"React Quotes" is the fifth episode of the fifth season of The Wire. It is the fifty-fifth episode of the series overall. It premiered on February 3, 2008. The episode was written by David Mills and directed by Agnieszka Holland.
Scott Templeton heads into the Baltimore Street to get "react quotes" from local people on the serial killer.
- "Just 'cause they're in the street doesn't mean that they lack opinions."
Spiros Vondopoulos inducts Marlo Stanfield into the The Greeks narcotic smuggling organization to replace the murdered Proposition Joe Stewart as their Baltimore distributor. Vondas describes the qualities that he valued in Prop Joe to Stanfield including his dependability. Vondas gives Stanfield a phone causing him to question the use of phones when Prop Joe taught him not to talk on the phone. Vondas tells him that he should use the phone for personal calls as much as possible to give the impression of no criminal activity and then also teaches him how to make contact without talking or sending text messages. Vondas instructs Stanfield that only he and his second-in-command are to know how to contact The Greeks.
After the meeting Stanfield is ecstatic at the power he has accumulated. Chris Partlow fears reprisal from Omar Little over the recent death of Butchie. Partlow tells Stanfield that he has to visit his family. Stanfield accompanies Partlow to his family home. Partlow says goodbye to his family and explains to Stanfield that he has told them he is going away on business for a few weeks.
Stanfield and his enforcers meet with attorney Maurice Levy. Levy discusses the gun possession charges against Partlow and Snoop and characterizes the case as simple. He is dismissive of their old lawyer's tactic of postponing the charges as he believes an acquittal would be easy to achieve. Partlow worries that the person whose name appears as the owner of the vehicle cannot do time and Levy suggests replacing her with someone who can. Stanfield gives Levy a check for money he needs laundered. Levy takes down Stanfield’s new contact details. Levy's investigator Thomas "Herc" Hauk arrives at the office as Stanfield leaves and remarks that Stanfield's status as a client of Levy's upsets him. Levy remarks that the firm will soon see a steady income from a wiretap case against Stanfield as he is using a cell phone. He concludes by saying that Proposition Joe referred Stanfield to the firm just in time.
O-Dog, Vinson, Snoop and Stanfield eat Chinese food at Vinson’s rim shop. O-Dog suggests using a different restaurant as he doesn’t like the looks he gets from the staff. Monk arrives and tells Stanfield that Partlow is behind him. Stanfield and Vinson notice that Monk is wearing a bulletproof vest. They chastise Monk because Omar will notice the vest and realize that they are waiting for him to act. Monk complains that he is the one forced to act as bait, and Snoop tells him that the vest is useless as Omar will be aiming at his head, just as she would be. Partlow reports that Omar waited outside of Monk’s building all night and left before morning. Partlow expects Omar to return.
Dukie walks Bug home from school and learns about his classes. Dukie finds that Bug is learning test questions in preparation for standardized tests. Bug tells him that their teachers have told them that they face layoffs unless the test scores improve. As they pass Michael Lee’s corner, Kenard throws a bottle at Dukie provoking a fight. Spider intervenes and gives Dukie a beating.
Later, Lee offers to beat Spider in reprisal for the attack on Dukie but Dukie insists he has to look after himself. Lee takes Dukie to Dennis Wise’s gym and Wise recognizes Michael although the boy does not go in. Dukie tells Wise that he needs training in boxing and Wise notices his bruises and asks him what has happened. Dukie refuses to go into specifics but insists he needs to learn to protect himself.
Dukie struggles through a sparring match with a much younger boy and then asks Wise what next. After a day's training Wise explains to Dukie that learning to fight and even fighting off one bully will not protect him from being targeted again. Wise asks why Dukie's tormentors are targeting him. He tells Dukie that he knows only boxing and the corner and that if Dukie has other skills he should pursue them. Wise encourages Dukie to avoid the street and find something else in the world, but Dukie is unsure how to escape his environment and Wise has no further guidance for him.
They leave the gym and Dukie tells Wise that Michael has grown up fast. Wise tells Dukie that for a boy like Michael, his way of life could work, but for a boy with other skills he has hope and wishes for better things. Dukie feels somewhat comforted and Wise tells him he wishes he had more.
