The Shield - 710 - Party Line

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You'll have to pardon me this week if I'm a smidge hazy on details, unfortunately due to a lack of willpower I have about ten hours of Fallout 3 lodged in my brain between watching this episode and now writing about it. Still, this does not reflect on the quality of Party Line at all. Oh no sir, this is television at it's finest.

Read about washing the sidewalk, one-upmanship and families beyond the link...

Party Line is at it's heart a story of contrasts, it takes a look at the very real differences between Vic, Shane and their respective relationships with their partners. On one hand we have Mara and Shane, sticking together through everything, willing to Bonnie and Clyde it to the end if it comes to that. On the other we have a hugely divided Vic and Corrine, so pulled apart now that Corrine is actually willing to shop Vic if it will keep him away from her children for good. It's clear that the two men are very similar, if anything Shane is worse than Vic, but if that is the case why is Mara willing to stick with him? The essence of the matter boils down to one thing, Shane has been honest with Mara about who he is and what he does. Even when he gives her an out in the previous episode, even when Claudette gives Mara one in this, she sticks by her man. We're talking about a woman who was just earlier that same day robbed at gunpoint and nearly handed over to Vic for summary execution, she's still willing to go the distance.

I'm exceptionally pleased with this episode, it's stripped a lot of things back to basics. We have Acevada and Vic going hammer and tongs at each other, this time it's over ICE and the Mexican Cartel, but it's good to see that David can still be such a thorn in Vic's side even after all these years (and his diminished role in the series). It also seems that David has learnt a few tricks from Vic (I've always said Vic tarnishes everyone he comes into contact with), rumbling with Pezula in front of Beltran and pulling a gun out was a real 'Vic play' and it forced Vic down a different path. Maybe this will help Vic, maybe it won't. I'm too tired to speculate on Vic's fate anymore, not because I don't care - I do - but because I'm so emotionally drained from all of this.

Speaking of Acevada and Vic, I'm sure you all noticed the focus switch when they were talking, changing depth to show the old woman hosing mess off the sidewalk. Not a bad little metaphor for the show there, but it was one of those things that didn't need to be played out quite so graphically. I spotted her before the camera's changed focus.

We're also back to basics in the Barn, at least we have the old Detective team of Wyms and Dutch in action again. Facing their toughest catch yet, they have to land Vic in the face of a department that would really prefer to sweep him under the rug and walk away. Deputy Chief Phillips spells it out for her in a scene which has some excellent facial acting from CCH Pounder. She really manages to look worn out by all of this and so disgusted with her department for letting Vic stay in action this long.

This final act is a real testament to how far Walton Goggins has come as an actor, he's managed to turn the least redeemable member of the strike team into an exceptionally likable individual over these past ten episodes. Darn it, I do actually like Shane, which is a real blow for me because I love Lem and Tavon. But, thumbs up to the man for managing to pull it off and turn a despicable, weasel of a man into someone worth caring about. Well done.

I'm feeling really sorry for Ronnie now, the man has seen the writing on the wall and wants to bail. But he's stuck out of loyalty for Vic. If Ronnie runs it points the finger directly at Vic and would force him to go on the lam also. But Vic is still convinced he's bullet proof (a fair judgement for him to make considering his past escapes) and talks Ronnie into staying. Of course Shane then reveals that he's sending a letter exposing one of Vic and Ronnie's sins to the Barn, when something like that arrives it's Ronnie who's at ground zero. At least Vic would have a chance to rabbit out of there, Ronnie would just get slapped in cuffs and he says as much. He's looking tired and browbeaten at this point and lets face it, things are going to only get worse.

This was such a good episode, but so was the one before it and the one before that. I'm still stunned that we're facing only three more weeks of this show. I'm almost suffering cognitive dissonance over it, as on one hand I'm so drained by watching these characters I love get put through the wringer but on the other hand I just don't want this show to end, because what's next? What will fill the void left by The Shield's passing? What can?


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