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September 4, 2015

The Shield: Coefficient of Drag (season premiere)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Sep 2nd 2008 11:02PM

David Rees Snell as Det. Ronnie Gardocki on THE SHIELD season premiere.
(S07E01) "The Armenians know about the money train!" - Shane

The beginning of the end. One down and twelve to go in The Shield's final run. As depressing as that is, a.) at least it's not over yet and, b.) it started out with one hell of a set-up, huh? Vic and the rest of the Strike Team (what's left of it anyway) have gotten themselves into some serious messes in the past, but something tells me that stirring up a manufactured feud between the Armenians and the Mexicans isn't going to lead to a happy ending.

For those that caught my Early Look review last week, I tried to stay light on the details. But fair warning now - if you haven't watched the premiere yet, I'd hold back on skimming through this as there's a lot of stuff to cover. For instance? Vic doesn't screw around when it comes to his family. There are always moments when I say to myself that even Vic Mackey has a line he won't cross. Then he goes and surprises me. Tying up Mara and practically beating the ever-living crap out of Shane aren't exactly that horrible on the Mackey Scale, but I had just assumed that he would have handled retaliation a little cleaner in this case. Guess not.

Shane, on the other hand, will pretty much try anything at this point. He's dug a hole without a shovel and no ladder to get out. Remember, he's the one who squealed to Diro in the first place about the Strike Team (minus himself) being the masterminds of the money train hit. Diro, Rezian, and just about anyone with clout in the Armenian organization know about it and that's not good since they've green-lit Vic and his family. So what Shane has essentially created is a situation where Vic is now forced to work with him to clear his family's name. With Diro gone, Shane has Rezian's ear - more for personal reasons; Shane and his family were subsequently green-lit as well. So those "favors" aren't just for Vic.

What follows is in-depth, logical, and confusing all at the same time. Vic wants to take down Pezuela still (as penance for his own sins) and he and Shane both want/need to take down the Armenians. Since both groups are gaining power, it only makes sense to pit them against each other. Shane convinces Rezian that because of his power grab, Diro has aligned herself with the Mexicans. Vic then convinces Pezuela that the Armenians were behind the theft of Aramboles' blackmail box and there's no way for Pezuela to think otherwise because, a.) Vic and Aceveda still have the box and, b.) Vic has Aramboles tied up in the same house he killed Guardo in. One Mexi-Armo manufactured feud coming right up!

Before I move on, I do have a few gripes about this. First off, other than the few things Vic looked at, what the hell is in that box? Does it really demand the respect it's getting? That thing became awfully important awfully fast. It's pivotal. Without that blackmail box, a lot of things fall apart immediately.

Secondly, for the most part, Rezian and Pezuela strike me as well-informed, smart, and savvy individuals. Neither would have risen to power if they weren't. Yet both men take just about everything that Vic and Shane feed them at face value. Don't they have goons to spy or dig up info? I'm having a little bit of an issue with how gullible they seem.

Those are minor complaints though because this was a damn near perfect premiere episode. Here's what else is on my mind:

  • It's going to be interesting to see how Olivia connects to everything. If we've learned one thing from The Shield, Feds don't just show up for the hell of it.
  • I still can't believe that Shane tells Mara everything. Whether Shane realizes it or not, in the end if it comes down to it, Mara will protect herself and the kids before her husband. No question.
  • The return of Steve Billings - complete with his old man sunglasses. He and Dutch are just too good together and the way Dutch played Steve by poking at the guy's self-pride to bring him back into the fold was perfect. Really well done. And how about that first case they caught? Man gets acquitted for killing his wife ("final jeopardy" - ha!), then gives up the real killer (who he hired!), so that he can get re-married! Only on The Shield.
  • While it's far too convenient that Pezuela was able to bribe some city official to get Vic an extension on his hearing, I'm glad at least some reason was given. It would have made no sense if Vic just kept working and no one said anything.
  • Like that picture of Ronnie I used? Looks like he's going to play a fairly prominent role this season. Not only has his hatred of Shane continued to grow, but now he's looking to possibly leave the Strike Team for a job with the Special Investigations Section. However, if he wants out, agreeing to murder Zadofian for Vic probably wasn't the best idea. Add in Shane's sloppy clean up job with the ax, and I would hope that this comes back to haunt them in some capacity.
  • So who do we think cleared the room and missed Danny's attacker? My vote goes with Tina. Regardless of who it was, it seems like this is going be Danny's path for the season as she tries to move past a near brush with death. She is raising Lee by herself don't forget.
  • I spit soda all over myself when Tina asked Dutch to help "fill her box." So he did. "Tight" apparently. Hilarious.

Overall, really solid premiere episode and I love the set-up for the entire season. I know there were a lot of complaints that season six didn't have much of a cliffhanger - it just sort of ended. This made up for it.

I've read a lot of things about this show. Watched video, interviews, etc. Whenever Walton Goggins (he plays Shane) talks, he always mentions that Vic is so great at compartmentalizing things. I'm thinking that may end up being his downfall here. He's letting his desire to atone for his own sins and protect his family get in the way of protecting the rest of the Strike Team - especially Ronnie. It has to fall apart, right?

