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Season finale but not the series end

`The Shield' on FX will be back with new criminal conspiracies and a star character who bends the rules.

June 06, 2007|Geoff Berkshire | Special to The Times

The season finale of powerhouse police drama "The Shield," which premiered Tuesday night on FX and repeats Friday and Sunday, felt awfully like a new beginning.

It had been under consideration for the series to end permanently with this recent batch of episodes, which were filmed as the second half of Season 5 but ultimately aired as their own separate season. But with the events set in motion during the last 10 weeks and the twists that came into play last night (a Dutch and Danny love match? Perfect!), that idea seems inconceivable.

Most important, antihero L.A. cop Vic Mackey's (Michael Chiklis) season-long showdown with former partner Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins, this year's supporting cast MVP) isn't over, and Mackey faced down the possibility of forced retirement not with pleas for sympathy, as he had been advised, but with down and dirty detective work.

In one of the finale's several satisfying turns, Mackey essentially partnered himself with police captain-turned-councilman David Aceveda (Benito Martinez), a former rival. Last week Mackey was handed all the ammo he needed to take Aceveda out of the picture (an incriminating photo from a forced sex act that would have severely damaged the politician's career), but he smelled something bigger. Now the unlikely duo have a mutual goal: bust a massive front for Mexican gang activity masquerading as urban renewal.

Such a vast criminal conspiracy is an intriguing new narrative direction for the show, and placing Mackey at odds with Vendrell and in collaboration with Aceveda is a juicy way of turning long-established relationships upside down. The developments also bring into clear focus the dual sides of Mackey, a cop who bends the rules to unethical extremes but remains determined to see justice done.

That dichotomy, beautifully realized by the always consistent Chiklis, continues to make Mackey one of TV's most fascinating characters. We're about to lose Tony Soprano, but it's good to know we've still got one last season of Mackey.

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