In the first true blow-away episode of its final season, "The Wire" examined a group ignored heretofore by the show and currently by the media: the government and simple everyday people.

This season has seen McNulty (Dominic West) inventing a serial killer supposedly preying on the homeless, but not until last night did we meet any of these people. "The Dickensian Aspect" brought those supposed victims to the forefront in two separate plot points.

The first found fabricating news reporter Scott Templeton (Thomas McCarthy) wanting to expound upon his coverage of the killings following the national attention his story received (including a surprising guest-starring appearance from Nancy Grace). This involved his spending a night with a collection of rough sleepers and learning the story of an ex-Marine afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For the first time, his story is entirely truthful, earning him high praise from city editor Gus Hayes (Clark Johnson).

McNulty's experience with the homeless takes a much darker turn. After failing to secure additional financing for his case despite a fiery speech from Carcetti promising to do just that, and discovering that Marlo (Jamie Hector) is communicating on his cell phone with Vondas by sending picture messages requiring an entirely new type of wire tap, McNulty abducts a homeless man off the street. He takes a picture of him with a camera phone saying it's from the serial killer in the hopes of obtaining the proper technology for a picture wiretap. He then drives the man to a homeless shelter in Richmond and leaves him in a heartbreaking struggle to eat a sandwich.

While McNulty's phantom killer has failed to secure more financing for the department, he has succeeded in stifling the investigations of the rest of the department, particularly Bunk (Wendell Pierce) who feels he's found a new lead in the Marlo case but cannot get any lab work done until the homeless "murders" are accounted for. He hits the pavement instead, tracking down Michael's mother and Randy Wagstaff, now a hardened street kid in the boys' home.

Elsewhere on the streets, Marlo has taken full command of the Baltimore drug trade, assuming Joe's position as leader of the co-op. His first decisions as leader involved suspending the meetings and raising the price of The Greek's product much to the dismay of his fellow members.

The only problem remaining for Marlo is Omar (Michael Kenneth Williams), who spent the night nursing his wounds in the utility closet of the same building from which he leapt. An exhaustive search of the city turned up nothing, causing Marlo to up the bounty on Omar's head to $250,000. Omar attempts to take the fight to the door of the drug dealer, wounding his membership and spreading the word that he doesn't think Marlo has the guts to face him on the street.

The best episode so far this season did more than simply turn a sympathetic eye on the plight of Baltimore's homeless; it demonstrated how the rotating cycle of tragedy in this country prevents any progress from being made. This season has seen 22 dead bodies swept under the rug in favor of schools and then the paper and the mayor turn its back on the schools in favor of the potential notoriety made available by focusing on the plight of the homeless.

Each season of "The Wire" has dealt with a different aspect of the urban decay corroding our cities, and in this episode we discover that shifting focus is a substantial contributor to those very problems.

Recap by Andrew Payne
Starpulse contributing writer