Bubbles: Mr. One day man. Wasn’t even that.
Walon: Stood up, though.
Walon: He ain’t anywhere near his bottom. Got to see that bottom coming up at him. Hard, too, cause he’s young, 24. Most people don’t get tired till they’re 35, 40. How old are you?
Bubbles: Young at heart.
Testers are out, and everybody is having run-ins. First, Bubbles recognizes Walon from the NA meeting he attended in “One Arrest.” Johnny, thinking Walon is there to get high, mocks the big man for his hypocracy. But then Bodie arrives and Johnny recognizes him as the boy who put him in the hospital. Johnny shuffles off to find a less-traumatic source for his next blast.
Keep coming back!–NA regulars
Kurt Vonnegut opens his novel Mother Night with some tricky advice: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” This advice warns against pretense, suggesting that it quickly and imperceptibly creeps into reality. That can be problematic, particularly for people who trade in pretense, like actors or con-artists. But there is another way to look at this process, and it is embodied in the common expression “fake it till you make it.” In this version, pretense is a first step towards the active creation of a new reality. This is probably why Vonnegut uses the phrase “be careful.” There is great power in pretense.
“We creep back in there…”–Bubbles
Now that Omar’s crew has been torn apart by the vengeful Barksdales, the title of most feared stickup crew in the Westside falls to Bubbles’ ragtag group of fiends. It’s a long fall. Instead of Omar, Brandon and Bailey, we now have Bubbles, Johnny, and a third fiend with the onomatopoetic name of Uck. Instead of shotguns, their weapons are a shopping cart and a colostomy bag. Instead of making off with multiple G-packs, they are happy to net a few vials. But as low-bottom as this crew is, it does have two things in common with Omar’s: they rely on a plan, and they reveal the constant flow of product and manpower that moves in and out of the street.
Bubbles: I’m not working for them, I’m working with em. They don’t give me the badge soon enough, I keep doing like I do.
Bubbles: What do you mean ‘why’? How you gonna ask me why? Why the fuck are you in here, man, with all these falling down motherfuckers? Why you passing shit through a bag? Why they beat you down? Why I couldn’t do nothing about it?
Johnny: It’s all part of the game, right? I mean, you taught me that.
Bubbles: What’d I miss, girlfriend?
Kima: Not a goddamn thing. (Bubbles yawns) Yeah, boring ain’t we?
Bubbles: How y’all do what you do every day and not wanna get high? That’s what I be asking.
There are times when Bubbles seems like the show’s best detective. This is especially the case when Kima tracks Omar’s van to the most remote corners of Baltimore based on Bubbles’ eagle-eyed scope. A little later on, McNulty describes a similar power in the hands and eyes of a good CI when he reminisces about a former snitch of his named Reuben Terry. “Saw the street like we wish we could.” These fiends live on the street, and that unique perspective gives them an observational superiority over even the best detectives.
If the cut from Bodie’s mopwater to Herc’s coffee is a sly hint at the power balance in the cop/hopper relationship, later on, the episode gives us a second powerful transition that creates a more poignant look into the line that separates these two worlds and the people who lie on either side of it.
…If you for real–Bubbles
The moment has finally arrived. After two weeks, the members of Daniels’ detail are finally ready to make some controlled buys, the first half of Burrell’s oft-repeated mantra “buy/bust.” This is also the moment that will determine the future course of the detail. McNulty tells Kima that he isn’t going with them because he thinks it is a waste. “Touts and children, that’s all you’re gonna get.” Of course he hopes the buys fail, because that failure would confirm the view he expressed in the first episode, when he told Daniels that the Barksdales are too deep and organized to be taken down with traditional street rips. If this turns out to be the case, then Daniels will have to look into other strategies, strategies which are much more in line with McNulty’s own vision for the detail.
By Peter Honig
“Yeah, I could tell”—Kima
“The Detail” follows the eponymous squad through its infancy stage, and up to its first clumsy steps (as well as its first time falling on its face). All of the foundational elements are there: they get their home, they lock down the full roster of personnel (for better or worse) and they have their first organizational meeting, complete with a division into pairs of partners and a basic investigation strategy. This is all accompanied by the perhaps-too-appropriate sounds of flushing toilets and confused maintenance men.