"Home Rooms" is the third episode of the fourth season of The Wire. It is the fortieth episode of the series overall. It premiered on September 24, 2006. The episode was written by Richard Price and directed by Seith Mann.
The title refers to the home room classes as the children begin the new school year. Also, this episode shows the home life of both Omar Little and Jimmy McNulty.
- "I love the first day, man. Everybody all friendly an' shit."
- ―Namond Brice
Namond Brice remarking, ironically, how people tend to be more friendly than usual on the first day of school.
Mayor Clarence Royce meets with police commissioner Ervin Burrell to discuss his response to the murder of a witness. His opponent in the upcoming election, Tommy Carcetti, had used the incident to score points against him in a debate and has received a bump in the polls. Burrell assures the mayor that they will downplay the case. Also present are Royce's Chief of Staff Coleman Parker, State Delegate Odell Watkins and State's Attorney Steven Demper. Royce decides to play a harder campaign now that Carcetti has gained on him in polls. He orders Parker to spread the word that supporters contributing to both campaigns will be denied favors in his next term, and to use city resources to remove Carcetti's campaign material and sit on his offices looking for parking violations. He asks Burrell and Demper to go to the press and cover for him by downplaying the murder victim's role as a witness and taking any fallout on themselves. Demper worries how this will effect his own re-election campaign and Royce threatens to drop him from the mayoral ticket if he does not follow his orders. After Burrell and Demper leave, Watkins criticizes Royce. Watkins arranged funds for a witness protection scheme which Royce could have implemented by matching the funds from his own budget. Royce failed to do so and a witness is now dead. Because Carcetti was involved in planning the witness protection program Royce still refuses to let it go ahead because it would be a victory for Carcetti.
Royce meets with Thomas "Herc" Hauk the security detail officer who caught him in a compromising encounter with his assistant. He takes an interest in Herc's career plans where Herc then confesses his desire to make sergeant as he is currently 32nd on the list. Royce tells Herc that he thinks he is a good and loyal officer who could be doing better things then driving around politicians. Royce then phones Burrell on Herc's behalf requesting that Herc's name be moved to the next available sergeant's posting. Herc says the assistance is unexpected and Royce's reply references the elephant in the room: "Don't mention it." The promotion occurs exactly in the manner that Stan Valchek said it would.
As Carcetti makes successful campaign calls, the Mayor's orders start to come into effect. Construction work is going on outside the office and some of the campaign vehicles are being towed away. That night Carcetti attends the funeral of the murdered witness with his deputy campaign manager Norman Wilson. They are not the only politicians there - Watkins and prospective city council member Marla Daniels are also present. Watkins has phoned the press about the funeral. Carcetti awkwardly gives his condolences to the family. He greets Daniels and wishes her luck in his campaign against Eunetta Perkins in the eleventh district, telling her the council could use her. As he leaves the funeral home he refuses to talk to the press. Wilson urges him to use the opportunity for political theatre but he notes that while he will have plenty of opportunities to grandstand for the press, seeming restraint will make a far stronger positive impression on Watkins and Daniels.
Bunk Moreland continues his search for Lex, a suspect in the murder of Fruit. He visits Jimmy McNulty and Beadie Russell's home for dinner. Beadie's children Jack and Cary are there as well. Bunk notices that the children have folders taken from the anti-terrorism briefing in "Boys of Summer."
Bunk invites McNulty for a drink after dinner and Russell encourages a reluctant McNulty to go with him. Bunk is disappointed that McNulty has cleaned up his drinking habits. Bunk uses the metaphor of lake trout to tell McNulty he is worried that he is trying to be something that he is not. McNulty tells him that sometimes things are what they seem.
Bodie Broadus gets a visit on his corner from Marlo Stanfield. Marlo is impressed that Bodie has turned a once quiet area into a thriving business but tries to hide it by pretending not to know Bodie's name. He has an ultimatum for him - start selling Marlo's (inferior) product, or leave the area so one of Marlo's crews can work the corner. He tells Bodie that Chris Partlow will be back soon for his answer. Snoop is also with Marlo and casually appraises Bodie. Marlo recognises Michael Lee, the boy who refused a handout from Marlo and is now working as a runner for Bodie. He asks Chris to find out more about Michael.
