Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Shield, "Possible Kill Screen": The eyes of Victor Samuel Mackey

Spoilers for the penultimate episode (ever!) of "The Shield" coming up just as soon as I even myself out...

"Do you have any idea what you've done to me?" -Olivia
"I've done worse." -Vic

Oh. My. God.

I'm sorry. I know I'm supposed to be the articulate critic with the deep deep thoughts who can break things down on a thematic level, but I'm not sure there's any way to respond to the series-shattering events of "Possible Kill Screen" without first staring slack-jawed at the screen and going all OMG.

If you thought that the series had gone as extreme as it could with Vic and Shane each attempting botched hits on the other, and Vic turning in his badge to hunt Shane's family full-time, well, you underestimated just how ruthless Shawn Ryan and company (here led by writers Adam E. Fierro & Evan Bleiweiss and first-time director Billy Gierhart) could be.

Even within the confines of this single, unforgettable hour, I was continually blown away by how high the stakes were being raised, and how far the creative team was willing to go with these characters. As I watched this episode in a Fox screening room a few weeks ago, I had a terrible knot in the pit of my stomach as Shane was forced to snort cocaine and it became clear that his latest scam was going to end badly. And that knot only grew tighter as Mara shot and killed that random girl in the house during her clumsy rescue attempt, and even tighter as she moaned in pain and guilt at their safe house while little Jackson looked on. By the time Vic sat in that ICE interrogation room, preparing to confess to everything in order to save Corrine from what he doesn't realize is a non-existent charge -- saving himself and screwing Ronnie over in the process -- I was so tense and uncomfortable that I might have done damage to that screening room armrest if I wasn't so busy typing out every thing I saw and felt.

Even now, just thinking about that long, long, long silence before Vic opened his mouth and began his confession makes me catch my breath, and I imagine it will no matter how many times I end up watching this episode. (My guess: a lot of times.)

Much of that power comes from the seven year journey we've been on with these characters, always wondering how Vic is going to get out of his latest jam, how he's going to end up, what Shane's going to do, etc. To see Shane spiral further and further into impending doom -- now having inadvertently made his pregnant wife into a killer -- was devastating, even though he's a short-sighted, hot-headed, bigoted clown who has brought all of this misery on himself (and, unfortunately, on his family) because good guy or bad, you form attachments to people you've been watching this long.

And after waiting and wondering for years who was going to take Vic down and how, to see him apparently pull off the greatest Houdini act of his career -- to find a way to legally insulate himself from every murder, robbery and other crime he committed over a long and dirty career -- was stunning, especially since we know that he had to sell out Ronnie to do it.

But much of that power also comes from the actors. What praise is left to write about Mr. Michael Chiklis? Every time I think he's wowed me as much as he ever can, he gives a performance like the one in this episode. With Chiklis, your eyes are always drawn to that bald dome, to the muscles, the swagger and maybe the sneer, but all I can think about in this episode are his eyes. There are several distinct moments in the hour where Chiklis gives us a window into Vic's soul, and it's a terrifying glimpse each time. The first is right after he gets the news that Chaffee ok'ed the immunity deal (but before he finds out that it's only for him, not Ronnie) and you see all the relief at seeing what he thinks is the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. The second is right after he sees the cops' (fake) arrest of Corrine, which he knows he caused with all his shenanigans. It's one of the few times in the run of the series where Vic seems to acknowledge, even for a moment, that his actions might have wronged other people, and it stands in stark contrast to the compartmentalized, guiltless look on his face at the end of the episode, after he's screwed over Olivia and Ronnie and gotten himself the greatest Get Out of Jail Free card of all time.

But the thing that has haunted my dreams, that left me shaken in that screening room and the rest of the day, was that long silence before the confession. Again, some of the power of that is cumulative. To paraphrase Shawn Ryan, "The Shield" usually moves at such a helter-skelter pace that when it actually slows down to "Mad Men" speed, those moments hit much harder than they would on a more conventionally-paced series. But dammit, look at Chiklis eyes, the set of his jaw, the utterly engimatic look on his face as Mackey debates whether he can really bring himself to do this: to finally own up to every last one of his sins to someone outside the strike team, and to destroy the life of the last strike teamer standing. Just a masterclass in acting, and one of the most striking moments I've ever witnessed in any TV drama.

Almost as wonderful is the moment when we return from the commercial break (and I thank my local deity that I didn't have to sit through that the way you folks probably did) and Vic is just going on and on and on about the Armenians and everything else, and he just laughs at the memory of setting up O'Brian. These are terrible things he's confessing to, but at the same time, they're a testament to his ingenuity and sheer toughness -- Vic Mackey's Greatest Hits -- and he (and the show) can't help but revel in that confession as it keeps going and going.

And yet, just as Vic's starting to sort of enjoy this trip down memory lane, we get Claudette's arrival and her utter horror at realizing that ICE had granted full immunity to her white whale. It's one of the bigger logic leaps in "Shield" history that Chaffee or Olivia wouldn't have called Claudette to get some hint of what their new hero might be confessing to, but as we see the pain and disbelief on CCH Pounder's face -- to come so damn close to getting Vic, only to witness this? -- all question of plot logic flew out of my head. And under any other circumstances, I might have laughed off Claudette firing Dutch for his involvement in Billings' nonsense, but with only one episode to go and with Claudette at Defcon 1 like this, it sure seems like this could be permanent, doesn't it? If the Emmy voters somehow remember that this show exists when it's time for next year's nominations, Pounder needs to be near the front of the line...

...right along with Walton Goggins, because good lord does he deserve an Emmy to go on the mantle next to his Oscar. Again, Shane has done and said so many awful things, and yet I can't help but feel for him as he watches his wife moan, or as he turns down Tina's offer to come in because he fears he's taken his family past the point of no return. He's been tearing it up all season, but like Chiklis and Pounder, he took it to another level here.

