The Wire: Season 4, Episode 13

Final Grades (10 Dec. 2006)

TV Episode  |  TV-MA  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller
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Ratings: 9.1/10 from 1,342 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 5 critic

In the Season Four finale, the bodies from the vacants pile up while Burrell offers his support to Daniels and admonishes Rawls for crossing him. A distraught Bubbles finds himself at his wit's end after his revenge plan backfires.


(as Ernest Dickerson)


(created by), (teleplay by), 3 more credits »
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Title: Final Grades (10 Dec 2006)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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In the Season Four finale, the bodies from the vacants pile up while Burrell offers his support to Daniels and admonishes Rawls for crossing him. A distraught Bubbles finds himself at his wit's end after his revenge plan backfires.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

wiretapping | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama | Thriller





Release Date:

10 December 2006 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Visiting Bubbles in the hospital, Waylon wears a leather jacket decorated with a 'Copperhead Road' patch. This was an album released by the actor playing Waylon, Steve Earle. See more »


When Colvin and Parenti are waiting for a meeting at the Mayor's office, there is a piece of black wire lying at Colvin's feet, probably left there by the crew. See more »


Sgt. Jay Landsman: All that from overnight?
Det. Ed Norris: All that from Freamon. He's out early today, rooting through empties.
Sgt. Jay Landsman: You know what he is? He is a vandal. He is vandalizing the board. He is vandalizing this unit. He is a Hun, a Visigoth, a barbarian at the gate, clamoring for noble Roman blood and what's left of our clearance rate.
See more »


References Dog Day Afternoon (1975) See more »


I Walk on Guilded Splinters
Performed by Paul Weller
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User Reviews

Season 4: A triumph of writing drives a roundly brilliant delivery which engages and moves on so many levels – the best season so far in a near-perfect series (spoilers)
26 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Barksdale empire has fallen and again lives are changed. McNulty retreats from himself (and bosses) into a street job. Prez prepares for his first day as a teacher within an inner-city school. Slim Charles works for Prop Joe. Bodie is an independent with a bad corner. Daniels is a major. Marlow continues to spread out across West Baltimore with a ruthless and efficient system of keeping off the police department's radar. The city eases itself out of its summer period into the Democratic primary for Mayor and a group of friends prepare for a pointless new year back in school.

After season 3 (S3) it is a long (too long) wait for me to get S4. I came to it with a great deal of expectation but also the worry that it could not match S3, which I was the strongest so far. I was correct because it didn't match it – it exceeded it. S4 differs slightly from the previous seasons because we do not have the narrative focal point around which all things sort of move – namely the case being run by major crimes. Without this though what we get are many threads all moving within the same 13 hours of television, touching one another where required but not necessarily being driven by one central device. It is very hard to pull this ensemble approach off while also delivering a compelling story because by virtue of the approach it is easy for the viewer to have "favourite" bits and lesser bits (or characters) however The Wire makes it look easy.

Others may disagree but for me there was no character or thread that did not engage me – not one. I may not like the characters (for example Herc's thread is painful because he uncaringly does so much damage due to him being a c**k) but I was interested nonetheless. These threads all come together into the bigger story where politics, budgets, education, crime, parental failures, systematic failures, powerless individuals and option-less youth are all key parts of it. For those who are still unconvinced by the regular claim that The Wire is like "a great novel", then S4 is the one that will convince you because it is sprawling in its scope. Keeping with the novel metaphor, S4 is a page-turner – I did not want to rip through it but was unable to "put it down". Each episode only moves the overall story on a step or two, but it does it with every character and it does it in convincing and real ways. There are no big dramatic flourishes or illogical jumps to move things forward for the sake of the audience and the pace is consistent. Those who appreciated the "big" moments of S3 might feel their loss a bit because of the consistent pace but for me this was not an issue – there are still shocking and memorable moments here, just the brilliant script does not make them more important than the minor details you might miss. So instead of building to an event, each scene in the season is important and there is plenty to see. Yes major characters die but this is no less gripping than watching the Michael go from "responsible kid" to stone killer while Namond's posturing and bravado is devastatingly stripped away in one brutal scene that represents an epiphany to him. These are in the detail but they are brilliantly done and are just two examples.

The direction continues to be very strong and I love the framing and colour of the external shots but it is the quality of the performances that is most noticeable here. The Wire has always been an ensemble piece but in S3, West and Elba did dominate – not so here because the cast has nobody really dominating any scene. Indeed the cast is turned on its head and West is now barely in it and True-Frost is suddenly the closest to a "main" character. Credit to the makers for ensuring that the appeal of the show is not down to popularity of a character but the quality of the product and credit to the cast for proving them right. True-Frost delivers when asked and makes for a good adult "lead" but it is the four new children who impressed me the most. Harrell's Randy is the most engaged and painful but Crawford's Dukie is very close as it is essentially a long pained wail with moments of hope made just as painful as they are instantly crushed. McCullum is really good as Namond and easily steps up for the demands on him in later episodes. Wilds's Michael is very good; he has the least engaging character but he works it perfectly to make a difficult narrative arch convincing. Gillen is much better than S3 while the regulars (Royo, Peters, Pierce, Sohn, Gilliam, Williams etc etc) are all excellent as normal. Hector is a great cold force and prevents much sympathy – he is supported well by charismatic turns from Pearson and Akinnagbe, not brilliant characters but good presence both.

What I think I'm getting at here is that yet again The Wire delivers near perfectly across the board. The script is informed and guided by reality and each character is respected as a character. Their narrative arches are rarely less than convincing and I cared about each and every character – nobody was sacrificed as a "device" to make something happen for the sake of it happening. Thirteen hours rushes by with not a second wasted or dragging. It is an astonishing piece of work that is easily the best piece of television I have seen and the only downside is that I now have to wait for S5 when, like all good things, The Wire comes to an end.

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