Hard Cases
The Wire | Season 2 | Episode 4

Hard Cases

TV-MA | 59 MIN

Directed by Elodie Keene
Story by David Simon & Joy Lusco Kecken
Teleplay by Joy Lusco Kecken

"If I hear music, I'm gonna dance." - Greggs

An angry Sobotka meets his nephew Nick by the harbor, telling him his theft of the cameras is further jeopardizing the port's diminished cargo business. Nick says it's too late; the cameras have been fenced. And Nick explains that he can't survive with the little bit of legitimate work he's getting at the dock. "I'm on my ass. I can't get by on five days a month." Sobotka tells him if he needs money, "you come to me."

At the prison, five people have died after ingesting the strychnine hot shots. Avon and Stringer's scheme progresses when they have real dope planted in Tilghman's car. Avon, with help from his attorney Maury Levy, tells the assistant warden he has "inside" information, naming Tilghman as the cause of the deaths. When Tilghman's car is searched and drugs are found, he is arrested. Two problems solved: Tilghman will no longer harass Wee-Bey and Avon cuts a deal to shorten his term in exchange for "cooperation."

Burrell meets with Daniels in his office, offering to clean the slate and put him in charge of a detail to do Valchek's bidding. When Daniels tells him he's resigning, Burrell promises him a major's slot if he'll stay. Realizing Burrell is under pressure from Valchek, Daniels bargains hard, agreeing to stay and take the assignment with two provisos: Burrell will let him pick his people and — should the unit actually mount a case against Sobotka — Burrell will make the squad a permanent, major case unit. Burrell, over a barrel, agrees.

At home, McNulty's voicemail brings news that the state attorney Ilene Nathan is going to throw out the murder charges against Bird unless McNulty can produce Omar immediately.

Russell, at the Port with Bunk, explains what checkers do and how, through computer sleight of hand, they can get a container off the dock without anyone knowing. And, she warns, because they're all loyal union members, there's no chance any longshoreman can ever be flipped and serve as a police informant. Bunk schools her that a police is only as good as his, or her, informants.

'DAngelo and Avon have another angry confrontation in prison when Avon tries to talk sense to 'DAngelo and Dee is too angry to listen. "Play or you gonna get played," Avon warns him. "I don't want no part of what you doing no more," 'DAngelo responds, sensing that Avon is behind the prison's heroin deaths. "So you can just leave me the fuck out of that, whatever it is."

McNulty, under pressure to find Omar, leaves another message on the burned-out white van Omar used to drive and then canvasses drug dealers in West Baltimore, looking for his man. Eventually, finding Bubbles and Johnny, he convinces Bubbles to help him find Omar.

At the projects, dope is still in short supply, and Stringer continues to dilute what product he has rather than lose more customers. Ziggy, after being warned by Nick not to flash the money they earned in their camera heist, shows up for a rare day of work wearing a $2,000 Italian leather coat.

Vondas meets with Nick and Ziggy at the waterfront diner and says he needs chemicals: ethanol, hydrochloric acid. "We need 30, 40 thousand liters," he says. When Nick investigates, he learns that chemicals come through a different pier nearby called Fairfield, and also that one of the checkers they work with has a brother who works at Fairfield and that he might help them. Meanwhile Nick tells Aimee that he's received a couple thousand in back pay and that they can now afford to set up house together.

Daniels visits Rawls, who approves the cops for the detail: Freamon, Greggs, and Hauk. Everyone, that is, but McNulty: "Nothing that even resembles that sonofabitch... He quits or he drowns," Rawls says. Daniels visits Greggs and pressures her to join up, too, telling her she can work "inside." "If I hear the music, I'm gonna dance," Greggs tells him, and agrees to join the detail.

At the funeral home that serves as the new headquarters for the Barksdale gang, Shamrock arrives and directs Bell's attention to the TV, which is broadcasting a press conference about the Tilghman bust. Bell, who is continuing to study economics at the University of Baltimore, flicks it off. "I got a mid-term. I got to study."

Bunk and Russell visit the cargo terminal to bring Horseface downtown for questioning, but when he demands to talk to his shop steward and requests a union lawyer, they are unable to take him. Later, they drop in at the Clement Street Bar, which is in full longshoreman swing, sending the message that since it was determined the girls were murdered, they are not going away any time soon. Stunned, Sobotka escapes to the bathroom, where the reality of what he's been involved with eats away at him.