Directed by Seith Mann
Story by Story by Ed Burns & Richard Price
Teleplay by Richard Price
"Love the first day, man. Everybody all friendly an' shit." -- Namond Brice
Omar Little awakes to the sound of a garbage truck outside his window. Annoyed to discover there's no cereal, he blames his newest protégé Renaldo, still asleep, for letting the Honey Nut Cheerios box go light. In his silk pajamas, unarmed because the big gun won' stay in his waist, he heads out to the local grocery, then stops under a row house window on his way back, only to light a smoke, as cries of "Omar comin''" ring throughout the neighborhood. As Omar lights a Newport, a bag of vialed, ready-to-sling cocaine drops to his feet. Back at home, he dumps the bag on the breakfast table, then laments that he doesn't even want it. "It ain't what you takin', it's who you takin' it from," he explains to Renaldo. "How you expect to run with the wolves come night when you spend all day sportin' with puppies?"
The Deacon drops by Howard "Bunny" Colvin's to feel him out about a job at University of Maryland's school of social work, which has landed a good-sized grant to look at repeat violent offenders. The Deacon has already sold the UM faculty on employing his friend, who carries some gravitas with the academics as the police commander who tried to legalize drugs in West Baltimore. But Colvin notes that the academics were the only ones who liked the idea and he says he's had his fill of do-gooders. Colvin insists he's happy at a hotel security job, making "52, good bennies" and getting a take home car.
Marlo Stanfield, Chris Partlow and Felecia "Snoop" Pearson pull up to Preseton "Bodie" Broadus's corner, where Bodie, Little Kevin, Michael Lee and others are working Bodie's package. It's clear that Bodie has made a little something out of the formerly moribund strip. Bodie tenses as they approach, but Chris assures him they are there to parley only. Marlo tells him he needs the corner now that it's developed. "Two choices, you start takin' our package or you can step off." Marlo also has his eye on Michael, who earlier wouldn't take Marlo's handout of back-to-school money, but is now working a drug corner. "He got some good signs on him," Marlo tells Chris.
Mayor Royce meets with State Delegate Watkins, his chief of staff, Coleman Parker, Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell and State's Attorney Demper to discuss the dead witness issue that Carcetti so effectively used in the campaign debate. Upset about Carcetti's eight point bump in the wake of that ambush, Royce takes the gloves off, telling his team to begin playing hardball, tearing up campaign signs and towing Carcetti's vehicles and telling campaign donors that they can't ride the fence and give to both him and his opponents. Then he tells Burrell and Demper to "talk down that witness angle" on the recent murder, and, if necessary, to get out in front and take the heat for the case. Most important, the mayor tells them, they need to prevent any further revelations on the case "which reflects poorly on Royce's ability to protect state's witnesses and gives Carcetti a strong issue" from coming out before the primary vote. Demper protests about having to take any blame at first. "I'm running dead even with Bond right now," he says of his own re-election effort. "How you gonna be running if I drop you from the ticket?" Royce fires back. After Demper and Burrell exit, Watkins points out that Carcetti has a point about the Royce administration failing to claim matching funds that Carcetti had Watkins secure a year earlier during the previous legislative session in Annapolis. Royce explains that he will claim those funds after the primary, for the next fiscal year. To do so prior would have given Carcetti a campaign highlight.
Back on the corner, Michael doesn't rattle when some buyers try to scam him on some heroin sales and backs the older heads down. Bodie, impressed, tries to get Michael to work the after school rush hours, but Michael wants to quit now that he's repaid the money he needed for back-to-school supplies for himself and his younger brother. Besides, school's starting.
Kima Greggs surveys the street outside Old Face Andre's store, as Omar and Renaldo -unnoticed - survey her. Renaldo asks if Greggs is federal and Omar replies that she is city police and that he knows and likes her - up to a point. A school girl goes in the store, all dressed up and carrying a backpack - on the day before school starts - raising Omar's suspicions. He assumes that Greggs would notice such a detail as well. After the girl leaves - minus her backpack - Greggs heads into the store to buy some gum and check it out. She notices better security cameras outside the store than inside, as well as reinforced doors - indicative of a stash house rather than a viable grocery. As she drives away, Omar notes she needs more patience. But Greggs is off to report what she saw at Old Face Andre's to Freamon, who has been doing wiretap work ever since they picked up the call from Andre to Monk, a Stanfield lieutenant, a week prior - the one in which an irate Stanfield grabbed his lieutenant's phone and told Andre not to harry him. They consult the wiretap chart, trying to link Andre into the higher rungs of the Stanfield organization. "We're getting close," says Greggs. Lt. Asher then leaves his office, saying he's been called downtown by Deputy Commissioner of Operations William Rawls. "You guys aren't into any s**t are you?" he asks on his way out. They deny it, of course.
