‘The Shield’ finale, 3 years later

Senior Television Writer
11.28.11 97 Comments


I did my best to avoid working over the long Thanksgiving weekend, but I couldn’t step away from the Internets altogether (smartphones are the methadone of my web addiction), and saw this tweet on Friday pointing out that it was the third anniversary of “The Shield” finale – and, therefore, the end date for one of the storylines set up in that finale. Some thoughts on that coming up just as soon as I dial 912…

So, as you may recall, “The Shield” ended not with Vic Mackey dead, or in prison, but stuck with a more diabolical – if on some level short-term – fate. He got immunity for all his crimes, but his wife and kids disappeared into witness protection, Shane murdered himself and his family, Ronnie went to prison for life, and Vic got stuck with a different kind of prison sentence when Olivia from ICE made it clear that she expected him to fulfill every day of his three-year contract, and to spend those three years figuratively shackled to a desk, doing nothing but mind-numbing paperwork. In many ways, it was much better than Vic deserved, but it still separated him from everyone and everything he ever cared about.

Still, when I interviewed Shawn Ryan after the finale, he compared Vic to a shark and noted that, “I think as long as a shark’s alive it can find some place to swim to.” The incredible final scene of the series (embedded below, along with the greatest hits montage that played over the closing credits) showed Vic stewing about his fate, but at the end he grinned slightly, pocketed his (enormous) off-duty gun and headed out into the night, with some new kind of plan in his head. It’s entirely possible that he spent the last three years getting shut out of attempts to find his family, to get more actively involved in crime prevention, to improve his ruined reputation. But it’s also possible that he slowly but surely wriggled out of the net Olivia put him in, and/or that he’s been laying the groundwork for exactly what he’d do the second the ICE contract lapsed.

At the time, Shawn said he thought a bit about what the characters might be up to at the end of those three years – Ronnie, for instance, would have linked up with the white supremacists for protection in prison – and that he might be open to the idea of a movie down the road if there were interest and he had time in his schedule. A lot’s happened for him and for the actors on the show in the last three years, and I don’t know if he’d still want to do it – or if any studio would be willing to finance a movie sequel to the show. (I asked Shawn if he had changed his mind any, but have yet to hear back; if he responds, I’ll update this post.) 

“The Shield” finale is, to my mind, one of the best ever for any TV drama, and maybe the best, period. I don’t especially need to see the continuing adventures of Vic Mackey, but the finale did raise some interesting possibilities and leave some wiggle room for a longer epilogue if everyone found the time, money and interest to do it.

What does everybody else think? Was the ending to the show too good to need more story? What do you think Vic has been doing for the last three years? Is Claudette still with us? What has the Aceveda mayoral administration been like for Los Angeles? 

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