Just watched the last episode of The Shield… spoilers follow:
Damn… pretty hardcore, yet real. A lot of big moments, but it stayed in the right realm of reality for the show. Vic sort of does get away with it, and yet his life is destroyed. His family hates him and is gone, his team is gone, dead or betrayed, and he’s trapped in a new job that is virtually a jail.
And in a lot of ways he’s ended up like this because of his complete lack of morality. He still can’t see what he’s done as wrong, and he still can’t change. Shane was a screw-up and gutless, but at the same time, his actions at the end, while truly awful, were the actions of a man with a really guilty conscience. Someone who, if nothing else, at least knew how wrong his actions were.
But damn, that final act of his was the sickest and saddest thing in the whole episode. There’s really no sympathy for someone who kills their whole family like that, no matter the situation. Shane was gutless, but he knew he was guilty.
And damn, didn’t they all work to give Vic a taste of guilt. Ronny got it in the end, taken down because of his own blind loyalty. That’s what he got for trusting Vic for all those years. For a while it looked as if Ronny might be the one to get away, but he went in even further with Vic at the end, and paid for it.
As for the rest of the characters, life goes on for them, for the most part. Claudette is sick and getting sicker, but she’s always been tthe moral centre of the show, and she showed that. When she couldn’t get Vic in any other way, she at least made sure the scorn of the rest of the Barn, and the shock of Ronnie’s arrest was rubbed in. Dutch was briefly troubled, but even he got his guy — the teen serial killer — with some satisfaction. Dutch is a little awkward, but he was always the good cop, like Claudette.
As a finale, it matches up pretty well. It ended things where it needed to, and kept things broad and open in some places. Vic had the talent to survive, and the luck, so it made sense the way it went down. But he’d burned too many bridges to make it all go his way. It’s deliberately Shakespearean in the way it went, and the horrors of Shane’s end are offset by Vic’s coldness. Shawn Ryan, as writer for this last episode handled it pretty well, with some deliberate fireworks but also some quiet reflection. Clark Johnson directed with the style he established in the pilot, and also contributed a cameo that had me recalling his time on Homicide in the 90s, as the cop that takes Corinne and the family to their new lives.
I’ve been reading a lot this week how The Shield has been criminally underrated and ignored for years now, and if that’s true, it’s a real shame. The Shield has been consistently one of the best dramas, and certainly the best crime drama, on TV for years. Easily the best cop show this decade (matching with Homicide:LOTS in the ’90s) and one of the best dramas fullstop.
A worthy ending to the series, and one to savour.