Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Shield
Season 7--The Final Act
Episode 9: Moving Day

--Vic and Ronnie break into Shane's apartment. The Vendrell family is gone, but Vic finds an unopened bottle of medicine in the fridge. Looks like Shane's son Jackson is sick, and reliable old Shane forgot to take his medication. So even though Shane is on the run, Vic knows he won't be able to go far without getting his son medicine.

--Back at the barn, Claudette's first order of business is to officially disband the Strike Team, despite the fact that they have the highest arrest rate on the force. Needless to say Ronnie and Julien aren't to happy about this, as Ronnie is on desk duty after the shooting and Julien is back wearing blues and partnering with--gack--Tina. Man, Julien is just getting the short end of the stick this season. Ronnie asks Julien to update him on the search for Shane (so he can share the info with Vic) but Julien, ever the company man, says he won't do it without Claudette's approval. Ronnie can't argue without drawing suspicion.

--Dutch is getting cozy with Lloyd Dressler's mom, Rita, who puts the moves on him before Dutch stops her. Between Ronnie's date last week and Dutch getting to second base, hell must be freezing over (and Vic has not yet slept with Olivia, something I would have bet on occurring by episode 3). Dutch wants to get close to Lloyd, but realizes he's getting too close to Rita and might hurt her. So he leaves, but the next day Rita comes to the barn, having been told by Lloyd about Dutch's suspicions. She nearly slaps him before storming out, but that night she comes by, now beginning to see the signs of her son's illness. Rita breaks down, refusing to admit her son might be a monster, but knowing in her heart it may be true. This is reminiscent of Kleavon Gardner's sister, who refused to believe but eventually turned her brother in.

--Billings's ex-wife and daughter come by the barn to inform him that a paroled sex offender has moved onto their block. He and Dutch warn the guy, but that's not enough for the ex-Billingses. When Dutch refuses to help him, Billings plants kiddie porn on the guy then calls in an anonymous tip. And when the offender is arrested, Billings is a hero to his family, but not to Dutch, who knows Billings broke the law to serve his own needs. Between this, the Quik Mealer and the lawsuit, Billings is beginning to look like a pettier version of Vic.

--Vic is struggling without his badge, as word on the street has spread and he doesn't have the same juice. He does manage to track down a forger who made new passports for Shane, Mara and Jackson under the name Shaun Hoover (I was thoroughly disappointed Shane didn't go with Mr. and Mrs. Cletus Van Dam). Ronnie runs a bulletin through drug stores and hospitals and Vic finds that Shane filled a prescription. He cases local motels until one manager identifies Shane. Vic breaks into Shane's room, but the family has gone.

--A tip from Deena leads Julien to find that Shane has a new car. Ronnie finds out and tells Vic, who tracks it to a hospital where Shane and Mara have taken Jackson. After getting treatment for their son, Shane and Mara leave...only to find Vic waiting in the parking lot with a gun pointed at their heads. Just then a cop car rolls up, Shane points out Vic to the cop ("Officer that man has a gun!"), and since he can't turn Shane in, Vic is detained while Shane escapes from under his nose.

--Claudette goes to Ronnie, offering him two choices: first, the Vic/Shane route, where he can find himself disgraced and out of a job. Or he can start new, and tell everything he knows. Ronnie goes halfway, admitting that he and Vic knew that Shane killed Lem, but that they didn't want to tell Claudette until they had proof. This tides her over.

--Pezeula puts the sticks into Aceveda, introducing him to a power broker who will be aiding the mayoral campaign (adding a great quip that cannot be printed on a family blog). When Aceveda tells ICE, they realize that the man--Guillermo Beltran--is a former government official turned Cartel security expert, which means Pezuela's operation is far bigger than simply Mexican gangs. While ICE is keeping Aceveda in the game, now that Vic is out Aceveda knows he's more valuable than ever, and since he's tired of being ICE's puppet he gets Olivia to guarantee massive good publicity for his eventual mayoral run. Vic goes to Olivia trying to stay in ICE's wheelhouse, but she tells him that without a badge he's no good to Pezuela and therefore no good to them. 

--When Mara makes her evening call to Corrine, she tells her that Vic was going to kill the whole family (true). Corrine watches her husband with growing horror, then lies to him when Mara hangs up, saying that Mara will never call back (false). It's clear that Corrine now knows exactly the kind of man her husband is. And while Shane and Mara hide out in an abandoned home ("I always told you I'd get you a mansion," he tells her), Vic finds his world growing ever smaller, his friends and family turning away for the last time. And it looks like without the one anchor in good, his badge, Vic has begun to fully drift to the side that perhaps he was always meant to be on.

Vic without a badge is a frightening thing, as we realize that the shield was the only thing keeping him at all on the right side of the law. He makes it clear he's willing to kill both Shane and Mara, and perhaps even Jackson. But now he sees that he's worth less than ever. No good to the cops, no good to the crooks, and no good to his family. His tender moment with Cassidey at the end is touching, only because we know Vic does care about his children yet, like Shane, cannot help but steer them down a path to destruction. Vic is beginning to look more and more like Joe Clark, the beaten down ex-cop without a dime or a family or a leg to stand on.

I found it very interesting that Shane is sticking to L.A., figuring that all the border stops and airports are looking out for him. He figures the family should wait until a major event, like the president being in town, when many cops are busy and they'll have a better chance for a clean getaway. This actually might be the smartest decision Shane has made, showing that maybe he and Vic, while not cut out for straight police work, would make pretty good criminals.

I'm a little annoyed that they haven't acknowledged Danny's departure, but the threads they have introduced this season (the eventual showdown between Vic and Shane, Ronnie's test of allegiance, Dutch's attempt to stop Lloyd Dressler, Aceveda in Pezuela's pocket) are being pulled tighter. The acting is top notch, and perhaps the most interesting characters this season are Ronnie and Mara, two people who at one point we thought had good hearts but now have put numerous lives in jeopardy. That Mara rebuffs Shane's attempt to save her, Jackson and their unborn child is just scary, yet realistic. The Vendrells are a family, in name and in blood, and I have a feeling that Vic and Shane aren't the only members of their family who will get burned.

And I'm still upset Shane didn't change his name to Cletus Van Dam.



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