Bodie is also impressed with Michael. He notices that Michael stands up to the customers and refuses to be cheated out of more drugs than they paid for. Bodie tries to convince Michael to stay with his organization instead of going back to school. Bodie offers Michael an after-school job, but Michael walks away without answering.
Bodie meets with Slim Charles and tells him the news of Marlo's ultimatum. He has decided to fight Marlo's attempt to take over the corner even without any backup. Bodie refuses to listen to Slim Charles' advice.
New Day Co-Op
The Co-Op meets in a hotel room. They have two problems - Marlo is expanding his empire, and drug dealers from New York are encroaching on the territory in Eastern Baltimore. Fatface Rick suggests that the New York dealers are a larger problem because they are taking up more territory. The co-op agree to strike against them and Fatface Rick suggests including Marlo in the effort. They discuss Marlo's success at hiding bodies and Slim Charles explains the technique being used - hiding bodies in vacant row houses. Slim Charles warns Proposition Joe that he is unlikely to be successful negotiating with Marlo when Stringer Bell failed to make him see reason.
Omar awakens with a jump because of a loud noise outside his window. He checks and sees it was just the garbage men. Putting on a robe he goes to make breakfast, but finds that his new boyfriend, Renaldo, has finished their cereal. Omar prepares to go out and buy more cereal and considers taking a gun with him but cannot find anywhere to hide it in his pajamas. As he makes his way to the convenience store, lookouts announce his approach and drug dealers flee. At the store he is disappointed that they do not carry his brand, Honey Nut Cheerios. On his way home he stops for a cigarette and a frightened drug dealer drops his stash from a window. When he returns home Renaldo is impressed with the drugs but disappointed with the cereal. Omar reflects that he doesn't want the drugs because there was no effort taking it. He worries that taking the easy targets will eventually make him soft.
Omar and Renaldo stake out a potential target - a corner shop. Omar spots detective Kima Greggs photographing the store owner, though she does not see him. Both observers notice the resupply being delivered by a man with a child in school uniform, the day before school starts. Greggs enters the store to look around and then leaves. Omar tells Renaldo that he respects Greggs as long as she stays out of their way. When she leaves, Omar says she needs more patience.
They continue to wait on the store until another resupply is delivered. Omar sends Renaldo in to steal it with an old gun. The store owner, Old Face Andre, notices Renaldo's low caliber weapon and tries to claim that the Perspex surrounding his till is bulletproof. Omar steps in, fires through the glass, and demands the drugs. He buys a pack of cigarettes before he leaves and insists on receiving the correct change. Omar revels in seeing the terrified look on Andre's face.
Major case unit
Greggs returns to the unit and discusses the stash at the corner shop with Lester Freamon. Freamon has been working on the cell phone records of Old Face Andre based on the recorded call they have of him talking to Marlo Stanfield. They have tied him to Monk and Fruit but Greggs doubts there will be a link directly to Marlo. Freamon hopes to tie Andre to Tote or Partlow. Lieutenant Asher leaves the office telling the detectives he has to see the deputy commissioner. He asks them is they have gotten into something that might get the unit in trouble and they tell him there isn't anything to worry about.
Deputy Commissioner William Rawls briefs Lieutenant Charles Marimow about taking over the major case unit. Marimow is concerned about the subpoenas the unit served against political figures. He tells him they will not be responded to before the election and will then be ignored. Asher arrives and Rawls relieves him of duty, pretending that he is happy with his work.
Marimow introduces himself to the unit with a speech. He tells them that he has worked his way up to the lieutenant grade and understands the street. He preaches co-operation but more importantly supervision. The detectives share worried looks as Marimow leaves them to consider their future.
Marimow holds an office meeting to discuss the Stanfield investigation. He notices Officer Massey's absence, and Leander Sydnor explains that she worked a night shift and is not due during the day. Marimow tells them office meeting attendance is now mandatory. He asks about the suitability of Stanfield as a target. Freamon explains that Stanfield holds most of the drug corners in West Baltimore. Marimow says they will not focus on drug dealers who are not involved in murders and demands a minimum number of cases per month. He reminds them that the Barksdale case is closed and orders them to shut down the Stanfield wiretap. Freamon reminds him that the judge decides when the wiretap is finished. Marimow tells Freamon he will have to talk to Rawls.
