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  • TheCanadianShield

    Jesus, wallflower.

    I was going to add something about the Corrine/Mara or Corrine/Vic scenes, but you pretty much nailed it shut.
    Nice to see you, like The Shield, is raising it’s game as the end is approaching.

  • ZODIAC MOTHERFUCKER

    GREAT SHIT AS ALWAYS WALLFLOWER. ONE THING THAT REALLY STRUCK ME REWATCHING THIS RECENTLY WAS VICS FRIGHTENINGLY REASSURING DEMEANOR WITH CORRINE AS HE TRIES TO DRAG HER INTO THIS MURDER PLOT. “ITLL BE FINE DONT WORRY ABOUT IT NOBODYS GONNA GET HURT.” JESUS CHRIST VIC YOURE PLANNING THE SLAUGHTER OF A FAMILY AND YOURE USING THE MOTHER OF YOUR KIDS TO DO IT

    WORD OF WARNING FOR ANY NEW FANS: I DONT KNOW IF THIS HAS COME UP BEFORE BUT ON AMAZON PRIME THE FINALE IS SPLIT INTO TWO EPISODES. ITS KINDA FUCKED UP AND NOT IDEAL WHAT WITH THE FILLER DELETED SCENES

    • wallflower

      I swear, all the tragic heroes are like that–as they get closer to the end they crank up the deception and self-deception. If everyone completely knew themselves, there would be no such thing as tragedy.

      I didn’t know that about Amazon Prime but that is fucked up, because that last episode is perfectly paced. I’ll check the deleted scenes and note in final essay which scenes shouldn’t be there.

    • Wad

      There are deleted scenes as filler? I didn’t even notice.

      SPOILER

      The cut from the Vendrells to “EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: SHAWN RYAN” is quite effective, though.

      • loopcloses

        SPOILER

        Yeah, I didn’t watch them that way, but from the bit I did see I noted that the story was kind of chopped up (I believe the Huggins plot doesn’t begin until the cold open of Part 2) and I also noted how effective the cut to the credit card was after…. that was. I was always conflicted on it, because it was one of my favorite cut-to-credits moments of the entire series–and I’ve said it before, I geek the fuck out over a well-done cut-to-credits moment– but it really throws off the pace of the entire episode (in addition to all the other issues with the two-part version).

  • BalloonsBalloonsBalloons

    I remember when these episodes aired, how blown away I was. Like you’ve said four or five times, after finishing Parricide, you just have to keep watching if you can. Waiting is unbearable.

    On a minor note, though, what the heck was up with Danny? What was the point of her packing up her stuff and taking off? When they showed her doing that, the implication was she was doing it to get away from Vic. But then the next thing we hear about her is Dutch saying he can’t wait until she gets back, so I guess she never intended to stay gone.

    • wallflower

      GETTING JUST A LITTLE SPOILERY HERE

      I think Danny’s plan was to stay out of town long enough to legally deal with Vic’s claim, and she didn’t want to do that while she worked with him, or he knew where she was. Claudette told her “take all the time you need.” My guess is that once Vic was out of a job and everything had gone insane with the former Strike Team, she felt safe enough to come back, and she also felt that Claudette could use the help.

      • Wad

        SPOILERS MAYBE?

        Right, even when she leaves everyone knows Vic only has ten days left. So I don’t think Danny was ever supposed to leave for good. It’s just a way to stay away from Vic while she deals with his claim for paternity. Of course, like I’ve said before, the events of “Possible Kill Screen” should preclude him ever getting the rights to any child ever.

    • Wad

      I think the next thing we actually hear is Dutch saying “Vic’s gone, I think Danny’s ready to come back.” And then she does.

  • silverwheel

    I’m thinking of posting bad articles that misinterpret the characters and get the details wrong in the comments section, just for AV Club nostalgia. 🙂

    • TheCanadianShield

      Seriously, wallflower.
      Where does the Iraq allegory occur? And how does it tie into Mara being a terrible person?

