Well, McNulty goes and launches the next part of the plan, where he places a phone call to Templeton posing as the serial killer and sends him a photo of the homeless guy he stashed in Richmond -- you know, "Operation Oh No He Di'int" -- and it all goes swimmingly. Templeton gets to write himself another front page above-the-fold story on his favorite subject -- Templeton -- and McNulty's finally managed to turn on the spigot of departmental resources. He gets the equipment he needs to capture Marlo's coded images and has so many resources left over that he can dole out aide and assistance to homicide investigators like a regular drunken Jimmy Claus. Really, this couldn't have worked out better for everyone involved. No need to wait around expecting the other shoe to drop. Everything's A-OK with the fake serial killer thing.
Except word has gotten around the department that McNulty in now the go-to guy for under-the-table investigative resources, and while he enjoys the extra attention -- it would be more accurate to say he revels in it -- it's also getting on his nerves having to dole out resources like a Daniels or a -- shudder -- Rawls. And all these people coming to McNulty for extra assistance are making Freamon just the least bit nervous that this entire operation is going to blow up in their faces.
Well, at least they got the equipment they need to get the goods on Marlo, right? Well, yes...but the images they do manage to capture are in a code so inscrutable not even Freamon can crack it. Marlo sends around pictures of clocks with the hands in assorted positions. But get this, Riddler -- the messages themselves have nothing to do with time, apparently. Looks like Freamon and McNulty are going to have to keep up the deception for a little while longer.
As for Templeton, his front-page story is full of purple prose and first-person spotlight-hogging, and Gus is about to blue-pencil it to death when Whiting and Klebanow step in and pull the "Why don't you let us handle this one, Champ?" routine. Of course, the story appears in all its untouched douchey goodness. And that only motivates Gus to do a little checking on the complaint about Templeton's death-by-seafood story. Of course, Gus finds out that Templeton was fibbing -- Noooooooooo! -- about checking out the complaint, which has him wondering what other stories the fair-haired boy of the newsroom might be fabricating. (Here's a hint to save time in your investigation, Gus: Pretty much all of them.)
But if it sounds like those cats had a bad episode, they don't even finish one-two. No, your runner-up is Michael, who not only gets hauled in front of Bunk as part of the latter's investigation into Devar's murder, but also finds himself on the business-end of a handgun held by Omar, whose Vengeance '08 tour continues to make stops throughout Baltimore. Omar would like Michael to let Marlo know that it was he who shot Savino, a former Barksdale crew member who's now muscle for Marlo. Come to think of it, Savino had a pretty bad episode.
And now, the guy who had the worst episode for this installment of The Wire: State's Attorney Bond, who sees his slam-dunk case against Clay Davis unravel, when the state senator trots out the "If misappropriating funds to help out poor folks not unlike yourselves, members of the jury, is a crime then declare me guilty." They do not, and Bond and Pearlman are left asking themselves how things went so terribly wrong. I have a feeling that question is going to get asked a lot around Baltimore over the next three episodes.
We open with McNulty and Freamon huddling in a closet. Re-enacting the greatest music video ever captured on film perhaps? No such luck. Instead, they are instigating the stupidest plan ever formulated. (Runner Up: "Let's green-light 'Trapped in the Closet!'") I'll let Freamon explain what the hell is going on, since it's beyond my primitive understanding: They've taken an ordinary cell phone and masked it as Marlo's. "Spoof to imitate a call stream like it's a phone company's switch. We can put any digits in we want. Meanwhile, phone company paperwork on the case has the cell we gave to Sydnor. It's fairly basic shit." Of course it is. I feel silly for even asking.
After pushing some buttons and making the machine he's holding go ping, Freamon cautions McNulty to stick to the script -- that's the sheet of paper McNulty's holding in his hand and reading with the help of one of those headlamps the good people at L.L. Bean are selling to people who like to do a little night hiking, camping, or strip-mining in their backyard. McNulty will also be using a voice modulator in tonight's performance, just in case anyone recognizes that silky baritone on the other end of the line. Sydnor takes his place in the Inner Harbor with the dummy phone, and we're ready to begin. McNulty dials 1-800-DICKWEED...
... and so Templeton's cell phone rings. He manages to juggle coffee, a bagel, and a stack of papers in order to answer the phone call -- which also rouses Detective Holley from his slumbers back at Homicide when the wiretap springs to life -- only to hear an unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line. "Hey you," a newly accented McNulty sneers into the line. "Where do you get off, you sick little twist? Sexual? I'm not sexual with them. I'm not abusive with them. How dare you write that in your paper without knowing nothin' about me?" "What?" a rattled Templeton wittily retorts. "Biting's not sex, it's biting," McNulty continues. "I'm not sick like that." Oh my God, Templeton realizes -- it's the serial killer I've never actually spoken with before! He excitedly bolts toward his desk, plowing over another reporter in a Stooges-esque collision -- coffee and bagels go flying. Meanwhile, McNulty does an excellent job sticking to the script, offering to bite Templeton. "Would you like that, Scotty?" McNulty demands. If there's a front-page story with his byline in it, I'm guessing he could learn to like it. Meanwhile, a panning shot back at Homicide shows that the utility closet where McNulty is delivering this ginned-up message of terror is about five feet from where a frantic Holley is phoning in for a trap-and-trace for the killer's phone number. Oh, for a frantic message back along the lines of, "The call is coming from inside the house!"