The Wire

Season three

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The Wire Season 3
Season three
DVD cover
Country of origin USA
Network HBO
Original run September 19, 2004 –
December 19, 2004
No. of episodes 12
DVD release date August 8, 2006
Previous season 2
Next season 4
In season three, the action was focused back on the street and the Barksdale organization but the scope expanded to include the political scene. In addition, a new subplot was introduced to examine the potential positive effects of legalizing the drug trade within the limited boundaries of three uninhabited city blocks — referred to by the malapropism "Hamsterdam." These were continuations of storylines hinted at earlier. A new character, Marlo Stanfield, was introduced, who began to aggressively move into Barksdale territory throughout the city.

Cast and charactersEdit

See also: Season three cast

The third season starring cast consists of:

Actor/actress Character Role
Dominic West Jimmy McNulty Major crimes unit detective
John Doman William Rawls Deputy Commissioner for Operations
Idris Elba Stringer Bell Barksdale organization kingpin
Frankie Faison Ervin Burrell Acting commissioner
Wood Harris Avon Barksdale Barksdale organization kingpin
Aidan Gillen Tommy Carcetti Councilman
Deirdre Lovejoy Rhonda Pearlman Assistant State's Attorney
Clarke Peters Lester Freamon Major Crimes Unit Detective
Wendell Pierce Bunk Moreland Homicide detective
Lance Reddick Cedric Daniels Major Crimes Unit Lieutenant
Andre Royo Bubbles Drug addict
Sonja Sohn Kima Greggs Major crimes unit detective
Jim True-Frost Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski Major crimes unit detective
Robert Wisdom Howard "Bunny" Colvin Western District Major
Seth Gilliam Ellis Carver Western District Drug Enforcement Unit Sergeant
Domenick Lombardozzi Thomas "Herc" Hauk Western District Drug Enforcement Unit Detective
JD Williams Bodie Broadus Barksdale organization crew chief
Michael K. Williams Omar Little Stick-up man
Corey Parker Robinson Leander Sydnor Major Crimes Unit Detective

New starring character Tommy Carcetti (Gillen) has not previously appeared on the show. Former guest stars Seth Gilliam, Domenick Lombardozzi, Jim True-Frost, Corey Parker Robinson, Michael K. Williams, JD Williams and Robert Wisdom all join the starring cast this season.

Plot synopsisEdit

The demolition of the towers that had served as the Barksdale organization's prime territory pushes their dealers back out onto the streets of Baltimore.[1][2] Avon Barksdale is released from prison early, as promised for his role in unveiling the cause of the inmate deaths.[3][4] Stringer Bell continues his reform of the organization by cooperating with other drug lords, sharing with one another territory, product, and profits.[5][6] Stringer's proposal is met with a curt refusal from Marlo Stanfield, leader of a new, growing crew.[5][6] Against Stringer's advice, Avon decides to take Marlo's territory by force, and the two gangs become embroiled in a bitter turf war with multiple deaths.[7][8]

Omar Little continues to rob the Barksdale organization wherever possible.[9][10] Working with his new boyfriend and two women, he is once more a serious problem.[9][10] In a heist gone wrong, one of Omar's crew, Tosha, is shot and a Barksdale enforcer is killed. Omar feels great remorse over the death of Tosha and is reprimanded by Bunk Moreland; Bunk also makes a point of telling Omar that little kids were playing near the scene of the gunfight and arguing over who got to play Omar in their game. Omar later makes amends by arranging for Bunk to recover a pistol stolen from a police officer who was shot in the line of duty.[11][12] The violence related to the drug trade makes it an obvious choice of investigation for Cedric Daniels' now-permanent Major Case Unit.[7][8]

Councilman Tommy Carcetti begins to prepare himself for a mayoral race. He manipulates a colleague into running against the mayor to split the black vote,[7][8] secures a capable campaign manager,[3][4] and starts making headlines for himself.[9][10][11][12]

Coming to the end of his career, Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin decides to achieve some real change in the neighborhoods he has long been responsible for.[9][10] Seeing the spread of drug dealing into previously unscathed areas following the destruction of the towers, he assumes the task of containing the problem.[11][12] Without the knowledge of central command, he sets up areas where drug trade would go unpunished[5][6] and cracks down on any traffic elsewhere.[7][8] His scheme achieves his aims and reduces crime in his district,[13][14] but is eventually exposed to his superiors and city politicians,[15][16][17][18] including Carcetti,[19][20] who uses the scandal to make a grandstanding speech.[21][22] With top brass outraged, Colvin is forced to cease his actions,[17][18] accept a demotion,[21][22] and retire from the department on a lower-grade pension.[21][22]

