"Moral Midgetry" is the eighth episode of the third season of The Wire. It is the thirty-third episode of the series overall. It premiered on November 14, 2004. The episode was written by Richard Price and directed by Agnieszka Holland.
Colicchio describes Colvin's plan to create drug tolerant zones using the episode title.
- "Crawl, walk, and then run."
- ―Clay Davis
Davis uses this phrase in his speech to Stringer about the need to prepare himself for moving into the world of federal corruption.
Councilman Tommy Carcetti hosts his public safety sub-committee meeting with Acting Commissioner Ervin Burrell and Deputy Commissioner William Rawls. He is concerned that the impressive reduction in crime from the Western district may be a misrepresentation and Burrell tries to reassure him that it is a statistical aberration. Carcetti moves on to the witness protection problems the city has been having and Burrell tells him there is no funding. Carcetti lays into Burrell despite urging from Councilman Anthony Gray to hold back. Theresa D'Agostino leaves the meeting because Carcetti has ignored her advice to save the witness protection program as ammunition for his campaign. At a dinner with Carcetti and his wife D'Agostino chastises Carcetti for his short sightedness in using facts to win arguments instead of inspiring people and urges him to be more likeable. D'Agostino arranges for Carcetti to get coaching in improving his demeanor.
Sergeant Ellis Carver checks in with Officer Aaron Castor and learns that Hamsterdam has been quiet apart from a few overdoses. A drug dealer is approached by someone selling jewellery who tells him to go into one of the vacant buildings and tell them Tariq sent him to get a good deal. Once inside the dealer is assaulted, bound, gagged, robbed and shoved in a room with several other victims. Once the stick-up crew have left the dealers manage to escape and alert the police. The dealers claim to Carver, Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk and Officer Anthony Colicchio that if they are not allowed to carry weapons then they police should guard them against stick-up crews.
Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin takes his friend The Deacon on a tour of his cleaned up areas and then brings him into Hamsterdam. Colvin discusses the dealers complaint with Carver and suggests that he pay the now unemployed lookouts to watch for trouble, acting like auxiliary police officers and thereby neutralising the problem of having so many unoccupied children around. The deacon is disgusted by Hamsterdam and asks Colvin what "in God's name" he has done. The deacon cannot be convinced that Colvin's scheme is a good idea. He asks Colvin to provide things like clean water, needles, condoms, treatment centres now that he has the addicts in one place. Colvin says that such schemes are outside of his mandate as a police officer. Later Dennis "Cutty" Wise meets with the Deacon and helps him to load boxes into a car. Cutty tells the deacon he needs to occupy himself to stay straight.
Herc brings the dealers into the precinct to use the identikit computer to make a composite of their attacker. Herc is impressed with the dealers computer skills. Colicchio is disgusted with co-operating the dealers. When Carver returns to the precinct he is also unimpressed with Herc for playing around with the dealers. Later, Officer Lloyd "Truck" Garrick, Colicchio, Herc and Carver discuss Colvin's project over beers. Colicchio describes it as moral midgetry and says it is a heart breaker to keep coming in to police Hamsterdam. Carver says that Colvin has always backed up his men and he has earned the right to try whatever he likes after 30 years in the Baltimore police. Herc reminds them that Colvin said that Hamsterdam was temporary and Colicchio is skeptical.
A community leader named Roman tries to calm unrest among the young unemployed boys in Hamsterdam. He meets with Cutty and the deacon and suggests a tournament to keep the boys occupied. Cutty tells the deacon he is more of a boxer than a ball player and Roman suggests an abandoned gym that kids use. Roman worries that it is too far away from Hamsterdam and Cutty asks why there are so many people there. Roman explains Colvin's initiative and tells Cutty the deacon hopes to intervene to improve things in the area. Roman takes them to a working boxing gym and Cutty seems to have returned home. Roman takes him to a disused gym and Cutty tells Roman he will fix it up himself, pleased to have something to work on.
The deacon meets Colvin in a pool hall and tells him they need to discuss it with someone. Colvin leaves to attend the comstat meeting but promises to return. At comstat Rawls questions Colvin about altering his figures. Daniels refuses to take any credit for the drop. Rawls asks Colvin to give him his records so he can check the figures.
Colvin, Roman and the deacon meet with someone from the public health board to bring him into Hamsterdam to provide facilities for the people there. He is concerned that it is not sanctioned by Colvin's superiors and the deacon urges him to act quickly. The next day initiatives are in full swing to exchange needles and provide free condoms. Colicchio takes this as a sign of the permanence of Hamsterdam.
Major case unit
Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski reports that he has tracked Bodie Broadus' disposable cell phone using its serial number and has managed to follow it from the manufacturer through several wholesalers to the mondo mart where it was sold to the end user. Lester Freamon and Cedric Daniels are impressed with his thorough and meticulous work. He reports that six of the other numbers are phones from the same company and has located the stores that they were sold in also, with no more than 2 from any single store. Freamon maps out the locations and finds that they are all spread along a single interstate from Baltimore to Richmond. Freamon and Daniels admire the discipline of the drug dealers in driving 200 miles every couple of weeks to avoid investigation.
Freamon assigns Jimmy McNulty and Kima Greggs the task of tracking the buyer of the phones. They visit mondo mart and find that security tapes are re-used after a week so there is no chance of getting footage of the buyer. Greggs decides they should drive further out of town to the independent stores to see if they have better memories or security footage. Sergeant Jay Landsman calls McNulty with a message that Brianna Barksdale has tried to reach him and gives him a contact number.
