"Alliances" is the fifth episode of the fourth season of The Wire. It is the forty-second episode of the series overall. It premiered on October 8, 2006. The episode was written by Ed Burns and directed by David Platt.
The title refers to the alliance that Marlo enters into with Proposition Joe. It also refers to the alliances formed by Carcetti in the political world - with Rawls, Valchek and Carcetti. It also references the breaking of Watkins alliance with Royce because of the strength of his support for Marla Daniels.
- "If you with us, you with us."
- ―Chris Partlow
Partlow makes this statement when trying to convince Michael Lee to join the Stanfield drug dealing organization. It is counterpointed by Wee-Bey's remarks about the heyday of the Barksdale organization.
Duquan "Dukie" Weems, Randy Wagstaff, Namond Brice, Michael Lee, Donut and Kenard discuss Lex’s disappearance in an alleyway at night. Namond asserts that Chris Partlow is turning his victims into zombies, and the Donut and Albert agree with him. Randy is distressed by the suggestion that Lex is a zombie, and is unable to completely convince himself that it is false. Michael believes that Chris must have some sway over his victims to convince them to enter a vacant building before he kills them. When a man walks up the alley toward them, the boys flee.
Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski introduces new rules to his math classes. He offers them rewards for good behaviour, including stickers and a prize draw for his top four students. Students who disrupt the class will face an hour's detention after school. Namond Brice objects to the rules, but manages to talk Prez out of giving him detention. Another student called Zenobia Dawson expresses a desire to get stickers but has no pencil. However, when Prez gives her his pencil she throws it away and earns herself detention. Prez also gives Michael detention when he refuses to attempt his work. Kareem Williams spots Assistant Principal Marcia Donnelly searching bushes outside the school and alerts Namond. Many other boys also go to the window to watch. Namond is annoyed when Donnelly finds and confiscates a knife he had concealed. Prez tries to get the boys to return to their work. When he finds that Namond has not begun the tasks he set, he gives him detention. Namond responds angrily and swears at Prez who sends him to the office.
Howard "Bunny" Colvin discusses an initiative to target potential violent offenders in schools. He believes the students can be split into two broad groups – "stoop kids" and "corner kids". The stoop kids are better parented at home and more ready to behave in class, while the corner kids are acclimated to life on the street and continually disrupt classes. Colvin believes that by separating the two, both groups could do better. Eighth grade head teacher Mrs. Grace Sampson agrees with Colvin's assessment. Dr. David Parenti, Colvin's academic colleague, points out that this idea is similar to tracking of students. Sampson confirms that tracking has a negative image because it suggests lowered expectations of certain groups of children and is contrary to the government's "no child left behind" strategy. Sampson believes that the key is coming up with a program to benefit the corner kids. After the meeting they encounter Namond in the halls and he swears at Parenti. Sampson subdues him with a word and hurries him along to the office for punishment.
Prez's detention is packed with students that misbehaved, including Zenobia and Albert Stokes, but Michael is conspicuously absent. Eventually Prez relents to pressure from the students and lets them leave early. Randy, Dukie and Namond return to the classroom and Namond apologises for his actions, explaining that he feels unable to control himself. Prez learns that Namond has been suspended. Prez gives Dukie a bag of clothes and toiletries. Randy notices Michael’s name circled on Prez’s detention register and tries to explain that he cannot make detention because he has to collect Bug, his brother, from school, because of their mother's addiction. Prez leaves the school with Dukie and Randy and they see Donut on their way out. Donut is awaiting a colleague who has detention with Mrs. Sampson, and explains that she never lets the students out of detention early. Prez cannot find his keys and Dukie spots them in his car. Randy has Donut break into the car for Prez. Donut makes short work of the job.
Randy catches up with Namond and Michael that night. Chris and Snoop also find Michael, and send the others away so they can talk to him. Chris offers Michael a position with the Stanfield organization as a soldier. Michael turns the offer down because of his family, but Chris gives him cash and asks him to consider it anyway. Michael returns to his friends. Randy is anxious, believing that Chris is asking about him because of his knowledge of Lex’s death.
The next day Prez meets with Michael in his lunch break and appeals to him to talk to him if he is unable to make detention. Prez gives Dukie some of his lunch and a hall pass and change to get something to drink. When Dukie leaves the room, Prez checks with Crystal Judkins about Dukie because he is not wearing the new clothes he gave him. She tells Prez that his family steal his possessions and sell them for drug money.
Colvin meets with Principal Claudell Withers to discuss his planned initiative. Withers offers them his support, but is quickly drawn away to meet with parents whose children are bringing an argument between their families into the school. Donnelly urges Colvin to protect Withers, as any fallout from their initiative will reflect poorly on him. Donnelly suggests that Colvin and Parenti begin with ten children.
Randy continues to sell candy to other students, cutting class to do so. He is asked by Monell, another eighth grade student, to keep watch in the hallway while he and his friend Paul fool around with a girl named Tiff in a bathroom. Randy is reluctant but accepts money to do so.
