Soft Eyes
The Wire | Season 4 | Episode 2

Soft Eyes

TV-MA | 58 MIN

Directed by Christine Moore
Written by David Mills
Story by Ed Burns & David Mills

"I still wake up white in a city that ain't." - Carcetti

Confused about the morning schedule for the Mayor, officer Thomas "Herc" Hauk waits by the truck, loses patience and goes looking for Lieutenant Hoskins, who heads the security detail. Opening doors in his search for his supervisor, Herc is surprised to encounter Mayor Clarence Royce on the receiving end of a robust act of fellatio, courtesy of his secretary. Stunned like a cow with a sledgehammer, Herc stares at the sight for a moment before slamming shut the door. In that moment, the Mayor sees him.

Meanwhile, Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman meets with Detectives Lester Freamon and Leander Sydnor about the stack of Barksdale money-trail subpoenas to politically sensitive targets. Sydnor is having second thoughts about whether their pursuit of the money will blow back on them by antagonizing the powerful and politically connected elements in the city. Pearlman, too, is wishing she had run the subpoenas by her front office, alerting her bosses to the coming controversy and thereby protecting herself from retribution. Freamon quickly realizes that Pearlman has not forwarded signed subpoenas for two notable targets --developer Andrew Kracyzk and State Sen. Clay Davis. Pearlman responds that she is holding those until after the primary election. Freamon gets angry and points out that now -- with the election in play -- is the only window they have for seeing this pursuit of the Barksdale money trail through. Months ago, the powers that be would have taken down the unit and stifled the investigation. Months from now, with the election in the bag, they will do the same. But now, with the election ongoing and politicians being scrutinized, those in power will not dare to impede the subpeonas of the investigation itself. And that includes Pearlman's boss, State's Attorney Demper, who is among those running for reelection on the Democratic ticket. Pearlman recalls Freamon's earlier claim that he only recently was able to get back to the Barksdale money trail because other cases intervened, and she realizes that he lied to her. Freamon has timed this carefully.

In the Carcetti living room, Norman Wilson grows impatient making small talk with Jennifer Carcetti while waiting for Tommy, who is late to begin another campaigning day, and goes to fetch him. But Tommy's playing Battleship with his daughter and refuses to be rushed, insisting that since there's no way he can win the election, he may as well enjoy some quality time with his child.

The Edward J. Tilghman middle-school classroom Prez inherited is now unrecognizable: clean and orderly. Unfazed by hacking at dried bubblegum and scrubbing ink-stained desks, Prez has whipped his room into Prez-like obsessive-compulsive order. Meanwhile, it's visiting day at The Cut in Jessup, and Namond Brice and his mother, De'Londa, visit his father, Wee-Bey. Incarcerated on multiple life sentences for his role as an enforcer in the now-fallen Barksdale organization, Wee-Bey asks his son how his job is going with Bodie Broadus, and De'Londa jumps in, reporting that Namond skips work and wastes the money he does make. Wee-Bey presses Namond to be patient with his runner duties, but echoes Bodie's warning about his pony tail: "Even the white police lookin' out from three blocks away gonna be able to spot you from every nigga out there."

Back in West Baltimore, Marlo Stanfield and Chris Partlow watch with pride as Marlo's lieutenant, Monk, hands out back-to-school-supply cash to a group of ecstatic kids to build goodwill for Marlo. "Your name gonna ring out, man," says Monk, while out in the suburbs, as he unloads lawn mowing equipment at a job, Cutty talks trash Spanish with some of his coworkers. Their truck's driver, impressed, notes that Cutty could run his own crew and suggests they team up, but Cutty demurs, saying he has other obligations that matter more.

Returning to Bodie's corner, Namond tries to talk Bodie into hiring his friend Michael Lee. When Bodie resists, Namond suggests Michael assume Namond's position until he earns enough to pay for school stuff for himself and his little brother. Bodie agrees just as Bunk and Carver approach, looking for Lex. Eeluctant to talk to police, Bodie says nothing about what he knows about the murder of Fruit by Lex, or Lex's subsequent disappearance, but merely reports he hasn't seen Lex, and promises to call Carver if he does.

Driving Royce, Herc catches the Mayor's eye in the rear view, certain now he's doomed for what he witnessed, while Bubbles rattles across the streets and alleys of the westside, doing business with his store on wheels, "Bubble Depo" breaking in his young intern, Sherrod, as he makes a sale. When Sherrod miscalculates the total price of a sale, Bubbles is distressed. Later, he chastises Sherrod about his weak math skills and demands that he return to school to improve himself this fall.

