Straight and True

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"Straight and True"
The Wire episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 5
Directed by Dan Attias
Story by David Simon
Ed Burns
Teleplay by Ed Burns
Original air date October 17, 2004 (2004-10-17)
Running time 58 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Season 3 episodes
List of The Wire episodes

"Straight and True" is the fifth episode of the third season of the HBO original series, The Wire. The episode was written by Ed Burns from a story by David Simon & Ed Burns and was directed by Dan Attias. It originally aired on October 17, 2004.


Title reference[edit]

The title refers to Cutty's choice between going straight and returning to his old life as a soldier, Stringer's attempts to pose as a legitimate business man, Carcetti's "honest appeal" to Mayor Royce, and Bubbles aspirations of saving money as a professional informant.


McNulty makes this statement expressing his disappointment at losing a worthy target after approaching Stringer and finding that he is now mostly straight. This also can be applied to Colvin's initial attempts to move the drug dealers into the free zones, as well as Stringer's failure to convince Marlo to join the New Day Co-Op.


Starring cast[edit]

Although credited Deirdre Lovejoy and Corey Parker Robinson do not appear in this episode.

Guest stars[edit]

  1. Callie Thorne as Elena McNulty
  2. Glynn Turman as Mayor Clarence Royce
  3. Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as Senator Clayton "Clay" Davis
  4. Chad L. Coleman as Dennis "Cutty" Wise
  5. Jamie Hector as Marlo Stanfield
  6. Michael Hyatt as Brianna Barksdale
  7. Leo Fitzpatrick as Johnny
  8. Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman
  9. Kelli R. Brown as Kimmy
  10. Benjamin Busch as Officer Anthony Colicchio
  11. Robert F. Chew as Proposition Joe
  12. Jay Landsman as Lieutenant Dennis Mello
  13. Ernest Waddell as Dante
  14. Mayo Best as Gerard
  15. Richard Burton as Sean "Shamrock" McGinty
  16. Anwan Glover as Slim Charles
  17. Addison Switzer as Country
  18. Brandan T. Tate as Sapper
  19. Brandy Burre as Theresa D'Agostino
  20. Richard DeAngelis as Colonel Raymond Foerster
  21. Christopher Mann as Councilman Tony Gray
  22. Cleo Reginald Pizana as Chief of Staff Coleman Parker
  23. Michael Salconi as Officer Michael Santangelo
  24. Tony Cordova as Sean McNulty
  25. Michael Kostroff as Maurice Levy
  26. Melvin Williams as The Deacon
  27. Michael Willis as Andy Krawczyk
  28. Eric Ryan as Michael McNulty

Uncredited appearances[edit]




Bubbles and Johnny argue about the morality of acting as a police informant to make money with Johnny opposing the idea and Bubbles defending it. Johnny persuades Bubbles to run a short con (the false good-Samaritan scam) with him to make money instead of reporting to Detective Kima Greggs. Once Johnny has the money Bubbles is nowhere to be found.


Councilman Tommy Carcetti mentions a story in the paper to Councilman Tony Gray. A state's witness in a high-profile case has been murdered. Carcetti believes that something should be done as the killing sends a clear message that the system in Baltimore is not working. He tells Gray he will try to fix it politics aside but Gray remains skeptical.

Carcetti takes the issue to Mayor Clarence Royce and his Chief of Staff Coleman Parker. Royce promises Carcetti that he will act quickly, Carcetti asks to be kept in the loop. Later, Carcetti discusses the meeting over a racquetball game with Gray. He tells Gray that he is going to go after Royce if he keeps ducking them.

At his next committee meeting with Acting Commissioner Ervin Burrell and Deputy Commissioner William Rawls, Gray questions them about the dead witness. Rawls tells him they have a homicide task force and narcotics officers working the case as well as turning to the FBI and DEA for support. Gray criticizes the effort as too little too late. He asks why witnesses are not offered any protection, but backs off the tough line of questioning at Carcetti's request.


In the weekly ComStat meeting, Rawls and Burrell target the auto theft unit and chastise them for operating during the day even though the data shows that most cars are stolen at night. Rawls quizzes Colonel Raymond Foerster about Officer Dozerman's missing service weapon.


Bunk Moreland canvasses for witnesses in the shooting of Tosha and Tank. He gets confirmation that Omar was present from a witness named Bruiser. Sergeant Landsman catches Bunk working on the murder case when he is supposed to be looking for Dozerman's weapon and prevents him from bringing in Bruiser for a statement. Landsman has requests from some arrested drug dealers to exchange information about the weapon for leniency. When Bunk interviews them he finds nothing but time wasters and chancers.

