Major case unit
Detective Jimmy McNulty visits Randall Frazier, the medical examiner, at the morgue. McNulty has learned that D'Angelo Barksdale died behind bars, and he is skeptical of the official determination that the death was a suicide. He asks the medical examiner to investigate the medical records. Over drinks with Bunk Moreland, McNulty complains that the state police spoiled the investigation. Bunk agrees with McNulty, simply because he believes it is unlikely that an African American male would commit suicide by hanging. McNulty concurs, jokingly telling Bunk that he is a good example of an African American male who has all the reason he needs to commit suicide but does not. Bunk then assists McNulty in picking up a woman in the bar through the use of a short con. McNulty later returns to the morgue, where Frazier reports that D'Angelo's death could have been a homicide; there are two sets of ligature marks on his neck and a mysterious bruise on his mid-back. McNulty visits D'Angelo's ex-girlfriend Donette to ask her about his death. She is dismissive and doesn't tell him anything. McNulty departs, leaving his card.
East side drug lieutenant Melvin "Cheese" Wagstaff attends an underground dogfight with a dealer named Tree from his crew and places a large bet on his dog, which he calls "Dog". Dog fights against another canine, owned by a dealer named Dazz and trained by one of his men, Jelly. Cheese's dog is quickly beaten and, rather than give it medical attention, an embarrassed Cheese executes it with a gunshot. Tree tells Cheese that he suspects foul play in his dog's loss. Soon afterwards, Jelly is on the corner with his hoppers and Tree approaches and shoots Jelly in the head. The hoppers flee and report the killing to Dazz.
The detail picks up some discussion of Tree's crime on the wire. Moments later, they hear that another dealer called Peanut has been killed. Cheese himself discusses shooting his dog over the phone; the detail assume he is talking about a murder, and guess there is some kind of drug war going on. The detail is astonished that Cheese is speaking so openly about a murder on the phone, after months of rigid phone discipline. Lester Freamon calls homicide to ask how many new murders there are on the East side, but Ed Norris has little time for him and hangs up without answering his questions. Freamon sends Kima Greggs home while he goes to homicide to find out what he can. Greggs has an uncomfortable evening at home with Cheryl and their new baby.
The unit meets with ASA Rhonda Pearlman for lunch to discuss the murders. Lieutenant Cedric Daniels wants to use their evidence to make arrests. McNulty argues that they should wait and gather more evidence in the hope of ultimately bringing down Stringer Bell, but the rest of the detail feels that the murders are enough to act upon. Officer Massey tracks Cheese's crew planning to attack Dazz. They will first rendezvous at Tree's girlfriend Neesey's house. Cheese's crew is fully armed and ready to make their attack when the detail bursts in and arrests them.
Bunk and McNulty interrogate Cheese. Bunk mockingly repeats the comments Cheese made over the wire about killing Dog and Cheese breaks down in tears. Colonel Foerster and Daniels watch from outside as Cheese begins to relate the story. Deputy Commissioner William Rawls and Major Marvin Taylor are impressed with Daniels' work and depart. In the interrogation room, however, McNulty and Bunk realize that Dog is not a person. Daniels is upset to learn that the most they can charge Cheese with is illegal discharge of a firearm and improper disposal of an animal, or animal cruelty at the very worst. The unit drowns their sorrows at the bar, where McNulty fails to get Pearlman to leave with him. Pearlman instead makes a move on Daniels and he takes her back to his barely-furnished bachelor apartment. Greggs arrives home to find Cheryl sleeping with the baby and turns around and goes out drinking; at the bar, conflicted, she flirts with another woman. The following day, the unit's wiretaps have all gone dead.
Thomas "Herc" Hauk and Ellis Carver cruise the Western district, antagonizing the corner kids. Herc calls over Justin, one of Marlo's dealers, to ask him where he might purchase a baseball cap with a sideways brim. Justin, unaware that he is being made fun of, tells him it's a regular cap worn sideways. Herc spots Poot Carr working a new corner now that the terrace is gone; he and Carver pick Poot up and question him. They ask how he is able to walk into new territory without getting into trouble with other dealers. Poot defiantly refuses to answer their questions.
Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin learns from his community relations sergeant and Lieutenant Mello that his beat officers are working hard to reclassify reported crimes to reduce the felony rate. An officer named Burman has been particularly effective. Colvin seems nonplussed by Burman's accomplishments.
