The Shield Finale: Real Bad Cop

I made this sketch while watching the series finale of the ultimate "bad cop" TV show, The Shield, which made its debut on the FX network seven years ago. The show pushed the boundaries for basic cable in terms of language, violence and sex, sometimes seemingly for its own sake. I know some folks don't like this kind of show, and I can understand why. I'm not always a fan of the genre, with movies like Bad Lieutenant and its ilk. The negativity, cynicism and darkness can be unpleasant to watch. At the same time, one can get a vicarious thrill from seeing what awful things these dark characters do and get away with, all from the comfort of our La-Z-Boy, no threat to us. Certainly, the same can be said of The Sopranos. But where David Chase and crew decided to flip the bird to his viewers and go all "post modern," avoiding a clear and satisfying conclusion, the creators of The Shield didn't take the weird and easy way out. Like I said, The Shield sometimes indulged itself and its viewers with seemingly gratuitous stories and situations, but I always held out hope that the show would close in a way it had to, justifying all that came before.  And they pulled it off, in spades. Watching this last season, they not only delivered a final arc that covered all the bases for characters and plot for this season itself, but for the entire series going back to the very first episode, delivering a conclusion that packed a punch, tragic in nearly a Shakespearean sense. Along the way, Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker stopped by for a season each with superb guest turns that became integral to the plot and themes. The cast is great throughout, but of course the series is grounded by the stand-out performance of Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey, the baddest of bad cops. What a twisted journey he and his strike team make, and with the final show we finally learn who, if anyone, makes it out the other side intact. Kudos to creator Shawn Ryan, who scripted the finale himself. And if you haven't seen The Shield, check it out, as well as Ryan's other show, The Unit (CBS), which he co-created with David Mamet.