      • Wad

        Shane hung his “Mission Accomplished” banner too early. /Nowalk

  • pwhales

    Industrial-size Shipping Container of SPOILERS

    Last week @wad discussed Mara’s complicity in the Vendrell family’s final fate. The argument made was that Mara didn’t know what Shane had planned. “Moving Day”, in my mind, proved that Mara, though she might not have know the exact details, was in total agreement. At the end of “Moving Day” she says no one is going to break the family apart. (A sentiment echoing Vic’s stance on the Strike Team, Corrine’s kids, and even Lee). This is Mara telling Shane that if it comes down to it nothing will break us up – nothing will see me/you in prison and our kids in foster care. She might not have know what Shane brings back from the drug store in the finale but it’s right here that she agrees with whatever action they take – because they are a unit

    • wallflower

      SPOILERS continue

      Here’s the comment from @disqus_ZFzIRFoZjP:disqus that launched this discussion. It’s important to note that Goggins’ theory is that Shane doesn’t reveal the plan to her until he’s back from the drugstore, and she accepts then. Whether or not that’s what happened (we can never know), it’s completely plausible that Mara would go along with it.

      • pwhales

        SPOILERS still

        Yeah, I remember that. I have to disagree with Goggins’ thought though. I don’t think the plan ever needs to be spoken. It’s a silent, understanding bond they now share.

    • Wad

      MORE SPOILERS

      Yeah, I go back and forth a lot on what Mara knew. I mean, I think there are certain things she says and does– the end of “Moving Day”, and the end of “Possible Kill Screen,” when she says “I just want to go home”– that indicate she would be fully on board with Shane’s plan whether or not he verbalized it to her.

  • Wad

    Okay, from my notes…

    One of the funniest exchanges in the whole series, for my money, happens early in “Parricide”, when the detectives are at Ronnie’s apartment after the Two-Man hit:

    Ronnie: She’ll be fine. I don’t think I’m getting date number two out of this, though.
    Billings: Date number one ended up here?
    Ronnie: I’ll explain it to you sometime.

    David Rees Snell’s deadpan, understated delivery of that line is perfect. Always cracks me up.

    The Corrine / Mara conversations might be my favorite parts of these episodes. Mara so forthright and strong, as wallflower said, like a boxer; Corrine having to just listen and take all the information in. (And holy shit, how about that thousand-yard-stare after she tells Vic Mara’s not calling again: “Vic tried to kill us last night. And you helped him! He made you an accessory to murder.” Anyone who thinks Cathy Cahlin Ryan is a weak link in the cast is full of shit.)

    I was wondering, is this the first time in the series Corrine lies to Vic?

    The Vic and Ronnie conversations about Mara and Jackson. Jesus Christ. From “That’s a decision for when we need to make a decision” to “He’s too young to be a witness.” All pretense of self-righteousness gone: It’s not “I don’t kill children!” It’s “This child is too young to be a threat to us.” Like you said, Vic is just a full-on murderer at this point, an “asshole with a Desert Eagle.”

    Ronnie’s a great liar, but I think Claudette’s bullshit meter still pings whenever he says anything about Vic. I mean, “No, Vic didn’t draw down on Shane and Mara in a dark hospital parking lot to kill them!” is not plausible.

    Some of the stuff I liked about people who aren’t the strike team: Julien and Claudette’s moment when she dismantles the Strike Team: “I earned this.” “You did, and you passed your detective’s exam, and I’ll see you get a promotion.” A nice acknowledgement from Claudette: This isn’t your fault, but it has to be done. I’ll make sure you get what you earned. And it’s because, as we see in his interactions with Ronnie, Julien is loyal to the right thing, or at least what he thinks is the right thing, more than Ronnie: He simply won’t keep Ronnie ahead of the game on the hunt for Shane. (Now, if that’s Julien being more loyal to his sense of right and wrong than to the Blue Wall, or specifically more loyal to Claudette than Ronnie, I don’t know.)

    And how about the fury in David Marciano’s eyes when Billings confronts Heap. I don’t ever think I’ve seen a look like that from him before or since– it’s incredible how he can raise the intensity of his gaze to the point where his eyes practically seem to change color.

    I thought the quote this week might be “Why don’t y’all take a look at what you got going on under your own roof?”

    • silverwheel

      Ronnie Gardocki, Ladies Man! Another hilarious detail from the Two-Man hit: As he and his date are walking up to his apartment, he’s asking her what she does for a living (and giving a perfectly impressed response). God how I wish [i]Everybody Fucks Ronnie[/i] got to be a regular thing.

