This week's episode sees Vic and the Strike Team handling the escalating situation between the Mexicans and the Armenians while Dutch and Billings deal with a case of 'death from above'.
Read about falling concrete, Billings and awesome guest stars beyond the link...
After a solid season opener with a bit of a shock moment in it, Snitch is something of an anti-climax in comparison. While it's still excellent television, it's doesn't compare to The Shield at it's best. While the two side stories, one involving some spook street youths gunning down innocent white civilians in order to move up into the "Top Ten" in a new set of gang most wanted ratings and the second one involving Dutch and Billings investigating the murder of a young female singer outside her own tenement block are both superb. The main thrust of the Strike Team story is a little off.
I'm rather confused as to why Vic let Aramboles live, it seems completely out of character for him to do this. Aramboles is the one man outside of the Strike Team who could reveal the truth about Vic's actions in stirring up this gang war, but Vic just ships him off out of the country with a few threatening words? He's done much better in the past and considering the situation his actions seem an about turn when compared to his personality and past behaviour. It has a high chance of biting him in the arse later on this season. I half expected at least Shane to go behind his back and have the guy offed instead of sent to safety where he can eventually screw things up for the guys.
On the other hand, it's always been clear that Vic has morals, twisted morals for sure but they are there. Maybe murder has begun to become too much for him, maybe he's just tired, who knows?
Ronnie was sidelined for most of this episode again, after such a strong episode for Ronnie last week it's a bit of a shame that he's been shoved back behind Vic again. While it's clear he can't control Vic at all; which makes his position as the new Strike Team leader a little watery, it's also annoying that he was so cut out of this episode. Same with Julien who's reduced to "extra with the odd line". Fine Vic is deliberately shutting these two out of the picture right now, but would it hurt to have a few scenes with Julien and Ronnie working the street a little?
On the other hand, the other two stories were excellent. I'll look at each one individually, first of all we have the gang rating killings. This was a pretty predictable story that could have just plodded along without any punch. But the performances from the guest actors, especially the old lady who provided the witness statement; her bold talking to the police where everyone could see was top hole. She came across as someone tired with the moral slide her neighbourhood had taken, someone who's family had disappointed completely, someone who had nothing to lose at this point and just wanted to stand up against it all. She was fantastic. As was the young spook street lad who executed the killings, his performance in every scene was just superb. Right from the moment where Vic backs him up into a corner and he puts on the "don't care, hard man baller" persona he's just brilliant. He sells the right mix of a kid out of his depth and not really understanding it and brings out this ignorant youth who just really doesn't get it at all. Funny, vulnerable and just engaging. Both of these two 'one off' characters just nailed their parts to the wall.
The scene immediately following the one between the lad and Claudette (which was awesome) did have its impact weakened by immediately landing the consequences of Claudette losing it with the lad. I felt this scene would have been better placed later in the episode instead of immediately after the break,
In the other side story we have a desperate Dutch working with a completely apathetic Billings while trying to work out who dropped a concrete cinder block on a woman's head. While Dutch is running about getting stonewalled by all of the tenants Billings is putting in the absolute minimum effort. Chatting up a pretty witness and giving people change so they can purchase stuff from his own vending machines (after a Dutch rounds them all into the Barn in an attempt to break their silence). But the crowning piece of this story is where an irate Dutch vents at Billings over his lack of effort, just to have Billings first of all respond by saying he cannot be bothered to put anything in over the minimum needed and then immediately solve the case in an almost completely off-hand fashion. Billings (as I think I said last week) is one heck of a detective when he wants to be, he's showing a level of brilliance on par with season one Dutch.
All in all it was a bit of an unusual episode, the strongest stuff didn't come from the Vic storyline, it was a bit of a reversal compared to normal and I think it worked. But this still remains one of the weakest episodes the show has ever had, but from what I've heard it's the weakest one this season, so things will get better.
It seems that Danny thinks the same as I did; she's convinced it's Tina's fault the room (in last weeks episode) wasn't cleared. There also seems to be some subtle love triangle thing going on involving Dutch. Are both women interested in him?
While I'm still talking about Danny, the scene where she pulled out the gun was pretty intense. She really should not be partnered with Tina in any situation as she doesn't feel safe with her.
Last week's reference to the place where Guardo was killed was rather subtle, this week it was balls out funny and in your face.
That lad quickly c-walking/shuffling in his slippers was brilliant. But the whole situation felt really dangerous for the police involved. It felt more tense than it should have. On a side note this and this are two of my favourite c-walk videos.
Claudette's lupus is still making its way back into the storyline.
I do like the way that The Shield doesn't overplay the gore factor, they normally cut quickly to it and then pan away, or provide only some of the details. It really makes the scenes more disturbing.
Autumn Chiklis doesn't really seem up to the part any more, the more lines they give her the more obvious it is she can't act. The scene with her telling Billings to arrest her father had a lot less impact than it could.
But the scene following it where Billings is all buddy-buddy with Vic and 'sensitive' about Vic's situation with the lass is just ace. Billings has always wanted to be close to the Strike Team, but he's at best a pencil pusher. Vic's face after Billings hands him some advice as 'equals in fatherhood' is just brilliant. Once again David Marciano just nails his part and provides the laughs.