We're nearly at the halfway point in The Shield's final act and things are heating up faster than an apartment on the Sun. This week's episode deals with a case that appears to be homicidal somnambulism while Vic and Ronnie put together a plan that might clear all of the problems in one fell swoop.
Read about parasomnia, mounting tension and a use for soda cans that wasn't intended by the designer beyond the link...
Ok, seriously. Wow. Things have been kept under the boil for the first five episodes of this final season and I was left doubting a little that the tension that the show is so good at creating was there at all. Things had almost become a confusing mess. But as always, The Shield knows exactly the right time to break and chance pacing. Animal Control is that episode, everything is on the table now and while there's still no clues about the end game it's clear that it's going to be messy.
Vic and Ronnie see an opportunity to deal with Shane and Razien at the same time and decide to go for it. Out of the two men it turns out that it's Vic who cracks and wants to call it off. But Ronnie is in the position to call the shots and shows just how effective he is, he shuts down Vic's attempts to pull out once all the pieces are in place. Finally using his position as the head of the strike team to bring Vic under his control.
Speaking of control it was great to see Claudette finally turn around to Ronnie and let him have it for allowing Shane and Vic to run rampant around. I'm glad she didn't buy all those "chasing down a lead" excuses, she's too smart for that. So Ronnie has to either shape up and get control of the team or he'll be out of a job the same time as Vic.
Also, I was thrilled to see Tavon back, more importantly I was completely thrilled to see him mark Shane out for what he did to him. Shane is responsible for screwing up my two favourite members of the strike team, Lem and Tavon. So it was great to have at least one of them be able to stand up and call him for what he is. Of course Tavon thought that the other members of the team tend to cover for Shane, he doesn't know how far the corruption sinks. But it was still great to see him back, even if briefly. I find myself hoping that he'll be involved again sometime soon. If there's anyone I'd like to see take Shane down it's Tavon.
In the Barn Dutch continues to see serial killers everywhere he looks; a case of parasomnia, specifically somnambulism (sleep walking) results in a man being found naked and confused behind an alley covered with blood. Immediately Dutch, working with Claudette (because Billings really can't be arsed) run down the road of serial killer using somnambulism as the perfect alibi. Homicidal somnambulism is honestly a bit of a stretch even for Dutch, while it has been used as a defense in court it's not really a documented phenomena (personally I suspect you're only likely to commit it if you're a predisposed killer and a sleep walker, but I've not researched into the area so that's just an opinion). Claudette and Dutch press hard and discover a dead girl who matches the blood type found on the man and also has blonde hair (which he discribed in his confused recall). Claudette pushes the man until he becomes convinced he did it and while she is out of the room he kills himself by opening his carotid artery with the edge of the soda can he was drinking. Unfortunately a young woman comes forward who reveals that the blood was hers, she fell and cut herself on a fire hydrant and he attempted to help her up, naked, sleep walking. But as Claudette returns to inform the man of the case she finds him laying on the floor covered in his own blood, the guilt being too much. It's a strong parallel with Tavon's story, which is also about an innocent man lead to believe he did something he didn't.
This causes Dutch to realise that he can't function without a partner to challenge and correct him. He needs someone else to keep him on the straight otherwise he just follows his theories without even testing them too hard. So he talks honestly and openly to Billings, in a manner that's a little amusing - Dutch doesn't notice he sounds rather like someone talking to their husband/wife. But Billings seems to accept the sentiment for what it is. Perhaps the two of them will start working together on cases and maybe approach the level of functioning that the Dutch/Claudette partnership had.
At the climax of the show Shane survives the ambush that Vic and Ronnie set up by nothing more than pure chance. He happens to go for a quick stretch of the legs to see if the Mexicans are arriving and sees the hitmen arrive with guns, he hides and once the Armenians - including Rezian - are shot dead he opens fire. But Ronnie doctored his gun and it doesn't work, personally I think that fixing Shane's gun was a serious mistake, if he was ambushed correctly (as the Armenians were) he would have been shot dead before even getting a chance to pull his gun. As it is he understands immediately what has happened here, something he reveals when talking to Mara at the end of the episode. He knows that Vic and Ronnie tried to get him killed and as he says "You know the worst part is? They think I'm too stupid to even realise it."
If Vic and Ronnie don't wise up fast they're going to be in a lot of trouble, while Shane can't reveal what they did without landing himself right in it for Lem he's more than capable of killing. If it had been Shane and Ronnie doing this to Vic Shane wouldn't have even blanched at the time. Vic at least couldn't go through with it when push came to shove and only the combination of Ronnie and Shane's mobile being take away from him stopped him warning Shane in time.
As Vic himself said, he's not like Shane. Unfortunately for him, Shane is.