Thoughts on `The Shield’ series finale

vicVic Mackey is a free man, sort of …

If you’re a fan of The Shield and you didn’t watch the series finale Tuesday night on FX, I am sorry for ruining it for you. Then again, if you’re a fan and haven’t watched the finale, but you’re reading my blog — traditionally one about baseball cards — then maybe you’re not much of a fan. Or maybe you just can’t get enough of Cardboard Icons. It’s OK, I understand. I’ll get back to cards later, but for now enjoy my recap and thoughts on the finale of The Shield.

The fact that Vic Mackey is a “free man” is not a complete shocker, nor is it the twisted ending to the show that has pushed the envelope for more than half a decade. Actually, this fact alone will not ruin the experience of watching the finale. So, if you’re so inclined, go HERE and watch the 105-minute finale … just remember to come back here to share your thoughts.

By now you’ve noticed that I’m breaking form — Kayfabe for you wrestling fans — today to write about a television show that has been a must-watch in my household for more than five years. I actually did not get into the series until Season Three, but through the magic of Netflix, my wife and I were able to catch up rather quickly.

Anyhow, for the uninitiated — or those too young to watch this show because it comes on past your bedtime — The Shield is/was a cop drama in which Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) is a Los Angeles police detective who leads a special squad of like-minded individuals who will do anything to clean up the streets and serve justice in their specialway. Don’t get me wrong, this show is anything but the traditional plot of good cops versus bad guys. Sometimes the cops are the bad guys, and sometimes the bad guys can be seen as the good guys. In fact, think of this as the cop drama version of Stone Cold Steve Austin running roughshod over the WWE/WWF in the late 1990s. You’re supposed to love Stone Cold/Vic, but you’re also supposed to hate him. Got me?

Along the way, Vic Mackey and his “Strike Team” committ a bunch of crimes (kill other people, steal money and drugs, manipulate people, etc.) that manage to benefit the police department and the city. But at each turn the team manges to dig itself deeper into a hole because … only four people in the entire department (the strike team) know of their nefarious activities. And if they are caught, Vic and his band of vigilant cops will lose their jobs and go to jail where they no doubt will be killed by any of the hundreds of people their dangerous brand of justice has managed to incarcerate.

For more details of the entire series check the Wiki page.

As it pertains to the SERIES finale, I had a tough time sleeping last night because all I wanted to do was go online and read what everyone else though. Did people compare this to The Sopranos ending (I never watched that series)? What did they think of the way things ended for each character? How awesome was the facial tick Vic had in the interview room while he was being informed of what happened to Shane Vandrell?

But I showed restraint. I read not so much as one paragraph of other people’s thoughts because I wanted to make sure that what I am about to write is not influenced by any outside opinion.

For me, the finale is something I loved, an episode that I will have to watch again because unlike some other shows, the writers here do not wrap everything up in a neat little box.  That said, I cannot think of a better way to wrap things up than to breakdown how each main character ended up.

Aceveda:Well, it kind of went without saying that the former police captain would one day become the mayor. But the route he followed in the final episode was very intriguing. Andre Benjamin from Outkast made a cameo in the finale as a darkhorse mayoral candidate running on a platform of new thinking. His idea was that increasing police presence — which the former police captain was offering to reduce crime rates — would have a negative effect. At a few points in the finale, there appeared to be lots of support for Benjamin’s character. But as it turned out, after one-upping Aceveda in public, Benjamin’s character was shot and killed. In a sense, Aceveda will run almost unopposed in his bid for mayor.

Claudette:Through the entire final season, Claudette is fighting an illness for which she is taking medication. In the finale she reveals to Dutch, her former partner and probably the police division’s best true detective, that she is dying and has stopped taking her meds. However, she apparently goes out with a bang as she saves Dutch from a murder wrap …

Dutch: I kind of touched on this in Claudette’s paragraph, but his hunch about that teenage killer was right. The boy apparently killed his mother, to spite Dutch, but tried to set Dutch up as the killer (he planted her clothes in his trash can). It’s actually kind of an intriguing angle, but pales in comparison to the primary story line of the strike team. In the end, Dutch is removed from the woman’s case and Claudette saves his ass by pursuing the teenager as a suspect in his own mother’s death. I think this angle was executed perfectly.

Shane: I felt the Shane angle could not have ended any other way. For the last three episodes, the writers had made this character see his family in a different light, and the fact that he decided to kill his son and wife and then himself as police came to arrest him really was not a shocker. There was nothing Shane could have done to fix the situation. His son and unborn daughter were going to end up foster care, and he and his wife would have ended up in jail. There was no other scenario. However, I do think the scene lacked a little emotion … then again, is it right to glorify a guy who participates in a murder-suicide?