And, for that matter, how about Michelle Hicks? She -- or, at least, Mara -- has been openly despised by most of the fans since she first showed up in season three, but she was superb at showing the devastation and emptiness on Mara's face as she realizes what she's done. The romantic part of their fugitive vacation is a distant memory, and now all Mara can feel is physical and emotional pain, and it's awful.

Some other thoughts on "Possible Kill Screen":

• Because the Vic/Shane stuff is so epic, the return of Lloyd and his mom almost got lost in the shuffle, but it's great to see Frances Fisher again.

• The episode's title comes from the great documentary "The King of Kong," making it the second awesome show on television in recent weeks to pay homage to that movie.

• Again, as mentioned at the top, this was Billy Gierhart's first time directing an episode of "The Shield" -- or directing anything, other than maybe a student film or three. Gierhart was the show's longtime camera operator and had been asking forever to take the reins for an episode. Shawn Ryan says he wanted to do it, then started to balk when he realized it would be such an important episode, but finally decided to let Gierhart do it. And it's fair to say he more than justified Ryan's trust. (Since then, he directed the "Hell Followed" episode of "Sons of Anarchy.")

• Last week, the show acknowledged that the other cops knew Danny was on leave while waiting for Vic to cool down, and this week, she returns to The Barn. It's not clear exactly how she decided now was the right time to return (other than maybe running out of money and/or paid vacation days), but her timing proves fortuitous, as she's able to play babysitter to Corrine's kids (and her son's half-siblings) while Corrine is locked up on the bogus drug charge.

• Even in the midst of the worst period of his life, Shane still has a knack for the one-liner, this time, right after robbing the drug dealer, noting, "People are right: Walmart does have the best prices in town."

• I love that every shady plan in the greater Los Angeles area somehow depends on the arrival of a presidential motorcade to provide cover. Frankly, I'm surprised Billings' lawsuit didn't in some way involve the motorcade.

• Note how the confession scene goes out of its way to skip over Olivia's reference to the date. The way the show's timeline works, only about two and a half years have passed since Vic killed Terry, and so the writing always has to be careful when it comes to identifying specific dates.

Finally, for the last time in "Shield" history, let me remind you: Do not talk about the previews. Do not talk about anything you've read or heard about the finale that would give things away to your fellow posters. Got it?

I'll have a finale preview of some kind (possibly including non-spoiler-y quotes from Shawn Ryan) running Sunday, and I'll have the finale review ready to post as soon as the episode ends, along with transcripts of a couple of different interviews I did with Shawn Ryan: both the group chat a bunch of us critics had with him right after we watched the finale, and a solo interview I did last week. All told, it should only take you three or four times the length of the actual finale (which runs close to 90 minutes with commercials) to read it all.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Dude. Can Shawn Ryan become the showrunner on every other show on TV?

Anonymous said...

Wow can't wait to watch it again. When you are screaming "Wow" and "Holy Sh-t" by yourself in your living room you know you are watching greatness. I was focused on the same Mackey mouth twitch prior to his confession. He was struggling so much to allow those words to pass his lips and make his actions real and culpable. Vic has justified all his actions and to have to fess up to a tape recorder like a common criminal felt beneath him. But by the time he had gotten to the O'Brian murder the burden was off and it probably felt good to let it all out. But then once the weight of actions fell back upon him when he stood up to leave he knew what a hardened horrible person he had become. "I've done worse" and the delivery of that line by Chiklis was like the steel door to his cruel mind closing.

afoglia said...

Oh. My. God.

Oh, my f------ God.
Oh. My. God.

That's been going through my mind the last 20 minutes.

I loved the reaction of Olivia and her commander once they realize what they've done. "What kind of cops are you raising in Farmington?"

I disgaree with you about Claudette firing Dutch. I think at that last moment in the scene, she realized how she wasn't thinking clearly. Not that she has any clue what to do now. (And she does have a point about Dutch. He didn't need to "arrest" Corrine. He could have played like they were simply interested in her as bait. Neither way was guaranteed to work though.)

And I'll second your praise of Michelle Hicks. She and the writers made me do what I thought was impoossible, and actually feel bad for Mara. She just wanted her family safe from Vic, and now she's lying on the floor in pain, racked with guilt, hiding from the law, with a husband quickly getting worse.

PS: Last week Dutch said he told Danny that Vic was gone, IIRC. That's how she knew to come back.

Anonymous said...

I was also struck very much by the loooong silence before the confession and you just knew that this was it. He was going to spill everything. The fact that he was finally able to get past his own BS self-justifications for everything he's ever done was amazing and Chiklis was the most amazing he's ever been on the show.

Easily one of the best episodes of any show I've ever seen.

Scott said...

that was amazing. i caught myself holding my breath when she turned on the tape recorder. i think if ronnie hadn't tipped him off, vic would have walked right into claudette's trap too. claudette's face when she realized what was happening. wow. i can't wait for the finale, but i also don't want the show to end.

Unknown said...

"I've done worse."

Man oh man, why'd I take so long to watch this show?

Anonymous said...

i cant believe hes gonna screw over ronnie

Alan Sepinwall said...

i cant believe hes gonna screw over ronnie

He already did.

Anonymous said...

Just wow. Speechless except for this:

One question, did he implicate Acaveda? or Olivia? If he didn't - maybe next week one of them gets immunity in exchange for taking down Vic?

Anonymous said...

That was amazing. No fireworks, no deaths (of any of the main characters), no new revelations, yet it was explosive. One question, one thought:

Did Vic actually kill that O'Brian guy? I was fuzzy on the circumstances?

