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September 3, 2015

The Shield: Family Meeting (series finale)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Nov 25th 2008 11:46PM

(L-R): Michael Chiklis as Det. Vic Mackey and David Rees Snell as Det. Ronnie Gardocki on THE SHIELD series finale.
(S07E13) "Family meeting!" - Shane

Seven seasons, 88 episodes, and it all comes down to this. Vic Mackey, one of television's greatest anti-heroes, finally got what was coming to him. The Shield is over and Tuesday nights across America just got a little less exciting. Shawn Ryan has crafted some masterful Vic Mackey moments since 2001, but this episode (and Michael Chiklis' acting in it) easily stand apart as one of the show's greatest achievements yet.

For the most part, "Family Meeting" played out exactly as I expected it to. There weren't a lot of crazy WTF moments. Much of it was logical. Even the ending was something I had considered, however, I didn't put much stock in it. In my mind, Vic Mackey had to go down in a stream of blood and bullets. That being said, the lack of blood in Vic's final "resting place" was just as powerful.

Picking up where we left off last week, Vic spilled his guts to Olivia and Chaffee, effectively hanging Ronnie out to dry. Now he needs to come through on his promise to deliver Beltran to save himself while stringing Gardocki along. It was so painful to watch the entire episode, knowing that Ronnie would either die or be hauled off to jail. Even Vic had more potential endings than him. I've said it before and I'll say it again - David Rees Snell deserves some serious props for what he did with Ronnie over the span of this show. From a guy with no lines in the pilot to this. Amazing.

Moving on to Shane, was anyone really that surprised at the murder/suicide? Sure it was shocking, but the second he gave all his extra money to the cashier at the Korean grocery, you knew exactly what was going to happen - poison Mara, Jackson, and the unborn Francis Abigail, and then shoot himself.

After he spoke with Vic, Walton Goggins' face was brilliant - the minute he realized it was over when Vic told him about the deal with I.C.E and Olivia. The second they got home, it was as if the Bonnie and Clyde lifestyle they had been living for the past few weeks vanished immediately and the fear of what would happen to the kids set in. For Shane, a guy who's always been a coward (how can you forget the way he killed Lem), this really was the most appropriate end for him. He'll never have to answer for all the pain he caused. Pathetic.

Let's get the rest of my thoughts on the finale out of the way before we discuss the end...

  • I found it odd that Shane used Billings as a middle man to deliver his message to Claudette. Why didn't he just call The Barn? Once he got home, you knew a neighbor would report it, so his location was no secret.
  • Speaking of Billings, how about his "bitch dyke" attorney? She was strikingly beautiful! It honestly crossed my mind that Billings had maybe hired an actress (or hooker?) to try and seduce Dutch into writing Steve a more favorable report for his case against the department. Guess not though, since that really was his lawyer. Nice that Dutch seemed to hit it off with her. (The actress who played Steve's lawyer, Julia Campbell, is Jay Karnes' wife.)
  • And speaking of Dutch, I was a little disappointed with how things played out with him and Lloyd. You knew the kid was going to kill his mother and the way he tried to set-up Dutch was certainly admirable, but I had been hoping for a bit a of a bigger showdown between the two. Regardless, seeing Claudette rip the little shit apart in the interrogation room more than made up for it. Lupus be damned, she's still got it.
  • The only other disappointing moment in the finale for me was when Julien checked out those two guys while on patrol with Tina. It was a reaffirmation that he's gay, but also a reminder that we really didn't get any closure to his story.
  • What did everyone else think of Andre Benjamin's Huggins? Comic book store owner turned mayoral candidate. I bet he would have given Aceveda a run for his money... makes you wonder if David may have had any involvement in his murder.
  • In a nod to his hometown of Rockford, Illinois, Shawn Ryan sent Corinne and the kids there - the home of that giant T-Rex is the Burpee Museum of Natural History which is in Rockford.
  • My mouth actually got dry because my jaw hung open for what seemed like forever as Claudette showed Vic the crime scene pictures from Shane's apartment. That was one of the best scenes this show has ever had. Vic's eyes were like shards of glass.
  • Clark Johnson, who directed the pilot, also directed this episode and popped up right at the end as the "Handsome Federal Marshal." Know what other influential series he directed the book-ends for? The Wire.

OK - let's talk Vic. For argument's sake, he may as well have ended up in prison because for him, sitting in a tiny cubicle, isn't much better. In prison, he might have actually had a few friends (maybe not). But the second Shane told him that Corinne was working with the cops and said Vic was "alone," that was the key right there.

Ronnie got dragged off, Shane is dead, his family is in witness protection, and he has a job where no one is ever going to be sitting next to him in the break room. The ironic thing about the picture with Lem on his desk (he had to cut Ronnie and Shane out) is that had Lem still been alive, Vic probably would have screwed him over too. Sooner or later, "me" always comes before "you."

