So Kima's been reassigned to the serial killer case. And what of that triple homicide home-invasion case she was working, Bunk asks, his eyes not even leaving his newspaper. "I got stuff I could run down on that, yeah," Kima says, as McNulty squirms. "But Jay put me on this here." For those of you scoring at home, that's one detective removed from a real homicide involving three real people, so that she can investigate a made-up crime that was fabricated in an apparently fruitless attempt to free up more investigative resources to bring down the drug dealer who...ordered the actual real-live homicides that now aren't getting solved.
If the irony is lost on you, it is not lost on Bunk, who slams down his newspaper and drags McNulty into an interrogation room. "Do you even see how fucking wrong you are?" Bunk hisses. McNulty does not -- he's grinning and happy and yammering on about how the city is coughing up money and resources to pay for his investigation and how more coin is likely to follow. "You just took a real detective off a real case behind your bullshit," Bunk fires back, as if explaining the concept of fire to a caveman. McNulty promises to fix that -- I think we've gotten enough of a glimpse at your problem-solving skills, my man -- but continues to exult in how clever he's been, extracting blood from a stone. "Eventually, these motherfuckers are gonna pay out enough for us to do Marlo Stanfield," a more-crazed-than-usual McNulty asserts. "Just watch. And learn. "You've lost your fucking mind, Jimmy," says Bunk, summarizing what all of us should be thinking. "Look at you. Half-lit every third night. Dead drunk every second. Nut-deep in random pussy. What little time you do spend sober and limp-dicked, you're working murders that don't exist." And with that, Bunk storms out of the interrogation room, leaving McNulty to reflect on what he's done. McNulty is apparently a whiz at introspection -- he's out of the interrogation room quickly, whispering to Kima sotto voce that she should take the overtime, but continue to work her triple homicide while he covers for her on the serial-killer investigation. Kima wonders, not unreasonably, what the hell is going on. Best you don't know, kid -- it'll only make your brain hurt.
Out on the streets, Templeton is interviewing homeless people. Or at least, he's attempting to. The first guy he tries talking to chides him for not making an appointment ("I'm booked up all afternoon," the homeless guy says, only a little bit sardonically). Another one asks him for cash. A third is the business-card-hoarding loner McNulty encountered last episode -- Templeton doesn't have any better luck getting a coherent word out of him. Finally, the failure montage ends with Templeton interviewing a guy who calls himself Nathan Levi Boston and claims to know who's doing all the killings. "Do you believe Satan walks the earth in a fleshly form, that Satan can occupy the souls of men?" Judging by his pained expression, Templeton does not believe that one bit. Oh, how this montage brought back memories -- none of them pleasant -- of my days as a G.A. reporter, when the bosses would dispatch me down to the local shopping mall to survey the locals on what they thought about the O.J. Simpson trial or Jerry Garcia kicking the bucket. (They were outraged by the former and kind of sad about the latter, as I recall.) I used to call these vox populi stories because that sounds a lot more cultured than "fucking wastes of everybody's time." And I would go out and get horrible quotes, much in the same way that Templeton is doing here. The difference is that I would return to the office and write a terrible story using faithful transcriptions of those terrible quotes, before going home to drink away the agony and dream of the kind of life I have now, where I making a comfortable living writing promotional blurbs for especially stodgy lingerie catalogs. Something about what we've seen from Templeton thus far suggests that he's not the sort to submit to his fate the way I once did.