Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Shield: Time to take out the trash

Spoilers for "The Shield" coming up just as soon as I write a dissertation about Chatton's anti-razor...

I'm blanking now on where I saw it, but someone complained after last week's episode that Kavanaugh framing Vic (ironically, for one of the few crimes in show history he had nothing to do with) was a betrayal of a character who was originally introduced as a squeaky-clean supercop type. I don't know if I'd buy into that characterization to begin with (his dealings with Corrinne were pretty shady), but more to the point, what his arc illustrates is how Vic eventually drags everyone down into the muck with him. By this point, Vic and Kavanaugh had been messing with each other's heads so much that I would have been stunned if it hadn't become personal for John, the poor, obsessed bastard. And now he's in jail, while Forest Whitaker is free to exploit whatever post-Oscar opportunities are available to him.

It was great having Whitaker around, but Kavanaugh's almost beside the point now. The real showdown now is going to be the one between Vic and Shane, and Shane's getting sloppy, with his trial balloon to Ronnie about "making up" a story about being with Lem when the grenade went off. (Vic, of course, is as much of a badass as ever, this time outsmarting a room full of armed Biz Lats with only the bullet in the chamber.)

This episode was a good showcase for both Dutch, who was the first to suspect something was wrong with Kavanaugh's story (and who introduced me to the intriguing idea of the anti-razor), and Claudette, who had that fine speech about the interrogation room: "It's not much to look at, but it brings the truth out in people. I fixed a lot of wrongs inside these walls." Not a lot of actresses could make lines like that work, but you always believe it from CCH Pounder.

What did everybody else think? You going to miss Kavanaugh, or was his time up?

29 comments:

Kristin said...

Totally wrong place to post this, but I thought it would get noticed...Just read this on tvguide.com:

"Multiple sources within NBC confirm that the network has ordered six additional Friday Night Lights scripts!"

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I complained last week that we the audience were going to have to wait for the characters to catch up with us with respect to Kav's malfeasance. This episode handled that very well and there was no period of frustration waiting for the characters to discover what we had known from the start.

I think keeping Kav around much longer would have led to recycling of issues and storylines. FW is great, and I could watch him for the rest of the season, but the fact is, I am surprised they let him back on the Mackey investigation last week. He's too obsessed, too invested, et cetera, and the brass knew it, and yet they let him back into the fold anyway. This has backfired on the bosses and now Vic's defense lawyer has some good ammo if he ever goes to trial ("IAD tried to frame him, the bosses kept sending this IAD guy after him," etc.).

Mase said...

Kavanaugh's time was up long ago. I am one of the few viewers that found his portrayal over-the-top and just not that good. Glad his character is out (at least for the time being). Glenn Close was a MUCH MUCH better 'guest star'. Too bad she didn't want to sign on for more than one season. Before seeing their respective performances on THE SHIELD, I had always been a fan of Whitaker and not a fan of Close; their acting on THE SHIELD made me reverse that (along with Whitaker doing the exact same character on ER).

Dan Coyle said...

From his first appearance, despite his squeaky clean record, there was something disturbingly "off" about Kavanaugh's behavior, so a slide into corruption made sense to me.

I liked Claudette's "All this... FOR MACKEY?" reaction, which had dynamite delivery by Pounder and a great summation of Wyms' relationship to Mackey. She doesn't think Vic is worth the trouble.

anon said...

Alan,

I'm not sure if it's my comment you're referring to, but I think I did say something about a betrayal of character in the premiere. My point was not that Kavanaugh was squeaky clean, but rather that he'd been set up as obsessive about the letter of the law -- even to the point of not bending the rules to benefit his own psychologically damaged wife. His obsessiveness was deeply unhealthy -- this is The Shield after all -- but it added a sense of moral indignation to his pursuit of Mackey, and it didn't involve poorly executed frame-ups. I thought Claudette's incredulity at what he did said it all.

This episode let Whitaker out of the show as gracefully as it could, as you wrote, by having him admit that Vic dragged him down into the muck. I don't think Kavanaugh would have fallen so far and so fast if this had truly been the last season, and I'll always be curious as to how that series ending storyline would have played out. But Kavanaugh became irrelevant as soon as a new season was announced.

