Spoilers for "The Shield" coming up just as soon as I sign some autographs...
I'm going to be brief, because this is yet another episode about moving the pieces forward. In a way, it feels like this season and the Lem/Guardo storyline ended with episode six, and what we're in now is a prologue for the final season, especially Shane's involvement with the Armenians.
And that group is now represented by the awesome Franka Potente, of "Run Lola Run" and the first two Jason Bourne movies. This is a very different character for her, quieter and more calculating. When I first heard about the casting, I tried to talk Shawn Ryan into having her say "Scheisse" at some point, but I don't know that it would feel right coming out of her mouth. Still, Shane is in way over his head (as usual) dealing with this young woman, who seems so sweet and in need of protection, yet can casually order the castration of men who have crossed her.
The highlight of the episode for me, though, were the scenes with Ronnie and Shane, and Ronnie and Vic. Last year, one of the commenters suggested that David Rees Snell never got much to do because he wasn't a good actor. I think this season has shown that it was just a lack of opportunity, not talent. Ronnie's made a very interesting number two for Vic, smarter and cooler-headed than Shane -- and, as we discovered last night, maybe even more ruthless. Either he figured out the Terry thing a long time ago and made his peace with it, or he was able to make a quick moral calculation, but I got chills when he told Vic that he could have helped him cover it up better than Shane.
The counterfeit purse subplot was a decent throw-away, there mostly to show some thawing between Dani and Corrinne and between Dani and Tina, and I liked Hiatt winning brownie points with Vic at the same time he's losing them with Claudette.
As I've been saying for the last few weeks, this is NOT the place to discuss, even obliquely, the final two episodes, which have been available online since they aired in France. No hinting, no questions, no responding to other people's questions with "You'll see in episode 9." Got it?
What did everybody else think?