After school Randy talks to Dukie about his fears of Chris coming for him. He confesses to Dukie his role in Lex’s murder. Dukie tries to convince Randy that Chris is simply murdering his victims in the vacants. Dukie backs up his claim by telling Randy that he saw one victim killed from his bedroom window. Dukie takes Michael and Randy to one of the vacant buildings Chris has used. He shows them a body interred there and Randy is forced to face up to Chris’s victims being truly dead.
Namond visits his father, Wee-Bey Brice, in prison with his mother De’Londa. De’Londa wants Wee-Bey to talk to Namond about his suspension. Wee-Bey ends up talking to his son about the days of the Barksdale organization and how Marlo would be dead for breaking the rules if he was still on the streets with his family of drug dealers.
Major Stan Valchek visits Tommy Carcetti at his campaign offices. He gives Carcetti the news of Detective Norris being reassigned from the murdered witness case and replaced with rookie Kima Greggs. After Valchek leaves he discusses how to use the information with Norman Wilson and Theresa D'Agostino. Wilson suggests giving the story to Councilman Anthony Gray to allow him to press the mayor over the witness case and draw off more of his votes.
Mayor Clarence Royce shaves off his beard, hoping that a return to the image he wore when first elected will improve his polling. Royce’s Chief of Staff Coleman Parker is impressed with the change of image.
Meanwhile Carcetti campaigns hard, giving out fliers in the early morning. Wilson reports that Gray has accepted their offer for a meeting. Wilson takes the meeting with Gray. Gray sees through their motives for giving him the information but decides to use it regardless, knowing that it will help him as well. Wilson tells Gray that at this point he cannot hope to win and should consider reconciling with Carcetti and gearing up for another position.
Royce has a strategy meeting but is interrupted by Parker, who has noticed the media reporting on the witness story. Royce angrily confronts Commissioner Ervin Burrell about this new problem from his department. Royce lists Burrell’s problems and berates him for his overzealous efforts to slow the witness case. Royce tells Burrell to get out of his office. With Burrell gone, Royce questions his deputy commissioner William Rawls. Rawls claims that he is loyal to Burrell but knew he was making a mistake. He tells Royce that he could handle the pressure of Burrell’s position. Royce then asks Rawls to make this incident go away claiming he won't forget what Rawls has done. It is assumed by this statement that Royce is ready to name Rawls the Baltimore Police Department Commissioner following the election.
Royce then is seen drinking whiskey in his office during a meet with State Delegate Watkins stating that he will sack Burrell after the election. Watkins tells Royce that he is to blame for Burrell’s actions, having told him to slow the case down. Royce argues about what he meant while Watkins points out what he witnessed. Watkins states that no one can really tell what Royce means any more confronting Royce with his own campaign material showing support for both Marla Daniels and Eunetta Perkins. He tells Royce that he has broken his word to support Daniels as Royce pleads ignorance claiming someone else printed the Perkins tickets, while Watkins claims she has been endorsed by a "Citizens for Royce" group. Watkins furthermore is disgusted with Royce claiming Royce is "in bed" with every property developer and corrupt politician like Clay Davis exemplified by Royce's secret poker games that are funding his campaign. Watkins also accuses him of forgetting "where he came from" as Watkins believes Royce does not truly care about Baltimore's majority African American community and is merely trying to win their votes with black pride flags and Marcus Garvey posters. Watkins then leaves, promising to withdraw his support of the Mayor as Royce threatens him following the election. Parker sees the importance of Watkins's support and urges Royce to chase after him as Royce drunkenly and pridefully refuses to apologize to Watkins. Lieutenant Hoskins of the Mayor’s security detail notices this and phones Rawls with the information.
Rawls seeks out Carcetti and finds him doing door to door campaigning with Wilson. Rawls gives Carcetti the information about Watkins and Royce’s fall out. Rawls tells Carcetti that he is disappointed with the Mayor and wants the opportunity to do the right things with the department for a change. Wilson and Carcetti wait until Rawls is out of sight and then dash to their car to find Watkins. Carcetti finds Watkins at his office and tells him that he needs him, both now and after the election. He tells Watkins that if he offers his support he will continue to have a voice in Carcetti’s administration. Watkins questions him about why he should support Carcetti as he feels Royce is in a commanding lead and wonders why he shouldn't support Tony Gray, another African American candidate from his side of town. Carcetti then states that he is within four points of winning the election and will give Watkins a large role in his administration due to the fact that he needs good African American leaders such as Watkins to help govern Baltimore by consensus. Carcetti also emphasizes that he is the only candidate who can cause change from the damage Royce has done at this point in the primary. Watkins hears this and agrees to join Carcetti's ticket with Marla Daniels.
