Friday, August 29, 2008

The Best Episodes of the Shield

Anyone who's read much of this blog won't be surprised to hear that I'm practically hyperventilating over the season premiere of the final season of The Shield on Tuesday. In celebration of the best show ever made, here are my 5 favorite Shield moments.

Warning: for anyone who hasn't seen all six seasons, MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!, as they say.

5. “On the Jones” (season 6)

One of the interesting things about The Shield being on FX—away from major sponsors trying to reach millions of people—is that it moves organically: it doesn’t try to cram into one huge “special television event” what should really take a few episodes to tell. After season 5’s finale in which Shane kills Lem, last season’s premiere finally closed the chapter on the chilling Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh (played by Forest Whitaker, who in between seasons won an Oscar). After Kavanaugh has what can only be described as a Macky-induced meltdown, Vic visits him in prison and tells him, “You’re stepping onto a whole new playing field; hope you know the rules.” Vic no longer has his posse (except for Ronnie), but once again he’s come out on top.

4. “Back in the Hole” (season 4)

There are so many good episodes from season 4 (“Tar Baby,” featuring Dutch singing “Hungry Like a Wolf” comes to mind), but this one, which takes place mostly at the Barn, is my favorite. The strike team does something unusual and tells (their version of) the truth about Shane’s involvement with Antwon. The scenes with Glenn Close grilling Anthony Andersen (now on Law & Order!) show how a well-done TV show can actually be better than a film. Meanwhile, Vic tells the team to go find out what really happened to the dead little girl—“and make sure you get some collateral this time.” Unfortunately, that collateral comes in the form of a bag of heroin…that makes its way straight into the hands of IAD. And in Aceveda we have one character on the show who decides he’d like to stop the downward spiral, as he “breaks up” with the prostitute he’s been having a destructive relationship with. The only bad thing about this episode is Vic’s unfortunate choice of t-shirt for most of the ep, a plain blue blob that Michael Chiklis says on the DVD’s commentary “makes me look like a blueberry.

3. “Scar Tissue” (season 2)
Now here’s Mackey in a hot t-shirt—a tight, bright green hold-over from the previous ep with “Shamrocks” written on it (and the episode ends with him getting some much-needed lovin’). But that’s not the only reason it makes my list. After Claudette makes her first chink in Vic’s armor (talking to his ex-wife),Vic prepares to pay the consequences for…well…one of his crimes: burning Armadillo’s face on the electric burner of his stove—a scene seared (sorry, I couldn’t resist) into the memory of every Sheild fan. Of course, he’s only because he feels he owes it to the newly disfigured Ronnie, and before he can confess, Lem and Shane cop a deal with a former inmate with a grudge. Best scene: Danny confesses to what was then the only other female officer that she almost kissed Dutch after solving an assault-with-bug-spray case. As they’re talking, Armadillo gets stabbed to death in the cage, which ends up being a defining moment in Danny’s career.

2. “Slipknot” (season 3)

The first episode Michael Chiklis directed is one of confessions: Acaveda finally confesses to his wife that he was sexually assaulted (her chilling reply: “how could you let this happen?”), Cassidy confesses that she’s the one who keyed her mom’s new boyfriend’s car, and Mara confesses to Shane that she stole the $7,000 from the money train stash. Though much of season 3 set up the relationship between Shane and Mara, this scene is the turning point: when Shane realizes that his actions are now going to have consequences for someone other than him. (We won’t get to see the destructive whirlpool these two wallow in again until season 6, when Mara yells at a beaten, sobbing Shane, “You want to shoot me? You want to shoot yourself? Do it.”) The end of the episode shows one of the best quintessential Strike Team moments: the boys taking back the streets, which somehow involves busting into a house and flipping over the dining room table.

1. “Circles” (season 1)
And TV show that begins with a riot and actually gets more exciting is one you know is good. There are plenty of characteristically awesome Shield moments in the episode—Vic busting through a fence in pursuit of a suspect, Shane telling Vic he’ll kill Gilroy for him—but the one that gets me is when Vic calls home and finds out Gilroy is there. More than ever before in the amazing first season, the viewer can kind of see how Vic backs himself into a corner and makes decisions he thinks he needs to make for the greater good. While he allows Acaveda to take credit for bringing Gilroy in, he has what is perhaps one of his first tear-his-heart-out moments. His reaction to his family leaving him is simultaneously hard to watch and impossible to turn away from.

p.s., if this still isn't enough Shield for you, check out hulu's Shield page, which has all sorts of interesting interviews with the cast.

1 comment:

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