"Soft Eyes" is the second episode of the fourth season of The Wire. It is the thirty-ninth episode of the series overall. It premiered on September 17, 2006. The episode was written by David Mills and directed by Christine Moore.


Simon has commented that the influx of child actors initially caused some problems on set and said that crew members feelings mirrored the turmoil of Prez in the episode because of the young actors' behaviour.[1] However, by the end of filming they became a good crew of young actors.[1]


Guest Starring rolesEdit

Despite being credited, Dominic West, Robert Wisdom and Michael K. Williams do not appear in this episode.

First appearancesEdit

  • De'Londa Brice: Namond's materialistic and greedy mother who raises him with money from what remains of the Barksdale organization. A former club girl whom Wee-Bey impregnated is only being given the money she is due to Wee-Bey who is serving prison time on the Barksdale's behalf.
  • Sherrod: Bubble's young intern.
  • Crystal Judkins: Hard-working and responsible eighth grade student.

Title ReferenceEdit

The title is a mysterious piece of advice that a colleague gives Prez about teaching. ("You need soft eyes"). In the later episode "Refugees" that expression is used again and explained by Bunk Moreland.


"I still wake up white in a city that ain't. - Carcetti"
- {{{2}}}

Carcetti makes this statement when worrying about his chances in the upcoming election being hamstrung by his race.

Plot summaryEdit


Security detail officer Thomas "Herc" Hauk waits for the mayor with his new partner outside city hall. Herc worries that lieutenant Hoskins told him the mayor had a breakfast meeting and goes inside to look for his commander. Instead of finding the lieutenant he stumbles across Mayor Royce receiving oral sex from his secretary. Herc shuts the door quickly but not before Royce notices him.

Herc approaches his old partner sergeant Ellis Carver for advice about the situation. Carver tells Herc the problem is beyond his pay-grade and suggests they take it to someone with more experience of politics. Carver suggests Herc meet his old commander Southeastern District Major Stan Valchek.

Deputy campaign manager Norman Wilson waits for his candidate Tommy Carcetti in his kitchen. Carcetti's wife Jen recommends that Wilson hurry him along. Wilson finds him playing battleships with his daughter. Carcetti refuses to leave until he finishes a game of battleships with his daughter - he tells Wilson that the election is already lost.

Carcetti meets with police officers at the FOP lodge. They admit that they are reluctant to endorse his campaign with Royce leading in the polls. Carcetti is understanding but asks that they hold back in their active support of Royce and they agree to this. As they leave Major Valchek reassures Carcetti that he has achieved the best possible. Wilson urges Carcetti to prepare for the debate saying that nothing matters more, Carcetti tells him nothing matters at all now.

Valchek meets with Herc at the Fells Point docks. Valchek reassures Herc that the incident will act in his favour as long as Herc keeps quiet about it. Valchek says that Herc has already earned his sergeant's post and will become a lieutenant in two years and a major in four following a Royce victory. Herc worries that Royce will send him to the midnight shift as punishment and Valchek states it is then OK to use his knowledge against Royce if he is sent to the hated shift. Herc thanks Valchek for his time and advice and Valchek suggests that Herc might one day be able to return the favour. Valchek realizing the advantageous situation Herc is in laughs stating "What I wouldn't give to be in your shoes right now, Kid, careers have been launched on a helluva lot less. Just shut up and play dumb." Meanwhile Royce is considering moving Herc out of his security detail and checks with his chief of staff Coleman Parker to see if Herc has friends high up in the department.

Neighborhood kidsEdit

Namond Brice and his mother De'Londa visit his father Wee-Bey at the prison. Wee-Bey reassures them that he is doing well and checks that they are still receiving money from Brianna Barksdale. Wee-Bey asks after his fish, De'Londa is impatient with Wee-Bey's hobby but Namond has dutifully been caring for the fish. Wee-Bey notices that his son has his first facial hair and jokes with him about it. Wee-Bey asks how Namond's work with drug dealer Bodie Broadus is progressing and De'Londa tells him that Namond has not been applying himself and threatens to withhold money for his school things until he applies himself. Wee-Bey repeats Bodie's warning that Namonds pony tail makes him easy to spot for the police.

