Collateral Damage (The Wire)

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"Collateral Damage."
The Wire episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 2
Directed by Ed Bianchi
Story by David Simon
Ed Burns
Teleplay by David Simon
Original air date June 8, 2003 (2003-06-08)
Running time 58 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Ebb Tide"
Next →
"Hot Shots"
List of The Wire episodes

"Collateral Damage" is the second episode of the second season of the HBO original series, The Wire. The episode was written by David Simon from a story by Simon and Ed Burns and was directed by Ed Bianchi. It originally aired on June 8, 2003.


Title and epigraph[edit]

The title is a quote from McNulty in reference to hapless detective Ray Cole being assigned the murder that he worked to have handed to Rawls division. It can also be considered to refer to the girls killed as part of the Greek's smuggling operation and the problems created for the dock workers as part of Sobotka and Valchek's rivalry. Furthermore, in the next episode Bunk and Lester tell McNulty that they are collateral damage from his revenge. The episode is preceded by the epigraph:

McNulty uses this common phrase in conversation with Bunk and Freamon in reference to his punishment of being sent to the docks, meaning that eventually it has to come to an end.


  • "The House That Jack Built" by Aretha Franklin is heard as the stevedores are being stopped at the D.U.I. checkpoint.
  • "The Flute Tune" by Push is heard when Wee-Bey is complaining to Avon about Tilghman.
  • The song playing when McNulty, Bunk and Freamon are drinking in the bar is "Gimme A Penny" by Big Mama Thornton.
  • When McNulty wakes up in Rhonda's bed, "Good-Bye To Carolina" by Lyle Lovett can be heard playing.


Starring cast[edit]

Although credited, Andre Royo and Sonja Sohn do not appear in this episode.

Guest stars[edit]

Plot summary[edit]

The Department and McNulty[edit]

Officer Beadie Russell deals with various agencies trying to decide who has to take responsibility for investigating the deaths of the thirteen women in a cargo container. Coroner Randall Frazier establishes the cause of death as suffocation because of a crushed air pipe on the top of the container. The damage to the pipe is deemed accidental and the case is handed back to Beadie.

Detective Bunk Moreland and Officer Jimmy McNulty enjoy some crabs, a perk of McNulty's new assignment. McNulty insists that the door stay shut, as he is avoiding Colonel Rawls. Bunk learns that McNulty spent three hours working out where a floating body was dumped in order to establish that it fell under Rawls' jurisdiction. Bunk chastises him for dumping the case on Detective Ray Cole, but McNulty dismisses Cole's troubles as collateral damage. McNulty examines the container and discusses the case with Beadie Russell. They establish that the floating body that he retrieved from the harbor is related, as there is an extra bedroll in the container. McNulty checks the crushed air pipe and notes that it appears to have been crushed deliberately. Beadie and McNulty meet with the coroner, who agrees that this is grounds to consider the girls murdered.

Rawls meets with Ronnie, the commander of the port police, and resists an attempt to hand off the thirteen murders. Landsman's homicide squad, now including Lester Freamon, watches Rawls with palpable anticipation as he leaves the meeting; he announces his success with a raised fist as he returns to his office. Meanwhile, McNulty convinces the coroner to estimate time of death based on the amount of air in the container to see if it matches when the other girl was dumped in the water. Rawls later meets with the commanders of all the other jurisdictions involved with the bodies. Despite his protestations, they insist that the murders occurred in his jurisdiction. The cases are assigned to Landsman's squad, who can only look on crestfallen as they are written up on the board.

Freamon, Bunk, and McNulty go to a bar and McNulty takes fourteen shots, one for each of the murder cases dumped on Rawls' unit. They have several laughs at Burrell, Rawls, Landsman, and Cole's expense. When they return to the detail, Landsman tells them that Cole is working their cases while they are assigned the Jane Does from the port. Landsman tells them that he needs the cases solved and that they are his best detectives, so they get the case. Freamon and Bunk later travel to the Port Authority police department and meet with Beadie. When she asks if they know McNulty, Bunk's reply is a deadpan "He's dead to us." They begin to interrogate the crew of the ship.

McNulty awakens naked and hungover in Rhonda Pearlman's bed. She tells him that if he turns up at her house again at 2am unannounced, she will call the police. She then demands to know the nature of their relationship, to which McNulty responds by revealing that his wife wants to get back together for the sake of the children. Rhonda leaves the room in disgust, slamming the door behind her.

Lieutenant Cedric Daniels walks with his wife Marla after a restaurant meal and she apologizes for bringing up his career. Lt. Daniels tells Marla that he will hand in his resignation papers.

The Stevedores and Valchek[edit]

Stevedore union leader Frank Sobotka has an angry meeting with his smuggling contact Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos in The Greek's cafe regarding the dead girls on the docks. His nephew Nick Sobotka tries to talk him down before the meeting, but Frank will not be swayed. Frank is concerned that the deaths were deliberate and that he could have prevented them if he had known that there were girls in the container. Vondas reassures him that the deaths were accidental and explains that their driver Sergei Malatov was waiting for a contact to come off the ship and signal to him that it was safe to take the container. Frank asks to be informed next time human cargo moves through the docks despite Vondas's assurance that he does not want to know. After the meeting, Vondas speaks to another man in the cafe, who happens to be The Greek himself.