The obvious question that needs to be asked: now that you've seen the premiere, what do you think will happen to Vic in the finale?
He's a dead man walking.189 (47.1%)
There's a cot waiting for him right next to Kavanaugh.100 (24.9%)
He's going to retire like normal people do.112 (27.9%)

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"I'm not at liberty to discuss the case, that's what my bitch dyke lawyer's for."

Well, I'm back on TSR, and it's good to be back, and it's good to have THE SHIELD back.

Initial thoughts, once I watch it again I'll have more.

Well shit. First off, I never thought any show could rival the complexities, layers, and interest in each and every story that the level THE WIRE brought to television, but apparently THE SHIELD has taken a note from David Simon and stepped up this show to an entirely new level. It seems simple, right? Convince the Mexicans that the Armenians are after 'em, and vice-versa, and watch the fireworks? I feel like I have to have a notebook of characters to follow it all, and I love it.

Chiklis owns the screen, even moreso this season. Not a knock against the supporting cast, but Michael is the essence of this show - and every moment he's on the screen pulses with life.

Walton Goggins might be the most underrated actor in Hollywood. How else can I completely and wholly hate a man for killing the soul of this show while still caring and feeling for him and his perspective? The juxtaposition in the hotel scene - with him racing back and forth to see what Vic & Ronnie were up to - all the while trying to decide what to do - is the epitome of his character. What a brilliant actor.

With the emergence of Ronnie - the last of the Strike Team to kill in cold blood - it makes me think more and more (I've been saying this since S4) that Vic will not make it through this show. Vic goes down in flames, Ronnie takes the helm, and the circle of life is complete.

I think it's clear Tina failed to clear the storage room - and Danny's vendetta against whomever failed to do so will be her objective this season.

A for me. Sets up perfectly.


September 04 2008 at 1:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was so sad to see Ronnie cross over to the dark side last night. Now he is in the same boat with Shane and Vic, a cold blooded murderer.

I was thinking last night, Walton goggins is a great actor. He actually has me feeling a little sympathy for shane. I mean if you think about it, Shane is Vic with a conscience, it only because he has a conscience that he is torn up by the things they do and it disgusts him so much that he tries to fix things and digs himself in more trouble. I think we are going to start to see the same thing happen to Ronnie. Ronnie is going to have to deal with what comes with acting like Vic Mackie and having a conscience.

September 03 2008 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had forgotten how confusing the storyline had become until this episode started. (Can you imagine reading all the hype and tuning in for the first time?) I think it succeeded in simplifying things for the final run.

September 03 2008 at 9:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Finally, Ronnie is more of a central character. I've been waiting for this for 6 years.

September 03 2008 at 5:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love this show. There's 100 different ways they could end the series and all of them are strong, believable and meaningful.

I've been waiting for Ronnie to start becoming more pivotal. He's the one that dispassionately calculates things, he's sharper than the rest of the team because he doesn't become emotional. But the truth is, the dude had half his face burned on a stove in season 2, and that's the sort of thing that screws with your head when you're committing the sort of sins the Strike Team has committed. As soon as he shaved his beard off, I knew the dangerous side of him would slowly start to surface.

And, man, Claudette is f-ing sharp! She's so underappreciated by most fans (often including me), but she can see into parts of Vic that even he isn't aware of.

September 03 2008 at 3:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I fell victim to watching Hulu clips eagerly awaiting this day, so the return of billings, Ronnie finally getting his hands dirty, and yet another Tina f-up was sadly not a suprise for me. Dutchboy and billings play so well off each other that they had to bring him back. The gag with the great set felt a little Rescue Me ish, but I don't remember laughing out loud while watching the Shield, so billings interrogation was worth it. The way things have set up, the only way for Ronnie to get out would be to plug Shane and Vic. I could see him offing Shane and Cassidy taking care of Vic. They've been building the resentment of Cassidy for Vic for so long that I wouldn't at all be suprised if she went psycho on her pop. Either she or Corine will do the dirty deed. I hope we see Antwan Mitchell this season, and I think that Olivia may be investigating his claims unless the feds are back looking for the money train. I'm sad to see it end, but I'm glad they got to go out on their terms since the end will be a natural end.

September 03 2008 at 1:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 03 2008 at 12:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Vic Mackey I know and love is too smart to start this war on purpose. Start it by accident and then make the best of a bad situation? Maybe. But he of all people knows word on the street will get out about this supposed alliance, and as soon as it reaches Pezuela, Diro OR Rezian, the jig is up.

And I agree: Rezian can only get information through the prison system, so he might be a little further out of the loop than normal, but if Pezuela can bribe a police administrator to take a leave of absence, he's got too many connections to not figure this out sooner or later.

EVERYONE from the original Strike Team has now committed murder. It's an interesting choice by the writers. Ronnie was the last of that original four able to garner much sympathy. He's always been a loyal soldier. Don't like that 1,000-yard stare, though, or some of his behavior afterward.

September 03 2008 at 12:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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