One passionate argument in the writers’ room was about a major moment in Season 1’s next-to-last episode, “Cleaning Up”: the execution of the young drug slinger Wallace by the tougher, only slightly older thug Bodie Broadus. Just before shooting his friend, Bodie hesitates, gun shaking. Ed Burns, the co-creator of the series, raised an objection: The Bodie we had seen to that point, he argued, was the very incarnation of a street monster, a young person so damaged and inured to violence by the culture of the drug game that he would never hesitate to pull the trigger, even on a friend.
“It didn’t go with the character. Bodie was a borderline psychopath almost. I was like, ‘We’re leading the audience down this path, and now this guy is backing off?’ That’s fucked up. That’s bullshit,” he said, remembering his feelings on the scene.
In future seasons, though, Broadus would emerge as the drug game’s answer to the rogue detective Jimmy McNulty: a soldier who tries to make his own way and ends up ground down by the system. His death would be unexpectedly poignant. All of that, Burns granted, was set up by his unexpected moment of humanity in Season 1.
“What it did was it allowed for a wonderful dynamic that went on for four seasons. It brought out a lot of comedy that psychopaths don’t have,” he said. “It was a learning curve for me. Originally I just didn’t like it because you don’t pull punches like that with the audience. Now, when I think about it, I think, ‘This is cool. This is something that allowed for another dimension.’ It worked. It worked fine.”