When he was a tough-talking, bruising street cop, Judge David Johnson was at his happiest.
Our reviews of The Shield: The Complete First Season (published February 10th, 2003), The Shield: Season 3 (published March 9th, 2005), The Shield: Season 4 (published January 9th, 2006), The Shield: Season 5 (published March 27th, 2007), The Shield: Season 7 (published July 6th, 2009), and The Shield: The Complete Series (published November 3rd, 2009) are also available.
"You think you're looking at me through some kind of a window, when all you're really doing is looking in a mirror."
Let me just stop you right here: if you haven't seen any previous seasons of The Shield and you're remotely interested in a hugely kick-ass cop series, stop reading, track down the DVD sets from Season One, or at least Season Four, then come back. The quickie review for Season Six: the shiznit.
Facts of the Case
You've been warned. Here we go.
At the end of last season, arguably the most loved character in the series, Curtis Lemansky, met a grisly end at the hands of his friend and partner, Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins). Enraged, Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) vows to track down his best friend's killer and apply lethal force in return. Meanwhile, newly minted captain of the precinct Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) is feeling pressure from her superiors to turn the crime stats around or face the possibility of "The Barn" closing down permanently.
The crime stats take an even bigger hit when a room full of hacked up Mexican illegals is found. As the main case that drives the season, the mass murder will keep Mackey busy, even with such distractions as Claudette promising an appeals hearing that may prevent his early retirement, two new additions to the strike force, the further exploits of Lt. Cavanaugh (Forest Whitaker) and the violent, devastating pursuit of the truth behind Lem's death.
Rarely have I been as emotionally gut-punched with a television series as I have when the end credits rolled on the final episode of Season Five. The wait for the follow-up DVD set was interminable, and the anticipation of where the writers would take this serpentine plot and character work was overpowering. How could the show-runners possibly top themselves? Well, they did. If Season Five was about Vic being haunted by his ghosts, Season Six is about him being haunted by his own creation and it's sublime.
Ever since the first episode of the series, which ended with Vic putting a bullet in the head of another cop, the specter of his dark deed has followed him throughout. Like a cancer, his twisted sense of justice spreads from him to all those close to him—specifically Shane, who over the course of the last couple of seasons, morphs into a mini-Vic, a Frankenstein-like creation boasting all of Vic's ruthlessness and ego and half his smarts. The result: a non-stop "s—-pile" (their words) that just gets messier and stinkier as the season crawls on.
I'll stop there for fear of giving up the story beats. As usual, the writers took a startlingly complex, multi-layered story that feeds upon past events and just when you (read: me) thought there far too many dangling plot threads to resolve, either newly generated or left over from years previous, it all comes together in an unforeseen manner. And the question continues to be: Vic gets results…but is it worth the cost?
Here are some assorted reactions. Beware of small spoilers.
• Michael Chiklis pours it on this season, seamlessly shifting gears through pissed-at-the-world to despairing to utterly flabbergasted to…well, a very, very, very dark place. Very dark. The guy's name should always be in play during award season.
• Even though he's dead, the character of Lem should still be credited; his ghost is a near-constant catalyst in the drama. A testament to how the series changed so drastically when he was laid to rest.
• Cavanaugh's resolution is both maddening and heartbreaking.
• "The new guy" is a pretty bad dude, though his endgame is abrupt and doesn't quite fit with the character's arc.
• Julien's (Michael Jace) promotion is good to see, but his storyline is essentially forgotten, save for some rolled eyes at Vic's toughness.
• Dutch's final scene of the season? Excellent!
• Can't wait to see what happens with Billings' litigation.
• I had my doubts about Claudette as chief, but she brings it.
• Can Shane possibly dig himself any deeper?
• Where do the producers find so many hard-ass actors to play the gang members? This show just might have the best casting in the business.
• Probably the most action-packed season this far, with incessant gunfire, chases, torture-by-chain, shotgun blasts, tackles into pedestrians, machete attacks and Michael Chiklis half in, half out of a speeding car.
• The character's importance has increased since Lem's demise, but Ronnie (David Rees Snell) still strikes me as the weakest link in an otherwise top-notch ensemble.
• Always good to see Anthony Anderson reprising his role as Antoine Mitchell.
Then there's the season finale. It lacks the sucker punch that its predecessor boasted, but @#$% if I'm not clamoring for another 10 episodes. The set-up has global repercussions, and as well-executed as the interpersonal stuff is (which looks to pop next season thanks to Shane putting his foot in his mouth and bringing down a world of pain), the prospect of a meaty, interesting investigation with the highest of stakes is titillating. Can't wait.
The release measures up to the fine editions of the past. A clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen pairs up with a decent 2.0 stereo mix to deliver a noteworthy technical presentation. Extras: lively commentaries with cast and crew on seven episodes, three robust, candid behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes. Good stuff.
What a show. Mesmerizing from the first episode to the tenth. Consider this a recommendation filthy with hyperbole.
Not guilty. The Shield kicks the court's ass yet again.
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