The Dickensian Aspect

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"The Dickensian Aspect"
The Wire episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 6
Directed by Seith Mann
Story by David Simon
Ed Burns
Teleplay by Ed Burns
Original air date February 10, 2008 (2008-02-10)
Running time 58 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Season 5 episodes
List of The Wire episodes

"The Dickensian Aspect" is the sixth episode of the fifth season of the HBO series The Wire. The episode was written by Ed Burns (from a story by David Simon and Ed Burns) and was directed by Seith Mann.[1] It aired on February 10, 2008.[2]



After explaining to Sydnor his plan to begin an illegal wiretap on Marlo Stanfield, Freamon makes it clear that the younger detective is under no obligation to help him. The quote echoes through the episode as the homeless man's abduction gives Freamon and McNulty, and by extension the audience, their most serious doubts yet about the justifiability of their actions.

Non-fiction elements[edit]

The judge Phelan, surprised, asks McNulty and Pearlman if the "GPS chip" is not enough for them to track the serial killer. The Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 requires that starting in 2006, 95% of any carrier cell phones be able to give their location (but not necessarily carry a GPS chip), in order to provide enhanced 911 services.


Starring cast[edit]

Although credited Andre Royo, Seth Gilliam, Domenick Lombardozzi, Jermaine Crawford, Tristan Wilds, Michael Kostroff, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. do not appear in this episode.

Guest stars[edit]

Uncredited appearances[edit]



Stanfield Organization[edit]

Marlo's crew searches in vain for Omar Little, who seems to have vanished after leaping off the condo balcony.

New Day Co-op[edit]

At the New Day Co-Op's first meeting since Prop Joe's murder, Marlo claims Omar killed Joe and heightens the bounty on Omar's head. He further announces that he now controls the incoming drug connection, that all future Co-Op meetings are cancelled, and that the wholesale drug price will be increased. Stanfield offers Slim Charles control of the Baltimore County territories but Slim Charles declines, clearly wary of Stanfield. Cheese is then offered the position and readily accepts.


Omar, his leg badly injured, had hidden himself in a utility closet in the same building where he had attempted to ambush Monk, Chris Partlow and Snoop. He is seen limping out on a makeshift crutch. He threatens Fat Face Rick (using a beer bottle to appear as if it was a pistol) and takes his gun, telling Rick to spread the word that Marlo is too cowardly to face Omar directly. Rick asks Omar if he, like Marlo said, was responsible for the deaths of Prop Joe and Hungry Man. Omar chuckles at the comment which reassures Rick about his original suspicions about Marlo's story. Later, with Rick's gun, Omar wounds a Stanfield soldier, steals a cash pickup, and sets it on fire inside an SUV to show he is motivated by vengeance rather than greed.

Baltimore Sun[edit]

Baltimore Sun Editors Whiting and Klebanow encourage Scott, who is receiving national media attention for his part in the serial killer story, to write a follow-up article. Scott suggests spending a night among the homeless, though Gus thinks this is a weak basis for a story. Scott passes the night under the Jones Falls Expressway and interviews Terry, a homeless Iraq War veteran with PTSD. Gus is surprised with the quality of Scott's writing, but remains skeptical of his reporting overall, asking Scott to pursue a lead on a new development in the case of the woman who died from bad seafood. Scott later claims to have investigated the matter and that the lead was false, but his explanation only makes Gus more suspicious.


McNulty comments to Bunk about how the serial killer story is now big news, and notes that Scott made up a few details of his own. Bunk, thoroughly disgusted with McNulty's phony killer, dives back into the old murder cases tied to Marlo's crew. He decides to finally go talk to Randy Wagstaff, who was a key witness, in his group home, a year after he missed the opportunity due to Herc not passing him the information from Carver about the boy, and then, once he knew, out of respect for Pryzbylewski because of the danger Herc mistake had put the boy into (A New Day). Randy, however, has now been hardened by life there and refuses to cooperate with police on Lex's murder. Kima tells Bunk that an informer blamed the Stanfield Organization for her triple homicide as well. Bunk and Kima then are frustrated to learn from the medical examiner that the evidence from the row houses has become irrevocably jumbled due to human error. Bunk then investigates the killing of Devar, Bug's father, and interviews Michael's mother Raylene. She says that Michael, Chris, and Snoop are responsible. Det. Holley also gives Bunk a folder of sealed grand jury indictments found in a desk in Prop Joe's shop.


Mayor Carcetti hosts a ribbon-cutting ceremony for portside condos where he is heckled by ex-dockworkers, including Nick Sobotka. Later, Carcetti gives a press conference to a national media audience about the serial killer (which he complains is better-attended than the earlier, upbeat ceremony was). He gives a rousing speech, vowing to protect the homeless and stop the killer. Daniels promises the journalists present that more resources will be allocated to pursuing the suspect.

Steintorf and Norman suggest that running on defending the homeless may be Carcetti's key to getting elected Governor.

Pearlman is given the stolen indictments found in Prop Joe's desk by Daniels. She later shows them to State's Attorney Bond and declares that there is a leak in the courthouse.

McNulty's serial killer[edit]

McNulty and Pearlman go to Judge Phelan to obtain wiretap authorization for the Sun's phones, which Phelan denies, not wanting the press to go after him.

Freamon reveals to Sydnor the illegal wiretap on Marlo. He also explains to him why he thinks he has to respond in this way after they took them off the case once again (this time for lack of police budget, the first time because they had subpoenaed Senator Davis, who had complained to then Mayor Royce, in Home Rooms). Sydnor agrees to help with the illicit investigation. Lester determines that Marlo is sending photos, but a new wiretap authorization is needed to see what is being sent. McNulty says they need to fake another murder. However, with police now arriving on the scene immediately whenever a homeless person turns up dead, McNulty finds he can no longer tamper with the evidence. Instead, he develops a plan when he comes across a mentally ill homeless man named Larry. McNulty and Freamon plot to photograph Larry with the "killer"'s trademark ribbon around his wrist, after which Larry will never be seen again; the killer, according to the cover story, will now only send photos of his victims to the press, and their bodies will not be found. McNulty gives Larry $100 and drives him down to a homeless shelter in Richmond, Virginia, giving him a stolen identity card. As he leaves, he feels a pang of guilt over what he has done to the man.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "Season 5 crew". HBO. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  2. ^ "HBO Schedule: THE WIRE 56: THE DICKENSIAN ASPECT". HBO. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  3. ^ Noesis. "Meet The Press". 2012. The Way Things Work. Philadelphia Slick, 2012, CD.

External links[edit]