The Detail Gets a New Daddy

Phelan(on phone, to Burrell): Erv, it’s Phelan. Kiddo, you’re fucking with me here…yes, yes you are…Erv, listen..listen to me. The Circuit Court signed two orders for a total of 60 days of telephonic surveillance. Now, I’m looking at a copy of a memo from your office telling me I can’t have my 60 days…You’re not hearing me. The Circuit Court for Baltimore ordered 60 days on this tap. The Court wants its 60 days. Now, if you take this wire down on Friday, you’ll be in contempt of court on Monday. Understood?…And all the best to Arlene and the kids. (hangs up) Who’s your daddy now?

1.1: Judge Phelan’s Dirty Business

by Peter Honig

Judge Phelan: When you start coming with the customers it’s time to get out of the business.
McNulty: You shouldn’t talk dirty now that you’re a judge.
Judge Phelan: Now that I’m a judge I can say anything I damn please.

When the newly-minted Judge Phelan summons McNulty to his chambers in Episode 1.1, “The Target,” it initiates The Wire’s big bang. This scene is the single point that explodes into the Barksdale investigation, rippling out into life-altering consequences for dozens of people on both sides of the law. So it is a fitting time for Judge Phelan to give his self-destructive friend an important lesson, both directly and indirectly, on the nature of power.