Western district[edit]

Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin's subordinates offer him sympathy for the failure of his initiative to get drug trade off the streets using tolerant zones. Colvin rejects Sergeant Carver's plan to create a flex squad and put more pressure on the dealers, writing it off as more of the same.

Following the ComStat meeting, Colvin comes up with a new plan - instead of contacting the low level hoppers, he needs to coerce the dealers and crew chiefs into following his new rules. He asks Carver for a list of names of all the mid-level dealers on his corners. Carver is unable to offer anything and Colvin is once more disappointed in him. Colvin is forced to go to Major George Smith - the CID Narcotics Unit commander who has replaced Foerster. He finds Smith's records a disappointingly slim collection of rap sheets. Smith tells him there is no one looking at high end drug cases because Rawls is directing their efforts to street work. Colvin is also unable to obtain anything from the Intelligence Division, adding more to his disappointment. Eventually Colvin is referred to the Major Case Unit where Lieutenant Daniels and Detectives Kima Greggs and Lester Freamon are able to give him a wealth of information. Colvin is glad and surprised that a unit as small as theirs is the only group of police in the department who have every file that he is looking for. McNulty arrives and receives a warm greeting from Colvin, his old commander, who still calls him Bushy Top.

Armed with this new intelligence, Colvin calls a meeting of his district and orders them to bring in the drug lieutenants using their cars instead of wagons. Carver questions why Colvin feels he will have more success with these dealers after having failed to persuade the street dealers. Colvin tells them he can sympathize with their position as middle management. Carver and Thomas "Herc" Hauk are tasked with bringing in Marlo; they find him surrounded by soldiers and refusing to move. Herc is unfazed but Carver realizes the danger they are in. Greggs observes the DEU detectives' actions from a vacant apartment. Carver calls Herc off and as they leave, Greggs photographs Marlo. Meanwhile, Officer Colicchio has picked up Bodie Broadus.

With the lieutenants assembled, Colvin delivers his speech explaining the new regime. Bodie and the others are skeptical and fearful of a trap, so Colvin tries to reassure them. Bodie asks what would happen if they refused to comply and Colvin warns them that he will come down hard on them. As the meeting ends, Colvin is chagrined to spot a lone resident in his prospective tolerant zone, which he had selected precisely because it was thought to be uninhabited.

Herc, Carver and Colicchio staff the "Hamsterdam" tolerant zone at the top of Vincent Street and observe a few crews of drug dealers arriving. One of the dealers complains about the lack of customers. Herc objects to the notion of rounding up drug addicts for the dealers, but Carver pulls rank on him. Herc and Colicchio pick up Johnny and hand him, along with other rounded-up addicts, over to Officer Santangelo for transport to Hamsterdam. Johnny is incredulous when he arrives in Hamsterdam, but quickly joins the other addicts in purchasing his day's supply.

Barksdale organization[edit]

Dennis "Cutty" Wise is awoken by his grandmother, who asks why he is not working today. He lies to her, saying that he has a job at a bar and will now be working nights. She also tells him that Grace called to remind him of his appointment with The Deacon.

Cutty returns to work checking on the drug dealer Slim Charles suspects of stealing from them. He is accompanied by Gerard and Sapper. They find a dealer who is wearing a new throwback jersey and his girlfriend, Uniqua, who is wearing a lot of jewelry. After hearing that Uniqua and the dealer have been to more than one mall on the same day, Cutty suspects them of thievery, stating that Uniqua is the most likely outlet for the stolen money. Cutty leaves their work to meet with the Deacon. The Deacon questions Cutty's commitment and tells him that he will have to work to find a job but that he can help him get into a GED program. Cutty tells the Deacon that this was not what he expected, indicating that he thought Grace would be present, and then leaves the church. When Cutty returns to the car Gerard and Sapper are taking cocaine. Cutty worries about having to give a urine sample the following day. Sapper tells him that they have it covered so Cutty snorts some of the cocaine.

Later, Sapper and Gerard take Cutty to an old man who sells clean urine taken from a daycare center. Cutty buys a bottle and takes it to the parole office where he is required to give a urine sample. Back out on the street, Sapper and Gerard try to talk to Uniqua. She tries to ignore them until Cutty steps in, and to her shock and to Gerard and Sapper's surprise, slaps her. When they catch up to the dealer, Sapper and Gerard give him a severe beating. An observing Cutty, who is appalled, reminds them that if they keep beating him in that manner, he will be unable to work off what he owes. Gerard pulls a baseball bat and hits the dealer a final time, knocking him unconscious.