Also: if the Strike Team recruited solely based on the ability to make horribly crude sexual remarks, Billings would have robbed the money train.

bgt said...

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I was there for the end of The Sopranos.
I was there for the end of The Wire.

But nothing either of those shows accomplished compares to the absolutely riveting high note The Shield is poised to go out on. What an amazing job by Shawn Ryan and company. If this show doesn't get some Emmy love next year, they should get rid of the award forever.

Anonymous said...

42 seconds.

I have no idea what's going to happen next, but I guess I'm a Ronnie fanboy, because I can't see him goin' out like that. He knows Vic as well as anybody can. Do you think he's buying that Vic wouldn't sell him out?

Okay, so it was obviously Lloyd calling Dutch all those times. Messing with him. I thought it was to lure him over for an ambush or something, but not yet. Guess we'll see if Dutch will regret his serial killer obsession once and for all.

And whither Billings?

Anonymous said...

"But they just couldn't prove it. I was too good."


I feel awful that I wanted Vic to hurry up and sign the papers, fearing that Claudette was going to bust into the room and blow it all up.

And then Vic did it. Sold Ronnie out. Took off his mask to Olivia to reveal the beast underneath. Just epic.

Too much to process.

Anonymous said...

One question, did he implicate Acaveda?

That's a good question. If he confessed to everything, I don't see how he couldn't have, but the focus seemed to be on how he implicated Ronnie, so I don't think this'll become an issue. Plus, Aceveda has his own immunity agreement, right?

What praise is left to write about Mr. Michael Chiklis?

Ooh, check out Alan using the NY Times style formality. He must be feeling very reverent.

dronkmunk said...

Man, when Shane had that line but how did all those drugs, I honestly thought he was clumsily trying to add some levity to the situation. Then I remembered that Shane is an idiot and realized that actually did do the drugs.

Jeff K. said...

Wow -- I am somehow let down.

It might have been Hedgpeth's breathless "most intense hour on television ever" teaser in today's Ledger, but I thought both eps from the prior two weeks were far more edge of my seat.

This seemed to me to be pieces falling into place...

There were jaw-dropping moments, no doubt -- Shane's stupid journey back to the house, Mara's wild-fire taking down a random houseguest, and finally Vic's selling out of Ronnie... which to me was the absolute worst thing, even in light of Ronnie's "you didn't have to do that..."

I, too, come to praise Chiklis - the pause in front of the confession was just great.

I loved the direction of the episode, it seemed the camera guy was hiding from the actors almost the whole time, even more than usual; spying on the action instead of openly recording it.

I did love the comeuppance Olivia got -- stupid her for not knowing who she was getting in bed with -- so her look of sheer horror made me howl with some sort of delight.

A little sad to see Claudette lose it like that, and really beat to see her treat Dutch as she did all episode.

Is speculation off limits? I have some ideas about Frances Fisher...

Will said...

Wow. All this time we've wanted Vic to get away with it, and evidently, now he has. So why do I feel so dirty? Is this really what we wanted?

The immunity scene was brilliant. A culmination of seven season's worth of horrible deeds.

To answer an earlier post, Vic only framed O'Brien, but the Armenians killed him looking for their money.

I can't wait for next Tuesday. It can only get worse from here...

Anonymous said...

This episode was certainly amazing, and the Vic Mackey confession will have to go down as one of the best scenes in Shield history. To actually hear Vic confess to that original scene, out loud, to a non-Strike Team character, was just incredible. Ditto on the praise for that long silence before he started talking.

I can't believe Vic sold Ronnie out. My speculation however is that somehow this immunity deal goes sideways, because I can't imagine that this show ends with Vic getting away with everything.

Anonymous said...

OK, far fetched I know, but the girl Mara killed resembled Vic's daughter. We only saw a side & rear view (of the girl). Dani offering to pick up the kids? Seemed like a set-up for something bad. Vic succeeded in doing to Claudette what he did to Kavanaugh-drive her crazy. She was on the brink, his immunity deal pushed her over. I hope Claudette ends her run with her sanity intact. FYI-Next week's finale is 72 minutes of the actual show, 18 freakin minutes of commercials. As Alan mentioned, the confession scene would've been much better without the l-o-n-g commercial break.

Anonymous said...

For all Vic's talk of loyalty, selling out Ronnie will be his undoing.

Anonymous said...

There's no way that immunity deal holds up, and Vic is deluding himself if he thinks otherwise. I cannot believe that he confessed everything. The time pressure alone would almost guarantee that he'd miss something, and the terms of the deal are that if he fails to disclose anything, then the whole deal is off, right?

afoglia said...

BTW, I remembered something I just read recently, immunity agreements made with the federal government do not bind state governments. So, since most of Mackey's crimes would have been prosecuted by the state, in reality, his immunity would be worthless.

That being said, this is obviously a TV show.

I see three possible ends: 1. Mackey gets shot and dies (or is murdered by Beltran). Not likely. 2. Ronnie remembers something Mackey forgot to mention on tape. But that would be uninteresting from a TV perspective. 3. After the Beltran bust, ICE parks Mackey at a desk never to see feild duty again.

Also, and most importantly, this has to be the first time Mackey listed all of his sins without an apology or explanation, that everything he did was to make the streets safe. Instead, he told it as merely the result of his own greed.

Anonymous said...

The Shield is going out on the highest level the show has ever been. I hope Shane survives somehow.

Alan, your point about the timeline is one of the reasons The Shield will never be able to reach the level of The Wire/The Sopranos. Another major problem is with Vic's problems ICE would not offer him a job, maybe immunity not a job though. There are just so many plotholes, but it does not really matter in terms of enjoyment cause this final season has taken us the viewers on a hell of a ride.