Trying to convince Lex's mother that her son is in trouble, Bunk pleads for her cooperation, but she stonewalls him, while at the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) lodge, the police union president explains to Carcetti that he'd be their guy, except that Royce is ahead in the polls. "We endorse you now, we're out in the cold." Carcetti understands the tough position he's in, but suggests perhaps his officers don't need to get too aggressive with extracurricular campaigning for anyone. The FOP president agrees. Norman gives Carcetti the rest of the night off to prep for the debate, but Carcetti is still convinced nothing matters at this point.

Spider's mother approaches Cutty at the gym to thank him for the interest he's taken in her son, coaching his boxing. She offers to cook him dinner ("I throw down in the kitchen. Among other places.") but Cutty begs off, insisting that he needs time to train his fighters for upcoming bouts, and asking if she might just bring by a plate instead.

At Pearlman's, Rhonda and Daniels do paperwork in bed as she complains about how Lester manipulated her with his subpoena ploy. But Daniels just finds it funny. "I'm just glad to see Lester doing it to somebody other than me." Pearlman is beside herself with worry over her standing in the state's attorney's office, but Daniels can't hold back his amusement and their candor with each other, which turns playful, indicates that their relationship has grown deeper.

Namond, Michael, Randy and their friends debate about which girls will have gotten phat over the summer and who'll they try to tap -- the usual adolescent bragging that ends when Monk approaches and starts peeling off $100s for back-to-school clothes, telling the boys to thank Marlo, who stands a distance away, enjoying his moment as streetcorner patron. Only Michael refuses the cash and Marlo crosses to ask Michael why he won't take his money. As Marlo shows some belligerence and turns insulting, Michael just stares him down. "Ain't no thing shorty. We cool," Marlo says in response.

Herc seeks out Carver to get advice on how to handle his embarrassing situation with the Mayor, convinced he'll never make rank now. "This is way beyond my pay grade," says Carver, thinking about who to consult.

On the eve of the mayoral candidates' debate, Wilson and Theresa 'DAgostino try to lead a distracted Carcetti through debate prep, but he's more concerned about minor personal matters. When they press him to focus, he reels off his strategy for when Royce comes at him on themes of race and crime, impressing them. "Tomorrow night, I will kick his ass. But the next morning, I still wake up white in a city that ain't," Tommy says.

Namond asks Michael why he wouldn't take Marlo's money. "Owin' niggas for s**t. It ain't me," Michael responds. They're interrupted by Donut, their sixth-grade companion, barely visible above the wheel of the stolen Cadillac Escalade he's attempting to drive. But as they're all debating where to take it, Carver and Herc drive by and, spotting the stolen car, begin a pursuit. The boys bail from the SUV and bolt into the alleys. Carver calls in the bailout and starts to give chase, then thinks the better of it; he knows most of the kids, Herc's overdressed, and they need to see Carver's contact about Herc's situation. Meanwhile, the Western District's Officer Walker catches Randy in an alley, and when the boy plays dumb about the stolen car, he confiscates the $200 cash Randy claims his foster mom gave him for school clothes. "Tell her to come down to the Western [District] and I'll give it back to her."

Back at the Clinton Street detail office, as he fingers the signed subpoenas, Lester offers to serve them himself if Detectives Shakima Greggs and Sydnor don't want to catch any heat. But Greggs will not be cowed and Sydnor reluctantly follows. Gregg's first stop is Andrew Krawczyk at his waterfront development office; he asks for her name and unit and she gives him both, unwavering. Sydnor hits Clay Davis, and tries to defuse the situation by pretending to admire his office trophies and awards as Davis, outraged, demands his name. In for a penny, in for a pound: Sydnor refuses to back down from the moment and hands over his card. "Major Crimes? Sheeeet," drawls the state senator.

While overseeing semi-automatic target practice for some young apprentices, Snoop, Monk and Marlo field a business call on Monk's cell phone from "Andre," who, though impatient for a re-up, is put in his place by Marlo, who gets on Monk's cellphone to do so.

Meanwhile, Sherrod has been mulling it over and suggests to Bubbles he could go back to school to learn some math skills, just as Herc gets advice from the politically connected and astute Major Stanislaus Valchek, who has a different take on Herc's predicament. The Major would like to be in Herc's shoes: "Kid, careers have been launched on a helluva lot less. Just shut up and play dumb."

