"Boys of Summer" is the first episode of the fourth season of The Wire. It is the thirty-eighth episode of the series overall. It premiered on September 10, 2006. The episode was written by David Simon and directed by Joe Chappelle.
The title refers to the children of the Western District on summer break.
- "Lambs to the slaughter here."
- ―Marcia Donnelly
Assistant Principal Donnelly makes this comment regarding her new teachers.
The episode opens with Marlo Stanfield's young female enforcer Snoop visiting a hardware store to replace a cordless nail gun that is continually running out of charge. The salesman recommends a powder-activated model and explains its characteristics to her. Grateful for his time and effort, Snoop pays for the tool and heavily tips the suddenly anxious salesman and walks out with the nail gun. Her mentor Partlow waits outside in the car. Snoop cheerfully relates her new-found knowledge of their new hardware.
Partlow and Snoop prepare a vacant row house while a prisoner pleads with them. Partlow promises him a quick and clean death and then shoots him with a silenced pistol. They cover the body with quicklime and plastic sheets and nail the vacant building closed before they leave. They repeatedly hide bodies in this manner in order to keep police attention away from their organization.
Councilman Carcetti has a morning meeting with a previous mayor to discuss his election campaign. Carcetti's deputy campaign manager, Norman Wilson, interrupts his candidate to tell him that he is behind schedule and hurries him off to his next appointment. Carcetti speaks to an indifferent group of seniors in an East side residential home.
Officer Hauk reports for duty in his new post with Mayor Royce's security detail. Herc finds his new partner lacking the good humor of his old one, Ellis Carver. He and his new partner see madame president Nerese Campbell when waiting on Mayor Royce whom both show an immediate sexual interest in. Herc reports in to his commander, Lieutenant Hoskins. Royce declines to return a call from property developer and campaign donor Andy Krawczyk. Royce's chief of staff, Coleman Parker, reports that Carcetti and Anthony Gray's campaigns are asking for two separate debates. In contrast to Carcetti, Royce has a speaking engagement with a healthy attendance at a harbor redevelopment site.
When Carcetti returns to his campaign offices his campaign manager Theresa D'Agostino orders him to begin making fundraising calls. Carcetti shirks his task and plays darts in the office with the phone off the hook. He finally begins making the calls and has some success. However, the process of campaigning for mayor has left him bitter and disillusioned, and he continually swears and makes negative remarks about politics and politicians.
The next day Carcetti is irritable and is disappointed with the radio spots that Norman Wilson plays him. He gets a call informing him that Royce has spent hundreds of thousands on TV advertising. Wilson tries to divert Carcetti to thinking about his forthcoming meeting with Victorina Simmons and Reverend Garnett, both influential local figures. Carcetti views the damage drug dealers have done to the neighborhood including blocking alleyways.
Carcetti spends a large part of the day with the community and Wilson approves of his work. On the way to their next engagement Wilson jokes with Carcetti about which candidate he will be voting for as Carcetti worries about his race affecting voters. When Carcetti arrives he is met by an embittered and departing Tony Gray who refuses Carcetti's reconciliatory overtures.
Carcetti leaves the next day seeming more energized. He tells his wife Jen that he is expecting a bump in the new polling data. His mood quickly turns when he learns that the polls are not moving the way he hoped. His staff remain optimistic but he believes he has already lost. When he walks out D'Agostino admits that he has read the polls accurately. Carcetti is apprehended drinking outside of a park curfew and the officer recognizes him and urges him to move on.
Bodie marshals his new independent drug dealing crew. He chastises young runner Namond Brice for not spotting a customer pulling up because he was reading. One of Bodie's colleagues, Lex, bemoans his relationship with his baby's mother, Patrice. Patrice has begun dating Fruit, a crew chief from Marlo Stanfield's powerful drug dealing organization. Lex tells Bodie that he will kill Fruit if he does not leave Patrice alone. Slim Charles drives to the corner to ask Bodie why he has not copped his re-up from him lately. Bodie tells Slim Charles that business is slow since Stanfield forced his crew from Fayette Street. Slim Charles is now working as a supplier for independent crews on behalf of Proposition Joe. Bodie expresses a desire to hit back against Stanfield but Slim Charles reminds him that he is now operating on his own now that "mayor" Barksdale is gone. Bodie warns Lex that acting against Fruit will bring Stanfield's attention against him.