Herc, Carver and Dozerman go to the movies with their girlfriends, where they are mortified to bump into Bodie Broadus, Poot and Puddin with their dates. Bodie tells his girlfriend that the officers harass them every day trying to obtain their stash, but almost always fail. The officers are flabbergasted, and the dealers depart, saying "See you tomorrow!" Herc and Carver ogle Dozerman's attractive African American girlfriend. Later, Carver and Dozerman tease Herc for hypothetically choosing Gus Triandos as the one man he would have sex with in order to obtain any woman he desires, particularly Mary Kate and Ashley Olson: Dozerman says he looked up the stats and noted that Triandos was a "power hitter."
Dozerman acts as the undercover officer for a late night hand-to-hand, and is shot when the operation goes badly. Colvin is called at home and immediately goes out to meet his men. Carver blames himself for sending Dozerman alone. Colvin arrives and tells them that Dozerman will live, largely because they got him to the hospital quickly. Herc tells Colvin that their suspect took Dozerman's gun.
Colvin visits his friend the church deacon for a cup of coffee. Colvin reveals that he has reached the point where the absence of a negative (in this case, the fact that Dozerman will live) makes a good night's work for him. He feels he has to change that before he retires.
The next day, Colvin gives a briefing to his men. He suspends all undercover narcotics work. He draws parallels between the drug prohibition and the alcohol prohibition. He remembers the paper bag as a moment of civic compromise in the alcohol prohibition that freed up officers to do real police work. Colvin wishes there were a paper bag for drugs. Back out on the street, Herc cannot understand his commander's reasoning.
Shamrock and Country arrive with a resupply of narcotics for some of their drug dealers. Omar Little poses as a veteran returning from the hospital with Kimmy acting as his nurse to get inside the house. Once inside they draw their weapons and let in Dante and Tosha. They catch Shamrock and Country coming down the stairs with the money.
Stringer visits Avon Barksdale at the prison and they talk about the demolition of their tower territory. He reveals his plan to try and supply other dealers. Avon asks Stringer to target specific high turnover areas. He reminds Stringer they need to maintain their reputation to hold down trade. Stringer agrees but says that the violence was what brought Avon to prison and if they can make money without it they should.
Stringer's lieutenants Country, Shamrock and Bodie are sent to talk to mid-level dealers to try and usurp their suppliers. Country's offer is met with skepticism, Shamrock has more success by making the financial advantages clear and Bodie cannot even find his target initially. He is supposed to approach Marlo Stanfield but upon approaching Jamal, a low level Stanfield dealer, he learns that Marlo is nowhere to be found. Bodie marshalls his crew to set up in the middle of the block through his second Puddin. Stanfield corner boss Fruit looks on and prevents Jamal from raising arms against Bodie. He contacts Marlo who drives round to talk to him and tells him to ignore Bodie and go back to work.
Stringer holds another meeting at the funeral home and Bodie and Country report their difficulties. Stringer sends Bodie out to look for Marlo immediately. Shamrock reports Omar's robbery and Slim Charles remarks that it is the second robbery that month.
Marlo visits his advisor Vinson at his rim shop for advice on handling the Barksdale organization. Vinson advises him to prepare for war if he is not willing to compromise. Marlo stands on the corner the following day and when Bodie approaches he doesn't make eye contact and tells Bodie to pack up and move on while he is still being a gentleman.
Dennis "Cutty" Wise meets with his parole officer who tells him to find work but is not willing to offer advice on where to look. He finds casual work with a group of gardeners. He appears perplexed when a homeowner attempts to communicate with the gardening crew in broken Spanish, but says nothing.
Councilman Tommy Carcetti visits Major Stanislaus Valchek's office and they discuss his ploy of using the subcomittee to pressure Acting Commissioner Ervin Burrell. Valchek calls it a win win situation - if Burrell caves he has an inside man in the mayor's office and if he doesn't he gains political capital by harassing Burrell over high crime rates. He asks Valchek to broker a meeting with Burrell. Valchek meets with Burrell and convinces him to take the meeting. Carcetti tells Burrell that he is tired of being ignored.
At the comstat meeting Rawls berates Eastern district commander Major Taylor for his poor performance. Under Taylor's command, the Eastern district has made only sixteen felony arrests in a month and confiscated no handguns while four homicides occurred in a five hour time period. Upset at the lack of progress in investigating the four recent homicides including James Taylor (Jelly) and Tree, Rawls informs Taylor that he has eight hours to get a grip on things or he is done in the unit.
Burrell has dinner with Carcetti and thanks him for helping him with repairing police vehicles. Having had a good experience Burrell reveals that he has 70 men retiring and Mayor Clarence Royce has failed to give him promised money for training new officers and Carcetti offers to look into it.