On his corner, Bodie Broadus listens to Little Kevin talking with other lookouts, touts and runners about Sponge Bob, and chides them for watching too many cartoons. But Bodie breaks into a smile when he sees Poot approaching, having been paroled after 15 months on his four-year sentence. Bodie updates him on the new boss, Marlo Stanfield. As they joke about Poot's penchant for chasing girls, Sgt. Thomas R. "Herc" Hauk and Det. Kenneth Dozerman pull up, forcing the crew to hit the bricks. Herc's looking for "Little Kevin," but no one gives him up, so he orders the four smallest guys into the car and takes them downtown. Kevin, Poot and Bodie remain. "These police out here knew how to flip it even just a little, my s**t'd be in handcuffs," says not-so-little Kevin.
Det. William "Bunk" Moreland greets Omar, who - with the murder of the delivery woman no longer charged to him - is released from custody in the Harford County Detention Center, north of Baltimore. But as Omar tries to figure who did do the murder, Bunk gets in his face, ordering him, "No more f**kin bodies from you. No comebacks or get-evens on this. No more killing." Omar gives his word, but when Bunk suggests he get out of the city, offering to put him on a northbound Amtrak, Omar won't go for it. "Baltimore all I know. Man gotta live what he know."
Mayor-Elect Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti heads a discussion with City Council President Nerese Campbell, his aide Norman Wilson, newly elected State's Attorney Rupert Bond and other city officials about his plans, and it quickly becomes clear that his goal of attacking crime with a new police commissioner will face some major hurdles from the budget process - and council president Campbell.
When the students arrive for class, Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski has rearranged the desks into small groups and placed the kids in new seats; they grumble but acquiesce.
Proposition Joe Stewart pulls up to Marlo and Chris Partlow's car to report that Herc (whose business card Marlo provided) is assigned to Major Crimes - the guys responsible for bugging Barksdale and Stringer Bell. When Marlo says he changes his phone every two weeks, Prop Joe hands over a wire tap report that named Stringer, who was changing his phones every day. Marlo nods and Chris immediately tosses a cellphone out the SUV window.
In class, Prez has the students doing practical math exercises: measuring height and arm span to learn fractions, and Duquan "Dukie" Weems shows kids how to search the Internet. Typing in "candy," Randy Wagstaff discovers he can get a better wholesale price on his products online, but Dukie points out the obstacle: the need for a credit card.
Carcetti's meetings continue with a presentation from the Baltimore Development Corp. President on waterfront development options. Tommy is lukewarm about the idea of a promenade with his name on it, but lights up at the idea of casinos and all the possible revenue that might result. He quickly backpeddles when Campbell objects to "sucking paychecks out of my community." Tommy adjourns the meeting to meet in private with Campbell to press her on her opposition. She accuses him and Councilman Anthony "Tony" Gray of having "jumped the line" - she had a deal with Mayor Royce that he'd back her for mayor when the time came. He urges her to work with him; after all, in '08 he may be governor and as council president, she'd end up appointed to the mayoralty "without so much as a campaign speech."
Bubbles has tracked down Det. Shakima "Kima" Greggs for some help busting the fiend who's continuing to beat him up for drugs and money. She tells him she's homicide now, not looking for drug information, but she grudgingly agrees to drive Bubbles around to try to find his nemesis.
Carcetti, Wilson and State Del. Odell Watkins review their options for getting rid of Police Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell in light of Campbell's opposition, since they won't be able to recruit a top-level black candidate to replace him without her agreeing to at least a $50,000 bump in the commissioner's salary. Wilson suggests they get Burrell to quit; if he leaves on his own, Campbell can't say anything.
Randy and Dukie try to talk Prez into using his credit card number to buy candy. He reluctantly agrees, but only if they give him cash up front. More important, he tells them he doesn't want them on the corner to get it. When a teacher realizes her car's been stolen, Prez shoots the boys a look; they shrug ignorance.
