Downstairs, there is a briefing. Lester pretends to read, but really studies McNulty as Daniels asks after Santangelo, and McNulty stammers an excuse, saying that he's on a case. Daniels says that he hasn't "heard anything to the contrary," so they're going to "press on." Polk has recovered enough from his aborted "fall" to enter, so Daniels goes on, asking for ideas. Kima shrugs that they could continue with the busts. She glances over at McNulty, who gives her a huge eyebrow-raise, like, "Are you fucking crazy?" "But I don't think that's going to get us too far off the street," Kima adds. She says, on the other hand, that the people they pulled in last week had pagers, as did D'Angelo, when he was briefly in McNulty's custody: "We could clone a couple of pagers, see where that takes us." As Kima casually proposes their big plan, McNulty stares at Daniels to see what his reaction will be. "Clone what?" says Polk. "Their pagers," McNulty explains. He turns to Daniels: "They get beeped, we get beeped. We see who's calling, from what number." Herc wants to know why the Barksdalies are still using pagers, if they're "all that": "Why not un-ass a few dollars for cell phones?"
"It's a discipline," intones Lester, like the voice of God. Everyone turns to look at him like they forgot he wasn't just a wax figure over there. He strides out of the darkness of the office and into the light as he explains, "You can't bug a pager." "But you can't make a call with a pager, either," says Daniels, somewhat obviously. Lester ignores this, and announces, "You're going to want a pen register on all the pay phones in the low-rises, and any other phones that link to the pagers." He holds up a photo he's had printed, of D'Angelo on a pay phone in the complex. Daniels asks what it would take to do the pagers, and McNulty, getting excited, tells him it's a wiretap affidavit, holding up the file he got from Ronnie: "I think we've got enough PC from the hand-to-hands and surveillance. We got most of the exhaustion." Herc says he's exhausted "just listening to this shit." "Good," says Lester pointedly, and turns to Daniels to add, "Exhaustion is a legal requirement for using electronic intercepts. We gotta prove nothing else works." McNulty warms to the theme, telling Daniels, "See, we did the raids, we made the arrests, but nobody flipped. We don't have an informant who takes us anywhere above the street. That's pretty much exhaustion." Kima says that all they have left to do is follow "one of these mopes" and prove that they can't do it. McNulty says that they have to show a judge that they can't make the case by following these guys -- which shouldn't be hard, because they actually can't: "How can we keep on any of them when they go up in those towers?" Lester nods sagely, and Kima says that they have to show they tried. There's a pregnant pause as the group waits to hear what Daniels is going to say. Finally, he asks, "Do we have a pager number?" Lester looks at McNulty, to see if he's going to try to talk any shit, but of course McNulty doesn't have a pager number: Lester does. After a moment of making McNulty look unprepared (eh, he could use a bust-down every now and then), Lester casually reaches into his back pocket and pulls out his notepad page, setting it down in front of McNulty: "This was written on the stash-house wall, with the letter 'D' next to it." We see the number, and I'm thrilled that it's not a 555 number. Everyone gathers around to peer at the number like it's the Rosetta Stone, and McNulty gets a boner ask he excitedly asks, "Is that D'Angelo? Did you check it?" Lester drops the photo on top of the notepad sheet: "It's him." Everyone looks at Lester in shock -- not least Daniels. Lester, knowing he'd been utterly underestimated, stares back at Daniels for a moment, and then retreats back to his desk. Daniels has been convinced: "Let's do this." Kima and McNulty share a congratulatory look, and everyone else gets ready to...well, do this. Like the man said. We can barely hear Herc as he asks Carver, "What does he want us to do? I don't understand." Hee, nice touch. Through the bustle of activity, McNulty gazes admiringly at Lester. You just know he'd make Lester his bride, if not for Bunk.