Disclaimer: There may be spoilers included in the summaries.
Episode 1 "More With Less": Officer Ellis Carver (played by Seth Gilliam) is now Sergeant Ellis Carver and deals with overworked, underpaid police officers who aren't being paid overtime after the mayor chooses to try to pay the $54 million debt on schools. Detective James "Jimmy" McNulty (played by Dominic West) is back on the major crimes unit, returns to drinking and loose women.
The entire major crimes team originally follows Marlo Stanfield's (played by Jamie Hector) crew, but they're disbanded to outside duties when money cannot be released to the unit even though 22 dead bodies have been found in abandoned homes. By orders of Colonel Cedric Daniels (played by Lance Reddick), the major crimes unit is reassigned. Detective Shakima "Kima" Greggs (played by Sonja Sohn) and McNulty return to the homicide department. Officer Kenneth Dozerman (played by Rick Otto) is sent to the tactical department. Lester Freamon (played by Clarke Peters) is assigned to the grand jury office about State Senator R. Clayton "Clay" Davis' (played by Isiah Whitlock Jr.) fake nonprofit organizations.
State's Attorney Rupert Bond (played by Dion Graham) is allowed two detectives to continue to cover the political scandal from the office of Senator Davis.
Chris Partlow (played by Gbenga Akinnagbe) looks up court information on Sergei "Serge" Malatov (played by Chris Ashworth). Detective Thomas "Herc" Hauk (played by Domenick Lombardozzi) was laid off from the police department and is now working for Maurice "Maury" Levy (played by Michael Kostroff).
Duquan "Dukie" Weems (played by Jermaine Crawford) tried to run the drug corner for Michael Lee (played by Tristan "Mack" Wilds), but Spider (played by Edward Green) refuses to take Dukie seriously. Michael chooses to have Dukie exclusively care for his brother Aaron "Bug" Manigault (played by Keenon Brice) instead.
City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes (played by Clark Johnson) assigns Scott Templeton (played by Thomas McCarthy) to look up more strange property ownership after speaking with Council President Nerese Campbell (played by Marlyne Barrett) about a suspicious purchase from Ricardo "Fat Face Rick" Hendrix (played by Troj Strickland).
Episode 2 "Unconfirmed Reports": Reginald "Bubbles" Cousins (played by Andre Royo) is 15 months drug free, and his sponsor Walon (played by Steve Earle) wants him to talk about grieving for Sherrod (played by Rashad Orange). Now that the major crimes unit isn't watching Marlo, he gives a list of people he wants killed to Snoop (played by Felicia "Snoop" Pearson) and Chris Partlow (played by Gbenga Akinnagbe). Marlo is disappointed to see Avon Barksdale (played by Wood Harris) when he intended to see imprisoned drug connect Serge.
Executive Editor James C. Whiting III (played by Sam Freed) and Managing Editor Thomas Klebanow (played by David Costabile) continue to go against Gus' reporting advice and assign Scott to bigger stories. Gus questions 13-year-old, wheelchair-bound source that Scott created for his baseball story. Although the fact-checking stats lead Gus to believe that Scott made his source up, Whiting approved the story anyway.
McNulty and Freamon go to Feds to help with case against Marlo. When Feds can't help, McNulty uses information he knows from a conversation with a morgue attendant to make up a serial killer, in order to receive funding for major crimes unit for white people being killed. He manipulates the body of a homeless white male.
Episode 3 "Not for Attribution": Alma Gutierrez (played by Michelle Paress) is frustrated by the placement of her story on three murders being pushed to the bottom of the page. Meanwhile McNulty is using three murders to create a serial killer who uses red ribbons on his victims. Detective William "Bunk" Moreland (played by Wendell Pierce) is furious with McNulty and threatens to rat him out. The newspaper staff finds out from Whiting and Klebanow that there will be layoffs because of a Chicago newspaper buyout. The bosses keep newbies Scott and Alma, as well as veteran Gus. McNulty reaches out to Alma after Sergeant Jay Landsman (played by Delaney Williams) shuts the serial killer story down.
Marlo talks to Joseph "Proposition Joe" Stewart's (played by Robert F. Chew) about what to do with too much money and not being able to bank it in the U.S. Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos (played by Paul Ben-Victor) gives Marlo the runaround before he'll let him talk to The Greek (played by Bill Raymond) about drug business. Marlo has to figure out how to get "clean" money from "dirty" bills. Roger Twigg (played by Bruce Kirkpatrick) is assigned the story on Colonel Daniels possibly getting the commissioner seat. Scott makes up another quote about the reaction of Daniels' position and blames the quote on Nerese. Twigg is laid off later on in the episode.
Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti (played by Aidan Gillen) is skeptical that there's no increase in crime, after Acting Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell (played by Frankie Faison) delivers these results. He finds it odd considering overtime was cut for police work.
