"If you with us, you with us." - Chris Partlow
Late at night, outside an abandoned factory in West Baltimore, the young crew all sit together, contemplating mysteries: Michael Lee, Randy Wagstaff, Duquan "Dukie" Weems, Namond Brice, Donut and little Kenard. They've heard talk of the bodies in the vacant rowhouses and they've heard about who puts the bodies there: "There's dead, then there special dead," intones Donut. Gunshots are heard in the neighborhood, followed by police sirens, but that's merely ordinary and the boys pay little heed. Instead, gravitating back to ghost stories, Namond floats a theory that Chris is turning the disappeared into zombies. "Chris got the power. He tell 'em to come and they gotta come." Michael plays along with the gothic storytelling, adding that Marlo is probably using the undead for his own purposes: "Prob'ly spies, man. Can't figure any other way Marlo knows so much." Scaring themselves with their musings, the boys - like the children they still are - spook themselves and flee in panic at the sudden sound of a kicked bottle and the stumbling arrival of a stray dope fiend.
Major Stanislaus Valchek tips off his First District political patron Tommy Carcetti on what's happening with the Braddock case - the one involving a slain state's witness, which was used so effectively by Carcetti against Royce in the mayoral debate. Detective Norris, a veteran, has been pulled from the investigation and replaced by a rookie detective. Along with his handlers, Theresa D'Agostino and Norman Wilson, Carcetti contemplates the crude attempt to slow the murder probe. Too crude, they reason, for Royce. "This one has Ervin Burrell written all over it," agrees Tommy, reasoning that Burrell is doing what he thinks he ought to for his political patron. Having already slapped Royce once with the Braddock case, Carcetti worries that going public a second time with the new revelation will backfire on Carcetti, or seem more of the same to the media. Instead, Wilson suggests they feed it to Tony Gray, which will not only keep them out of the line of fire, but will boost Gray's campaign at the expense of the Mayor's base. "I'm a devious mother-f**ker once I get going," Wilson smiles.
At the Western District, Major Cedric Daniels meets with Lt. Charles Marimow and Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman to go over what's become of the prolonged wiretap efforts against Marlo Stanfield's organization - a handful of search warrants and planned street sweeps of various corners. Pearlman points out they're wasting a wiretap on street-level arrests but Marimow insists if the raids go right, they could catch Marlo or one of his people "with dope on the table." Daniels and Pearlman doubt this and Pearlman tells Marimow she isn't about to litigate an entire wiretap for street-level arrests. Marimow is indifferent and leaves. Pearlman blames Freamon for their case being gutted - he overreached with his subpoenas probing the Barksdale money trail, bringing Marimow down on the unit.
Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski tries to take control of his class with a new rule system - doing classwork and homework earns stickers and ultimately prizes, misbehaving earns detention. He illustrates his system by assigning Namond, who interrupts his explanation, to detention. When Namond objects that he didnâ....t yet know the rules, Prez agrees to his logic and removes his name - quickly adding another student's name Zenobia when she acts out moments later.
Over in the teacher's lounge, Howard "Bunny" Colvin and Professor David Parenti review with Grace Sampson how to proceed with their grant-funded pilot program. As Colvin sees it, there are two kinds of kids: stoop kids (who hang out near home and obey their parents) and corner kids (who don't and go down to the corners). When he suggests separating the groups so the stoop kids have a better chance at learning without disruptions, Grace and Parenti warn that "tracking" can suggest reduced expectations for certain students and is looked upon with disfavor by the school system and by the public. Bunny argues that by not separating the kids, everyone suffers. Grace agrees to the separation if he thinks it will truly help the corner kids, rather than merely warehousing them in a separate class.
Prez tries to help Michael in class but he just sits there, staring at his page blank, forcing Prez to give him detention. Suddenly Namond jumps up to watch Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly overseeing a shakedown of bushes outside. When Prez can't reign in Namond with detention, he orders him to leave. Their argument escalates until Namond shouts at him: "Get your police stick out the desk and beat me. You know you f**kin' want to." Storming out, the boy walks straight into Sampson, Colvin and Parenti; Colvin tags him as one of the corner kids for the program.
At Marlo Standfield's outdoor lair, Marlo and Chris Partlow talk about what to do about Omar. Marlo wants to put a price on his head and go on the hunt, but Chris urges him to find another way, without bounties. "Barksdale turned this town upside down huntin' him and all he ended up lookin' was weak." Marlo comes around, admiring his lieutenant's logic.