The look on Vic's face when Olivia told him that he has a desk job - not a plainclothes beat - was amazing. Vic was angry, hurt, and saddened all at the same time. Best of all, he knew he had no choice. The final scene - again, Michael Chiklis' eyes - was amazing. All that pain and suffering whittled down to a new daily mantra: wear a suit, do your job, and go home. It's the complete antithesis of who he is. Excuse me - who he was.

So what does everyone think? Did Vic Mackey get what he deserved?

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WHile I am very sad that "THE BEST SHOW EVER" is now just a memory in al of our minds, I a happy that Mr. Ryan was good enough to keep us all on board the Vic Express for 8 seasons?
While alot of what we were shown each week was far fetched and would get the average cop thrown in jail for life, it was still cool, fun, and unavoidable!
I will miss it, but I am glad its over, because some where right now, someone is pitching a script for the next "best show ever" and you an I are just waiting to get sucked in.....
That my fellow Shield lovers is why we loved this show....
It was good..... It was Bad....... And we loved it...

December 04 2008 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How many people thought Vic would kill himself at the end when he pull his gun out of the drawer? When he put it in the back of his pants and walked away with a smile, I didn't know what to make of it. I think, at least, it means that after all of the things he did, he got away with everything; but he came away with nothing. And, now that it's all gone, he will continue to do anything he wants and still get away with it. The ending could lead into a movie. I know you here that with alot of landmark shows when they end (Sopranos), but it's a real possibility. There were too many loose ends at The Barn to be tied for the real ending. How's this for a plot- Ronnie tries to survive in prison, tries to earn respect from Antoine Mitchell, Ronnie concieves a plan with Mitchell to get Vic from the inside. Claudette dies, Dutch becomes captain, fires Billings, Billings sues The Barn. Vic tries to locate Corrine and the kids.- Just some ideas, anybody else have some?

December 04 2008 at 6:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Trevor Hallam

I agree with pretty much everything you've just stated. Maybe you should have been in the writer's room when they thought up this mess.

December 03 2008 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Trevor Hallam

6 out of 7 ain't bad.

Am I the only one who thought this was the weakest season of the Shield? What happened to Vic? Since the beginning, he's always been one step ahead of everybody. He's always managed to find a way to protect himself, his family and his team. All of a sudden, he's two steps back, making stupid, rash decisions. Vic was never a "good guy". He's done heinous things. He's a murderer and a liar, and thensome. I get that. But all of those bad things he did were done for a good purpose, at least in Vic's eyes. That is the main reason I loved his character so much. He was ruthless in his quest to better his life. But beginning in season 7, the writers seemed to have forgotten this aspect of Vic's character. The one thing that has kept people's interest and made folks like me want to keep watching, is that Vic was not completely bad. In a way (argue if you must), he was a good person who did bad things. Now, all of a sudden, Vic is no longer clever. He makes terrible decisions. And, worst of all, he's willing to kill babies. Vic's done a lot of bad stuff, but I just cannot believe, as much as I hated Maura and wanted to see her "get hers", that Vic is evil enough to kill a pregnant woman out of spite, or for any reason whatsoever. And that seems to be what season 7 was all about. Making Vic the bad guy. Changing who his character is to serve a badly thought-out plot.

I watched the final episode last night. Overall, I had not been impressed with much of the season, other than a few high notes here and there, but I kept holding out hope that the final episode would wow me in the way that so many past episodes of this great show have done. I wanted it to be good so much that, when the people I watched it with began to groan and criticize, I defended it. I made excuses for the actions of characters and events of the plot. I really really wanted it to be good. Then I had all night to think about it. I went to sleep, and when I woke up, I thought about it some more. And I've thought about it all day, and I've come to my conclusion: I didn't like it. I liked the ambiguous ending, but that was all. Nothing else about it really worked for me.

And now, like you really care, I'll add my opinion about when they should have ended this series. Season 6 should have been solely about seeking revenge for Lem's death. Leave out the new storylines about Penzuella (spelling?) and the cartel. Season 6 should have been the last, as it was the last great season in the series. But, I guess money talks more than creativity. It's like the writers had one idea, and when they went around the room asking each other if anyone had anything better, they all said, "Uhm, no, no. Not really. Ok, I guess we'll go with this."

December 03 2008 at 9:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am going to miss the shield so much. I can't believe it ended. I am hoping so much they
come up with a similar charector for micheal
chiklis. He is amazing as an actor and so believeable. That part and that kind of charector was made for him and I am going to
miss that show so much.

