Continuing on, then, from yesterday’s thoughts on “The Shield” at its end.
As there will be spoilers for storylines of the last seven seasons (but not of the finale!) discussed below, I’ll hide it under the break.
This is a little more scattered than I had hoped it would be, but there’s a lot of ground to cover here, including Julien’s lost storyline, Dutch’s unfulfilled promise, Shane’s growth to practically being a co-star, the Aceveda/Mackey parallel, and more.
In the meantime, don’t you think that DVD box art for Season 5 looks like something Dave Johnson might have done up for a “100 Bullets” cover? Hold onto your hat and let’s see where we wind up.
We have a lot of unresolved stuff going on with Dutch. Clearly, the six hang-ups from his lady friend are leading up to something. I thought for sure her son had made those calls to lure Dutch over to kill him. Turns out I was being too suspicious. Or, perhaps, I’m just jumping the gun. This kid’s story, though, is the culmination of everything we’ve seen from Dutch in the last seven seasons. And have we all forgotten the cat Dutch killed with his bare hands a few seasons back? Dutch is a little weird. He sees himself as being something better than a mere Farmington detective. He wants to be a Fed, overseeing higher level criminal investigations of multiple murder cases. He assumes everything is one until proven otherwise. With the cat, he’s engaged in the action to help learn what a killer thinks like. In many people’s minds, he’s only one step away from becoming “Dexter.” He comes across a bit as the Nice Guy and the Goody-Two-Shoes, but we’ve seen his lapses. He’s not just the straight man for the Billings comedy relief subplots.
The biggest evolution this series has taken from its first couple of seasons is that Shane is now practically a co-star to Vic. He’s the second lead character. He was just the cocky Yes Man to Vic at the beginning, as secondary as Lem and Ronnie. Now, half of every episode is devoted to him, and his character arc is half the show. The early days of Mara being the annoying with dragging Shane away from The One True Path are forgotten. Mara has become a full-fledged character, and the perfect counterpoint to Corrine Mackey. Whereas Mara knows everything about Shane and will do anything for him, Corrine has been kept in the dark by Vic (for her own protection) and has come to distrust him, to the point where she’s selling Vic out to the cops while Mara is wielding a gun and mowing down innocent civilians and robbing safes to protect her man.
Danny Sofer, meantime, is Vic’s once-upon-a-time side action who wants Vic out of her life in a most public way. Curiously enough, she went from packing everything up to get the heck out of dodge, to returning to the Barn to assist Claudette. She’s just a victim of Vic, who might now have a chance to be part of the group to bring him down. The one main forgotten character in the course of the series is Julien. In the early going, his confused sexuality was a plot point. Then it became an afterthought. Then, I guess, the writers didn’t have any idea where they were going with it, so let it drop. It got to the point where he earned the trust of the Captain, proved himself as a cop, and came to join the Strike Team.
This is counter to Officer Tina Hanlon, who’s shown again and again how inept she is, often dismissed by her fellow cops for just being the Cute Chick, a tag which wasn’t helped by being the star of a public relations poster campaign. While she tries to show how tough she is, she continues to make mistake after mistake, culminating in losing her gun to Shane, who mere scenes earlier was busy beating up homeless guys to get his older piece back. That’s the strength of the ensemble cast of the series. There are parallels and counterpoints amongst all the characters. That’s what a supporting or ensemble cast should do, though, right? They’re not there to co-exist. They should bring out characteristics in each other that might not otherwise be apparent.
What about David Aceveda and Vic Mackey? Both have power and want more. Both are looking for personal gain through professionally curious means. Both are caught between rocks and hard places this season. And then the two come together and start pulling off crazy moves one on top of the other to get what they want. By the end, they’re somewhat working together, having backed each other into a corner that requires each other’s help. Aceveda’s problem is one of transparency. Vic is in the clear until an actual arrest is made on him. Aceveda’s potential crookedness needs only be made the subject of a whisper campaign to ruin him. You’d almost think he would be more desperate than Vic. Perhaps he is, after physically brawling with the figurehead of the Mexican cartel.
If Mackey gets “justice” at the end of the series, what happens to Aceveda? Would he be too easily linked to Mackey to survive the media firestorm to be elected as Mayor? Doesn’t Aceveda have to protect Mackey to the end, to protect himself and his political aspirations? But I can also easily see it as Real World Thing to have the crooked politician be elected Mayor while the crooked cop gets sent up the river, or dies in a hail of gunfire.
That’s right — I’m not certain Mackey will survive the finale of this show. Given the stakes he’s playing for, he needs to pull off the drug bust or die trying.
The one character you have left to feel some sort of sorrow for, really, is Ronnie. His hands aren’t clean, but he isn’t going to see any of this coming. He’s about to be blindsided by the one man he could count on. Vic may be a ruthless manipulator when he needs to be, but even he can’t be feeling good about this one. It’s going to be awkward. Can he get word to Ronnie to flee the country fast without blowing his own immunity deal? Will he even try?
I read before the season started that creator Shawn Ryan watched all six seasons before starting to write the seventh. It shows. There’s been a cavalcade of cameo appearances by old recurring and one-off characters, including the wheelchair-bound painter and Shane’s check-cashing “friend” this past week, alone. Ryan is doing an amazing job in bringing them all back without making it seem forced. Maybe that’s because he hasn’t dragged in the Big Names for ratings purposes. He’s dropping in the character actors who were so memorable in their brief earlier appearances.
On top of all of that, this entire season takes place over the course of what, a week? Track back to the first episode Follow it through. This is a very compressed season in many ways.
I probably should make some predictions here as to what’s going to happen in the finale this week. I think Dutch has to end this case against the teenage boy. I think the boy’s mother will wind up dead first, though. I think Wyms is the most likely character to die, most likely from whatever medical maladies she’s covering for. Billings might as well be cannon fodder, come to think of it. The Presidential Motorcade will create chaos for the police in their various investigations. Maybe that’s what delays Dutch enough to come to the murderous boy’s mother’s aid. And, in the end, there needs to be a long and tense dialogue scene between Mackey and Shane. Or Mackey and Wyms. Maybe that’s the catalyst to setting off her medical malady?
I don’t know. I think I’m happy enough to sit back and watch the finale on its own merits, not whether I nailed a plot poing or not. If there’s anything this series has taught me, it’s to NOT expect anything and not predict how low or how far a given character can go. That’s worked so far for this brilliant series. I expect it’ll work up until the very end.
I can’t wait. And yet I hate the thought that this series will soon be over. C’est la vie. Long live The Barn.