Back in the neighborhood Stanfield drug dealing lieutenant Monk Metcalf is giving away money to children to further his boss's reputation. Marlo Stanfield and his bodyguard Chris Partlow watch from their nearby vehicle.

Michael Lee and Namond approach Bodie to ask if Michael can have a job to earn money for school clothes and equipment for him and his younger brother. Bodie refuses to employ them both and Namond suggests that Michael could take his job until he has the funds he needs. Bodie waves them away as he notices Sergeant Carver pulling up. Carver is accompanied by homicide detective Bunk Moreland and they are looking for Bodie's recently murdered second-in-command Lex. Bodie promises to call them if he sees Lex, knowing that he is probably dead. Bunk says nothing but manages to intimidate Bodie with a look.

Namond and Michael find their friends on a stoop and begin to talk about returning to school. They joke about the girls that they will chase and Michael and Namond get into a play fight. Monk arrives and continues to hand out money. Randy Wagstaff is impressed by the gesture. Michael refuses to accept the money and walks away. Marlo approaches Michael to ask why he turned down the money. Michael just silently stares him down and Marlo lets him go. Later Michael, Namond and Randy discuss their good fortune. Namond claims that he needs the money despite his family being rich because his mother has threatened to withhold money for his school clothes. Their friend Donut pulls up in a stolen SUV. Namond gets into the car and they joke about what to steal next. Carver notices the car and the young kids and calls it in when they flee from him. Carver decides not to chase the kids because he knows most of them anyway. Randy is caught by Officer Walker an African American Western uniform officer. Walker searches him for drugs and finds the $200.00 in cash and steals the money from Randy on suspicion of drug dealing. He refuses to accept Randy's story that his foster mother gave him the money, pocketing it and telling Randy that if his foster mother comes to the district they can have it back.

Randy talks to his friends about Walker's actions and learns that he is known as one of many corrupt Western district officers. Donut continues to talk about what vehicle he would like to steal next and Duquan "Dukie" Weems warns him that he has already almost been caught once. Sergeant Carver arrives at the boys' hangout and gives them fair warning that if he sees any of them near a stolen car in the future he will deliver a beating in an alley rather than bringing them in. Namond is disbelieving and Carver uses Namond's name to prove that he knows who they are, where they hang and where they live. Donut is impressed with Carver's car.

Namond returns home to find that his mother has laid out new clothes for him despite her threats. He goes downstairs and thanks her. When he returns he turns on the television to find councilman Gray talking about education. He quickly turns off and begins playing a video game.


Bunk continues his search for Lex as a suspect in the murder of Stanfield dealer Fruit. He visits Lex's parents at their home and pressures his mother about her son's whereabouts. She refuses to tell him anything and Bunk tells her that he is not interested in his drug dealing but that he is wanted in connection to a homicide. Bunk believes that Lex has fled from the police.

At the homicide unit Bunk discusses the interview with Lex's parents with his colleagues Ed Norris and Vernon Holley. A call comes in with a new case and Holley debates whether or not to answer believing that if Norris takes the call, it will be a simple case where as if he answers the call the case will be impossible to solve. In the end Norris answers and the case appears to be a difficult drug shooting. Holley accompanies Norris to the scene of the shooting and they learn from the first officer on the scene, Aaron Castor, that the victim was alive when found but did not identify the shooter instead telling Castor that he was shot by "a man with a gun".

Later, Norris learns that his victim was a witness in a drug case and is pleased that the case will be high profile and garner him overtime work. Holley cannot believe Norris' luck. He discusses the case with sergeant Jay Landsman and is ordered to downplay the witness angle but take as much overtime as he needs to break the case. As soon as Norris leaves his office Landsman phones Valchek to tell him about the dead witness.