Davis rants to the Mayor about his subpoena and the money laundering probe that is now apparently targeting him. "You think I have time to ask a man why he givin' me money or where he gets his money come from?" Royce says he doesn't want to know, and Davis asserts that he has been doing yeoman's work funding Royce and his ticket, and he warns him he needs to get his police department to back off. He storms out as Parker enters, announcing a similar complaining call from Krawczyk. Before he takes the call, Royce asks about Herc. He's mulling over whether to let him go or keep him close.

Finding the boys in their hangout behind a vacant factory, Carver warns Namond, Randy, Dukie and the boys that if any of them "smile at a motor vehicle again," he'll be settling with them in the alleys, not at a JV hearing, and in doing so demonstrates his knowledge of their identities and activities.

Back in the homicide unit, Bunk tells Detectives Holley and Norris that in the confrontation with Lex's mother, he sensed a weird vibe from the woman, noting that it "wasn't the usual way a mama lies." A call comes in and they debate who will take it. Holley, worried about his bad luck, demurs and Norris takes the call "a body found in the street, no suspect and no witnesses." Holley and Bunk hi-five for not catching that case.

At the gym, yet another woman brings Cutty peach cobbler--even though she has no sons, she just appreciates what he's doing. Clearly, Cutty -- as a law-abiding single man working with youth -- is a fresh prize among the ladies of West Baltimore.

In the wiretap room of the detail office, Freamon, Greggs and Massey listen to the recording of Monk talking to Andre, intrigued. They make him as Old Face Andre, a mid-level dealer supplied by the Stanfield organization. They are also fascinated by the notion that they are listening to Marlo getting on Monk's phone to berate Andre -- indicating that he is less cautious about using cellphones himself and therefore vulnerable. They also wonder about the barrage of gunshots heard in the background -- notable given the lack of violence seen from Marlo's organization.

Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell and Deputy Commissioner for Operations William Rawls discuss the Mayor's angry response to the subpoenas, which has clearly rolled downhill at them. The Mayor wants no more surprises in this election season. Rawls guesses the subpoenas came from Lester Freamon; they can't shut his unit down now, due to how it would look if such a move became public, but Rawls suggests the unit get some "proper supervision."

Meanwhile, Norris discovers that his seeming drug murder actually involves the death of a witness in a pending drug prosecution, meaning that the case has some priority and will result in overtime and a major investigation for Norris. But Landsman tells him to bury the witness angle in his initial reports because it's an election year then calls Major Valchek to report these developments. Valchek, in turn, shows up at Carcetti's with news of a murdered witness -- which Carcetti had apparently told him to keep a close watch for, should such a thing occur.

At school, Prez gets a briefing from the other teachers in his team, who agree on class rules double space papers, never assume, use the same headings on lab work, keep the windows closed to keep them drowsy, and for the troublemakers, call home. In the front office, Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly asks a student to take a box of new school clothes to Dukie as a cleaned-up Bubbles shows up, claiming to be Sherrod's uncle so as to enroll him in class. As they pass in the office, Prez and Bubbles exchange an awkward glance of confused recognition.

Hitting a bag at the gym, Namond and Michael watch as yet another mother -- this one more attractive than the previous two -- brings Cutty some dinner and receives some attention in kind. Cutty's now-veteran fighters, Justin and Spider, interrupt to pick a fight over the use of the bag, and Cutty breaks up the scuffle. Cutty uses the opportunity to try to lure Michael into being officially trained, and though he seems intrigued, Michael stubbornly refuses.

During the Mayoral debate, Carcetti challenges the Mayor's claim that crime is down in Baltimore and reveals his bombshell: That a recent homicide victim was a key witness in a drug case. He blames the Mayor for refusing to spend the witness protection money that Carcetti himself secured from the Feds, reminding Royce that he wrote to the mayor last year, expressing his disappointment over the matter in a signed letter. As the Mayor responds haltingly, his aides, as well as Burrell and Rawls, watch grimly, while Carcetti's crowd beams. Rawls reminds Burrell that the Mayor wanted no more suprises coming out of the police department -- presumably that included news that a state's witness had been murdered.

Namond arrives home to find De'Londa has laid out a full array of new school clothes. He turns on the TV in his room. The debate is still on and some politician -- Tony Gray, as it happens -- is talking about schools and the relevance of education; Namond switches on his X-Box, and starts firing away.