The Wire
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Episode Report Card
Mr. Sobell: B+ | 1 USERS: A
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"Buyer's Market Out There"

At a desk somewhere deep within the bowels of the Baltimore P.D., a desk jockey is looking up stats on unclaimed bodies -- thirteen, in case you're curious -- per the request of Templeton's moral and spiritual equivalent, James McNulty. McNulty asks the desk jockey to keep searching -- this time, for bodies with no fixed address. Ostensibly, this is to see where dead homeless people are turning up, but really, it's just a chance for McNulty to get more data to fuel his fictionalized serial killer scheme. "Dropping like flies in the Southern lately," McNulty muses, while dialing up Freamon on his cell. We learn that most of the bodies in South Baltimore seem to be popping up at night. "So who do we know working 12 to 8 in the Southern?" McNulty asks Freamon. "Jimmy, am I missing something here?" the desk jockey asks, once McNulty concludes his conspiratorial phone call. "How does this help you?" McNulty just grins. You don't want to know, friend. Seriously -- it would only annoy you.

At a florist's shop, Proposition Joe is picking out an appropriate funeral bouquet for Butchie -- "none of that phony gangster shit; he was old-school" -- and filling in the florist on Butchie's backstory. ("Came up under Teensy. Caught him a slug early. Took his sight. Dabbled now and then, but kept it as quiet as a puppy walking on cotton." Little good it did him, as it turned out.) Having found a suitably old-school arrangement, Prop Joe gets up to leave, offering this as the message for the bouquet: "'Butchie: Woe to them that call evil good and good evil.' Sign it, 'Your true and loyal friend, Proposition Joe. P.S. If Omar should happen to see this lovely floral arrangement, please be advised that I, Proposition Joe, had nothing to do with this shit.'" Okay, I made up the postscript. And I feel bad about it, because Prop Joe seems genuinely sorry that Butchie wound up a pawn in Marlo's game of revenge. As for Marlo, Prop Joe is saving up his wrath for Marlo's role in this drama and aiming it "the motherfucker who snuggled up and whispered in Marlo's ear." Slim Charles doesn't even have to say what we're all thinking -- Cheese! Cheese! It was so obviously Cheese! -- before Prop Joe rebuts him: "I ain't making a move against no kin -- not 'til I got more to go on than words. And knowing my sister's son the way I do, the boy got fifty grand in his pocket, it ain't gonna be long before it jump out and find itself in some salesman's hand." That still doesn't address the pressing Omar issue and how Prop Joe will likely wind up No. 1 on the not-so-friendly visit list. "Out of respect for that man's skill set, I'm gonna take myself out of the lineup after the meet tomorrow," Prop Joe tells Slim Charles. "'Til this shit sort itself out, Cheese gonna watch the shop. You gonna watch Cheese." The first time I saw this scene, my thought was, "Man, that Proposition Joe is smart -- always one step ahead of everyone." It bears repeating that I am a very stupid, stupid man.

At Little Johnny's, Spiros opens a briefcase of freshly laundered money and...I'm sorry. The sight of Paul Ben-Victor is giving me John From Cincinnati flashbacks. I'm able to keep things under control most of the time, but if McNulty starts levitating or Dayton Callie walks into the scene as Marlo's new Hawaiian-based connection, I'm out of here. Anyhow, Palak-- er, "Spiros" apologizes to Marlo for making him go through all the effort to launder all that money, but they're quite happy with their current partners in crime, thanks very much. "I'm not here to badmouth Prop Joe," says Marlo, who proceeds to do just that, reminding Spiros of last season's robbery. "What if this happens again?" Marlo wonders, perhaps hoping to plant the same question in Spiros's mind. "All I'm asking for is an insurance policy. You know, something covers me and covers you." At this point, an older gent who's been eavesdropping at the diner counter turns to join the conversations. Points to you if you recognized him as The Greek, shorn of his moustache. "The young man makes a point," His Greekiness observes. "You're right. These are volatile times. It is not unreasonable to carry insurance." And just like that, The Greek and Spiros have a new business partner and Marlo has one less reason to rely on Proposition Joe. After Marlo goes, The Greek praises his persistence. "But he is not Joe," Spiros notes. "He is not Joe," The Greek agrees, with just the hint of a smile. If this were John From Cincinnati, about here is where Austin Nichols would wander in, stare at the camera, and say in a sing-songy voice, "Joe will soon be gone." Thank Christ this isn't John From Cincinnati.

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The Wire

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