The WireThe Wire


Directed by Ernest Dickerson
Story by Ed Burns & Eric Overmyer
Teleplay by Eric Overmyer

"The world goin' one way, people another." - Poot

With bass booming and eyes barely clearing the wheel, Donut drives another stolen SUV right past Officer Eddie Walker, giving the cop a double take. Within seconds, he's got the siren and lights on him, as the boy guns it around a corner and careens into several parked cars. Donut makes a run for it, sending Walker after him. But as the kid turns a corner, he finds his boys and trades his retro jacket for a sweatshirt and ballcap, throwing his pursuer off the trail - briefly. Walker eventually catches up to the boy, even more enraged and determined. "You know what kinda f**king paperwork I got now?" he says, breaking a few of the boys fingers, insisting it's time for Donut to feel his pain.

Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell vents to state Sen. R. Clayton "Clay" Davis about the box into which he's been forced, required under the new administration to run everything through his deputy. He even heard Mayor-Elect Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti put out feelers to a black deputy chief in Pittsburgh, promising him "pie in the sky." Davis tells him he just needs to give the Mayor-elect a little something to see him in a new light, "some kinda police s**t...something that looks good to Carcetti." Burrell is without ideas, but Davis promises to lobby the new mayor on behalf of his old ally.

At Tilghman Middle School, Grace Sampson explains to Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski why the heat in the classrooms is suddenly being set so high - it's intentional. With statewide exams coming up, the only way to get the kids to sit through the 90-minute prep classes is to make them drowsy. "From now 'til they're done, everything's about the tests," Sampson tells him.

Covering their corner, Poot assures Preston "Bodie" Broadus that the winter won't be too cold this year - global warming. Then why are we cold right now, asks Bodie. "We're getting older," Poot explains to his friend's amusement. When Little Kevin shows, looking sheepish after missing time on the job, Bodie presses him on why the police picked him up. Some murder, he tells him, but "I didn't say s**t to them bitches," he assures. "I ain't the one you need to convince," Bodie tells him, implying that being out of pocket for a few days after the "po-po" come looking will surely get back to Marlo Stanfield. Bodie and Poot agree that Kevin should tell the boss of the police encounter before anyone starts to suspect Kevin's got something to hide.

As the corner kids in the experimental class role-play behavioral skills at a restaurant, Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly sticks her head in to summon Howard "Bunny" Colvin and Professor David Parenti. She's getting heat to push every class to prep for the tests, no exceptions, with 90 minute blocks of math and language. Parenti protests: they can't sit 30 minutes. And Colvin thought they were the exception - the whole point of the project. He asks if they can talk to anyone. In fact, he's told, the Area Superintendent wants to meet with them.

Renaldo, keeping surveillance on Marlo and his crew, asks Omar Little whether he knew the kingpin when they robbed his card game. "Boy was just barely a name to me," Omar responds, implying that while he knew Marlo was an up-and-coming westside dealer with a fierce rep, he had not yet laid eyes on the young man. Renaldo wants to know if he would've still gone through with it - knowing who they were dealing with. "Woulda enjoyed it that much more." Omar tells him.

Sgt. Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk brings a peace offering - chicken wings from Tyrone's up on North Avenue - to an angry Bubbles, who is all banged up from the beating he took from his oppressor, the dope fiend who has been shaking him down almost daily. Herc tells him how bad he feels, expressing surprise when Bubbles tells him that he drove right by the beating. Knowing he never even left the office, Herc explains dismissively that they had a "communication problem." He then buys his informant a disposable cell phone, telling him to call direct next time he's in trouble. He just needs him to get word out about a missing police camera, and a $500 bounty for its return. "Five hunnert for a camera and a chicken box for Bubs, huh?" Herc offers him a $100 cut, but Bubbles reminds him it's not about the money for him - the fiend is terrorizing him and messing with his livelihood.

Little Kevin pays his pre-emptive visit to Marlo, explaining what the police wanted and pinning the blame on Randy Wagstaff for talking to them. "Who the f**k is Randy?" Marlo asks. Kevin explains he was the young messenger he chose to "put some distance 'tween me an' Lex." Marlo asks if he told the boy what happened to Lex. "No, swear," Kevin says and waits. As he starts to leave, two henchmen escort him, then shove him into the back of an SUV. He stares at Marlo pleadingly. Chris Partlow asks if they should target Randy next. "He can't hurt us," Marlo explains, and it's true: the most the boy could have in the way of information is heresay. But, he adds, put the word out that he's a snitch.

