Damn, but the elements of the show are rolling now with “Cherrypoppers.” Visually (watch for the extreme, off-angle close-ups and the smallest hitch in the camera motion as it tracks from Julien to Aceveda and catches sight of the cross on the way), storytelling (because everything just happens at once, whether you’re pursuing a serial killer or following leads or your hooker CI is in trouble or the fucking toilet floods the building), and character. The character detail that never ceases to impress me (and, like everything, remember it) is that Vic has way more respect for Dutch than Dutch has for Vic. Dutch’s flaw, his obstacle, is his insecurity (Dutch needs everybody’s approval), and it makes him see Vic as just a thug. Vic doesn’t see Dutch as just a geek, he really does see him as another detective (and a good one), and Dutch (especially here) acts like he’s on another level. (So fucking arrogant when he’s directing people at the beginning.) You can also see Dutch’s insecurity blocking him in the interrogation—he’s convinced himself this guy did it and he’s just not gonna listen.
And as ever, the persistent theme of The Shield gets clearer–the consequences of your actions. We can see it with Aceveda and Julien, as Aceveda tries to get Julien to see the consequences of testifying. We see it when Danny confronts Vic; just like Gilroy in “Our Gang,” Danny is asking Vic, what have you gotten me into? Again: it’s not that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, it’s that every action has a greater reaction. Another theme that’s emerging for me on the rewatch, here and in “Pay in Pain,” is the code these cops have for each other. You’re expected not to snitch, but there is also a limit to what you ask other cops to cover for, and a limit to how far they can protect each other. Vic is learning how far outside that limit he’s operating; Claudette’s line “I don’t judge other cops” is key here. Not judging is not the same thing as making yourself an accessory.
“Don’t worry. This guy’s mine.” “Good.” A quick but definite character beat for Dutch there.
“Pay in Pain” feels more formulaic–with the blocky, static compositions and dialogue, it feels constructed entirely from declarative sentences–but the endings (with Aceveda, and with Vic and Julien) are just one more example of how relentless The Shield was at accelerating the story. And I love Vic yelling “Shane!” when Shane’s pissing all over the guy, it sounds like he’s yelling “Shane! Heel! Bad Shane!”
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