Directed by Dominic West
Story by David Simon & Richard Price
Teleplay by Richard Price
"They don't teach it in law school." - Pearlman
Detective Lester Freamon and Detective James "Jimmy" McNulty huddle in the utility closet of the homicide unit. Freamon has rigged a phone wire to mask as Marlo's cell number and orders McNulty to stick to the script as he dials a number. When Scott Templeton answers his cell phone at the Baltimore Sun, McNulty reads from a scripted serial killer rant, accusing Templeton of making things up about him in his newspaper reports. A panicked Templeton, shocked to get an actual call, rushes to alert the other reporters and editors to what's going on and to get Det. McNulty on the phone.
Ignoring his buzzing cell phone, McNulty starts to enjoy his performance and, playing up a heavy Baltimore accent, he begins to ad lib. Meanwhile, in the wire tap listening room, Vernon Holley springs into action to trace the first call he's ever picked up on the serial killer tap.
In a tourist-heavy area of the Baltimore Harbor, Detective Leander Sydnor waits with a cell phone in one hand (the cell that the phone company paperwork has linked to the serial killer wire tap) and a police radio in the other. McNulty's serial killer warns Templeton that they won't even be able to find his victims any more, as Freamon sends two photos of McNulty's homeless foil, "Mr. Bobbles," over the re-routed phone line. When Sydnor hears over the police radio that the call has been traced to the Inner Harbor, he switches off the cell, wraps it in foil, and pockets it. As the police swarm the area he shows his badge and pretends to help search for the serial killer's cell phone.
Back at the Baltimore Sun, Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow and Executive Editor James C. Whiting III gather around Templeton as he relays what the killer said. Just as they ask if the guy threatened him, Templeton receives an alert on his cell phone: the photo of a new apparent victim -- the homeless man that McNulty dumped in Richmond.
State Senator R. Clayton "Clay" Davis tries to talk defense attorney Billy Murphy into taking on his case without receiving his full fee up front. Davis offers $25k up front and $25k when Murphy seats a jury. Murphy insists on his full $200K fee, but Davis counters that he's giving him a great publicity opportunity going up against State's Attorney Rupert Bond. Charmed, Murphy tells Clay to save his silver-tongued salesmanship for the jury.
In the homicide unit, Sgt. Jay Landsman, Dets. Shakima "Kima" Greggs, Edward Norris, Holley and others review the wire recording while McNulty meets with Templeton and the editors at the Sun. Glad to put Templeton in the hot seat, McNulty asks if it sounded like the same guy. Templeton falters but then assures him it did; he just didn't remember the guy having such a heavy Baltimore accent the first time. Klebanow asks about whether it would hurt to publish the photos sent to the phone, but McNulty says it would help to have people looking for the man, who may already be dead. He warns them not to indicate where the cell phone call came from though. On his way out, McNulty urges Templeton not to worry; the killer's just using him. When Templeton says he resents that, McNulty eyes him and suggests he shouldn't since it's working out well for him. Haynes picks up on McNulty's innuendo and regards Templeton with suspicion.
Cherry and Savino find Manny dead and Vincent tied up. Vincent explains Omar ambushed them and left him alive to pass along a message to Marlo: Omar is waiting and Marlo's not man enough to come down in the street. Omar knew they held the stash without being told and flushed the entire four kilos of heroin.
McNulty and A.S.A. Rhonda Pearlman track down Judge Phelan with an amended wiretap order. Now that the serial killer has sent photos to the Sun reporter, they need a couple of computers to conduct surveillance. As the Judge signs off, he suggests they check the Governor's alibi — noting that a serial killer of the homeless is bad news for Carcetti's gubernatorial challenge because he was elected mayor on a law-and-order ticket. Meanwhile, Carcetti, who has been feeling good about the $80k in donations he's solicited for his gubernatorial primary campaign, throws a fit and demands to talk to Police Commissioner Rawls immediately when he hears the news about the serial killer's latest call to the Sun.
Det. William "Bunk" Moreland reviews the file on Michael Lee that he ordered from the state archives, when Landsman orders Bunk to join him upstairs at a meeting called by Deputy Commissioner for Operations Cedric Daniels about the serial killer case. Bunk, furious that McNulty's bogus killer is monopolizing so many resources, refuses to go. At the meeting, Daniels doles out the assignments to the detectives, strategizing how to attack the investigation now that the mayor has lifted all bans on OT for this case. Meanwhile, over at the Sun, Haynes divvies up reporting tasks on the hot story.
On Michael Lee's corner, Duquan "Dukie" Weems reads through the want ads, looking for a job he can do but Michael points out he's too young for a legit job and needs to take care of Bug after school. Just as Dukie is exhibiting his skills as an exotic dancer, Sgt. Ellis Carver and Ofc. Baker pull up and cuff Michael for a ride downtown.
Carcetti holds a press conference about the homeless slayings, promising he will bring the killer to justice.
Freamon disconnects the wire that had been rerouted to the serial killer's (Sydnor's) phone (the real wire is set to Marlo's cell phone). He informs Det. Frank Barlow that he'll be able to capture pictures and voice the next time the serial killer calls. McNulty tries to convince Landsman that Greggs can keep working her triple, but Landsman insists she be pulled off to work up the backgrounds of the slain homeless victims (per Daniels' orders). He commends McNulty for turning the tap back on paid police work and asks him what else he needs for his case. A disgusted Bunk chastises McNulty and Freamon for what they've created, but Lester insists they're just a week or two away from getting Marlo. Bunk calls the lab again for his tracework on the vacants cases as Carver delivers Michael Lee to the interview room. Bunk shows Michael the homicide photos of his dead step-father and notes that he doesn't even flinch when he identifies him. Bunk tries to get the boy to tell him who did it since whoever it was had to be full grown and more vicious than Michael, but Michael just stonewalls him.
