SPOILER WARNING: I'm going to discuss the finale of "The Shield" in a lot of detail, so turn away now if you haven't seen it yet.
Speaking of spoilers, sometime spoiler hints aren't such a bad thing. Michael Chiklis did a lot of press in the last few weeks suggesting that one or more regular characters were going to bite it by the end of this half-season, so when we got to that scene with Shane and Lem, it was pretty clear what was going to happen, if not how. But that assumption actually made the scene work better I think, then if it had been an out-of-the-blue shock. Because I suspected what was coming, I could see Shane agonizing over what he felt he had to do, trying desperately to get Lem to say something, anything, that would make him change his mind. I know Chiklis and Forest Whitaker are getting all the acting hype this year, but hot damn was Walton Goggins good there. He actually made me feel sorry for dumb, racist, selfish, remorseless Shane even as he was preparing to murder one of his best friends to save his own ass.
I e-mailed Shawn Ryan to ask whether the viewer was supposed to realize Shane was going to cap Lem long before he did it, and this is what he wrote back to me:
I knew that advance publicity might "color" that big scene some, but I figured we'd concentrate on the process, not the shock, and try to keep it as real as possible. I always had the feeling that the audience might think two or three times in that scene that Shane might pull a gun, and then, as he continues not to, maybe they'd figure it wasn't going to happen, but we'll see how people react.While I'll miss Lem, this murder had to happen, not just to keep Vic on the streets until the end of the series, but to begin the massive karmic payback he's deserved since he murdered in the pilot. He's always taught Shane, by word and by deed, that the ends justify the means, up to and including murdering a fellow cop if he's threatening your livelihood. He's had this coming for a long time, and I cannot wait for the scene where Vic finally finds out what happens and confronts Shane about it, and Shane pulls the "I learned it from watching you!" card.
Felt like the "surprising, but inevitable" conclusion to this season and we tried to plant clues and hints all the way through the season. We knew as far back as July of last year that this was what we were going to build to, so if you go back and watch the season and see the Shane/Mara scene in Episode #503, it would seem like an obvious setup, or if you watch the music montage at the end of last week's episode, the lyrics "The Killer in me is the killer in you" hit right over Shane and Lem in a way I think is very prophetic now.
And now, of course, Shane is going to have Dutch and Claudette on his ass (Billings, too, but he's a waste of donor organs), not to mention Kavanaugh, Aceveda and Vic himself -- each investigator with his or her own agenda, which could make for some strange bedfellows next year. Again, I cannot wait.
Some other thoughts on the finale to the best season of "The Shield" to date:
- So Vic is Danni's baby daddy, huh? It seemed so obvious that I figured it couldn't be him (maybe Ronnie?), but they do have the history together, and it means that Kavanaugh was dead-on when he told Corinne about it. And speaking of the ex-Mrs. Mackey...
- The unofficial on-set motto of the show is "The Shield: It's so wrong." Maybe a sub-motto should be "Nepotism: It's not so wrong." Obviously, Shawn Ryan's wife Cathy has been around from day one, and she's done a much better job than you would expect from the boss' wife; she actually held her own in that scene where Kavanaugh stayed in her kitchen just a little too long. And on top of that, we got Ally Walker -- aka Mrs. John "President of FX" Landgraf -- as the world's highest-class low-class ho. After she left/got dumped from "Profiler," Walker all but gave up acting to raise her kids, but she's been doing a few guest spots lately, and Ryan got a great, creepy performance out of her. Plus, as Shawn says, "How many showrunners ever get the chance to 'turn out' their network's president's wife?"
- Claudette as captain works really well. Other than maybe Monica Rawling, she's the only person to ever occupy the job who Vic's respected and/or feared, and she knows enough about how Vic does business to cause him a lot of problems. And it now makes Dutch the wise and mature member of his partnership. Also loved Dutch once again trying to pattern his behavior after a sociopath. First he strangles cats, now he's trying to pimp out the precinct cutie. I know he's not the main character, or even the audience identification character like Bayliss was on "Homicide," but what are the odds that the ol' Dutchman turns serial killer before the series is over?