|First appearance||"Straight and True" (episode 3.05)|
|Last appearance||"–30–" (episode 5.10)|
|Created by||David Simon|
|Portrayed by||Gbenga Akinnagbe|
|Occupation||Former drug organization enforcer/Prisoner|
Chris Partlow is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, played by actor Gbenga Akinnagbe. Partlow is Marlo Stanfield's best friend, bodyguard, and second-in-command in his drug dealing operation. Despite his quiet demeanor, Partlow commits more on- and off-screen murders than any other character. Although he is a ruthless killer, he is shown to genuinely care about the soldiers under his command, especially Michael Lee, whom he takes under his wing as a protégé. According to a David Simon audio commentary, Partlow was a victim of molestation, explaining his ferocious attack on Michael Lee's stepfather.
Partlow is a key player in the turf war with the Barksdale organization and is always looking out for Stanfield's safety. He often meets with Marlo and his adviser Vinson to discuss their strategy. Partlow's cautious observation revealed Avon Barksdale's car when he tries to set a trap for Stanfield. Partlow fires on the car in a drive by shooting, wounding Avon and killing one of his soldiers. When Marlo Stanfield murders Devonne for spying, Partlow accompanies him and calmly tells him that it needed to be done. When Stringer Bell is murdered, Partlow and Snoop are assumed to be responsible and they do nothing to dispel these rumors. The turf war comes to an end when Stringer's death and Avon's arrest lead to the demise of the Barksdale Organization and Stanfield assumes control of most of the drug trade in Western Baltimore.
Partlow carries out murders as Stanfield orders them. Working alongside young female soldier "Snoop," he disposes of bodies by opening up vacant buildings, covering the corpses in quicklime and sheeting, and then nailing the buildings shut. When Stanfield dealer Fruit is killed, Partlow advises restraint, suggesting they kill the perpetrator instead of all the members of the independent drug crew he works with. Marlo agrees with Chris' approach and gives him the go-ahead to kill Fruit's murderer, Lex. Chris arranges for Lex to be ambushed by paying Little Kevin to tell him his girlfriend wants to meet him at night in a secluded spot. Kevin pays an unwitting Randy Wagstaff to pass on the message. Once the trap is sprung, Lex is killed by Chris and Snoop. Chris is also responsible for the murder of a security guard who "talked back" to Marlo. Rumors on the street tie Chris to several other murders including victims known as Pookie and Byron.
Partlow continues to be Marlo's key adviser. He tries to dissuade Marlo from playing at a high stakes card game where he is losing a considerable amount of money. When the game is robbed by Omar Little, Marlo asks Partlow for his advice on how best to deal with Omar. Partlow suggests a more subtle approach than simply placing a bounty on Omar. They plan to stage a robbery of their associate Old Face Andre and blame the robbery on Omar, having Andre identify him. Partlow carries out the robbery himself and kills a delivery woman and beats Andre to lend credence to their scenario.
Marlo entrusts Partlow with cultivating new prospect Michael Lee. Michael is a middle school child who Marlo believes would make a good soldier. Partlow is responsible for intimidating Lex's crew chief Bodie Broadus into giving up his corner, since Marlo has seen that he has turned it into a profitable location. Partlow forces Bodie to accept Marlo's package, which is inferior to the high quality heroin he had been purchasing from Proposition Joe Stewart. He asks Bodie about Michael, having noticed that he worked with him for a time. Partlow tracks Michael to his home and then approaches him when he is talking with friends in an alley. He offers him cash and promises of protection if he joins the organization, an offer Michael eventually accepts after the unwelcome return of his stepfather, Devar. Chris and Snoop take care of the situation with Michael's stepfather. When he confronts Devar, Partlow questions him about molestation, something that Michael strongly hints at over the course of the fourth season, and asks him about any past sexual activity in prison. Chris proceeds to viciously beat him to death, in stark contrast to the business-like way his other hits are carried out, suggesting that Chris too may have been a victim of molestation as a child. Michael joins their organization under the condition they also look out for his younger brother, Bug. Chris takes Michael on as a protégé to the point where Marlo refers to Michael as Chris' "pup". Partlow appears to relate to Michael and his implied history of abuse and takes Michael under his wing.
Partlow and Snoop are twice pulled over by detectives during the season. The first time, they were confronted by Herc, who had been following them, but Partlow was able to hide their firearms in a hidden compartment. Herc discovers their nail gun and lime in the back of the vehicle, but takes little notice. Once they are released, Partlow disposes of the nail gun. The second time, they are confronted by Kima and Bunk. Snoop again hides their firearms, but Kima discovers the compartment. Chris and Snoop are arrested but later released, as the police can tie neither the weapons nor the vehicle to either of them. Eventually, the police are able to demonstrate not only that Chris (and thus Marlo) are responsible for the chain of disappearances in West Baltimore, but also that they have been disposing of the bodies in row houses all over town.
