Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Shield: The man with no brain

Spoilers for "The Shield" coming up just as soon as I go peek in that window...

So much is going on right now that almost all of it will have to carry over to next season, I expect. But for now, I feel like I have to take note of the following: Shane, you unbelievable idiot! Billings, you magnificent bastard! Cruz, you... wait, who are you again?

On a dumbness scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being Corrinne accepting Kavanaugh's stick of gum and 10 being Aceveda staying alone in that house where he got raped, Shane voluntarily giving up the money train robbery to Franka -- even in such a way that allegedly keeps his own name out of it -- is a 97. He's dealt with the Armenians before. How can he not recognize that this knowledge will lead to the deaths of Vic and Ronnie -- and maybe more people? And yet it's the same sort of move that Shane always makes when he's left to operate without Vic. The man constantly overestimates his own cleverness and vastly underestimates just how ruthless his new criminal buddies can be. (See also Antwon.)

Meanwhile, Billings gets his spectacular vengeance on the Dutchman, nudging Tina and Hiatt together and then turning Dutch into a peeping Tom forced to watch them make the beast with two backs. Vicious, hilarious and brilliant. David Marciano has been such a great addition to this show, and while I miss the Dutch/Claudette team, Dutch/Billings has its own pleasures.

Finally, we have Aceveda's buddy (or so Aceveda thinks) Cruz stepping in as Vic's white knight after the comptroller calls Vic's bluff on the blackmail scheme. This guy has been hovering in the background all season, but we knew he was trouble after Aceveda was moronic enough to tell him about Hernan. (Who's up, by the way, for Walton Goggins and Benito Martinez to star, in character, in "Dumb and Dumber 3"? Come on, who's with me?)

So, lot of balls in the air, very few likely to come down next week, but I'm intrigued. What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

"How can he not recognize that this knowledge will lead to the deaths of Shane and Ronnie."

You mean Vic, right?

Anonymous said...

Alan, I was absolutely astounded when Shane told Franka about the robbery, and that Shane was surprised when Franka told him that Vic would have to be dealt with. What a moron. Meanwhile I'm looking forward to seeing how Mackey uses that picture against Cruz.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yes, yes I did. And I've made the necessary correction.

Hi, my name is Alan, and I'm a moron.

Nicole said...

Following Billings' prank on Dutch, I realized that this is no Ray Vecchio. Although I felt bad for Dutch, I also realized that Billings wasn't as dumb as I thought. Shane still is though.
However, Aceveda has won the dumbest cop award. I can't believe someone in politics is that bad of a judge of character.

Anonymous said...

alan now that you've seen the finale next week, care to tell us if any major character dies next week? thank you in advance.

Anonymous said...

I was particularly interested in Dutch's reaction after seeing the two have sex. According to experts, most serial killers are unable to have consensual sex with women, and the frustration that builds up leads them to murder.

Given Dutch's ineptitude with women, and given his incident with the cat a few seasons ago, I have to wonder where this character is going after his interrogation scene where his speech on bottling up and exploding was clearly supposed to be a self-description.

Anonymous said...

When Vic was handed the envelope with the photograph, I was gleeful. The few moments where we waited for Vic to open it and react were priceless. Between that and Shane's money train revelation, this episode had some great moments.

Unknown said...

God, this show aggravates me. I don't have time to list the ways, but it's usually along the same theme as my previous diatribes about the devolution from season 1 to now of Vic and the Strike team, from vicious Golems to poor, unlucky slobs who mean well but bumble into trouble.
Still , even through all of this, there was my favorite character, Dutch, the anti-Mackey. Sure, the writers have stacked the deck against him repeatedly, but he's had his share of triumphs. Somewhere along the way, it seems like someone decided he needed to be diminished, humiliated, and relegated to comic relief.
It was very funny to watch Dutch bloviate and bluster all thru season 1, Claudette rolling her eyes, but how awesome was it when he caught that serial killer? The ebb and flow of Dutch's successes seemed natural, guided by the character's own ego, brilliance, and social awkwardness. I really believed that cat scene.
This season has all been about thwarting Dutch completely, and not in believable ways. Really, Tina's not going to notice her cellphone missing? She's not going to let Danny have it for what Billings said? And did Dutch really need to lock eyes with Hiatt?
It almost seems to me that the writers have regressed to High School, where "Jocks" rub it all in over the "Nerds". As writers, I would think they would come down on Dutch's side, but maybe they're self-hating nerds.
I wonder how much input Chiklis has on the writing. That would explain a lot.
Alan, have you heard anything about Chiklerference with the writers? He seems like he could be a Shatneresque pain in the ass.
I also didn't buy Shane spilling it about the $ train, it's just a stupid, stupid setup for Shane to "redeem" himself in the last season by sacrificing himself to save Mackey's fam.
I like the cellphone picture cropping up again. Was that the Russian from the Pine Barrens in the background?
It does bother me how the show treats Aceveda's rape. I know they tried to show him grappling with it, but in the end, he's seen and portrayed as weak because of it. From a narrative standpoint,I have no problem with that, but dramatically, once again, very simplistic and cruel.
This show used to have some finesse with these points, but it seems the ham is on the other hand now.

