The Wire

Season 1 Episode 3

The Buys

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jun 16, 2002 on HBO

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
268 votes
  • Running out of superlatives

    This is the kind of show which gives you more, the more brainpower you put in to it. I can already see why the front cover of the DVD says simply 'Listen Layers upon layers, details laid in for a pay off later. Who to trust, who has hidden agendas. The chess game being contrasted to the drugs operation, leaving you to work out the corresponding 'pieces' on the other side. That's clever writing.
  • The king stays the king well said, well sorta

    This episode started out with a good bang and took off running. The story develops more and more and as we get to follow along we get to see some of the inner politics and workings of the Police department and the Drug dealers.

    We even get a chess demonstration/learning lesson while in the projects. The lesson was not bad although while covering all the piece the Knight was left out. Other than that I was entertained and tickled by the descriptions for the pieces on how they move.

    The episode starts with the backlash from last weeks incident in the projects with three officers acting like fools and then leads into a raid on the "pit" which ends up fruitless as expected. It almost seems like maybe just maybe the brass wanted this raid knowing it would be a dud. Dunno just my opinion.

    Without spoiling the episode, the final season delivers a "bombshell" allegations and whether you believe it or not it is a dramatic piece of information.

    The acting was top notch, the story is great as well. I like shows that force you to think and face difficult moral situations. No holds bar!

  • More story development with important character introduction. A key episode.

    Unlike certain tv shows The Wire doesn't waste time with filler episodes. In fact even filler scenes are extremely rare. The beauty of the show is that all scenes hold a certain amount of importance and there is not a single plot hole left to fill. This episode is no exception.

    The episode begins with D'Angelo, Wallace and Bodie in the pit. Kima, Jimmy watching from the roof as their CI Bubbles uses the hat routine.

    After the incident at the high rises Daniels has some explaining to do to Deputy Burrell. Daniels takes the hit rather than bring down Prez and his men. Major Valcheck who is the father of Prez's wife promises Daniels favours in return. Deputy Burrell makes it clear to Daniels that he wants a quick fix to the case and in his words 'dope on the table.' This is typical of the character Burrell as we will see in future episodes. He expects quick results without a true appreciation of what goes on behind the scenes.

    As the case goes on Jimmy and Kima realise that they still don't have a photo of Avon. Jimmy asks Polk and Mahone to get Avon's photo from records. They come back with a white guy, clearly not Avon. Polk and Mahone are 2 minor characters who thankfully don't have much of a part in The Wire. Their purpose is to demonstrate a common attitude of many workers. They don't care about the case, have no passion for the job. All they are bothered about is their over-time and getting through the day.

    One of the most memorable scenes of The Wire follows and one which makes D'Angelo's character grow on me even more. As he observes Bodie and Wallace playing Checkers using a Chess set he begins to explain the rules of Chess – liking it to the game that they play every day. For instance the castle is the dope stash, the King is Avon and the guys on the ground are the pawns - capped quick unless they are some 'smart a** pawns.' Also 'the Queen aint no b***h – she got all the moves.' Wallace likens the queen to Stringer Bell which later on in the season becomes a fairly accurate observation. Back at the unit Lester overhears Kima and Jimmy talking about the fact that they still don't have a picture of Avon. He goes to the Boxing Gym and manages to get a picture of the elusive Avon albeit an old one. He coolly brings it into the office and places it on Kima's desk without saying a word. At this stage it is clear that there's something intriguing about the unassuming character that is Lester Freemon. Kima's face says it all. We are also introduced to another key character in the show Omar Little. He watches patiently observing the pit crew's stash. As Sydnor goes undercover for a score with Bubbles, Omar is there too knowing exactly what is going on. During a re-up with Stinkum, Omar and his crew rob the Pit stash house. Watching this scene you would be forgiven for thinking that Omar is the 'bad guy' as he demonstrates cold ruthlessness in obtaining the stash. He thinks nothing of putting a shell in the leg of one of the protectors. Thankfully this is not the last you have seen of Omar and his character is one of the many gems of this show. Michael K Williams plays this part to perfection and if you are new to the Wire then you have many of his great scenes to look forward to.

    The next day as Wee-Bey is quizzing D'Angelo about the incident the police raid the pit looking for a seizure that will bring an end to the case. Daniels carries out the raid on instructions from Deputy Burrell however Jimmy shows his stubbornness by refusing to become a part of it. "I have real police work to do" he tells Daniels. Brilliant! As everyone expected nothing is found in the low rises so the seizure was a waste of time. The episode ends with FBI agent Fitz telling Jimmy that Daniels is 'dirty' And so the story continues…
  • 103

    Not as good as the last episode but still significantly better than the premiere. The best thing about this episode was definitely the chess analogy although I still feel as though this show isn't going anywhere at times. Right now, I think we're just getting the realistic feel of being a cop in Baltimore, but the only development we got here was that Daniels may be a "dirty" man. Although we did get some clever lines, this episode wasn't as near as interesting as the last episode with the kid going blind which I thought they should have touched more upon in this episode. McNulty and his affairs weren't very interesting, and I'm still trying to figure out his character.

