The Shield: Season 7 (Ryan, 2008)

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During the final season of The Shield, retribution comes in many forms. For some characters it’s death, while for others minor victories reveal themselves as lifelong triumphs. But for corrupt cop Vic Mackey there’s a special kind of comeuppance. This makes the excellent Series finale directed by Clark Johnson all the more involving, because Mackey finally sheds his false image of American hero and reveals himself to the viewer exactly how Dutch and Claudette have seen him the entire tenure of the show; as a lethal disease. Mackey infects everyone around him and Shane’s final note lyrically states that he “wishes he never met Vic”, a closing statement of great weight and honesty. Moments like these finally complete the disturbing mosaic The Strike Team has created over the years. Despite the arrests they’ve made, the drugs they’ve confiscated, or the innocents they’ve saved, it was all done with a plagued moral objective that favored vice over virtue. Series creator Shawn Ryan avoids tying up every loose end, even allowing Vic one last moment of antiauthoritarian rage. Cornered and alone, Vic retreats to his two instruments of power; his gun and his street smarts, succumbing to the reality that his fatal flaws are the only traits that have kept him alive this long. For all the many fascinating characters of The Shield, Season 7 ultimately shows the ties that bind family together and the moments that break them apart forever. It’s a thin red line between one or the other.

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