idea that Daniel -- not Rawls -- is being seriously groomed for Commissioner. Now the delay in firing Burrell makes sense to Rawls. "Jesus, Bill, it's Baltimore. You ain't one of the natives, are ya?" Valchek reminds him.
Staking out the Holiday Inn, Renaldo reports that Slim Charles went in a big room with a sign that said New Day Co-op with Joe, Fat Face Rick and eight or nine others - at least one of whom Omar and Renaldo have robbed. Just then they spy Marlo arriving as well. Omar is excited: "If it's what I think it is, our little clutch of chickens might be putting all their eggs up in one basket." Omar has, through much surveillance, figured out the connection between Proposition Joe, Marlo and many other Baltimore narcotics traffickers. He sees the outline of the Co-op.
As Michael and Namond check out gold chains, Namond warns his friend against wearing Walker's ring around his neck where the officer can spot it. He asks what's up with Michael, taking risks like that, especially pulling off the mask in Walker's presence, and starting the fight to defend Randy. Michael asks him back: Wouldn't you have stood tall for a friend? "It's not that you do s**t, it's how you do it," worries Namond.
Daniels reports the good news about Major Crimes to Det. Lester Freamon, giving him carte blanche to pick his squad and supervisor. "It's morning in Baltimore, Lester. Wake up and smell the coffee."
Prez intercepts Sgt. Ellis Carver on the Western District backlot, in a rage over how he handled Randy: "I trusted you, trusted Daniels. My f**kin' mistake, huh?" Carver gets him to explain what happened and angers when he hears Randy was beaten - he put the kid onto Det. William "Bunk" Moreland and Herc. He offers to put a plainclothes unit on Randy's house. Prez thinks that will only make things worse, but Carver assures him they'll be discreet and convinces Prez to accompany him while he gets to the bottom of what happened.
Late night, Freamon lets himself into the wiretap room at the Clinton Street detail office, frustrated by the signs that there's been no progress since he left - that the machines themselves have been removed or shut down. Curious, he goes into Lt. Charles Marimow's office and finds a box marked "Barksdale Subpoena Returns." He goes through the folders, spotting Ed Bowers, Andrew Krawcyk, and Maurice Webber. Meanwhile, Mayor Carcetti attends a fundraiser for the Ella Thompson Fund, a part of the Parks and People Foundation of Baltimore that helps sponsor inner-city recreation programming, where he meets and greets these very men - who are rushing to ingratiate themselves to the new city administration. Freamon's pursuit of the Barksdale money has been renewed, and Marimow's days as commander of the MCU are numbered.
At home, Namond contemplates cutting off his ponytail, as De'Londa warns him she'll do it for him. It's why the police can target him so easily. But he's not yet willing to make the sacrifice.
As Freamon packs up his desk in the Homicide Unit, Bunk and Greggs heckle him about leaving so soon to return to the wiretap unit. Carver interrupts, looking for Bunk, asking what happened with Randy. But Bunk doesn't know anything about any kid witness in Lex's case. Carver, frustrated and embarrassed, tells him Herc was supposed to bring the kid to Bunk. Freamon can see something's wrong and asks what happened to the boy.
Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly delivers the good news to five eighth graders, including Dukie, that they'll be promoted to ninth grade at the end of the marking period - an upward promotion of at-risk kids that helps the system's matriculation rates even if it dislocates students in the middle of an academic year. Dukie clearly doesn't view this as good news. Next she delivers a blow to Colvin: "They pulled the pin on your program."
Mayor Carcetti addresses the Western District roll call, announcing the five percent salary bump he's scraped together, and his mandate to abandon quotas and stats in favor of quality police work. McNulty challenges him that they've heard empty promises before, and without educating the community and the bosses, who's to say they won't be back to juking stats as soon as the neighborhoods start complaining. "If the old dogs can't handle the job, I'll find new ones who can," Carcetti vows. A good many of the troops are won over, but McNulty's not so sure. The FOP President warns Carcetti that his new popularity may be short lived if he doesn't handle the Sgt. Hauk situation just right.
Bunk and Freamon interrogate Herc in the wiretap room, as Bunk - playing the bad cop - lets him have it for not bringing Randy directly to him - and putting his paws in a murder case. He storms out, leaving Freamon to play good cop. Herc lays out his story from the beginning, including his search of Chris Partlow's and Snoop's Chevy Tahoe, and the nail gun he found which meant nothing to Herc, but is taken down - as all details are - by Freamon.
