Wallace is arguably the central figure in Episode 6, “The Wire, but he is virtually absent from Episode 7. Before we even see him, we hear about him in a short conversation between Bodie and Poot. From Poot’s description, Wallace’s inability to leave his room sounds like a symptom of depression or PTSD, but the more direct term “fucked up” seems to work well too. His friends are concerned about his absence, although each one is concerned for a different reason. Poot is worried about the well-being of his friend and roommate while Bodie seems to be more suspicious of a perceived weakness.
When we finally see Wallace, it is in one of the most haunting scenes of Season 1, especially in the way it oddly mirrors the scene where Wallace first spots Brandon’s body. It is both the same and different, showing how the traumatic associations of a single setting slowly mutate over time. It is night and the scene is silent except for the incessant barking of the dogs (one of which is probably the one who scared McNulty into spilling his coffee on himself) and the playful laughter of some children on scooters, which evokes Bubbles’ “heaven or here” epigraph.
This is definitely not heaven. The scene opens up with a slow pan across a Chevrolet shown in close up. It is not immediately apparent, but this is the same car on which the Barksdale killers dumped Brandon’s mangled body. Just like the opening scene, the camera takes us from the car to Wallace’s window, but the angles are all different, suggesting a different view of the former crime scene. If the daytime scene is about a sudden, horrific discovery, the night scene is about the slow, endlessly terrifying emotional aftermath. Brandon’s body is long gone, but the car remains, and it continues to haunt Wallace.
As with that first scene, we move from the outside to the inside, but this time the transition is much slower. When we finally see Wallace, he is almost motionless, hunched over on his makeshift bed. The world of the living goes on outside of his window, but he keeps himself inside. All he can do is raise a curled hand to his face. We see the hand in close-up, with the small bump of white powder resting on it before Wallace puts it to his nose and inhales. The camera goes out of focus as Wallace, who a few days earlier woke up with a start, now slowly collapses onto his filthy mattress. All that remains is the barking of the dogs, the image of the empty car, and the memory that can only be blotted out with the terrible oblivion of the white powder.