At Police Headquarters, Deputy Commissioner Rawls Lt. briefs Charles Marimow on his new job - making sure he gets the Major Crimes unit back on the street where it belongs. No more movement on the subpoenas, which will not be answered until after the primary in any event. Asher arrives for his meeting with Rawls and is relieved of command of Major Crimes, transferred to the Telephone Reporting unit, and told he has done a fine job. Just fine.
It's the picture of domestic bliss at Beadie Russell's house, as Bunk arrives for dinner and McNulty introduces him to Beadie's kids, who are studying from the homeland security binders that McNulty liberated earlier at the Western. Afterward, Bunk lures McNulty out for drink at their old haunt of the railroad track, but McNulty nurses a single beer, much to Bunk's disappointment. Bunk presses him on whether he's really comfortable in his new life. "Sometimes it is what it is," McNulty explains.
Bodie complains to Slim Charles about Marlo's latest pressure, noting that he could only make a go of the new strip because he was selling Slim's package of high-quality narcotics. On Marlo's weaker package, his profits will fall. Bodie wants to fight back, but he is alone now. Slim explains that the people he is working with now - Prop Joe and the New Day Co-op, of course - they aren't going to battle for any territory. Later back in a discount hotel meeting room, the Co-op crew, including Proposition Joe, Slim Charles and Fat-face Rick and others, meet to discuss how to handle Marlo's hegemony and that of the New York Boys on the eastside. Marlo is running off some of the independents supplied by the Co-op on the Westside, or forcing them to take their package. But the bigger problem is the recent emigrants from Brooklyn and the Bronx, setting up shop in East Baltimore and running various local crews off. The Co-op finds consensus: If they are going to bump with the New Yorkers, they need to stand together and Marlo, as young and violent as he is, would be an asset in that regard. It's noted that Marlo can "make an inconvenient n***** disappear," and there is some discussion of how Marlo is hiding the bodies his organization drops. Proposition suggests its time to talk to Marlo again, to get him to cooperate, but Slim is skeptical he'll listen.
At his hotel security job, Colvin gets summoned to a room where a hotel patron has beaten a prostitute who lifted cash from his wallet. Colvin wants to arrest the assailant for assault, but the manager doesn't want any trouble for a customer who is instrumental in booking conventions into Baltimore. When Colvin cuffs him regardless, the manager has to remind him he's no longer a police officer: "You work for us." Colvin relents and, ashamed to be doing what he is doing, leaves. The next day he tracks down Deacon to see about the social work grant he dismissed earlier.
The first day of school, Randy, Michael and Dukie head over to pick up Namond, with Michael keeping his younger brother, Bug, in tow and Randy giving his lunch to Dukie on the way. De'Londa Brice allows Michael and Randy into her home to collect Namond, but shuts the door in Dukie's face.
At morning roll call, Charles Marimow addresses his new unit, demanding to know where Officer Massey, who manned the wiretap overnight, is and why she is not present for the meeting. When the reason is given, it is insufficient. Marimow asserts his leadership and says he wants to be briefed on every action by the unit. Freamon, Greggs and Sydnor are not thrilled with the new boss.
At Tilghman Middle School, the first day begins in a rush of activity. Prez struggles to control his homeroom class. But the kids ignore his seating chart, steal his bus and hall passes and disrespect his authority. Fellow teacher Grace Sampson has to step in to restore order.
The Mayor calls a private meeting with Herc, inquiring about his career goals. Briefed about this very outcome by Major Valchek earlier, Herc feigns surprise as, Royce, after establishing Herc's loyalty, offers to make a call to push Herc's name to the top of the sergeant's list and then move him off the mayoral detail and back into another assignment. Herc expresses gratitude "Don't mention it," Royce intones precisely.
In Prez's math class he attempts to lead them through a word problem but the kids knowingly interrupt and effectively destroy the lesson. One girl, Chiquan, refuses to sit near Dukie, complaining that he smells. Humiliated, Dukie says nothing. Chiquan provokes another girl, flashing the sun with a piece of jewelry to shine in the other girl's face. The teased girl goes for Chiquan, Prez tries to break it up and chaos breaks out until Grace arrives once again to help restore order.
