The Buys – Episode 3, Season 1 – The Wire

Poot, Bodie, D’Angelo and Wallace

Teleplay:  David Simon

Story:  David Simon and Edward Burns

Directed by: Peter Medak

Opening quote:  “The king stay the king.” D’Angelo Barksdale

Spoiler Alert:  This is written for those who have viewed The Wire at least once if not multiple times.  If you have not viewed, please enjoy the wonderful experience of the series for the first time with the delight of not knowing what is coming next.  I encourage you to leave this blog and go stream The Wire on Netflix, or better yet, buy from Amazon (affiliate link).  The Wire: The Complete First Season

The Buys is an action-packed episode that climaxes in an ill-advised search and seizure at the low rises.  The subplots are about revelations, favor brokering, and character development.

We see why, in spite of his character flaws, McNulty is such a likeable guy.  McNulty views himself as the smartest guy in the room – but he openly admires when others rise to the occasion – be it Bubs, Kima, Lester.

The episode begins with Daniels returning to the basement after a de-brief with Burrell and Valchek on Prez’s role in the Terrace debacle.  He states simply that Carv and Prez will be returning to the unit the next day and that Herc is out on medical.  McNulty asks Kima “I wonder what you have to do to get thrown off this police force?”  Kima is quick with the comeback “Just keep doing what you do.”  McNulty can laugh at that – he knows.

McNulty is successful in convincing Polk and Mahone to do some police work.  He knows that the West Baltimore housing projects have been keeping photos of residents for a number of years.  He sends them off to find the photo of Avon Barksdale that would be on record at the housing project where he grew up.

When Polk and Mahone return, obviously lit, and proudly present a photo of a middle-aged white man.  Kima considers the photo, and dryly comments to McNulty, “Maybe he’s white?”

Many favors are exchange in The Buys – Valchek is indebted to Daniels for not throwing Prez (his son-in-law) under the bus.  He promises Daniels two unmarked vehicles, a surveillance van and manpower.  Burrell is indebted to Daniels because as he points out, if Daniels had not helped Prez, the police department “would have been caught between Valchek and City Hall.”

We also discover that Santangelo is Rawls’ plant in Daniels unit.  Santangelo begs to be taken off the detail but Rawls tells him he needs to stay put, do the work, report back and “you come home with a favor in your pocket.  How bad is that?”

Sydnor (uncover) and Bubbles working the low risers

In the doomed search and seizure that Burrell pressures Daniels into executing – one of the funniest scenes of The Wire takes place.  McNulty goes into full-blown insubordination in refusing to participate.  In contrast, Mahone and Polk vest up and move out.  Upon arriving at the low rises, Polk melts to the back and fires up a smoke.  Mahone, surprisingly out of character is actively involved, and ends up being the one to attempt to cuff Bodie.  Bodie sucker punches Mahone – which prompts an outburst of violence from Carv, and surprisingly Kima , as well as three uniform cops.  Comic relief is offered by Polk – who comes to the side of Mahone and offers him puffs off his cigarette.

The shocking element is the rage with which Kima beats on Bodie.  Yes, she is coming to the aid of a fellow cop, but is the violence with which she does it raw emotion or the need to prove that she can act – that she is not intimidated in the way other female officers are in the face of a physical threat (something she shared with McNulty earlier).

The episode is also full of revelations.   We learn that McNulty and prosecuting attorney, Rhonda Pearlman, have had an ongoing “on again off again” relationship.  We learn that Santangelo is Rawls’ plant.  And after seeing so many good things about Daniels, we learn from FBI Special Agent Fitzhugh, that Daniels is dirty.

In spite of his clashes with Daniels, McNulty tries to poke holes in Fitzhugh’s accusations.  Fitzhugh shrugs and says, “We did a two month asset investigation and discovered that Daniels had a couple hundred thousand more in assets than any cop should.”  He also shares that the information was given to Burrell and Burrell did nothing with it.

We see Omar in action for the first time in episode three.

A famous scene – D’Angelo explaining the game of chess in the terminology of The Game takes place in this episode.

A la Carte

  • In the “what if” category – how successful would Bubbles be if heroin had never been a part of his life?
  • No Bunkisms this episode – as Bunk only has a minor appearance (along with Rawls and Landsman) in a press conference on the murder of Gant.
  • Lester is not the “house cat” Daniels thinks he is, and he proves it by delivering a picture of Avon Barksdale after listening to Kima and McNulty talk about what they know and don’t know about Avon.
  • Valchek is delightfully sleazy and political.
  • D’Angelo reiterates McNulty’s musings from the interrogation almost verbatim to Bodie, Wallace and Poot in the beginning of the epsode.

Recaps and reviews – Season 2

The Target – Episode 1, Season 1, The Wire

The Detail – Episode 2, Season 1, The Wire

Old Cases – Episode 4, Season 1, The Wire

The Pager – Episode 5, Season 1, The Wire

The Wire – Episode 6, Season 1, The Wire

One Arrest – Episode 7, Season 1, The Wire

Lessons – Episode 8, Season 1, The Wire

Game Day – Episode 9, Season 1, The Wire

The Cost – Episode 10, Season 1, The Wire

The Hunt – Episode 11, Season 1, The Wire

Cleaning Up – Episode 12, Season 1, The Wire