Namond's friends Michael Lee and Randy Wagstaff arrive and ask him to take them to catch pigeons. Namond asks Bodie if he can leave early to get some back to school gear. Bodie ridicules Namond's academic abilities but allows him to leave on the condition that he work extra hours the following day. Bodie tells Lex that he only employs Namond because of his father's reputation.
Namond becomes impatient as Randy tries to trap a bird that he thinks might be a homing pigeon. Randy believes they can sell homing pigeons to Nemo, who handles Marlo's pigeon coops. Their younger friends Kenard and Donut stand and look on. Duquan "Dukie" Weems scares off the birds by throwing a bottle. Namond initiates an argument with Dukie and Michael breaks up the fight. Randy talks to Dukie as the others leave and Dukie reveals that the bird was not a homing pigeon because it didn't have a tag on its leg.
That night Lex tracks Fruit and Patrice to a club. As they leave he shoots Fruit in the head and casually greets Patrice. Patrice screams and flees.
The following day Michael and Randy continue to try to catch pigeons. Dukie arrives having been beaten up by the children in the terraces. Namond suggests they retaliate, Randy comes up with a plan. Randy has his friends drink soda and urinate into water balloons. Namond continues to bully Dukie as they prepare. Michael incites the terrace boys by stealing a bike from them and they chase him into the ambush. The plan goes sour when Namond bursts a balloon on himself and his friends all flee. Michael is caught and gets a severe beating. Randy hides to escape as does Namond, who is within sight of Michael's misfortune. Later, having changed his clothes Namond buys ice creams for his friends even including Dukie at Michael's urging. When Randy returns home he is told off by his foster mother for breaking his curfew.
Major crimes unit
Detectives Freamon and Greggs meet with ASA Pearlman to discuss the Stanfield investigation. Freamon reveals that he is disappointed with Stanfield's organization; they have poor phone discipline and don't seem to be murdering anyone. Freamon also asks Pearlman to sign off on subpoenas of key political figures that they have linked to the Barksdale organization through their investigation of the money trail. Pearlman questions their new lieutenant's willingness to pursue the case and Freamon tells her he is fearless. Pearlman criticizes Freamon's timing with the forthcoming election and he feigns a lack of knowledge. Greggs meets with Lieutenant Asher, the unit's new commander, and has him sign all the papers they need by distracting him with talk about his beach house construction project.
Freamon catches discussion of Fruit's murder on the wiretaps of the Stanfield crew. Officer Massey notes that Fruit has not used his phone in two hours. Freamon meets with Detectives Moreland and Norris in the Homicide Unit as they are investigating the murder. Bunk gives Freamon a cell phone that they recovered from Fruit's body to garner more numbers for wiretaps.
Western District DEU Sergeant Ellis Carver harasses Bodie and his crew. He knows all of their names and their roles. James McNulty arrives to see if Carver needs assistance. He reminds Carver of Bodie beating charges on the wiretap by claiming entrapment and then leaves telling Bodie to close his operation down for the day. When Bodie tries the politeness that Carver has taught him on Officer Colicchio he is angrily rebuked. Carver reminds Colicchio that if they come down hard on everyone, they'll have no one to get information from when something serious happens.
Officer McNulty is called to meet with new district commander Major Daniels and his administrative lieutenant Dennis Mello. Daniels pleads with McNulty to move out of the patrol division as he needs better detectives in his district. McNulty declines the offer and as he leaves the room, Mello states that he tried numerous times to get McNulty to be a district investigator before Daniels' arrival. While Mello feels McNulty is in the wrong place, Daniels admits that while he feels McNulty has capabilities beyond his post he is probably better off in patrol on a personal level.
At the roll call meeting the officers are given a mandatory lecture about soft targets for terrorism. Santangelo and Truck voice dissent about the usefulness of the seminar as due to the drug war and crime rate, counter-terrorism is not a priority feeling amongst the western district officers. Santangelo in particular comments, "If them terrorists do fuck up the Western, could anybody even tell?" This causes the other officers to laugh. Carver then jokes that if the terrorists came into West Baltimore to blow up something like a "chicken joint" that they would most likely be robbed of their "camels and robes" by a local stickup crew. As Lieutenant Mello calms the officers down, Bunk visits McNulty at the meeting to ask if he knows Lex. McNulty suggests Bunk talk to Carver as he is now on top of his work. Bunk suggests a drinking session and McNulty counters by inviting him to dinner with his partner Beadie Russell. Santangelo walks out of the meeting and McNulty takes his discarded briefing binder to give to Russell's children as back-to-school equipment.