Working a corner, Sherrod is trying to fend off a drug addict who is short money and insisting on a discount when Bubbles comes up asking why Sherrod's not in school. Before that question can be answered, the addict beats up Bubbles, looking for the extra $4 he needs for his purchase. He rips off Bubbles' shoe and finds a vial, which he takes instead. "Don' need the four now, son," the addict says to Sherrod as he runs off, leaving Bubbles humiliated and bloody in the street.
If he's done nothing else, Carcetti and his insurgent campaign forces Mayor Clarence Royce to shave - exuding a more youthful, hungry appearance. But out on the campaign trail, Carcetti's the one showing real hunger, pressing the flesh in both black and white neighborhoods when Wilson gets a call to meet with Tony Gray's team in 20 minutes. At the closed-door meeting between Wilson, Councilman Gray and his campaign manager, Tony - still bitter over being used by Carcetti to split the black vote - shows that he sees that Carcetti hopes to use him now to slam Royce with the revelation about the obstruction of the Braddock case. So Wilson lays out the facts: Tony's not going to win, but if he uses the leak to bring his numbers up, he's in a better position for the next round of elections, if he wants to run for the state legislature or maybe try a congressional run. Gray sees his logic.
Prez presides over a packed classroom of detention detainees - indeed, it seems like his entire roll is staying after school, well-behaved for the first time all day, as he calls roll. They shower him with pleas to leave and promises of better behavior. He agrees to make an exception this one time and as they file out, Namond, Randy and Dukie enter. Namond apologizes and Prez accepts, urging him to work harder tomorrow, but Namond says he's been suspended by Mrs. Donnelly. Prez asks to see Dukie alone, but Dukie says Randy can stay as the teacher hands Dukie a bag of clean clothes and toiletries. Randy and Dukie then explain that Michael can't come to detention because he has to pick up his little brother, Bug, because their mother is "on that stuff." Prez walks the kids out, asking them what they want to be when they grow up. The usual clichés about the NBA or NFL are quickly put aside and Randy explains he wants to own a store. Prez points out he'll need to know a lot of math to do that. When Prez realizes he's locked his keys in his car, the boys call Donut over. "Donut's crazy with cars, he can open anything," explains Randy as Donut works his slim jim into their teacher's car and pops the lock.
Sherrod comes home to the squatter's pad and finds Bubbles recuperating from his beating in bed. As a token offering, Sherrod leaves vials by the bedside. His mentor chastises him for still working the corners, warning him that it'll use him up. He points out that the corners provide for no dignity, adding that if it was Sherrod being beat, there would have been little that Bubbles could have done. He tells him he can stay the night, but if Sherrod doesn't go back to school tomorrow "this partnership need to be done." Looking over at the vials, Bubbles feels only shame.
Parker barges into an election strategy season in Royce's office and turns on the TV: Councilman Gray is talking about the "unconscionable" intervention of high-ranking police officials in the murder investigation of the witness. Meanwhile at Homicide, Dets. Norris and Greggs watch the same news reports with Gray bemoaning the replacement of a "highly decorated veteran" (Norris) for a rookie (Greggs). "The f**k I ever do to him?" asks Greggs, humiliated.
At their abandoned factory hangout, Namond, Randy, Michael and Dukie are killing time when Chris and Snoop appear - their very ghost story come to life - and asks Michael to take a walk. When he demurs, Chris orders the others to get lost. They do so, but not before Namond is quick to call both Chris and Snoop by name - a subtle indication that they are known to the boys in case they are thinking about hurting Michael. Namond and Dukie guide a scared Randy down the alley and they duck around a corner to keep watch. Chris tells Michael they've heard good things about him and are always in the market for a soldier, someone to make family. Michael begs off, saying he's got family already. "We be around if you need something," says Chris, slapping a wad of cash in his hand. When Michael rejoins the guys, thanking Namond for "good looking out," Randy babbles his fear, certain Chris is after him. He says nothing about his role in the death of Lex earlier, and Michael, amused at Randy's paranoia, teases him before assuring that "it weren't even about you, Randy."