As Omar watches them all from his row house hideout, he's surprised to see a former Barksdale lieutenant, Slim Charles, arrive to witness the abduction of Little Kevin and discuss the coming re-up with Marlo. "Don't add up," he tells Renaldo. "Interesting though."

Donut returns to the corner to display his finger splints. As Namond Brice talks about f**king up the evil Officer Walker, two police cars pull up and the kids scatter, but not before Sgt. Ellis Carver corners Namond. "Gave you fair warning, didn't I?" he says, as his sidekick, Off. Bobby Brown, finds the boy's dropped stash of drugs. Carver snaps on the cuffs.

Now that Carcetti is the Mayor-elect (he won the general election by 82 percent in predominantly Democratic Baltimore), Clay Davis pays him a visit at his interim City Hall office, claiming he wants to clear the air. "You gonna give the money back?" Norman Wilson asks. Davis laughs and cuts to the chase. Burrell has the ministers and the council president on his side. They'll see the wisdom of new leadership when they find a suitable candidate, Wilson tells him. Davis offers to help them secure what he knows they need: pay raise approval for the new candidate from Nerese Campbell, the council president, and a green light from the ministers. Carcetti asks what they owe him in return. "I'm in Annapolis," Davis says, and he's hearing Carcetti might be there too in a few years. "We may find ourselves working together closely."

"Jesus Christ," Carcetti says after he leaves. Wilson is impressed. "He's slick. Apologizes for the short con, and in the next breath, setting us up for the long. He and Burrell are thick as thieves." Carcetti asks his deputy if he knows what the long con is. "Least we know he's running one," is Wilson's response.

Carver is holding Namond at the Drug Enforcement Unit office of the Western District, but the boy can't reach his mother. She's in Atlantic City, then headed to New York for shopping and a show. Carver preps him for what's ahead: if they can't reach a guardian, they have to send him to baby booking, where he'll spend the night. Namond looks scared - he heard East side and West side don't get along in there, and guys get raped. The only other guardian Namond can come up with is an aunt, but he can't get her on the phone either. Carver plays tough at first, determined to teach the boy a lesson, but seeing Namond's genuine fear, he gives in and lets him spend the night on the bench in the DEU, with oversight from a midnight shift officer.

Chris and Snoop watch as Michael Lee points out Bug's father, who's buying drugs off a dealer, most likely for his mother, he tells them. "I just want him gone. Away from me an' Bug," Michael tells them. "The f**k he do to you?" Snoop asks. Michael can't answer. But Chris gets it: "We take care of it, boss."

In the roll call room of the Western District, the troops get their marching orders for the day. Notable on the shift commander's briefing sheet are a rash of church burglaries they need to get on - one of them was on Off. James "Jimmy" McNulty's post - and the word from on high is to double arrests over the next month, with a focus on minor quality-of-life violations - disorderly conduct, open containers, public indecency. More of New York's 'broken windows' theory. Some of the Western officers protest, but Lt. Dennis Mello explains the Commissioner himself wants to spike arrests.

Colvin and Parenti meet with the Area Superintendent, who questions them about the restaurant field trip. They try to explain why their kids can't be put through 90-minute test prep classes. "So we're writing them off?" the Superintendent asks. Colvin tries to explain: they're learning for their world, and every one of them knows they're going to the corners. "They're not fools, these kids...Jesus, they see right through us." Parenti reminds her he made it clear at the beginning: they'd be addressing kids who needed to be socialized before they could be educated. "We can't lie - not to them, not to ourselves," Colvin adds. The area superintendent seems to withhold final judgment.

After spending the night on the Drug unit's bench, Namond still can't get his mom or aunt on the phone. Carver asks him to think of someone else - any other adult who could come get him. Namond has only one idea: Mr. Colvin. Carver is amused at the mention of the name of his old boss, the former commander of the Western.

Herc still can't find the camera, and Det. Leander Sydnor tells him it's time to come clean with Lt. Charles Marimow. He refuses at first, certain the man will take his stripes, but eventually heads into the boss's office, just as Bubbles finds his persecutor again. As Herc begins to explain about his sloppy paperwork, he gets the call from Bubbles, and tries to tell his boss he needs to take it. "I don't care who it is, turn that f**king thing off," Marimow insists, before launching into a tirade about the train station incident, accusing Herc of making up his informant, then assailing him for failing to bring in a single worthy case - otherwise he might have some reason to let a few things slide. Herc backs down from telling the truth about the camera.

