The Wire

The Detail

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"The Detail" is the second episode of the first season. The teleplay was written by David Simon from a story he co-wrote with Ed Burns and it was directed by Clark Johnson. It originally aired on June 9, 2002.

The witness who testified against D'Angelo is killed, and the Barksdale organization is suspected; a detail is formed to investigate their drug dealing activity in the low rises. The detail's Lieutenant, Cedric Daniels, is concerned with the quality of his team, while Detective McNulty is doubtful of the department's commitment to the investigation. Daniels' protégé Kima Greggs uses Bubbles as a confidential informant to identify members of the Barksdale organization. However, Daniels' suspicions about his other detectives prove correct when a late night foray into the West side projects by Herc, Carver and Prez goes awry.


Detectives Moreland and McNulty discuss murdered witness William Gant with coroner Frazier. McNulty believes the Barksdale organization is behind the shooting but Bunk is skeptical. McNulty visits Judge Phelan to inform about Gant.

Lieutenant Daniels and his detail arrive at their new office - a damp basement with little furniture. New officer Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski accidentally discharges a bullet from his weapon. The detail is amused by his incompetence but Daniels seems concerned. Daniels visits ASA Pearlman to complain about his new men. Pearlman tells him that Prez was once indicted for shooting his patrol car. Daniels confides that he feels that Burrell sent him a message by not allowing him to pick his detail. Daniels meets with Lieutenant Cantrell and convinces him to assign detective Leander Sydnor to the detail to balance taking Prez.

Daniels meets with Burrell and Majors Foerster and Rawls. They have heard from Judge Phelan. Rawls urges Burrell to order McNulty not to pursue the Gant case. Burrell decides that will bait Judge Phelan into involving the press. Burrell orders Daniels to let McNulty work the case while they hope that he fails.

Detectives Carver, Greggs, and Herc photograph Bubbles as he marks Barksdale dealers with colored hats. Bunk and McNulty visit D'Angelo Barksdale in the low-rise projects to discuss the Gant murder. D'Angelo is reluctant to say anything and when he attempts to leave, Bunk and McNulty bring him in.

Daniels approaches McNulty as he is about to interview D'Angelo. Daniels criticizes McNulty for again going around the department chain of command to Judge Phelan. McNulty and Bunk try to convince D'Angelo that he was responsible for Gant's death. D'Angelo is moved to begin writing a letter to Gant's bereaved family, which the two detectives invented. Barksdale attorney Maurice Levy arrives and is outraged that D'Angelo wrote anything. Greggs and McNulty show the letter to Daniels who is skeptical about its usefulness in building a case. D'Angelo later takes his son and girlfriend, Donette, to a family party. His uncle Avon rebukes him about the letter, but suggests they put it behind them.

Greggs brings Bubbles in to identify to the photographed drug dealers. McNulty is impressed with the technique and surprised by the scale of the Barksdale organization. Bubbles reveals that he is working with Greggs as revenge for the Barksdale crew assaulting his friend Johnny Weeks.

While drinking late at night, Herc, Carver, and Prez decide to intimidate the tower operation. Prez hits a young man, Kevin Johnston, in the face with his gun for leaning on his car. Even Herc and Carver are surprised at Prez's brutality. This prompts a hail of missiles thrown from the towers and then shots. Herc is hit as Carver calls for back-up but is not seriously hurt.

McNulty is awoken by Bunk calling to tell him to look at the newspaper; the Gant murder is on the front page. Homicide Major Rawls is enraged. Detective Cole asks Sergeant Landsman what he thinks the repercussions will be for McNulty. Landsman explains that McNulty's career will be over if he was responsible. McNulty arrives at the towers to apologise to Daniels, but Daniels has more concern for his other officers' actions the night before. He berates Herc, Carver, and Prez for their foolishness and asks them to admit who hit Johnston. Prez steps forward and Daniels instructs him to lie about his actions and suggests that Prez' testimony focus on Johnston attacking the officers with a bottle and Prez acting in self-defense. He warns Prez that he must be convincing or he cannot protect him.

McNulty again visits Phelan, who denies being the one who started the story and quickly leaves McNulty. Later, McNulty gets drunk alone. Daniels has dinner with his wife Marla and she harangues him for covering up the brutality. She counsels him the best course is to not get involved in the case as his superiors do not want it. Daniels is awoken later with the news that Johnston has been blinded in one eye.[1][2][3]

First AppearancesEdit

  • Lester Freamon: Elderly ex-homicide detective assigned to the detail from his post in property.
  • Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski: Young and inexperienced detective with a history of erratic behaviour and a father-in-law in a command post.
  • Leander Sydnor: A rising star in the Baltimore PD that Lieutenant Daniels requests for his detail.
  • Lieutenant Cantrell: Commanding officer of the auto crime unit and Detectives Pryzbylewski and Sydnor.
  • Augustus Polk and Patrick Mahon: Two alcoholic property detectives who haven't made a case in over 10 years. As they are nearing retirement age, they are only interested in overtime pay and are content to let their careers end while performing as little actual police work as possible.
  • Randall Frazier: Baltimore medical examiner.
  • Donette: D'Angelo Barksdale's materialistic girlfriend and the mother of his son.
  • Marla Daniels: Cedric Daniels ambitious wife.
  • Kevin Johnston: 14 year old drug dealer with the Barksdale organization who is wounded by Prez.
  • Little Man: Barksdale organization lieutenant who handles resupply for the tower crews.
  • Ronnie Mo: Barksdale organization lieutenant who runs a tower crew.

