"Lessons" is the eighth episode of the first season of The Wire. The episode was written by David Simon from a story by David Simon & Ed Burns and was directed by Gloria Muzio. It originally aired on July 21, 2002.
McNulty uses his children to tail Stringer after a chance encounter in a local market. Greggs and Carver arrest a driver picking up a large amount of cash from the Towers from known gang members, but are forced to return the money when the driver's political connections to Senator Clay Davis are revealed. Daniels discusses his problems following the money trail with his wife, Marla.
The Street Edit
One of Wallace's young charges wakes him for help with his math homework. He is unable to do a simple counting problem until Wallace phrases it in terms of the drug business. Poot encourages Wallace to come to work. At the print shop (a Barksdale front), Stringer berates the staff for not acting like professionals.
Barksdale soldiers Wee-Bey Brice, Stinkum and Savino raid Omar’s apartment and torch his van while he watches from his hiding place across the street. Later, they pick up D'Angelo Barksdale to go for a meal, where D'Angelo mentions Orlando's proposition; the others tell him that he should talk to Avon.
Avon harangues Orlando for considering getting involved in dealing when his only job is to be a clean front for the liquor board. He beats him and throws him out of his office in front of the dancers.
The soldiers throw a party celebrating Stinkum's promotion, which will be official as soon as they kill a dealer named Scar and chase his crew off his corner. D'Angelo goes out for more alcohol, and when he comes back the party is almost over. He notices one of the dancers, Keisha, lying on a bed and asks what is wrong with her. On closer inspection he realises she is dead. Wee-Bey seems unconcerned, but D'Angelo is slightly shaken. Later, Shardene asks D’Angelo about Keisha, and he tells her that she was sick when he last saw her. They discuss his future and she tells him that if he is unhappy, he should do something else.
Wee-Bey and Stinkum prepare to hit Scar's corner, but Omar emerges from the shadows, killing Stinkum and wounding Wee-Bey.
Avon marshals his soldiers, telling them that the bounty on Omar has increased to $10,000 and ordering them to get to work. Stringer tells him that the vendetta will be expensive and has gotten out of hand.
The Police Edit
Detective Jimmy McNulty spots Stringer Bell while taking his sons on a shopping trip and has them follow him. McNulty loses his sons, but they are capable and manage to write down Stringers number plate. He later discusses his pride in their ability with Bunk Moreland.
In the detail office, Thomas "Herc" Hauk and Ellis Carver discuss the upcoming sergeant’s exam, which they take later in the episode. Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski asks them to tail some of the pit crew to see which phones they are using now. They ridicule him, but, when Kima Greggs makes the same request, they comply. Based on information gleaned from the wire, they pull over Damien "Day-Day" Price, who is Senator Clay Davis' driver. They find a bag full of cash in his car and bring him in for questioning. Daniels tells the detail to keep the cash, but release Price with a receipt. He is forced to defend his detail's actions to Deputy Commissioner Burrell, who tells him to give the money back and write the stop up as unwarranted. Burrell tells Daniels he is shutting down his case for getting into areas they were not supposed to be in. Daniels tells his wife Marla that his superiors dislike wiretaps because they know that drug money ties into politics. He also complains that McNulty asked him what the deputy had on him, and she asks him what he said.
Judge Phelan calls McNulty into his chambers and Greggs accompanies him. He asks about a memo from Burrell that states he is shutting the case down for getting into areas beyond its mandate and they agree to the opposition involved with it. He then calls Burrell and insists that the wiretaps be used for the full duration threatening Burrell with a contempt charge for early termination of the wiretap. He grins at the detectives and asks them, "Who’s your daddy now?" Later McNulty tails Stringer and sees him abandon his car and switch to a taxi. McNulty follows Stringer to an economics class.
At the detail, wiretaps reveal the murder of Stinkum and implicate Omar. Freamon tells Greggs that Omar is a loose cannon. McNulty and Greggs bring Omar in the next day, but Omar denies any involvement. While at the detail, Omar spots the photo linking Avon to Orlando’s club. Omar is unapologetic about his actions and the detectives have to let him go. Later Omar observes Orlando's club from the shadows.
Bunk tells McNulty that Ray Cole caught the Stinkum murder. McNulty tells him that Omar was the shooter, and asks him to tell Cole that they have some talk on the wire, and will give him a closed case once their case is finished; both Bunk and McNulty regret the lie, and go out drinking to soothe their consciences. They discuss the strange position of protecting Omar from the murder investigation. Bunk spots a woman he wishes to bed, and asks McNulty to cover for him with his wife. Later, McNulty is called by the woman to come and collect Bunk, who is so drunk that he decided to burn his clothes to destroy the evidence of his infidelity. McNulty brings Bunk back to his house and deposits him in his sons' beds. Bunk mumbles that McNulty is bad for the people around him before falling asleep.
Greggs goes to Freamon with her worries that she caused Omar to volunteer as an eyewitness; Freamon reassures Greggs that justice would be served even without Omar, as the ballistics matched. They discuss dancers at the club and he picks out Shardene as a potential informant.
|Dominic West||Jimmy McNulty||Homicide detective - Barksdale detail|
|John Doman||William Rawls||Major and homicide unit commander|
|Idris Elba||Stringer Bell||Barksdale organization underboss|
|Frankie R. Faison||Ervin Burrell||Deptuty commissioner of operations|
|Larry Gilliard, Jr.||D'Angelo Barksdale||Barksdale organization crew chief|
|Wood Harris||Avon Barksdale||Drug kingpin|
|Deirdre Lovejoy||Rhonda Pearlman||Assistant State's Attorney|
|Wendell Pierce||Bunk Moreland||Homicide detective|
|Lance Reddick||Cedric Daniels||Narcotics unit shift lieutenant|
|Andre Royo||Bubbles||Drug addict and confidential informant|
|Sonja Sohn||Kima Greggs||Narcotics unit detective|
- with Peter Gerety as Judge Daniel Phelan
- Seth Gilliam as Detective Ellis Carver
- Domenick Lombardozzi as Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk
- Clarke Peters as Detective Lester Freamon
- Jim True-Frost as Detective Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski
- Hassan Johnson as Wee-Bey Brice
- Corey Parker Robinson as Detective Leander Sydnor
- Michael B. Jordan as Wallace
- Michael K. Williams as Omar Little
- Maria Broom as Marla Daniels
- Antonio Cordova as Michael McNulty
- Wendy Grantham as Shardene Innes
- Eric Ryan as Sean McNulty
- Tray Chaney as Poot Carr
- Clayton LeBouef as Wendell "Orlando" Blocker
- Brandon Price as Anton "Stinkum" Artis
- Donnel Rawlings as Damien "Day-Day" Price
- Tony Head as Major Bobby Reed (uncredited)
- Chris Clanton as Savino (uncredited)
- Micaiah Jones as Little Man (uncredited)
- Unknown as Keisha (uncredited)
The title refers to the classes Stringer takes, Wallace teaching the math problems to the child in his charge, Judge Phelan showing his control over Burrell to McNulty, the sergeant's exam Herc and Carver take, and Omar teaching a lesson to the Barksdale soldiers.
"Come at the king, you best not miss. "
Omar uses this phrase while taunting Wee-Bey after shooting Stinkum. It also relates to the chess discussion in episode #3, and Omar's attempt on Avon's life in the subsequent episode.