Michael takes Dukie into the woods for shooting practice. Dukie is unable to use an automatic handgun. Michael gives Dukie a revolver and asks him to think of it as a tool like any other. Dukie misses the target and is frightened by the noise of the gun. Michael tells Dukie that learning to use a gun will not protect him – it will just force him to use the gun. Michael demonstrates his own prowess at shooting. Michael reminds Dukie that he is smart and has other skills.
State’s attorney Rupert Bond gives a press conference on the court house steps about the indictments for corruption against Senator Clay Davis. Bond tells the press that Davis abused public trust to extract funds from local businesses, charities and campaign donations. Bill Zorzi confronts Rhonda Pearlman because the State's Attorney's office failed to contact his paper about the story. Pearlman explains that a message was left for Gail Henderson. Zorzi angrily tells her that Henderson left the paper months ago and that he will be covering her work. Mayor Tommy Carcetti and Norman Wilson watch coverage of the press conference on television. Carcetti is pleased to see Davis in trouble, having been conned by him in the past. Wilson tells Carcetti that he needs to issue a statement and avoid being celebratory in tone as Davis may still survive the scandal. Carcetti is dismissive of Davis’ chances and Wilson reminds Carcetti that Davis’ voter base will be upset if the Mayor celebrates the indictments. Carcetti remarks that Bond looks Mayoral and Wilson responds that Bond is gaining profile over his rival Nerese Campbell and that he is now the front runner to replace Carcetti as Mayor.
Davis gripes to Campbell about the indictments issued against him. He threatens to take his colleagues down with him if they do not support him. Campbell reminds him that he has the support of ex-mayor Clarence Royce but Davis wants support from those still in office. Campbell reminds him that the consequences of the indictment are likely a short sentence and that by leaving quietly Davis can ensure that he has friends to come back to. She cites the departure of Ervin Burrell as police commissioner as an example of the benefits of going quietly. Davis accepts her argument.
Davis appears on a radio show and defends his actions. He claims that racism in the city’s power structure has motivated his indictment and that his reputation among the people should protect him. He tells the listeners that he has committed no crime and encourages people to attend a demonstration at the court house.
Davis is accompanied at the demonstration by former Mayor Clarence Royce. Royce’s speech whips the crowd into a fervor, again playing on Davis’ race as a reason for the prosecution. After his speech Royce whispers to Davis that he must take the weight of the prosecution on himself or he will no longer be able to make money in Baltimore.
Alma Gutierrez has a phone conversation with Jimmy McNulty about the fake serial killer that he has created. McNulty convinces Gutierrez to suggest a story about the killer acting from sexual compulsions without having to fabricate specific details. She insists that she will have to ask her editors as her last story was buried within the paper.
Gutierrez gives follow-up information from the police beat to Gus Haynes – there has been an arrest in the domestic cutting from Hampden, no arrest on drug related shootings in East Baltimore. Haynes asks for the victims' names and Gutierrez relates that the domestic victim was Patricia Bogus in her car and the drug-related deaths were Joseph Stewart, found in his dining room, and Nathaniel Mans, found in an alley garage. Haynes asks for a single short story on all three murders. Gutierrez brings up the homeless murders and her new information from McNulty, Haynes agrees to bring it up in the editorial meeting.
In the meeting, the sports desk editor relates a story on Bud Selig and baseball's half-hearted response to recommendations on steroid use. James Whiting asks Thomas Klebanow about front page stories and Klebanow suggests the Clay Davis indictment, Congressional hearings on Iraq, Jeff Price’s piece on Carcetti’s campaign fundraising and possibly a feature on John Waters filming in Baltimore. The art editor confirms that they have a picture of Waters on set with child actors. Steven Luxenberg jokes about the legality of the photo and Haynes retorts that they should not "confuse the auteur with his art." Haynes suggests Gutierrez’s follow-up story on the homeless murders and Whiting is unaware of the original piece. Klebanow asks for further reporting because of the vague nature of the information on the motive.
Bill Zorzi prepares his story on the Davis indictment while Haynes and Luxenberg watch over his shoulder. Their continued criticism prompts an outburst from Zorzi who demands to be allowed to write his first draft independently. The exchange impresses Gutierrez and Templeton. Gutierrez tells Templeton about her problems with the homeless murder story – her source refuses to expand on the sexual motive he has told her about.
