"The king stay the king"

- D'Angelo, episode epigraph

"The Buys" is the third episode of the first season of the HBO original series, The Wire. The episode was written by David Simon from a story by David Simon & Ed Burns and was directed by Peter Medak. It originally aired on June 16, 2002.

The detectives' brutal actions in the high rises lead to a minor riot, bad publicity for the detail, injury to Herc, and Prez being placed on administrative leave. D'Angelo gives young dealers Wallace and Bodie Broadus a lesson about their place in the Barksdale hierarchy. The detail finally starts to see results as Lester Freamon obtains an old picture of Avon Barksdale. Stick-up man Omar Little takes advantage of D'Angelo's crew's lapses and steals their stash of narcotics. The pit is later raided by the police and Bodie receives a beating for striking an officer, but nothing turns up due to Omar's robbery.


The PoliceEdit

Lieutenant Cedric Daniels attends a meeting in Deputy Commissioner Ervin Burrell's office to account for the actions of his men in starting a riot in the tower buildings. When Daniels suggests that Detective Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski should be restricted to office work, Major Valchek (Prez's influential father-in-law) insists this would be an admission of guilt. The other officers are more supportive. After the meeting, Burrell again insists on a simple investigation targeted at making arrests and seizures rather than spending time securing convictions against the organization's key members.

Bemoaning the lack of a photograph of the detail's main target, McNulty asks Detectives Augustus Polk and Patrick Mahone to get a photograph from the housing department of Avon Barksdale. This proves to be a dead end. Lester Freamon takes an interest when Greggs remarks that Barksdale used to box and once made Golden Gloves. The next day, he returns with a poster featuring a picture of young Avon Barksdale. Without saying a word, he returns to his desk and his dollhouse furniture. Daniels arrives, informing the detail that Prez is off the street and Herc is on sick leave for some time. McNulty visits his contact in the FBI, Agent Fitzhugh, with Greggs, looking to get some equipment to wire up Sydnor, who is being sent undercover. When McNulty tells Fitz that Daniels is the commanding officer, Fitz appears to bite his tongue because Kima is present.

Detective Michael Santangelo is proven to be a mole in the detail, giving information to Rawls, and especially seeking (but not finding) anything to incriminate McNulty. Waiting around the detail offices, McNulty, Bubbles and Greggs discuss their relationships. McNulty admits to being unfaithful, leading to his current separation from his now-vengeful wife, Elena. Sydnor arrives, in costume, but gets some advice from Bubbles on how to be more convincing. Together, Sydnor and Bubbles later visit the low rise projects and Kima photographs their activities. Sydnor notices with chagrin that neither drugs nor cash pass through the hands of any key players.

Back at the detail, Daniels reports that the commanding officers have insisted on fast "buy bust" style investigation to render some arrests and seizures. McNulty leaves the office angry that the case is being pushed in the opposite direction he had hoped for. He arrives at Rhonda Pearlman's home at 9 p.m. and asks how to clone a beeper. Pearlman suggests that he needs probable cause and to demonstrate exhaustion of other investigative techniques in order to get a signed affidavit from a judge. When he makes sexual advances, she remarks that their relationship is now less romantic than when he was married, but they end up in bed together anyway. Later, Fitzhugh and McNulty have a meeting where it is revealed that the FBI has previously investigated Daniels for "integrity concerns". When the FBI found thousands of dollars of unexplained assets, they turned their findings over to Burrell, who has failed to take the investigation any further.

The following day, Daniels readies the detail to storm the projects in an effort to find a stash. McNulty refuses to participate in the action because he believes it will sabotage their case, and also refuses to sign off sick. Daniels is enraged at his perceived insubordination. In contrast, Det. Herc insists on aiding his co-workers despite being injured.

The Street Edit

Omar Little and his gang spend several days in a white van watching the low-rise crew sell their drugs. D'Angelo Barksdale instructs Bodie Broadus, Poot Carr, and Wallace in showing respect to their customers and shares his belief that if there was no violence involved in their trade, then the police would not be interested in them. While waiting for more product to be delivered (waiting for "the stash" to be "re-upped"), D'Angelo spots them playing checkers with a chess set (pictured). He teaches them the game of chess using the analogy of the Barksdale crew - Avon as king, Stringer as the queen, the stash as the rook, soldiers as pawns. When Bodie learns of the possibility of a pawn becoming a queen, he draws a comparison with himself. D'Angelo is skeptical, remarking that pawns die early in the game, but Bodie insists that a smart pawn can be successful.

At Orlando's, Stringer is impressed by the amount of money D'Angelo is making in the courtyard. D'Angelo suggests that things will be better when they get a new package of narcotics. Stringer explains that there is nothing better on the way, but points out that if they sell a low-quality product, addicts will buy more of it, and the Barksdales will actually make more money. On his way out, D'Angelo strikes up a conversation with Shardene. She doesn't remember him but is open to his advances.