Chris and Snoop torture kill Butchie (played by S. Robert Morgan) for not confessing where Omar (played by Michael K. Williams) is hiding out.
Episode 4 "Transitions": Officer Anthony "Tony" Colicchio (played by Benjamin Busch) loses his temper after Kenard (played by Thuliso Dingwall) tricks him into digging his hand into a bag of feces. Officer Colicchio then drags an impatient driver, who turns out to be a teacher, out of his car. Carver writes Tony up for excessive force and is then accused of being a rat.
Daniels goes to Burrell to plead his case about the newspaper article with Scott's made-up quote, confirming that he would not take Burrell's spot as commissioner. Scott is turned down after a job interview with The Washington Post.
Burrell tells Nerese he'll expose Colonel Daniels' past of seizing drug money if he's kicked out of the commissioner position. Nerese fires back that the ministers won't agree to having Deputy Commissioner for Operations William A. Rawls (played by John Doman) if Colonel Daniels is dismissed, and Burrell will make less in pension and an alternate job. Burrell retires, and Daniels becomes the acting commissioner.
Senator Davis pleads the fifth after mysterious deposits are exposed from his financial accounts. Assistant State's Attorney Rhonda Pearlman (played by Deirdre Lovejoy) questions his political and financial flaws with the help of Freamon's and Detective Leander Sydnor's (played by Corey Parker Robinson) research.
Freamon goes to Officer Oscar Requer (played by Roscoe Orman) to help he and McNulty find more homeless bodies to keep the serial killer lie going. Officer Beatrice "Beadie" Russell (played by Amy Ryan) calls McNulty out for being the old version of himself -- drinking, cheating, staying at bars all night, obsession with work.
Melvin "Cheese" Wagstaff (played by Method Man) is pleased to see a gift from Marlo, a tied up and crying Nathaniel "Hungry Man" Manns (played by Duane Chandler Rawlings). Cheese returns the favor by letting Marlo in for Chris to kill his uncle Proposition Joe.
Episode 5 "React Quotes": Marlo fakes sympathy with Vondas, who is unaware who killed Proposition Joe. Vondas and The Greek agree to work with Marlo now that Proposition Joe is dead. Chris warns his family he'll be gone for a couple of weeks until Omar is killed. Omar, in the meantime, has returned to Baltimore to avenge Butchie's death. Omar jumps from a window several stories down during a shootout with Chris, Michael and Snoop. No one can find him.
Kenard and Spider jump Dukie while he's taking Aaron "Bugs" Manigault (played by Keenon Brice) home from school. Dukie goes to Dennis "Cutty" Wise (played by Chad L. Coleman) to learn to fight.
Herc takes down the cell phone number that Vondas gave Marlo and gives it to Carver to help with the wiretaps. Elena McNulty (played by Callie Thorne) talks to McNulty after Beadie reaches out to her and Bunk about Jimmy McNulty's change in behavior. Scott and Alma team up to work on the serial killer story. McNulty beefs up the serial killer story with tales about red ribbons tied around their arms, molestation and biting body parts. Tommy approves overtime for two detectives to help with this case, including patrol units. Scott makes up a call from the serial killer by calling his cell phone from a pay phone.
Episode 6 "The Dickensian Aspect": Chris, Michael, Snoop and "Monk" Metcalf (played by Kwame Patterson) can't figure out where Omar went after jumping from an apartment window. Meanwhile Omar created a broom crutch in the basement's maintenance room.
Marlo tells co-op that he has a $100,000 bounty on Omar, has a deal with the connect Vondas, the price of their drugs are increasing, and Cheese (the new CEO) and Monk will be in charge of the east and west sides. Bunk finds out from Raylene Lee (played by Shamika Cotton) that Michael may be behind the death of Bugs' father.
Freamon gives Sydnor the option to bail after he and McNulty set up an illegal wiretap on Marlo. Sydnor stays although Freamon leaves out the part about the made-up serial killer's ties to funding. McNulty coaxes a homeless man named Lawrence Butler (played by William Joseph Brookes) into his car to play the role of another homeless man who was already dead, Hope House of Cleveland's Donald Pettiford.
Episode 7 "Took": McNulty, Sydnor and Freamon work together to stage a cell phone call from the serial killer to reach Scott. Tommy approves unlimited overtime and manpower to help find the serial killer. Meanwhile Sergeant Landsman insists that Kima work on the case with McNulty although he has repeatedly turned down help from her and chosen to work alone. McNulty uses his extra officers, cars and surveillance videos to help with other homicide cases, in addition to the case against Marlo.
Bunk questions Michael about the brutal beating death of Bugs' father.
