“Game Day,” The Wire’s ninth episode, begins with a short series of quick shots of a basketball scrimmage. It is the second time this season that the cameras have taken us inside a gym to watch basketball practice, but there are some big differences this time. The first scene was less of a practice than a strategy session, with Avon holding court (literally and metaphorically) and setting a bounty on Omar and his crew. In that scene, the basketball is more of a pretense, an excuse for Avon to meet with his inner circle in a private setting. Nobody plays defence, no picks are set. Avon is the only one who shoots the ball.
Avon: So what you think, homes?
Stringer: I’m thinking this is the worst part of the game here, man. Best we do is break out even, right?
Stringer: I’m saying, this shit got personal. Ain’t nothing else to it.
Avon: So you talking about letting it slide.
Stringer: For a time, maybe.
If the scene where Avon and Barksdale promote Stinkum illustrates how seamlessly the partners work together, the shocking murder of that same newly-minted executive provides the first hint of the possibility of a rift between the two. Avon’s response to the news is instantaneous and fierce. He gathers all of his muscle into the office at Orlando’s (interestingly, D’Angelo is not at this meeting, and he doesn’t learn of Stinkum’s death until the next day) and diverts all of his into the hunt for Omar.
Teacher: Some key factors that affect the elasticity of demand are what? Mr. Bell.
Stringer: Desire, consumer need.
Teacher: Right, specifically the ability of a consumer to delay acquisition. What else?
First, McNulty almost loses his sons in his reckless pursuit of Stringer Bell. Then he tracks down the owner linked to the licence plate information they retrieved. Then he spends several days on a freelance stakeout. After all of this, McNulty ends up outside of a Macroeconomics class at Baltimore City Community College.
For much of the first half of Season 1, the Barksdale crew is busy dodging police raids and fighting threats to their reputation like snitches and stickup artists. But the Barksdale crew is also a business, and as Dr. Suess says in The Lorax, “business is business, and business must grow!”
“This shit right here, Dee, it’s forever.” Stringer
We get our first look at the Barksdale office in Orlando’s through the eyes of D’Angelo, who comes bearing a brown paper bag filled with a day’s worth of drug sales from the Pit. He walks up a flight of neon-lit stairs (where Stinkum stands guard and calls “Dee coming up”) and passes through the strippers’ dressing room into the heart of the Barksdale crew’s operations.