Yeah, okay. Wow. Long episode. Duh.
We start off in Carcetti's office. He's clearly just been told about what's really going on with the "serial killer," and he's dumbfounded. Wilson thinks the whole thing is hilarious, but Steintorf doesn't, and he tells everyone to keep mum about the whole affair until they can think of the right next move.
After the opening credits, Lester approaches a fella name DiPasquale, whose gambling problem has led him to illegally sell some closed grand jury info to a few unsavories, Levy included. This is important later.
Daniels fumes about the McNulty situation, but Rhonda realizes that since neither Carcetti nor Rawls is going to fall on the sword, it's going to fall on her head if she and Daniels don't keep quiet and play ball with the administration.
After Rawls raises some objections about his police department catching shit for the whole debacle, Steintorf bribes him with a superintendentship in Carcetti's gubernatorial cabinet. Being a scummy asshat, Rawls obviously agrees to keep his mouth shut about his disapproval. That Steintorf is a slick fish, I tells ya!
Lester reveals DiPasquale's info leaks to Rhonda, who turns around and blackmails Levy with this information in order to get a deal. He calls her out, but she essentially tells him that he'll be in jail longer than she will, and that she knows they can work something out regarding the Stanfield drug bust. Eventually, they agree that Marlo gets to walk if Partlow cops to all the vagrant murders. Levy seems fine with this, and when he sees Marlo, he reminds him that there's still a leak that blabbed about the clock images. Marlo can't figure out who it is, but Levy invites Herc over for dinner as thanks for all the business he will bring for being the snitch. Apparently, having a client who is the kingpin of a multi-million-dollar drug ring walk out of prison is impressive in the lawyer world. Levy is clearly happy with Herc's indiscretion.
It seems that all the cops know about McNulty's scam, and everyone's a little confused as to why he's not in cuffs. Rawls and Daniels make it clear that they want to make the thing go away quietly, which they're sort of able to do with the business-card-obsessed homeless guy from a few episodes back (he's been copycatting the murders with white ribbon, and basically cops to all of them).
At The Sun, Gus has had it with Templeton's made-up bullshit. He tries calling him out on it, but nobody's biting, which is weak. Templeton makes a big scene, yelling how everything came straight from his notes, and even hurls his notepad into his cubicle, all drama queen-y. Alma picks it up, notices it's empty, shows it to the higher ups, and gets fired. Even McNulty gets his shots in with Templeton, but being yet another slick prick, the guy ends up with a fucking Pulitzer. Figures.
Bubbles is uncomfortable with the article Fletcher's working on. He's not sure if he wants to be immortalized just for doing what he thinks he should be. Eventually, he gives in, and even embraces it. Yay. Also, his bitch-ass sister finally lets him upstairs for dinner. That's nice.
Dukie hits up Prez for some "GED course money," but it's all bullshit, because Dukie's a junkie now, and Prez looks like he wants to cry. It's cool, though, because he's got a kickin' beard and looks like he's finally learning how to discipline kids effectively.
At a press conference announcing the "serial killer" catch, Carcetti also announces that Rawls will be coming with him to the state house, and that Daniels will become Commish.
After all is said and done, Perlman tells McNulty and Freamon that they can no longer do police work, so both men opt for retirement. Freamon's been around long enough for pension, but not McNulty. The cops all have one of their Irish wakes at the bar, with a very much alive McNulty lying on the felt.
Apparently Nerese Campbell knows damn well what's in Daniels's file, but we never find out. In a move to try to force him to either fudge stats or get the fuck out, she threatens to make the file public, which the former Mrs. Daniels cannot allow. Daniels steps down and becomes a regular-ass lawyer, once again.
There's a big meet with all the players who are trying to figure out what to do now that Marlo's out of the picture (oh yeah: part of his deal to walk was that he had to "retire," as well). Cheese tries to make a point about something, but nobody can hear him over the sound of Slim Charles totally murdering him.
Marlo looks like he's trying to go legit, wearing a suit and everything to one of Levy's special-people parties. He bounces out early, though, seemingly pretty bored. Michael's taking over for Omar, and he holds up the Rim Shop (also known as Marlo's bank). A few blocks away, Marlo walks up to a corner where some dudes are talking about Omar. He starts beef with them, and one of them shoots a gun, grazing his arm. He laughs as they run away, happy to have reasserted his dominance. He'll never leave the streets.
A now-civilian McNulty returns to the shelter where he brought his "missing" homeless guy a few weeks ago and snags him up. In the final montage, we learn: The corners are back up in full effect; Lester is back to making mini-furniture; Herc is still buying rounds for everybody; Scott wins the Pulitzer like a douche; Slim Charles is up with the Greeks; Carcetti becomes Governor, and Rawls gets his Police Superintendent job; Valchek gets commish (wow); Dukie is a full-on junkie, which is extra-big-ass not awesome; Perlman becomes a judge; Partlow and Wee-Bey are now buddies (aw); Bubbles is now allowed upstairs for dinner.
Um, yeah. That was a lot. I can't wait to see what they do next seas...Dammit!
Previously... on The Wire... you know what? If you're just bothering to get caught up now, there's not a hell of a lot I can offer you at this point.
We open on Carcetti who looks like he's just been told that he's spent the last four years walking around with his fly open. "But if we..." the mayor finally manages to say, before trailing off into silence. "Sigh," the mayor sighs, standing up from his desk to survey his audience -- Norman, that Weasely Chief of Staff who I will not miss when this show goes off the air -- not one bit, Daniels, Rawls, Pearlman, and Bond. "But how can..." the mayor continues. "Jesus Christ," Chief of Staff Weaselman properly concludes. "So this means, uh..." Carcetti adds, still struggling to use his big boy words. Five'll get you 10 someone just passed along the info to the mayor's office that Baltimore's serial killer epidemic is not as serious as first believed. Norman finally punctures the ongoing stupor by surmising: "So no one killed any homeless men." Circle gets the square. Daniels confirms that some of the deaths were random killings and others were natural deaths rigged to look like murders, but yeah -- there's no serial killer terrorizing Baltimore's homeless. Oh, and also the money devoted to that case was funneled into the investigation that led to the high-profile drug bust you were just on the news crowing about. So that entire case is about a discovery motion away from getting tossed into the compost heap. Other than that, Mr. Mayor, it's been a pretty run of the mill couple of weeks for the city.
Carcetti finally manages to string together a subject and a predicate within the 30-second time limit: "So let me just... understand this... um... So I've been going out there for weeks, slamming the governor for his neglect of the homeless and declaring that we will stop at nothing to find the person responsible for preying on the homeless, and -- hey, Norman... this is my ass here!" Norman has earned the mayor's full-frontal wrath for being unable to sufficiently suppress his laughter at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. "That's true, boss," says Norman, choking back giggles. "But it does have a certain charm to it. They manufactured an issue to get paid; we manufactured an issue to get you elected governor. Everybody's getting what they need behind some Make-Believe." And with that, Norman is reduced to peels of laughter. Hey, if you can't laugh at your own troubles -- laugh at Carcetti's.