Dismayed at the direction the unit is heading, Greggs meets with her old commander Major Cedric Daniels to discuss a transfer. Daniels is now commander of the Western district and Greggs wants to come back to work for him. He urges her to pursue investigative work further and try to move up or at least laterally instead of moving down by coming back to a district.
Freamon meets with Rawls. Rawls admits a grudging respect for Freamon and anticipates him involving the judge. Rawls tacitly threatens Greggs and Sydnor's careers in order to control Freamon. Rawls tells Freamon he respects his effort and offers him a transfer back to homicide. Freamon accepts, desperate to get away from Marimow and Rawls asks him to consider it a favour.
Daniels also meets Rawls on Greggs' behalf. He asks Rawls to help Greggs find a new position and suggests homicide. Rawls tells Daniels that Freamon has taken the post but offers to "see who he doesn't love anymore" and transfer out another detective to make room for Greggs.
Howard "Bunny" Colvin gets a visit from The Deacon at his home. They discuss his new job as a hotel security manager. Colvin is comfortable with the pay, benefits and company car but does not get on with his new boss. Colvin's property is littered with political signs and posters that he is constantly having to clear away. The deacon has a new opportunity for Colvin - a grant from the university of Maryland school of social work to look at repeat violent offenders. Colvin's name is known on the campus because of his efforts to deal with drug crime before his retirement. Colvin claims that he is not interested because he has had his fill of academics trying to do good. The deacon departs leaving the offer open.
At work Colvin is called to a hotel room where a prostitute has been beaten for attempting to steal from her clients wallet. He wants to eject the man, Mr. Gurgin, for his actions. The man is a good customer of the hotel and the manager refuses to let him be evicted. Colvin releases him after the manager reminds him he is no longer a police officer.
Colvin visits the deacon, who immediately notices he no longer has the company car; Colvin has quit the hotel job. The deacon takes him to meet with the academic responsible for administrating the grant, Dr. David Parenti. Parenti plans to focus on a target group and try to prevent them from becoming repeat violent offenders. He hopes to enlist Colvin as a field researcher recruiting subjects for the study. Parenti aims for 18-to-21-year-olds, because there is a peak in violent behavior at that age. Outside the meeting, Colvin suggests that he cannot talk to Parenti without the deacon to "translate," but the deacon dismisses this concern. Colvin realizes that the target age is most likely too high. He discusses his salary with the deacon who warns him the rewards of the position are unlikely to be as good as he hopes.
Colvin visits his old district with Parenti. Sergeant Carver allows them to interview one of the drug enforcement unit's prisoners, Shaun Williams. Williams is abusive and belligerent. Colvin asks him how he would react if his sister was beaten. Williams suggests violence, or having someone respond violently on his behalf. When Parenti suggests involving the police, Williams attacks the academic and Colvin is forced to restrain him. Parenti flees the interview. Outside he acknowledges that 18-to-21-year-olds are probably "too seasoned," to Colvin and Carver's amusement. Colvin suggests that they target middle school children.
Next, they visit the Edward Tilghman school where Prez works. Parenti sees how out of control the sixth-grade students are when they move between classes and accepts Colvin's suggestion.
Randy Wagstaff visits Michael's house on the way to school. He finds Michael preparing his younger brother, Bug. Duquan "Dukie" Weems joins them as they walk down the street. Randy gives Dukie the lunch that his foster mother packed for him.
They call for Namond Brice and his mother, De'Londa, answers the door in her robe. Namond calls the boys in to show them drawings someone in prison made for his father, Wee-Bey Brice. De'Londa refuses to allow Dukie into the house. Namond hopes to get a tattoo of one of the drawings. Michael tells Namond that the Chinese symbols included with the drawings may not mean what the man claimed.
When the boys arrive at school, they discuss their new home room teachers. Randy is in trainee math teacher Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski's class, and he is happy because Prez is new and white, and thus will be out of his depth. Namond is with Mrs. Scott, whom he dislikes. Michael is left behind as he readies Bug for the lower school. Dukie finds a broken battery-operated fan on the curb and picks it up.