Gnosys said...

Acaveda, a cop? Please, he's been a politician since day one, a power-hungry and wicked one. Even in the episodes he wore a uniform. A Guilliani wannabe with fake balls and enough skeletons in the closet to haunt him everyday.

Franka's been such a great addition to the plot-line, she's a great actress. If Shane is really whacked in the last episode, it would be useless to have another season with only Vic and Ronnie (the cleanest in conscience) from the original task force. Shane is an idiot, though, an uber idiot.

Dutch has always been a great detective, despite his shortcomings with approaching women at a social level. I could see something cook up between him and Danny. Claudette's a great captain, but too virtuous for her own good.

I see this Armenian angle possibly setting a plot for the next season.

BTW, great reference to Pine Barrens, homerto. I think it's safe to assume Valery is dead there.

Anonymous said...

"It does bother me how the show treats Aceveda's rape. I know they tried to show him grappling with it, but in the end, he's seen and portrayed as weak because of it. From a narrative standpoint,I have no problem with that, but dramatically, once again, very simplistic and cruel."

That's life.

Billings is a piece of garbage! But so is Dutch, so it evens out.

Anonymous said...

It was a great episode, but honestly, how the hell did Cruz get that photo?

Unknown said...

What I want to know is how that photo isn't on every gang banger's "Myspace" page by now!

Unknown said...

if you're still reading this thread, can you tell me if you've heard any noise during the run of this show about Chiklis insisting on creative input?

Alan Sepinwall said...

None whatsoever, Homer. Chiklis is, by all accounts and my own observation in my limited amount of time on the set, one of the most low-maintenance stars in TV.

If you have complaints with the way Shawn and company have written Dutch or Aceveda or anyone else, it's on them, not on Chiklis.

And I would argue that there's a difference between characters having a certain point of view and a show sharing that POV. It's the difference between, basically, The Sopranos and Rescue Me, and I think The Shield falls closer to the former and the latter. There are obviously times where they glorify Vic or make Dutch look foolish or whatever, but the show frequently stops to do a moral calculus of Vic's sins, and while Aceveda has been mocked by other characters for choosing fellatio over death, the arc of him dealing with the rape was one of the few times in the history of the series that the character was written with some sympathy, I think.

Unknown said...

it's true that the rape arc was handled with a little bit of nuance, but even then, they ended up having Aceveda trying to victimize the prostitute.
Thanks for clearing up the Chiklis thing. I guess I must be the only one who sees the schizy writing, since nobody I've talked with agrees. Maybe I'm filling in blanks that aren't there. This will be the last I speak of it: This show does stop to examine Vic et al's actions, but more and more they get a narrative pass, if not a moral one. Like Chris Rock's "He shouldn'ta done it...but I understand..."

Anonymous said...

I just want to mention two things that the show does really well:

-- clearly establishing a quick and subtle chain of he-saw-this-so-he-thinks-that, seen here several times in the Dutch horror show;
-- Chiklis is pretty good at showing us when Vic is lying; he's not the only actor in the world who does this, but I'm always impressed when an actor shows us a subtle difference between acting and acting like a character who's faking something. It's probably not so hard to do badly, but Vic is usually surrounded by smart people (this week's parade of fools notwithstanding), so it can't be done broadly.

Anonymous said...

Homer, the pay off to Dutch plot next week is great and I'm sure most Dutch fans will be happy with it.

Anonymous said...

Billings' evil grin was a wonder to behold. Additionally, this firmly signals that Hiatt is definitely gone (this AND pissing off Vic?) and Tina is probably gone (they seem to have just kept her around for this, right?). Now maybe Dutch and Danny can get back to doing something other than mooning at the pretty people while the cameras swivel around them.

Has Aceveda had any other sustained storyline besides the rape storyline? Why, on the eve of actually giving him something else to do -- battling the evil Cruz Pizuela -- would they bring back one of the most contrived plots (with least payoff) that the show has ever done?

I will say, though, that this probably means Vic will lose his job next episode. There's just no way councilman Aceveda has more juice than the city comptroller, compromising picture or no. It's clearly going to be Vic vs. Pizuela in '08, and with Shane being a moron and Hiatt being out, I'd bet on Ronnie running the Strike Team (for at least a few episodes) next season. David Rees Snell -- I believe your patience will be rewarded.

And once again I hope CCH Pounder gets the love she deserves, next season.


Anonymous said...

Hiatt is defintely out. The actor is doing some completely stupid vampire show for CBS next season. It's paired with the garbage ghost whisperer which is popular amongst the moron demographic so the morons will flock to the other stupid show.