Royce rips Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell as Deputy Commissioner for Operations William Rawls and Mayoral Chief of Staff Coleman Parker watch, demanding to know how he could have screwed up so much: Hamsterdam, the politically charged subpoenas, then the leak about the witness murder and now the attempted scuttling of that investigation. Burrell defends himself saying the Mayor specifically asked him to slow down the investigation. Out of Burrell's eyeline, Rawls shakes his head tellingly - a gesture noticed by Royce and Parker both. Disgusted, Royce orders Burrell out and turns to Rawls, who assures Royce he tried to warn Burrell that his plan was a bad one - though in fact, he issued no such warning -- but he didn't warn City Hall because he's "a loyal subordinate." Royce tells Rawls "I need you to make this go away, Bill. I won't forget. Believe me." Rawls nods agreeably.
Chris tells Marlo that Slim Charles sent word that Proposition Joe wants a sit down. "Slim says the fat man knew the card game was gonna get took." Hearing this, Marlo tells Chris to set it up. They're interrupted by Old Face Andre, who has clearly been summoned to Marlo's lair. Marlo tells Andre they have a plan: They're going to stage a robbery in his store, and he's to call the police and file a report fingering Omar for the crime. Andre doesn't like the plan - Omar will get right out and come back at him. "He won't get out," assures Marlo. When Andre leaves, Chris questions him: "A man can make bail on a robbery." Marlo has a solution: "Make it no bail." Sensing his meaning, Chris laughs.
Lunchtime in Prez's classroom, and many of the kids choose to hang out in the new teacher's classroom rather than the cafeteria. Prez talks to Michael, telling him he needs to come to him with problems like not being able to come to detention. He excuses him and calls Dukie to his desk offering him some of his lunch and sending him to the cafeteria to get a drink to wash down the sandwich. When he leaves, Prez asks Crystal why Duquan isn't wearing any of his new wardrobes. "His people take his clothes, sell it on the corners," she explains, adding that Dukie's situation is common knowledge at the school.
Meanwhile, Colvin and Parenti meet with Principal Withers and Donnelly to discuss their proposal: "Different kids, different approaches." Withers gets called away to deal with a situation, but tells them if they want to jump in and help, that's all the OK they need. He dismisses the school system hierarchy and tells them thank you, as it's the only time they'll hear it said. Donnelly then emphasizes to Colvin and Parenti that they need protect Withers -- if anyone has a problem with their plan, he'll get the blame. They agree and get down to business. Of the 256 eighth graders, she guesses about 40 are hardcore corner kids and when they find that number an acceptable one, she dissuades them: Start with 10, she warns. Colvin is pleased to hear that one of them is Namond Brice.
Dets. Lester Freamon and William "Bunk" Moreland stroll Leakin Park, famed dumping ground of West Baltimore, looking for some of the bodies that Freamon believes Marlo ought to be dropping. But come up empty.
At the Western District, Marimow briefs his detail on the impending raids as Daniels and Pearlman listen in. Pearlman whispers that the addresses are a week old, so the raid will be a certain bust. As they're dismissed, Sgt. Ellis Carver complains to Sgt. Thomas "Herc" Hauk, who is subordinate to Marimow in the Major Crimes Unit, that "warrants are one thing, but street sweeps of Marlo Stanfield's crews? Are you guys serious?" Herc defends the raids and Carver shrugs it off, but asks why he's not out campaigning for his man Royce. "He gets another four years, you're liable to be wearing the gold braid," Carver points out. Herc takes in this profundity. And back in the major's office, Pearlman laments the last crusade of the once-vaunted Major Crimes Unit, going out with a whimper. She's frustrated with this poor quality of casework, weary of the drug war itself. She tells Daniels that that she is ready for something new - that is, if Demper wins and forgives her for the untimely political subpoenas.
In homicide, Sgt. Jay Landsman breaks the news to Greggs that Norris is back on the dead witness case by order of Deputy Ops and she has to get the new story straight: Norris has been the primary all along and she's merely been assisting him. "F**k you, fat man," she tells him, letting him know she's fed up with their games and humiliations. He shuts the door and lets her know what they're up against, then tells her to prepare for the further deceit of a press conference.
Randy confides to Dukie his fears about Chris taking him to the vacants like he took Lex and so many others and confides his role in Lex's disappearance. Dukie sets him straight that Chris isn't "changing" anyone into zombies in the vacants, he's killing them. Dukie confesses he saw Chris walk a boy into a house over on Calhoun, but begs Randy not to tell anyone. Secrets shared, they sit, fretful.
The police raids descend on various addresses and corners in search of the Stanfield organization. They come up with goose eggs on the warrants and minor arrests on the corners. Marimow, enraged, is convinced that Stanfield's people were tipped. He wants blood and demands to know where Marlo hangs out. Herc is clueless but Carver offers the outdoor lair he's seen him in: "So no one can drop a microphone on him." Marimow asks Herc what they can do with that.
