The Major Case squad/detail are finally able to get Cheese on the wire, and even better, they hear him talking about what they think is a murder that he feels remorse about. Unfortunately, when Bunk and McNulty interrogate him, it turns out when Cheese was talking about his "dawg", he meant that literally; he entered his dog in a dog-fighting contest, but it was badly mauled when the other dog's owner cheated by rubbing some chemical on his own animal, and Cheese shot his own dog out of mercy. This ended up sparking a war between Cheese and the other owner, which was picked up on the wire, so the squad manages to solve those murders, but they let Cheese slip through their fingers, and with that, according to Daniels, their last chance at getting at Proposition Joe and even Stringer. McNulty, of course, doesn't want to hear that, and he's approaching from another angle; when he finds out D'Angelo allegedly committed suicide, he starts to investigate with the help of Frazier (who has his doubts from what he's seen of the autopsy photos), and even tries to bluff Donette about it.
Stringer continues to try and get his crew to sell the idea of working with other crews so they can sell the best product, instead of settling things through violence (he also tries to convince Avon of that when he visits him in prison, though Avon isn't convinced). Some have more luck than others; Bodie, for example, can't find Marlo until he puts his crew on the other side of the street from Fruit's crew, at which point Marlo comes by and tells Bodie to move his crew off the street ("I'm being a gentleman about it for the moment").
While on a buy-and-bust, Officer Dozerman gets shot in the face, and those responsible also take his service weapon when he drops it. This is the last straw as far as Colvin is concerned, and to his squad's dismay, he declares there will no longer be anymore buy-and-busts for the rest of his tenure.
Carcetti continues to press Burrell, though he does it in more subtle ways this time; he has Valchek arrange a meeting between the two of them, and Carcetti again offers to help Burrell get whatever he needs. Burrell asks for police cars to get back from the repair shop faster, and because Carcetti knows someone in that department, it gets done, so Burrell then asks for help in getting money for the police academy.
Cutty decides to try and go on the straight and narrow, and gets a job mowing lawns, among other things.
This episode contains examples of:
- Boom, Headshot!: One of Cheese's men does this to the man who cheated against him in the dogfight.
- Butt-Monkey: Herc actually asks Justin, who's wearing his baseball cap sideways, where he gets hats like that.
- The Consigliere: Vinson (Norris Davis), who owns a rim shop, seems to be this for Marlo.
- Continuity Nod: Rawls continues to rake Major Taylor over the coals regarding his district, and Kima continues to be estranged from both Cheryl and their baby. Also, when he gathers with the other officers after Dozerman is shot, Colvin drinks a beer and throws the empty on top of the roof of the station.
- Dawn of an Era: At least as far as Colvin is concerned, after he announces there'll be no more buy-and-busts:Colvin: Somewheres back in the dawn of time this district had itself a civic dilemma of epic proportions. The city council had just passed a law that forbid alcoholic consumption in public places, on the streets and on the corners. But the corner is, and it was, and it always will be the poor man's lounge. It's where a man wants to be on a hot summer's night. It's cheaper than a bar, catch a nice breeze, watch the girls go by. But the law's the law and the western cops rollin' by, what were they gonna do? If they arrested every dude out there for tipping back a high life there'd be no other time for any other kind of police work. And if they looked the other way? They'd open themselves to all kinds of flaunting, all kinds of disrespect. Now, this is before my time when it happened but, somewheres back in the 50's or 60's, there was a small moment of goddamn genius by some nameless smokehound who comes out the cut-rate one day and on his way to the corner, he slips that just-bought pint of Elderberry into a paper bag. A great moment of civic compromise; that small wrinkled-ass paper bag allowed the corner boys to have their drink in peace and gave us permission to go and do police work. The kind of police work that's actually worth the effort, that's worth actually taking a bullet for. Dozerman, he got shot last night trying to buy three vials; three! There's never been a paper bag for drugs...until now.
- Failure Is the Only Option: When Colvin gives his My God, What Have I Done? speech, the Deacon (Melvin Williams) responds, "You're talking about drugs. That's a force of nature. That's sweeping leaves on a windy day whoever the hell you are."
- Reality Subtext: Williams, the inspiration for Avon Barksdale, was once a major drug dealer in Baltimore until he was arrested, after which he reformed.
- Flipping the Bird: Herc does this to Dozerman when Dozerman drives by Carver and Herc in their car and mimes going down on someone (see Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today? below).
- Foreshadowing: The Academy class Burrell mentions will become important, as will the feud between Marlo and Stringer's crews. Also, we find out more about what Colvin meant in his Dawn of an Era speech.