Meanwhile, Donut pulls up to Namond Brice's corner in a car with a Tilghman faculty bumper sticker. Bodie and Poot, who have their own corner adjacent, are instructing Namond on where to place his lookouts. Before handing over the package, Bodie warns Namond not to be sending his mother to speak for him. Embarrassed, Namond tries to explain he had nothing to do with that.
At Marlo's outdoor lair, Chris reports there's been no sign of Old Face Andre - his store's locked and he hasn't called for a re-up. Marlo worries that Omar may have been sprung, which means Andre could be backing up on his story to the police - and possibly implicating Chris in the murder of the delivery woman. Chris reports they've dropped five New York bodies; Marlo thinks that's enough to serve the Co-op's interest in driving the out-of-towners off Monument Street, and so, he gives him his marching orders: "This s**t with Andre? Job one."
Having no luck in their search for the fiend, Greggs promises Bubbles she'll hook him up with Herc or Det. Leander Sydnor at Major Crimes and get him working their drug stuff in exchange for their help.
Renaldo and Omar stake out Andre's gated store. He may have promised Bunk not to kill a man, but Omar says he can still put a gun in Andre's face. "That man got some explainin' to do."
Randy, accompanied by Dukie, buys his way into a dice game. He leaves later that night with a wad of cash, protected by a player who let him in, and then followed him on his every pass and made money, and who wants to know the boy's system. Randy explains it's all about the math and probabilities. "Where you learn your game?" asks the player. "Edward Tilghman Middle," says Randy, with no small amount of pride.
Herc and Dozerman get reacquainted with Bubbles, and ask him about Little Kevin, who Bubbles confirms is Bodie's boy. Bubbles offers to give Kevin a new hat the next afternoon so they can ID their suspect, and Herc promises they'll take care of the fiend oppressing Bubbles as soon as they have Kevin.
Bug shows his brother Michael Lee his baking soda volcano project, but when Bug's father hovers, Michael sends Bug up to bed. "Ain't got a forgiveness to your soul," the man says to Michael. "F**k you!" Michael fires back. His stepfather gives him a warning, "You're big, but not big enough," before pressing him for the D.S.S. account card. Michael tells him there's nothing left from this month's check. "Before the first of the month then," his stepfather says.
Greggs shows up at ex-girlfriend Cheryl's apartment and hands over an envelope of cash. With her homicide overtime, she can catch up on back monthly payments for Elijah. As she watches the boy playing in the living room, they're interrupted by a guest, a woman who announces she's "home." Cheryl's new partner apologizes for the mess, and Cheryl explains they're expecting company, a celebration for her new roommate having passing the bar. Kima excuses herself, making an awkward exit.
Chris and Snoop bust into Andre's woman's bedroom, and fire a shot right beside her head. Terrified, she swears she doesn't know where Andre is. They believe her.
Presenting a wad of cash to Prez to pay for his candy order, Randy reports that the teacher's schoolings earned him the money. "You shouldn't gamble," Prez says. "Iâ....m just saying, the math be right, Mr. P," he says proudly, ignoring the admonishment.
Crammed into a deli booth, Carcetti meets with Burrell to ask the police commissioner to resign. But Burrell shrewdly refuses: "If you want me to go, you gonna have to s**tcan me."
In the project class, the kids are instructed to pick one of three tables, each with a scale model erector set. Whichever team puts its model together first wins dinner at a downtown restaurant of their choice. The instructions have been removed to make it more interesting. "Yeah, it ain't like we follow the instructions anywhere else, right?" quips Namond.
Old Face Andre looks for help from Proposition Joe, hoping that in exchange for the deed to his store, Joe could front him some cash to get out of town. Out of options, Andre is forced to accept the low ball offer: $2,000 and a safe ride north.
In the project class, Howard "Bunny" Colvin and the team observe the groups arguing over how to assemble their projects. But Namond manages to lead his team to a fairly successful Eiffel Tower - pocketing just a few extra parts before presenting the finished product to the teacher. When she questions him on the extra parts, he denies their existence. "So who cook a good steak 'round here?" he asks.
