Best Moments from “The Shield”

The Mack is back

The ends justify the means in Vic Mackey’s book, and from the first time we met him we knew this wasn’t just another cop on the beat. The Shield brought FX up to the big leagues, with an edgy cop drama unlike anything else on television. You secretly cheered when Mackey, leader of L.A.’s elite, and morally decayed, Strike Team tortured child molesters, drug dealers and other scum bags. But like a mad dog, you never knew when way he was going to turn.

“Good cop and bad cop left for the day,” Mackey says in one episode right before he begins beating up a pedophile to discover where he was hiding a young girl slated to be sold in slavery. “I’m a different kind of cop.”

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THE SHIELD: Episode 2: “Snitch” airing 9 p.m. Tuesday on FX. L-R: CCH Pounder and Michael Chiklis. CR: Prashant Gupta / FX

And now, judgment day may finally be at hand for Mackey as The Shield begins its final season at 10 p.m. Sept. 2 on FX. Just to catch you up to speed, Mackey’s still miffed at Det. Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) for killing Strike Team guy Lem (Kenneth Johnson), but then everyone thought there was a good chance Lem would turn them all in. Mackey’s in trouble with the Armenians for that little robbery in Season 2, and he’s getting ready to lose his badge if he doesn’t figure out a way to get back into the good graces of the higher ups.

This was FX’s first scripted drama, and it blew the doors off of the competition and opened up the basic cable landscape. Creator Shawn Ryan says he wanted to give FX an ending that the network could be proud of and would set a template for other series.

CCH Pounder, who plays Captain Claudette Wyms on the show, says it’s the greatest finale every. Period.

“Hands down, blew my socks off. I’m not a great fan of The Shield as a watcher in the sense of I’m like a cringy person. I’m a bit of a chicken even though my role is so huge and non-chicken-like, “Pounder says. “But this finale is what Vic Mackey deserves.”

Does he get what he deserves?

“What thrills me about the finale is you will not see this coming,” Michael Chiklis, who pays Mackey, says. “When you look back at you’ll go, holy cow, yeah, that’s exactly right. I think he’s a man who is plagued by regret and the fallout of his actions starting from pretty much day one of the series, and all of those actions have led to other actions and created a sort of course that, as C.C. probably would agree, leads him to where it ends up.

“He’s definitely become a guy that understands that there is tremendous consequence, not just for himself but everyone around him, for the decisions that he’s made.”

Some strands from previous seasons will be picked up, others will never be resolved. Ryan says he took a crash course in The Shield history prior to working on this final season.

“There are a couple of characters that are a blast from the past that we bring back and wrap up in some ways,” Ryan says.

As Catherine Dent, who plays officer Danny Sofer, says, you don’t want to get so wrapped up in the final score that you miss a really great game.

“It’s going to be a great game and you’re not gonna want to know how it ends,” Dent says. “You’re going to want to watch every quarter because it’s so intense.”

For the next 13 episodes, of which I’ve seen eight so far, it’s edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that promises to be one of the best season’s ever. Here’s a top-10 look at some unforgettable moments in The Shield history.

1. The Shield marked its territory early when we’re introduced to Detective Vic Mackey, and kind of admire his vigilante style right up to the point where he murders undercover cop Terry Crowley, who was about to blow the whistle on Mackey’s dirty operation.

2. It was bad enough when Mackey blasted the new guy in the face, but when Shane decides to take out friend and fellow Strike Team member with a grenade, it shook everyone up. Lem was being forced into a position where it seemed likely to Shane that Lem would rat the Strike Team out for their criminal behavior.

3. In an early “cringy” moment, Mackey beat up drug dealer/child rapist Armadillo and put his face on a hot electric stove burner. It was hard for me to cook for a while after that one.

4. Mackey really doesn’t like rapist or child molesters, so that makes him a hero in a sick respect. So we weren’t too upset when he allowed a serial rapist to be attacked by a police dog who mauled the man’s genitals.

5. Capt. Aceveda (Benito Martinez) gets caught by a drug dealer while trying to gather some post-bust evidence against the Strike Team. The dealer forces Aceveda to perform oral sex on him, then takes a photo of Aceveda doing it. This blackmail photo surfaces later, and plays a part in the early episodes of the final season, with the Captain now a city councilman.

6. Never play with fire. Remember the rapist who liked to place tires around the necks of his enemies, then poured gasoline on the tire and set it ablaze for a long and torturous death.

7. There’s some kind of sickness within everyone on this show, it would seem. A particularly creepy moment came to play when Aceveda touched himself inappropriately as he watched a tape of a woman being brutally raped. Afterwards, he slipped the evidence into his briefcase, apparently so he could enjoy it later.

8. Even good guys can go oh-so-terribly bad in The Shield. When Lt. Tom Kavanaugh tries to bring down the Strike Team, his frustration at not being able to get the job done results in him trying to bring false evidence against the team. The captain is the one who pays the price.

9. And just because we can’t have Detective Holland “Dutch” Wagenbach (Jay Karnes) come across as a Boy Scout with impeccable morals, we watched as this moral compass strangled a cat.

10. Did we neglect to mention that Mackey took a page out of tire-man’s book and stacked tires around his body and threatened to set him on fire if Mackey wasn’t paid $350,000, plus an additional $50,000 for “ruining my day.” Gotta love that Mackey.

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