Nice job on the review Alan. You add a lot to my enjoyment of the show when you put out a piece like this .

Anonymous said...


Walter Goggins is getting his own show!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Tavon runs into Shane in the finale?

Anyone else think Bertran looks like Bruce Springsteen?

Anonymous said...

It's one of the bigger logic leaps in "Shield" history that Chaffee or Olivia wouldn't have called Claudette to get some hint of what their new hero might be confessing to

They wouldn't have even had to call Claudette. Earlier in the season, Cassidy mentioned being able to find a bunch of the accusations made towards Vic on the internet. All they would've needed was a computer to have a clue. I'd say it is definitely the biggest logic leap in the show's history. As much as the plot point allowed for some great acting, I don't think I'm so inclined to let it go. Such a crucial story beat so close to the show's endgame that'll likely play a huge role in the ultimate conclusion really shouldn't be so fundamentally illogical.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. First Marlo Stanfield. Now Vic Mackey. The bad guy gets immunity and walks free. Ronnie - like Chris Partlow - is thrown to the wolves. He'll spend the rest of his life in jail taking the fall for all Vic's crimes. I just hope Shane ends up like Snoop with his brains splattered against a windshield.

I still hate Mara and don't feel an ounce of pity for her. However poor poor Jackson... that innocent child has my sympathy. His parents are stupid narcissistic losers. Jackson and that baby girl in Mara's womb are the real victims of Shane's selfishness. They will suffer and be damaged for the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

No question about it, legally speaking, the AG of California would have to be in on that deal, or it would only allow Vic to be immune from his Federal crimes. While that is no small thing, he committed Murder one against Terry Crowley. That's the ballgame, there's no coming back from that - and the Feds can't do anything about it.

It couldn't matter less, however. Best episode of the whole series.


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen such tension and drama in a "silent pause" since the "Employee of the Month" episode of The Sopranos ..

Chiklis' portrayal of Vic in that moment was just amazing .. You can just imagine him going through the amount of tumolt in his mind and actually contemplating if he/ could he admit to all of it.

I'm already looking forward to/hating the fact that next week is the last episode.

Its been one of my favorite shows of all time and I already miss it.

FYI: last night's episode was the 87th in Shield history, moving it one ahead of The Sopranos. What that means? I have no idea. Just thought it was interesting.

FYI 2: HBO is showing a "Major League 3" a lot lately and its notable that Shane (Walton Goggins) and Lem (Kenneth Johnson) play teammates in it..


Ted Kerwin said...

When you find yourself running all the options Vic had during that pause before he began his confession you know it is brilliant acting, I for four or five seconds was Vic, can I do this, do I tell them everything, will this deal hold up, where to begin, and then what the hell start with the big one, "I planned it. . . shot him right under the eye" Damn.

Unknown said...

"I still hate Mara and don't feel an ounce of pity for her."

I know this is the prevailing opinion of most long-time fans of the show, but I don't get it. I'd kill to have a Mara in my life, someone who if I come home with a dead body immediately grabs a shovel and starts digging a hole.

Gordon Harries said...

Well, as many have said: HOLY GOD.

I find it interesting that Ronnie raised the issue of ‘taking care of’ Shane again tonight and that might be the ultimate divide between him and Vic. Vic’s such a pragmatist that, ultimately, he can let this go.

Contrary to lots of people around these parts, I don’t have great sympathy for Vic or Shane. I want them both imprisoned at the least. The character who’s really come alive with me (pretty much occupying the space Lem would have) is Ronnie.


Anonymous said...

If certain crimes are brought under state law, then how is it that Vic can be granted full and total immunity by the federal government? We are dealing with two sovereign entities here, the state and federal government, and although there may be some overlap, how is it exactly that the federal government can deprive the state government of every possible remedy against Vic, for everything from murder to speeding tickets (presumably)?

Alan Sepinwall said...

It might have been Hedgpeth's breathless "most intense hour on television ever" teaser in today's Ledger,

That would be my breathless teaser. Hedgpeth took the buyout and left the paper last week.

Gordon Harries said...

oh, and I was kind of hopeing that the immunity deal would turn out to be bogus (they did reverse on it awful quick) but that would seam to not be the case (or they'd have told Claudette)

that said, there's a lot of caveats to that deal and it would never hold up in court...

Anonymous said...

Lol to anonymous a couple comments back about Beltran looking like Bruce Springsteen. I was thinking the exact same thing last episode when I saw Beltran, I was like holy cr@p its The Boss.

Kevin Michaels said...

Unbelievable...some times you just run out of words. This was a truly amazing episode in every way. In weeks past I commented on the interplay between the characters and the things that are said/ not said, which makes the show so strong. I was also blown away by Vic's look of devastation when ICE/Olivia wouldn't put the deal on the table - absolutely priceless. Then that long moment of silence before he finally started talking.....powerful stuff that is definitely worthy of Emmy consideration.

Even with his immunity deal in place, there's just too much at stake here - no way I see Vic pulling off this Houdini act. A face to face showdown with Shane is inevitable and even with the deal in place, can Vic honestly let go all of his anger and hatred towards Shane without exacting retribution? I don't think he'll be able to help himself - his actions have always been based on sheer adrenalin and emotion, and would he be able to keep a cool head when faced with Shane? And at what point does Ronnie realize he's being "strung along" and take action? Also thought it so ironic that Vic's put himself in harm's way and took the deal to protect Corrine - unaware that she is the one who set him up.

There's just so much about this episode (and this series) that makes it better than just about anything else on TV now.

Anonymous said...

