Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins is a recovering heroin addict and a former Confidential Informant. Bubbles has a son named KeyShawn, a fact he reveals in a conversation with Walon on a park bench in season one, episode ten ("The Cost"). KeyShawn lives with his mother "up Jersey way".
Bubbles was first seen making his living as a homeless addict and best friend and mentor to Johnny Weeks. The two ran a scam creating counterfeit money with a photocopier and using coffee to stain and age it, making the fake money look real. Bubbles was successful in using the money to purchase drugs from a crew of drug dealers consisting of the teenagers Bodie, Poot, and Wallace, working for the Barksdale organization. However, when the money was passed on to D'Angelo Barksdale, the crew boss, immediately recognized it as fake. The next time, they tried the scam, Johnny was severely beaten by the three teenage crew dealers when he panicked and ran after trying to pass them the counterfeit bills.
Bubbles offered to inform on the Barksdale gang for Detective Kima Greggs, to get some measure of revenge for Johnny's beating. Bubbles' knowledge of the street proved to be invaluable to Lieutenant Cedric Daniels' unit as they investigated the Barksdale organization. He helped to identify the members of the crew that ran the Barksdale pit and those that worked in the high rise towers; he'd offer colored hats for sale and would cheerfully place them on the heads of known Barksdale crew chiefs, identifying them to nearby officers who then photographed the suspects. When Omar robbed the Barksdale stash Bubbles was there, and gave the license plate number of Omar Little's van to Greggs, which helped the detail track down the stick-up man.
After he was nearly killed trying to steal some drugs, he tried to get off the needle, but reverted to his old habits when Greggs was shot. He paged Greggs after she had promised to help him with money and stay clean, not realizing that she had been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a buy-and-bust went bad. As the police were looking for murder suspects, he was mistaken as a suspect and then was brutally beaten by Detective Vernon Holley in the interrogation room. Seargent Jay Landsman and other officers restrained Holley and called in Jimmy McNulty to clear things up.
McNulty recruited Bubbles to find Omar Little, whom Bunk needed as a witness in the William Gant murder trial. Bubbles grudgingly agreed, and in a nervous encounter with a shotgun-wielding Omar, who baited Bubbs and Johnny with a steam radiator to sell for scrap, delivered McNulty's message. He was arrested by Officer Santangelo while trying to steal needles and morphine from an ambulance; in exchange for his release, he tipped off Greggs and McNulty to the new alliance between Proposition Joe and Stringer Bell.
Bubbles assists the major case unit once again. Bubbles was a former associate of Squeak, then Bernard's girlfriend. Bubbles put them in touch with an undercover Lester Freamon, allowing the unit's plan to wire tap the phones to proceed. Later, Johnny died of an overdose in one of Major Colvin's "Hamsterdam" zones. By season's end, Bubbles was selling white t-shirts to young drug dealers. It was in doing so that he met a young homeless boy, whom Bubbles took on as his new friend and protégé.
Bubbles replaces his protégé with another young boy named Sherrod. Bubbles and Sherrod were peddling small goods from a shopping cart to support themselves. Sherrod had trouble with the math involved and asked Bubbles to help re-enroll him in school. Sherrod never makes it to school, however, and after a brief fall-out with Bubbles he returns to help him sell goods from the shopping carts. In Sherrod's absence, however, Bubbles has become the daily victim of another street addict, who constantly robs him and beats him. After efforts by Herc to protect him fail, Bubbles concocts a "hot shot" of heroin and sodium cyanide that he supposes will be stolen from him by the vagrant and then consumed by him. However on the day after he prepares the "hot shot" he does not see the vagrant and falls asleep. Sherrod uses the tainted drugs while Bubbles sleeps and Bubbles awakes to find that Sherrod has died. Consumed by guilt and grief, Bubbles confesses his actions to the police, and unsuccessfully attempts suicide in the Homicide Interrogation room. Sergeant Landsman sees that the death was unintentional and decides, despite the negative impact on the homicide unit's clearance rate, to send Bubbles to a psychiatric facility at a state hospital than charge Bubbles with murder.
Bubbles has been clean for over a year. He is living in his sister Rae's basement and selling The Baltimore Sun on the street to make money. His Narcotics Anonymous sponsor is Walon. Bubbs attends NA meetings but defers to humor to keep from admitting that he accidentally killed Sherrod. Walon encourages Bubbs to take an HIV test and accompanies him to the clinic. When the results come back negative, Bubbs is disappointed, knowing he'd shared needles with Johnny, who was positive. Walon tells him he can't dwell on the past, looking for an explanation for his luck. Later, while in an NA meeting, Bubbles tearfully admits his culpability in Sherrod's death. A Baltimore Sun reporter becomes interested in the drug trade and its effect on the city and its people and he interviews Bubbles, printing a column about his life story. Bubbles is initially reluctant to let such an honest portrayal of his life be published but after Walon reads it and approves of it, Bubbles lets the reporter print it. In his final scene, Bubbles joins his sister and niece for a meal in their home, her trust in him being seemingly restored.
|Season 1 appearances|
|"The Target"||"The Detail"||"The Buys"||"Old Cases"||"The Pager"|
|"The Wire"||"One Arrest"||"Lessons"||"Game Day"||"The Cost"|
|"The Hunt"||"Cleaning Up"||"Sentencing"|
|Season 2 appearances|
|"Ebb Tide"||"Collateral Damage"||"Hot Shots"||"Hard Cases"||"Undertow"|
|"All Prologue"||"Backwash"||"Duck and Cover"||"Stray Rounds"||"Storm Warnings"|
|"Bad Dreams"||"Port in a Storm"|
|Season 3 appearances|
|"Time after Time"||"All Due Respect"||"Dead Soldiers"||"Amsterdam"||"Straight and True"|
|"Homecoming"||"Back Burners"||"Moral Midgetry"||"Slapstick"||"Reformation"|
|"Middle Ground"||"Mission Accomplished"|
|Season 4 appearances|
|"Boys of Summer"||"Soft Eyes"||"Home Rooms"||"Refugees"||"Alliances"|
|"Margin of Error"||"Unto Others"||"Corner Boys"||"Know Your Place"||"Misgivings"|
|"A New Day"||"That's Got His Own"||"Final Grades"|
|Season 5 appearances|
|"More with Less"||"Unconfirmed Reports"||"Not for Attribution"||"Transitions"||"React Quotes"|
|"The Dickensian Aspect"||"Took"||"Clarifications"||"Late Editions"||"–30–"|
- Royo was once approached by a real drug addict and given heroin while filming as he appeared to "need a fix more than" the addict. Royo dubbed this exchange his "street Oscar."
- Bubbles's last name was not revealed until a fourth season episode when he was called "Mr. Cousins"; his first name was not revealed until Walon called him "Reginald" in More With Less.
- ↑ Character profile - Bubbles. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-05.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "More with Less". Joe Chappelle, Writ. David Simon (story and teleplay), Ed Burns (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-06. No. 1, season 5.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Margaret Talbot (2007). Stealing Life. The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2012-09-04. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.