If The Shield made any mistakes in its seven season run, it’s that as it headed into the final stretch (really Seasons five, six and seven, which fits as five and six were really one season split apart), is that it put Vic Mackie (Michael Chiklis) and Shane Vandrell (Walton Goggins) front and center, and the supporting cast from the Barn – the show’s station for the Los Angeles cops who made up most of the cast – were put into the margins. Sure “Dutch” Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) gets to break a case or two, and Claudette Wimms (CCH Pounder) gets some moments, but they are the lucky ones compared to Michael Jace’s officer Julien, or Catherine Dent’s Danni Sofer. There wasn’t much to do, and they were sacrificed for momentum. Who did benefit? David Rees Snell, as his Detective Ronnie Gardocki went from a feature player who maybe got a line or two, to one of the show’s aces in the hole.
More after the jump:
For the final season, the strike team is scattered, and Vic Mackey is facing early retirement, while the Armenian mob wants their revenge on Mackey and his family. Shane ended last season trying to save Mackie’s wife and daughter from such an assault, but all it did was piss Mackie off. Mackie’s gotten into bed with the feds, and has cozied up to Agent Olivia Murray (Laurie Holden), hoping to go Federal and get a deal to both stay alive, and stay out of jail. He also knows that Murray has some hidden dirt that was in the mystery box he scored the season before.
Mackie is trying to get the machinations going to kill Shane, but he goes back and forth. While Shane is looking after his now pregnant-again wife Mara (Michelle Hicks) and son. And in the middle of the season, everything unravels for Shane.
A final season is about getting one’s house in order, and there’s a suspicion that the show will pull punches, or sucker punch you with an unexpected death. Much of the season left viewers wondering if the subplot involving a psycho kid and his mother (Frances Fisher), who Dutch (sort of) leads on. There was also the question of Claudette’s Lupus, and the barn itself being shut down. And because of the velocity of the season, time with the supporting cast gets left behind. What does get ample screen time is Shane and family in flight, which is some of the most poignant stuff the show has done. Things are not going to end well for anyone, and the moments where Shane is with his family have the poignancy of fate hanging over their heads.
But, if there is some kerfuffle about getting there, it’s fair to say the show ends exactly as it should. Though it cannot sum up itself as brilliantly as The Wire did, The Shield goes out throwing the exact right punches and left turns. Everyone is punished and rewarded about as right as they could be, while the show – which was great at keeping audiences guessing, and keeping their characters under the thumb of one bad decision or another in hot water. When it comes to a finish, it’s exactly right.
And it should be said that Goggins and Snell deliver some of their best work, with Shane Vandrell one of television’s great characters. On the seven years, we’ve been exposed to the reckless, racist and stupid side of the character, but Goggins always conveyed the humanity, which was apparent in his inability to do anything right. The Shield had some fat in the middle, and the first season was better as a cop show. But as the fourth season ended, the end was also beginning to take shape and the last three seasons have been nearly breathless. I’m ready to start at the beginning again, and see how it plays as a whole, but Season seven is one of their best.
Sony presents the show in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and in 2.0 surround. Every episode offers commentary and deleted scenes with optional Shawn Ryan and David Rees Snell. Disc one features Episode 1 (Coefficent of Drag) featuring commentary by Michael Chiklis, writer Kurt Sutter, and director Guy Ferland, and seven deleted scenes (5 min.). Episode 2 (Snitch) comes with commentary by creator Shawn Ryan, writer/producer Adam E. Fierro, and script coordinator/writer Lisa Randolph, along with three deleted scenes (2 min.). The third episode (Money Shot) comes with a commentary by Ryan, Paula Garces, producers Kevin G. Cremin and Craig Yahata, and editor Jacques Gravett, along with a deleted scene (1 min.).
Disc two offers episode four (Genocide) with commentary by Ryan, actors Jay Karnes, Autumn Chiklis, Frances Fisher, director Dean White, writer Lisa Randolph, and editor Jordan Goldman, and comes with seven deleted scenes (7 min.), Episode five (Game Face) offers Chiklis and Laurie Holden, and two deleted scenes (2 min.). Episode six comes (Animal Control) with commentary by actors CCH Pounder, Walton Goggins, Brian White, and writers John Hlavin and Angela Russo, along with two deleted scenes (2 min.). Episode Seven (Bitches Brew) offers commentary by Shawn Ryan, director Stephen Kay, and returning special guest performers Mageina Tovah and Patrick St. Esprit, along with three deleted scenes (4 min.).
Disc three kicks off with Episode Eight (Parricide) with commentary by Ryan, and actors Cathy Cahlin Ryan and David Rees Snell, and has no deleted scenes. Episode nine (Moving Day) offers commentary from Ryan, actors Chiklis, Benito Martinez, and producer John Landgrad, with six deleted scenes (4 min.). Episode Ten (Party Line) offers commentary by Ryan, and actors Goggins, Cathy Ryan, Snell and Michele Hicks, along with seven deleted scenes (8 min.). Episode Eleven (Petty Cash) offers commentary by Ryan, Chiklis, Martinez, Karnes, Cathy Ryan, Snell, director Craig Brewer and writer Jameal Turner, along with four deleted scenes (2 min.)
Disc four has Episode Twelve (Possible Kill Screen) with commentary by Goggins, Hicks,, Holden, Fierro, writer Evan Bleiweiss and director Billy Gierhart, with four deleted scenes (3 min.). And then Episode Thirteen (Family Meeting) with commentary by Ryan, Chiklis, Martinez, Karnes, and Snell, and five deleted scenes (7 min.). Also included with this disc are the featurettes “Last Call: The Final Episode” (30 min.) and “Nobody Expects to Lose, Nobody Expects to Die: The Shield’s Final Season” (26 min.). The former is the better of the two, but you buy the cast and crew’s enthusiasms.