Marimow comes down on the unit for all the time they're spending on Marlo Stanfield when there's no body count connected with the Stanfield organization. He lays down the law - no more long-term wire taps, no more subpoenas. He declares the Barksdale case closed immediately and says that when the fledgling Stanfield wiretaps come up for renewal, they will be terminated as well. Freamon argues it's up to a judge to decide when a wiretap comes down, but Marimow informs him the Deputy Commissioner for Operations will be talking to him about that very subject.
After using the disturbance to sneak out of class, Randy uses a string of different colored uniform shirts to mingle with different grades in the school cafeteria. He works the crowd, pitching his product: a backpack full of candy. Dukie watches with amusement, while he plays with a plastic battery-operated mini fan he's found inoperative in the street on the way to school.
Omar and Renaldo catch the next re-up at Old Face Andre's grocery, holding him up for the backpack the girl delivered. To distract Andre, Omar sent Renaldo into the store with a small-caliber handgun, knowing that Andre would be confident in the depth of his plexiglass. But while Andre is preparing to counter Renaldo, Omar slips past the security camera, enters the store and fires a shot high, through the plexiglass, using a large-caliber semi-auto. Renaldo gives up the package, and Omar to rub it in buys a pack of Newports and demands his change. As they leave, he references the look on Andre's face to Renaldo, saying, "That's why we get up in the morning."
At the social work college on UM's Baltimore city campus, The Deacon brings Colvin to talk Professor David Parenti about a job as a field researcher - going out in the hood to find some corner boys to talk to for his study. He's looking for 18-to-21 year olds. Colvin thinks 18-21 a too late to be trying to influence behavior; by that time they are already lost to the game. "So show him," says Deacon.
Carcetti shows up at the wake for the dead witness he used so effectively against Royce in the debate, checking with Wilson on his way in about the invited press. Clearly, they are planning to use the wake as a campaign event. He enters the funeral home, pays his respects to the boy's mother, launching into a speech before stopping himself. "I'm just sorry for your loss." Seeing Watkins and Marla Daniels in the back of the room, he greets them both, then wishes Daniels luck with her race. "The council sure could use you." Outside, he refuses to talk to reporters, much to Wilson's annoyance. But Carcetti considers appearances and implies that the real audience at this moment might be Watkins. Better to appear sincere at this moment, rather than calculating - he calculates.
Colvin gets Sgt. Carver to let him and the professor talk to an 18-year-old kid, Shawn, in the interview room. Shawn nearly attacks the professor for writing while he's talking, and after a tough few minutes in which Colvin quickly provokes the young man's rage, the professor has to concede that "18-to-21 might be too seasoned." Carver suggests they try the local high school, but Colvin suggests they need to go even younger. He takes the professor to Tilghman Middle School and on encountering the 6th-to-8th graders, they sense that they are in the correct place to undertake their research.
Meanwhile, the exodus from the Major Crimes Unit is now on. Kima meets with her old mentor, Major Cedric Daniels, looking to get back under his new command in the Western District, but he says she's too good to go back to a district and that she needs to move laterally at worst. He offers to talk to people on her behalf. In the meantime, Freamon visits the Deputy Ops and is told by Rawls that he is a hell of an investigator - Rawls seems sincere in his praise - but that his investigation is at an end. Sending the subpoenas to politically sensitive targets has made it so; they can't stop the subpoenas, but they can get the unit that sent them by sending in "my Trojan horse" Charlie Marimow. Rawls anticipates that Freamon might go to the city judge who signed the wiretap order, seeking protection. Rawls references the fact that an earlier Deputy Ops once had to bury Freamon years ago for a similar action: "You have a gift for martyrdom," Rawls tells him. "But I wonder, are your disciples as keen for the cross?" To protect his comrades, Freamon concedes defeat. Rawls then offers to let him land softly, transferring him back to C.I.D. homicide and telling Freamon that while it is hard to think it so now, he should consider this a favor.
Following this, Daniels approaches Rawls to plead for a Homicide assignment for Greggs. The only open spot was just filled, Rawls reports dryly, but, he adds, looking at the Homicide roster, "Lemme see who I don't love no more."
Prez tries to get the class to tackle another math word problem, as the kids inject their jokes and commentary. Chiquan acts out a bit and the other girl, still angry at the earlier teasing, leaps up and slashes Chiquan across the face with a razor. As blood gushes from a screaming Chiquan, chaos erupts in the classroom. Prez is momentarily paralyzed with shock, but Grace Sampson arrives to disarm the angry girl and call for an ambulance. As Ms. Sampson tends to Chiquan, Dukie softly approaches the angry girl, producing his mini-fan, which he has repaired. He turns it on, blows it gently toward the girl, then leaves it on the floor for her. She ignores him, her eyes glazed and hands bloodstained, as Dukie watches her.