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The Wire episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 8
Directed by Anthony Hemingway
Teleplay by Dennis Lehane
Story by David Simon
Dennis Lehane
Original air date February 24, 2008 (2008-02-24)
Running time 58 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Season 5 episodes
List of The Wire episodes

"Clarifications" is the eighth episode of the fifth season of the HBO original series, The Wire. The episode was written by Dennis Lehane from a story by David Simon and Dennis Lehane and was directed by Anthony Hemingway.[1] It aired on February 24, 2008.[2]



Michael Lee meets with Chris Partlow and Snoop Pearson to report his confrontation with Omar Little, Omar’s pronounced limp and use of a crutch.

Officers Truck and Dozerman are approached by a limping Omar, who tells the police that two drug dealers nearby are carrying weapons. Truck and Dozerman arrest the offending dealers as Omar approaches the corner through a back alley. He passes Kenard and a group of other children torturing a stray cat and all except Kenard flee. Omar forces the drug dealers to move from the corner and throws their drugs down a drain while shouting about Marlo Stanfield’s fear of facing him.

Omar goes to a corner store to buy cigarettes and is shot and killed by Kenard, who then runs away.

Chris and Snoop, who are hunting Omar, receive a coded message from Marlo to organize a meeting. Marlo is surprised they had not heard of Omar's death. Marlo reports that Omar's killer is a young boy but knows nothing else. Chris looks displeased by the fact that he, Snoop and Michael failed at their task and an uncredited boy shot the Stanfield crew's nemesis.

At the close of the episode, Omar’s corpse is at the morgue. One of the staff notices a tag, which lists Omar Little as an African American Male (AAM) on the bag for an adjacent Caucasian corpse. The assistant medical examiner realizes the tags have been mixed up, corrects the mistake and seals the body bags.

Homicide unit[edit]

McNulty addresses police commanders, Mayor Carcetti and Norman Wilson at a Comstat meeting. Carcetti asks McNulty for leads on a missing homeless man, Larry Butler, and McNulty reports no new information despite thorough checking. McNulty requests Carver for his investigation. Carcetti authorizes car rentals if necessary and leaves the meeting. Rawls jokes that they now must catch the killer, but at least the mayor is finally willing to pay for the police department.

McNulty meets with Carver to discuss his joining the homeless murder investigation. Carver asks why McNulty chose Carver over a sergeant from the district where the murders occurred. Carver guesses that Freamon is running a wiretap but McNulty denies any knowledge.

Carver chairs a meeting with his newly assembled surveillance teams. Carver explains that the Major Crimes Unit is running a drug investigation that might need surveillance work. The officers are very pleased when Carver gives them the keys to their rented vehicles.

In the homicide unit, McNulty discusses their new recruits with Freamon over the phone. Bunk approaches McNulty with a request to sign. Bunk takes the request to the crime lab and delivers it to the supervisor, Rob Lowenthal, claiming that his investigation is now tied in with the homeless murders. Lowenthal agrees to prioritize the DNA matching on Bunk’s case.

Greggs and McNulty discuss their relationships on the way to Quantico. McNulty recalls Bunk telling him that he was no good for people and Greggs asks if Bunk was drinking at the time – McNulty confirms that he was. When McNulty arrives home, he finds that his partner Beadie has left a note saying she and her children are away and are not sure when they will return.

The FBI profilers begin to describe their assessment by noting the inconsistencies in the killer's behavior in terms of the timing of his crimes. The unit’s deputy director Arthur Tolan interrupts the meeting and brags about his work on high-profile cases and television series like CSI. The homicide detectives are unimpressed and Tolan leaves deflated. The FBI agents continue the profile. Listening to the description, McNulty looks slightly disturbed, as it seems to describe him quite accurately.

Back in Baltimore, Bunk is called to the Omar Little shooting scene by Ed Norris. Crutchfield is also at the scene and tells Bunk that he should have let him give Omar the years in prison as he would have been better off. Crutchfield says that the store owner witnessed the shooting and described the perpetrator as a short adolescent with a big gun. Bunk notices a piece of paper and picks it up with Crutchfield’s permission. It is a list of personnel in Stanfield’s organization and their corners with Savino's name crossed out. Bunk realizes that Omar was back on hunt, despite his talk with him.

Lowenthal calls Bunk back to the crime lab the next day and reports a match to Chris Partlow from DNA found on Devar Manigault’s body. Bunk delivers Omar’s list to McNulty and tells him about Omar’s death. Bunk tells McNulty that Omar was hunting the Stanfield organization and offers the list as payback for McNulty’s assistance with the lab. McNulty asks Bunk to hold back on the Partlow murder warrant to allow Freamon to make a break in the Stanfield investigation and Bunk reluctantly agrees. Bunk tells McNulty that he made his case the honest way and McNulty responds that without the fake serial killer Bunk would still be awaiting the lab work.