- Gory Discretion Shot: We see the dogs circling each other, but never actually attacking, nor do we see how Cheese's dog is eventually mauled or shot.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Lampshaded: a Running Gag this episode is Carver trying to get Herc to answer the question of which guy he would have sex with if, before that, he could sleep with any woman in the world, and Herc is afraid to answer because, "The minute I name a guy, you're gonna be like, 'I knew you were a cocksucker from the first time I laid eyes on you. Steve McQueen, huh? That's your fantasy, you closet-case motherfucker?'"
Dozerman: You know, I actually looked up the stats on Gus Triandos. Power hitter, right?Herc: Fuck the both of you. (Carver and Dozerman laugh)
- Later, after Herc has made his pick (former Baltimore Orioles catcher Gus Triandos, because Herc feels sorry for the fact he had to catch knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm all those years), and he's in the police parking lot with Carver, Dozerman walks by:
- History Repeats: Lampshaded by Poot:Herc: You best watch your ass, cause the slingers out here? They're like the crack babies' babies.Poot: Man, every year, everybody's like: "Yeah, these kids out here, they're a new breed. I ain't never seen nothing like this before. This the end of the world now." Look around, fuckhead; this seem like the dawn of a new day to you?
- Ironic Echo: When Daniels is Tempting Fate by gloating about Cheese's (apparent) confession, he says to Rhonda, "You ever have one of those 'have your cake and eat it too' days? I believe this could be my first." Rhonda says the same thing when she picks him up at the bar later.
- It's All My Fault: Carver blames himself for Dozerman getting shot, because he let him drive alone.
- Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Mello congratulates one of his subordinates for being able to juke the stats (cutting down the number of armed robberies, for example, when the victim couldn't quite make out the weapon in question). Colvin mutters, "Wine into water."
- My God, What Have I Done?: More like a My God, What Have I Been Doing: Colvin is like this with the Deacon:You know what I was thinking? Tonight's a good night. Why? Because my shot cop didn't die. And it hit me, this is what makes a good night on my watch; absence of a negative, that was a good night. Here's the thing. Six months from now? I'm gone. I put in my 30 and the only thing that'll be left of me on that job is an eight-by-eleven framed picture in the western hallway. But you know what? The shit out there, the city, is worse than when I first came on. So what does that say about me? About my life.
- This is what leads him to become an Internal Reformist.
- Nothing Personal: Carcetti claims his hammering Burrell on crime was never this.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Omar never swears, but when one of the Barksdale crew recognizes Omar and says, "Oh, shit!", Omar says the same thing back to him.
- The confused tourist the Barksdale stash guards talk about at the beginning was looking for the house where Edgar Allan Poe lived.
- The women Herc wants to have before he answers Carver's question about which guy he would sleep with are the Olsen twins and Mary Tyler Moore. He also wants to know why he can't choose an older woman instead of a guy, such as Sophia Petrillo or Louise Jefferson.
- The movie Carver, Dozerman and Herc go to (see Villains Out Shopping below) is the original Italian version of The Last Kiss.
- "Shut Up" Kiss: When Daniels takes Rhonda back to his apartment, he starts to tell her he hasn't quite unpacked yet, but he's interrupted by her kissing him.
- Tempting Fate: The Major Case squad is like this when they hear Cheese on the wire talking about shooting his dawg, assuming now they can nail him to the wall; only Prez (and, to a lesser extent, McNulty) is cautious). And when they see Bunk and McNulty interrogating Cheese, Foerster, Rawls, Rhonda and even Daniels allow themselves to smile in triumph, until Bunk and McNulty give Daniels and Rhonda the bad news.
- Title Drop: Done three times, Shamrock says this about Omar ("All due respect, but unless you step to him, it's gonna be like this") Burrell says this to Carcetti ("All due respect, councilman, you're fucking with me because, what, you're bored?"), and a guard at the Barksdale stash house says this to Omar (see With Due Respect below).
- Trojan Horse: Omar and his crew get inside the Barksdale stash house by having Omar pretend to be a wheelchair bound relative of one of the neighbors (with Kimmy as his nurse), and even getting the guards to help him inside. The guards do frisk Omar in the wheelchair, and do realize something's wrong when they hear Omar say, "Thank you, young man", but by then, it's too late.
- Villains Out Shopping: Carver, Herc and their girlfriends come out from seeing a movie when they run into Bodie and Poot with their girlfriends coming out of a different movie. Hilarity Ensues:Poot: Oh, shit; y'all go to the movies? And you must be the lovely Mrs. Herc! How'd you like your movie.Herc's girlfriend: (hesitantly) Okay.Bodie: (to his girlfriend) Herc and Carver here, they try to snatch us up every day. Like, "Where the shit? Who got the shit?"Poot: But they never get nothin'. So y'all go to the movies. Damn!
- Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Subverted; the lesbian bar Kima goes to looks like any other bar.
- With Due Respect: When Omar and his crew have successfully held up a Barksdale stash house.Stash Guard: Hey, yo, Omar. Yo, all due respect, but this, right here? This a Barksdale joint, man.Omar: Do tell.