Lessons (The Wire)

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The Wire episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 8
Directed by Gloria Muzio
Story by David Simon
Ed Burns
Teleplay by David Simon
Original air date July 21, 2002 (2002-07-21)
Running time 56 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"One Arrest"
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"Game Day"
List of The Wire episodes

"Lessons" is the eighth episode of the first season of the HBO original series The Wire. The episode was written by David Simon from a story by David Simon and Ed Burns and was directed by Gloria Muzio. It originally aired on July 21, 2002.

Plot summary[edit]

The street[edit]

One of Wallace's young charges wakes him for help with their math homework. Wallace appears unusually tired and irritable, but he awakes to assist with the child's school work anyway. The young kid is unable to do a simple story problem. Wallace asks a similar question, but uses the language of the drug business, instead of buses, which the kid solves in seconds. Poot shows up during the math lesson and encourages Wallace to come to work rather than lying around all day, which he has frequently been doing recently. He is reluctant and refuses to leave his room. He then asks to borrow money from Poot, who begrudgingly obliges. Afterward, Poot reports his concerns over Wallace's activities to D'Angelo, who wants to talk with Wallace face-to-face. Meanwhile, at the print shop (a Barksdale front), Stringer berates the staff for not acting like professionals.

Barksdale soldiers Wee-Bey Brice, Stinkum and Savino raid Omar’s apartment and torch his van while he watches from his hiding place across the street. Later, they pick up D'Angelo to go grab a meal, where D'Angelo mentions Orlando's proposition; the others tell him that he should talk to his uncle. Avon harangues Orlando for even considering getting involved in dealing when his only job is to be a clean front for the liquor board. He beats him and throws him out of his office in front of the dancers.

The soldiers throw a party celebrating Stinkum's promotion, which will be official as soon as they kill a dealer named Scar and chase his crew off his corner. D'Angelo goes out for more alcohol, and when he comes back the party is almost over. He notices one of the dancers, Keisha, lying on a bed and asks what is wrong with her. On closer inspection, he realizes she is dead. Wee-Bey seems unconcerned, but D'Angelo is slightly shaken. Later, Shardene asks D’Angelo about Keisha, and he tells her that she was sick when he last saw her. They discuss his future and she tells him that if he is unhappy, he should do something else.

Wee-Bey and Stinkum prepare to hit Scar's corner, but Omar emerges from the shadows, killing Stinkum and wounding Wee-Bey in the leg. Avon marshals his soldiers, telling them that the bounty on Omar has increased to $10,000 and ordering them to get to work. Stringer tells him that the vendetta against Omar has gotten out of hand and that it would be wiser to propose a truce with Omar to lure him out of hiding and then attempt to kill him at the meeting. Avon seems skeptical of whether this plan would work.

The police[edit]

Detective Jimmy McNulty spots Stringer Bell while taking his sons on a shopping trip to Northeast Market and has them follow him. McNulty loses sight of his sons, but they are capable and manage to write down Stringer's car's license plate number. He later discusses his pride in their ability with Bunk Moreland who is disapproving of McNulty involving his sons in the operation.

In the detail office, Thomas "Herc" Hauk and Ellis Carver discuss the upcoming sergeant’s exam, which they take later in the episode. Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski asks them to tail some of the pit crew to see which phones they are using now. They ridicule him, but, when Kima Greggs makes the same request, they comply. Based on information gleaned from the wire, they pull over Damien "Day-Day" Price, who is Senator Clay Davis's driver. They find a bag full of cash in his car and bring him in for questioning. Daniels tells the detail to keep the cash, but release Price with a receipt. He is forced to defend his detail's actions to Deputy Commissioner Burrell, who tells him to give the money back and write up the stop as unwarranted. Burrell tells Daniels he is shutting down his case for getting into areas where they were not supposed to be. Daniels tells his wife Marla that his superiors dislike wiretaps because they know that drug money ties into politics. He also complains that McNulty asked him what the deputy had on him; she asks him what he said, and he doesn't reply.

Judge Phelan calls McNulty into his chambers and Greggs accompanies him. He asks about a memo from Burrell that states he is shutting the case down for getting into areas beyond its mandate, and they agree to the opposition involved with it. He then calls Burrell and insists that the wiretaps be used for the full duration, threatening Burrell with a contempt charge for early termination of the wiretap. He grins at the detectives and asks them, "Who’s your daddy now?" Later, McNulty tails Stringer and sees him leave a taxi and switch to his car. McNulty follows Stringer and discovers he is taking an introductory economics class at a nearby community college.

At the detail, wiretaps reveal the murder of Stinkum and implicate Omar. Freamon tells Greggs that Omar is a loose cannon. McNulty and Greggs bring Omar in the next day, but Omar denies any involvement. While at the detail, Omar spots the photo linking Avon to Orlando’s club. Omar is unapologetic about his actions and the detectives have to let him go. Later Omar observes Orlando's club from the shadows.

Greggs goes to Freamon with her worries that she caused Omar to volunteer as an eyewitness; Freamon reassures Greggs that justice would be served even without Omar, as the ballistics matched. They discuss dancers at the club and pick out Shardene as a potential informant.[1][2][3]

Bunk tells McNulty that Ray Cole caught the Stinkum murder. McNulty tells Bunk that Omar was the shooter, and asks him to tell Cole that they have some talk on the wire, and will give him a closed case once their case is finished; both Bunk and McNulty regret the lie, and go out drinking to soothe their consciences. They discuss the strange position of protecting Omar from the murder investigation. Bunk spots a woman he wishes to bed, and asks McNulty to cover for him with his wife. Later, McNulty is called by the woman to come and collect Bunk, who is so drunk that he decided to burn his clothes to destroy the evidence of his infidelity. McNulty brings Bunk back to his own house and deposits him in the bed of one of his sons. Bunk mumbles that McNulty is bad for the people around him before falling asleep. McNulty will still remember Bunk's words years later.


In the Homicide unit, Bunk is reading a book written by Laura Lippman. Lippman is a Baltimore resident, and is married to series creator David Simon.

Title reference[edit]

The title refers to the classes Stringer takes, Wallace teaching the math problems to the child in his charge, Judge Phelan showing his control over Burrell to McNulty, the sergeant's exam Herc and Carver take, Freamon teaching Kima about the use of instinct in solving cases, Kima learning that she made an error on the Omar witness case, and Omar teaching a lesson to the Barksdale soldiers. It may also refer to McNulty teaching his sons how to tag a suspect when he has them follow Stringer.


Omar uses this phrase while taunting Wee-Bey after shooting Stinkum. It also relates to the chess discussion in episode #3.


Starring cast[edit]

Although credited, John Doman, Deirdre Lovejoy, and Andre Royo do not appear in this episode.

Note: Denise Hart was later cast as Miss Anna Jeffries in Season 4. It is unlikely that Miss Anna was intended to be the same character as the woman that Bunk picks up in the bar.


Keisha(Shaneera Lawson-Smith): A stripper from the "Orlando" strip club who overdosed during a house party.
Anton "Stinkum" Artis: Ambushed and shot by Omar Little as he tried to take over new territory for the Barksdale organization.


  1. ^ "Episode guide - episode 08 The Wire". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  2. ^ David Simon, Ed Burns (2002-07-28). "Lessons". The Wire. Season 1. Episode 8. HBO. 
  3. ^ Alvarez, Rafael (2004). The Wire: Truth Be Told. New York: Pocket Books. 

External links[edit]