In the halls between classes, Randy gets shouldered by a kid coming the other way. "Snitch bitch," the kid says. When Michael asks what it's about, Randy just shrugs, trying not to look shaken.

The patrolmen begin their street sweeps; McNulty, Off. Anthony Colicchio and the other young officers start round ups for open containers outside a bar. "I know you think its bulls**t," Officer Baker tells McNulty, writing up a ticket on a double-parked car, "but I spend my shift where they tell me." McNulty lets him in on a "little secret." "The patrolling officer on his beat is the only true dictatorship in America," he says, rattling off their liberties, like locking up a guy on a humble and getting drunk on shift. "No one - I mean no one - tells us how to waste our shift." Besides, McNulty boasts, he has some bigger fish to fry - he's figured out a pattern on the church burglaries. They're interrupted by angry bar patrons who are furious at the tickets on their cars, the sudden police onslaught. A punch is thrown and a melee is in the making. "This could get outta hand," Baker says to McNulty. "Isn't that what we want, right?" McNulty says, heading towards his cruiser. "More arrests?"

Carver brings Namond to Tilghman Middle to greet Colvin, explaining that the boy "invoked your name with a measure of respect." Colvin recalls his disrespect from a few weeks earlier. "Mr. Colvin, Sir: F**k. You." Namond at least wants credit for saying "Mr," but Colvin suggests a ride on the juvenile services bus might do him some good. The boy pleads with him. Colvin agrees to call his wife.

Over dinner, Namond puts on his best manners for Mrs. Colvin, who says she was expecting "more of an adventure" as her husband suggested. "Don't be fooled," Colvin says, smiling. "This is his Eddie Haskell act." When Namond hears his wife call him Bunny, the former cop warns him not to spill it. "I'll cut your balls off," he says, convincingly. But inside, Colvin is a bit charmed.

At the booking desk, McNulty brings in a felony burglary arrest on another church robbery - in stark contrast to all the misdemeanor arrests that are clogging the Western. Meanwhile, over in Col. Cedric Daniels' new office downtown, Mello complains about all the weak charges for loitering and disorderly conduct. "Neighborhood people, sometimes they appreciate quality-of-life arrests," Daniels says diplomatically. "Except we're locking up the neighborhood people," Mello responds. As for morale among the officers, it's split - the officers who love stats are happy, but Mello was hoping a new mayor would put an end to juked numbers, not ramp it up.

Bodie and Poot get a visit from Slim Charles, who spills the news about Little Kevin. "Chris and Snoop walked him down an alley. He in a vacant now." Bodie stares, dumbstruck.

With the Area Superintendent visiting Prez's class, he focuses on sample exam questions. As soon as she leaves, he lets the kids decide what they want to do with the remainder of the 90-minute test-prep block. The boys go back to their dice and probabilities. None of the boys will pair off with Randy, but Michael steps up and joins him.

Renaldo's at the wheel of a borrowed taxi, with Omar sitting in back, as the two of them continue their surveillance - this time on Slim Charles, who they have followed away from his meet with Marlo.

In the pilot project classroom, Zenobia Dawson and Chandra act out another simulation exercise, this time as a case worker and applicant at Social Services. As Principal Claudell Withers enters with the Area Superintendent, Zenobia takes her part a little too seriously, insisting she's just trying to make it realistic. The hostility ratchets up until Chandra slaps her, then shoves the social worker who tries to contain her. Colvin has to intervene. "Typical day?" the superintendent asks Withers. "I wouldn't know - my first day.... Mrs. Donnelly oversees this project."

In a front office meeting later that day with Withers and Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly, the superintendent is harsh. "What I saw today wasn't education as I understand the term. And they didn't seem very socialized either." The teacher tries to explain it wasn't their best day, as Parenti argues that, on the whole, they've actually made progress. Colvin adds that the outbursts are fewer, and they're more engaged. But when pressed as to how many could return to a regular classroom, the teacher offers only three names: Namond, Darnell and Zenobia. Donnelly calls it "a tremendous achievement," and the principal - deciding to back his subordinates - concurs. Then the social worker weighs in: "Many of these kids are profoundly damaged... any gain or progress is temporary. I think this project may be flawed."

