Watching these two episodes, you can see the style developing. The camera perspective becomes more subjective and less cinematic, and faces and looks matter more. In particular, watch the overhead shots of Danny and Julien at the apartment complex in “The Spread”; they could be from a resident looking down. Or the single look Claudette throws the camera (and therefore Dutch and Aceveda) as Kirk Baltz cracks. Or the way Walton Goggins’ face transforms in his interrogation in “Our Gang.” (“He squints when he lies.”)
We’re also seeing some elements of style get left behind. I’m pretty sure “Our Gang” gives us our last flashback, and you can see how much Clark Johnson’s style has changed between the pilot and “The Spread”; there’s a single cut-to gag (“He’s just gonna say no.” Cut to: him saying “no”) and a smooth zoom-in, but that’s about it.
Great moments in acting: Michael Jace doing self-loathing (there’s a reason for it but it involves a spoiler); Jamie Brown’s post-fix walk out of the station.
We’re seeing the beginning of what The Shield did so well: the sense of actions having consequences. Killing another cop isn’t just some shocking way to end the pilot, everyone has to deal with fallout now. I especially like Gilroy’s attitude of “I did you this favor and NOW what have you gotten me into?” and Aceveda realizing he can’t do much of anything without revealing his deal with the feds. Being corrupt is a tricky business for everyone.