Dennis "Cutty" Wise, once a drug dealer's enforcer, is released from prison alongside Avon.[1][2] His struggles to adapt to life as a free man show an attempt at personal reform. Cutty tries to work as a manual laborer[9][10] and then flirts with his former life, going to work for Avon.[3][4] Finding he no longer has the heart for murder,[7][8] he eventually uses funding from Avon[19][20] to set up a boxing gym for neighborhood youths.[17][18]

The Major Case Unit learns that Stringer has been buying real estate and developing it in order to fulfill his dream of being a successful legitimate businessman.[5][6] However, his lack of experience in the field leads to failure, so he reluctantly refocuses on the drug trade.[23][24] Believing that the bloody turf war with Marlo is poised to destroy everything the Barksdale crew had worked for, Stringer gives Major Colvin information on Avon's weapons stash.[19][20] But Stringer is himself being betrayed by Avon:[19][20] Brother Mouzone had returned to Baltimore[17][18] and tracked down Omar to join forces.[19][20] Mouzone tells Avon that his shooting must be avenged.[19][20] Avon, remembering how Stringer disregarded his order which resulted in Stringer attempting to have Brother Mouzone killed, possibly still furious over D'Angelo's murder (Stringer having finally confessed the truth),[23][24] and fearing Mouzone's wrath, informs Mouzone of Bell's upcoming visit to his construction site.[19][20] There, Mouzone and Omar corner him and shoot him to death.[19][20]

Colvin tells McNulty about Avon's hideout, and armed with the information gleaned from selling the Barksdale crew pre-wiretapped disposable cell phones, the detail stages a raid, arresting Avon and most of his underlings.[21][22] Barksdale's criminal empire lies in ruins, and Marlo's young crew simply moves into their territory.[21][22] Thus the drug trade in West Baltimore continues with little change.[21][22]