McNulty readies to leave the office when Greggs comes in carrying a pile of paperwork on the serial killer case. McNulty pulls Greggs into an interview room and comes clean about fabricating the entire thing. Greggs tries to tell McNulty he cannot carry on with his plan but McNulty tries to reassure her that it will all be over soon.

McNulty finds himself alone at Russell’s house that evening and gets a call from Detective Christeson to thank him for the manpower he provided. Russell eventually returns with her children late in the evening. She refuses to tell McNulty where she has been and angrily informs him that next time he will be the one to leave, as she owns the house. Russell warns McNulty that his family and closest friends are the only ones who will remember him when he is gone and that his colleagues and associates will not be at his wake. McNulty admits that he fabricated the serial killer. McNulty begins to tell Russell that he initially thought of himself as the hero of the story but then realized he was wrong, but she goes back inside the house as he is talking.

Major Crimes Unit[edit]

Freamon intercepts the coded message from Marlo to organize a meeting with Chris. He calls Sydnor to see where the surveillance teams are and Sydnor reports that they are still setting up. Sydnor splits his team in pairs and gives them names of Stanfield lieutenants to follow.

Freamon meets with the Maryland US Attorney with the evidence from the Davis investigation, hoping to take the case federal now that local prosecution has failed. The prosecutor refuses to take the case because Bond has recast Davis as a martyr for the black community and made much of the federal casework inadmissible as the state senator has been found not guilty.

Freamon returns to manning the picture intercepts and finds a coded message from Stanfield. He calls Sydnor to see which of their targets is moving and Sydnor responds that there is no movement. Freamon speculates that there is someone on the network they have yet to uncover. McNulty arrives at the office and tells Freamon about Bunk getting the murder warrant on Partlow. McNulty also reports Omar’s death and delivers his list to Freamon. Freamon recognizes Cheese Wagstaff’s name. Freamon had realized Stanfield was wholesaling to other dealers but McNulty theorizes that the note shows him as being part of Stanfield’s organization. McNulty prepares to leave and admits that he has told Greggs about the plan. Freamon is dismayed that McNulty has told yet another person.

Sydnor tries to pick up Stanfield by checking the location of the other surveillance cars. He pulls out a street atlas to find it and realizes that the page number corresponds to the second hand on the clock face in the message. He is then able to decode the hour and minute hands settings as codes for the Cartesian coordinates of the map location on the indicated page.

After work Freamon tracks Clay Davis to a bar. Davis is initially jocular about his recent victory in the court case until Freamon threatens him with the prospect of renewing the charges at the federal level and adding the false information on the Davises' mortgage application. Davis assumes Freamon is trying to blackmail him for money and Freamon tells him that he will instead have to give answers.

Freamon returns to the office to find that Sydnor has cracked the clock code. Sydnor is perplexed that the code gives only a location and not a time to meet, and Freamon postulates that the meetings are to happen within an hour. Freamon makes a connection between the messages and guesses that Cheese is involved in the East Side meetings. Greggs arrives and chastises Freamon for his involvement and refuses to listen to any explanation, telling her colleague before exiting that she is not good with the plan.


Dukie walks down the street where he sees a sporting goods store and goes in. He asks the salesman, Malik “Poot” Carr, if there is any work available. Poot explains that the manager will not hire anyone under 17. Dukie goes to leave when they both remember each other. Poot recommends that Dukie go back to the street for a while and then apply for a job at the store when he is older. Dukie leaves the store and helps a junk man. Dukie is dropped off at Bug’s school at the end of the day and Bug is surprised by his new career as an arabber. The junk man offers Dukie more work the next day.


Mayor Tommy Carcetti and Steintorf meet with their budget advisor to discuss freeing up funding for the police department now that the homeless murders are their priority. Carcetti checks that police operations will be fully funded and the advisor confirms that the department funding will be back at the level before the cuts. Steintorf comments that it is time to focus on crime to avoid leaving them vulnerable to criticism. The budget advisor reassures Carcetti that the homelessness issue is gaining him traction and recalls the governor being criticized for cutting funding to programs aimed at preventing homelessness.

Norman Wilson arrives at the meeting bearing bad news. He has been called by a Washington Post reporter seeking comment on a story about a Prince George’s (P.G.) County politician named Dobey opposing Carcetti’s party nomination as the Democratic candidate for governor. Wilson has also learned that Congressman Upshaw may support Dobey, creating an even greater threat to Carcetti. Steintorf doubts that Dobey could take the State House, but worries that a battle in the Democratic primary would cost them much needed resources for their own campaign against the Republican incumbent. Wilson realizes that Carcetti’s contacts are all white and he suggests that Carcetti will have to quell the potential insurrection.

Carcetti and Wilson travel to PG County and meet with Congressman Upshaw. Carcetti gives the congressman his word that their frustration will end when he is elected but Upshaw tells Carcetti it will cost a lot more than his word to keep PG County in his camp.