Royce tells State Delegate Odell Watkins that keeping Burrell was his biggest mistake, but Watkins points out that Royce did indeed tell the police commissioner to slow the Braddock investigation. Moreover, Watkins confronts the Mayor with two versions of Royce campaign literature - one pairing him with Eunetta Perkins in precincts where Perkins is strong, the other with Marla Daniels in other precincts. Royce promised Watkins he'd go with Marla. Royce pleads ignorance in the ruse, but Watkins doesn't buy it. He also knows about the mayor's fundraising card games with every developer and city contractor worth shaking down, and he's had it. "I'm gonna sit what's left of this one out," he says, passing Parker on his way out. Parker tells Royce he better go after him; they can't afford to lose Watkins and his political organization so close to election day. When Royce, prideful and angry, won't give chase, Parker does. Lt. Hoskins, who heads the mayoral security detail, witnesses the dust up and places a call to Deputy Commissioner Rawls.
Herc and his running buddy, Officer Dozerman, pull up near Marlo's outdoor hang out in an undercover van and position a camera, with Det. Leandor Sydnor's assistance. As soon as they leave, a young hopper appears, checks out the camera and pulls a cell phone to report the news.
In the visiting room at M.C.I. Jessup, or "The Cut" as it's known in Maryland, DeLonda leaves for the ladies room so Wee-Bey and Namond can have some father-son time. Namond doesn't want to be lectured about school when Wee-Bey dropped out at 6th grade, so Wee-Bay backs off from such hypocrisy, though he urges his son to tread lightly if only to appease his mother. But when Namond scoffs at how Bodie buckled to Marlo's pressure, Wee-Bey warns that while Namond's spit and fire is admirable, it's a different world out there today. Loyalty is no longer prized and the old codes are being lost. Bodie had no choice.
As Snoop stands watch, Chris heads into Old Face Andre's store, shoots a delivery woman dead and pistol whips Andre ordering him: "Say Omar."
Herc and Sydnor watch the camera feed as Marlo chats with his crew. Herc is excited by the set up, but ducks out leaving Sydnor to watch alone. Marlo then joins Chris in their SUV, telling him he hasn't decided how to handle the camera just yet. They head off to Marlo's sit-down with Proposition Joe.
Randy is approached by eighth-grader Monnel with an offer to earn some real money $5 to stand watch while he and his friend Paul get it on with a girl, Tiffanie, in the bathroom. That's a lot of candy sales, so Randy obliges.
At Royce campaign headquarters, Herc works the phone bank, making the hard sell for Royce votes as best he can - the political process being new to him.
In a Homicide interrogation room, a bloodied Andre fingers Omar for the murder. Meanwhile, having checked the sewers for bodies unsuccessfully, Freamon and The Bunk return to the unit and Bunk urges Lester to focus his mighty intellect on some real murders, giving up on the hypothetical ones.
While Carcetti and Wilson are going door-to-door pressing flesh in a rough section of East Baltimore, Rawls pulls up, surprising them. He announces that Watkins is breaking with Royce, and claims he's sided with the Mayor because he had to as a loyal subordinate. But he'd be happy to see some fresh blood in the city, and he'd like to have the chance to do some good in the police department. Carcetti and Wilson wait until he drives away, then race to their truck to speed off to see Watkins. "And f**k them red lights, man!" orders Wilson.
Proposition Joe Stewart and Marlo sit across from each other in a Christian Science reading room as Chris and Slim Charles stand by. Joe makes it clear he has a way of hearing about things before they come down - like the card game and a set of imminent grand jury indictments he shows Marlo, naming drug kingpin Charlie Burman and others. He might warn Burman what's coming; he might not - Burman is not a member of the New Day Co-op. Marlo asks if he's heard anything about the video camera aimed at him. "Had no incentive to listen," says the fat man. "You do now," replies Marlo, reaching out a hand to shake on it and embrace the collective.
Carcetti makes a case to Watkins for jumping to his side. Right now both Royce and Carcetti may need Watkins, but after the election, Carcetti will need him more. "I'm a white mayor in a majority black city," he explains. "If you support me, you will have a voice within my administration simply because I'm gonna need it." Watkins says he's heard Royce is ahead by seven points. Carcetti denies it, saying his latest poll shows him within four. Watkins takes this in, impressed with the opportunity.
