The Shield: Series finale.

As usual, the title should have already told you this is a spoiler–if you’re still reading and you don’t want to know what happens to Vic Mackey and his crew… you should stop now.

Seriously.

Ok. Now that I didn’t see coming. I thought for sure when Shane did the coke that he was gearing up to go entirely postal on Vic’s ass… and that was what I did expect. I expected Vic’s finale to be every bit as violent and out-of-control as he’s been all the way, with just a tiny bit extra–just enough to send him and his cart careening off a curve, finally out of control. But, after seeing it all go down, that would have been some version of going out in a blaze of glory…

And, you know, that wouldn’t have exactly been a punishment. That kind of end–to die with his boots on–was what Mackey would have wanted. He would have been spared the agony of the one thing he could not stand: seeing those around him, most especially his family–turn from him. His greatest horror: Noone worships him anymore; he is noone’s hero; they all look at him with revulsion and disgust… he doesn’t even merit fear any longer. The pedestal he was on from the beginning–the hero/villain larger-than-life character he posed as for so many people–had been steadily chipping away with each person he betrayed, each confidence he mined for advantage, each pretend compatriot he threw under the bus. And there were a /lot/ of busses over the years. (The scene last week, when he rolls out the litany of transgressions for the Feds, smirks through the retelling of all his dirty deeds, was less comeuppance and more… the cat, licking his lips after having enjoyed the canary. He thought he was getting away with it.)

And to have him ended at the hands of Shane would have betrayed their pairing–more Oedipal than equals, Shane getting a victory over Mackey would have not been good winning in any way, but evil continuing to breed and breed, as Shane was Mackey’s creation, his finest corruption. The monster destroying the master–that is what was supposed to play out, what would play out, if Mackey had succeeded in truly corrupting Shane the way he intended.

But even that corruption failed. Mackey would have been satisfied with his power had he created a saviour in Shane, or a monster in his own image–both would be adequately explained. A hero might have taken his own life to save his wife and children, or to spare his mentor; silence through death. A righteous monster might have come after Vic, in a way to end the cycle… but actually just continuing it. But what was Shane, in the end? A coward. A coward who not only destroyed himself, but his own legacy, and those he should have protected at all costs… while letting the true monster, Mackey, continue to exist. He /repented/. The money gift to the cashier, the “saving” of his family from what he felt was a fate worse than death; He made no effort, in his note, to convict Mackey–his terms were broad, damning, but certainly not evidence that could be used. He believed Mackey’s evil was unscalable, untouchable. That Mackey would get away with everything… that he already had.

But he didn’t. Shane ended his own line, and Vic, in a twist that hadn’t at all occurred to me, was indeed punished for his sins but not at all through his own network. He was stopped by… The Man. There was no blaze of glory, there was no moment of redemption–there was neither a moment of conviction… he simply was phased out. Put to farm. Out to pasture. Swallowed by the Big Machine.

And for Vic Mackey, the worst punishment: Estranged from his family. Removed from all his sources of power. Turned into a corporate slave, in an office building, in a suit and tie, watching the real policemen from a glassed-in cage. Now that… is punishment.

But some are redeemed. Dutch–who I’d always viewed with a deeply suspicious eye–seems to not be the serial murderer I’d always pegged him as. The case that had dragged out a while now, the serial murderer he’d suspected–turned out to be a boy, a boy who almost brought him down but for Dutch’s one faithful friend, the Captain, Claudette Wimms.

Wimms, perhaps, is the only one left unscathed–and that’s if you don’t count the fact that she is crippled by untreatable pain, and terminally ill. Her end is on the horizon, visible, but she diligently hangs on. She brings down the boy, she keeps order in the barn, she remains true to her friendship and Dutch, and, finally, she faces down Mackey and, for the first time, it begins to dawn on him that he has lost. She puts him in the chair, stares him down, uses her often-commented on interrogation skills to break his mask, tinder his rage. And when he can barely contain himself, she shames him finally and firmly, arresting his very last partner-in-crime, the hapless and soulless redheaded Detective Ronnie.

Dutch: “Ronald Everette Gardocki, you’re under arrest.”
Ronnie: “For what?”
Dutch: “The last three years.”

The looks on everyone’s faces as Ronnie is dragged away screaming, the curt–almost smirking–dismissal from Wimms… Vic begins to stutter and beg Ronnie, apologize.

Claudette has, now, what Mackey always could count on. A partner who has her back (Dutch), the faith of those she leads to follow, and the confidences of Corinne and their children, who have put their faith in her and the witness protection she aquires for them to save them from Vic’s clutches.

But the true twist of the knife, for Vic, has to be that he has finally found a woman he cannot save. A woman who does not one bit need his protection or his help–in fact, she has him by the balls, and tightly too. She’s played him harder than he’s ever been played in his entire life. And his life is over. He is her bitch. Sure, only for three years… but I’m not sure he can even take another day of it.

And, really, the last scenes of Vic ala Office Space, being told to label his lunch for the communal fridge? I laughed. You couldn’t help it–the look on his face, the abject horror at corporate sterility, suits and ties and polite watercooler chit-chat, for the rest of his days. And so it ended, not with a bang, but an actual, honest-to-god whimper. Cause Vic Mackey sat in an uncomfortable office chair, in a cube farm, and wept. And you know? That might have been the least likely series finale I could have imagined.

One response to “The Shield: Series finale.”

  1. mike Says:

    Excellent, excellent, excellent summary. Thank you.

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