Vic is a high level and very smart cop. He and The Shield go out on some immunity technicality between state and federal? I don't see that. Perhaps something goes sideways with Bertan or the black gangs- or both.

The right thing would have been to tip Ronnie off before he went in for the deal. I refuse to watch the previews, but I assume Ronnie is on for next week. Too bad.

Nice comment from Alan about the romance of being on the run has completely left the Vendrells. All I can think when I watch their scenes, is that Shane has turned his wife and kid in to wheel men- how pathetic.

Something I haven't heard yet. Last night we saw Vic detect the cops staking out Corinne, when Ronnie couldn't. Their fates could come down to that. Even Dutch tells her how smart Vic is earlier, at the hospital.

A few other things-

If I see Frances Fisher's name pop up at the beginning next week, then I think something big happens with the kid.

There is still the 100k with Corrine. Vic needs to give Ronnie the money and get ghost.

Does Corrine stay strong and go with Claudette and Dutch? She seems ready to crack, and has to be feeling tremendous guilt and fear for what she has done to Vic.

I like how Danni offered to pick up the kids. Well you screwed the woman’s husband and had a kid by him. I suppose that's the least you could do.

Anonymous said...

"A face to face showdown with Shane is inevitable and even with the deal in place, can Vic honestly let go all of his anger and hatred towards Shane without exacting retribution?"

See, I have a different take on this this. I don't think Vic really gives a damn about Shane or avenging Lem. Not really. I think that was all just a pose and that it wasn't until this episode that Vic truly realized it.

Remember that scene where Vic and Ronnie were sitting in their car, and Ronnie was still gung-ho about taking advantage of one last chance to take down Shane? Vic completely brushed that off, saying that once their immunity deals were in place, Shane wouldn't matter anymore. At that moment, I found myself thinking "yeah, but what happened to avenging Lem?"

Anonymous said...

Oh! One more thing!

When Olivia questioned whether Vic understood what he had "done to her," I assumed she just meant that he made her look foolish by not knowing who she was in bed with.

But that's not what she meant, is it? He would have had to bring up his involvement in covering up her blackmail file, right? He threw her under the bus, didn't he?

And all this for Corrine who, I thought, had been having second thoughts about betraying Vic but, in reality, was only feeling second thoughts because she was scared it wouldn't work. She really does want him thrown in jail.

Anonymous said...

"But that's not what she meant, is it? He would have had to bring up his involvement in covering up her blackmail file, right? He threw her under the bus, didn't he?"

Maybe, but I think Vic could have confessed to having the blackmail box without mentioning everyone who was in it.

I think her reaction goes beyond him humiliating her. Vic no doubt ruined her career; if you bring a destructive drunk to a party, the hosts won't invite you back.

Oh, and thank you Will for answering my earlier question.

Anonymous said...

But that's not what she meant, is it? He would have had to bring up his involvement in covering up her blackmail file, right? He threw her under the bus, didn't he?>>

Well he has done worse.

Crowley's blood on his hands, Lem dead as a result, countless guilty and innocent victims, Cavanaugh exposed, Corinne and the kids a mess, Shane and Mara and their collateral damage...the list goes on.

Good point about ratting out Olivia though.

Nicole said...

The confession scene was amazing and Chiklis better get an Emmy nod for this.

Clearly this is the calm before the storm that is bound to happen next week. Olivia and ICE will be trying to find a way out of this immunity deal as quickly as possible, and whenever Ronnie finds out about Vic's betrayal, he will go mental. I don't know if I should be relieved that Vic doesn't want to pursue the killing Shane thing, or horrified that Ronnie still does. Ronnie has evolved from the compliant sidekick to one vengeful cop and I can't see how there won't be at least one other death of a Strike team member before next week is over.

Claudette's breakdown was also gripping, but I agree with those who say that she realized right at the end that she didn't really mean to fire Dutch. Clearly, in the grand scheme of things, Dutch has done very little in terms of being corrupt, and in fact rectified Billings' false arrest, so I see Claudette's reaction as an attempt to deal with the easiest of the massive corruption problems in Farmington. And CCH Pounder really does need an Emmy for her work here. She has been magnificient throughout the series and considering the dearth of strong female roles, should have been in the running every year since season one.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Vic ratted out Olivia, because she wasn't taken out of the room in handcuffs. I think she meant what Vic had just done to her career. She probably foresees all that stuff with her file coming out, now that Vic's proven himself to be even more of a bastard than they'd ever imagined, but they wouldn't have done it off-screen.

And is Olivia the first beautiful woman in Shield history who has fallen into Vic's orbit without getting screwed? Sexually, I mean.

Ted Kerwin said...

I do think the deal falls apart if the person who arranges it has conspired with Vic on a crime. I imagine that would be one way for the deal to fall apart.

Anonymous said...

My breath was taken away last night. Vic was in total sociopath mode.

My brother picked up something that I didn't when Shane came back to the hideout when Mara was in a sling, Jackson was playing with blocks. He placed them in a neat and colorful rows, a sign of autism.

How ironic would it be that Vic and Shane both have autistic kids? That might put Shane completely over the edge.

Anonymous said...

What an unbelievable hour and season of the Shield. Not to rehash previous posts but a season finale is one thing but a series finale of a show that has been excellent since the very first episode is tough to get over.
Man I wish they filmed the ENTIRE Vic confession to Olivia so we could hear Vic go over the last 2.5years (or seven seasons) with her. I still think Vic has a plan to get Ronnie out of this as he always is thinking about ten steps ahead of all of his "co-workers" and victims who he seems to be so much smarter than... and thanks Alan for providing a great synopsis of all of your shows

Anonymous said...

Ditto to all the comments about the long pause before Vics confession.

