"There is Nothing Left to Lose"

Category: , By Rev/Views

This is a continuation of what I'm loosely calling "Shield Fever" on my part, first of all before I get into the thrust of what I'm going to talk about today there's a post over on Alan Sepinwall's blog which has spoiler free thoughts after the experience of watching episodes one to eight of the final season (Direct Link). As these have been released to critics it seems inevitable that they will all get leaked onto the Internet within a month or so (which is what happened to episodes of The Wire's final season), but I doubt we'll see the final episode of the show make it up in advance because that's under serious wraps and not even the cast are talking about it (but some of them obviously want to). This means I might not run ahead and watch all of those episodes even if I get the chance. But I might watch them a day or two early so I can review on a Tuesday instead of a Wednesday (which is often an incredible busy day for me).

Anyhow, first of all a general request to other TV bloggers out there, if you come across stuff about The Shield's final season that doesn't contain spoilers please, pass it on to me. Thanks.

Today I'm going to look at the various characters as they approach the final season, look at the situation they're in, what they have gained so far, how they've developed and what they have left to lose. Because let's face it, the final season of The Shield is going to be all about the losses. That's the mythos of the show - personal loss and dealing with it...

More beyond the link...

The Strike Team:

Detective Vic Mackey:

Since the very first episode of The Shield the stakes have been high for Vic. His shooting of fellow police officer Terry Crowley is the single largest crime he's committed and the one he hasn't really paid for in any shape or form yet. There are people with suspicious out there; David Acevada at the forefront but as IAD have failed to make a case twice against him for this it's likely that Shane is the one who'll end up dropping the ball and landing Vic in it if anyone.

Vic is one of the greatest examples of duality in modern media; he lands on both sides of the law at the same time. Willing to go to extraordinary lengths to protect and serve it's this attitude which probably slid him into the life he's involved in now. He's willing to break the law to bring criminals into justice but he's also willing to break the law to protect himself or his men. This duality of character continues into his personal life; he loves his family with such a passion and just about everything he does is ultimately for his kids. The money he steals mostly ends up funding tuition for his two younger autistic children and he's clearly a loving - but misguided - father. But Vic is also a terrible adulterer, he's just unable to help himself when it comes to other women and as such he's managed to lose close contact with his wife and his family. Even Danny Sofer - the mother of his illegitimate child - is unwilling to let him be too closely involved in her family life.

Vic has already lost almost everything in his life and he's in an intensely dangerous position at the start of the third season. Shane has not only arranged for a release of information if he ever dies - thus trapping Vic into protecting Shane or at least not killing him - but he's also gotten into bed with the Armenians, who are easily the most vicious members of the criminal community in The Shield and told them too much.

It's unlikely he's going to get off scott free given the nature of the show, but I'm not totally convinced that killing him will happen either. Now there are several suitable candidates for finally overturning Vic and I'll mention who they are in their relevant entries. I see four possible ways this could go; Vic being shot by a fellow cop - ironic, Vic retiring in disgrace and living his life alone separated from his children with nothing left - unlikely due to the blackmail material he has, the Armenians catching up with Vic and ending him for the money train heist and Shane's evidence being released, which would result in prison and most likely execution.

Ultimately I think that the line which may predict Vic's fate was uttered by Kavanaugh in season six.

"One day, the Universe will take out its trash."

The end of the show will spin around Vic's final fate and I love the character so much that I'd like to see him survive, but I'm not convinced it's possible. Still, there is one other possible outcome - Shawn Ryan has indicated in one Q&A session (on the Season 5 extras) that Vic might (and I do mean might) just walk away from everything and leave it all behind. I think I could appreciate an ending like that. But we'll have to see.