When they reach Virginia they find the shop where Bernard bought eight phones and owners that are helpful and keep meticulous written transaction records but still re-use their tapes. McNulty spots a local patrol car and realizes the local police could help them. He assumes they will be racist being in a more Southern area and asks Greggs to stay in the car while he talks to them. Inside McNulty talks with the local sheriff claiming how Baltimore has gone to hell under an black majority rule assuming the sheriff will be amused but finds his foot in his mouth, however, as the sheriff's deputy who is also his wife is African-American. The sheriff co-operates despite McNulty's feigned racism and shows them that he has asked a business man across the street to refocus his security camera on the mini market because the market has frequent problems with shop lifting. He offers to get them a copy of the tape in the morning. When McNulty is out of earshot, the sheriff tells Greggs that McNulty is a "bit of an asshole" due to the talk he had inside the station. Greggs like the majority of the BPD that has worked with McNulty concurs with the Sheriff's opinions. McNulty and Greggs find a motel and they discuss infidelity. In the discussion, McNulty claims that he spent half of his marriage in motel rooms and managed to successfully cheat on his wife by having his partner cover for him by saying he caught a late night case. McNulty learns that Greggs has returned to living with Cheryl but makes a move anyway.
Greggs and McNulty return to the unit office with the tape and find Special Agent Terrence "Fitz" Fitzhugh installing new equipment with Freamon and Prez. McNulty calls Brianna back and Daniels is surprised that she is involved. Fitz's equipment allows Prez to enlarge the image from the video camera footage and get Bernard's plate number.
McNulty meets with Brianna and insists that D'Angelo Barksdale could not have killed himself. Brianna tells McNulty that no one would have dared harm D'Angelo with Avon's protection and he speculates that D'Angelo's murder was planned or it would have been a swift shank. McNulty makes Brianna feel guilty by telling her that no one cares enough to look into it further and he also brings up her role in convincing D'Angelo not to turn on Avon. Brianna asks him why he did not come to her first and he responds that he thought Brianna cared more about protecting the drug operation than her own son.
Greggs and Prez track the plate number to a rental agency and find that Bernard hires a car from them every couple of weeks to make his collections.
Avon Barksdale and Slim Charles attend Rico's funeral and Avon plans to get revenge on Marlo Stanfield. Meanwhile Stringer Bell meets with Senator Clay Davis to question him about lack of progress in his development business. Davis tries to divert him by giving him a contract to supply lightbulbs. Davis tells Stringer that they will be operating at a federal level in three years. Stringer tells Davis he is ready to run now and Davis insists that he needs to work his way up.
Back in the office Avon gives Slim Charles a contact in social services to find some of Omar Little's relatives. Slim Charles suggests splitting their efforts between Omar and Marlo may be a mistake but Avon reassures him that now he is back they can handle everything. He tells Slim Charles they cannot get to Marlo directly so they will have to get "Devonne" on him. Shamrock visits social services with a bribe and learns that Omar's grandmother still lives at the same house. Charles takes Sapper and Gerard to stake out the house and tells them to wait for Omar to show up, Sapper once more fails to understand the plan.
Stringer checks in with Andy Krawczyk and learns about a rival property developer who has garnered much success from an association with Clay Davis. Stringer goes back to Davis and insists that he move faster in making him money. Davis takes Stringer to meet a contact who arrangers federal funding but he refuses to talk to Stringer. Davis reassures Stringer that they will do business with the contact. Stringer returns to Davis with a brief case full of cash and looks for assurances that Davis will deliver. Davis calls this as a sign that Stringer is still not ready.
Brianna visits the funeral home looking for Avon and finds only Stringer. Stringer tries to dissuade her from talking to Avon and refuses to put them in touch.
Omar has moved his crew over to the East side and is having much more success robbing the dealers there. On their return to the West side they are surprised at Hamsterdam and Omar believes it is too good to be true and refuses to consider it as a target.
Marlo catches a girl watching him in a club and approaches her. Marlo checks that she is there with friends and declines both drinking and dancing. Instead they leave the club together. After they have intercourse in his car she persuades him to meet her again the following day. She tells him her name is Devonne.
Marlo phones Devonne to arrange a meeting and begins to feel suspicious. He assigns Chris Partlow to deal with Devonne to avoid possible problems in the future. Snoop sits in the restaurant Marlo arranged to meet Devonne at and recognises a Barksdale soldier buying food and taking it to a nearby SUV. Snoop reports in to Partlow. Partlow observes Devonne receiving payment from the car, and he decides to fire into the SUV, wounding Avon and killing one of his soldiers, Tater.
Shamrock reports the shooting to Stringer and tells him that Brianna has been calling looking for Avon. Stringer orders Shamrock to keep Brianna away from him and Avon. Slim Charles takes Avon to a veterinarian to address his injuries. Avon meets with Shamrock, Slim Charles and Perry and tells them they are going to wait out Marlo, forcing him to return to the corners to make money. Stringer interrupts the meeting. He warns Avon about the consequences of war. Avon criticises Stringer as being too concerned with money and having lost his hard edge for the street and maybe not smart enough for the business world. Stringer says that thinking before killing does not make him soft and Avon asks who Stringer has killed. Stringer reports Brianna's meeting with McNulty and tells Avon that he was behind D'Angelo's death and that his was a life that had to be taken. Avon attacks Stringer but Stringer overpowers his wounded friend and tells him that he did it for him to protect him from D'Angelo turning against him. Stringer lets Avon up from the ground and Avon walks away and sits down, speechless.
- Tater: Barksdale soldier killed by Chris Partlow in Avon's attempt to ambush Marlo.
- The female needle exchange worker is played by Fran Boyd, who was one of the main subjects of David Simon and Ed Burns' previous HBO miniseries The Corner (in which she was played by Khandi Alexander, and also appeared as herself at the end).