Stanfield organizationEdit

After making the rounds giving out money to neighborhood children Marlo assembles his soldiers for a shooting practice session. Marlo, Snoop and Partlow are effective shooters but some of the soldiers are less skilled. Monk gets a phonecall from Old Face Andre who is looking for a resupply. Marlo takes over the call and quickly puts Andre in his place.

Major case unitEdit

At the unit office detective Lester Freamon prepares to serve the subpoenas on political figures from the Barksdale Organization.Leander Sydnor worries that the action could damage all of their careers and Assistant State's Attorney Pearlman shares his concern as she paces worriedly around the room. Pearlman wishes that she had run the subpoenas by her superiors before letting them go ahead because of the upcoming elections - Freamon chastises her for considering breaking policy for politics. She tells him that the politics matter to her career for two reasons- if her boss, State's Attorney Demper, is re-elected then he will demote her to reviewing bail cases at the Central Booking holding facility; if the electoral opponent, an African American named Rupert Bond wins, she is likely to lose her position as the head of Narcotics prosecutions due to her race. Freamon notices that Pearlman has held back two subpoenas - Senator Clay Davis and Andy Krawczyk. She plans to keep them until after the polls. Freamon tells her that this is the only window for the investigation - at the moment the politicians have to worry about how their actions appear to the public, at any other time the unit would be shut down for pursuing this investigation.

Pearlman realizes that Freamon has played her by holding the investigation until now and that he lied when he said it was pushed back by fresh cases. Freamon pleads ignorance. Later Pearlman discusses her resentment of Freamon's duplicity in bed with Freamon's old commander Major Cedric Daniels. Daniels points out that Freamon had a case and then manages to make Pearlman laugh about Freamon's tried and tested manipulations. Daniels states that he is glad Freamon is manipulating someone other than him these days.

With the subpoenas ready, Freamon offers to serve them personally to protect Greggs and Sydnor realizing that they have to remain in the department longer than him given their shorter tenure. Greggs refuses the offer claiming "Fuck 'em where they live" and takes the subpoena for Krawczyk. Greggs is brash with Krawczyk and unafraid to give her name and unit. Despite his fears Sydnor is unabashed when he serves the Davis subpoena. The senator is clearly distressed, going to Royce in an outraged manner about the subpoena. Davis states to Royce there is a strong possibility of receiving dirty money (he claims it's more possible for $40,000 in cash to be given to him in West Baltimore by African American drug dealers than Asian American corner store owners who control the commercial business there) but that as Royce's deputy campaign manager responsible for the primary election's funding, it is an ungrateful move of the BPD who Royce has control over to accuse him of money laundering. Davis closes by telling Royce that his campaign will no longer receive any financial assistance from him unless Royce has the Baltimore Police back off. Krawcyzk calls next with a similar complaint and then Royce regurgitates their anger in a more extreme manner to Commissioner Burrell.

Burrell, fearing for his job, promises the mayor that there will be no more surprises from within the police department but is unable to do anything about subpoenas that have already been issued. Burrell discusses the problem with deputy commissioner William Rawls, asking who in the unit is the most likely instigator with his first guess being the once problematic Jimmy McNulty. Rawls tells Burrell much to his own regret that McNulty is not responsible for the subpoenas as he has been a western patrolmen for more than a year now, and the his best guess is Lester Freamon. Rawls feels Freamon is the most likely instigator because of his investigative skills and interest in upseting politicians. When Burrell asks how they should deal with Freamon, Rawls recommends "proper supervision" for the unit. Rawls feels that this is an effective alternative to handle the problem as Freamon is running the unit in a relatively unsupervised manner and that forcing him out of the unit will only result in a bad headline for the department.

The wiretap on Monk's phone continues to prove fruitful for the unit. They have a record of the call received from Old Face Andre at the shooting practice session and are able to identify the nature of the call and Marlo's voice despite the background noise. Greggs and Freamon identify the sound of gunshots and wonder why Marlo is holding a shooting practice session when they have been unable to link his organization to any violence apart from that committed against them - Lex's murder of Fruit is the only Western drug related homicide in months.


