Spoiler free! I promise… except for the first episode of The Shield.
There are several arguments that could be made about how television can be consumed; either in it’s weekly format, or all at once in season box sets. Personally, I prefer the latter. Much like a good book, I would rather not read one chapter a week. However, I can easily see why the former has it’s merits. Taking the time to digest what happened and easier recall later on. Regardless how much a story stuck with you, watching it all in one go, or a very condensed schedule, I doubt you’d remember very little beyond a few points. There are some shows where I don’t even know all the characters names making some later big reveal lose it’s punch (until I look up character on imdb). I can go on but I’d rather save this discussion for another post.
The Shield is a very good show about Detective Vic Mackey, a member of the LAPD, and the crimes he committed to uphold the law. Very much the antihero. The first episode did a terrific job setting up the type of character he was. He ran a four man drug unit, with every member in collusion, committing just as many or the same crimes he was. Another cop joined his team to investigate the corruption. The episode ended with a drug bust at a dealer’s house. The final shot was of Vic shooting the dealer, taking his gun, and killing the undercover cop.
Establishment. First episode lets you know the type of character he is, what to expect, and whether you’re in or out. I was all in. 88 episodes, 7 seasons, 3 weeks. I couldn’t stop. I needed to see what other depraved things this man would do, how far he would go breaking the law to uphold it. He did have redeeming qualities, he needed them. Every anti-hero does, for a while. He was a good man as far as his team and family went. However, like all good anti-heroes, he needed to fall. The problem is, when do you execute this? When do you completely commit to switching gears?
Now, the change can’t be unwarranted. In Vic’s case, it was very much earned. With every misdeed he stepped out a little farther, until he finally crossed a line, a point where you no longer wanted to see him succeed, but needed to see him fall. This doesn’t happen until the endgame is in sight (the last season typically). This show never lost sight of itself, occasionally reminding viewers of what he did when we were first introduced. And the ending was perfect. I could say a little as to why but don’t want to spoil it. When you get to the end, it’s obvious how perfectly plotted this show was. The beginning and ending were created at the same time. The only unknown was the journey there, and that is always the fun part, earning your ending. This was very much earned.
If you enjoyed this series you should also check out Sons of Anarchy, Terriers, and Last Resort. Same creative team. Agreed, disagreed? Comment below or tweet @TheCredHulk.