Ronnie: Unfortunately for Ronnie, who for seven season had followed every order Vic bestowed upon him as if it were the word of god, or at least a request from an older brother, he ends up in jail. He was Vic’s loyal follower and literally was his shield for the entire series. He fought and killed for Vic, and at one point actually was beaten pretty badly by a suspect.  And in the end, the one person who remained loyal to Vic through everything ended up taking the wrap for all the crimes Vic and Co. committed. Pretty crappy deal for Ronnie, but this was kind of expected. If you missed the scene where he was arrested, you absolutely must see it. The emotion on his face and the interaction between he and Vic, and even he and other officers was priceless.

Vic: I absolutely enjoyed watching Chiklis’ acting in this episode, as well as the one leading up to this.  For most of the series, Chiklis has played a bad-ass cop, one who did not give a damn about anything or anyone around him … except for his family. Here we saw some true emotion.

About 75 percent of the finale is dedicated to Vic and his pursuit of happiness. He’d been granted full immunity from ICE as part of a deal to bring down a major drug supplier and in the end, Vic did exactly what he told the feds he would do  — get the drugs and the supplier off the street. However, he did not end up with his family, as he hoped. In some way, Vic planned to clear his conscience, get immunity, and live happily ever after with his family. Vic almost got all of it.

Vic’s wife and children ended up in witness protection, far removed from Vic all together. 

And in the waining moments of the series, we see that Vic’s bad-ass career has been reduced to nothing but the humming of lights in an office building and desk duty. And to top things off, he has been removed completely from the streets and forced to wear a suit and tie every day.

The final moments of the show are almost unbearable. He’s see alone at his work desk putting pictures of his family next to his computer. For me, it seemed like he was a getting final glances at his family and like he was preparing to kill himself. I figured the series would end that way, and truthfully, that would have been a fit ending. But that’s not how things happen. Instead the last thing we see is Vic grab his gun from a lock box in the desk drawn and bolt out of the office. What happens next is up for interpretation.

My wife imemdiately said, “he’s going to go find his kids.”

I just sat there in shock, saying “That’s it?!”

I don’t know what to make of the final scene. Part of me wants to believe that he’s going to find his kids, as my wife suggested, but I want to think he headed out to the street to continue his own version of vigilante justice.

I will say that the one thing I love about series finales is the way the writers and directors shoot things. I love the final scene here for all the details that were included. The humming of lights hits home for everyone with a office job, as does the annoying instructions that are delivered by the human resources lady. But perhaps the coolest aspect of the final scene was the part where the two police cars are racing down the street on their way to an armed robbery. Vic watches them momentarily from the office as cars disappear into the distance. It was a perfect way to show that Vic is so far removed from his old duties that he doesn’t have a clue as to what those officers are heading to.

In closing, I just want to go on record by saying that I thought that the series would end with Vic killing Ronnie in the line of duty (kind of how the series began) and then with Vic taking his own life.

4 Responses to “Thoughts on `The Shield’ series finale”

  1. I’ve watched The Shield for years now too. I though it ended up kinda bad though. I felt let down at the end.

    I did think they left it open for a spin off show featuring Dutch though. While I don’t think it could be near as good as the Shield it wouldn’t suprise me if it was great. Dutch guest starred on Sons od Anarchy (which is just as awseome show as Shield has been) and did a fabulous job. It is probably just wishful thinking though.

    I figured in the finale Claudete was going to die from her disease. Vic would get dropped by ICE with his immunity intact and get placed back on the force by the new captain. That would have put both Vic and Ronnie working the streets with a clean slate. I told my wife Shane was going to kill his wife and kid 2 episodes ago.

    This and Rescue Me has been my favorite shows for the last 5 years or so and I hate to see it go. I think SOA will fill in for the Shield and I can’t wait till Rescue Me starts back up in the spring.

  2. I thought the Shield’s series finale was great! Although at first, I found myself disappointed in the final scenes until I realized its brilliance. I think the common theme of the strike team and Vic was that he NEVER gives up. Even in the end when he has lost everything – he leaves out of the office building with his gun and look of determination that says that his fate is not yet decided (although it really is). If there was an epilogue, it would probably show Vic continuing to look for his kids, attempt to make things right with Ronnie, and continue to pursue a career in law enforcement (all unlikely to happen) until the end of time.

  3. Mark Cox Says:

    I agree with Ynot (even if i am over a year late). The final scene was pure magic. I believe the whole point is that you just don’t know whats going to happen. How long did Ronnie get in jail? what will Vic do once his 2 years is up? will he go in search of his family? etc. Lots of questions, lots of imaginations making up their own endings… I can’t see Vic staying, his worst fear is to be a suit working 9 to 5. I am so glad that I watched this show. I’m still sad it’s over.

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