Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Shield
Season 7--The Final Act
Episode 12: Possible Kill Screen

Wow. I'm shaking from the ending of this episode. It really feels like we're at the end of the line, and everything is finally coming together. The climactic scene between Vic and Olivia was just stunning. We'll go with another random thoughts style post because my brain is too fried for anything else.

--He might not have made a good cop, but it's safe to say that Shane has made an even worse criminal. After the ridonkulously dunderheaded real estate holdup last episode, Shane ratchets things up to an eleven by attempting to stick up some old CI informants after a poker game. He ends up back in some sketchy apartment, doing coke with two knuckleheads who look like they came straight from the Michael Cera coke/singing scene in "Superbad." Shane has to do a few lines to keep up appearances, but then things really go to hell. One of the guys suspects that Shane might be a cop, and a struggle ensues. Mara busts in with Shane's gun, and shockingly kills two people, including an unarmed woman. Plus she breaks her collarbone in the scuffle. Shane steals the money, and manages to get the injured Mara out. The wheels are officially off the Vendrell train, and the anti-Bonnie and Clyde are now skittering all over the road on hubcaps. Side note: I don't believe we've seen any of the Strike Team guys do drugs before, so Shane snorting a few was quite surprising. Not as surprising as 99% of the things he's done, but still surprising.

--It was good to see Danny back, but she didn't do anything of note. Still, I was worried they were going to ditch her altogether. She deserves a better going out. Maybe some sort of knock down, drag out fight with Tina once and for all. Sadly, it does not look to be in the cards. Though with Vic (and perhaps even Corrine) going down, it would be ironic if Danny ends up looking after all of Vic's biological children.

--Shane and Mara are quickly fingered for the robbery and murders, and Vic knows Shane will be caught any moment now and he has to get his ICE deal in place. He manages to get Beltran to push up the big shipment before Shane goes down, so he can get immunity before Shane spills the beans. The ICE deal is the only thing Vic can rely on, and he even tells Ronnie they have to leave Shane alone and put all their eggs in the ICE basket. When Olivia balks at making the deal happen so quickly, Vic threatens to leave the bust. Plus he works Aceveda over to the point where the mayor-in-running comes to Vic's defense. The degree to which Vic has played Aceveda over the years is just frightening. Is Aceveda George W. Bush and Vic Karl Rove? Maybe, though Rove has more hair than Vic. Vic looks like he's out of options without ICE, that he might have pushed too hard, but then Olivia calls to officially offer the deal. Vic feels like a free man, and maybe it's time for that cup of tea and Nicholas Sparks novel to cool his jets. Oh, just wait.

--Shane, the idiot savant, gets spotted by the cops and nearly kills Tina. He apparently did some drugs to "even himself out" after the coke. Yeah, that'll work. Sure. Sadly, he lets Tina live. Poor Julien, after last week's episode he's back to role player status, and lets Shane slip out right through his fingers after spotting his car. I still feel that some of the regulars--Dutch, Danny, Julien--got shafted with good storylines to make room for the Cartel angle. And did they really need to introduce Beltran? Couldn't they have just kept Pezuela as the point man? That's the one dark spot on this season, the convoluted ICE investigation/Cartel operation that took the spotlight off characters we cared about. But I'm nitpicking.

--Shouldn't Shane at least ditch that brown leather jacket? I mean the guy is wandering around Farmington in basically the same clothes he ran in.

--Something's going to happen between Dutch and Lloyd Dressler. I get the feeling that Lloyd is setting Dutch up to ambush him  and make the detective his second victim. I also hope Dutch learns the whole truth about the Money Train heist, since he suspected Vic all along. At least stray neighborhood cats will be safe from Dutch's wrath if this happens. Plus, now Dutch's relationship with Billings seems permanently fractured after Dutch's half-assed statement and his pressuring to have Billings release the sex offender. Will this factor into the final episode?

--Great scene when Vic and Ronnie go to sign their deals, only to be informed the deal is only for Vic. Vic was a fool to think they'd sign Ronnie over right away considering he'd been working for ICE for all of five minutes. You can see the fight leave Vic for a moment when he hears the news, and you can see he was salivating to sign that thing and leave Ronnie in the dust. Still, Vic shuns the deal unless Ronnie's involved too, though it seems like he did it more for showmanship to let Ronnie believe he's on his side. Vic wins bigtime points with Ronnie for that, but he's second guessing himself before the door closes.