    • wallflower

      David Marciano and Billings are an example of the old rule that there are no small parts, only small actors. Marciano always acted Billings completely and made him interesting, and this season (especially now) the writers have given him a complex, thematic relationship with Dutch. It was one of the unexpected great things about the end of the series.

      I agree that Claudette’s radar is pinging; it’s not so much that she believes him, it’s that she’s going to hang back and see how this plays out over the next few days. And yes, as you and silverwheel and I and just about everybody else knows, Dave Snell plays Ronnie so well and with such understatement–he has a look running out the door in “Parricide” that would only be “slight anger” on Vic, but on Ronnie, it makes me think he’s gonna kill Shane, then dig up his corpse and zombify him so he can kill him again.

      • Wad

        Right, it’s an interesting dichotomy: Ronnie tells Claudette enough truth to sell her on his story, but at the same time, Vic was detained after drawing a gun on the Vendrells. I don’t think she’d believe Vic wouldn’t kill them.

    • Snake doctor

      If Jackson was a few years older, do you think Vic would have gunned him down?

      • Wad

        Boy, that’s tough, huh? There’s always questions like that with Vic, instances where he’s bailed out from having to make a tough decision (or an irredeemably evil one) by fate or circumstance.

        Honestly, I think he would have. I mean, I doubt he’s exactly calling the hospital afterward to alert them that a dead pregnant woman needs an emergency C-section.

        • wallflower

          I think he would have too. We’ve seen that Vic keeps getting himself into impossible situations and doing more and more dangerous things to get himself out. Mara was carrying Jackson here, so if he’d started shooting there’s a good chance he would have been hit.

          Vic keeps making me think of the line from The Counselor: “you will eventually come to moral decisions that will take you completely by surprise.” It’s why he’s so dangerous, especially here; because he always thinks he can find a solution, the solution eventually becomes the worst possible thing.

          • Wad

            Yeah, like I said in my initial comment, just the fact that he’s thinking “He’s too young to be a witness” and not “He’s an innocent two-year-old child” suggests to me that, if it came down to it, Vic could rationalize killing Jackson as collateral damage. He might even tell Ronnie he didn’t want to, or that the kid is better off dead than in the foster care system. But I think he’d do it and either look for rationalizations later or, in true Vic style, not think about it and not look back.

    • “The Vic and Ronnie conversations about Mara and Jackson. Jesus Christ. From “That’s a decision for when we need to make a decision” to “He’s too young to be a witness.” All pretense of self-righteousness gone: It’s not “I don’t kill children!” It’s “This child is too young to be a threat to us.” Like you said, Vic is just a full-on murderer at this point, an “asshole with a Desert Eagle.”

      That tripped me up. Too young to be a witness?! How about because he is an innocent two-year-old child?

      • Ruck Cohlchez

        Yeah, that’s one of those moments that reveals the real Vic Mackey. I remember the first time I watched this I started turning on him this season when he started bullying Danny and Corrine, but this was one of those real WTF-moments where, for a second, you see clearly exactly who a person is.

  • Wad

    One more thing: I like that Shane was able to get Two-Man to tell him where he hid the gun, and able to beat the cops to it, but that, ultimately, it didn’t matter, because Vic came up with a plan that got Two-Man to break anyway.

  • JonGorski

    I know it’s self-evident, but goddamn are you good at this whole word writing thing.

  • Rafa

    I think that the principal plot of ‘The Shield’ (The rise and downfall
    of the Strike Team) is one of the most brilliant, complete and
    elaborated narratives of the history; the structure divided in three acts
    during seven seasons (just as wallflower explains so good) feels like a masterful
    elaboration of Shawn Ryan and his team, where all the acts of the first two seasons
    have consequences until the very last scene.

    On the other hand, I don’t think that ‘The Shield’ is the best drama of
    television history, as wallflower has said. I would shade and
    say that the story of the Strike Team is the greatest drama ever, but ‘The
    Shield’ includes more stories and occupies a lot of time with the
    self-contained narrative device. While lots of people find the stories of one
    episode as fully entertaining, I always found them as a drag to the series; I was
    never fully interested in the cases of Dutch and Claudette or with the police
    operations of Danny and Julien. When their stories gained profundity and had
    arcs of multiple episodes (as the Kleavon Gardner one) is when I became more
    invested, but the cases that had no relevance to the principal story kind of
    bored me; in occasions it seemed as a device to complete the 40 minutes of the
    episode and don’t advance too much the story of the Strike Team; while in series
    as ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘The Wire’ everything that happens is tied to the
    principal plot.