The reporters meet with McNulty himself to get more information. McNulty is annoyed that Templeton now also knows his identity. Templeton points out McNulty’s desire to gain attention for the case and McNulty lies that he is chasing a predator that he feels people need to know about. Templeton explains that they need more to print the story. McNulty repeats that the motive is sexual and the reporters ask for more detail. McNulty tells them there is no semen on the bodies but that he has noticed a ribbon tied around their arms. Gutierrez asks if they can say the decedents were molested and McNulty does not object. Templeton asks McNulty for further detail and McNulty tells the reporters that the latest victims had bite marks on their bodies. He tells the reporters that the killer is maturing in his pattern of activity with the bodies. McNulty insists that he remain a confidential source and the reporters leave him with money for his tab.
The next day, McNulty again steals a paper from a box and is pleased to find his story in print. At the Sun offices, Gutierrez and Templeton discuss the story with Haynes. Templeton asks to write a piece on the background of the victims but Haynes has already had that idea and assigned it to Fletch. He asks Templeton to get react quotes from homeless people and Templeton is unsure of the idea. Haynes responds with the epigraph “Just ‘cause they’re in the street doesn’t mean that they lack opinions.” Templeton asks where he will find homeless people and Haynes jokes that they won’t be at home.
Templeton interviews Brendan Walsh at the Viva House soup kitchen about the response to the murders from the homeless people they serve. Brendan points out that their customers are largely the working poor rather than the homeless. Templeton asks where he should look and Brendan refers him to the streets. Brendan criticizes Templeton to Bubbles after Templeton leaves. Brendan tells Bubbles that he is doing well in the kitchen but that tomorrow he will need help waiting tables. He suggests that Bubbles try it for one day and that if Bubbles does not like it he will not ask again.
Templeton interviews several homeless people out on the street but struggles to find a suitable focus for his story. Eventually he finds a solitary homeless man named Nathan Levi Boston who tells him that the killer is Satan and rants about a day of reckoning.
Back at the office, Gutierrez tells Haynes that more police manpower has been assigned to the homicide killings according to the Public Information Office (PIO). Mike Fletcher reports that the first victim was an ex-Marine and that he has interviewed his family. Templeton returns to the newsroom and tells Haynes that he interviewed a family of four and gives him the name of Nathan Levi Boston as the father.
Phelps tells Haynes that the serial killer story is probably pleasing Clay Davis as it will push his own story out of the headlines after just one news cycle. Haynes offers the journalism cliché "if it bleeds it leads."
Haynes meets with his reporters after they have printed their articles on the serial killer. Fletch asks what they should pursue next and Haynes encourages them to move on unless there are further developments. He instructs Gutierrez to stay with the story, he tells Fletch he owes him a Colvin story and that Templeton should be working on his school piece. Templeton tells Haynes that he believes the story will continue to generate interest and suggests following the police as they talk to the homeless. Haynes credits the idea but tells Templeton that Gutierrez can investigate that and Templeton can research further material if needed.
Fellow reporter Scott Shane asks Templeton if he wants to make a start on their education piece and Templeton puts it off until after lunch. Templeton drives to a payphone and makes a call to his own cellphone, saying nothing but writing notes while he leaves the connection open.
Bubbles visits Walon at the crab restaurant where he works. Bubbles asks Walon to accompany him to a clinic so he can be tested for AIDS. Walon wonders why Bubbles has decided to find out now and Bubbles explains that he is volunteering at Viva House and he is worried about serving food. Walon tells him that AIDS cannot be transmitted by touch but Bubbles remains worried and admits that he visited the clinic but could not bring himself to go in.
Walon accompanies Bubbles to the clinic where he has blood taken by a nurse, who has to search for a vein on his scarred arms. Bubbles learns that the test will take about an hour.
Bubbles awaits the results of his test outside the clinic. Walon retrieves the results envelope and Bubbles has Walon open it. Walon reports a negative result and Bubbles is both disbelieving and disappointed. Bubbles remembers that he shared needles with Johnny Weeks, who did have AIDS. Walon tells Bubbles that his feelings stem from his need to punish himself for his past and that shame is not worth as much as he thinks. Walon encourages Bubbles to let his feelings go.
Jimmy McNulty shows the homeless killer story in the paper to Sergeant Jay Landsman but the sergeant is already well aware of the story. Landsman tells McNulty that Cedric Daniels is already meeting with the Mayor in his new capacity as Deputy Commissioner of Operations. Landsman refutes McNulty’s serial killer story and dismissively throws the paper in the trash.
