The Wire: Season 1, Episode 5

The Pager (30 Jun. 2002)

TV Episode  |  TV-MA  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 1,321 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 3 critic

Avon Barksdale is becoming paranoid and thinks he's being watched. He's also worried his phone is being tapped. He also thinks there's a snitch in D'Angelo's crew and he's told not to pay ... See full summary »



(created by), (teleplay by) (as Edward Burns) , 2 more credits »
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Title: The Pager (30 Jun 2002)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Maj. William A. Rawls (credit only)
Dep. Comm. for Operations Ervin H. Burrell (as Frankie R. Faison) (credit only)
D'Angelo Barksdale (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)


Avon Barksdale is becoming paranoid and thinks he's being watched. He's also worried his phone is being tapped. He also thinks there's a snitch in D'Angelo's crew and he's told not to pay anyone until it's sorted. D'Angelo isn't too pleased when he hears Avon has given Stinkum a new territory. Judge Phelan visits the squad to sign the warrants to clone D'Angelo Barksdale's pager. The numbers they're collecting are coded and don't make much sense. Det. Prez Pryzbylewski figures it out however. McNulty and Greggs try to get information from Omar. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

30 June 2002 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Dolby Surround)


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Did You Know?


This episode marks the first appearance of Marquis 'Bird' Hilton, played by Fredro Starr. See more »


Preston 'Bodie' Broadus: [after goading Carver into hitting him] You supposed to be the GOOD cop, dumb motherfucker!
See more »


References The Addams Family (1964) See more »


Oh My God
Written by Michael Franti
Performed by Spearhead
See more »

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User Reviews

Paranoia and retribution
13 February 2009 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

Things get moving as the first season of The Wire gets to the practical part of the drug-fighting business, not to mention some violent reactions on the dope kingpins' part. It's slow-burning as usual, but it's never dull.

The main issue at the center of the episode is Avon's growing paranoia, which leads to Stringer telling D'Angelo to cut payments for the week in order to spot possible snitches. Also, the search for Omar and his boy continues without mercy. Meanwhile, Judge Phelan gives Daniels' detail the green light for the cloned beeper operation, and McNulty and Greggs have a meeting with Omar to discuss their common problem: Barksdale. Caught in the middle is the detail's regular informant, Bubbles, who has to deal with the hospitalization of his partner Johnny.

In keeping with the tradition of previous episodes, it's the little moments that matter. In this case, standout bits include every scene with Omar, the operation being put in action, Prez's brief moment in the spotlight and the tragic epilogue, which sets the tone for some characters' development over the course of the next eight episodes. Most revealing, though, is a scene where McNulty talks about his ex-wife with Greggs and says "a lesser man would just call her a c*nt". It's a rough, uncompromising line, just like the series. No sanitized drama here: this show looks, sounds and feels real.

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