Carcetti and Wilson meet with Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls to lay out how things will work once Carcetti takes office. Having refused to quit, Burrell will have to clear any new initiative through Rawls and all day-to-day administration goes through the Deputy Ops as well. Tommy confides he has to make Maj. Stanislaus Valchek the Deputy Commissioner of Administration as a political pay back, but asks him to make sure Valchek does no harm. And finally, he wants to bump Maj. Cedric Daniels up to colonel, giving him C.I.D. and "carte blanche to fix the investigative units." Rawls balks a bit at Daniels' "independent streak" but agrees to all points. He does have one question for Carcetti and Wilson: Why keep Burrell as a puppet commissioner instead of firing him? They offer no answer.
Michael uses his mother's D.S.S. to make an ATM withdrawal - securing the last of this month's money - before joining Randy and Dukie. He asks Randy whether he's ever called social services on his mother, because he's thinking about it. Randy advises him against it, warning that once social services gets involved, they'll separate Michael and Bug, put them in group homes. Dukie suggests he talk to Prezbo, and Michael admits the teacher did suggest the school social worker. But Randy rules him out, declaring the school social worker to be an alcoholic. Dukie asks about Cutty but this sets Michael off : "He's too friendly...like he some type of faggot or something...Everybody just too motherf**kin friendly!" Dukie and Randy are surprised; Cutty doesn't seem to be remotely gay. But Michael storms off, leaving Dukie and Randy confused.
Herc and Dozerman watch a heavyset Little Kevin sporting his new red hat and realize they didn't get the joke about his nickname. "They flipped it," Herc says, belatedly.
At a Tilghman Middle School staff meeting, Donnelly informs the teachers they all have to focus on teaching language arts test questions to prepare for the state exam. Prez can't believe the pointlessness of teaching test questions, and wonders how it will ever assess how much the kids are learning. Grace explains they're not really assessing the kids - if the scores go up, the school administration can say the schools are improving. Prez realizes he's been here before; they're "juking" stats, just like in the police department. "Making robberies into larcenies. Making rapes disappear. You juke the stats and majors become colonels."
Sgt. Ellis Carver and plainclothes Off. Anthony Colicchio make a move on Namond's corner. As the boys scatter, they grab little Kenard. But Carver won't give chase to the others or book the eight-year-old. "He isn't even bait," he says as he destroys the vials of drugs found in a nearby ground stash. Colicchio doesn't get the point of it all. "I like to think that until the handcuffs actually fit, there's still talking to be done," Carver explains.
Colvin takes Namond's winning team for their steak dinner to Ruth's Chris in Baltimore's Inner Harbor - Zenobia Dawson, with her 3-hour hairdo, Darnell Tyson and Namond. They arrive open to the idea of a new experience, then proceed to argue about what "rare" means when it comes to ordering steak.
A jittery Bubbles stakes out his persecutor and makes his payphone call to Herc, leaving a message that he's holding fiend for the five minutes Herc promised it would take him to get to Riggs and Calhoun. Meanwhile, Herc is questioning Little Kevin about the murder of Lex, and when Dozerman gives him Bubbles' message, Herc says he'll deal with it tomorrow. Sydnor leaves the interrogation, disgusted - they have no leverage, no body, just the name Lex. Herc makes the mistake of asserting to Kevin that they have a witness to his involvement, and when Kevin invokes Randy's name, Herc compounds the mistake by failing to feign curiosity about the name. Meanwhile, Bubbles, seeing an unmarked car with a flashing light, assumes the cavalry has arrived, and taunts the fiend, only to have the car race past to some other call. The fiend beats him with a metal pipe, leaving Bubbles bloody in the street.
At the fancy steak house, Darnell , Zenobia and Namond are out of their element, having never experienced coat checks, recited specials or what to do with their napkins. After dinner, they're demoralized. Zenobia doesn't want to take a photo of the restaurant anymore, Darnell wants to go to Mickey D's for a real meal and Namond blasts hip-hop on the radio, no longer interested in the Billie Holiday that was on Colvin's car radio earlier. Colvin drives off, the kids arguing. Chaos again.
