'The Shield': Best-laid plans

Michaelchiklis_shield_240_002It's a little bit of a shame that this is a PG-rated blog, because there were a couple fantastic profane lines on The Shield this week that I wish I could print in their entirety. Instead asterisks will have to suffice:

"While the men from U.N.C.L.E. are cruising down Alvarado looking for Osama, I'll be sweatin' some good, old-fashioned, trash-talking American dips**t." - Vic Mackey.

"... There's gonna be a rainbow coalition of law enforcement, s**tting multicultural bricks." - Mackey again.

Both the above lines were in reference to the feds descending on Farmington after a couple of murders -- which Vic, Claudette and the other Barn detectives immediately sniff out as related to the mayor's new Ten Most Wanted gangs list -- are very tenuously linked to Al Qaeda ("Does Al Qaeda know that?" Vic smirks). It's not the A-story of the week, but it does get at one of the central ideas the show has adhered to all along, namely that the brass and their bosses at City Hall don't know squat about the reality on the ground.

The top-level fumbling and bumbling leads to a swarm of federal agents landing in Farmington, even as the Strike Team is bringing in a couple of kids -- 14, 15 years old maybe -- who capped the three white victims just to move their set up the Most Wanted list. Claudette's interrogation scene with the primary shooter is brilliant scary, both for how far gone the kid is (another thing The Shield has been unafraid to illustrate over the years) and for Claudette's barely contained rage at yet another lost cause.

Her dressing down of the kid then turns tragicomic, as the young banger's lawyer files a complaint over her using the n-word to him, which may not amount to much (or so her A.D.A. friend assures her) but will almost certainly be a headache for her.

As for the big story this week, Vic and Shane continued their maneuvering with Pezuela and Rezian, attempting to play the Latino and Armenian gangs off of one another until they effectively clean up the Strike Team's mess for them. Except, we all knew that wasn't going to go smoothly (and really, why would Vic and Shane at this point?).

Pezuela, incensed at the loss of his blackmail files -- his man Aramboles sold them to Rezian, Vic told him last week -- that he orders a hit on Rezian. The Armenian, naturally, is not happy to hear about this development, and tells Shane that if anything happens to him, it will mean bad things for both Vic's and Shane's families.

Waltongoggins_theshield_240 Vic and Shane, still tense around one another, then frantically search for a way to put a Band-Aid on their mutual problem, all the while wondering how things could have spun out of control so fast. (Again, duh.) Their frustration does, however, yield a great shot of Shane and Vic in the Strike Team clubhouse as they hash out what to do next, with Shane's profile filling most of the screen and Vic sitting down, holding his head in his hands, in the background -- just a really nice visual way to show their continued disconnect.

Leaning on a One-Niner boss eventually gets Rezian enough protection that, although he does get stabbed in jail, he survives with not much more than a big bandage on his shoulder. And somehow, it ends up buying the guys a little more time, thanks to Shane's good salesmanship in convincing Rezian that he's someone the Armenian can trust.

Pezuela, though? Still mad. I have a feeling that a guy who orders a hit at the drop of a hat probably will bristle at paying Vic ten grand a week to do dirty work for him, even if he is buying, in Vic's words, a "one-man demolition team." And that's leaving Aramboles out of the equation altogether -- Vic and Shane scare him good before sending him off to Mexico, but I find it hard to believe that someone with Pezuela's influence won't be able to find Aramboles eventually.

But hey, it's only episode two. The big-story bits tonight felt mostly like things that needed to be shown, but won't pay off for a while. Which is OK, so long as things don't dangle out there forever.

More notes from Tuesday's episode, "Snitch":

  • Billings has never been what you'd call a dedicated detective, but he's also not an idiot, which Dutch seems to have forgotten in the wake of his partner's ridiculous lawsuit. So it was nice (and not a little amusing) to see Billings puncture the Dutch Boy's ego a little and remind him that superior intellect doesn't always get the job done.
  • I may have heard this wrong, but I think Billings told Mackey that he had to write up Cassidy's complaint against her father. Both guys are more or less blowing it off, but if someone's really itching to nail Mackey, wouldn't even the smallest of paper trails be a pretty big weapon to do so (especially since the complaint comes from his own family)?
  • Dani hasn't exactly shaken off being assaulted at the warehouse last week. We see her draw her gun on a belligerent tenant as she and Tina are clearing the building in the cinder-block case, then gives Tina an earful back at the Barn. Given her past, I just sort of assumed Tina was at fault for failing to clear the building, but the way she stood up for herself makes me wonder a little, and also might show that she's growing into the job a little.
  • Loved the Vic-Pezuela exchange when he insists that no civilians get killed in their new arrangement. Pezuela: "Because you have morals." Vic: "A few." Vic is pretty much the poster boy for situational ethics, but one of the things that has made him tolerable for seven seasons is the fact that he does, in fact, draw the line occasionally. (See also his line to Corinne tonight about protecting her and the kids, which Michael Chiklis delivered with frightening conviction.)

What do you think of The Shield's final season so far? Ready to make predictions yet on where it might end?