Back at the union house, Thomas "Horseface" Pakusa complains to Frank that the port police are hassling him over some missing cases of vodka. He admits taking four cases, but denies breaking the seal; Frank is unconcerned. Ott then comes in complaining that the police are ticketing their cars. Frank approaches Sergeant Ellis Carver and complains about the frivolous ticketing. Carver is sympathetic but tells that he is acting under orders from Major Stan Valchek and he does not want to break the chain of command.

The next day, Valchek comes to the union hall where he angrily accuses Frank of illegally funding the stained glass window that is present in their church. After Frank insults and threatens him, Valchek visits a property developer friend, Andy Krawczyk, to discuss trying to reclaim his donation from the church. He learns that Frank Sobotka's union has been making political contributions, hired a lobbyist, and generally show a lot of cash for a failing industrial organization. Krawczyk also mentions that Deputy Commissioner Burrell is in line to be appointed Commissioner. Valchek meets with Burrell and promises that he will organize support for him from the mostly-white first district of City Council in return for a special detail to investigate possible illegal activities of Frank Sobotka's union, admitting that his motivation is that "he's an asshole". Burrell agrees to give Valchek a squad of six men for six weeks.

Nick, Ziggy Sobotka and the other Stevedores drink at Delores's bar at breakfast time. Ziggy discusses a connection named "White Mike" who can supply them with drugs. He wants Nick to partner with him in buying the package and selling it off, but Nick refuses his offer. Ott announces that a ship is in and gives Nick a ride. The dock workers are stopped on the way by patrol officers led by Carver who have established an 8 am D.U.I. checkpoint courtesy of Valchek. Ziggy meets White Mike alone and asks him to give him the package with payment to follow. Ziggy has messed up his last two attempts, so Mike refuses to trust him again. After being released from Central Booking on D.U.I. charges, the Stevedores, particularly Ott, complain to Frank about the police activity. Frank admits to his rivalry with Valchek. They insist that he deal with the problem and Frank tells Nick that if Valchek wants a war, he will have one. Horseface later infiltrates Valchek's district's parking lot and steals a surveillance van filled with equipment. He drives it to the docks and La La, Frank, and Nick help him load it into a container. They laugh as the container is then loaded onto a ship.

Valchek assembles and briefs his new detail in their port side offices. He tells them that Lieutenant Grayson will command the detail and that his son-in-law Prez is 'a prodigy'. The only question is from Detective Polk about who signs off on their overtime.

In prison[edit]

Brianna Barksdale visits her brother Avon in prison and pleads with him to look out for her son D'Angelo, as he took a 20-year sentence for their family. They also discuss the loss of their New York connection, Roberto. Brianna tells him that their money has been returned and that Stringer Bell had to deal with the Dominicans' lawyer because they fear that it is unsafe to deal with the Barksdale organization with Avon imprisoned. Avon recommends a contact named Vargas, who owns a wheel rim shop in Atlanta. Brianna also tells Avon that D'Angelo's girlfriend Donette has been out of touch, and Avon has also noticed that she has not visited D'Angelo or brought their child.

Wee-Bey Brice's cell is later searched by a corrections officer named Tilghman who is physically aggressive toward him, takes his magazines, upends his fish tank (filled with plastic fish), and tears down his posters. Wee-Bey complains to Avon that Tilghman is deliberately targeting him because he is the cousin of one of the victims whom he was convicted of murdering. Avon tries talking with Tilghman, who brusquely rebuffs him.

Stringer later visits Avon at the prison and tells him that the Atlanta contact has been put into play. Avon tells Stringer that he needs to help him deal with Tilghman and also find Donette and ensure that she visit D'Angelo regularly. Stringer checks with Avon about D'Angelo's loyalty and Avon insists that D'Angelo can be trusted to handle his burden, as he is family.

Avon finds D'Angelo is sniffing a powdery substance in his cell with another inmate. He asks D'Angelo how he is getting on and tells him that they need to talk.

The Greek[edit]

Sergei Malatov and a taciturn associate infiltrate a port in Philadelphia using fake Coast Guard IDs. He orders the ship held in port, which prompts one of the crew to come ashore. They chase a crewman down with their car, beat him up, and bundle him into the back seat.

Sergei and his associate violently interrogate the now naked crewman, Sam, and ask him why he fled the Atlantic Light. The Greek and Vondas arrive and The Greek initially appears to have a more generous disposition. He notices Sam's tattoos and identifies him as Turkish. Sam admits that he let the women out of the container for a break, later allowing his crew to rape them in exchange for money. He describes how one of the women tried to fight back and was killed in the ensuing struggle. Her body was then dumped overboard. Because the other women saw what happened, the men decided to kill them all. Once Sam's tale is finished, Vondas slowly cuts his throat. The Greek orders Sergei to leave the corpse without fingerprints or a face.[1][2][3]

First appearances[edit]


  • Sam: The crewman from the Atlantic Light responsible for the murder of the 14 girls found in the Baltimore Port. Killed by Vondas after his capture by Sergei and interrogation by "The Greek" himself.



The episode had an average of 3.5 million viewers when it was first broadcast on HBO on June 8, 2003. This was a reduction of 21% from the previous week's season premiere.[4]


  1. ^ "Episode guide - episode 15 collateral damage". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-06-22. 
  2. ^ David Simon, Ed Burns (2003-06-08). "Collateral Damage". The Wire. Season 2. Episode 02. HBO. 
  3. ^ Alvarez, Rafael (2004). The Wire: Truth Be Told. New York: Pocket Books. 
  4. ^ Gary Levin (2003-06-10). "Hillary and Miss Universe are ratings winners". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 

External links[edit]