    • wallflower

      This is very much a case of “I agree with what you saw but I feel differently about it.” The non-Strike Team actions almost always engaged me and often moved me; if they didn’t do that for you, then of course they’re a drag on the show. It helped that there weren’t just events going on outside the Strike Team story, but complete stories–the rise of David Aceveda, Claudette maturing into the captaincy, the comedy of Dutch and Billings.

      The non-Strike Team stories served three functions for the show. First, they gave a feeling of ordinary, everyday life, the sense that this is a police station and this is what you deal with on a daily basis, and second, they served as a kind of moral counterpoint to the Team. I mean “counterpoint” as literally as possible–the other stories don’t oppose the Team story, it’s not “Strike Team = bad, everyone else = good.” It’s that we see contrasting (not opposing) responses to moral choices. (More on this next week.) The third function is simply that the other events added to the running time, which allowed the Strike Team story to have fewer beats. It meant that the story could remain a unified story but still spin out over seven seasons. Both The Wire and Breaking Bad have fewer episodes, but more plot for the main story. Like you said, those other shows are nothing but main story.

    • TheCanadianShield

      Another way to look at it? If you take the Strike Team story out of The Shield and leave everything else, you still end up with the L.A. version of Hill Street Blues. 🙂

  • Would people have liked Mara if she were more like Rita from Dexter? I don’t think so because Rita was deeply hated and she was a goody two-shoes. How about Rachel Menken from Mad Men? She was a character everyone loved. But I feel like The Shield wouldn’t be as dramatic if Mara were like Rachel. Also, I don’t think a woman like Rachel would ever be interested in a man like Shane. I am trying to figure out what would have made Mara a better character. Would viewers prefer if Shane started dating the stripper from “Dragonchasers” and “Barnstormers?” I mean, she seemed like more trouble than Mara. How about Amy from “Blowback?” She wasn’t in it much, but I liked what I saw from her.

    • Honestly, Mara was doomed from the outset to be hated by some of the audience. Right from the beginning, she was going to be the one who didn’t just oppose Vic, but saw right through him. (I love how in “Blood and Water,” when Mara says to him “I’ve seen that look before,” Vic just turns into Dutch, completely awkward and unsure how to handle himself.) I think anyone who was watching to see Vic Mackey Kicks Deserving Ass would have a problem with Mara.

      It occurs to me there’s another reason: because The Shield follows the rules of drama, Mara isn’t a victim. She has her own wants, drives, and flaws, so she can’t be just an object of pity, a Good Woman destroyed by Bad Men. And Michele Hicks never plays Mara as a victim. It’s like Ryan and Hicks stripped away all the cheap ways of getting sympathy for Mara and left us with only the real way.

      • Well, Jane was a victim. Yet some of the audience hated her because she was not a wholly innocent victim. First, she was a drug addict and that is stigmatized. Second, she blackmailed Walter, which is corrupt. Third, it was Walter who knocked her onto her back, but it was her who took the heroin.

  • I was so tense the first time I watched “Parricide,” just waiting for Two-Man to give Shane up.

    • The back half of “Parricide” is up there with “Of Mice and Lem” as a masterwork of sheer intensity. (Also, I hope you liked the essay that’s just about the interrogation scene–there’s a link to it in the article here.)

  • SPOILERS FOR FARGO

    I finally watched the pilot. I like the pace, but I am confused and sort of creeped out. Lester meets Lorne who kills Sam Hess for him and then Lester kills his wife?! And why does it say that it is based off of a true story at the beginning? Is that for real? Forgive my slowness, but I need some explaining before I decide to move forward or not.

    P.S. I finished Jessica Jones and liked it. The writing needs to improve. It had some issues in the back half, but I loved most of the characters, even more so than the ones in Daredevil.

    • It’s not a true story; the film Fargo starts with the same credit (“the rest, however, has been told exactly as it happened”) and Noah Hawley kept that in as a reference/joke. (The TV series shares the same universe as the movie, but the two seasons happen after and before it. It’s also loaded with references to the films of the Coen Bros.–Lorne is more than a little like Anton Chigurh–but I don’t know how necessary that is to watching the show.)

