The Wire

Dead Soldiers

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"Dead Soldiers" is the third episode of the third season of The Wire. The episode was written by Dennis Lehane from a story he co-wrote with David Simon and was directed by Rob Bailey. It originally aired on October 3, 2004.

Guest Starring rolesEdit

Despite being credited, Wood Harris does not appear in this episode.

Episode recapEdit


Major Colvin and Lieutenant Mello attend the weekly comstat meeting. Colvin cannot bring himself to go in. He is not the only one who is nervous, Major Marvin Taylor is vomiting in the bathroom. Colvin tries to reassure him but he remains afraid. In the meeting Deputy Commissioner Rawls continues to disparage Taylor. Acting Commissioner Burrell intercedes to demote Taylor and replace him with his deputy Major, Creswich.

Councilmen Tommy Carcetti and Anthony Gray play liar's poker in their offices, Carcetti always seems to win. Carcetti has a reporter meet him to discuss the delayed police academy training off the record. Carcetti tells the reporter that Mayor Clarence Royce is delaying the classes as a money-saving exercise despite problems in the police department and rising crime rates. Carcetti calls Burrell to give him advance warning of the story so that he can alert the mayor to it before it breaks. Burrell is outraged that Carcetti has gone to the press and believes the mayor will blame him.

Burrell meets with Mayor Royce and his Chief of Staff Coleman Parker. The Mayor asks Burrell to take the hit over the story by saying the delay is due to internal problems. Burrell agrees and the Mayor tells him he is grateful for his loyalty.

Burrell later meets with the the Mayor, Parker, State Delegate Odell Watkins and the State's Attorney Steven Demper to discuss crime figures. While Burrell has delivered his promise to reduce felony rates the murder rate continues to rise. Burrell blames the State's attourneys case work. As everyone argues, Royce claims they should at least pretend to be on the same side due to their elected and appointed positions. Parker jokingly then remarks that they may have to get "real jobs" if they cannot find it in themselves to get along. After Burrell and Demper leave Watkins urges the Mayor to sack Burrell. The Mayor mentions Watkins plans to install Marla Daniels in Eunetta Perkins city council seat and tells him that he always reward loyalty in his people and will continue to support both Burrell and Perkins despite their lackluster performances.

Carcetti attends a first district fundraiser with his wife and children. Ervin Burrell is in attendance (as one of the few African Americans) for hopes of improving his relationship with the first district politicians that he and Mayor Royce are not on great terms with. After Carcetti's wife and children go home early, Carcetti is seen committing adultery with a woman he noticed in the crowd.

Barksdale organizationEdit

Omar Little's crew scope out a Barksdale stash house. Omar notices their increased defences but assures his team it will be easier to take in the morning. Kimmy questions Omar's vendetta against the Barksdale organization and he refuses to give his reasons.

The next day they make their move against the heavily guarded stash house. Tosha poses as a mother looking for a lost child and gets close enough to disarm Gerard, the guard at the front door. Once inside Omar's team subdue the two guards downstairs, one of whom is longtime Barksdale bodyguard Perry the other a soldier named Rico, and check that the upstairs door is locked. They have Gerard show them the stash, which is hidden behind a plaster board that is screwed in place. As he begins to unscrew it the noise alerts Tank, the Barksdale enforcer on the back door. He spots Omar's team through the window and signals Slim Charles upstairs by throwing clothespins at the boarded-up, upstairs window, Tank then moves around the side of the building with a young enforcer named Sapper. As Omar makes his exit the upstairs door is unlocked. Omar shoots at the door and hurries his crew outside. They get pinned down behind a parked car and when they make a move to their own vehicle, it appears that Dante accidentally hits Tosha with a stray round. Kimmy stops in the middle of the street and shoots Tank. Omar grabs Kimmy and bundles her into the car and they make their escape.

Stringer Bell is called to meet Proposition Joe downtown on a rainy night. Joe tells Stringer about the major case unit tipping their hand by bringing in Cheese and telling him about the wire, all over the shooting of Cheese's pet dog. Joe warns Stringer to keep things boring to keep police attention away from them.

