In the pilot episode of this highly realistic drama series, Baltimore homicide detective Jimmy McNulty gets into hot water and winds up assigned to a detail of narcotics outcasts charged with investigating drug lord Avon Barksdale and his powerful operation in Franklin Terrace. Meanwhile, Avon's nephew D'Angelo is fresh off beating a murder rap, but he finds himself demoted upon his return to the gang.
McNulty feels the heat when a witness who testified against D'Angelo is found murdered. Meanwhile, Greggs is given the lay of the land regarding Avon Barksdale's key players, and Herc, Carver and Prez find big-time trouble at the towers.
When Ashley Tyler (guest star Shareeka Epps) is found raped and beaten in a local community garden, Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) initially suspect her drug-dealing uncle, Rick Tyler (guest star Hassan Johnson). After the rape kit identifying the rapist goes missing, a crooked prison guard comes under suspicion. Detective Benson puts herself in great danger as she goes undercover as a prison inmate to catch the predator. Also starring: Adam Beach, Dann Florek, Ice-T, Diane Neal, Tamara Tunie, Richard Belzer, and B.D. Wong.
The early-morning 'field interviews' by Herc, Carver and Prez result in a minor riot, a boy losing an eye and some bad publicity for the department. On the other side of the law, D'Angelo teaches Wallace and Bodie how to play the game (chess) and later impresses Bell with his 'take' from the low-rises.
Greggs and McNulty try to get Hardcase to turn informant as arraignment begins for those caught in the raid. Barksdale places a bounty on the head of rival gang leader Omar. Meanwhile, McNulty takes Bubbles on a cultural field trip, and Herc and Carver try to track down Bodie.
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