Mike Fletcher (played by Brandon Young) interviews Bubbles about how homeless people are reacting to the serial killer, as well as life on the street. Damien "Day-Day" Price (played by Donnell Rawlings) is put on the stand to testify against Senator Davis. Rhonda and her boss, Bond, work on the case.
Episode 8 "Clarifications" (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT): Dukie goes on a job search and finds out Malik "Poot" Carr (played by Tray Chaney) is now playing it straight, working in an athletic shoe store. Dukie finds work with a junk man.
Carver agrees to work with McNulty, knowing that McNulty has a wiretap on Marlo's crew. Although McNulty plays dumb, Carver is made aware that other officers will be compensated for doing work under Freamon and will get the overtime they have been waiting for, as well as police equipment, all under the guise that they're working the serial killer case. McNulty has to admit his serial killer plan to Kima after she keeps working on this fake case by orders of Sergeant Landsman. His day gets worse when he comes home to an empty house and a note from Beadie.
Terry Hanning (played by Aubrey Deeker) calls out Scott on lying in a report on homeless veterans. Since Scott won't take the calls, Terry comes to The Baltimore Sun himself and speaks to Gus. Scott goes to Whiting III and Klebanow to get another made-up quote and source into the paper, but Gus refuses to back down this time.
Meanwhile Freamon is disappointed to find out that the Feds refuse to take on more proof that Senator Davis is crooked, even after lying on his mortgage application, after the senator makes himself into a sacrifial lamb in court. Freamon confronts Senator Davis anyway and threatens to go to Bond again to handle a second case.
While Omar goes around killing, robbing and destroying the drugs of Marlo to get him to come out of hiding, he underestimates seeing a child in a corner store and that kid (Kenard) kills him. Chris and Snoop are surprised to find out Omar is dead, and Marlo has no idea why or who killed him.
Episode 9 "Late Editions" (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT): SWAT team arrests Marlo's crew (minus Snoop and Michael) in a $16 million drug bust and case closed on vacant bodies in abandoned homes. Chris is arrested by Bunk for the beating of Bugs' father.
"My name is my name." -Marlo
This is the first time in all seasons that Marlo ever lost his temper. Monk informed him that Omar had been running his name through the streets as a coward hiding from him. Chris is furious with Monk because he didn't want this information to get back to Marlo. Marlo ponders on whether Michael was the personal who snitched to the police about drug ties and their arrests. Snoop is eliminated from the potential informants. Michael realizes Snoop is about to kill him, and he escapes after killing her. Michael finds a new home for Bugs and refuses to let Dukie run with him so both of them won't get hurt should Marlo's crew retaliate.
Freamon uses the information he knows about Senator Davis' mortgage application to get Davis to tell him more about Marlo. Senator Davis admits his past ties with Russell "Stringer" Bell (played by Idris Elba) and Levy's ties to the courthouse.
Gus goes to the U.S. Army's Walter Reed Army Medical Center to talk to the soldier who lost his hands, in order to verify the story that Terry had with Scott.
Kima lectures McNulty, Freamon and Sydnor about working with McNulty before going to Carver to shame him, too. She also wants to know if he regrets writing up Tony for beating up the teacher. By the end of the episode, Kima goes to Daniels to snitch about McNulty's scheme. Meanwhile McNulty is stunned when copycat murders start to happen.
Episode 10 "-30-" (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT): Daniels and Rhonda go to Tommy to let him know about McNulty's scheme. Tommy tells them to sit on this information until other officials have been notified. If the public finds out the serial killer is fake, Tommy feels it may look bad on all of them. Rawls and Bond agree not to talk about what McNulty did. Kima goes to the retirement ceremony for McNulty and Freamon at Kavanagh's pub to admit that she was the one who told Daniels about the serial killer scheme.
Nerese wants Daniels to be the commissioner to juke murder stats. Even using what she knows about Daniels' past and Marla Daniels (played by Maria Broom), he refuses to buckle.
Bubbles OKs Mike's piece in the Baltimore Sun. The homeless man who kept demanding business cards (played by Ptolemy Slocum) claims he is the serial killer although McNulty knows he's lying. Rawls wants the guy to be held accountable for all the homeless murders. McNulty refuses to let that happen and only lets him take the heat for the last two -- with white ribbons.
Freamon confronts Grand Jury Prosecutor Gary DiPasquale (played by Gary D'Addario) about his ties to Levy. Rhonda takes information she knows about DiPasquale to leverage against Levy for the illegal wiretap: the results are that Marlo walks free with his money as long as he promises to retire, Cheese and Monk do 20 years in prison, and Chris does life in prison with no parole.
Slim Charles (played by Anwan Glover) kills Cheese after mouthing off too much about Proposition Joe's death. The co-op buys Marlo's connect for $10 million.
Michael and Sydnor learn from the best.
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