Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Shield
Season 7--The Final Act
Episode 8: Parricide

--Shane prepares for his strike against Vic and Ronnie, as we see a photo of him, Mara and Jackson in the background. A reminder that he and Vic have deluded themselves into believing that every rotten thing they've done has been for their families. Two Man, Shane's indentured assassin, surprises Ronnie coming home with a date (Ronnie has sex?), but botches the hit, accidentally hitting the girl in the arm. Meanwhile Shane waits in Vic's home with a gun aimed at the door, but Vic gets a call from Ronnie that draws him away before Shane can kill him. Shane is less than ten minutes into his plan and it's already gone haywire. Mara taking instructions on how to cover Shane's trail is pretty chilling, and confirms that she really is Shane's female equal.

--Pezuela meets with Vic, asking for Vic's help in closing a church that prevents one of his developments from getting a liquor license. Turns out the priest fathered an illegitimate child with a drug dealer's sister, and is being forced to provide haven for the dealers. Closing a church is low, even for Vic's standards, so he tries to find away to save the mother and son from the dealer while also keeping Pezuela close.

--Pezuela blackmails Aceveda into making him a part of Aceveda's eventual run for mayor, promising him funding and influence. Aceveda goes right to ICE, and finds Vic already there. Seems Pezuela is aware he's being watched, and is trying to consolidate his influence by getting the future mayor in his pocket. The ICE chief wants both Vic and Aceveda to play along and stay undercover, which Aceveda is far from comfortable with. Olivia convinces him that voters will respect a man who risked his life to nail a cartel kingpin, and that's all the convincing Aceveda needs. And as Vic says, "Don't worry, if Pezuela wants to kill you, it's me he'll hire to do the hit." That must be reassuring. On the way out, Vic tells Olivia that he's interested in taking on a spot with ICE once he's done at the barn. Olivia tells him it'll be a tough sell due to his spotty record, but she'll run it up the ladder.

--At the barn, all forces are mobilized to find Two Man. Shane is a nervous wreck, trying to impede the investigation at all turns and convince the rest of the team that Two Man deserves a dirt nap, not a jail cell. Shane is scared that Two Man might flip on him, which begs the question as to why he trusted him in the first place. This highlights again the difference between Shane and Vic. Vic has now proven that he can't kill Shane in cold blood--while Shane was very ready to kill both Vic and Ronnie as well as Two Man--and Vic would never entrust anything important to a random lowlife like Two Man. Sure enough Two Man gets picked up right away, but Shane manages to get the location of the gun to get rid of it to hurt Dutch and Billings's interrogation. Thanks to an assist by Vic, though, they get Two Man to crack and admit he was forced to carry out the hit by Shane. "I was his slave, the gun was my oar." An incredibly tense scene, as Shane slowly slinks out of the barn as Two Man gives up Dixie boy on a platter. This is probably the single biggest turning point in the series (for reasons I'll go into later).

--Shane escapes, but suddenly Mara appears at Corrine's door. She tells Corrine about Vic killing Terry Crowley and the money train heist, and the truth about the hit man in Corrine's home. She says that unless she and Vic keep Shane abreast of the cops' investigations, Shane will take Vic and Ronnie down hard. Corrine goes to the barn and confronts Vic (as is usual this season). Only this time, when confronted about Terry and the money train, Vic doesn't have the energy to deny it. "I've done things that I thought I could justify at the time, but are pretty hard to defend right now." Corrine agrees to help Vic one last time, but after that she's taking the kids and leaving for good (about six years too late). Losing his family is the price Vic has to pay to stay out of prison.

--Ronnie and Vic realize they need to find Shane before any other cops do, because even with their help it's only a matter of time before his dumb ass is found. And if he is found, Vic and Ronnie will never see daylight again. Vic knows, though, that if Shane has crossed state lines he won't be able to get out from under Claudette's nose to find him. Vic sees what he needs to do. He marches into Claudette's office, takes his badge off and hands it to her, officially resigning from the force. Claudette knows something is up, knows there's a reason Shane targeted Ronnie, and yells at Vic as he leaves, "If you try to get in the way of this investigation, just like you did with Lemansky, I'll lock your corrupt ass up." Vic smiles, offers one last pithy comment, and leaves the barn no longer a police officer. 

One of the best episodes ever, and a show where going forward nothing will ever be the same. For a long time, all of the worst deeds of the strike team have been kept secret, but with Two Man fingering Shane this is the first time the rest of the barn has had a real thread to pull. And what they're inevitably going to find won't be pretty. Vic handing in his badge was a powerful moment, as he seems to finally grasp the reality of his situation.

So now Vic is off the force, Shane is wanted for the attempted murder of a police officer, and for the first time Vic seems to realize the ramifications of what he's done. And it's only a matter of time before Claudette pieces together the truth. We really feel like we've entered the final lap, and with five episodes left every moment will matter. Vic knows he has nowhere else to go, and his attempt to get hired at ICE was, in a way, him waving the white flag. He's run out of options, run out of strings to pull (everyone he's tried to leverage has ended up hurt or dead like Robert Martin). And even though Vic managed to survive Shane's hit, he'll never again be a cop, and likely never have his family again. If he can kill Shane to stay out of prison and take a job at ICE, that's as far as he can possibly get. But now Claudette is on Vic's trail, knowing there had to be a reason Shane wanted Ronnie dead. It's only a matter of time before the full extent of the Strike Team's deeds are known. And I want to see Vic have to face his friends, his peers and his family when they are. I do wonder how this will affect Vic's relationship with Pezuela, since he'll be of little use to the cartel king without a badge.

I wasn't able to recap last week's episode, but my heart was in my throat when Danny left at the end. She sees what Corrine was never able to--that being a part of Vic's life endangers you and everyone you care about. I won't be surprised if we never see Danny again (though it was odd that it wasn't mentioned in this episode), but you can't fault her. She wants her son to grow up safe, with only positive role models. After what's happened to Cassidey, she knows being a part of Vic's life won't allow that. My quibbles so far are small, and are mainly that we spend too much time on the Olivia subplot at the expense of characters we've followed for years (Dutch and Julien in particular have had almost nothing to do this season). But this episode was a game changer, and the countdown is officially on.



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