Guest star Erik Todd Dellums previously appeared in Homicide: Life on the Street as recurring drug kingpin Luther Mahoney.[4] Reviewers have noted the similarities between the Homicide storyline involving this character and the plot of The Wire's first season.[5] Creator David Simon has admitted a tendency to re-cast actors he has worked with previously on Homicide or The Corner in roles on the other side of the law; in The Wire Dellums plays a medical examiner, Randall Frazier, who appears a few more times over the course of the series.[6]



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

Guest Starring

  1. with Peter Gerety as Judge Daniel Phelan
  2. Seth Gilliam as Detective Ellis Carver
  3. Domenick Lombardozzi as Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk
  4. Clarke Peters as Detective Lester Freamon
  5. Jim True-Frost as Detective Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski
  6. Maria Broom as Marla Daniels
  7. J.D. Williams as Bodie Broadus
  8. Hassan Johnson as Wee-Bey Brice
  9. Michael B. Jordan as Wallace
  10. Corey Parker Robinson as Detective Leander Sydnor
  11. Tom Quinn as Detective Patrick Mahon
  12. Michael Salconi as Detective Michael Santangelo
  13. Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman
  14. Richard DeAngelis as Major Raymond Foerster
  15. Nat Benchley as Detective Augustus Polk
  16. Shamyl Brown as Donette
  17. Tray Chaney as Poot Carr
  18. Erik Todd Dellums as Dr. Randall Frazier
  19. Michael Kostroff as Maurice Levy
  20. Brandon Price as Anton "Stinkum" Artis
  21. Dave Trovato as Lieutenant Walter Cantrell



Opening credits

  1. Alexa L. Fogel C.S.A. - Casting
  2. Vince Peranio - Production Designer
  3. Geraldine Peroni - 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. Clark Johnson - Director

Closing credits

  1. Robert F. Colesberry - Executive Producer
  2. David Simon - Executive Producer
  3. Nina Kostroff Noble - Unit Production Manager
  4. Frank Ferro - 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 newly formed Barksdale detail (see picture).


"You cannot lose if you do not play. - Marla Daniels"
- {{{2}}} This line is spoken in a conversation with Marla's husband Cedric about his impossible position of running the Barksdale investigation while trying to further his career. Extended to the episode as a whole the quote can also mean that if you do not become involved with the drug trade, commonly referred to as "The Game", you will not lose your life. This is most obviously evidenced in the episode by the murder of William Gant, about which D'Angelo exclaims, "he didn't need to testify"; if Gant had chosen not to testify he would not have become involved in D'Angelo's drug trial and would have still been alive.


Critical responseEdit

The "Chicken McNugget" scene is often cited by fans, and some reviewers, as being one of the most memorable moments in the show. Poot and Wallace speculate that the man who invented the Chicken McNuggets must be rich, and D'Angelo explains to them that McDonald's owns the rights to the McNugget, and the man who invented it likely received nothing for it and is now probably "working in the basement for regular wage thinking of some shit to make the fries taste better." Wallace responds with "he still had the idea though." [7]

Continuity Error Edit

  • Although not shown in sequence, the vehicle used by Carver, Herc and Prez when they first appear in the projects is a 1999-2002 Ford Crown Victoria, the car that's supposed got burned down during the riot. Later on the episode, when Detective McNulty comes on the scene, the vehicle burned is a 1992-1994 Ford Crown Victoria. It is possible to see the difference due to the tailights, windshield and the windows being different.


  1. Episode guide - episode 02 The Detail. HBO (2004). Retrieved on 2006-07-26.
  2. "The Detail". David Simon, Ed Burns. The Wire. HBO. 2002-06-09. No. 2, season 1.
  3. Alvarez, Rafael (2004). The Wire: Truth Be Told. New York: Pocket Books. 
  4. Rob Owen. "TV Reviews: Networks aren't taking it easy this summer", Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 2002-06-01. Retrieved on 2007-10-04. 
  5. Peter Hartlaub. "Fighting crime, and bureaucrats. Creator of HBO's 'Wire' takes police drama in new direction", San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2007-10-04. 
  6. David Simon. 'The Wire "The Target" commentary track [DVD]. HBO.
  7. I Like to Watch | Salon Arts & Entertainment

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