The principal and assistant principal discuss their staffing problems. Prez arrives at the school as trainee teacher pending his certification. Principal Withers in particular is skeptical of his abilities until he tells them that his former occupation was a police officer on the force in Baltimore City. Hearing that he used to be a city cop, they hire him immediately feeling that he is up to the job to work at the school. Prez attends a seminar on teaching using praise to and self belief to motivate their students, it seems as misguided as the police seminar on terrorism and is met with a similar response. Teachers specifically ask the old woman who is giving the lecture what her lesson plan suggests when students vandalize the classroom and attempt to assault them with textbooks and pencil sharpeners. Prez later takes in his new classroom which is a complete mess but seems excited at the prospect of teaching.
Following Fruit's murder Marlo meets with his lieutenants including the bloodthirsty Monk and Tote and more reserved Partlow. Monk suggests they kill all of Lex's crew but Marlo sees that Lex was acting alone and decrees that he alone must die.
Little Kevin (an ironic nickname - Little Kevin is severely overweight) pays Randy to deliver a message to Lex - Lex is to "meet some girl up the way" behind the playground. When Lex arrives for the meeting he finds Snoop and Partlow lying in wait. Bunk and Carver try to find Lex on his usual corner but they decide to return the next day when he is not present. Later, Randy sells food to Bodie's crew as they play dice. Little Kevin gives Randy more money for following his instructions and tells him that Lex is dead. Meanwhile, Snoop and Partlow board the body into another vacant building. Randy sits on his stoop contemplating his involvement until he is called inside by his foster mother.
- Namond Brice: Middle school child, the son of infamous drug enforcer Wee-Bey, who works as a runner for Bodie.
- Michael Lee: Middle school child who takes a leadership role amongst his peers.
- Randy Wagstaff: Middle school child who lives with a strict foster mother and is known for his imagination and entrepreneurship.
- Duquan "Dukie" Weems: Impoverished middle school child living with drug addicted family that is often bullied by his peers.
- Norman Wilson: Tommy Carcetti's new deputy campaign manager.
- Gerry: Senior Carcetti campaign staffer.
- Lieutenant Asher: Commander of the major case unit. Asher is a retiring Lieutenant who provides no interference with the cases being conducted led by Lester Freamon.
- Lieutenant Hoskins: Commander of Mayor Royce's security detail.
- Monk Metcalf]: A lieutenant in Marlo Stanfield's organization.
- Lex, Little Kevin and Reesy: Drug dealers in Bodie's crew.
- Donut: Middle school child who is friends with Namond, Michael and Randy.
- Kenard: Homeless child who is friends with Donut, Namond and Randy.
- Claudell Withers: Edward Tilghman middle school's principal who handles most of the school's external problems.
- Marcia Donnelly: Edward Tilghman middle school's assistant principal who handles most of the school's internal problems.
- Nerese Campbell: Attractive Baltimore City Council President on Mayor Clarence Royce's election ticket.
- 'Fruit: Shot in the head by Lex outside a nightclub.
- 'Lex: Killed by Chris and Snoop in retaliation for the murder of Fruit.
- The episode drew an average of 1.5 million viewers. Coverage considered this as low compared to other HBO series like Deadwood and The Sopranos but felt that including repeats of the episode and video-on-demand viewers would enhance the figure. Despite the low figures HBO commissioned a fifth series of the show two days after the episode aired.
- An Entertainment Weekly critic named the opening scene of the episode as the first of his "five reasons to live" for the week. A second critic picked out the parallels between the police briefing and the teachers seminar as a key element of the episode tying the institution of the school and the police department together. He also saw the scenes as significant in demonstrating how far removed the bureaucracies of modern lives are from the reality.
- Simon has commented that the influx of child actors led to some unruly behaviour at the beginning of filming but they became a close knit group of professional young actors by the close of the series.
- During the counter-terrorism briefing, Carver jokes that terrorists "got jacked by Apex's crew." Apex was a real stick-up man in Baltimore in the 1990s whom Ed Burns met, and was one of several inspirations for Omar Little.
- Episode guide - episode 38 boys of summer. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
- "Boys of Summer". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-09-10. No. 01, season 4.
- John M. Higgins (2006). HBO Renews The Wire. Broadcasting & Cable.
- Ken Tucker (2006). 5 Reasons to Live. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2006-09-26.
- Michael Endelman (2006). "Wire" education. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2006-09-26.
- Margaret Talbot (2007). Stealing Life. The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2012-09-04. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
- Alvarez, Rafael (2004). The Wire: Truth Be Told. Pocket Books, 87. ISBN 0-7434-9732-5.