Do you realize that all of that occurred in a handful of hours? I'll have to watch it again to see what the "real time" was.

Vic has taken Claudette to the same crazy place that he takes all his victims to(--all authority figures--_Aceveda, Kavanaugh, now Claudette try to take down Vic and fail and in the process get crazy. Corinne, the strike team, Lem in particular, his ex partner(the Carl Weathers character), all fall apart around Vic and because of Vic. The amazing part of his confession is the matter of factness of it--no emotion, no guilt, no remorse.

What a great character and what great acting!!!!

Anonymous said...

For the record, I think that Vic confessed in large part for Vic, not just for Corrine. He could hav gotten her off of a aiding and abetting charge by simply cutting a deal whereby he confessed and she got off as a result, but instead of giving himself up and giving Ronnie a chance to run for it, he gave Ronnie up completely and got a(n apparent) walk out of it for himself too. He is just using Corrine as an emotional shield for himself - it is a crutch so he doesn't have to feel so bad about selling out Ronnie. You could even tell that he was considering taking the deal the first time it was offered; and, what's more, is that Ronnie could tell the same thing. Ronnie has always been the smartest and he knows that Vic has different interests.

Someone is eating a gun next week, I just wonder if it will be more than one strike team member.

And I stick with my prediction from a few weeks ago that Lloyd tries to do Dutch before it all ends.

Anonymous said...

I'd kill to have a Mara in my life, someone who if I come home with a dead body immediately grabs a shovel and starts digging a hole.

Then I feel sorry for your children. Do you think Jackson feels the same way? He has a mother who puts her murdering criminal husband above her own babies. A mother who repeatedly puts her children in the line of fire. Mara is the worst mother imaginable. She has hurt her children. Jackson and her unborn baby girl should be her first priority - not enabling Shane.

Women like Mara need to do the world a favor and get her tubes tied. Women like Mara should never reproduce because they are unfit mothers who end up killing their babies.

Jennifer Boudinot said...

I, too, can't believe Vic would throw Ronnie under the bus like that, even if he did think he was doing it to save Corrine.

While the confession scene/Claudette's freak-out were amazing, and coked-up Shane and hurt Mara realizing they're at the end of their rope was good, I felt like the rest of the episode was just putting things in place, and wasn't as heart-pounding as many of the show's greatest episodes. Something tells me that next week's will be, though.

Anonymous said...

"And is Olivia the first beautiful woman in Shield history who has fallen into Vic's orbit without getting screwed? Sexually, I mean."

Yes. But she did get back-doored in the most painful way. Olivia grabbed her ankles for Vic and let him have everything. No wonder she was crying. Vic should have smoked a cigarette in front of her afterward.

Anonymous said...

I think Claudette will end up killing Vic; Shane will commit suicide and Ronnie will go to jail.

Unknown said...

My feelings exactly on this amazing episode.

This is going to seem terrible, but I was actually CHEERING when Vic confessed everything, with CCH and Feds looking on in horror!

I hate to say it, but for this to happen this early, no way this show will let Vic off now. One final twist...

One more thing. Even watching all of the seasons, I still didn't think Vic was that bad a guy. But to hear it all like that, he is a bad, bad man. Excellent.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Vic's deal falls. A lot of the work he did to cozy up to Pezuela came while he was still under a badge but before he got in bed with ICE, so I'm guessing they had to get the California AG on board with it; further, it came down from Washington. It's water-tight. When Vic insisted on continuing his confession, he said he wanted to deliver all of it so that Olivia et al wouldn't try to weasel out of it on a technicality. Vic Mackey won't go down on a technicality. If he does go down, it will be for something much.

But I honestly have no clue with what's going to happen with Vic --- or Shane, Mara and Jackson, too, for that matter.

Someone earlier mentioned that the girl that Mara dropped resembled Cassidy; I also thought this at the time, but I feel like they would have revealed her identity by then.

Here is what I'm thinking might happen:
• I could see either Ronnie (no way out) or Corrine (wracked by guilt) eating the barrel of a gun.
• I also could see Vic and Ronnie escaping to Mexico with the counterfeit passports (for Shane and Mara) that Vic swiped earlier.
• I, too, could see Lloyd killing Dutch (and his mom)
• Claudette gets canned by the Asst. Chief for botching all things Mackey.

Alan --- I know only Ray McKinnon (writer/directorr) and Lisa Blount (exec producer) were listed as winners for "The Accountant," although Goggins (producer) did go on stage with them to receive the award. Does Goggins have an actual statuette? All the press photos show the three of them with two trophies. Although, McKinnon/Blount are husband/wife, so perhaps they took one and Goggins took one. I've always been curious.

Unknown said...

Would Mackey be dumb enough to pull a crime next week that wasn't under the immunity. If he had the chance to kill Shane would he just ignore it because it wouldn't fall under his immunity? I can't wait until next week, although I am incredibly sad that the show is ending.

Anonymous said...

It's worth noting that this episode was written last year, and thus, was the first show to reference "King of Kong", though Chuck did beat it to air.

Nicole said...

I got the sense that Vic was over going after Shane and cared more about getting his immunity. Therefore, I don't think he would blow it to go after Shane. Ronnie, on the other hand, has nothing to lose now, and was itching to kill Shane even before the immunity deal fell in place for Vic. If the three end up in the same location in next week's episode, it will be highly unlikely that any of them get out of there alive.

Unforgivableblackness said...

What an Episode...I've hated Vic Mackey ever since the Pilot Ep when he put a bullet in Terry Crowley!.

To see him get this immunity deal is gut wrenching!

I hope and pray someone steps up to put him down. Ronnie? Olivia? Claudette? Beltran?

I'm emotionally invested in seeing him get his due.

