The Shield: Season 2 (Ryan, 2003)

After a startling and exhilarating opening act, the sophomore season of The Shield goes into repeat mode. Vic and his Strike Force Team continue to bend the law, shifting from the drug game to planning a daring and dangerous assault on an Armenian money train. The same office politics plague The Barn while Aceveda turns into a lame duck leader and heads for the City Council. You can tell Shawn Ryan and his skilled team of writers and directors attempt to reveal the problematic fissures tearing the Police Force apart, but these commentaries don’t hold the weight they should. The Shield depends on strong writing and complex characterizations to make an impact, but Season 2 allows superficial plot devices and artificial aesthetics to overwhelm these great characters. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to like about Season 2, including the emergence of a devilish Mexican drug-lord named Armadillo, a savage rapist and murderer who challenges Vic and his crew for supremacy of the Farmington drug trade. Also, Det. Wyms (the stoic CCH Pounder) begins to comprehend her own importance as a leader and force in the department. I’m hoping the show will take some more narrative chances in Season 3, possibly mixing up the relationships and situational procedures to show a clear evolution.

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