Chris Partlow

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Chris Partlow
The Wire Partlow.jpg
First appearance"Straight and True" (episode 3.05)
Last appearance"–30–" (episode 5.10)
Created byDavid Simon
Portrayed byGbenga Akinnagbe
OccupationFormer drug organization enforcer/Prisoner

Christopher "Chris" Partlow is a fictional character on the HBO drama The Wire, played by actor Gbenga Akinnagbe.[1] Chris is Marlo Stanfield's second-in-command and bodyguard in his drug dealing operation. Despite his quiet demeanor, Chris commits more murders, both on-screen and off-screen, than any other character. He is a ruthless killer who also shows genuine care towards the soldiers under his command, especially Michael Lee, whom he takes under his wing as a protégé. According to a David Simon audio commentary, Chris was molested as a child, explaining his ferocious attack on Michael Lee's sexually abusive stepfather.

Character storyline[edit]

Season three[edit]

Chris is a key player in the turf war with the Barksdale organization and is always looking out for Marlo's safety. He often meets with Marlo and his adviser Vinson to discuss their strategy. Chris's cautious observation reveals Avon Barksdale's car when he tries to set a trap for Marlo. Chris has his driver pull up alongside the Barksdale car, then fires a shotgun into the side window, wounding Avon and killing a Barksdale soldier named Tater. When Marlo kills Devonne, the woman responsible for setting up the attempted ambush, Chris accompanies him and calmly tells him that it needed to be done. When Stringer Bell is murdered, Chris and Felicia "Snoop" Pearson 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.

Season four[edit]

Chris carries out murders as Stanfield orders them. Working alongside Partlow's protege, the 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, Chris 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.

Chris 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 Chris for his advice on how best to deal with Omar. Chris 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. Chris carries out the robbery himself and kills a delivery woman and beats Andre to lend credence to their scenario.

Marlo entrusts Chris with cultivating new prospect Michael Lee. Michael is a middle school child who Marlo believes would make a good soldier. Chris 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. Chris 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. Chris 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, Chris 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, or while he was incarcerated. 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". Chris appears to relate to Michael and his implied history of abuse and takes Michael under his wing.

Chris and Snoop are twice pulled over by detectives during the season. The first time, it is by Herc, who had been following them, but Chris is 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, Chris disposes of the nail gun. The second time, they are confronted by Kima Greggs and Bunk Moreland. 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.[2]

Season five[edit]

Chris faces weapon charges from his arrest at the car stop but manages to get the hearings delayed. In the meantime the police are unable to gather enough evidence to file charges on the vacant house murders related to Chris and Snoop, and begin a prolonged surveillance operation into the Stanfield Organization. Marlo and Chris respond to the efforts of the police investigation by stopping all phone communication to avoid further incriminating themselves, and instead meet face to face, and also scale back on the violent crimes. Chris continues to mentor Michael Lee, who at this point was given his own corner after a meeting with Chris, Snoop, and Marlo following the murder of Michael's brother's father at the hands of Chris. Upon concluding those issues, Marlo begins to scheme against the co-op, plotting against "Proposition Joe" Stewart by gathering information on his suppliers so that he can establish his own connection to them and cut out the rest of the Baltimore crews and dealers who are dependent on the supply of drugs that are being sold by these particular suppliers, The Greek. Marlo's efforts allow him to gain new information regarding the dealers, and he instructs Chris to arrange a meeting with imprisoned Ukrainian enforcer Sergei Malatov to broker a meeting with The Greeks after finding out Sergei is connected to the criminals. Chris finds more information on Malatov at the court house, resulting in an initial meet with Avon Barksdale, who in being imprisoned in the same prison as Sergei, and formerly part of the drug ring connected to Sergei, is sought after regarding Marlo's interest in visiting.[3][4] Whilst Marlo conspires to wholesale drugs, the Major Case Unit is shut down as part of Mayor Carcetti's cutbacks on public spending for policing. The significance of this is big: Marlo and Chris are no longer being monitored as closely by the Baltomore police due to the lack of funds available to the various departments needed to investigate narcotics and murders, and Stanfield in noticing continues with conspiracies to murder with full effect: Chris and Snoop gun down 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, who returns to Baltimore from an unknown place in what seems to be South America.[5][6]

Chris leaves the Webster Franklin assignment to Snoop but takes Snoop and Michael with him to kill Junebug. Chris waits for Junebug at his home and tutors Michael in the importance of the element of surprise. Chris orders Michael to watch the back of the house while Snoop disables nearby cameras. Chris 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.[5][6]

Omar returns to Baltimore from what serms to be somewhere in South America after being told of the murder of Butchie. Stanfield offered a bounty to anyone willing to provide a way to get to Omar; and Prop Joe's nephew Cheese gives up Butchie behind Joe's back, telling Chris the exact details of Omar's link to Butchie. Chris 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 relationship to the Bar owner and bank for the drug dealer robber. Upon getting Snoop to scout Butchie's bar, Chris and Snoop brutally murder Butchie, torturing him with multiple gunshot wounds and other assaults whilst forcefeeding him alcohol to subdue the pain, before killing him after he continues to say nothing of interest. They then instruct Butchie's 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 and Chris reminds her of who they work for, refreshing her memory on Marlo's villainy for his criminal reputation.[7][8]

Stanfield is successful in reaching the Greeks and Joe 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 Chris kidnap Cheese's rival—an East side Co-Op dealer named Hungry Man. Chris delivers Hungry Man to Cheese and Cheese gives up Stewart in exchange. Stanfield and Chris trap Stewart in his home and Chris murders Stewart while Stanfield watches.[9]

As Marlo meets with Spiros Vondas in a city park, Chris 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 Chris reminds Marlo that Omar is going to make a move on them, suggesting that it is not the best time for a vacation. Chris then tells his family that he will be going away on business for a few weeks. Marlo watches from the car side as Chris 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: Chris, 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, Chris lies low for his own safety, worried about the safety of his girlfriend and children. After Omar is killed by Kenard, Chris is shown to be disappointed, but he readily returns to work.

In the meantime, Bunk has connected Chris with the murder of Michael's stepfather using DNA evidence. Bunk delays arresting Chris as a favor to McNulty and Lester, but when the police bust a narcotics resupply transaction from the Greeks, Chris is charged with murder, preventing his release on bail. Levy represents Chris 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.

Chris 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.


  1. ^ "Cast & Crew - Gbenga Akinnagbe as Chris Partlow". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
  2. ^ "Character profile - Chris Partlow". HBO. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-15.
  3. ^ Joe Chappelle (director); David Simon (story and teleplay), Ed Burns (story) (2008-01-06). "More with Less". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 1. HBO.
  4. ^ "The Wire episode guide - episode 51 More with Less". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  5. ^ a b Ernest Dickerson (director); William F. Zorzi (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) (2008-01-13). "Unconfirmed Reports". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 2. HBO.
  6. ^ a b "The Wire episode guide - episode 52 Uncomfirmed Reports". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  7. ^ Scott and Joy Kecken (directors); Chris Collins (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) (2008-01-20). "Not for Attribution". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 3. HBO.
  8. ^ "The Wire episode guide - episode 53 Not for Attribution". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  9. ^ Dan Attias (director); Ed Burns (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) (2008-01-27). "Transitions". The Wire. Season 5. Episode 4. HBO.