      I haven’t seen the second season, but I liked the first. Not all of the elements work together, but it has some memorable scenes and characters and has a unique mood. There’s a lot unexplained, though, and in a way that sometimes feels mysterious and sometimes just half-assed. (I said that it would have been better for both series if Fargo and True Detective had switched networks; Fargo is as opaque as The Leftovers and True Detective fits right in with FX’s tradition of old masculinities in the modern world.

      I will get to Jessica Jones soon (really do need to get some Netflix), because it sounds like everything I love in drama. Oh and happy New Year and a great 2016 to you!

      • I don’t understand why FX is not as acclaimed as HBO or even AMC and Showtime. I think it’s churned out better shows than the latter two. Yes, its most watched show is Sons of Anarchy, which is one of its worst shows. But it has so much greatness.

        • Agreed. FX has an undeserved reputation of “basic cable for bros,” which is unfair. Really its best shows are about masculinity and classically dramatic, and there’s nothing wrong and everything right with that. (I’ve watched the first two seasons of The Americans on FX and my only problem with it is that it needs to embrace its pulp thriller heart more.)

          • You hit the nail on the head. FX has phenomenal series that explore masculinity and do it right. Of course it attracts “bros” wanting to watch men fuck shit up, but its best series show the consequences and that’s always valuable.

          • I am officially on episode 3 of Fargo. Lorne is a strange character that seems to be nothing more than an evil troublemaker. I am intrigued because I like messy characters. Lester appears to be a ticking time bomb.

            SPOILERS

            I have a feeling that the murder of his wife will not be his last …

            Saul Goodman reincarnated as a cop is a dumb cop.

            I am rooting for Molly!

          • Molly does in fact rule and may be the best thing about the first season. I’m curious. . .have you seen the movie?

          • No, I have not seen the film. Is it anything like the series?

          • The series has a some of the film’s tone (at least season one does) and it has the same kind of setting. See it as soon as you can–opinions vary on the series but the film is pretty much an across-the-board classic, one of the tightest works of storytelling you’ll ever see.

          • SPOILERS FOR FARGO

            I finished binging Season 1 and I loved it. Lorne Malvo was like Anton Chigurh except he didn’t get to walk away. Molly, Gus, and Molly’s father were the ones I cared about most, but Lester was driving this story. He accidentally set Lorne on Sam Hess’s path. He murders his wife and then frames his brother for it! Not to mention that he stuck a gun in his nephew’s backpack. I have to admit that I loathed Lester, but he was entertaining. It’s just that he was such an idiot to confront Lorne when he saw him in Las Vegas. Why couldn’t he just move on with the nice life he’s built for himself? It’s like his ego was hurt that Lorne wouldn’t acknowledge him and woah, that elevator scene was tense.

            I want to watch Season 2, but I know it’s not looked at as favorably. Would you say Season 1 is dramatic, cinematic, or literary?

          • FARGO SPOILERS CONTINUE

            Oh man, watching Lester confronting Lorne was such classic drama–yes, he’s an idiot to do that, but if he didn’t do it he wouldn’t be Lester. He’s one of the people who do so much damage, not out of true evil but out of weakness–and the film has another great example of that.

            I hadn’t thought about it until you asked (so thanks again), but the first season of Fargo really combines all four styles of storytelling. At its core it’s straightforwardly dramatic, the rise and fall of Lester. But it heavily draws on cinematic (the fight in the snow, the death of Glenn Howerton’s character) and literary effects (the time jump, the not-quite-realness of Lorne Malvo) and it exists in a mythological relationship with the films of the Coen Bros., where the characters and themes are versions of those in the films. (And there’s one specific detail in the series that comes directly from the film, which I won’t spoil.)

          • I will watch the film tonight and be on the lookout for similarities. Speaking of Glenn Howerton’s character, that was so fucked up but kind of brilliant. I know it’s something that I never would’ve thought of. The scene was definitely cinematic.

            So how does Lorne differ from Anton? Well, I honestly think he just likes to start shit. Kind of like a trickster who comes up with creative ways to kill people, whereas Anton simply killed almost everyone he came into contact with. I would say Lorne embodied Anton the most when Anton was with the gas station owner.