I really thought Claudette was going to drop dead! I mean she was SOOO CLOSE to nailing his corrupt ass! damn, damn, daaaamn!!!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to list my line of the episode, which, with all due respect Alan, was delivered by Vic after Olivia asked "Is that everything?"

Vic: "How much memory does that thing have?"

Sean said...

This has to have been one of the, if not the, best episodes of the show. To see Vic at first struggle about whether or not to spill everything, then to see him open up about shooting Terry, the Armenian money train heist, how he set up the other guy to take the fall for the heist and all the other dirt that the Strike Team has done was a credit to Michael Chiklis. He better get an Emmy for that scene alone. If there's some type of karmic justice on that show, Vic won't get to walk away from all the dirt he's done scot free while throwing Ronnie under the bus. I almost felt bad for Shane as well, until I remembered what a reckless, racist piece of crap he is. I don't really feel that bad for Mara either. She chose to willingly be Shane's ride or die wife because Shane was upfront about what a piece of crap he was whereas Corrine didn't know about the level of dirt that Vic and the Strike Team was in. I just hope Claudette doesn't stoop to Kavanaugh's level to try to get Vic behind bars.

Anonymous said...

Nice call on the counterfeit passports. We seem to be forgetting those.

And we know The Shield isn't the Sopranos, where things go unexplained. Danni came back. Lloyds mom showed up (although I think that would have been better if his home invasion shooting had occurred in the end of last season) and even people the seemingly got away (Tavon) come back with some sort of explanation.

Someone asked if any woman managed to escape, without screwing Vic. Yes, Rowling.

So I'm guessing Vic tries to bring the cartel to its knees, protect Corrine, and spring Ronnie all in seventy two minutes. And even he can't do that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Rowling.


UnwantedTouching said...

Any chance you will be able to discuss "The Shield" and its success in the context of F/X at some point? If I remember correctly, "The Shield" really seemed to put F/X on the map and kind of ignited a Renaissance with the network's original programming. Up until that time, it had dabbled with some mixed success with original programming (e.g. Howard Stern's "Son of the Beach") but was mostly about showing movies. Since the Shield, it seems to have a run reminiscent of HBO from years ago (With fantastic, edgy programming like the Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Wire, Deadwood, etc.). Damages, Sunny, Nip/Tuck and of course The Shield seem to have really put F/X's original programming department on the map...

Ken Shabby said...

Claudette goes completely mad and shoots Vic down like a dog. Or maybe not.

Their have been many wild theories posted about the finale, but the extraordinary thing is the writers keep it simple, with the characters' intentions always clear. And yet, they always keep you guessing as to what happens next. Impressive.

Anonymous said...

OK. I know the show doesn't have to follow real-world logic. But ...

Did Vic really sell out Ronnie?

If ICE has cut a deal with Vic, aren't they essentially stuck with Ron as well? What does anyone have on Ronnie that doesn't require Vic's testimony? And maybe Vic wouldn't care at this point about having the world know his sins - he's got his immunity - but would the government wants "ICE's biggest drug bust in history" (or however Olivia put it) tainted - and possibly overturned - by having their key informant (and now one of their agents) exposed as the most crooked cop/murderer/cop killer in history?

Anyway, just conisder that me exercising the nagging logic gremlins in my head. I. Love. This. Show.

Anonymous said...

Uh. Exorcising. Oops.

Anonymous said...

I looked at selling Ronnie out and grabbing immunity as another way of Vic putting himself first, not protecting Corrine. At the end of the day he couldn't spring her without his badge and didn't know what she could be forced into saying about him which put his freedom in jeopardy (especially knowing how easily she could be pushed over). He signed the immunity for him alone and would have signed it even if Corrine wasn't offered immunity. It is the ultimate false allure of Vic Mackey in that everything he does benefits himself, yet he can find so many seemingly logical explanations as to how he is helping others.

Anonymous said...

Would just add that if you view it as Vic helping himself primarily and not taking the deal for Corrine you have to see the deal through his eyes.

Corrine is in jail. She will be interrogated and Vic knows the only way out is to give up someone up the ladder. Vic is that rung.

So he signs the deal and she can't hurt him. Getting immunity for her is icing, but his struggles in the car can be explained as him quickly coming to terms with signing the deal and trying to figure any way to save her and knowing he is screwing Ronnie. He knows the police gameplan which is why he got off the phone so quickly.

afoglia said...

Anonymous said...
There is still the 100k with Corrine. Vic needs to give Ronnie the money and get ghost.

The cops in the Barn have that money now. Corrine left it on the picnic table at the park, and surely the cops picked it up when she was "arrested".

Sean said...
I don't really feel that bad for Mara either. She chose to willingly be Shane's ride or die wife because Shane was upfront about what a piece of crap he was whereas Corrine didn't know about the level of dirt that Vic and the Strike Team was in.

True, Corrine get more sympathy from me, but remember, although Mara know the basics of most of the events (I don't think she ever learned the source of the money train money) she learned it all from Shane. And Shane always painted it as if Vic was the reckless, maverick, dirty one, and Shane was trying to do good, get away from him and be clean. I doubt she knows Shane killed Lem, or that he'd been helping the Armenian mob, or screwed up with Antoine, or any of the other screw-ups he's been responsible for that Vic's had to clean up.

Anonymous said...

Prediction for next week: Ronnie figures out that Vic sold him out and kills Vic. (A possible variation is that Ronnie comes after Vic, but Vic kills Ronnie first and goes down for that.)

Gordon Harries said...

Anthony: Shane confessed to killing Lem (by way of explaining why he was haveing sex with an underaged gang banger) to Mara sometime in season ..six..I think.

Mara knows just what a piece of shit trailer trash her little darling is.