The Mayor grudgingly agrees to see Commissioner Burrell, who admits that overall policing strategies may not be his strong suit. But he does know that Col. Daniels' recommendation on how to handle Sgt. Hauk will not fly with the ministers, while conceding that Carcetti can't fire a white cop for stopping a black minister without losing the rank and file. His solution: Herc worked narcotics for six years, "and in narcotics, there are no virgins." He hands over a hefty binder that contains the department's General Orders; there's sure to be grounds for firing a saint in there. Carcetti begins to see why Burrell has survived and thrived for so long.
Bubbles and Sherrod get attacked once again by the predatory fiend and their renewed teamwork doesn't help the situation and they both end up beaten and defeated.
Omar and Renaldo pay a visit to the appliance store, beating the outside lookout down, then holding a semi-automatic and a .50 caliber on Proposition Joe and his lieutenants, Cheese and Slim Charles. Omar reveals he knows about the New Day Co-op and Marlo's involvement, then makes his demand: he wants Marlo: Not to kill him, but to take what's his. Joe agrees to have his nephew Cheese make the drop on Marlo's next package and they'll alert Omar to the spot in advance. Omar agrees, but warns that if Prop Joe tries to put a twist in the plan, he'll make sure to tell Marlo he's the one who put Omar up to the card game heist. Before leaving, Omar asks for a service ticket for the antique clock he's dropping off for repair. In disbelief, Joe writes one up and they leave. Cheese can't believe Joe's really going to do this, but Proposition tells him it's the only way out. Omar knows too much and will only keep his secrets if he gets what he wants. Outside, while Slim Charles berates the beaten lookout in the background, Omar tells Renaldo he trusts Proposition Joe's fear, but now they're going to follow Cheese day and night.
Bunk and Freamon pay a visit to Prez's class to complain that Randy's foster mother won't let him talk, per his math teacher's advice. "I'm siding with my kids," Prez insists when they press him. Lester sees the ethic involved andagrees to back off, but as they're leaving, Bunk asks for just a "little something." Prez gives in, telling him only the address of the playground where Randy told Lex to meet a girl. "That's all he did," Prez insists.
On the corner, Michael's mother approaches, asking for a price break on a fix and indicating that she is short the money. Namond relents and gives her drugs at a discount, knowing that in doing so there will be more money in Michael and Bug's house and that she is sure to cop somewhere in any event. Namond authorizes the charity, only to have little Kenard chastises him for his weakness. He doesn't see Michael's mother; he sees only a dope fiend.
Running late to an update from city bureaucrats, Carcetti is pleased with the reports: vehicles have been towed, new playground equipment installed, all hydrants fully capped, and 32 tons of waste pulled from alleys. But when the Budget Director remains to give his update, the news isn't so cheery: a $54 million deficit for the school system. Carcetti can't believe there's been no warning of this mess Royce left. "How the f**k do we deal with that?" asks the Mayor. So far, no one has any ideas. This could wreck their agenda.
Colvin, Professor David Parenti and Donnelly make an appeal for the project class before the Superintendent and Area Superintendents. Attendance is excellent and there have been no suspensions, plus they've helped the other classes function better by pulling the troublemakers and they hope to expand and cover the whole eighth grade in January. The Superintendent can see the benefits, but with the new administration and the sudden budget deficit, they're under too much scrutiny. "If City Hall were to sign off on this, we could go forward," says the Area Superintendent. "But now is not the time to rock any boats."
Back at his lair, Marlo remarks that he heard Chris took care of his puppy Michael's problem. But Marlo mentions that Michael stood tall for a snitching boy. Chris takes this in.
At the abandoned playground that Prez mentioned, Bunk and Lester look for clues. Using soft eyes, Freamon sees the large number of vacant houses that surround the playground on three sides. Freamon heads toward the rear of one vacant, examines the plywood that boards it up, so loosely affixed that he can pry it off with his hands. Bunk questions what he's doing but Lester plows on, down the row, noting that another plywood door is secured with machine-driven nails that will require a crowbar. "This a tomb. Lex is in there," he explains to a dumbfounded Bunk, who steps back and finally sees it as well.