Collateral Damage
The Wire | Season 2 | Episode 2

Collateral Damage

TV-MA | 59 MIN

Directed by Ed Bianchi
Story by David Simon & Ed Burns
Teleplay by David Simon

"They can chew you up but they gotta spit you back out." - McNulty

At the cargo terminal, with no apparent evidence of foul play, the death of the 13 women is ruled an accident. "No need to open an investigation on this," says a Port Authority cop. "No crime. All you got here, Officer Russell, is a lot of paperwork."

Sobotka is enraged by the 13 deaths and at the diner demands an explanation from Vondas. Vondas tells him it's all a big mistake, but Sobotka demands advance notice the next time people are shipped through his port on a container.

Brianna visits her brother Avon in prison and tells him times are tough in the drug business. With their supplier spooked and little supply available elsewhere, "We hangin' on to the projects with table scraps," she tells him. "Ain't you got no one else for us?" Avon tells her to have Stringer fly to Atlanta to visit a drug connection there named Vargus. Brianna is angry with Avon for not watching out for 'DAngelo, incarcerated in another section of the same prison serving his 20-year sentence. Avon promises to look out for 'DAngelo, and tells her to pressure Donette, the mother of 'DAngelo's son, to stop ignoring 'DAngelo and come to the prison to visit him.

McNulty brings Bunk some blue crabs — one of the few perks of his new assignment — and they feast in an interrogation room at police headquarters. Bunk learns that McNulty spent three hours running the wind and tide numbers, just to prove the floater should be assigned to Rawls' homicide unit. Bunk also tells him that the 13 bodies at the cargo terminal are not considered a crime.

Carver blankets the illegally parked cars outside the union hall with tickets. Confronted by an angry Sobotka, who asks why the sudden change in attitude toward cars that are always parked illegally, Carver explains it's at the request of Valchek, who, angry about the stained glass, has given orders to harass the union officials. Later, Valchek himself shows up at the hall, asking Sobotka if he's "gettin' the message." Valchek explains why he's angry but manages only to enrage Sobotka. Sobotka replies by insulting Valcheck, now making their war personal.

At the prison, a corrections officer named Dwight Tilghman tosses Wee-Bey's cell, tearing apart his girlie mags and breaking his aquarium. Wee-Bey learns that Tilghman is angry because Wee-Bey killed Tilghman's cousin on the outside. When Wee-Bey reports the situation to Avon, Avon doesn't even remember the murder: "You need a damn scorecard to keep up with your lethal ass," he says, reassuring Wee-Bey that he'll speak to Tilghman and call him off. Tilghman, however, brushes off Avon when he tries to have a word with the guard.

McNulty visits the customs shed where Russell is processing the 13 bodies and begins to poke around. He wonders aloud if there might be a connection between his "floater" and the 13 bodies, no missing-persons reports have been filed since the body was found in the water. Inspecting the container in which the women died, he discovers that the air pipe had been purposely hammered shut, which means the deaths are no accident. He also learns that the cargo container had 14 bedrolls and only 13 bodies. Russell matches a picture of the young woman to some items from the evidence of the missing woman #14 and McNulty confirms that it is his floater.

Valchek, still angry over Sobotka's harsh words, learns that the union has hired a high-priced lobbyist who's been spreading money around to politicians, in an attempt to revitalize the port. How can they afford this with a dirt-poor union and only 1,500 guys left, Valchek wonders. His conclusion: Sobotka is into some dirt. Valchek pays a call on Deputy Commissioner Burrell, who is in line to be Police Commissioner soon if the city council votes him in. Knowing that Burrell's having problems with the first district councilman, Valchek says he can take care of it, but he wants a favor in exchange. He wants Burrell to have Rawls appoint a six-man detail to look into the activities of Sobotka.

Worried about his clearance rate, Rawls resists — mightily — taking on the 13 murders but ultimately can't avoid them. Now he's even angrier with McNulty, since it was McNulty's detective work that turned the "accident" into a crime. Later, McNulty and Bunk do some serious drinking, McNulty downing 14 shots, "one for each of the bodies," he says. "Eleven more years of whatever bullshit they can find and then I put in my papers and I walk," McNulty says. "Fuck it, they can chew you up but they gotta spit you back out."

Later that night, he visits Pearlman, who always takes him in. In the morning, however, she presses him for the meaning of their relationship. But she becomes upset when he tells her that if his wife would take him back, he'd be gone.

Valchek gets his detail, but the unit is made up of useless cops, with Prez being the one exception. Valchek, not realizing he's been given humps, visits them in their new detail office and tells them to get to work on Sobotka.

Meanwhile, 'DAngelo has begun to use heroin in prison. Avon arrives to speak with him one evening and, realizing what Dee is doing to himself, tells him, "We have to talk."

At police headquarters, Horseface, dressed in a suit and tie, hot-wires a surveillance van and drives it off police property, saluting the unsuspecting cops as he goes. It's payback time for Valchek, and at the cargo terminal, the longshoremen drive the van into a cargo container and ship it around to a series of domestic and international ports.

Freamon and Bunk, assigned to the 14 murders, learn that the Atlantic Light has left Baltimore headed for Philly and chase the ship there to interview the crew. They are preceded, however, by Serge, who kidnaps the ship's engineer and takes him away. Freamon and Bunk arrive later, unaware of what's happened, and are stonewalled at every turn as they try to interview a crew that can suddenly speak no English.

Serge brings the engineer to Baltimore, where after being beaten, he finally reveals that he raped one of the 14 women in the container. When she resisted, he killed her, and since the other girls were witnesses, they all had to die. The Greek orders Vondas to kill him, saying, "There will be more girls."