Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Shield - Season 7

The Shield is quite easily one of the most tightly and heavily plotted shows I've ever seen. There's hardly a moment to breathe ever, as someone is always in trouble, there's always a problem to take care of, and always a case to solve. I'm not sure if it would be different if it was on a premium channel and had a bit more leniency with running time. I'd be interested in seeing what they would have tried, because they got away with a hell of a lot for a cable show. I would guess the pacing would stay the same though, it feels like a deliberate choice by creator Shawn Ryan and his writers. This style is both an asset and detriment to the show, in my opinion. The action is almost always tense and exciting, with a pit forming in your gut as you wait for what's next, just knowing it's not going to be good. But this also leads to some contrivances in the plot, overly convenient plot turns and logical leaps so that it can all keep humming along, and it's just a bit too outlandish sometimes to really put itself in that highest echelon of best shows ever for me.

That method of storytelling did help with one aspect though - bringing the story to an end. A lot of my favorite series have had endings that were controversial at best or unsatisfying at worst, whether because they didn't have the opportunity to end properly or the way they worked didn't allow for tidy conclusions. But The Shield's final season and final episode in particular are the best of the series, and bring its various character arcs and plot threads to perfect and usually devastating ends. I really can't say anything about the specifics, because you just need to see it if you care at all. It might have been just a bit more effective if parts didn't feel ripped from the headlines, but it was still an incredibly successful way to finish this story. Long ago when I was talking about season one, I was impressed by the way they balanced Vick's good and bad sides, making you consider whether his crimes were justified by his busts. By the end of the final episode, that question is answered definitively, and the final moments of the show end his story in the only way they could have. What a series.

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