Dennis "Cutty" Wise continues his labouring job with a team of gardeners. He has picked up a working knowledge of Spanish, particularly swear words. The crew boss suggests that Cutty could work as a second crew chief and they could cover twice as much ground. Cutty refuses because of his commitment to his boxing gym.

Later at the gym Cutty continues to train onetime drug dealer Justin who is preapring for an upcoming match. The gym is packed with young men and a team of trainers and the equipment is much improved from when Cutty started out. A group of women wait in one corner as their sons work out. Cutty is approached by Sharon Jones, the mother of one of his students named Spider. She offers Cutty a dinner date and makes her availability abundantly clear, he tells her that he has little free time but asks if she could bring him dinner at the gym.

Cutty watches as Michael works a heavy bag and his very impressed with his natural ability. Another neighborhood mother, Gail, approaches Cutty witha peach cobbler. She has no sons but is impressed with Cutty regardless. Cutty pays far more attention to Michael.

Michael returns to the gym with Namond to work the heavy bag. Namond notices that Cutty is being flirted with by another mother. Justin interrupts Michael before his time is up and this sparks a fight. Cutty quickly breaks up the boys. Cutty allows Michael to finish his time and encourages him to accept training so that he can spar. One of Cutty's rules is that anyone can use the equipment but only boxers who are in training with one of his team can use the ring. Cutty offers to personally train Michael.


Bubbles and his young protegee Sherrod continue to make their living selling goods from a shopping cart. Sherrod struggles to add up the price of their wares and Bubbles criticises him and tells him if he had the math skills he could be running his own cart. Later, Bubbles tries to hide his drug use from Sherrod who he thinks is asleep. Sherrod is actually awake and worrying about Bubbles criticism - he tells Bubbles that he is willing to go back to school.


Trainee math teacher Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski cleans up his classroom while listening to Johnny Cash in preparation for the new school year. He removes the gum from the underside of the tables. Later he meets with the other teachers to discuss maintaining consistent class rules. The rules are simple - insist the children double space their work so it is easier to read, use consistent headings on work and keep the windows closed to keep the class drowsy. Prez asks if they can try to prevent the classes chewing gum and the others recommend that he stick to simple rules that he can easily enforce.

Assistant principal Donnelly is being helped to prepare for the new term by one of her students, Crystal Judkins. She tasks Crystal with delivering a box of second hand school things to Dukie because she lives near to him. Donnely shrewdly tells Crystal to give the clothes directly to Dukie and not any of the adults in his house. Bubbles and Sherrod arrive at the school offices to discuss enrolling Sherrod. Bubbles pretends to be Sherrod's uncle. Donnelly asks them into her office and Bubbles has a moment of recognition as he passes Prez.

Crystal faithfully delivers the package to Dukie's home. She is greeted by a dishevelled man who tries to take the box from her but she waits until Dukie comes downstairs for it.

The DebateEdit

In his debate preparation Carcetti is distracted and pays more attention to a problem with his sons school fees. When pressed by his campaign manager Theresa D'Agostino and Wilson he is able to come up with effective answers. During his preparation Carcetti gets a visit from Valchek who tells him about the recently murdered witness knowing that Carcetti can use it as ammunition in the debate.

As the debate progresses Carcetti's team watch on television and are impressed with his answers. Carcetti delivers his carefully planned answer to Royce's assertion that crime is down in Baltimore. Cutty watches from bed with a woman but soon turns over. The homicide unit listen as Carcetti delivers his trump card - the murdered witness. The detectives joke about Norris' case making headlines. State delegate Odell Watkins seems impressed with Carcetti's speech. The audience clap at Carcetti's answer as Burrell and Rawls worry about the backlash for them for their failure to tell the mayor about the witness murder. Royce's response is laboured and defensive, Carcetti's team are pleased while Royce's people seem worried.[2][3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Margaret Talbot (2007). Stealing Life. The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2012-09-04. Retrieved on 2007-10-14.
  2. Episode guide - episode 39 Soft Eyes. HBO (2006). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  3. "Soft Eyes". David Mills, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-09-17. No. 02, season 4.
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