Main article: episodes
Season # Series # Title Story Teleplay Director Original airdate
1 26 Time after Time David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Ed Bianchi September 19, 2004
TheWire26 "Don't matter how many times you get burnt, you just keep doin' the same." - Bodie
The season starts midway into the Major Case Unit’s unsuccessful investigation into the Barksdale criminal enterprise. With their recent efforts fruitless, ASA Pearlman and Lieutenant Daniels consider dropping the wiretaps, to the dismay of the squad. Meanwhile, Ellis Carver finds himself in command of an incompetent group of policemen in the Western district. Bodie Broadus, Poot Carr, and Puddin reminisce about their days living and working in the 221 tower before it is demolished in an effort to stifle the drug trade. At a Barksdale Organization meeting, new head enforcer Slim Charles suggests that more territory is required and should be taken by force if needed; Stringer Bell maintains that product is the cornerstone of their operation. Dennis "Cutty" Wise, a legendary enforcer, is released from incarceration with an offer of work from Avon Barksdale.[1][2]
2 27 All Due Respect David Simon, Richard Price Richard Price Steve Shill September 26, 2004
TheWire27 "There's never been a paper bag." - Colvin
Detective McNulty has doubts about the reported suicide of D'Angelo Barksdale and starts an unofficial investigation. East side drug lieutenant Cheese participates in an underground dogfight, and euthanizes his pitbull after losing. He speaks of this killing on the wire, and the Major Case Unit confuse it with a real murder. The unit decides to arrest Cheese and prematurely reveals their wire-tap in the process. Omar Little returns to Baltimore and resumes robbing stash houses. Councilman Tommy Carcetti pressures Acting Commissioner Burrell over high crime rates, and Burrell sends the pressure downhill to the foot officers. Cutty finds honest work with a landscaping crew. Western District Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin is ambivalent about the tactic of reclassifying crimes to manipulate statistics and is driven to consider an unorthodox solution when one of Carver's squad is shot in an undercover operation.[9][10]
3 28 Dead Soldiers David Simon, Dennis Lehane Dennis Lehane Rob Bailey October 3, 2004
TheWire28 "The gods will not save you." - Burrell
Major Colvin attends the weekly comstat meeting, where another Major is fired as a result of Carcetti's pressure to reduce crime. Carcetti then uses the press to defer heat from the police department onto the mayor, to test his tenacity. Colvin looks for areas where he can turn a blind eye to drug dealing, unbeknownst to his superiors. Omar and his crew scope out a Barksdale stash house, and decide to attack it despite its heavy fortifications. A shootout ensues, with deaths on both sides. When the Major Case Unit is instructed to pursue a new, unrelated target McNulty refuses to divert his attention from the Barksdale Organization. Cutty visits an old flame. Bodie's crew are beaten for encroaching on Marlo Stanfield's territory.[11][12]
4 29 Amsterdam David Simon, George Pelecanos George Pelecanos Ernest Dickerson October 10, 2004
TheWire29 "Why you got to go and fuck with the program?" - Fruit
West Baltimore residents get some surprising straight talk from Major Colvin at a community meeting. Colvin has little success convincing area drug dealers to relocate to his tolerant zones. Carcetti reveals his mayoral political ambitions and pursues a campaign manager. Cutty gives up his attempts at straight work and joins the Barksdale Organization. Avon Barksdale is paroled despite the Major Case Unit's previous work against him. Stringer continues to invest in property development.[3][4]
5 30 Straight and True David Simon, Ed Burns Ed Burns Daniel Attias October 17, 2004
TheWire30edit "I had such fuckin' hopes for us." - McNulty
Frustrated in his grass-roots reform efforts, Colvin arms himself with intelligence from the Major Case Unit and approaches the mid-level drug dealers instead. McNulty sees Stringer is now unreachable as a drug target because of his ties to legitimate business. Stringer throws a welcome home party for Avon and launches a citywide Co-Op for drug dealers but fails to recruit immediate West side rival Marlo Stanfield. Detective Greggs follows Stanfield to his meeting with Stringer. Dissent spreads in Omar's crew over his bloody minded pursuit of the Barksdale Organization.[5][6]
6 31 Homecoming David Simon, Rafael Alvarez Rafael Alvarez Leslie Libman October 31, 2004
TheWire31 "Just a gangster, I suppose." - Avon Barksdale
Stringer gets an education in construction management and explores the opportunities of Colvin's new drug tolerant zones. Meanwhile Avon initiates a war over territory with Marlo but is dismayed at the ineptitude of his people when several are killed while attempting a drive-by shooting. Cutty finds that he has lost the ability to kill and leaves the Barksdale Organization with Avon's blessing. A frustrated Colvin unleashes the troops on the corner boys ignoring his new edict. Carcetti manipulates another councilman into joining the mayoral race in order to divide the votes while concealing his own intention to run. McNulty and Greggs are ready to give up on targeting Stringer when the new violence gives them another reason. However, they must go behind Daniels back to have the unit reassigned as he is angry about their disloyalty to date.[7][8]
7 32 Back Burners David Simon, Joy Lusco Joy Lusco Tim Van Patten November 7, 2004
TheWire32 "Conscience do cost." - Butchie
Daniels sees the reason his unit was reassigned from Pimlico and tells McNulty he will have to leave as he cannot trust him. The unit find that the drug dealers are using disposable phones and begin to formulate an investigative strategy. Marlo dispatches a drive-by on a Barksdale corner from the calm of his pigeon coop. Carcetti pressure the mayor over witness protection. The Western District officers begin to become dissatisfied with policing Colvin's tolerant zones.[13][14]
8 33 Moral Midgetry David Simon, Richard Price Richard Price Agnieszka Holland November 14, 2004
TheWire33 "Crawl, walk, and then run." - Clay Davis
Carcetti flaunts his advisors counsel and pressures Burrell over witness protection. The Major Case Unit track the buyer of phones for the Barksdale Organization. Brianna and McNulty sit down for a heart-to-heart. Avon dispatches the troops to track Omar and tries to ensnare Marlo in a trap. Avon is wounded when Marlo senses the trap and then wrestles with a revelation by Stringer. A local deacon helps Cutty to plan a new life and is dismayed at the standard of life for drug users in Colvin's tolerant zones.[23][24]
9 34 Slapstick David Simon, George Pelecanos David Simon Alex Zakrzewski November 21, 2004
TheWire34 "...while you're waiting for moments that never come." - Freamon
A Barksdale crew member violates the long-standing but unspoken Sunday morning truce when he tries to kill Omar. There is increasing discontent among the co-op over the Barksdale/Stanfield turf war. The deacon convinces Colvin to introduce public health programs in the tolerant zones and the Western District officers are dismayed at the apparent permanence of the endeavour. A murder takes place in the "Hamsterdam" tolerant zone and Carver moves the body out of loyalty to Colvin. Carver's partner Thomas "Herc" Hauk reaches breaking point and calls the press about the tolerant zones. The Major Case Unit begin to build probable cause for their wiretaps but are worried that the dealers change phones too frequently. Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski shoots another officer in a case of night time mistaken identity. Carcetti finds a potential ally in State Delegate Odell Watkins and organizes state funding for witness protection.[15][16]
10 35 Reformation David Simon, Ed Burns Ed Burns Christine Moore November 28, 2004
TheWire35 "Call it a crisis of leadership." - Proposition Joe
The Barksdale/Stanfield war continues to intensify with deaths on boath sides. Avon refuses to accept Stringer's advice to follow the co-op's proposal for a truce. Brother Mouzone returns to Baltimore on a mission of revenge and casts a wide net in his search for Omar. Omar has his own plan for vengeance against Avon. Carver gets some frank advice about his failings as an officer from Colvin. Colvin convinces the reporter that Herc has spoken with to hold his story on the tolerant zones. Colvin finally reveals his actions to his superiors. Burrell is incensed and takes the information straight to Mayor Royce. Royce is reluctant to shut the project down because of its success in reducing crime. When their first wiretaps go dead after just a few days the Major Case Unit are dismayed. Lester Freamon overcomes the problem by organizing to supply the Barksdale Organization with pre-wiretapped phones. Cutty opens a boxing gym for local children but finds his poor equipment and their behaviour difficult to deal with.[17][18]
11 36 Middle Ground David Simon, George Pelecanos George Pelecanos Joe Chappelle December 12, 2004
TheWire36 "We don't need to dream no more." - Stringer Bell
Cutty convinces Avon to give him money to fund his gym. Brother Mouzone forms an alliance with Omar when he discovers that Stringer betrayed him. Royce continues to delay closing down the tolerant zones alienating Burrell and Watkins. Burrell leaks the story to Carcetti. Stringer learns that he has been conned into making political contributions for no return and tries to convince Avon to order the murder of Senator Clay Davis. The wiretaps begin to yield information about the Barksdale organization and the unit get a recording of Stringer discussing contract killers. Stringer meets with Colvin and gives him the location of Avon's safehouse believing that returning Avon to prison is the best way to end the war. Meanwhile, Brother Mouzone meets with Avon and convinces him to give Stringer's wherabouts away so that he can exact his revenge. Omar and Mouzone ambush and kill Stringer.[19][20]
12 37 Mission Accomplished David Simon, Ed Burns David Simon Ernest Dickerson December 19, 2004
TheWire37 "...we fight on that lie." - Slim Charles
A reticent Avon readies his troops for war against Marlo. The press descend on Hamsterdam and Royce finally realizes his delay was a mistake. Carcetti is there to capitalise on the bad publicity for the Mayor. A vengeful Burrell ensures Colvin's retirement is not comfortable. McNulty is devastated that Stringer was killed before he could arrest him but his spirits lift when he gets a chance to bring down Avon instead. With the information from Stringer the Major Case Unit arrest Avon and most of his people. Cutty struggles to keep his young boxers off the corners as the Stanfield organization enjoy their victory. McNulty leaves the Major Case Unit to patrol the Western District.[21][22]