Clearly John's parting "Mackey's your problem now" hands off the torch to Claudette -- which is fine with me, if it means more CCH Pounder. Promotions for female TV cops aren't always beneficial -- see Claudette's previous promotion, and Melissa Leo's promotion on H:LOTS -- and I'm hoping the writers find a way to give Claudette her due. Certainly her speech in this episode made explicit her goal to act as a moral force in the Barn, something that's going to put her on a collision course with Mackey.

And add Ronnie to the list of people who should be suspicious of Shane. It sounds like we'll get a Shane/Vic showdown in a few episodes, and I understand why Vic's obsession is blinding him at the moment, but Shane's entire demeanor just radiates guilt. And it looks like things will get worse next week.

Anon

anon said...

For reference: Though I forgot what the abbreviation stands for, it is usually written "Byz Lat", not "Biz Lat." Three cheers for closed captioning.

Anon

Old Man Snap said...

Agreed with Kristin above. This makes me so, so happy.

Now if they'd move the show to Thursdays at 10...

David J. Loehr said...

I'm not sure what this would mean in the context of the show, but "Byz Lat" usually means "Byzantine Latin."

Alan Sepinwall said...

See, now this makes sense. I just assumed it was "biz" as in business.

David J. Loehr said...

Back when we had our first child, we started using the closed captioning so we could watch quietly while he slept on one of us. Then we left it on, because he enjoyed seeing the words and it really seemed to accelerate his reading and comprehension. Now, the second child's doing the same thing.

So we end up catching throwaway lines on The Office, 30 Rock, or spelling things like "byz." There's also a lot of typos--especially goofy ones on the Today show, for some reason--but when something's repeated over and over, I assume it's intentional.

I never really thought about "byz lats" until today, just accepted it as a gang name. Now I want to know more...

Alan Sepinwall said...

The captioning on live shows like "Today" will always be goofier, because the captioners are doing it live, whereas for something like "The Shield," they're given a script and/or a copy of the episode well in advance.

And I'm hoping you don't watch "The Shield" with your kids in the room, sound off or no, or else it might be time to call in a social worker...

Anonymous said...

Shane said something during the ending scene about Lem not listening to the offer to go to Mexico. Outside of the scene where Shane killed Lem, was there a scene where they discussed that? Or did Shane just admit to talking to Lem that night?

David J. Loehr said...

I do love live captioning. I remember enjoying the "Late Late Show with Tom Snyder" just for the captions sometimes.

And true, I don't think I'd want my kids learning to read from "The Shield." Though I will admit, when our second child was still new and spending a ridiculous amount of time sleeping on my chest, I did watch the first two seasons of "The Wire" on DVD. Sound off, of course.

Still, few things are more chilling--or more fun to repeat around the house--than Alec Baldwin doing Sir Topham Hatt on "Thomas the Tank Engine." Seriously. It's like he was practicing for Donaghy.

Dark Tyler said...

anon, back when seasons 5 and 6 were still supposed to be an oversized final season 5, Forest Whitaker was still never supposed to last more than a dozen of episodes.

After all, back then Lem wasn't even supposed to die, and it's his death that got Ryan to ask for an additional season. So, I don't think that they got rid of Kavanaugh to milk this or anything. That's just the story. Vic was never supposed to go down because of this.

By the way, I just have to ask something. That last scene got me thinking, although I suspect it's not a very original question. Does Vic really consider himself a worthy man? Kavanaugh asked him if he'll sleep well at night, and I realized I really don't know the answer to that question. Does Vic Mackey think he is, all things considered, a good guy?

And another thing. Claudette may be all "let's fight for the truth" right now, but when she realizes that Vic could single-handedly fix her stats by doing what he's always done, how is she going to react?

Andrew said...

Regarding Whitaker's arc, I believe that when Whitaker originally signed on to the show, it was to be a 13-episode full season, which at the time was considered to possibly be the last. It was sometime after Whitaker signed on that FX decided to increase the order to 21 and subsequently split the order up into separate seasons. So there definitely was a time when Kavanaugh was possibly going to be the guy to take Vic down.

Carrie said...

"Shane said something during the ending scene about Lem not listening to the offer to go to Mexico. Outside of the scene where Shane killed Lem, was there a scene where they discussed that? Or did Shane just admit to talking to Lem that night?"

This was the first thing I thought of as well. As much as I am enjoying Walton Goggins very sympathetic performance this year, Shane needs to go down and hard. I just can't feel sorry for Shane.