That night, back at The Pit, D'Angelo leaves to buy food. Just as Stinkum watches as lookout, Omar Little and his crew beats him and throws him, alongside several dealers including Bodie and Poot, into the stash house. When Omar demands Sterling to tell the whereabouts of the drug money, Sterling refuses and Omar shoots him in the kneecaps, severely wounding him. He then turns to a young dealer, who gives the location that the money is in the kitchen oven. Brandon finds the money and states that it isn't enough, accidentally using Omar's name in front of the dealers. The trio escapes, with intimidating results on the Barksdale crew as Poot vomits on the floor. The van drives off as D'Angelo returns from the store. Bubbles is on hand to watch the whole proceedings and reports back to Kima. The next day, Wee-Bey Brice berates D'Angelo for the theft of his stash while he was not even present. Bodie is able to report Omar's name to Wee-Bey.

Just at this moment, the detail arrives to arrest anybody they photographed previously. The dealers have changed stashhouses, so the detail finds little evidence, though Freamon notices a number written on a wall. While searching the crew, Detective Mahone is punched by Bodie. Carver, Kima, and several other officers respond with a savage beating. Carver reports that a news camera crew has offered to show their seizures. Daniels is disgusted when Kima points out they have nothing to show.[1][2][3]


First AppearancesEdit

This episode introduces the recurring character Omar Little, a homosexual stick up artist who robs drug dealers for a living. Little is played by Michael K. Williams. Initially intended to die after seven episodes[4], the character instead became a major part of the show, frequently cited by critics and fans as one of the favorites.[5][6] By the third season, Michael K. Williams was upgraded to be listed as one of the stars of the show. His character is accompanied by his partners in crime Brandon Wright and John Bailey.

The episode also marks the first appearance of recurring Baltimore police department officers Major Bobby Reed, commander of the internal investigations division (IID), and Major Stanislaus Valchek, South Eastern district commander and Prez's father-in-law. Valchek plays a significant role in the second season, and appears in all five seasons of the show.



Actor/actress Character Role
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

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

Guest Starring

  1. with Michael K. Williams as Omar Little
  2. J.D. Williams as Bodie Broadus
  3. Seth Gilliam as Detective Ellis Carver
  4. Domenick Lombardozzi as Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk
  5. Clarke Peters as Detective Lester Freamon
  6. Jim True-Frost as Detective Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski
  7. Hassan Johnson as Wee-Bey
  8. Michael B. Jordan as Wallace
  9. Corey Parker Robinson as Detective Leander Sydnor
  10. Richard DeAngelis as Major Raymond Foerster
  11. Michael Salconi as Detective Michael Santangelo
  12. Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman
  13. Nat Benchley as Detective Patrick Mahone
  14. Tom Quinn as Detective Augustus Polk
  15. Wendy Grantham as Shardene Innes
  16. Al Brown as Major Stanislaus Valchek
  17. Tony D. Head as Major Bobby Reed
  18. Brandon Price as Anton "Stinkum" Artis
  19. Tray Chaney as Poot Carr
  20. Doug Olear as FBI Agent Terrence Fitzhugh
  21. Michael Kevin Darnall as Brandon
  22. Lance Williams as Bailey
  23. Bill Zorzi as Newspaperman #1



Opening credits

  1. Alexa L. Fogel C.S.A. - Casting
  2. Vince Peranio - Production Designer
  3. Thom Zimny - Editor
  4. Uta Briesewitz - Director of Photography
  5. Karen L. Thorson - Co-Producer
  6. Nina Kostroff Noble - Producer
  7. David Simon - Creator
  8. David Simon - Teleplay
  9. David Simon &
  10. Ed Burns - Story
  11. Peter Medak - Director

Closing credits

  1. Robert F. Colesberry - Executive Producer
  2. David Simon - Executive Producer
  3. Nina Kostroff Noble - Unit Production Manager
  4. Ivan J. Fonesca - First Assistant Director (AD)
  5. Joseph Incaprera - Second AD
  6. Alonzo V. Wilson - Costume Designer
  7. Pat Moran C.S.A. - Baltimore Casting


Title ReferenceEdit

The title refers to the deals struck in the various institutions featured. Valchek buys Daniels support of his son in law with resources. Drug addicts buy narcotics from the Barksdale organization. Sydnor makes undercover purchases from Bodie.


D'Angelo uses this phrase when describing the rules of chess using the analogy of the drug trade (pictured) when explaining to Bodie that pawns can only become queens, never kings. In the analogy Avon Barksdale is the king. This analogy as applied to Avon resurfaces in Season 2 and Bodie recalls it once more in Season 4.


  1. Episode guide - episode 03 The Buys. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  2. "The Buys". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-16. No. 3, season 1.
  3. Alvarez, Rafael (2004). The Wire: Truth Be Told. New York: Pocket Books. 
  4. Joel Murphy (2005). One on one with... Michael K. Williams. Hobo Trashcan. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
  5. Robert Bianco (2004). 10 Reasons we still love TV. USA Today. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
  6. Brent McCabe and Van Smith (2005). Down to the wire: Top 10 reasons not to cancel the wire.. Baltimore city paper.. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.

External linksEdit