In his meeting at city hall, Daniels reports the facts presented by McNulty’s office reports but admits he has not had an opportunity to debrief the investigators involved. Mayor Tommy Carcetti asks what they can do and what they can say they are already doing. Daniels tells him they have competent investigators on the case but they would be more successful if able to work overtime. Carcetti agrees to give unlimited overtime to two detectives only. Daniels explains that to pro-actively prevent further murders he will need more than two detectives. Carcetti reminds Daniels of the problems funding the city’s schools and tells Daniels he must now embrace hard choices as Deputy Commissioner. Norman Wilson asks what can be done to prevent further murders and Daniels suggests using the patrol division to warn the homeless and encourage them to seek shelter. Carcetti asks about diverting patrol units to watch areas where the homeless gather and Daniels explains that will require overtime, irking the Mayor. Daniels tells Carcetti that overtime is the blood in the veins of the department and Carcetti shakes his head.
Bunk Moreland reads the paper and McNulty jokes about the story he has leaked, telling Bunk that he cannot believe everything he reads. Landsman approaches and tells McNulty that his request for additional manpower has been granted but overtime is limited to two detectives. McNulty asks about surveillance teams and Landsman tells McNulty he only has Kima Greggs. McNulty is outraged that only two detectives are assigned to a high profile case. Landsman walks away as McNulty continues to complain.
Greggs asks McNulty what he wants her to do. Bunk points out that she has been taken from the investigation of a triple homicide for McNulty’s case. Greggs admits that she could do more work on the other case.
Bunk pulls McNulty into an interrogation room and confronts him about his actions. McNulty insists that his false serial killer will bring enough funding to arrest Marlo Stanfield and that he will make amends for having Greggs pulled from her real case. Bunk comments on McNulty’s binge drinking and McNulty has no response. McNulty tells Greggs to continue to work on her triple and promises to falsify office reports to show her working the case they have been assigned.
Thomas "Herc" Hauk returns to Maurice Levy’s office at night and writes Marlo Stanfield’s new cell phone number from Levy's Rolodex on a scrap of paper. Herc presents Stanfield’s number to his old partner Sergeant Ellis Carver before his morning briefing. Herc asks Carver to consider the favor in mitigation of any of his past actions that might have upset Carver and also to remind Stanfield of Herc’s lost camera when he is arrested.
Carver finds Lester Freamon leaving the Davis detail office and gives him Stanfield’s number. Freamon is amazed and asks Carver where the number came from, Carver tells him that it was "police work." Freamon calls the number posing as a customer trying to order take-out food, confirming that it belongs to Stanfield.
Freamon takes the number to Cedric Daniels and appeals to him for manpower to staff the case. Daniels tells him that it is not possible, enraging Freamon. Freamon demands that Daniels go to the Mayor and Daniels refuses, now angry himself, and tells Freamon that having already appealed to him for the Major Crimes Unit and the homeless murder with extremely limited success he will not ask a third time when he knows the answer.
Jimmy McNulty meets with Freamon late at night and complains about the continued lack of available funding and manpower despite his manufactured serial killer. Freamon tells McNulty that with the cellphone number they now need a wiretap and that will have to be illegally operated because Daniels has ordered them to stop pursuing the case. Freamon suggests that he can man the wiretap but might also involve Sydnor. McNulty insists that surveillance teams will be necessary later to investigate leads from the wiretap. Freamon tells him they can wait to address that problem and reassures him that the case will be easier to make now that Stanfield is using a cellphone. McNulty wonders how to manufacture the probable cause for a wiretap from his serial killer and decides that the killer must call someone but is unsure who. Freamon agrees that they could work the wiretap on Stanfield’s phone using falsified paperwork about the serial killer. McNulty ignores a call from his ex-wife Elena McNulty. McNulty asks Freamon to use his contact, Oscar, to find them another body and he will then fake a phone call.
McNulty visits Elena’s home after missing his son Sean perform in a play. His other son Mike largely ignores him. McNulty asks what the boys are listening to and asks what is wrong with the Ramones, attracting derisive looks. He leaves quickly and Elena stops him on his way out. She tells him that she has spoken with his new partner Beadie Russell and that Russell is aware that the new relationship is ending. Elena tells McNulty that she was glad to see him happy with Russell and that she would be sorry to see him ruin the relationship. He leaves without responding.
