The Pager
The Wire | Season 1 | Episode 5

The Pager

TV-MA | 1 HR 0 MIN

Directed by Peter Medak
Story by David Simon & Ed Burns
Teleplay by David Simon

"... a little slow, a little late." - Avon Barksdale

Avon Barksdale is paranoid, and begins to worry that his phones are tapped. Stringer Bell visits 'DAngelo and urges him to keep his boys alert in the wake of Omar stealing the stash at the Pit. Stringer also hatches a plan with 'DAngelo to smoke out what Stringer and Avon believe is a snitch in 'DAngelo's crew. "Don't pay your team," Stringer says. "The ones who don't ask for an advance when their money runs out obviously have another source of income, and those are your snitches."

Judge Phelan signs off on the clones for the beepers. Things remain tense at the Pit. When one of 'DAngelo's boys lolls lazily while supposedly on lookout, Bodie throws a beer bottle at him, cutting him. 'DAngelo is inclined to object but at that moment gets a page — a page that arrives simultaneously at the Detail Room.

Barksdale's crew is using a code for the pagers that puzzles the cops. Greggs wonders "How complex a code can it be if these knuckleheads are using it?" It is Prez who breaks the code, making his first positive contribution to the squad's work.

Bubbles visits his friend Johnny in the Green Hill Hospice Center, where he's recovering from his beating and his heroin addition. Johnny reveals to Bubbles that they say he has the Bug: AIDS. In one breath Johnny talks recovery lingo but in the next, he's asking Bubbles which neighborhood has the best dope these days. Bubbles brags that he's been working with the police as an informant.

At Police Headquarters, Sgt. Landsman is exuberant over the forensics break in the three murder cases. Bunk tells McNulty he's convinced that whoever killed Diedre Kresson also committed the other two killings, "and those two are straight-up drug executions." Together, they visit the friend, Towanda, and learn that in fact, Avon Barksdale was the dead girl's boyfriend. That was, until she threatened to inform on him when she found out she was being two-timed. Towanda also mentions that Avon and Stringer own not only Orlando's but numerous other companies.

At Orlando's, 'DAngelo learns from the bartender that Stinkum is no longer on salary but is working for a percentage since he's opening a new territory for Stringer and Avon. 'DAngelo is frustrated at being passed over for promotion, but does manage to put a move on Shardene, the stripper who had come on to him earlier.

Outside the club, McNulty, Daniels and Greggs are on a stakeout to see what goes on there. What kind of gentleman's club has a video camera on the outside, McNulty observes. And not only does Barksdale own the club, he owns a warehouse, an apartment building and a tow-truck company.

Meanwhile, Avon takes 'DAngelo to visit his uncle, who is comatose from a bullet wound to the temple. Even though they could afford a fancy nursing home, they have to keep the uncle here so they don't show advertise the fact that they have plenty of money. 'DAngelo is uneasy during the visit, but Avon reassures him that it's important. "Cause it's family, that's what it's all about, family" Avon is remorseful of the fate of his brother: "Be a little slow, a little late. Just once."

McNulty and Greggs meet with Omar and explain that they have a common problem: Barksdale. They want him to give up what he knows about Barksdale but Omar is reluctant. "Me snitching?" he says. "I don't think the game should be played that way." McNulty tells Omar that his respects that, but purposely lets it slip that Barksdale killed Bailey, one of Omar's men. Omar then gives them a lead on Avon's boy named Bird, who Omar says killed Gant.

When two of 'DAngelo's boys, Wallace and Poot, go to a convenience store and spot Omar's boy Brandon playing the pinball, they phone 'DAngelo to tell him. Dee in turn calls Stringer Bell, who takes his crew to the spot. Stringer praises Wallace and asks him to point out Brandon to his thugs. 'DAngelo later receives a call from Stringer Bell at the same payphone: "Done. Nice work, cuz." The detail computer tracks the calls, but in a deserted office, without the manpower for nighttime surveillance.