Assistant principal Marcia Donnelly waits at the main entrance to greet her charges. She instructs them about their home rooms. Namond teases one of the security officers, drawing Donnelly's attention. She insists he remove his football jersey and jewelry. Prez waits for his homeroom class and tries to get them to follow a seating chart. Randy introduces himself to Prez with a handshake. Prez has trouble getting the class's attention until Randy intervenes on his behalf. Prez tries to joke with the class about his name, but they are unresponsive. He has little time to get to know his homeroom students. He begins to hand out bus passes, not realizing the children have ignored his seating plan. When his mistake comes to light, he tries to collect the passes back. Randy takes the opportunity to ask for a hall pass for the bathroom. The bell rings and the children begin to leave without giving the bus passes back to Prez. Distracted, Prez tells Randy to take a hall pass and he leaves with several. The eighth grade head teacher, Mrs. Samson, intervenes on Prez's behalf and the passes are instantly returned.
Later, Prez teaches Michael, Dukie and Namond's class. The girl who sat next to Dukie, Chiquan, asks to move because he smells. Prez urges her to show more compassion, but she is remorseless and moves to the back of the room. Prez tries to get the class interested in a time/speed/distance problem involving driving to Philadelphia. Namond, Kareem and others focus on the details of his example scenario and use it to start jokes. Chiquan harasses a girl named Laetitia by reflecting light in her eyes using a wristwatch. A fight breaks out and Prez steps in to try and break it up. As soon as the grade head steps in, the children respond. While Prez is distracted, Randy slips out of the room.
Randy spends his lunch break changing uniforms so that he can go into the cafeteria with other grades unnoticed. He sells them snacks and builds his customer base by offering discounts and taking special orders. While Randy plys his trade, Dukie sits alone, tinkering with the discarded electric fan.
Prez continues to have difficulty teaching his problem to his afternoon classes. Children who want to learn are distracted by others who continue to disrupt the class. As he tidies up at the end of the first day, he finds notes on his problem, showing that at least one student was following it. This lifts his mood until he finds profane graffiti about him on one of his desks. The children refer to him as Prezbo because they cannot pronounce his name.
Prez tries a different example the next day: a rocket ship. By moving outside of the children's realities, they are less able to make jokes about the example. He still fails to get an answer to a simple question from many of his students, including Darnell and Chiquan. When he calls upon Randy, he is able to answer correctly. Laetitia plays with a boxcutter at her desk throughout the lesson. She attacks Chiquan with the instrument and cuts her face. Prez is shocked and Laetitia threatens him, too. Mrs. Samson intervenes, slapping and disarming the student, and sends Crystal Judkins to call for an ambulance. She comforts Chiquan and tries to stop her bleeding. Dukie approaches the disarmed Laetitia and gives her the now functional electric fan.
- Old Face Andre: Westside corner store owner who operates a drug package for Marlo Stanfield out of his store.
- Lieutenant Charlie Marimow: Caustic commander with a reputation as a "unit killer" who is the replacement commander of the Major Case Unit.
- Dr. David Parenti: University of Maryland academic who is planning a pilot study targeting repeat violent offenders.
- Albert Stokes: A short, overweight, and foul mouthed eighth grade student in Prez's late math class.
- Darnell Tyson: Eighth grade student in Prez's math class with a drinking problem.
- Karim Williams: Eighth grade student in Prez's math class who is friends with Randy and Namond.
- Renaldo: Omar's new boyfriend.
- Renaldo is shown reading the novel Drama City by George Pelecanos (a writer for the show).
- Andre asks Detective Greggs if she is "one of them half-soul, half-Chinese types." Though Kima has never been explicitly identified as mixed-race, actress Sonja Sohn's parents are African-American and Korean-American.
- As the students enter the building on their first day, Marcia Donnelly instructs them not to go "up the down staircase", a likely reference by the writers to the novel of the same name, which deals with high school bureaucracy's compromising effects on a teacher's idealism.
- The Chinese characters shown (虎 and 心) are misidentified. When he points to the character that he says is "lion", it is actually "heart" (心). The other character (虎) actually means "tiger"