4.1 “Boys of Summer”: All the Pieces

4_1pieces“Not a goddamn thing in here works like it should.”

I am currently teaching Season 4 of The Wire to my four 12th Grade English classes. This means that I am watching each episode four times over the course of two days. It is a testament to the greatness of The Wire, that I continue to gather a great amount of information and enjoyment out of each new viewing.

As part of the process, I am cataloguing the major concept patterns in each episode. It is sort of like Prez’s corkboard, where I can lay out all of the pieces and see how they fit together.

Below is a list of the examples that I found for six categories in “Boys of Summer.” There might be some missing pieces, some overlap, and some questionable interpretations. But it is my best attempt to track the patterns that are interwoven through each episode of this series that focuses so much on interconnection. Please feel free to add any examples that I missed in the comments section.


  • In the opening scene, Snoop describes her enlightening experience in the Big Box hardware store: “I been to school.”
  • Instead of doing his job as a drug runner, Namond is more occupied with reading.
  • Namond uses “back to school” shopping as a pretense to cut out of work. Bodie doesn’t buy it: “You stay suspended”
  • In that same scene, Bodie makes the season’s first mention of “Social Promotion,” suggesting that without it, “your ass would still be in Pre-K. Daycare, probably.”
  • Dukie knows that the boys are chasing a fake homer because he has been spending time learning about pigeons from Nemo, the keeper of Marlo’s coop. “He’s schooling me.”
  • School security keeps out new teachers like Prez. “Not a goddamn thing in here works like it should.”
  • Reecy’s trouble with the count anticipates Sherrod’s later struggles at Bubble’s Depo. Carver tells Bodie that if they can “put Reecy in remedial math…we’ll have done some good here today. Later, McNulty calls Bodie a “smart kiddo.”
  • Westside detectives and Tilghman teachers behave like bored students during their dueling dull-power-point meetings. Passing notes, texting, struggling to stay awake, making wisecracks.
  • For Santangelo, the the Homeland Security Binders are trash. For McNulty, they will at least make for free school supplies for Beadie’s “anklebiters.”
  • Prez embraces a new identity as he first sees his new (trashed) classroom. “So, this is me?”
  • Little Kevin asks Randy to deliver the message to Lex for fear of getting busted by Bodie for cutting work.


  • Massey and Sydnor bicker over space like siblings forced to share a room. “Working my last nerve…”
  • Freamon calls Marlo “a babe in the woods” when it comes to avoiding a wiretap.
  • Bodie calls Namond “late to work, early to play.”
  • “Man, shit like that don’t even work in cartoons,” Namond says as they try to capture the bird. They use Wile E Coyote as a model for birdcatching. Randy: “We ain’t in no cartoons.” Namond: “Yeah, you is.” Michael: “Shhhh.”
  • Namond and Dukie go back and forth about Pampers–”catch all that shit you been flushing.”
  • Donnelly’s Epigraph: “Lambs to the Slaughter”
  • Daniels and Mello discuss whether Tullman can handle being shift commander on his own. They describe him him as “Opie from Mayberry, but less fierce.”
  • Carcetti whines like a grounded kid (his voice even cracks) about “dialing for dollars.” Passes time by making paperclip chain, paper airplane, stabbing his hand with a dart.
  • Carcetti asks a donor if his kids can contribute as well. The donor protests that they are “in strollers.”
  • Norman complains about having to drag Carcetti out of bed every morning.
  • Rather than use guns to attack the terrace boys, Randy’s plan involves water balloons.
  • The boys celebrate their battle at the Terrace with a celebration at an ice cream truck.
  • Gun-toting Snoop emerges from the shadows of an abandoned playground to capture Lex.


