Can Vic out race a bullet?– thoughts on the final episodes of The Shield

For almost six seasons, I’ve waited and anticipated what I thought needed to be the bloody and just ending of the show.  The “hero” Vic Mackey was a bad, bad man and I believed that there was no way he could just go on and live a happy life when all was said and done.  And to draw the inevitable parallel, he’s no Tony Soprano who gets to happily munch on some fast food listening to Journey before the screen goes blank.  Someone has to pay for their crimes and if it’s not Tony Soprano then it has to be Vic Mackey.  Blood needed to be spilled.

But now somehow, Vic Mackey has been turned into… I’m hesitant to say “sympathetic” but that’s almost what he is as his entire life now crumbles around him.  His friend and brother-in-arms Shane has finally revealed his true nature.  Lem, the great younger brother to all the characters, paid the ultimate price a couple of seasons ago now but his spirit hangs over every action of Vic, Shane and Ronnie, the surviving members of the strike team.  Vic has no life to return to and now he’s given up his badge seeking the ultimate revenge.  The character who has always hidden behind his badge has now given up the shield that’s helped put him above the law since the very first episode.  This show since the beginning has been a big morality story– particularly how the lack of morals affects those who are supposed to uphold some kind of societal morals.

The characters of Vic and Shane have been at times repugnant and at time heroic but they’ve rarely been redeemable.  While it’s looked like they both may have moments where they could have made up for all the crap they’ve done in the past, this last episode reminds us of the monsters both men truly are as Shane uses every last desperate measure he can to protect himself, including using his family, and Vic is driven to his own desperate measure, one that if he really saw clearly he would have done a long time ago.  It’s not noble.  It’s not heroic but if anyone is to survive, there are only a few places left for the characters and the show to go.  At this point, there aren’t many options left for either man and it’s just a matter of who’s left standing when all is said and done.

There’s only a handful of episodes left and while I’d love to watch the continuing adventures of Vic, Shane, Claudette and the rest of the Barn (maybe a Billings/Dutch spinoff is in the works,) I also think the show needs to have a clear and definite ending.  The ambiguity of The Sopranos’ ending worked because the show was built on that ambiguity but an ending like that can only work once.  There can be no ambiguity in The Shield’s ending; Vic needs to win or he needs to lose but there can be no repemption for the character.  Vic can’t see the light at the end of the show and change his ways.

Similar Posts:

1 comment for “Can Vic out race a bullet?– thoughts on the final episodes of The Shield

  1. October 28, 2008 at 7:06 am

    My current theory is that Vic will get a pardon and work for the feds, when all is said and done.

    That seems too neat and too cute for this show, but it wouldn’t surprise me. (And then the spinoff — “Vic Mackey, Fed.” And the crossover — “Vic Mackey vs. Jack Bauer.”)

    But you’re right — the real ending to this show is bloodier. Picture an hour of Shane and Vic holding a gun to each other’s forehead and talking things out before committing mutual murder. Very John Woo-esque. (Maybe doves will fly out afterwards? 😉

    Reminds me a bit of the episode of “Homicide” which was centered on one 20 minute uncut scene of one cop talking the other out of committing suicide. My memory is a little fuzzy on that, so please pardon the details.

Leave a Reply