Bubbles (The Wire)
|The Wire character|
|First appearance||"The Target" (episode 1.01)|
|Last appearance||"–30–" (episode 5.10)|
|Created by||David Simon|
|Portrayed by||Andre Royo|
|Occupation||Confidential Informant, Recovering drug addict, newspaper salesman and soup kitchen volunteer|
Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, played by actor Andre Royo. Bubbles is a recovering heroin addict. His real name is not revealed until a fourth-season episode when he is called "Mr. Cousins" and in the fifth-season premiere when he is called "Reginald". Bubbles has a son named KeyShawn, who lives with his mother.
Bubbles is a crucial informant for the police throughout the series due to his extraordinarily detailed knowledge of the streets of Baltimore and their inhabitants. Despite his long-standing history of heroin abuse, Bubbles is an intelligent and compassionate man who genuinely cares about his friend Johnny Weeks and Sherrod, the teenager he "adopts". His struggle to deal with his addiction and make a better life for himself is a major sub-plot over the course of the five seasons of the series.
Bubbles was first seen as a homeless addict and best friend and mentor to Johnny Weeks. The two run a scam creating counterfeit money using a photocopier and coffee staining. Bubbles successfully uses the money to purchase drugs from a crew of dealers working for the Barksdale organization. However when the money is passed on to the crew boss it is recognized as fake. The next time they try the scam, a nervous Johnny is unsuccessful. He is stopped and severely beaten by the Barksdale drug dealers, after which he ends up in hospital.
Bubbles offers to inform on the Barksdale gang for Detective Kima Greggs, to get some measure of revenge for Johnny's beating. Bubbles' knowledge of the street proves invaluable to Lieutenant Cedric Daniels' unit as they investigate the Barksdale organization. He helps identify the crew members who run the Barksdale pit and those who work in the high-rise towers. When Omar Little robs the Barksdale stash, Bubbles is present, and gives the license plate number of Omar's van to Greggs, which helps the detail track down the stick-up man.
After nearly being killed while trying to steal drugs, he tries to get off drugs, but reverts to his old habits when Greggs is shot: he pages Greggs after she had promised to help him stay clean, not realizing that she is hospitalized with a life-threatening injury after a buy-and-bust went bad. As the police seek murder suspects, Bubbles is mistaken as a suspect and brutally beaten by Detective Vernon Holley in the interrogation room until Sergeant Jay Landsman and other officers restrain Holley, calling in Jimmy McNulty to clear things up.
McNulty recruits Bubbles to find Omar Little, whom Bunk needs as a witness in the William Gant murder. Bubbles grudgingly agrees, and in a nervous encounter with a shotgun-wielding Omar, delivers McNulty's message. At the end of season two, he is arrested by Officer Santangelo while trying to steal needles and morphine from an ambulance; in exchange for his release, he tips off Greggs and McNulty to the new alliance between Proposition Joe and Stringer Bell.
Season three sees Bubbles assist the major case unit once again. Bubbles was a former associate of Squeak, then Bernard's girlfriend. Bubbles put them in touch with an undercover Lester Freamon, allowing the unit's plan to wire tap the phones to proceed. During this time Bubbles' continued cooperation with the police began to create a rift between Bubbles and Johnny, who encouraged Bubbles to end his career as an informant – eventually Bubbles left Johnny to fend for himself.
As the investigation progresses Bubbles begins to supplement the income he was earning as an informant by collecting discarded cell phones and t-shirts to sell out of a shopping cart; upon discovering Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin's "Hamsterdam" zones he expands his inventory to suit the needs of the dealers and addicts there. While in Hamsterdam, Bubbles also comes back into contact with Johnny and, upon recognizing that his friend's health was failing due to drug abuse, encourages him to leave – his fears are realized at the end of the season, when Johnny is found dead from an overdose.
In season four, Bubbles shares an abandoned garage with teenaged Sherrod, peddling small goods from a shopping cart to support themselves. Sherrod had trouble with the math involved and asked Bubbles to help re-enroll him in school. Sherrod never makes it to school, however, and after a brief fall-out with Bubbles he returns to help him sell goods from the shopping carts. In Sherrod's absence, however, Bubbles has become the daily victim of another street addict, who constantly robs him and beats him up. To stop this daily assault, Bubbles concocts a "hot shot" of heroin and sodium cyanide that he supposes the vagrant will steal from him and then consume. However, Sherrod uses the tainted drugs while Bubbles sleeps and Bubbles awakes to find that Sherrod has died. Consumed by guilt and grief, Bubbles goes to the police and confesses his actions, before unsuccessfully attempting suicide in the Homicide Interrogation room. Sergeant Jay Landsman sees that the death was unintentional and decides out of sympathy to send Bubbles to a state psychiatric facility rather than charge him with murder.
When the fifth season begins Bubbles has been clean for more than a year. He is living in his sister's basement and selling The Baltimore Sun to make money. His Narcotics Anonymous sponsor is Walon. Walon encourages Bubbles to open up about Sherrod's death in meetings but Bubbles is not ready to take that step. Walon suggests that Bubbles should find an outlet elsewhere and Bubbles begins volunteering at a local Catholic Worker soup kitchen called Viva House. Eventually Bubbles comes to terms with his role in Sherrod's death and has his life story published in an article in the Baltimore Sun. In his final scene of the series, he is seen being brought back into his sister's life when she allows him upstairs from the basement to have dinner with her and her child.
A key allegiance in previous seasons, his and Greggs, is no longer presented in any way after Bubbles rehabilitates, especially after Greggs is unable to ultimately help him. The terms of their friendship and whether they came in contact after the events of season 4 is not revealed.
Bubbles was based on a real police informant known as "Possum", whose true identity has not been made public at the request of his family. Possum was noted as having an incredible memory for faces, and was often very helpful in pointing out drug dealers to police. David Simon met with him twice, shortly before Possum's death from AIDS, intending to write an article about him. He ended up turning it into an obituary.
- Joe Chappelle (2008-01-06). "More with Less". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 1. HBO.
- "Character profile - Bubbles". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-08-05.
- "The Wire episode guide - episode 51 More with Less". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- Ernest Dickerson (2008-01-13). "Unconfirmed Reports". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 2. HBO.
- "The Wire episode guide - episode 52 Uncomfirmed Reports". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- David Simon(1992-03-16). "Life as a snitch: Anonymous to the end, ' Possum ' tells secrets", Baltimore Sun. Retrieved on 2008-09-16.
- Alvarez, Rafael. The Wire: Truth Be Told - The Complete Official Series Guide. Canongate Books.
- Margaret Talbot (2007). "Stealing Life". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2007-10-14.