Tuesday, August 19, 2008

THE SHIELD: Season 1

"The Shield" is currently my favorite show on tv, and on September 2nd the final season begins. So here's an episode guide, with notable moments, interesting bits, and my favorite quotes. If you haven't seen "The Shield," spoilers will be abound.

Episode 1: Pilot
Here we're introduced to the fictional California city of Farmington, a cesspool inhabited by drugs, gangs, prostitutes, and every scumbag known to man. Detective Vic Mackey leads a special forces unit called the Strike team, whose job is primarily gang control, but extends to every corner of the city. Since the Strike team got on the scene, crime in Farmington has gone down. But many people, including new captain David Aceveda, wonder if Mackey crosses the line to keep the peace.

In the debut episode, we meet the other members of the team: the stoic Curtis 'Lem' Lemansky, tech expert Ronnie Gardocki, and the wild card Shane Vendrell. Right off the bat we learn that Vic has supporters in the department that go higher than captain Aceveda, namely assistant chief Ben Gilroy, so Vic's accusations of brutality are often overlooked because the team gets the job done. We also meet the barn's other main residents: officer Danielle 'Danny' Sofer, a good cop who has a hard time balancing being a woman while trying to be one of the guys, her partner, untested rookie Julien Lowe, no nonsense Claudette Wymns, and the brilliant yet socially awkward Holland 'Dutch' Wagonbach.

Dutch's awkwardness is established early on, as are his tremendous interrogative skills, but also his feeling that every case closed is merely another notch on his belt, padding his resume. Mackey constantly gives Dutch a hard time, as he has a camaraderie with the rest of the squad that Dutch does not. Newcomer to the Strike team, Terry Crowley, is approached by Aceveda and the Justice department in order to bring down Vic. We learn that Aceveda has ambitions that go beyond the police department. Says Terry, "You want to be Mayor, you better learn to lie a lot better." Terry accepts the deal, but is quickly sniffed out by Vic. The scene at Vic's pool party where Terry asks to be included more is poignant, as we see Vic slowly realizing that Terry has been compromised. Vic plays dumb...for now.

At the end of the episode, Vic commits the Original Sin that will follow him the rest of the series: during a raid on a drug dealer's apartment Vic shoots Terry in the head while Shane watches.

Episode 2: Our gang
Terry dies, and the squad mourns him. Danny scolds Julien who didn't show up to the hospital, and we see Julien's difficulty in understanding what it takes to be a cop in Farmington. Julien: "I didn't even know the guy." Danny: "He was a cop. That means you knew him." Julien is also given a 'B&B' by the other cops as an initiation, and his reluctance hints at other, larger issues. Vic's team is investigated in Terry's death but soon cleared, to the chagrin of Aceveda who thinks someone informed Vic about Terry's deal. Shane expresses regret over Terry's death, and Vic is distressed by his young son's Matt's compulsive behavior. Wyms and Dutch investigate the shooting of a street vendor, who turns out to be the victim of a gang initiation rite of passage. We see the tip of the iceberg as to just how entrenched in Farmington gangs are, and the pride the members take in their cold violence. Aceveda tries to get Shane to admit that Vic killed Terry, but Vic interrupts. As "A Man is Only as Good as His Word" plays, Vic leaves with Shane, offering Aceveda a smirk that says he'll always be one step ahead. Butno matter how noble Vic thinks his motives may be, his word is forever tainted.