Partlow faces weapon charges from his arrest at the car stop but manages to get the hearings delayed. The police are unable to gather enough evidence to file charges on the vacant house murders and begin a prolonged surveillance operation into the Stanfield Organization. Stanfield and Partlow respond by stopping all phone communication and only meeting face to face. They are forced to curtail their violent activity while under investigation. Partlow continues to mentor Michael Lee, who now runs his own corner. Stanfield is plotting to take over the New Day Co-Op and usurp "Proposition Joe" Stewart's connection to his suppliers, The Greek. Stanfield instructs Partlow to arrange a meeting with imprisoned Ukrainian enforcer Sergei Malatov to broker a meeting with The Greek. To this end Partlow finds information on Malatov at the court house. Eventually the Major Case Unit is shut down as part of Mayor Carcetti's cutbacks; Stanfield and Partlow soon notice they are no longer being closely watched. Stanfield orders Partlow and Snoop to kill Junebug (a rival who may have been spreading rumors about Stanfield), attack Webster Franklin's territory, as he had refused the Stanfield package and to lure Omar Little out of retirement. Partlow has already arranged for Stanfield to visit Malatov at MCI Jessup.
Partlow leaves the Webster Franklin assignment to Snoop but takes Snoop and Michael with him to kill Junebug. Partlow waits for Junebug at his home and tutors Michael in the importance of the element of surprise. Partlow orders Michael to watch the back of the house while Snoop disables nearby cameras. Partlow and Snoop then stage a home invasion, killing Junebug, his bodyguard and his domestic partner. Two children are also present and escape with their lives. One hides in a closet while the other flees the house. Michael has been ordered to kill anyone who tries to escape but he lets the child go. The triple homicide is investigated by Detective Kima Greggs.
Stanfield offers a bounty to anyone who can provide a way to get to Omar. Stewart's nephew Cheese comes forward without Stewart's knowledge and reveals Omar's link to Butchie. Partlow and Snoop attack Butchie at his bar and kill one of his bodyguards and wound the other. They torture Butchie but do not learn anything about Omar's whereabouts. Partlow kills Butchie and instructs his surviving bodyguard to ensure that word reaches Omar. Snoop is worried about the plan as it means that Omar will now be targeting them while they still have no knowledge of his whereabouts but Partlow refuses to question Stanfield.
Stanfield is successful in reaching the Greeks and Partlow accompanies him to a meeting with Spiros Vondas. Stanfield persuades The Greeks to think of him as an insurance policy against Stewart being unable to do business with them in the future. Stanfield then convinces Cheese to betray Stewart by having Partlow kidnap Cheese's rival—an East side Co-Op dealer named Hungry Man. Partlow delivers Hungry Man to Cheese and Cheese gives up Stewart in exchange. Stanfield and Partlow trap Stewart in his home and Partlow murders Stewart while Stanfield watches.
As Marlo meets with Spiros Vondas in a city park, Partlow and a Greek enforcer watch over the area. Vondas explains how Marlo is to communicate with him using picture messages on a Blackberry phone. As the meet ends, Marlo tells Chris how good it feels to be wearing the crown and suggests a celebratory trip to Atlantic City. A cautious Partlow reminds Marlo that Omar is going to make a move on them, suggesting that it is not the best time for a vacation. Partlow then tells his family that he will be going away on business for a few weeks. Marlo watches from the car side as Partlow plays in the yard with his baby girl.
Later that evening Omar observes Monk's condominium. Chris later informs Marlo of Omar's reconnaissance. When Omar later attacks Monk's apartment, he walks into a trap: Partlow, together with Michael, Snoop and O-Dog are lying in wait. Omar jumps from the balcony to escape, severely injuring his leg in the process and Donnie is shot in the head by one of the Stanfield soldiers (presumably Chris). With Omar at large, Partlow lies low for his own safety, worried about the safety of his girlfriend and children. After Omar is killed by Kenard, Partlow is shown to be disappointed, but he readily returns to work.
In the meantime, Bunk has connected Partlow with the murder of Michael's stepfather using DNA evidence. Bunk delays arresting Partlow as a favor to McNulty and Lester, but when the police bust a narcotics resupply transaction from the Greeks, Partlow is charged with murder, preventing his release on bail. Levy represents Partlow as well as Stanfield and suspects an illegal wiretap due to the speed with which charging documents were produced. In an effort to preserve as much of the case as possible, Pearlman strikes a bargain with Levy: Levy will convince the Stanfield organization to plead to various charges in exchange for Pearlman not revealing Levy's bribery of Grand Jury Prosecutor Gary DiPasquale at the city courthouse. Part of this deal involves Partlow pleading guilty to not only the murder of Michael's stepfather, but all of the bodies found in the vacants, charges which yield a sentence of life without parole. He willingly takes the life sentence for the Stanfield organization on the condition that his girlfriend and children are taken care of financially.
Partlow is briefly seen during the end-of-season montage conversing amicably with Wee-Bey Brice in the courtyard of the Maryland State prison; they are in a similar situation, both having been primary enforcers for West Baltimore kingpins, and now both serving life sentences for committing (and taking sole responsibility for) murders at the behest of their respective bosses.
- "Cast & Crew - Gbenga Akinnagbe as Chris Partlow". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- "Org Chart - The Street". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-27.
- "Character profile - Chris Partlow". HBO. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-15.
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- Dan Attias (2008-01-27). "Transitions". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 4. HBO.