          • Excellent call on the difference. Strange to say it, but Anton is a little more grounded than Lorne. Anton concludes shit, he doesn’t start shit. Lorne is closer to Hannibal‘s Hannibal that way.

            And I look forward to your viewing of the film Fargo. When that came out, I’d seen all four of the Coen Bros. films and it was still something new and perfect. It’s the kind of work where the artist(s) have created something that’s both their own and universal.

          • Have you seen The Leftovers?

          • No. I’d like to, though–I really like the idea of having this central event that’s never explained and never will be. How is it?

          • I liked it. It’s very weird, though. At the center of it is Kevin Garvey and his family. His wife left him and their daughter for a cult that emerged after the 2% departed, and his son is mixed up in a cult, too. The acting is great and the story is intriguing.

          • I will check that one out as soon as possible then (-: Weird and I get along just fine.

          • So I watched the film Fargo and it was hilarious to me. I guess I have a morbid sense of humor. Anyway, I thought it was great! I’ll be sure to watch it again. The series really adopted its humor and characters. Jerry reminded me so much of Lester.

          • That sense of humor always comes off to me as so very Midwestern (I’m from there too), the way you just don’t ever get excited about things, no matter how strange they get. “I assume that was yer partner in the wood chipper” is the first thing that comes to mind. Figured you’d like it!

          • Thank you for the recommendation! I would actually put it up there as one of my favorite films from the Coen brothers. Part of that reason is definitely the Midwestern humor. It was great seeing after watching season 1 of Fargo because it made me appreciate both in ways that I hadn’t thought of.

            I am wondering if you have seen Daredevil. Are you into any superhero franchises (film or T.V.)?

          • Not as much as I should be–I enjoyed the Nolan Batman films although I think they vary a lot in quality (essay in the works, because of course there is) and I enjoyed the first X-Men, which came across to me as a moody character study wrapped in a blockbuster. Probably my defining superhero-ish series is Buffy/Angel, which is still one of the best dramas of our time.

            The one I really want to get into and haven’t yet is Doctor Who; I grew up on the old version (5th Doctor represent!) and I’m fascinated by what I’ve heard about the current one.

      • And I hope your 2016 is wonderful! It’s not here yet for me, but saying it early doesn’t hurt. Happy New Year!

  • Jackson Vendrell doesn’t get enough love. There isn’t much to say about him since he was only two-years-old, but he was a loving, generally happy, and not-annoying kid. I feel like there’s a contrast between him and Vic’s kids, but I could be imagining things. My heart really broke for him.

    • You really wonder what the kids would have been like if the show had gone for a few more years. (Of course, that might mean Kurt Sutter would have demanded an arc for them, and that got. . .a little strange on Sons.)

      • Are you talking about Abel? Oh, that was horrible! The acting didn’t help.

        • Yup!

          SPOILERS FOR SONS, SORT OF

          I rewatched some of the late-season episodes and the only way Abel made sense was the theory of some of the commenters–that he was gonna turn out to be an Omen-type demon child and would kill everyone with a carving fork or something. I could see Sutter doing that.

          • When I think of “Family Meeting,” I remember how happy Jackson was during his last moments on earth. His parents were fucked up from the start, but he was always normal and even caring (“Mommy, are you okay?”). It’s remarkable because of how destructive they were from the onset. If they hadn’t ruined everything, they could have given him the childhood he deserved (the one that they probably wanted as children and wished they had as adults). He didn’t ask to be born to these parents. Poor Jackson. Sometimes it hurts to even think of toy cars.

            I think Vic saying that he’ll make sure Jackson and Frances Abigail hate their parents is part of why Shane decided to do what he did. Or did he decide it even before that? Had it always been an option for him? It freaks me out that this happens in real life …

            As for Abel, he must have been a demon and it just wasn’t effective storytelling. Jackson’s “lightness” revealed to me that Shane and Mara were capable of being good, loving, and normal parents if not for their general recklessness, toxicity, and stupidity. Abel seemed to be a monster in the making. What does that tell me about Jax? That his lifestyle socializes people into sociopaths? I already knew that. I’m trying to understand why Sutter made Abel so startling and creepy.

          • SHIELD ‘N’ SONS SPOILERS, STILL

            The next episode (“Party Line”) is just so devastating that way, because we really see the Vendrells as happy. It could have all worked out for them. It’s so important for drama that we see the possibility of a happy ending, because otherwise the unhappy ending has no meaning. (It works the other way around too.)