Episode 3: The Spread
It's warrant sweep time, and during a drug bust the Strike team happen to find NBA superstar Derek Tripp in a compromising position, and look to capitalize financially on their find. Connie Riesler, a hooker who works as an informant for Vic, gets assaulted and Vic needs Dutch and Claudette's help finding her attacker. Connie is a soft spot for Vic, as we're exposed to his paternal and protective nature. We also get a glimpse of Shane's racism and reckless nature, as his intolerance for Tripp (who has everything Shane does not) leads the two to scuffle. Tripp: "Too bad you can't make a jump shot." Vic scolds Shane, because though he and Shane are both dirty, Vic is smart and calculating while Shane is sloppy and impetuous. Aceveda is on to Vic, but must placate Tripp's attorney (his rephrasing of Vic's "snorkle deep" comment is pretty funny). Dutch investigates Connie's attack, but speculates that a recent rise in hooker murders is due to a serial killer, which leads him to press too hard on the schizophrenic suspect. Everyone laughs his theory off, and we see Dutch's desire to solve a big case to make more of a name for himself. Says Claudette, "You're just looking for something big and juicy." Julien meets Tomas Motyashik, who thinks he recognizes Julien from a West Hollywood gay nightclub. Julien: "You've got the wrong guy." But his eyes tell the truth.

Episode 4: Dawg Days
Danny and Lem are working security at the album release party for rapper Kern Little (Sticky Fingaz), when gunshots are fired by a rival rapper T-Bonz's posse. Vic braces Kern's gunman Rondell Robinson, whose drug business is financed by Kern. Rondell leaves his dealers on the street despite Vic's warning, which leads to several deaths including that of a young boy whose family knows the mayor. And when Rondell's thugs try to intimidate Danny, who witnessed the shooting, Vic hits Rondell where it hurts most: his wallet. Vic then tries to moderate an end to the war between Kern and T-Bonz before more blood is shed. Julien learns a former classmate was killed robbing a liquor store, and we begin to see how difficult it was for him to take a different path than most black men in his community. Aceveda meets with Jorge Machado, a wealthy developer whose influence can help with the captain's budding political career. But only in exchange for a favor, for which Aceveda assigns Dutch and Claudette to look into the disappearance of Machado's maid's husband, an illegal immigrant. Dutch's pitiful attempts to speak to the laborers in Spanish is rightfully mocked. Aceveda expresses his desire to run for city council. "With your backing, I could win that seat. I could be of great use to you." As the war between Kern and T-Bonz escalates, Vic decides to mediate things by locking them both in a trailer and letting them work things out the old fashioned way. And when Kern leaves the next day, alone and covered in his rival's blood, Vic's offer for food shows that he's finally met a gangster he can relate to.

Episode 5: Blowback
The Strike team prepares to bust up an Armenian drug deal, but realize that their wire tap has taped people whose first language is not English. Vic: "Huh. The Armenians speak...Armenian." Tomas shows up at the Barn unexpectedly, and Julien ushers him away to protect his secret life. Aceveda sends a backup squad to support the Strike team in their takedown of the Armenians (including Ken Davitian of "Borat", and the show's own co-producer Kurt Sutter, in his first appearance as psycho Margos Dezerian), but the captain's real goal is to establish authority over Vic. During the takedown, Julien witnesses the Strike team stealing two kilos of cocaine, but doesn't know how to handle the info. Shane leaves with the stolen drugs, but after a late night booty call realizes the SUV he left the loot in got jacked, exacerbating the team's mistrust of Shane. Lemansky: "We're all gonna crash and burn because of you. I mean Christ dude, Amy's not even that hot!" After stonewalling Dutch and Claudette, Dezerian compliments Danny's feet, a seemingly innocuous comment that foreshadows the violence to come. Vic and the team try to hunt down the stolen SUV before Aceveda finds it, and when they find the drugs, courtesy of a female car thief (who knows a little too much about police procedure), Vic spends an extra moment staring into the mirror after flushing the drugs down the toilet, as the depth of his deceptions are finally starting to sink in. Not to mention the news that Margos has escaped from custody by diving out of a moving vehicle at 40 mph--while wearing handcuffs. Claudette: "That's a special kind of crazy." Add to that Vic's discovery of Matt's autism, and he's had a pretty rough day. Thankfully there's an open bed waiting for him. No, not his wife...Danny Sofer.

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