In the parking lot, McNulty runs into a frustrated rookie, Detective Christeson, who complains he's close to solving a murder case if he could only get more help. McNulty offers to reassign a couple of detectives and cars from his serial murder case for the detective and write up the hours under his case.
Greggs walks through the circus of reporters gathered outside the modest home of the parents of one of the homeless victims. The parents admit that they'd given up on their son and knew he would probably die on the street, but they are still devastated and guilt-ridden by the reports of how he died at the hands of a serial killer.
Haynes argues with Klebanow and Whiting about Templeton's purple prose, but Klebanow says he'll edit the piece himself.
At home that night, Daniels and Pearlman watch the news, in disbelief over the media frenzy. Pearlman shoos him away so she can prepare to be Bond's second for the Davis case, which starts the next day.
McNulty complains to Freamon that things have spiraled out of control — now FBI behavioral profilers are doing a voice analysis of his fake call. McNulty is interrupted by a call from Landsman asking if he needs academy help canvassing the shelters. McNulty refuses, offering up Mr. Bobbles' name and last known address (from the ID he got off of the homeless guy he dumped in Richmond). Hanging up he tells Freamon the problem with making this a "red ball" is people are now treating it like a red ball. He begs Lester to finish off Marlo, and quickly.
Clay Davis enters the courthouse with Billy Murphy at his side, running the media gauntlet as the reporters eat up his proclamations of innocence and quotes from Aeschylus.
Norris comes to McNulty having heard what he did for the rookie, Christeson, and asks for similar treatment so that he can interview a witness for a rape-murder case he's been working. McNulty agrees as Bunk listens with disbelief.
After Freamon's detailed testimony of Clay Davis's finances, Billy Murphy passes up a cross-examination, to Pearlman and Freamon's surprise.
While serving patrons at the soup kitchen, Bubbles spots Sun reporter Mike Fletcher looking for a story about what it's like to be homeless. He brings him to a Hooverville to show him around, refusing Fletcher's twenty dollar bill and urging him to just write it like it feels.
Lester and Sydnor intercept a photo sent from Marlo's phone of a clock that reads 5:50, followed by a quick call to Monk. Sydnor guesses it's the time for a meet and heads out to watch Monk. When he hasn't moved for an hour and a half, Sydnor calls Freamon who tells him to come back.
When Bond questions Clay Davis's driver Day-Day about the $40K salary he received as executive director of a charity, Day-Day explains he didn't see any of the money, it all went back to Clay Davis (except for the occasional cash kick-back from his boss). Pearlman is pleased with the testimony, but then on his cross-examination, Murphy gets Day-Day to admit that he cashed the checks to give the money to Davis, which means there's no proof Davis received it. Further, Murphy establishes that Day-Day is getting immunity for testifying against Davis, undermining his credibility with the jury.
Det. Crutchfield comes to McNulty with another sob story about needing OT, and when McNulty relents, Crutchfield assures him he knows the drill, calling him "boss." Greggs hands off reports from interviewing the homeless victims' families and notes it was rough to hear how upset the parents were about the details of how their son died. A guilt-ridden McNulty considers this impact for the first time.
Haynes rereads Templeton's published story and tosses the newspaper with disgust as he heads into the cop bar Kavanagh's for a drink. He spots Major Dennis Mello and checking out Templeton's cover for his food poisoning story, asks him, theoretically, if it's possible for a woman to go through the court system with a false ID. Mello says no, given the ID is linked to fingerprints — he tells Haynes someone's yanking his chain.
Omar grabs Savino on the street, shakes him down and shoots him.
Lester calls McNulty asking for more man hours and cars for surveillance to figure out what the clock code means. McNulty says they're giving him plenty of man hours, but now word is out around the office that he's giving out money and hours to people to work other cases. Lester warns him he's going to blow it. Lester needs seven or eight detectives and they consider whether there's anyone in the Districts they trust. Greggs calls McNulty in a rage, unable to assemble the children's IKEA furniture McNulty recommended she get for Elijah's overnight.
Omar shows up on Michael's corner and orders Michael to tell Marlo he'll kill all of his muscle until Marlo comes down to the street. Michael breathes a sigh of relief Omar that didn't recognize him from the shootout at Monk's condo.
On the stand, Davis charms the courtroom and jury with his testimony about how things really work in the poor neighborhoods he represents. He admits that all of the charity money did go into his bank account but insists he didn't keep a dime, it all went back out in cash, because that's how it works in his district: It is strictly cash and carry. People know where to find him so they approach him directly for help. He pulls at the heartstrings with the lists of requests he gets for Similac, burial costs, etc. as the courtroom erupts into applause.
Carcetti reviews the budget implications of trying to do more for the homeless. Chief of Staff Michael Steintorf warns him that if the serial killer investigation goes on for a month he'll be forced to lay off teachers — a disastrous move for a gubernatorial candidate in an election year.
Outside the courthouse, Bond and Pearlman stare in amazement wondering what just happened as Clay Davis makes his victory speech to the media hoards.
Regional Affairs Editor Rebecca Corbett and Haynes discuss Templeton's purple prose and Haynes confides that he gave Templeton a chance to own his mistake in the food-poisoning story, but Templeton came back with a lie about stolen identities. They wonder: If he'll lie to avoid a correction, would he lie to make a story better? Haynes admits he is haunted by Templeton's story about the boy in the wheelchair on baseball's opening day, but is reluctant to call a reporter a liar.
When Elijah can't sleep, Kima sits in the window with him bidding goodnight to everybody, starting with the Moon, stars, po—pos, fiends, hoppers, hustlers, and scammers. Goodnight to one and all. The Baltimore version of Goodnight Moon.