            And Abel, yeah–and Jax seemed to realize that at the end. (“They must grow up hating my name.”) Thing is, there was a potentially great three-season series buried in Sons of Anarchy, if Sutter had the discipline to do it (if he’d had Shawn Ryan around, basically), and it would have had some of the same story beats. It would have to be a short series, because it basically starts well in its second act. But Sutter kept piling on suffering and incident without consequence, and that’s what we mean by soap opera, not drama.

  • somewhat shocking silverwheel

    Ohmygod I just noticed that Julien mentions that it was Deena (!) who game them the tip about Shane/Shaun’s “new” car! I’m a little pissed that we didn’t get a Deena scene, even more pissed that she didn’t give the tip to Aceveda while asking him “why don’t you call?” but I accept that the story is moving too quickly for that. Plus it’s just so wonderful that the information would get back to the Farmington PD through the usual sources – Vic and Shane can’t do anything in these episodes without “the street” getting wind of it within a day (when you spend the previous several years bullying your way around the district and making everyone know your name, you can’t just disappear when you need to).

  • Babalugats

    So I wasn’t the first person to notice The Shield’s strength with women?

    I lived on a block where half the houses were in foreclosure and vacant.

    I’ve stood on a residential corner in the middle of Detroit and looked in every direction and couldn’t see a single inhabited house. Even now the city’s underpopulated (fewer than 700,000 people living in a city built for 2 million.) But those days were something else. Working in those (can you even call them neighborhoods?) was surreal.

    Shane’s last line–“well, I always told you I’d get you a mansion some day”–can be read as a man trying to placate his greedy, materialistic wife

    I suppose it could be read that way, but that seems like a strange, counter initiative, and antagonistic reading. Generally speaking gold-diggers don’t target hick cops and then leave their job, and give away their house and car so that they and their sick child can sleep on the floor of an vacant house, all for the endgame of maybe slipping away to some goat farm in Mexico. But, I guess bitches always be chasin dem goats, am I right?

    I take it this is some AV Club shit?

    Brandon Nowalk described how the Dutch/Billings/Claudette stories were a “small, sad reflection” of the Strike Team stories

    Ughhhhhh. The Shield Is an absolute marvel of structure. The way the show maintains a relentless forward momentum, while still telling complete stories within each season, the series as a whole, and in each individual episode. (And not 40 minutes of filler and then a big reveal. Tightly plotted, satisfying episodes). I don’t think there’s another show that’s managed it, because it’s damn near impossible to do. (Breaking Bad gets close, but much of the family drama was filler). The case of the week procedural stuff that can be stretched or condensed to fill whatever gaps exist in the main story is what makes that possible, and The Shield does a remarkable job of keeping it thematically relevant, and balancing these stories in a way that feels natural and organic. An absolute marvel of story structure. And anybody who gets paid to share their opinions about television ought to be able to recognize that. Also, catching serial killers ain’t big enough storytelling for you? I don’t think Brandon and I would have gotten along to well.

    I can’t be a party to anything unethical

    Is there another show that could turn this into a bigger laugh line. It could be given to any character. Hell, they could introduce a brand new character just to deliver it, and it would still have been hilarious. Picking up on what you were saying earlier toda- three years ago, this would also work great as an Always Sunny line.

    • On one of the last commentaries, Cathy Ryan (I think) notes that Entertainment Weekly put “The Women of The Shield” on their Best of the Week list–she says something like “we were on that list with DeNiro–we were higher than him!” And yeah, Nowalk seemed determined to be the most stereotypical Marahater, especially in the season 3 reviews, and a recurring theme was Mara Is Just So Annoying, Why Can’t We Get to the Good Stuff.

      Watching other shows really shows you what The Shield did and how hard it is to do. (“If it was obvious, everyone would be doing it all the time.”) You have to give enough incidents to each episode (Shawn Ryan always insisted on this; I’m almost done with the first season of The Expanse and there’s about 20 minutes of incident per hour of show) and still have the incidents matter and tick the story forward; and The Shield kept going forward way past the point where almost any other show would have said “OK, that’s enough for a season finale, we’ll come back next year and pretend this never happened.”