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Recap / The Wire S 01 E 02 The Detail

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Season 1, Episode 02

The Detail

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"You cannot lose if you do not play."
Marla Daniels
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The brass tries to downplay William Gant's murder so no one will think he was murdered for his testimony, but McNulty, once again, tells Judge Phelan, and even though he urges Phelan not to tell the press, they find out anyway. McNulty and Bunk, meanwhile, try to rattle D'Angelo's cage by visiting him in the pit, putting him in an interrogation room, and then trying to get him to write a letter to Gant's family, but Levy shows up to put the kibosh on that, and Avon chews D'Angelo out for even thinking about Gant's murder.

Bubbles agrees to work for Kima as an informant again, and with a simple trick (putting hats on any viable member of the Barksdale crew), helps the detail, and impresses McNulty. On the other hand, McNulty and Daniels are still at loggerheads, and Herc, along with new detail member Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski (Jim True-Frost) and a reluctant Carver, go to one of the towers to make arrests, only to find themselves in hot water when Prez hits a teen in the eye with his gun, and a riot breaks out.

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This episode contains examples of:

  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: The terrible trio of Prez, Herc, and Carver is both, but especially Prez.
  • Basement-Dweller: The detail is stuck inside a basement office in the middle of nowhere, and when Daniels tries to give orders, he's interrupted by construction workers.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Two of the "hump" detectives Daniels gets for the detail are the old-timers from property, Augustus Polk (Nat Benchley) and Patrick Mahon (Tom Quinn). "Póg mo thóin" (pronounced Pogue Mahone and source of The Pogues' band name) is Irish for "Kiss my ass."
  • Camera Sniper: Kima photographs Bubbles putting red hats on Barksdale crew members.
  • Catch Phrase: When Bunk calls McNulty to tell him the media knows Gant was murdered because he was a witness, Bunk says, "You happy now, bitch?" Also, at one point, McNulty says, "What did I do?"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: D'Angelo and the pit crew are eating Chicken McNuggets from McDonald's, and when Wallace guesses the person who invented them is a millionaire or better, D'Angelo snaps that whoever invented McNuggets is probably working in the basement somewhere.
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    • Self-Plagiarism: This scene was originally written for the "Bop Gun" episode of Homicide Lifeonthe Street, but was cut for time.
  • Don't Answer That: Levy shows up just in time to stop D'Angelo from writing the letter.
  • Epigraph: "You can not lose, if you do not play" - Marla Daniels (Maria Broom), Cedric's wife. She says this to illustrate the fact that by taking the detail, either way, he's screwed.
  • Even Mooks Have Loved Ones: D'Angelo and his son; Avon and Stringer also dote on him as well as Donette.
  • Eye Scream: The kid Prez assaults gets blinded.
  • Foreshadowing: The consequences of the riot play out over the next couple of episodes, and the info Bubbles gets also becomes important.
  • Foil: A literal case of Good Cop/Bad Cop is displayed by three different trips to the Pit by Daniels’s unit:
    • Kima maintains distance and covertly surveils the perps with help from Bubbles.
    • McNulty and Bunk are pretty reasonable approaching D’Angelo and his crew-mates, especially compared to the Dirty Cops they’re used to dealing with. Although they do play fast and loose with the rules by holding D’Angelo with no charge and heavily pressing him for information.
    • Prez, Carver, and Herc drunkenly roll up to the Pit at 2 am just to throw their weight around and even engage in some Police Brutality.
    • In Freudian Trio terms, Kima is The Spock, McNulty and Bunk are The Kirk, and Prez, Carver, and Herc are The McCoy.
  • From Bad to Worse: Hard as it may sound, McNulty's "career" keeps nose diving. After Rawls' outburst, Jay Landsman explains McNulty's current status to Cole:
    Jay: Let me tell you something. If he gets caught with his dick up the ass of the deputy's wife, he's still gonna have more of a career than if they find out he's behind that story.
  • Hidden Depths: From McNulty's point of view, Kima impresses not only because of what Bubbles does, but also because she got information on D'Angelo and others in the pit while he and Bunk were there, and he didn't even know it.
  • Insult Backfire: When Bunk and McNulty are visiting D'Angelo and Bodie at the Pit:
    McNulty: This is just us talking right? Just you, me, my partner and... what did you say your name was?
    Bodie: I didn't say shit.
    McNulty: Just you, me, my partner, and Mr. Shit here.
  • It's Personal: Bubbles' reason for being an informant for Kima again; though he'll take the money, he's doing it because the Barksdale crew beat up Johnny.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Zig-zagged. Quite soon after Prez, Herc, and Carver have a little too much fun roughing up some projects residents, they get bombarded by a hail of bullets, bottles, and other projectiles. By the next day, their car is totaled, their boss is furious, and Internal Affairs will investigate. However, Daniels gives them an out to avoid any lasting punishment while still making it clear if they screw up their story during the investigation, they’re on their own.
  • The Load: Daniels is irritated that his team is composed of many people who were each this to their original unit.
  • Lying to the Perp: When interrogating D'Angelo, McNulty and Bunk invent three fictitious kids for the late Gant, represented by a photo of Bunk's own kids.
  • Morton's Fork: Marla points out that Daniels’s situation is this.
  • Police Brutality: Herc, Prez, and Carver drunkenly abuse their power which culminates with Prez blinding a kid.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Daniels ends up protecting Herc, Prez, and Carver for his own and his investigation’s sakes.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Prez has an unfortunate habit of inappropriately firing his service weapon.
  • Rules Lawyer: This is how Bunk and McNulty cleverly sidestep holding and getting a statement from D’Angelo without charge despite his pleading the 5th until his lawyer arrives.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • The only reason Pryzbylewski still has a badge is because he’s the son-in-law of a higher up.
    • McNulty is mostly an aversion. While his friendship with the judge saves him from getting fired/demoted for now, he takes a heavy load of shit from his superiors.
  • Second Episode Introduction: In addition to Marla and Prez, this is also the first episode to feature Donette (Shamyl Brown), the mother of D'Angelo's son, as well as other detail members Roland Pryzbylewski, Lester Freamon and Leander Sydnor.
  • Tranquil Fury: Daniels is furious at Prez for pistol-whipping the kid. He doesn't raise his voice once when he instructs him what to do which includes falsifying a police report, claiming that the kid attacked him and he hit him in self defense when the reality was that Prez pistol-whipped him because he "pissed him off. It is terrifying.
  • Vandalism Backfire: Rawls is so pissed at McNulty for leaking the story that he sweeps the contents off what he thinks is McNulty's desk; Jay has to break it to him that it isn't. It's Crutchfield's, and McNulty's desk is the one opposite of the one Rawls just swept. Rawls does a facial reaction of "Oops, I'm gonna have to apologize to Crutchfield" and then sulks back to his office.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Avon helps cook supper for the Projects.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Prez needlessly pistol-whips a 14-year old kid so hard he loses an eye.

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