After the robbery Slim Charles brings his soldiers to meet with Stringer to report what happened. Stringer is disappointed in them and his business lately. During the meeting Donette phones Shamrock, trying to get in touch with Stringer and he refuses to talk to her. Stringer orders his enforcers to cover Tosha's funeral in case Omar shows up. Donette continues to try to get in touch with Stringer through Shamrock.

Meanwhile Omar's crew mourn their loss at their hideout. Omar takes responsibility for Tosha's death and Kimmy sullenly tells him his apology does nothing for her. Omar mourns Tosha's death from across the street hiding in the shadows from Slim Charles and the other Barksdale soldiers.


Jimmy McNulty takes the D'Angelo Barksdale file to Bunk Moreland to ask for his opinion. McNulty notices a beaten suspect in the interrogation room and Bunk tells him that he's the drug dealer who confessed to shooting Officer Dozerman. When McNulty asks if the confession came before or after the beatdown, Bunk replied that he arrested the dealer in East Baltimore and had the police car made an unscheduled "tune up" stop at the Western District where the Western Officers had their chance for revenge. Dozerman's weapon however was sold on to a street kid named Peanut. Colonel Raymond Foerster interrupts to tell Bunk that his work on the Dozerman shooting is not over and that he needs to locate the weapon.

Bunk checks the name Peanut and finds 87 matches, all Number 1 Males (BPD's numerical description of African American men) in West Baltimore. Detective Holley laughs at Bunk's misfortune. Holley then gets a call himself - the shooting of Tank and Tosha. Holley manages to convince Bunk to be the primary as he already has another case. Holley accompanies Bunk to the crime scene as the assisting detective, while there Bunk is sympathetic for Tosha believing that she was caught in the crossfire. Bunk is also dismayed when he notices African American children pretending to be Omar seeing them act out the shooting. As Bunk ties up his case notes at the office Sergeant Jay Landsman corners him to insist he get back to work on finding Dozerman's gun.

Major case unitEdit

Lieutenant Cedric Daniels convenes a meeting to discuss moving his team on to the North Western district to pursue a new target, Kintell "Prince K" Williamson, who has control of several drug corners and is implicated in some homicide investigations. Daniels notes McNulty's absence. Kima Greggs is skeptical of their reasons for ceasing the Barksdale/Proposition Joe investigation and decries the value of their new target. When the meeting is adjourned Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski says that Greggs embodied the spirit of McNulty.

McNulty is away visiting the prison to review the evidence in D'Angelo's file. He mocks up the murder scene and shows that the belt is likely too long for D'Angelo to have killed himself using it. Later McNulty explains his absence to Rhonda Pearlman, Lester Freamon and Greggs over drinks. McNulty is angry about their change in direction and Freamon tells him that Daniels has earned their loyalty. McNulty and Greggs continue to drink after the bar closes and she raises her relationship problems. They decide to cruise the Western to see what has changed since the towers fell instead of focussing on Kintell.

Out on patrol the next day McNulty is unfamiliar with Fruit's crew but recognises some faces from Bodie's. They remark on the quietness of the territory. McNulty learns that Ray Cole has died while exercising at the gym.

Cole's wakeEdit

At Cole's wake Landsman delivers a eulogy with Cole's body laid out on the bar. McNulty, Freamon, Bunk, Holley, Michael Santangelo, Ilene Nathan and Ed Norris are in attendance along with many other detectives. They all join in singing "Body of an American" by The Pogues to mark his passing.

Western DistrictEdit

Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin and Lieutenant Dennis Mello survey territory in their district. Colvin is looking for somewhere away from schools and residences. Mello seems worried about Colvin's plans and asks if it's wise to conceal them from their superiors. Later as he goes through his felony statistics with Mello and his community relations sergeant he orders them to stop reclassifying things and give the statistics straight. Mello worries about the comstat meeting.