Shane Vendrell:

Shane is the second member of the Strike Team directly linked to Terry's death; while he did not pull the trigger he is responsible for conspiracy because he was the only other person present in the room at the time Vic pulled the trigger. Initially he did show remorse about this but as the show has progressed Shane evolved into the villain of the piece. This is one of the crowing achievements of the show, the biggest monster on it is the best friend of the lead character. Ironically the Shane of the later seasons is almost entirely a creation of Vic's influence; but the catalyst for the changes in his character is his wife Mara. After Mara came into the picture Shane became exceedingly selfish and has evolved into a grotesque caricature of what he pictures Vic as. The first major signs of this was the Tavon incident, where Shane cost the team a man who could have become one of their own given time and this is just the first in a long series of screw ups that Shane lands himself and the rest of the team in. In season four he gets in too deep with Antwon and has to be bailed out by Vic and Lem, which lands Lem under IAD investigation, which means Shane mistakenly believes Lem has turned and kills him, so Shane then spends a lot of time trying to avoid being discovered by Vic and when he is found out he runs to the Armenians for protection which once again lands Vic, Ronnie and Vic's family into the picture. A long chain of actions and reactions that were all triggered by Shane's actions.

Shane constantly attempts to emulate Vic, but suffers a lot because he's nowhere near as intelligent. The reason he consistently lands in hot water is because he just doesn't have the mental vitality of imagination, both to see the potential consequences and to maneuver his way out of problems. Vic is capable of political machination of a high degree, Shane is just capable of getting himself and his friends killed.

Ultimately Shane is very unlikely to make it out of the show and honestly doesn't deserve to. Just about every bad event that hits the Strike from the fourth season onwards can be directly traced back to Shane's actions. Something Vic himself realises once Shane reveals the truth about Lem's murder.

"I had the chance to pull the trigger on you once before; I didn't do it, and Lem lost his life because of it!"

Ronnie Gardocki:

Ronnie has always been something of a dark horse in the Strike Team and the viewers have learnt little about him beyond his work life. It's clear that he's intensely loyal to Vic and while he initially showed some doubts about breaking the law he's proven time and time again that he can take to it like a duck to water - unlike Lem and Shane who were tortured by the murder of Terry - Ronnie was only upset that Vic didn't tell him because if he'd known he could have helped protect Vic. Fans originally felt that Ronnie was in the show just to be killed off, but that belief has already been used to great effect when his face was burnt by Armadillo. He's also the only original strike team member left alive who's not directly involved in Terry's death and while he could go down for a lot of charges of corruption and the like as far as I know there's nothing linking him to killings... yet.

With the termination of Kevin Hiatt Ronnie is now in charge of the Strike Team and it will be interesting to see how things develop for him. As the seasons have progressed he's taken a larger and larger role in the show and I suspect the seventh season will either be the making or unmaking of him. He's certainly a level head as shown when Shane sets up his incriminating documents and reveals Vic's murder of Terry Ronnie's reaction is to side with Vic but attempt to look for a peaceful method of solving the problem between the three. Hopefully Vic will cut Ronnie lose to save him from any devastation and he'll have a chance to either start over or walk down the same path as Vic.

Julien Lowe:

Julien is the one current member of the Strike Team who's on the level, but even he isn't completely immune to the corruption that infests the Barn. His past struggle with homosexuality (he 'fought' against it due to religious reasons) has brought out something of the brute in him. In the past his desire to conceal his sexual orientation even sparred Vic when he caught the Strike Team stealing cocaine during a bust. On the whole Jullien knows that Vic, Shane and probably Ronnie are not clean. But it's Vic who he has the most ire for. It's this distrust of Vic combined with a violent temper and past history that means he would probably shoot Vic if the situation warranted it. I think he'd prefer a clean shooting if he had the chance, or a legitimate arrest, but ultimately Julien just wants to see the back of Vic one way or the other.

Tavon Garris:

Tavon is worth a mention here because he is confirmed as returning to the show for the final season. Tavon is the second biggest lost the Strike Team have suffered after the loss of Lem, both of which were facilitated by Shane. It's difficult to speculate any further with regards to Tavon. Last we saw he was seriously injured; possibly to the point of forced retirement, and he had been convinced that his injuries were caused by an accident.