As to the question of whether or not Vic considers himself a good guy: I think he truly believes that a lot of the bad things he's done he had to do, and a lot of those things made the streets safer. However, I'm pretty sure that deep down inside he recognizes the horrific things he's done as well, and I think this season and next that is a side of Vic we will see more and more. (Or at least I hope.)

Anonymous said...

There's a Byzantine Latino quarter in LA, so the "Byz Lats" hail from there, presumably.

Dan Coyle said...

Early on, I think Vic justified most of his actions as victimless crimes. It's only last season where he finally admitted to himself out loud, that yeah, the ends haven't justified his means, or it's been more about himself than the greater good.

I don't even think Vic feels he'll ever have "peace", as Kavanaugh said (I think Kavanaugh has clearly snapped, though, and will likely spend some time in psychiatric care). But he's not going to let Kavanaugh have that satisfaction of admitting it.

jim treacher said...

He wasn't a squeaky-clean supercop type. He THOUGHT OF HIMSELF as a squeaky-clean supercop type. Kinda like Vic. But right from the start there was something off like him, like his creepy "Here, have a stick of gum" games.

ooda said...

I always took it as Kavanaugh being so caught up in needing to control the situation, which prior to the whole Lem killing he was doing, that when he felt himself losing it, he had to do something to get it back. That and he always thought of himself as being smarter than everyone else in the room, or rather, he was a master at psychological warfare, so not having Vic come undone was a blight on his, presumably, stellar record.

Though I did read on TV Guide that Shawn Ryan said Whittaker might be back later on, but that it all depends on his prior commitments (being that an announcement was made about another film he's in today, it looks more unlikely that it will happen).

Question: When do we get to see the Aussie join the strike team (he's on the official site so it can't be long), and Alan, I don't know if you've seen the episodes in advance, but is he a worthy replacement for Lem?

ooda said...

On another note, I think that it was the stealing of the money from the Armenians that really made Vic realise he's no longer doing what he's doing for the greater good.

anon said...

dark tyler,

My understanding was the same as andrew's. But I certainly could be wrong.

ooda,

I don't have the previous season on hand, but I seem to recall that Kavanaugh was considered damaged goods even before he arrived at the Barn, not one with a stellar record. So certainly there was some groundwork for the "Vic Mackey's so tough my mind snapped" conclusion we saw this week.
And I think the Aussie was in the preview for next week.

Anon

ooda said...

Anon: Admittingly I may have a hazy history concerning Kav's coming to the Barn, though I always thought that he was a good cop, albeit a prick that liked to push the limits. That's the first impression that I got when watching him the first time when he did that whole "kid in preschool" shtick that he did when first meeting with Corine (sp?).

That said, I really seem to be making much ado about nothing, as it's the latter part of his career that's really the only thing worth worrying about.

Filipe Furtado said...

"I don't think Kavanaugh would have fallen so far and so fast if this had truly been the last season, and I'll always be curious as to how that series ending storyline would have played out"

Actually he would. Last week's episode was shot last year together with season 5, some journalists like TV Guide's Matt Roush even mention FX doing a screening of the episode at the time.

The thing about The Shield extension is this: the show would oriinal return with a regular 13-episode 5th season (the reason why Whitaker got hired for 13 eps), then when production had already started word come out that the season had been extended to 21, and everyone thought that FX decided to end it and gabe another 8 eps to Ryan to bring it to a closure, but there's no sign that the writers ever approach the 21 episodes as "the end".

jim treacher said...

I heard the new guy isn't a replacement for Lem, but for Vic.

anon said...

filipe,

Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Anon

Edward Copeland said...

One thing I'm surprised has never come back up: the one-time member of the Strike Team that Shane nearly beat to death. Is he still hospitalized? Will he ever reappear to talk about what happened?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Tavon had a miraculous recovery from his beating (and the enusing car crash), but Vic convinced him that telling the truth about what happened would hurt Tavon as much as Shane. Don't know if Tavon's still on the force, but he's long gone from The Barn.

And to get back to the earlier question about Vic's self-image, I've always thought that what's so interesting about this show is that its main character is a bad cop who considers himself a good cop. There's a scene in episode six where Vic discusses some of his past actions in a way that suggests he can justify them all (or most, maybe not the money train) in his head.

ooda said...

Jim: Yeah, you're right. That should make things all the more interesting, and really, based on Vic's past indiscretions, something that should have happened a lot earlier.