Duck and Cover
Directed by Dan Attias
Written by David Simon & Edward Burns
Story by David Simon & George P. Pelecanos
Teleplay by George P. Pelecanos
"How come they don't fly away?" - Ziggy
McNulty is wasted after a night of drinking and from a bar calls Elena, who hangs up on him. Barely able to sit behind the wheel, he leaves the bar to drive home and sideswipes a bridge abutment while making a turn. Undaunted, he backs up to try the turn again, to improve on his technique, but crashes his car even harder, damaging the front end severely. Nursing a bleeding hand, he goes to a nearby restaurant, and proceeds to pick up a waitress, spending the rest of the night having wild sex at her apartment.
At the detail office, Daniels informs his team that he — and they — are officially "on the hook" for the 14 homicides, pleading with them to bring in the case. Bunk Moreland is sent to the detail, much to his own dismay, as part of the agreement between Rawls and Daniels. Looking for probable cause to justify a tap on the warehouse phone, Freamon reports that the phone company shows calls from the warehouse to Proposition Joe, White Mike and other big eastside drug traffickers. They also now have Herc and Carver's discovery of Nick Sobotka. Pearlman is convinced that they have probable cause to justify a tap on Sergei Malatov's cell phone as well as the warehouse.
Herc and Carver, claiming information from a CI — in actuality from the $1,250 wireless mike that is now ruined — have tracked Nick Sobotka's drug activity and traced him to his parents' home in South Baltimore. In order to get back the money lost on the mike, they need to register an actual person, so they visit Herc's cousin Bernard and persuade him to pretend that he is the CI who provided them with details of Nick's drug dealing.
At the low rise, because of a shortage of good dope, Puddin notes that business is "slower than a white man in slippers." "Word is out," says Bodie, "we be sellin' dogshit up in here." Later, they are not happy when they observe drug dealers from another part of town serving customers on their real estate.
Sobotka, at the union hall, becomes suspicious when he calls his wireless carrier to reassure them that his overdue cell phone bill will soon be paid. He learns from the customer service rep that his account has been "flagged," meaning "Do not disconnect for non-payment." Horseface suggests that he's "been touched by an angel."
McNulty, depressed by his marine-squad assignment and even more so by Elena's cold shoulder, tells Bunk that he "needs to get off that boat. I need to do a case." When Bunk carries this message to Daniels, the Lieutenant agrees to ask Rawls if McNulty can be reassigned to his detail. And in meeting later, Daniels reminds Rawls that he'd promised anything if Daniels would take on the 14 murders. Rawls still resists. "Jesus, Lieutenant, When I said anything, I meant I'd let you have a kiss. Feel my tits or somethin', y'know. But not this." But McNulty finally gets the phone call he's been waiting for.
Nick, in a new truck he's bought with his drug earnings, meets Ziggy to give him his share of the money they earned from their dock heist. Ziggy wants to be more deeply involved in Nick's drug dealing, and is hurt and angry when Nick rebuffs him, impetuously throwing the wad of bills Nick's just given him out the window of the truck. Later, when Nick calls Serge to discuss a deal, the call is overheard at the detail room on the newly installed tap. "Not as careful as Barksdale's people," observes Prez. "White boys," says Freamon. "What can you expect."
Having followed the Russian prostitutes from the club where they work to an apartment building, the detail deduces that "the people running the girls and the people running the drugs are the same crew," and that the apartment house is in reality a brothel. McNulty's first task back from the boat is to talk his way into the brothel. Surveillance there reveals a customer who is shuttled back to a distant parking lot by one of the thugs, and after the thug departs, McNulty confronts the customer — a well-dressed man — and prevails upon him to reveal how one gains entrance to the brothel.
At the detail room, Russell and Freamon, glued to their cloned cargo computer, observe a container off-loaded onto a truck driven by Serge, after which it disappears from the computer's records. Through the tap on Serge's phone, they confirm that the container is on the move, and Herc and Carver, sitting outside the port in an unmarked car, follow. Moments later, Sobotka encounters two port authority cops making their innocent rounds and asks when Russell is coming back from the Fairfield piers. His suspicions are further aroused when they tell him that she's not on the piers as she told Sobotka, but has been detailed to the city police.
Horseface dismisses Sobotka's concerns, telling him "Yer paranoid, Frank." Nevertheless, Sobotka tells Horseface, who is unloading a ship, to "disappear" a clean can, e.g. one with no contraband in it, to see if there's any reaction by observers. Watching the clean container disappear back in the detail room, Daniels suddenly realizes he has no one at the dock to follow this container and orders McNulty to race over and track it to its destination. As McNulty flies into action, Russell calls the port authority cops and has them stop the truck with the clean container long enough to give McNulty time to arrive. From a distance, Sobotka observes the "clean" can being stopped and his paranoia grows. He calls Vondas at the diner, warning him that the wrong container is coming his way as a test, and demanding that a meeting with The Greek be arranged.
When the clean can arrives at George "Double-G" Glekas' used appliance store, he is puzzled and angry upon opening it and discovering Barbie Doll knockoffs. George calls Vondas to complain, and is told to get rid of the stuff. "Overhearing this in the detail room, Daniels and Freamon mistakenly believe their taps have led them to the boss man, Vondas. In a celebratory mood, McNulty invites Freamon and Russell out for a drink: "A good day. You guys wanna go for a taste or two?" Freamon declines, but McNulty and Russell head to her house. While McNulty has ideas, he finds the domesticity of Russell's home life and kids off-putting, and leaves before any sparks fly.
At the Towers, Bodie organizes his crew to arrive at the disputed corner at 7 a.m., in order to beat their rivals to the spot. They bring guns and bats and when the other dealer finally shows, he threatens Bodie: "You gon' see me in your sleep." The other gang leaves, but Bodie knows they'll be back.
Sobotka and Nick visit the diner to meet with The Greek. Vondas tries to persuade them to meet with him, but Sobotka is angry and adamant, and only when he begins to leave does The Greek appear. Sobotka explains the reasons for his paranoia and advises that The Greek shut down the warehouse. Instead, The Greek tells him to deliver more disappeared but clean containers there, "to show them there is nothing to hide." When Sobotka demands that he be paid the regular rate for disappearing the clean cans, The Greek is at first reluctant, but then agrees to pay after Nick is insistent. But he urges Sobotka to lighten up: "Spend some on a little something you can touch. A new car, a new coat... It's why we get up in the morning." Sobotka appears to hear, but he does not comprehend.