On the eve of his promotion, Daniels enjoys leftovers and wine at ASA Rhonda Pearlman's house, as they toast their good fortune. "Funny how it works," Daniels says. After all the years he tried to climb the ladder "kissing ass, covering ass and doing what I'm told," he finally gets the big promotion when he says what he really thinks, while the subpoenas end up getting her promoted. "Maybe we're turning a corner here," Daniels adds, hopeful, "and it's not gonna be so unbelievably f**ked up anymore."
Prez leads his now-indifferent class through sample test questions. All enjoyment from learning - and teaching - effectively squashed, he spoon feeds them the verbatims of what they need to write on their No Child Left Behind mandated tests.
Marlo and Chris hand over payment for a package to Proposition Joe and Slim Charles, but Proposition notes they are $25,000 short. Marlo figures the New York bodies are $5,000 per head, the going rate for a professional hit, but Proposition reminds him that the spirit of the co-op means they all watch out for each other, and the price he gave included consideration for the N.Y. bodies. "On the other hand," Slim Charles points out, "we got something that you want an' it's coming back to you, free of charge."
"It's a proud day for the Baltimore Police Department," Commissioner Burrell says from the podium before a seated crowd of colleagues and family, including a proud Pearlman, as he announces the promotions of Valchek and Daniels and several other newly minted police supervisors. The Commissioner pulls Rawls aside after, not realizing his Deputy Ops was prepped on Carcetti's promotions: "Valchek we coulda guessed, but Daniels?"
Colvin reports to Professor David Parenti about what the restaurant trip revealed, describing how the outing plummeting the kids from masters of the universe into fear and humiliation, without any awareness on their part. Parenti suggests maybe they were aware, but didn't want to acknowledge it. "How do you get them to believe in themselves when they can't admit their feelings about who they are and what they're doing in this world?" asks Colvin.
Prez, frustrated with the student evaluations and sample tests, comes to a decision. "To hell with Donnelly and to hell with their statewide test scores," he says to Grace Sampson. "I came here to teach, right?" Grace looks at him, offering the trace of a smile.
Carver shows up at the gym to do some talking. He gives Namond, Kenard and Donut a warning: "I see you out there a second time and everyone takes a beating and goes to Cheltenham." Dennis "Cutty" Wise fills Carver in on Namond's lineage, surprising Carver, who years ago locked up his father, Wee-Bey. "Same blood, but not the same heart," says Cutty.
Thinking he's headed north, Old Face Andre is introduced to his real escorts: Chris and Snoop. He begs them not to do him in the vacants; his people won't know. But Chris just assures him, "I got your back," as they lead him off to his death.
Staking out Marlo's lair from a nearby row house, Renaldo and Omar identify Marlo for the first time, and realize he's the dealer they robbed at the players' poker game. "No wonder he don't like me," says Omar, amused.
Michael comes to Marlo looking for Chris: :"I got a problem I can't bring to no one else." Marlo and Snoop sit and listen to Michael's dilemma as Omar watches, dismissing Michael as no one he need be concerned with: "He's just a kid," he sighs.
The beginning of the episode was beautiful with Bodie reuniting with Poot (who was arrested in "Mission Accomplished" in season 3) and then the revelation that they are now slinging for Marlo Stanfield- the same guy they were trying to bring down during the Barksdale/Stanfield war. But Poot, seems to be content that one boss is just the same as the other. And Lil' Kevin is very much a big kid- with his retelling of cartoons to the other slingers.
Herc never can seem to catch a break. The art of irony is lost on him thus he doesn't get Lil' Kevin the first time around. And he uses Bubs for his assistance and Bubs uses the red hat trick (that he implemented back in season 1) and instead of fulfilling his obligation- he bails on Bubs. Thus, Bubs continues to get beat by the addict which is painful to watch. I consider Bubs to be the broken-hearted soul of this series and watching him being beaten by a metal pipe is incredibly powerful. I hope Herc receives some comeuppance for his actions.