Sean said...

I forgot something about Vic's true confessional moment. Like I said, I first he had a conflicted look, then after a while it was like it was theraputic for him. No conscience, no remorse or anything. Just the look on Olivia's and her boss' face when they realized what they've done and that Vic screwed them over was priceless

Anonymous said...

And at what point does Ronnie realize he's being "strung along" and take action?

He already has. Ronnie was conspicuously absent from the second half of the episode, and someone anonymous gave Vic's location to Claudette.

Ronnie has taken the deal that Shane and Mara passed on; giving up Vic in exchange for immunity from Claudette. Why else would Claudette be so excited about finding Vic when they didn't get him on tape earlier, and have nothing on him, as she said? The sonofabitch barely slipped through her fingers again by signing that deal. That's what set her off.

Vic's giving up on revenge on Shane doesn't seem to sit too well with Ronnie. He realizes that Vic isn't in this for honor or justice, just himself. Ronnie figures he can't attach himself to this monster any longer and moves toward self-preservation. Remember that Vic taught Ronnie "everything (he) know(s)." He got half his face burned off for this guy, and this is the thanks he gets?

Possible clues?:Ronnie offered to tail Vic to the meet, but Vic declined. Corrine said she was careful about not being followed, but Vic said nothing about being followed himself. (I might be reading too much into that one. Vic had no reason to mention his own care in avoiding a tail.)

It's great how Vic has lost all his allies one by one: Shane, Danni, Corrine, Olivia, and now Ronnie.

Vic may make it out of next week alive, but it will be a lonely and hollow life.

Anonymous said...

Not only was it theraputic for Vic, but he almost seemed to take a perverse pleasure in dropping the burdens of his sins on Olivia and her boss (played by Angelo from The Pretender!). Now, finally, his crimes are someone else's problem.

I hope Ronnie does stab Vic in the back, or outmaneuver him somehow. Ronnie owes him NOTHING.

Unforgivableblackness said...

Seaver78 wrote
"He already has. Ronnie was conspicuously absent from the second half of the episode, and someone anonymous gave Vic's location to Claudette."

That's a very interesting theory, but how would Ronnie know that he was at ICE HQ?

Dolphineus said...

I've been wondering for a long time how they were going to end this series. The very last thing I ever would have guessed, was a full confession and complete screw-job on the entire strike team. I would have bet money on Corinne and the kids dead before that.

The Shield is heart pounding television, and I can't get enough!

Anonymous said...

how would Ronnie know that he was at ICE HQ?

He blew off chasing down that port worker and followed Vic to his aborted meeting with Corrine. He tailed him back to ICE and realized why he was there.

The failure to get the right guy to pass the container through will blow back on Mackey as well.

Unforgivableblackness said...

He blew off chasing down that port worker and followed Vic to his aborted meeting with Corrine. He tailed him back to ICE and realized why he was there.

The failure to get the right guy to pass the container through will blow back on Mackey as well.

hmmmmmmm...I could see that scenario playing out. Ronnie was already questioning Vic's actions, so perhaps him not getting immunity was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Unknown said...

Anthony Foglia said:

And Shane always painted it as if Vic was the reckless, maverick, dirty one, and Shane was trying to do good, get away from him and be clean. I doubt she knows Shane killed Lem, or that he'd been helping the Armenian mob, or screwed up with Antoine, or any of the other screw-ups he's been responsible for that Vic's had to clean up.

Shane confessed killing Lem to Mara before Vic figured it out. Last season, after he got beat up by his mistress's father, Mara threw him out, and then he confessed to her because the guilt was eating him up...and she embraced him.

Also, this season, when he was turning over his envelope confession of all the strike team's sins to Vic, when Mara handed it over, it was opened, implying that she'd read everything. She knows everything that Shane's done, but she loves him and doesn't care that he's just as much of a monster as Vic. Just less of a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think that Lloyd's mom could be helping him in setting up Dutch?

Anonymous said...

I'm an attorney and a long-time viewer (6 years) of The Shield. Can't get past the fact that the "immunity" deal is completely inaccurate: the crimes are mostly state, not federal, crimes. Mackey could still be arrested by local authorities and prosecuted by the D.A. While everyone is praising the writing, I'm thinking that the writers should have done a little more homework. On the one hand, The Shield professes realism. On the other, it's a poorly thought out fairy tale. Oh well.

Gordon Harries said...

Anonymous: I’m very much in agreement with you, if this is the ‘get out of jail’ card (for his crimes anyway) it’ll be shockingly poor writing. That said, I’m not convinced the legal ramifications aren’t going to play a hand in his downfall.

I also keep reflecting on a line the Armenian mob boss said to Shane last season: ’your sentimentality shall be your undoing’ (that was the gist, anyway.) and wondering if, given that scenario that propelled Vic to make the confession, the same couldn’t be said of him..

Unforgivableblackness said...

Don't the Feds grand immunity from state crimes all the time? particularly in the cases of the mafia who testify against their fellow mobsters?

erin said...

I was completely disturbed by Vic pointing to his eye as the place where he shot down Terry Crowley. He looked so...inhuman.

I'll confess, I was always a fan of Vic's because I thought he had good motives and was doing something for the greater good (and I could argue that most of the "trash" he took out were people I wouldn't want to have dinner with). But hearing him almost gleefully recite his wrongdoings to Olivia, it was like...ick. He could be compared to Dexter in a way (a character I also love in theory...and maybe in reality?) where he maybe believes he's doing it for good reasons, but really he just loves to be dirty and to have one over on the bad guys. He'll commit his crimes regardless and rationalize it anyway he can. Moral relativism at its best! Now THAT'S why i love this show.

Off to watch the finale!