Daniels goes to Carcetti to let him know that Burrell bypassed Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls to double street arrests and juke the stats - the chief is reasserting control of the department and making a play for the Mayor to keep him. "Why did you come to me?" Carcetti wants to know. He explains his logic: if Rawls already came to Carcetti with it and he let it happen anyways, that's a problem for Daniels - because Carcetti's claim that he wants to reform the department is dubious. If Rawls didn't tell him, then the Deputy is okay with Burrell's tactics, or he's letting the chief screw up so he will get fired. Either way, Daniels needs to know where Carcetti stands. "I gave you my word," the Mayor says. "Thanks for going outside the chain of command," he adds. Daniels assures him it won't be a regular practice.

Bubbles rattles his cart past a Baptist church, asks two churchgoers if they can help him get something to eat, and gets no reaction. He spots a black minister in a suit making his way to his car, and calls Herc using the cellphone that the plainclothesman purchased for him. Herc casually apologizes for not taking his call when he was in a meeting, and Bubbles responds by giving him the license plate of the minister's car - and telling him Marlo's people have a bag in the trunk, getting ready to make drops. Herc jumps on the tip with Off.. Kenneth Dozerman, and Bubbles, his working relationship with Herc over, tries to sell off the cell phone.

Within minutes Herc, Dozerman and a chopper are on the minister's car - siren blaring, lights flashing, as Herc orders the man out of the car, hands up, and spins him onto the hood to search him, then forcing him to sit on the sidewalk. They pop his trunk then search the car, as Herc confidently grabs his briefcase, taunting him knowingly as if it's the motherload. When he opens it, all he finds is a Bible. Herc has come up empty again. Bubbles set him up. "I'm damn sure gonna have your name and badge number," the minister tells Herc.

Clay Davis meets with City Council President Nerese Campbell, urging her to give Carcetti $25,000 for a salary bump for the police commissioner job, to buy time for Burrelll. Davis explains that the money won't be enough to lure serious candidates from the outside, but it will be enough movement so that the new mayor will believe that he will eventually get what he needs from the council. Then, Davis beautifully plays the middle between Carcetti and Burrell, calling the Mayor and leaves a message that he got him the money for a new police chief. "Tell him, 'Senator Davis has his interests at heart.'"

Colvin drops Namond off at his house, and he gets a peak into his home life when the boy introduces him to his mother, explaining that Colvin took him in after the cops picked him up. "Leave my son the f**k alone," De'Londa says to Colvin, before chastising her son for being afraid to go to baby booking.

McNulty and Det. William "Bunk" Moreland get their sons together at a restaurant, and Bunk asks the young McNultys if they plan to follow in their dad's footsteps. One wants to be a video game designer, the other a rock star. As for Bunk's kids, the older one wants to be chief of police, the other a pediatric neurosurgeon. McNulty's ex, Elena, arrives to pick up the kids, and sees that he's not drinking. They get some alone time, and ask about each other's new partners. "We're close, we're not..." Elena says of hers. "If I'd known you were gonna grow up to be a grown up..." she says smiling fondly at him. McNulty is clearly gratified by this belated endorsement.

Bodie is still upset about Little Kevin, especially as he's the one who told him "do the right thing, go talk to the man." Poot tries to get him to see it from Marlo's point of view, invoking their own murder of Wallace years earlier, but Bodie thinks the logic is flawed - Kevin didn't snitch. Marlo's just a "cold motherf**ker." "It's a cold world, Bodie," Poot tells him. "Thought you said it was getting warmer," he responds. "The world goin' one way, people another," Poot says.

As Michael's mother heads out to look for Bug's dad, he stops her. "He ain't coming back," he says, staring her down. A few blocks away, the man leaves a grocery store to face Snoop and Chris, who follow him, Chris drilling him on whether he likes f**king boys. He tells them he's living with a woman now. "She got kids." Snoop says. "I ain't touch them kids. Who told you that?" he demands. Chris plays friendly. "When you inside, ain't no p**sy." "Well, yeah, s**t," he responds. "You been inside. Man gotta bust his nut, know what I'm sayin'?" "I do," Chris says, as he pulls a gun and pistol whips the man, kicking and pummeling him bloody, only stopping when he's unrecognizable - and still. Snoop looks stunned at the ferocity of the beating, so much more emotional than any other violence in which Chris has been involved. "Damn, you didn't even wait to get the motherf**ker inside."

Back at home, Michael watches as his mother, agitated and waiting for her fix, glares at him. He smiles knowingly, once again the man of the house.