--So Claudette tries to set Vic up again by having him meet Corrine to aid and abet Shane, but Vic spots the cops (who are practically holding road flares) and warns Corrine (whom he still doesn't know is working with the cops). Claudette is forced to arrest Corrine for appearances, and Vic sees his whole plan falling apart. Vic nearly has a panic attack in his car in a great moment. Vic never lets on any hint of weakness, but Corrine's arrest was not only unplanned but against a member of his family, and Vic is just stunned. In Vic's mind, not only is he jeopardizing his freedom but now Corrine's as well. She's the only one in this game who's really innocent.

--Wow. So the inevitable happens. Vic goes back to Olivia, and says he'll sign the deal as long as ICE gives Corrine immunity. No mention of Ronnie, who will have to wait indefinitely for his deal. Vic has officially thrown the last member of the Strike Team under the bus. "I'll string him along until we're done," Vic says later. And after seven years, the Strike Team, in word and in deed, is no more. Vic's family has turned against him. He has nothing left. And when Ronnie finds out, and you can be sure he will, I doubt he'll be polite about it. Olivia agrees to the terms. And this brings us to one of the best scenes in series history, perhaps the most tension-filled scene in any show I've watched since the Soprano family dinner at Holstons.

--As part of his immunity deal, Vic must come clean on any and all criminal activities. He spends nearly a full minute gathering himself for this moment, the moment the whole series has led up to. The range of emotions Vic goes through here is riveting, and for a moment I thought he was simply going to walk away. Finally Vic musters the strength to talk. And he finally admits to murdering Detective Terry Crowley in cold blood. Wow. The look on Olivia's devastated face is just chilling, as she had no idea the degree of Mackey's evil. Not only that, but now she's given federal immunity to an admitted cop killer. "Is that it?" Olivia says, after Vic's confession. Vic nods at the recorder. "How much memory's that thing got?" This is Michael Chiklis's Emmy scene. Just beyond chilling, especially as the scene goes on and Vic admits to the Money Train heist, Margos's murder, setting up O'Brien to be murdered by the Armenians, Lem's death, his torturing and killing of Guardo. Everything. Vic goes from remorseful to cocky to sad to cathartic to...I don't know what. And when Olivia tells him their meeting with Beltran is soon, Vic refuses to leave, saying he needs to get every last bit on tape to make sure he's granted immunity from all of it. Even as his soul goes down in flames, Vic is still watching his own ass.

--Vic was aware that both Aceveda and Kavanuagh knew he killed Crowley. "I was too good," he says. Wow. I don't think I took a breath during this entire scene. And Olivia's look of utter me Dianne Wiest, because I can't speak.

--Claudette and Dutch are tipped off about Vic's deal, and enter just in time for Vic to reveal more misdeeds. Claudette nearly has a nervous breakdown, unwilling to believe that after all the atrocities Vic has committed the man is about to walk. She goes nuclear and fires Dutch for his silly beef with Billings, but calms down when she realizes she's acting out. Things still have yet to play out fully, but Claudette's anger is just palpable as Claudette realizes that the stain she thought she was going to wipe from the barn is going to get away clean. 

--Mara can't take it. She's got a broken collarbone and she's a murderer. Not a whole lot going for her. She wants Shane to take her home. Do they even still have a home? Not quite sure what she's asking of him, I guess to give themselves up. I think Shane and Mara give Dina Lohan and Lynne Spears a run for Worst Parents of All Time.

--Great end scene between Olivia and Vic, as she's just overwhelmed by what's taken place. "You're a sick, twisted man," she says to him, knowing her career is likely ruined for recruiting Vic. "Do you have any idea what you've done to me?" Vic replies, "I've done worse." We know it, he knows it, and whether he's remorseful or not, he thinks he's getting away with it. Thus we see the tragic rise and epic fall of Victor Samuel Mackey. Yes, we learned that Vic has a middle name. Samuel. Hee hee.

--Whatever happens next episode, whether Vic lives, dies, goes to jail...something tells me it will all fit. If Vic dies, he will deserve it. If he ends up in prison, he becomes another criminal. If he gets away with it, it will be the perfect coda to a career spent somehow finding the smallest hole through which to wriggle out of. Without a doubt, Victor S. Mackey is one of the most brilliant minds in television history. Whether or not his past has finally caught up to him is something we'll learn next week. And on Tuesday, December 2nd, at 10:00 pm, when I realize that "The Shield" is no longer on, I will definitely miss one of the greatest cop dramas of all time. One week until Vic Mackey's farewell ride.



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