'The Shield': Head games

Michaelchiklis_theshield_240There came a point during Vic Mackey's Byzantine con game on this week's episode of The Shield that I could do little more than shake my head in admiration.

The audacity of it all made my head spin a little bit, but the way Vic set up and executed the plan -- even with an unintended detour thrown in -- seems to me to just about perfectly sum up why Vic remains such a magnetic character.

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In a nutshell: Rezian tells Shane he wants the LAPD's stockpile of seized guns before they get melted down, a task too big for Shane to pull off alone. So he brings Vic in. Vic confronts Rezian and his right-hand man, admitting to pulling the money-train heist (but keeping Shane and Ronnie in the clear) and saying that while he's "burned through the money" he can still make the Armenians whole by doing three jobs for them, starting with the guns.

Shane and Vic impound an Escalade so Shane can stow away in the back when it's taken to the police yard, he can load up the guns and drive off. Meanwhile, Vic -- without telling Shane -- has tipped off both Claudette and the ICE agent about the theft, selling it by saying they have a guy inside Rezian's organization. As the feds are on their way, Vic convinces Rezian that he's been sold out from the inside, which in turn spurs Rezian to give up the names of people close to him -- meaning Vic now has a list of nearly everyone who could possibly know about his involvement with the money train.

Got all that? Yeah, I'm not entirely sure I do either. But the number of plates Vic had to spin to make this particular ploy work -- to say nothing of a stop at home to deal with some family turbulence -- almost defies logic. Was it a little preposterous, even for this show? Yes, it probably was. But as it played out on screen, it made a weird sort of sense.

And as a bonus, Vic and Shane now have Rezian convinced he can't function without him, which will at least buy time for them and their families. Pretty nice trick.

About that family issue: Vic's buddy sees Matthew outside the house and tries to get him back, but a wary neighbor woman calls the cops -- who discover Cassidy and a friend drinking while Corinne was out at a parent-teacher conference. Vic, who gets pulled away from watching the impound yard, arrives to find his ex-wife in handcuffs (the other girl's parent filed a complaint), and he's understandably angry with Cassidy. He's also Vic, which means later he overreacts and grabs Cassidy a little too roughly (Autumn Chiklis, Michael's real-life daughter, sold the moment pretty well). Add that to her reporting of her dad in last week's episode, and it really feels like we're headed toward some sort of blowup with her.

Elsewhere in the Barn:

Axel, the skeevy granny-porn auteur we first met last season, returns to Farmington to tip the Strike Team off about another would-be producer who's paying his actresses in cocaine. They set up a sting with Tina and Julian and get him to give up the name of his supplier -- who has left only his pit bull at home to greet Ronnie, who gets bit on the arm. He and Julian figure out Axel dropped a dime on them, and sweat him for the dealer's current location. To be continued, presumably.

Jaykarnes_theshield_240Dutch, meanwhile, catches a particularly disturbing missing-persons case. A girl goes missing from school, but her mom insists she wasn't kidnapped. Dani, who asks Dutch to question her, uses the story of her recent assault to draw out that the girl was abducted and raped.

Except it turns out that the girl's brother, who's assumed the role of family patriarch since their father's death, arranged for the whole thing -- because his sister was seeing another girl at school and he was concerned about the shame it would bring on the family. (An incredulous Dutch asks the middleman, "So he hired you to rape the lesbian out of her?") The girl, naturally, has been completely messed up by the ordeal and is now freaked out by her family and her girlfriend. The Shield has featured a lot of disturbing B-story cases, but this one somehow got to me a little more than most.

Good lines, details and other points:

  • Do we believe Shane when he tells Mara he has another copy of his blackmail file, or when he tells Vic he's handing over the only one? If he's smart, he made a copy. Then again, this is Shane we're talking about here. Your thoughts?
  • Even though Dani waves him off when he asks about her assault story, Dutch senses Dani may be looking for somewhat less dangerous work. He suggests she step in as Claudette's administrator, which would both alleviate the bureaucratic pileup at the Barn and help Claudette deal with her lupus.
  • Also interesting seeing Billings get engaged in Dutch's case once he realizes something more than a kid running away has gone on. The dynamic between him and Dutch remains one of my favorite little things on the show.
  • Aceveda has snagged the Pezuela blackmail files, and when Vic finds out, the councilman plays the it's-for-your-own-good card, adding on a See? I Knew You Couldn't Help Yourself for good measure. And if you believe Aceveda is merely acting for the greater good, I have some great adjustable-rate mortgages for you.
  • Tina gets to show her tough-cop side again after the oily producer feels her up with the skin-crawling comment "Small ... but natural." After the sting goes down, she grabs the guy's crotch and says "Natural ... but small." Well-played, Tina.
  • That was some last look Vic gave after Shane turned over the blackmail file and left the room thinking everything was on its way to being normal again. Yeah, Shane? Watch your back, pal.