The next day Russell visits the homicide unit while McNulty sleeps off a hangover at home to confront Bunk about McNulty’s behaviour. She tells Bunk that she does not want to know what McNulty has done, only if it is worth prolonging the relationship in the hope his behaviour will change. She tells Bunk that she is ready to throw McNulty out and Bunk tells her about McNulty’s case. As a police officer herself, Russell refuses to accept that explanation. Bunk tells her that he can’t tell her what to do and she tells him that she doesn’t like giving up.
Later, Landsman peruses a clothing catalog, telling Bunk that it is a change of pace to see women with their clothes on. McNulty arrives and Landsman tells him that the killer has called the Baltimore Sun and dispatches McNulty to deal with it.
At the paper McNulty finds that it is Scott Templeton who claims to have received a call from the killer. Templeton has fabricated details about the killer’s intentions and created a grudge against the paper's stories as the reason for the call. Templeton suggests that the killer got his number from the cards he was giving out to homeless men. Gus Haynes reminds Templeton that the story would embarrass the paper if it proved to be a crank call and worries that there is no way to verify the caller's story.
Templeton gives McNulty the number of the payphone. McNulty takes a description of the caller’s voice from Templeton. McNulty asks for Templeton’s notes and the Sun’s legal staff intervenes telling McNulty that the notes are the property of the Baltimore Sun. Off the record, McNulty duplicitously confirms that the caller had some correct details, inventing a second call that was made to the police. Templeton is perturbed by McNulty confirming the details he has made up, but remains silent. Thomas Klebanow asks McNulty if it is alright to include the details in their story – protecting them against someone else taking responsibility for the call. McNulty tells him that doing so would assist in their investigation.
McNulty tells the reporters that they cannot reveal that the killer has also contacted police but gives them the quote that "police are taking the call seriously." He asks for consent to monitor the paper’s phones and they object out of fear of losing their confidentiality in discussions with sources. Templeton suggests that they will tap the payphone and McNulty insists that they not print that as it will encourage the killer to change his pattern. McNulty comments that the story is big for the paper and Haynes tells him that until he confirmed some details he thought the story was untrue.
McNulty manipulates the information from the reporters to provide probable cause on a wiretap for a cell phone supposedly belonging to the killer. Freamon helps to set up the fake wiretap so they can begin monitoring Freamon’s own tap on Marlo’s cell phone. Freamon shows McNulty that he has left a loose connection in the set-up for the homicide unit's wiretap so they will not pick up any activity. Meanwhile he plans to monitor his own wiretap. Pearlman and Landsman check through the paperwork for the wiretap. Landsman orders Holley to man the wiretap overnight and tells him that Worden will take over in the morning. Holley is not pleased with his new task but Landsman reminds him that he will actually get overtime for the work.
At the Davis detail offices, Freamon monitors his own wiretap and picks up a call to Stanfield from Partlow but nothing is said.
Omar Little and Donnie watch "Monk" Metcalf’s apartment building from their car. When Monk arrives they note that Monk is moving with protection and that their plans for revenge are likely expected. They later note that Monk arrived home early with two bodyguards but that one has since left. Omar decides to continue waiting to see if they can catch Monk alone. Their surveillance continues over the next night and they listen to Clay Davis speaking on the radio but switch stations. Omar is rewarded for his patience when both the bodyguards accompanying Monk leave the apartment.
They make their move but find an ambush waiting for them in the apartment. Donnie is shot in the vest by Snoop. Omar returns fire and shoots O-Dog in the leg. Omar and Donnie take cover in the lounge but Chris Partlow rushes Donnie and shoots him in the forehead. Omar is pinned down behind a sofa by constant fire from Michael, Partlow and Snoop. Omar bursts through a glass door to the balcony and leaps over the side. The Stanfield enforcers run to the edge of the balcony and look down in disbelief when they see Omar has disappeared.
- Donnie: Butchie's friend and Omar Little's accomplice in the assault on Monk's apartment. Shot in the head by Chris Partlow.
- Brendan Walsh's name is misspelled in the credits as Brandon Walsh. Guest stars Denise Francine Boyd, known as Fran Boyd, and Larry Andrews, known as Donnie Andrews married in August 2007. Andrews is a convicted murderer who now works for a gang outreach program at the AME Bethel Church. His criminal past is part of the inspiration for the Omar Little character and the two share many scenes in this episode. Fran Boyd is a recovering drug addict who works for an AIDS prevention clinic, in the episode she is the nurse taking blood from Bubbles for an AIDS test.