Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Shield
Season 7--The Final Act
Episode 11: Petty Cash

We'll do this in a more "Random Thoughts" style:

--This might have been Cathy Ryan's best episode yet. To say I've been underwhelmed by her past performance as Corrine is a massive understatement, but she did a terrific job of conveying her fear of being placed smack in the middle of the Vic-Shane-Ronnie-Dutch-Claudette trap, while also showing her emotional conflict in selling her ex-husband down the river. Corrine knows what she's doing is the right thing, but has a hard time reconciling the fact that she'll be an accomplice in putting the father of her children in jail. At the same time, she also seems to have finally realized just how far Vic and Shane are willing to go to protect their own necks, and her fright is multiplied tenfold by the possible repercussions of her working with the cops. Would Vic turn on her to protect himself? I think Corrine believes it's possible.

--It was nice to see Julien with a meatier role in this episode, and I think his strongest moments have come when forced to straddle the line between being a cop who must see the world in a colorblind way and being a black man who grew up and keeps the peace in a city in which seemingly every young black man ends up in prison or a morgue by age twenty five. We've seen that there are black heroes in Farmington, but they're either gunned down (like Cervantes in season 6) or turn out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing (Antwan Mitchell), making it even harder for Julien to believe he's making a difference. An interesting arc this season could have been Julien himself filling that role, but sadly he's taken a backseat to the Cartel storyline.

--A Danny mention! Hooray! It seems that with Vic out of the barn, she's thinking about returning. Though I doubt we'll see her again, at least they finally acknowledged that one of the show's stars had in fact left.

--Even though Vic seems convinced that his plan will work out perfectly, the others aren't so sure. Ronnie clearly has serious doubts. "The wheels are coming off," he says, and Vic can only placate him. The wheels are coming off, and fast, but Vic just doesn't notice it.

--I do wish Dutch and Claudette did a little more investigating into Mackey, it seems they're kind of sitting back and waiting for new info to smack them in the head. I do love how Claudette is totally focused on bringing down Vic, as she feels he's tainted the barn for years without any push back. Vic is Claudette's White Whale, and she'll bring him down even it it means her health.

--The Cartel subplot is making a little more sense, and Vic brokering a deal between the Mexicans and the Blacks was an interesting development. It also shows that even though Vic might not have a badge, he's the most persuasive force in the city and can get his claws into his enemies even deeper than his friends.

--My favorite line of the show? When Vic tells Beltran that Pezuela never realized what he had in him. "He had an action hero on his payroll," Vic says with a sneer. This is how Vic sees himself now. Whereas once Vic truly did care about making wrong things right, truly did care about justice, now he's totally 100% looking out for his own ass. And he also knows that he can get things done to a degree that nobody else can. Pride comes before the fall, and Vic's ungodly huge ego (which has served him well in the past) will bring about his undoing.

--Though Shane's trap to snare Vic would have worked if not for the unforeseen snag of Ronnie having to step in, the Real Estate heist might have set a new level for Vendrell incompetence. First he goes in without a mask. Then he forgets how to open a safe lock. Then he brings his pregnant wife and young son in to help, and lets a hostage hold his son while he and Mara steal the money. Just wows all around. Sometimes I wondered how Shane manages to get his pants on in the morning.

--I got chills when, during Ronnie's introduction to Beltran, he said about Vic, "He taught me everything he knows." And Vic's cocky smile...just chilling. We've seen just how far off the rails Vic has gone this season, and Ronnie seems to have taken Vic's path rather than Lem's.

--But on a better note....WE HAVE A CLETUS VAN DAM SIGHTING!!! Woohoo! Shane used his famous nom de plume on the package sent to Claudette, which of course turns out to be a big F.U. to Ronnie and Vic. Priceless.

--The true extent of Vic's ability to become a chameleon was on full display this episode. Part of his brilliance is his ability to tailor his personality to any person in any situation. He's a doting husband with Corrine, an empathetic mentor with Ronnie, a loyal soldier with Beltran, a trustworthy friend to Olivia, a dominant master to Aceveda, a pragmatic businessman to the blacks, and a proud father to Cassidey. Who exactly is the "Real Vic Mackey?" I wonder if even he knows.

--I do wonder how the two main storylines--the Cartel and the Vic/Shane/Dutch/Claudette confrontation--will be worked out in just two more episodes. But this season has done just a fantastic job of keeping tension throughout, and whereas Vic has always done a good job of keeping his friends close but his enemies closer, he's finally allowed his enemies to learn the truth. Just so we're keeping tabs, here are the people who have it out for Vic:

Shane: For any one of a million reasons.
Ronnie: Because he doesn't trust Vic anymore, and realizes that if Vic is caught he'll bring Ronnie down with him.
Dutch: He's always suspected Vic for the money train heist, and taking down the city's most notorious cop would be a big feather in his cap.
Claudette: She believes Vic is the antithesis of everything a cop should be, and her ability to truly turn things around in the Barn (and in Farmington) rests on cleansing the stain of its worst legacy.
Aceveda: If Vic is caught, he could expose Aceveda's numerous shady dealings and end his political career once and for all.
Beltran: If the Mexican Cartel ever finds out that Vic has been playing them to ICE, he'll be found in a million pieces which will be ground into paste and sold in little bags of heroin.
The black gangs: If they find out that Vic has stolen $100,000 from them (the payoff money for Shane) they'll have 100,000 reasons to see him very, very dead.
Danny: If she realizes that her son will never be safe as long as Vic is alive...well, Danny has killed in self defense before.
Olivia Murray: Her potential deal to get Vic into ICE would go haywire if her bosses knew just how dirty he was. And if Vic is caught and starts talking, Olivia might go down for working with him.
Mara: She would tear Vic limb from limb before letting anything happen to Shane.
Corrine/Cassidey: Being taken down by his own family might be the most poetic justice Vic could ever face.



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