  • Snoop pays cash for the Hilti Nail Gun, bypassing the cash register. “You earned that buck like a motherfucker.”
  • Sydnor almost gives Massey’s coupons to Pearlman.
  • Royce boasts about waterfront developers who will “Grow Baltimore’s tax base and revitalize our city.”
  • Randy sees the potential profit in capturing a homing pigeon. Hopes for $300-$400 from Nemo
  • Close up on the one-dollar bill that Namond peels from the stack and passes to Dukie (reluctantly, at Michael’s behest). He then offers one to Michael as well.
  • Carcetti bristles when Norman says he won’t vote for him. “You’re gonna take my check and run my campaign?”
  • Randy sets up shop down the street from Bodie’s corner, selling candy and chips that he gets at a discount “from the Koreans.”
  • Little Kevin purchases a fateful bag of Skittles from Randy. Like Snoop in the opening scene, he lets Randy keep the change in exchange for a favor…tell Lex to go to the playground at 8.
  • That night, Little Kevin stirs Randy’s guilt by telling him about Lex’s fate. He hands him some more money and says “just be cool, alright.”
  • Carcetti, on the wasted radio ads: “How much money did we piss away on those?”


  • Snoop tells the Hardware Barn salesman “keep the rest for your time.”
  • Carcetti to Norman: “In a minute, Norman.” Young Tony to Norman: “The candidate is on your clock. Don’t ever let him forget it.”
  • Andy Kraw pesters Royce for time. “He said he needed just 10 minutes.”
  • As Carcetti fields the senior citizen’s questions about Salisbury Steak, Norman impatiently checks his watch.
  • Namond owes Bodie “extra time tomorrow” after skipping out to catch birds.
  • Namond complains: “You took me off the clock for this craziness?”
  • Terry chides Carcetti: “You ran late all morning.”
  • Carcetti is late to the meeting with Miss Simmons and Rev. Garnett
  • Carcetti’s meeting runs late, but Norman is forgiving: “you did good.”
  • Miss Anna scolds Randy for returning home late.
  • Carcetti thinks he spent 4 minutes of “quality time with the wife and kids.” When told it was 6 minutes, Carcetti says “I could’ve got laid.”


  • Snoop lays out quicklime over corpses, suggestive of mass graves.
  • Marlo, on the prospect of taking down Bodie’s entire corner as revenge for Lex: “What I want with stacking bodies when nobody trying to war with us?”
  • Norman and Carcetti visit “one of them neighborhoods between Oliver and the Middle East.” “Fucking Fallujah,” Carcetti replies.
  • The drug dealers blockade the alleys with trash to stop the police from chasing them. Carcetti describes it as a “tank trap.”
  • The boys set up an ambush on the terrace boys. It quickly devolves into a street scrum, with flying projectiles and shrapnel.
  • During the Homeland Security briefing, the Western District boys imagine terrorists trying to take over Baltimore. “You want some real terrorists, go down to Pencey and Gold.”
  • Namond treats at the ice cream truck. “One for every soldier that stood tall,” he says, evoking the language of his still-standing-tall father, Wee-Bey, for the now-defunct Barksdale Crew.
  • As Carcetti and Norman return to the headquarters, Gerri remarks “our heroes, just back from the war.”


  • Carcetti excuses Young Tony’s one-term as mayor by saying “you got dealt a bad hand” with the riots.
  • Royce refers to Carcetti as a “lost-ball-in-high-grass motherfucker,” anticipating the stray whiffle balls and dress shoe that litter Carcetti’s lawn.
  • An old lady plays solitaire as Carcetti give his speech at the Old Age Home.
  • Carcetti, in fundraising solitary, plays darts and debates the quality of the Orioles’ starting pitching.
  • Bunk hands Freamon the now-dead Fruit’s phone as a “consolation prize” for losing a target of the wire.
  • The boys reappropriate a volleyball net to try and catch a pigeon.
  • Randy, like a casino cocktail waitress, sells snacks to the players in a back-alley dice game (possibly the same one Snotboogie used to play in).


One thought on “4.1 “Boys of Summer”: All the Pieces

  1. I rewatched this episode after reading your post. I think Cross Societal Communication. The episode starts with Snoop and the hardware guy having a conversation about tools, and they are definitely not in the same societal place. Other examples are Carcetti talking with just about everyone he encounters and Carter having an actual conversation with the corner boys.

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