The Shield – End of an Era

It’s all over and, unlike with The Sopranos, it ended with a bang. I’m assuming that if you are reading this that you have seen it but if you haven’t seen it stop reading right now and watch it – then read this.

Who thought that Shane was going to kill his wife, son, and unborn daughter? Committing suicide seemed like a possibility from where I was sitting but to do the honor killings as well? That was a total shock.

How could you do that? I just don’t get it. It doesn’t fit the type of character that Shane was and that image of his wife and son laying in that bed dead will haunt me for some time.

The whole final season was like watching a train-wreck in progress. Vic giving up Ronnie to save his double-crossing wife, Dutch hunting a serial killer kid, Claudette dying while chasing her white wale, ICE fumbling their investigation into the Mexican cartel only to be saved by the duty-bound Vic, Aceveda being as dirty as possible while winning the mayoral election. It was not a perfect ending but it does seem to be a fitting ending for this series.

This show is the definition of a tragedy. Every character was fundamentally flawed and they were all working in a system that is extremely corrupt but, after all, is probably not too far-fetched a portrait of the system we live with.

Vic is a cop-killer. So was Shane. Everyone on the Strike Team was dirty because they were playing all sides against each other and trying to skim as much as they could for themselves. But did they really have a choice?

Yes, they did. But amidst all of this chaos and corruption it did seem like they were getting the job done. Well, that’s not really right though, is it? They were managing the situation as best they saw fit.

Nothing they did would have “cleaned up the streets.” And if the Strike Team were all sweetness and light they would have gotten nothing done. That is, unfortunately, the problem with fighting corruption.

In order to really fight corruption you have to work outside the system because the system is designed so that nothing good can really get done. It’s a complete shame that this is the case but it is the truth.

The one part of the final episode I didn’t like was the sanctimonious foil played by the musician turned actor He played the part well but I thought the character was just an indulgent throw-in by the writers. The idea that a picket line could seriously stop crack dealers, which is something he supposedly had done, is preposterous.

The solution to inner city ills is not that simple. Change doesn’t happen because you can get some people together for the occasional community gathering. That feel-good stuff works only in the minds of writers and those who aren’t responsible for affecting real change.

Sometimes you have to get men and women in there to do bad things. And that’s basically how I view the Strike Team. Some of the things they did are reprehensible but they also worked to keep drugs away from children and tried to save as many people from the destructive paths they were on as they could.

In the end it looks like Vic is decimated. He is going to have to work in a pathetic desk job for the next three years, his children are in protective custody with the intent of never letting him see them again, and Ronnie, his last team member alive, is off to jail because Vic betrayed him.

Something tells me that this isn’t the end though. There are still many unresolved story lines. And there’s Vic getting his gun out of his lock box in his ICE desk with that look of determination I am so used to after all of these years.

Will he leave his purgatory with ICE to spring Ronnie from jail? Will he ever see his kids again? And what is going to happen to Farmington? With his absence make that city fall further into the abyss?

Probably. But isn’t that the point? Even though Vic is basically a villain he is also the hero. We expect our cops to do miracles but we are outraged when they rough someone up.

In the end that is why I loved this show. There is this hopelessly lost city and it is being saved by this even more hopelessly lost individual. And without The Shield I am going to be a little lost as well. Every time one of these great shows has their series finale a hole opens up that can’t be filled by all the vapid programming that pollutes my television set.

Shows like this and the Sopranos give me a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of the world. They have left me with the realization that even if the main characters had played everything by the book it wouldn’t have changed anything. That’s a bleak outlook on life but it’s reality.

There are very bad people out there doing very bad things. I don’t know what the solution to all our ills are but picket lines and doing the same things we are doing right now will not solve any of those problems.

All I can do is what is right and at least appreciate those that are trying to do the right thing even though every last jackal in a politician’s suit will burn them at the stake the first chance they get. Oh, and I can still enjoy my cigars and whiskey… as long as they are still legal.

Published by Travis Lindsay

I am a guy who smokes cigars.

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