Stringer Bell chairs a meeting of high level drug dealers in a hotel conference room. Also in attendance are Proposition Joe, Kintel Williamson and Fat-Face Rick (representing the Veronica Avenue dealers). Afterwards he finds Shamrock taking minutes in order to comply with Robert's Rules of Order. Stringer angrily reminds him that notes should not be taken of a criminal conspiracy and tears up the notes. Later, Shamrock picks up the newly paroled Avon Barksdale from prison, along with a gift of new clothes.

Bodie reports his meeting with Major Colvin directly to Stringer. Stringer first chastises Bodie for going around the proper channels of reaching him, but Bodie says he was worried that only Stringer would consider the proposition. He tells Stringer that he was picked up with other Barksdale lieutenants including Tucky and Little Mikey. Stringer behaves as if Bodie is wearing a wire until he shows him otherwise. Bodie reminds Stringer of his problems with Marlo.

After meeting with Marlo and failing to reach any compromise, Stringer attends Avon's welcome home party. Avon is greeted by Slim Charles, Country, and Brianna. Prop Joe is also in attendance. Avon is left on the outside as Stringer talks business. Stringer pulls Avon away to talk business with Maurice Levy, Clay Davis and Andy Krawczyk, their developer. Avon spots Gerard and Sapper coming into the party high and orders Slim Charles to throw them out. Stringer once more pulls Avon away to show him his new apartment. Stringer tells him they have enough legitimate money to put whatever they like out in the open and in their own names now. Stringer leaves Avon asking once more about women, but returns soon afterwards with a girl Avon had noticed at the party and another (blonde) one.

Major case unit[edit]

Greggs meets with Bubbles and he tells her more about Marlo Stanfield's organization. He names Chris Partlow as Marlo's chief bodyguard. Cheryl calls but Greggs does not answer. Bubbles gives Greggs a disposable cell phone, known as a "burner", that was used by Stanfield dealer Fruit.

Jimmy McNulty continues to follow Stringer Bell, tailing him from his college class to a meeting at his (still under construction) condominimum complex. Eventually he gets tired of following Stringer and approaches him in his photocopying shop. Stringer gives McNulty his card and brazenly offers to sell him a condominium in his development. McNulty tells Stringer that he is disappointed as he had high hopes for their continuing game of cat and mouse.

When McNulty returns to the office, Freamon tells him that he has had a week to look into Stringer and asks if he has anything. McNulty tells Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski and Freamon that Stringer has become "the bank" - working legitimate businesses to produce funds to buy packages of narcotics for distribution that he will never touch. McNulty asks about progress in the Kintell Williamson case and learns that they have DNRs on some payphones. McNulty spends time with his sons Michael and Sean and asks about Elena's new boyfriend; they remind him about an open-house for a private school Elena is considering sending them to, and tell him that their mother has told them not to discuss family business with him.

Greggs tracks Marlo down using Bubbles' information and organizes support to tail him. She finds Stringer visiting Marlo at his headquarters and calls in more support. McNulty joins her later and asks what is going on. Inside, Stringer discusses the co-op and its potential usefulness to Marlo, particularly in laundering his drug money. Marlo remains silent throughout his speech and when Stringer leaves, Marlo tells Partlow to organize weapons for their people. McNulty is dubious of Greggs' surveillance until Stringer emerges, at which point he is suitably impressed.

McNulty attends the school's open-house evening. He arrives late and finds Elena talking class sizes and mathematics pedagogy. He gravitates to the buffet table, where he finds Terri D'Agostino doing fundraising work. The two flirt and end up spending the night together. After they have sex, Terri is dismissive and rejects McNulty's further advances, turning her full attention immediately to her work.


Omar Little and his crew prepare weapons for their next heist. Tension is still high in the group following Dante's accidental shooting of Tosha. Dante is annoyed that he has been given a peripheral role and Kimmy is confrontational. Omar warns them that they must get along or leave the crew.[1][2]

First appearances[edit]

  • Chris Partlow: Ruthless second in command of the Stanfield organization. First appears when Marlo tells him to get ready to go to war with the Barksdales.


  1. ^ "Episode guide - episode 30 Straight and True". HBO. 2004. Retrieved 2006-08-09. 
  2. ^ David Simon, Ed Burns (2004-10-17). "Straight and True". The Wire. Season 3. Episode 05. HBO. 

External links[edit]