Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Shield: Hanging out with Guardo

Spoilers for "The Shield" coming up just as soon as I go buy some ephedra...


Just damn.

In the years since the pilot, Vic has killed guys in self-defense and he's left men to die when it's served his own interests, but it's been a long time (for us, if not for the characters) since he flat-out murdered a guy. Guardo wasn't the innocent that Terry was -- the writers reminded us of that through Shane's callback to last season's exploded BBQ -- but still. Damn.

Certainly one of the hardest-to-watch episodes ever, what with Guardo looking like a series of Abu Gharaib photos, the savage beatings, the blood, and the way the director framed the shot (both from the camera and the gun) to resemble the death of Terry. Again, damn.

And yet somehow, in the midst of Vic going way the hell off the reservation, of Shane being confronted with yet another bit of blowback from the murder and the cover-up, we got a bit of comic relief in the Dutch/Billings/Ronnie bizarre love triangle. Before this season, Ronnie rarely had much to do, but with Lem out of the picture he's become a much more important character, and David Rees Snell is holding up his end nicely. With Vic and Shane, Ronnie's the loyal sidekick, even the slightly nerdy one (he handles all the Strike Team's computer stuff), but pair him with TweedleDutch and TweedleDumb and he's suddenly the Alpha Dog.

When I watched this episode, I had forgotten the references at the end of last season to Vic's impending forced retirement, so Claudette's appearance in the final scene was a bracing splash of cold water after Vic and Ronnie (if not Shane) finally seemed to be getting over Lem's death.

What did everybody else think?


dark tyler said...

I had always assumed that David Rees Snell was a terrible, terrible actor, what with him being the Zeppo of the Strike Team and getting absolutely no dialogue, ever. Now, not that Ronnie has experienced any Shane-like depths as a character, but I gotta say, Snell is actually pretty good so far this season. Why was he never used in the past?

I wonder where is Ryan going with Billings. He had Dutch worried there for a second, and he got his glorious moment later in the episode. Also, am I the only one who thought Dutch was already "dating" Tina?

(I'm still not ready to talk about Vic's scenes. Oh my God.

Oh. My. God.)

Anonymous said...

What I really liked about the Ronnie with Dutch scences is that is was a reminder that despite the strike teams sometimes questionable actions, they are at the core great cops. Ronnie maybe even more so than others has paid a great price for his loyalty to Vic (the scar) yet he remains willing to stick with him no matter what. It will be interesing to see what Ronnie does when he finds out that both Vic and Shane have killed fellow cops. Will he turn on his team and turn them in to justice or become just like them and kill one of them in revenge. I can't see him turning the other cheek and letting it go

Anonymous said...

For me, the scary part wasn't how he tortured and killed Guardo. The scary part wasn't even how he stared into the man's eyes as he died. The scary part was how clearly relieved and almost giddy he was afterward.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why was he never used in the past?

It's a really big cast that's being juggled, and he was essentially an extra for a long time. They needed the Strike Team to have a fourth member, but they barely had enough lines to give to Lem.

Snell was very good here, and he has some good stuff coming up in the next few episodes.

(I'm still not ready to talk about Vic's scenes. Oh my God.

Oh. My. God.)

Or, as I put it, Damn.

Anonymous said...

Alan, you headline KILLED me. Hilarious.

Unknown said...

See, this is the problem I have with this show. The pilot was AWESOME, but ever since then, they've been backpedaling on Mackey's Bad Lieutenant side. If they had let THAT character and that show continue, it would have been much more interesting. Mackey was a golem, a monster that we all fear, but still want protecting us. He was a great metaphor for everything from our government to our own subconscious.
Instead, they've been trying to paint Mackey as a well-intentioned loose cannon, even engaging in an Orwellian historical revision with the "Co-Pilot" episode. It's still a great show, but what a missed opportunity.
I've also noticed that the writing gets very ham-handed in spots, like when Claudette tells them to clean out Lem's locker, or
Vic's threats against Nadia. It's like there are 2 teams of writers, one that is really great, and likes Dutch, and another that thinks Vic is God's gift and writes like a fifth grader.

Edward Copeland said...

I agree. It's good to see Snell finally get to do something. I think the last significant thing they had him do was get his faced burned by a bad guy several seasons ago. One thing I keep wondering about. What ever happened to the Strike Team member that Shane nearly beat to death and then who crashed his van and ended up in the hospital? Is he still out there somewhere as another potential shoe to drop?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Edward, copying-and-pasting what I wrote in response to that question in last week's "Shield" post:
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.

MugsyO said...

I think this may be the "Ronnie" season. Held in the background for so long, I began to think he was deep, deep undercover (for the feds, justice, whatever). I've been longing for some insight into what makes the loyal servant tick in such a way that he doesn't appear to be Vic's lap dog, and I think this season may provide that info.

Billings may be a cumbersome guy to work with, but he's no dummy. It would be easier if he were. I am getting the impression of someone overlooked one too many times, cynical, in general biding time until his twenty but wishing to have experienced some "real" cop action. Let us not forget the situation with the Russians for which Kavanaugh wanted to nail the entire team and Billings' step up which blew Jon out of the water - the best thing Billings did as Acting Captain.

Tina, to me, is still a rookie in the purest sense that she doesn't know what the hell is going on. She isn't stupid either, but she is ready and willing to take advantage of her copious hotness to get what she wants. Dutch has been there, with Dani when she was studying for the Sergeant's exam, and he should know better. I didn't have any impression of Dutch and Tina being an item, but considering her sexual tactics, I can see where he would.

Right there with you all as concerns Vic. Holy (*&^, there is so much to say.

Anyone else think that Shane believed he was helping Lem when he killed him?

Edward Copeland said...

My apologies. I forgot I'd even asked that before. I'm getting old.