December 02 2008 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have loved this show since the beginning. I think Walton Goggins should have his own show. He is so sexy! I am also a big fan of Clark Johnson. I will watch for more directing from him; and acting. This episode just proves that "what goes around, comes around!"

December 02 2008 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stuart Resnick

> And speaking of Dutch, I was a little disappointed with
> how things played out with him and Lloyd. You knew
> the kid was going to kill his mother and the way he
> tried to set-up Dutch was certainly admirable, but I
> had been hoping for a bit a of a bigger showdown
> between the two.

I'd thought for a moment that Lloyd slipped up in the interrogation. When Wyms told him about his mother's clothes, she said they were found in Dutch's trashcan. But later the kid said, "He burned my mother's clothes!" Was that a smoking gun, that if Lloyd was innocent, he wouldn't know the clothes were burned? Or did I miss something?


December 02 2008 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lee Mackey

The last 10 minutes of The Shield was a disgusting let-down. A sorry joke wrapped in the guise of critical acclaim and finality. Terrible. AWEFUL. Shawn Ryan spent the past six years building his credibility as a storyteller and suspense writer only to piss it away on a garbage note.

I'm also convinced that every media outlet is in ryan's pocket and has been showered neck-deep with bribes and cash money. That's the only reason I can think of why the press has almost unanimously decreed that 10 minutes of dreck as satisfying? That's the only reason I can think of why anyone with a shred of sense can really REALLY try to convince a viewer that three years of a desk job with a threat of jail (if VIC should call in sick, or something) is worse than mandatory life sentence. I don't care how much of a bad-ass on a street he was. Take a look at the many correctional institutions in the world where shanking, male rape and solitary confinements in cold, hard hellholes within a hellhole are an inmates' joie de vive.
SHAWN RYAN got well-deserved kudos for orchestrating a realistic world of crime and punishment, where everyone seemed to get what they deserve for the bad they did. But the greatest devil in the show gets away and WE ARE SUPPOSED to believe that THAT MAKES SENSE? What are you people on? If Shawn Ryan had any real guts he would have done one of three things.
1) PUT A BULLET IN VIC's head like the one he put in Terry Crowley's.
2) PUT VIC IN PRISON where he sent Ronnie
3) TORTURE VIC so badly he can feel nothing below the neck, like the way Shane and Mara practically contributed to Tavon, after which Vic manipulated Tavon to take the blame for the entire altercation.

What SHAWN RYAN did INSTEAD was weak and made me so violently ill that I sprayed vomit all over my flatscreen. I'm not fooled by this bs of ironic punishment or karmic justice. This show had potential to be the greatest crime series, possibly the greatest drama on television but all that potential was pissed away with that cowardly ending. That honor will be bestowed to another show, that will not squander away a chance to REALLY say something.

I mean, when you look back, you have to say, then what was this ALL ABOUT?

PEOPLE I say Shawn Ryan must be petitioned to confess that he did not know what he was doing when he led the writing of the season and that he is a fraud. He had Shane commit suicide and kill his pregnant wife and son but Vic gets away? He had Tom Cavanaugh (Forrest Whitaker) go to prison for unsuccessfully framing Vic and he lets Vic get away? Ronnie goes to prison for the rest of his natural life (presumably) for being a follower and a pawn and Vic gets away? Garbage. People, we have been had.

Vic the antihero. Give me a break. In that last scene he takes out that picture of him and the Strike Team, with Shane and Ronnie cut out, leaving only Lem. Lem, the 'good' one, who was the least loyal to their corruption, who wanted out, who burned their stolen money, who was killed by his own friend, who never believed that Vic shot Terry. That part killed me cuz if Lem had known the real Vic the way Shane did, he woulda put the knife in Mackey's heart himself, probably.
I know it's just a show, a show that I have enjoyed, but Shawn Ryan loses ENTIRELY ALL CLAIMS to a "gritty, uncompromising and realistic show" when he has Vic confess to his "original sin", the murder of Terry Crowley, and he gets off with community service, some homework assignments, and 3 years of withering, dirty looks from a beautiful blond federal agent.
When you look at the first ep then look at the last, it's as if it's all been for nothing.


December 01 2008 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lee Mackey's comment

Lee Mackey wrote:


First, you are forgetting that Shawn Ryan did not participate in the actual writing of the final season, or the execution of it, due to the writer's strike. He just framed the outline. Shooting began shortly after the strike began, and he said sternly that he would not cross picket lines.

Second, it is infinitely clear to me that you watched the show only on the surface, and never really understood the intricacies, or the motivations of each character, otherwise you wouldn't be so "outraged". Quite simply, you missed the entire point of a series that ran for seven years. I don't see why you bothered watching at all. It is clear that all those hours you spent sitting in front of the television watching The Shield was "all for nothing".


December 06 2008 at 11:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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