    The bust in the end was pretty entertaining, and this episode to put it shortly was good enough but fell short in a couple ways, with the lack of some development. Overall, good though.
  • Moving on to perfection, one step at a time

    This is the third episode of a show and it still doesn't play by the rules of the TV game. For three consecutive episodes it introduces more and more plotlines and even a couple of new characters. And the best of it: it works!

    "The Buys" introduces at least three new characters which are all major characters for the rest of the show. First of all we get to know Burrell, the deputy, who plays the second higher ranking officer (besides Rawls) who is more concerned with saving his ass than with actually doing policework. He feels at home with exchanging favors among majors and lieutenants, shifting responsibility and guilt around until it probably vanishes, at least out of his focus.

    The second character is Omar and like Przyblewski in the last episode, his introduction is highly deceiving. We see him planning a heist on Barksdale stash and executing it with harsh force. The impression he makes is one of a extremly scary, merciless and dangerous gangster. We don't even really expect to see him again and, considering the way he appears, we don't necessarily want to.

    Finally there's the rise of Lester Freamon, a character who has been basically invisible for the previous two episodes and who suddenly seems to come to the rescue out of nowhere. No one knows who he is and no one really cares, not even Daniels who just considers him as another screw-up making his job harder. For whatever reason Freamon decides to get himself out of that position, maybe because he sensed something in Kima and McNulty that he had forgotten about himself. We will learn much more about him in the following episodes, but let's look at the absolutely brilliant way his rise from the dead is displayed visually in this episode. We see him walk up a couple of stairs, shot from an angle that makes them look even more steep than they are. It is a long way to get up, but he makes it and when he is up there, he has to catch his breath because he knows he is back in a position where he didn't thought he would end up again. When he is ready to move on with this decision, he opens up the doors, the silence suddenly ends and he is back into action, as it is symbolized by the boxing hall and the sounds that come from it. That's one hell of a phoenix from the flames for you.
  • We finally have traction!

    Hokay. So this has taken 3 epidoes, but we finally have traction on the story and things are moving forward.

    D'Angelo is a difficult character to hate. His reply to the question "How do you get to be king?" was the episode quote "The king stay the king." His moral spiel in the beginning showed just how green he really is - and how much he benefits from it.

    The chess analogy was really very clever.

    McNulty is a nutjob, and I love him all the more for it: "I'm a leader of men." Lol.

    The bubbles tutorial scene was great writing. Love the attention to details - especially the wedding ring quip.

    I also really enjoyed the frank discussion about Cocaine: "we do worse and we get paid more - the government do better and it don't mean ... no. Nevermind".

    Also we get our first bit of intrigue - beyond the favour system of the Baltimore Police Force - is Daniels a "dirty" man? It seems like a hard one to buy into, but if this show has taught me anything so far - appearances are deceptive.
  • Nice touches in this episode, The series is beginning to grow on me...

    This one was nicely paced. I really liked the grace notes, like Dee explaining the finer points of chess to the shorties, and the continued political intrigue between the departments. New characters continue to be introduced at a steady pace, as the existing characters slowly reveal facets of themselves that we were previously unaware of. This is a different style of TV series, but I am starting to see how it works, and I strongly feel that all of this careful exposition is going to lead somewhere. It's almost as if the writers are retraining an audience that is used to rapid payoff and simplistic plots to appreciate this level of complexity. They sure don't spoon-feed you anything- many of the new characters and subplots just pop up with no in-depth explanation, and the viewer has to work to keep up and wait until their backstory is revealed. That may be of-putting to some, but I'm liking it. A weekly series is the perfect medium to tell this kind of story. Let's see what this show does with the foundation that it has laid so far.
  • First appearance of one of the most important characters in the show.

    Dealing with the aftermath of Carver, Herc and Prez's thoughtless actions at the end of the previous episode (The Detail). 'The Buys' sheds much light on problems of bureaucracy and politics within the police force. Lt. Daniels is forced to bury the incident even further as Pryzbylewski has friends in high places.

    The single most important event in 'The Buys' is the introduction of Omar Little (Michael Kenneth Williams). While initially he appears to be little more than a street thug that preys upon other criminals it rapidly becomes clear that he's far more intelligent than most. While the job is pulled off pretty cleanly his crew do make the error of revealing Omar's name to Bodie and the boys. And when you have a name, you can find the man...
    Naturally D'Angelo, who was not present when the robbery occured gets heavily chewed out for his negligence. Once again (as in the first episode) he's reminded that being Avon's nephew is not a free ride.

    This episode highlights the problems that the Baltimore police department face, they're mired in rank politics and paperwork. It's increasingly apparent that the main driving aim of those in charge is numbers, they don't care about quality busts as long as they hit their targets and produce good publicity. Daniels is forced into going in early and sweeping up the street dealers, something McNulty disagrees with so strongly that he refuses to be a part of it. McNulty still clearly feels that he's the only one who sees the big picture. That Daniels is little more than a rank jockey who's on the fast track to promotion. Something that is confirmed when he's warned that Daniels has more money then he should have and may be on the take.

    'The Buys' really does bring home how isolated and left behind Baltimore is, the police are saddled with antiquated equipment and superiors who just want results. While the dealers face constant problems both from within their organisation and from without (the police and other criminals). It is also where the show begins to gather momentum as the characters are established and the viewer is used to the unusually detailed style of story telling. Top notch stuff.