Sydnor's frustration mirrored that of the audience towards Herc. Sydnor understands that they had no leverage over Lil' Kevin- yet Herc was so blinded by his pursuit of the lost camera that he plowed through. There is no advantage when they interrogated Kevin and thus, Kevin didn't say a word. However, he does know that Randy did the snitching.
The Bunk/Omar relationship so carefully fleshed out in season 1 continues here- in many ways, this season shows parental figures and I feel Bunk is one for Omar (or at least he and Omar are two sides of the same coin). When Omar gave Bunk his word, I believed Omar because he is the type of character he values his code and will adhere to it. I do worry if Omar is placed in a life or death situation, he will still stick to that word- because well, he's Omar. And Omar's code of ethics is something he's proud of. I loved how Omar said, "Baltimore is all I know". This line mirrors that of many of the characters- like Wallace, Bodie and Frank Sobatka. These characters can't think of life outside their natural environment, and Omar is no different.
However, he does stake out Andre's store and it seems retribution is going to meted out- whether or not Omar will have Renaldo kill someone since he cannot now. I also liked Omar taking notes during his surveillance and his revelation that Marlo was the one he robbed during the poker game. He's a patient and methodical character and it's a nice reference to "the pen is mightier than the sword". While the other dealers/kingpins on the show deal their problems with a mere gunshot, Omar waits in the shadows and does his own detail that would make Freamon proud.
The dinner scene with Bunny/Namond/Darnell and Zenobia is heartbreaking. In many ways it was another study within a study because we got to see these kids have their spirits crushed and they knew that they were fishes out of water at that restaurant. They were embarrassed and shamed because they would never be a part of that world. But the scene where Bunny and Namond bonded over Billie Holiday and Namond saying that he could flip things around on Bunny is so moving. Namond truly has so much potential in him and can do so many great things. He's a smart and quick-witted child- but the streets are not for him.
However, Michael's seduction into the streets and to Marlo's fold seems to finally have happened. Due to the love he feels for Bug and to avoid Bug receiving the same molestation he did from his wife's ex-convict boyfriend, he seems to be willing to offer his very soul/allegiance in this Faustian exchange.
The show's theme of showing the corruption of every institution continues with the stressing of language arts test questions. Prez, who was making some progress in his class with some revamped teaching methods is now back at square one. No wonder the children are so lost- the school system is in the end- just another institution like the police dept, drug trade, etc.- it's going to be flawed regardless.
Old-Face Andre's demise was inevitable because since he went back on his testimony, he was screwed. I have to love Proposition Joe- ever the businessman who took everything that Andre had up front and then after taking Andre's property and money- still gave him up to Marlo in the end. He's a clever one- and a master kingpin. I feel that in the very end, Prop Joe will still be around. He's played the game very well and has been a nice balance to the chaotic violence of characters like Marlo (and Marlo's ilk). I wonder if David Simon will continue his tying of real-life events into characters storyline and have Prop Joe killed in a nightclub like the real Proposition Joe was killed in a nightclub in the 1980s (the real Prop Joe was from the West Side of B-more not the East Side like the fictional one).
And on a very small note, I was so excited to see Kia Corthron writing this episode. Kia is an extraordinary playwright of such works as "Breath, Boom" "Anchor Aria", "Sweat" and many other great pieces. I love the beautiful nuances she brought to the episode such as the aforementioned Billie Holiday scene with Bunny/Namond. Yet, the voice of the series stays the same. And that is the amazing thing about THE WIRE. Unlike almost all other shows, this show never loses its voice. None of the characters talk out of character or behave out of their character. This show remains David Simon's voice- although it is encompassed with such talents as Ed Burns, Kia Corthron, novelists like- George Pelecanos, Richard Price and Dennis Lehane. The show never will lose its soul and its distinct voice.