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Time After Time". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-09-19. No. 01, season 3.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Episode guide - episode 29 Hamsterdam. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-07.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Hamsterdam". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-10-10. No. 04, season 3.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Episode guide - episode 30 Straight and True. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Straight and True". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-10-17. No. 05, season 3.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Episode guide - episode 31 Homecoming. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 "Homecoming". David Simon, Rafael Alvarez. The Wire. HBO. 2004-10-24. No. 06, season 3.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Episode guide - episode 26 All Due Respect. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-07.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 "All Due Respect". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-09-26. No. 02, season 3.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Episode guide - episode 28 Dead Soldiers. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-07.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 "Dead Soldiers". David Simon, Dennis Lehane. The Wire. HBO. 2004-10-03. No. 03, season 3.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Episode guide - episode 32 Back Burners. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Back Burners". David Simon, Joy Lusco. The Wire. HBO. 2004-11-07. No. 07, season 3.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Episode guide - episode 34 slapstick. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Slapstick". David Simon, George P. Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2004-11-21. No. 09, season 3.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Episode guide - episode 35 reformation. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 "Reformation". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-11-28. No. 10, season 3.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 19.8 Episode guide - episode 36 middle ground. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 "Middle Ground". David Simon, George P. Pelecanos. The Wire. HBO. 2004-12-12. No. 11, season 3.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 Episode guide - episode 37 mission accomplished. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 22.6 "Mission Accomplished". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2004-12-19. No. 12, season 3.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Episode guide - episode 33 Moral Midgetry. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-08-09.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "Moral Midgetry". David Simon, Richard Price. The Wire. HBO. 2004-11-14. No. 08, season 3.

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