Back in Baltimore, Carcetti meets with Nerese Campbell and Clay Davis to discuss the threat from Dobey. Campbell asks for Carcetti’s endorsement to replace him as mayor, while Davis gets two seats on the liquor board, in exchange for their support against Dobey. Carcetti quips that he is afraid of the damage that Davis can do with two seats on the liquor board, at which Davis laughs uproariously.

At the vigil Carcetti gives a rousing speech about the issue of homelessness and the serial killer plaguing the homeless population. Campbell, Wilson and Steintorf look on approvingly and Scott Templeton is also taking notes from the audience.

Carcetti returns home and discusses his day with his wife Jen. Carcetti tells her about the negative aspects of his day with the compromises he has been forced to make to fend off opposition from Dobey. Jen is disappointed as Carcetti told her he would prefer to endorse Bond over Campbell. Carcetti reveals that Upshaw has asked for a pledge to send half of any federal funding for Baltimore for schools or crime to Prince George's County. Jen is horrified at the prospect of giving up so much of Baltimore City’s needed funding, but Carcetti rationalizes that if he does not get elected, then Baltimore will receive nothing.

The Baltimore Sun[edit]

City Desk Editor Gus Haynes smokes on the loading dock with Jeff Price and Bill Zorzi. They discuss Templeton’s recent phone call from the homeless serial killer. Zorzi asks Haynes if Templeton is telling the story straight and Haynes cites the police involvement as supportive of Templeton’s story.

As Haynes returns to the office, Jay Spry stops him to pass on a message from the reception desk: a visitor wants to discuss Templeton’s story. Spry explains that the man claims that Templeton has been avoiding his calls. Haynes reluctantly heads downstairs and greets the visitor, Terry Hanning.

Haynes arranges a face-to-face meeting between Hanning and Templeton. Hanning angrily confronts Templeton and says that Templeton falsified their discussion. Hanning is aggressively confrontational when Templeton claims that his notes show otherwise. Templeton repeatedly asks to be allowed to finish and then threatens to end the discussion if he is not allowed to tell his side of the story. This prompts Hanning to deliver the epigraph: “A lie ain’t a side of a story. It’s just a lie.”

Templeton again tries to convince Hanning that their conversation was different from what Hanning remembers. Hanning responds by asking Templeton what would happen if one of the Marines he served with read the story and noticed the fabrication. Templeton has no response and Hanning asks for him to leave.

Outside, Haynes tells Templeton that they will investigate the complaint by checking Hanning’s service record and verifying the story with the men he served alongside. Haynes insists that they will attribute the complaint to a misunderstanding, but that if any of the details of Templeton’s story prove to be incorrect, they will print a correction. Templeton is annoyed with the outcome.

Haynes edits a story from Mike Fletcher about homelessness in the city and compliments the work. Fletcher remains modest and reveals that he was helped by a source – Reginald “Bubbles” Cousins – and says he felt that Bubbles would make a good story. Haynes is intrigued by the details Fletcher has so far and asks his reporter to spend some time with Bubbles and see what comes of it. Gutierrez arrives with some late-breaking police stories – the murder of 34-year-old Omar Little in a grocery store and a row house fire that killed two. Haynes checks what space remains in the paper and then tells Gutierrez to write a short story on the fire only.

At the end of the day Haynes edits Templeton’s story from the homeless vigil and is disappointed to see that the anecdote in his lede has been attributed to an unnamed source despite the vigil being a public assembly that was well-attended. He cuts the lede of Templeton's story. Haynes calls Templeton over and explains that the lede violates the sourcing policy. Templeton angrily returns to his desk and attracts Thomas Klebanow’s attention. Klebanow approaches and Haynes tells him that he feels that he has done his job and followed the paper’s sourcing policy but that as Managing Editor, Klebanow can overturn the decision. Haynes then leaves the newsroom.



Title reference[edit]

The title refers to Haynes telling Templeton that he may have to submit a clarifications and corrections piece for Templeton's embellishing of Hanning's story. It may also refer to McNulty coming clean about his ruse. Additionally, the title refers to the mixed up identity tags on the bodies of Omar Little and the middle aged white man in the body bag next to his. The morgue attendant rectifies this by switching them back.


Homeless Marine veteran Terry Hanning says this as a rebuttal to journalist Scott Templeton while they're arguing, cutting each other off, and Templeton wants to tell "[his] side of the story."


Starring cast[edit]

Although credited, Deirdre Lovejoy, Andre Royo, Domenick Lombardozzi, and Michael Kostroff do not appear in this episode.

Guest stars[edit]

Uncredited appearances[edit]

  • Kwame Patterson as Monk Metcalf
  • Jason Moffett as Tony - surveillance team
  • Brian E. McLarney as Brian McLarney - surveillance team
  • Marcus Hamm as Marcus - surveillance team
  • Sophia Ayoud as Cary Russell


  1. ^ "Season 5 crew". HBO. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  2. ^ "HBO Schedule: THE WIRE 58: CLARIFICATIONS". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 

External links[edit]