Late night in a rear alley, Dukie leads Michael and Randy to the vacant house he spied Chris escorting one of his victims. Prying the plywood off the door, they creep inside, making their way to the decaying bodies in the back of the house. "He dead," Dukie says, pulling away the plastic cover. "They all is." As they file out, Dukie proves his point to Randy, who, still childlike in many ways, seems relieved to know that they are not, at least, zombie spies ready to haunt his dreams. "There ain't no special dead," says Dukie. "There's just dead."
After the high of the previous episode with Omar robbing Marlo, I was anxious to find out what happened with the newly developed feud between these two central characters and this episode does not disappoint. I love that Marlo's natural reaction was to go on the hunt and place a bounty on Omar's head. But Chris Partlow was the voice of reason- referencing Avon trying to place a bounty on Omar- and how it only ended with Avon's downfall. Omar lives in the shadows and is nearly impossible to locate- but he knows how to get back at others who try to hunt him. Chris, in my opinion, is the Stringer Bell to Marlo's Avon- however, Chris has no qualms about doing the dirt himself (which Stringer would have felt was beneath him). He is meticulous and ice cold in his approach.
I also enjoyed how Wee-Bey was explaining how the game now has totally changed (and this scene precedes the civilian being killed by Chris in an attempt to frame Omar). I find it interesting that this season, we have various characters bemoaning the way things used to be- whether it is Wee-Bey, Bodie, McNulty, or Bunny (in a future episode). There is no honor code and there is a true sense of senseless violence. As vicious as Avon Barksdale used to be, he always was conscious about not being viewed as showing no respect for the game. He never did dirt on a Sunday in order to maintain to the "no violence of Sunday" rule and adhered to a principles that earned him respect- despite his deeds.
Prop Joe is truly a Machievellian character- by setting up the whole robbery of the card game- which humbles Marlo and makes him talk to Prop Joe again. This time, Prop Joe is in full control of the meeting- schooling the young drug kingpin about the benefits about the Co-Op (and showing him the documents of another dealer about to be investigated by the police who is not a part of the Co-Op). And Marlo, now shamed from the robbery, and also investigated by the police- decides to join Joe. Joe dressing down Marlo with his words that he doesn't truly know whether or not Joe is telling the truth is superb.
Bubs getting beat down on the street was truly heartbreaking. I've seen the remainder of the season and I will say this, Andre Royo's performance this season (especially in the last two episodes) is so powerful, your heart will be broken for the man. Bubs truly cares for Sherrod and you get this sense that it is too late for the boy. Bubs has always been a favorite character of mine- yes, he is engulfed in drug addiction but his heart is what makes him so endearing. He is a good person trying to maintain in the wake of an addiction that is taking its toll on his body- but not his wonderful soul.
Loved the "ghost story" scene at the beginning. I also loved how the vacants in the background were in display as the boys told the tale- literally the vacants house these corpses. And Randy is so endearing- he very much is a child- believing that Chris and Snoop are turning these people into zombies. Contrasting him is Dukie, who is so impoverished but has a better understanding of reality. He almost seems detached and doesn't flinch when he shows them the dead bodies. There is just dead- and Dukie has a cold sense of this fact.
Freamon cannot give up his pursuit of finding out where all these bodies are at, he is the consummate detective, still desperately looking- but knowing something is admist. And Marimow's boneheaded search being criticized by even Herc (when he commented that they change the stashhouses) was amusing. And I enjoyed various characters laughing at the idiocy of Marimow's foolish pursuit including Carver, Daniels and Pearlman.
The temptation of Michael Lee continues with Chris and Snoop trying to lure the young boy into Marlo's camp. And this temptation will continue this season. I don't know which character I am more scared of- Chris or Snoop. Snoop is sort of the fire of the two and Chris is the type who commits his deeds with an icy-cold procession.
The Dukie/Prez scenes were heartbreaking. The looks between the two and Prez learning that Dukie's family sells his clothes on the corner for drugs was very powerful. Until now, Prez has never seen the effects of what happens with these kids. It probably makes Prez feel twice as bad about blinding that one kid with the end of his gun in the first season.
I think Namond truly is not a bad kid- he's just caught up in a bad situation. His apology to Prez was very telling. When Prez dismissed him and told him to get out of the class- the look in his eyes told the story. He couldn't believe it which resulted in his rage.
Next season, I hope there's more Donut- I freaking love this character. He steals every scene he's in.