Lieutenant Charlie Marimow meets with Assistant States Attorney Rhonda Pearlman and Western district commander Major Cedric Daniels to discuss executing a series of warrants in the Western district. Daniels obligingly provides Marimow with the extra manpower he will require. Pearlman warns Marimow that he is wasting his wiretap on low-level targets that she will refuse to litigate against. Marimow tells Pearlman that is her problem but she refuses to accept responsibility for his mistakes.
Marimow briefs his own men along with Daniels’s DEU squad and flex squad. Marimow tries to convince his men of the importance of the raids. After the briefing Ellis Carver questions Thomas "Herc" Hauk about the logic of attempting street rips against Marlo Stanfield’s people. Herc continues to believe that drug dealers are stupid and easily dealt with. Carver asks Herc what he is doing for the Mayor – he reminds Herc to stay close to Royce because what he knows about him will give him further career success if he remains Mayor. Pearlman discusses her career with Daniels. With Marimow in charge of the major crimes unit and the subpoenas issued against Royce fundraisers, she has lost hope in her work and begins thinking where she can beg Demper to be reassigned.
Marimow’s raids are disastrous – stash houses from the wiretap have long since moved and very few arrests are made. Even Herc is disappointed with their results. Like Herc, Marimow believes that the drug dealers are stupid and claims they must have been tipped about the raids. Marimow diverts the blame from himself onto his sergeant by insisting that he find out more about Marlo. Carver steps in with some information about Marlo – he holds court in the same open area but otherwise moves around. Marimow tells Herc to come up with an investigative plan using this tip. Herc himself starts to believe that "buy-bust" rip and run busts won't take down Marlo Stanfield and with squad members Officer Kenneth Dozerman and Detective Leander Sydnor, they set up a concealed surveillance camera at Marlo’s meeting place. They hurry away from the location, but their efforts are noticed by Marlo’s lieutenant Monk Metcalf.
Sydnor is left to man the surveillance camera overnight. When Herc returns he believes that the camera will build a case for them if they can find someone who can read lips to tell them what Marlo is saying. Sydnor questions the legality of the approach but Herc dismisses his concerns. Herc leaves Sydnor wondering when he will get some relief from manning the surveillance. Herc spends the morning making campaign calls for Royce. His direct approach has some success with the voters.
Marlo and Chris discuss how to deal with Omar after his robbery of Marlo at a card game. Marlo wants to go straight after Omar through placing a bounty on him. Chris convinces Marlo that a subtle approach will prevent Omar targeting them in return.
At their next meeting, Chris reports that Slim Charles approached him to organize a second meeting between Proposition Joe and Marlo. Old Face Andre arrives to talk to Marlo. Marlo tells him that his store is going to be robbed again and instructs him to identify Omar as responsible to the police. Andre worries that Omar will seek revenge but Marlo tells him Omar will not return from being arrested.
Chris later conducts the robbery of the store with Snoop. He shoots a delivery woman who is stocking Andre's shelves, killing her, and pistol-whips Andre. Before leaving the store, Chris reminds Andre to blame Omar. Chris reports in to Marlo that the robbery was a success. Marlo tells him about the surveillance camera and then asks him to take him to the meeting with Proposition Joe.
At the meeting, Joe tells him that he has a network of sources that provide him with information about activity on the street and within the justice system. He shows Marlo warrants for a drug kingpin named Charlie. Joe tells Marlo he might help Charlie but may not as he is outside of the co-op. Marlo asks Joe about the video surveillance and finally agrees to work with the co-op in exchange for information about those investigating him.
Bunk Moreland and Lester Freamon scour Baltimore looking for bodies they can tie to Marlo Stanfield in the hope of finding Lex. They check with the coroner's officer, in the sewers and Leakin Park. Freamon recalls coming to the park to look for a body as a cadet and being warned to only take an interest in bodies matching their description or they would need more time. When they return to the office empty handed Bunk convinces Freamon to turn his attention back to investigating real murders.
At the office, Detectives Ed Norris, Vernon Holley, Greggs, and Mackey watch Gray talk about the witness case on television. Greggs is later called in to meet with Sergeant Jay Landsman. Landsman tells her that Norris is back on the Braddock witness case. Rawls plans to claim that Norris and Greggs were always working the case together. Greggs is dismayed that she is being humiliated a second time. Landsman tells Greggs that she must be more ready to play the political side of the spectrum now that she is in the high profile Homicide unit. Finally Landsman insists that Greggs must attend a press conference about the investigation.
Crutchfield and Holley catch the case of the woman murdered in Andre’s store. When they interview him he is quick to identify Omar.
Bubbles spots Sherrod working for a drug dealing crew and chastises him for truanting. Sherrod’s customer takes exception to Bubbles interruption and attacks him for his money. Bubbles is humiliated in front of several bystanders. When Sherrod returns to their dwelling in a vacant house that night Bubbles tells him that he can stay for the night only and then must leave unless he attends school the next day.
- Zenobia Dawson: Eighth grade student in Prez's math class who comes from a poor background and is difficult to control.