Tavon was a capable and brilliant cop who would have fitted right in with the rest of the Strike Team given trust and time. While it's hard to tell if he would have gone over the line all the way he was happy to be involved in illegal wiretaps and often eager to dish out justice through any means necessary. His involvement in the final season is going to hinge on if he recalls the fight with Shane and Mara, if he does then he's going to be a serious issue for Shane to deal with.

Either way I welcome the return of the character as I was very fond of Tavon.

The Officers:

Claudette Wyms:

Claudette has gained so much in the show as the seasons progressed, she's moved from a successful detective career into a well deserved Captaincy and she's not once compromised her sense of ethics or morals and has always remained firmly on the side of the law. No matter what it's cost her in the past she's always been a completely straight arrow, even when Kavanaugh had Vic bang to rights with some planted evidence Wyms refused to use it because she was unwilling to use fake evidence, even if it would mean bringing down a dirty cop for good. There are no compromises with Wyms and in a show of such moral ambiguity she's the one true beacon of justice.

What the seventh season has in store for her I don't know, the Barn is in trouble and if that goes down she could lose her Captain's rank. She's also a serious candidate for dealing with Vic once and for all and if someone was going to bring him down legally I'd have her or Dutch as the front runners.

Holland 'Dutch' Wagenbach:

If any character has managed to evolve over the seasons it's Dutch, but his path has never been straight and true. He's certainly been more corrupted by events than his past partner Claudette, but it's departmental/political maneuverings that involve most of the more underhand tactics he's employed. He has a serious history with Vic and the two have something of a playground relationship; with Vic being the bully, Dutch the target of his cruel taunts. Dutch also has a tendency to ride on Vic's coat tails with regards to women, he's often expressed interest in women who've also dated Vic.

If anything Dutch is closer to the line than any other detective, he seems to spin along the edge of the line between law and crime like a penny which hasn't stopped yet. Dutch understands killers, he spends hours dealing with them in the show and this interaction has taken it's toll on him. The cat killing scene in particular was a very disturbing low for him and while it didn't go much further there has always been a question mark over him. How far would/will he go? Would he pull the trigger on Vic if he had to? Will he manage to find out that one thing which ends Mackey's reign?

The sixth season ended with him kissing Danni, a pursuit that's almost as old as the show itself depending how this turns out it could make a huge difference on events. There is the irony of Dutch ending up raising Vic's child with Danny and that's quite a delicious concept...

Steve Billings:

Billings is a genuinely underhanded wretch of a man, not only content with fleecing the department members via his own vending machines; he's also stood by while a murder occurred, set Dutch up to get hurt by paring Tina with Haitt then arranging for Dutch to see the whole thing and at the end of the sixth season he announced he was suing the department itself for injuries sustained when a brawl between Kavanaugh and Vic caused him to hit his head on a desk. The injuries seem genuine, but Claudette doesn't believe so and suspects him of attempting to defraud the city. Given Billing's character this is very possible.

Now he has left the barn, but Billings's law suit has major potential to affect everyone in the Barn as such a high profile lawsuit could spell the end for the project. It may well be the straw that breaks the camel's back and causes the end of the Barn.

David Acevada:

David has stood the test of time as a foil to Vic, but he's never quite proven himself strong enough to win a decisive victory. As it stands now Acevada is in quite a predicament, the oral rape from season three still hangs over his head and while he could have spun it in the past to his advantage, his actions that followed - shooting Ricky and having Juan murdered by Antwon's men - have dug him into a hole that Vic is more than happy to manipulate and Vic is a master of manipulation.

Despite initially noble intentions Acevada has become heavily corrupted by both his desire for success in politics and his contact with Vic. As such he's now in a precarious position, disposing of Vic would be ideal for him, it would serve to cut all ties with the past and allow him to move on towards the Mayor's offive. But it's going to be very difficult to manage due to the sheer amount of blackmail material Vic now has on him and other politicians.


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