At comstat Deputy Commissioner William Rawls predictably singles out Colvin for being the only commander whose felony rate has risen. Colvin refuses to make excuses beyond saying that what they are doing is not having an impact. Rawls cites Daniels as an example of the kind of commander he wants for solving the shootings in the Eastern district. As Rawls berates Colvin, Commissioner Ervin Burrell arrives and tells Major Reed about his meeting with the Mayor, saying that there is no loyalty. Burrell tells Colvin that he does not care about his veteran status and will lose his post if his figures do not improve. Burrell closes by telling the district commanders "The Gods will not save you" as a means of having them meet the necessary reduction figures.

After the meeting Major Stan Valchek congratulates Daniels on the reputation he is building, Daniels admits that he is disappointed to have lost his wire tap, Colvin commends Daniels for stopping the drug war. The Northwestern commander remarks that he is pleased to have Daniels building a case against Kintell Williamson. The commanders discuss their plans to meet Rawls' demands (Valchek notably states he will cheat stats if he needs to in order to improve figures in the Southeastern district). Colvin says that he is considering legalizing drugs and the other commanders laugh not realizing he is truthful in his intent to do so.

Ellis Carver and Thomas "Herc" Hauk discuss Burrell's statement in the paper taking responsibility for the delayed academy class. McNulty and Greggs visit them for information and they have nothing to tell them, Greggs is disappointed that Herc has disregarded her advice about informants. Carver is called away to the rollcall briefing and jokes about the downtown detectives being lost and confused. Colvin unveils his plans to move drug trade into three specific areas and instructs his men in how to achieve this.

Later McNulty and Greggs track down Bubbles and Johnny to offer them work. Johnny is reluctant but Bubbles says that he is always willing to work for these two detectives.

Stanfield crewEdit

Marlo Stanfield calls Fruit to meet with him and asks him why his profits are down. Fruit blames the Barksdale crews encroaching on his turf. Marlo tells him he wants them moved on and gives him some enforcers to take with him. The following day Fruit brings his entire team plus some muscle to Puddin and the rest of Bodie's crew and delivers a swift beating. Bodie reports the beating to Stringer at the funeral home bringing some of his injured crew with him to illustrate his point.


Dennis "Cutty" Wise meets with the sister of an old flame of his named Grace to try and find out where she is living now. He eventually gets the information he is looking for. Cutty tracks Grace down to the school where she is now working and watches her leave. He dresses in a suit and tie and says goodbye to his mother before going to meet Grace. Grace is not pleased to see Cutty but seems impressed that he is out of the game, offering him potential work in the Parks and Rec department.[1][2]

First appearancesEdit

  • Gerard and Sapper: Young and Idiotic Barksdale enforcers involved in the gunfight following Omar's heist attempt.
  • Grace Sampson: A school teacher and Cutty's old flame.
  • Jen Carcetti: Tommy Carcetti's loyal wife.


  • Tank: Shot by Kimmy defending a Barksdale stash house.
  • Tosha Mitchell: Accidentally shot by Dante during a heist on a Barksdale stash house.
  • Ray Cole: Died exercising on a stair master.

Title ReferenceEdit

The title describes the used vials of drugs that litter the streets of Baltimore and also the deaths of Tosha Mitchell and Ray Cole.


"The gods will not save you. - Burrell"
- {{{2}}} Burrell makes this statement to his district commanders at a comstat meeting as a means of telling the commanders that their performance is to meet specific demands regardless of the realities of their district.

Symbolism Edit

According to David Simon's commentary on the DVD of this episode, the blinds in the room where the comstat meeting is held are open when someone is trying to bring some truth into the room-- in this episode, Colvin is honest about his district's increasing crime stats and the blinds are partially open.

Tribute to producerEdit

The police wake for Ray Cole is a tribute to producer Robert F. Colesberry, who played Cole and died after the second season. Landsman makes reference to Cole working "after hours" and being involved in "the Mississippi extradition" (Colesberry produced After Hours and Mississippi Burning). The Irish song the police sing along to is "The Body of an American" by The Pogues.


  1. Episode guide - episode 28 Dead Soldiers. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-07.
  2. "Dead Soldiers". David Simon, Dennis Lehane. The Wire. HBO. 2004-10-03. No. 03, season 3.

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