'The Shield' series finale: Who feels emotionally pistol-whipped?


Give me a moment to collect my thoughts. I’ve made a seven-season investment in one of the best cop dramas in television history—FX’s The Shield—and it all came to a head last night in 90 tense, dense minutes. I feel like I’ve been emotionally pistol-whipped. In a good way.

Before we talk specifics, let’s move this party to the next page, out of respect for those Vic Mackey maniacs who haven’t watched the series finale yet. (Advice to them: Call in sick, shave your head, hit the sofa, and cue up that bad boy immediately. And look out for spoilers in the paragraphs below!)


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All clear? Good.

The first word that comes to mind is… S#@! As in, Holy. The secondis… completion. As in, I felt a sense of completion when the corruptmembers of the Strike Team finally got their comeuppance. And it was atype of closure that I never quite achieved from the admirable yetenigmatic Sopranos finale.

Series creator Shawn Ryan packed some capital-M Moments into thefinal installment, too many to mention here. I must say that I squirmedin enjoyment watching Ronnie be rewarded for his blind loyalty to Vicwith a big, fat betrayal, and seeing Vic feebly apologize to him as hewas taken into custody. “You’re goddamned sorry?!?!?”retorted Ronnie. (Your anger is justified, Ronnie, but we’re kind ofamazed that you made it all the way to the end, outlasting Lem by twoseasons.) Of course, this season had been spent focusing on a differentStrike Team relationship, Vic and Shane’s. And the fates of those twowere resolved in a way that will stick with viewers for a long time,thanks to potent performances from Michael Chiklis and Walton Goggins.

You knew it wasn’t going to end well for Shane, Vic’s former partner-in-crime, but geez.The events leading up to his death—the curious attention he paid to theteenage clerk at the convenience store; his fixating on the toy policecar and calling for pregnant wife Mara and son Jackson (“Familymeeting!”)—proved to be nice foreshadowing of grisly things to come. Itwas devastating enough that a desperate Shane shot himself on thetoilet, leaving behind a mess of blood and pens, as well as anunfinished suicide note. But then to have Farmington’s finest discoverthe bodies of Mara and Jackson laid out peacefully on the bed—Maraholding the flowers and Jackson clutching the little police car thatShane just bought at the store? Heart: Broken. Mouth: Speechless.

As for Vic? Killing the Mackey daddy probably would’ve been tooeasy. Letting him get away with murder—thank heavens forall-encompassing immunity deals!—wouldn’t have felt right. So Ryancrafted a nifty justice-serving demise for him: Our dirty detectiveloses his family to the witness protection program and is sentenced todeath by desk job, courtesy of the ICE queen. (Mackey, we’re going toneed that 10-page, single-spaced report on gang-related activity by 6p.m.! For the next three years!) What a sight: Vic, dresseduncomfortably in a suit, trapped in his drab office cubicle, watchingas those familiar cop cars whiz by on the streets below. But then, justbefore the credits roll, he pulls a gun out of a drawer, gives a tinysmile of realization, and heads out of the office with a trademarksnarl. Is he off to settle a score? Is he itching for some vigilanteaction? And when he gets to wherever he’s going, are we on his side?These are the fun—not so much frustrating—questions that we’re left toponder.

So, Shield fans, what did youread into that final moment? How do you think this finale stacks upagainst the farewells of other big shows? Were you bummed that Julienand Danny didn’t score more screen time? Did you get misty-eyed whenClaudette told Dutch that she was dying? Should the Dutchman andBillings join forces for a buddy-cop comedy? Are you now holding outhope for a Shield movie? (If you want to read Ryan’s answers to Michael Ausiello’s burning questions about the finale, click here.)

More on ‘The Shield':
Ausiello Files: ‘The Shield’ Boss Shawn Ryan Answers Burning Finale Qs
Note to David Chase: This is how you end a series. (Gillian Flynn’s ‘Shield’ review)
‘The Shield': Over and Out (an in-depth look at the show from EW’s fall TV preview)


Comments (694 total) Add your comment
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  • Anonymous

    Such a perfect ending to an excellent show. I cried when Claudette told Dutch that she had stopped taking her medication and that she was dying. Shane killing himself and his family was so tragic. And the drama that went down when Ronnie was arrested… Vic Mackey totally betrayed everyone who ever trusted or relied on him. And now he has to spend 3 years in his own personal hell working a desk job. Worse, his family has left him. I would have liked to have found out whether that kid actually killed his mother. That’s the only thing that could have made the finale better.

  • Chip

    I was a litle disappointed in the overall ending. I was hoping Claudette would be sooooo upset about Vic and his immunity deal, plus her being after him for the past few seasons, being off her meds, and dying (so not caring about jail), she would have taken matters into her own hands and blown Vic away with the video camera off, claim self defense and the rest of the Barn backing her story since they were all pissed off too. Or maybe the video of it mysteriously dissapears and the end shows his wife watching what really happened in the room.

  • Nick

    I was quite perturbed when the finale ended but after thinking about it, I thought it played out really well and and provided a satisfying conclusion.

  • Marcus Dixon

    AMAZING finale. Anyone who says differently wasn’t watching the same show! ;)

  • Anonymous

    chip with all due respect i think that would have been the cheesiest ending possible, i get the feeling you haven’t been with this show from the beginning. if you had you would know that of all the people at the barn Claudette is probably the straightest arrow of them all. for her to do something like kill vic would have been so out of character. and the idea of vick’s wife getting a hold of a tape of vick being murdered is about the dumbest thing i have ever heard.
    there are so many people that probably wanted to see vic die at the end and feel cheated because he didn’t but those people just don’t get it, like the guy above me said vick is in hell now, and has to live with knowing that everything he held dear is gone, his family, his job he was so proud of and anyone he ever called a friend. since the start i have rooted for vick mackey and wanted to see him get away with his misdeeds but by the end i feel that death would have been too good for him

  • PS

    I was waiting for Michael Chiklis to turn yellow and have rocks all over his body, but then realized it was the wrong show.

