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Synopsis

Directed by: Agnieszka Holland
Story by: David Simon & David Mills
Teleplay by: David Mills

"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 cell 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 4-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 cell 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 cell 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, but for Gutierrez. Wanting more, Templeton grabs his notebook and leaves the office to find a pay phone. Dialing his own cell 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 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.

Scott Templeton speaks with homeless man

55: React Quotes

Season 5

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