  • adel

    I initially did not like the ending, but after watching it a second time, Mackie gets what he deserves. No family, no friends, nothing but a desk job. I do think if they decide to go forward, he would be able to find his family in a heart beat. Shane’s death and the murder of his family was very “benoit” and all in all a good series finale.

  • smartacus gluteus

    Cheap ending. The Vic of seasons past would have protected Ronnie, not turn him over. Vic should have been put on the spot like he did with the many criminals he victimized. Many of the characters developed on season’s past should have influenced Vic’s fate, were is Antwon? I would have liked to see Emolia suffering for having sealed Lem’s faith. So many well developed and twisted criminals that the strike team dealt with just went MIA. Where’s the closure then?

    • lala

      Terrible ending. Mackey would never have given up Ronnie no way. He was more loyal than that. He wouldn’t have given up his leverage on the blonde fed chick until Ronnie got immunity too. And he always protected his wife and kids and women in general so it makes no sense that his wife was afraid of him. He took care of her and his kids. His wife’s character made no sense in the finale and neither did his, it wasn’t consistent with how he was throughout the entire show. Vick Mackey would have found himself and Ronnie a better ending.

      • Mark

        Loved the show…feel a bit cheated by the ending.

        Vic initially refused to cut a deal with the Feds that didn’t include Ronnie. Then when he thought that Corinne was in trouble, he cut the deal that excluded Ronnie but saved Corinne.
        Later he learns that Corinne was actually working with the police and her arrest was a ruse, and that she and the kids were now gone under a witness protection plan. He also knows that given the reaction to his list of misdeeds, that working with the Feds will be no joy at all.

        At this point the Vic Mackie I had got to know over 7 seasons has to come clean to Ronnie, and they do a runner together, or at the very least warn him, nothwithstanding the risk that posed to his deal with the Feds.
        Instead he keeps stringing Ronnie along, even putting his life at risk to bring down the Mexican king pin and score a major drug bust, which incidentally his new employers initially want no part in.

        No, Vic Mackie was a lot of things, but callous traitor was not one of them.

      • Jules

        Really Lala? There’s no reason why his wife should be afraid of him. He point blank shot a cop that was investigating him, and shot a lot of other people, too. His wife was afraid he would find out she was cooperating with the police. If you didn’t get from the show that he was a sociopath and only cared about himself (betraying his most loyal subject in the end), then I think you missed the message.

  • smartacus gluteus

    Cheap ending. The Vic of seasons past would have protected Ronnie, not turn him over. Vic should have been put on the spot like he did with the many criminals he victimized. Many of the characters developed on season’s past should have influenced Vic’s fate, were is Antwon? I would have liked to see Emolia suffering for having sealed Lem’s faith. So many well developed and twisted criminals that the strike team dealt with just went MIA. Where’s the closure then?

  • Kimmy

    Well..After thinking about Vic. He was told he could not have his gun. He was also told any deviance from the contract he would be arrested. Does Vic ever listen, no. At the end of the show, he took his gun, and placed it on his person. Which violates his agreement. So once again we see Vic, although cleared, playing by his own rules. Typical, and a great ending.

  • Rachel K

    I was ok with the ending…in fact…I thought it was brilliant…Mackey ended up in his own prison…at least until he screws it up. The thing is…I was pulling for him to get out of it all…until he threw Ronnie under the bus. I have always liked Ronnie, loyal, quiet character. And that Shane storyline…wow is all I have to say…loosely based on the Chris Benoit (pro wrestler)headlines a year or two ago. I felt satisfaction in this finale…a little hoping for more, but ok with just that few questions left to ponder. Well done!

  • mE

    I too, at first was disappointed by the final few minutes of the finale. But,..after some replaying in my mind,..I do think it was quite fitting, and well-written, as the entire show has always been. I have questioned for awhile as to whether or not there will be a spin-off show from the Shield, where Vic starts a new life, with new stories and friends,..but with the same old Mackey ways,..which is what all caused us to tune in week after week. I also would have liked to have gotten some closure on the storyline regarding the boy’s mother,..and what happened to her. Does anyone remember from a few seasons back when Dutch strangled the cat to see what it was like to kill something? I considered it possible that, in the end,..Dutch could have strangled the boy’s mother. Thank you ‘The Shield’ for the great seasons, and the constant ‘edge of your seat’ writing. This was truly an AMAZING show.

    • lala

      Dutch is a creepy murderer, he killed that boy’s mom.

  • RJ

    How are you people dissing this ending! It was a perfect ending to a classic show!

  • Trent

    This is what attracted me to the series in the first place. It illustrates how people in real life who are thought of as the good guys aren’t always on the straight and narrow. You would applaud at the good things the Strike team would do, but then you would forget about Det. Crowley’s murder plus all the cut corners since. I would liked to have seen a little more of Danni’s and Julien’s storylines. (Did Danni become Captain after Wyms succumbs to her disease? Did Julien reconcile his issues?) Also, what happened to Tina? Did Aceveda have Huggins killed? Did the kid kill his mother Rita? Is she even dead?

  • Big K

    As long as Vic Mackey is on the streets of L.A., he’s more powerful than all of the people who shut him down.
    I’m pretty sure that he left whatever good that was still left in him at that desk, and went to settle some scores.
    If the past few years are any indicator, Mackey’s going to break a whole lot of necks and somehow get dirt on all the folks who think they got him and manipulate them to give exactly what he wants. (except for Dutch and Claudette, they’re good police)

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