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Vic Mackey, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Posted November 26th, 2008 by Veidt & filed under The Shield.

 The Shield final act Vic Mackey Family Meeting Victor Samuel Mackey finale leaked Possible Kill Screen

The edge is where we live, all of us, all the time.”

That was pretty much devastating. Devastating and brilliant. Vic managed to avoid prosecution for all of his crimes over the course of the series, and scored a huge victory in taking down Beltran, but absolutely lost everything.

The Shield final act Vic Mackey Family Meeting Victor Samuel Mackey finale leaked Possible Kill Screen

I’ve watched Family Meeting, the finale of The Shield, twice now…have to fly to Vegas for Thanksgiving in just a couple hours, but my head’s still spinning. I’m already reading posts derisively comparing its last moments to The Sopranos finale (which I liked), but I think they’re missing the point. The Shield was resolved about as completely as it could be, while still leaving it open enough to inspire hope that Shawn Ryan and Michael Chiklis could revisit it, at some point.

Vic is stuck in desk job limbo for the next three  years, possibly a fate worse than prison or a hail of bullets, completely aware of the price he’s paid, but unbroken. Mackey without all the things he worked so hard to hold onto is still Mackey. He remains, as he started out, a supremely narcissistic sociopath, with an amazing aptitude for manipulation, and the kind of god-luck you don’t see outside of Intacto. But he also has a dissonant core of nobility: watch him in the final confrontation with Ronnie. Vic was forced to betray his code, in choosing to save his family over his friend/”team”, and the look of shame on his face shows what a gut wrenching choice that was.

The Shield final act Vic Mackey Family Meeting Victor Samuel Mackey finale leaked Possible Kill Screen

So many good moments: The Vic/Shane phone call. Shane in the convenience store, being kind to the Asian girl. Buying his kid a toy cop car. “Family meeting.” The looks Vic gets when he returns to the barn. Ronnie getting arrested. “The last three years…” That pic of Lem and Vic. Vic squarely in cubicle hell. What an amazing end to an exceptional run.

I can’t imagine how the Emmys could justify not giving Walton Goggins an award for his work here, as Shane…but of course, they won’t. I look forward to kicking the hell out of my tv, when this happens. Fortunately, I bought the best buy extended warranty.

The Shield final act Vic Mackey Family Meeting Victor Samuel Mackey finale leaked Possible Kill Screen

What I really want to know, even though they were probably left intentionally open-ended: Is it possible that Dutch actually killed the kid’s mom, to beat the uncatchable (potential) serial killer? Did Acevada have Andre 3000 killed? And what was the final favor Shane was reaching out to Vic for? Was he going to ask him to take care of his son, after he and Mara become an heroes? Because I think that was it, and Christ I can’t believe I’m still crying over goddamn Shane.

Completely unrelated: This is sort-of a mash-up between Labyrinth and one of David Bowie’s darkest songs, and i thought it was beautiful, and it took my mind off of all this for a minute.

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3 Responses to “Vic Mackey, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

TSR November 26th, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Cliff notes – I’m basically going to say “no” to all of your questions:

1) while still leaving it open enough to inspire hope that Shawn Ryan and Michael Chiklis could revisit it, at some point.
– not a question, but I still don’t think there will ever be a follow up of any kind. Vic realizes he’s in hell and he wants to be out on the streets. He grabs his gun and heads out into the night. I don’t really see that as open ended. Vic won’t “survive” three years jockeying a desk, it looks like he only got through one day and that was it. He’ll be busting heads on the street in no time, and break his agreement with ICE. Thus throwing him in the slammer or on the run.

2) Is it possible that Dutch actually killed the kid’s mom, to beat the uncatchable (potential) serial killer?
– it was odd how the finale threw in a bunch of minor things from earlier seasons but didn’t beat us over the head with answers. Like I had been talking to a friend of mine about the Julian character earlier this year. Why had his sexuality not been brought up in so long? Then what happens in the finale, his head jerks when he sees two men walking hand in hand into a building. Just a little crumb to those who had been wondering about that.
– Dutch killing the cat was always a weird, surreal moment in the series to me. It was like he was trying to tap into that darkness that can be in any of us. But ultimately, he’s done nothing since then as a character to make us believe that he’s given into the Dark Passenger and gone out killing. To kill the mom on his first murder seems like a big stretch to me – and too much to just imply to an audience so briefly without ever once showing us that he could potentially kill a human.

3) Did Acevada have Andre 3000 killed?
– No. I don’t see how he could pull of a hit that quickly. He’s mingled with the underworld but by no means has he ever been enough of a player to hire a hit like that and make it somehow look like a retaliation for a march on a drug dealer’s house earlier that day. Too much coincidence.

4) what was the final favor Shane was reaching out to Vic for? Was he going to ask him to take care of his son, after he and Mara become an heroes?
– No, the one thing that has remained so consistent about Shane and his weird brood over Vic and his clan is that no matter how bad things get for Shane – his family sticks together. And clearly that is not the case for Vic. As far as writing on this show goes, we’re beaten over the head with this in the finale of that phone call – which is excellent and so in your face while still being a failure for both participants.
Either everyone in Shane’s family lives or everyone dies. No partials. No one else can take care of their kids if they go to jail. And if anyone goes to jail, it’s Shane only so Mara can raise the kids. But even then, that would damage the family structure. So when Shane decides his fate, he decides all their fate. They stay together in death as they did in life.

Sherry November 27th, 2008 at 8:45 am

TSR, that’s incredibly well-reasoned, and I bow to the superior understanding of the show. Your answer on Shane and Vic’s families is the most insightful thing I’ve read on this episode

I do hope you’re wrong about Ryan never exploring these characters further, though…because the alternative is waiting 20 years for some future J.J. Abrams analog to re-imagine the show into a new feature franchise starring a vaguely similar, yet far hotter and younger cast.

TSR November 27th, 2008 at 4:58 pm

:) Happy Thanksgiving!

I will politely disagree with you on this. I am glad the series had a true beginning, middle and end. The way American networks structure tv programming is to never allow a true ending. Or when a creator finally decides to pull the plug, we see the tv network throw more money at the creator and beg him to drag it out further. To me, the writing then suffers and the finale never leaves me satiated.

I think it’s easy to give into money. No matter how much you have, it seems like we can always find things that are “wrong” in our lives and we will accept more when offered. It’s very rare that someone in a creative role comes along and says “No, I value the story telling process. I’m ready to bring a close to this world I’ve created.”

XFiles used to be a series that I thought would have a beginning, middle and end, but it didn’t. Fox kept throwing money at Carter and he’d throw in more filler episodes that diluted the plot further until what we were given as an end seemed more like “Ugh, I don’t see the end I originally envisioned in sight anymore. And I’m tired of doing this week after week. Let’s just end this.”

The Shield could have easily become this. We could have had “The Dutch Show” and have a whole sub-season be nothing more than Dutch solving multiple homicides CSI: Miami style. Imagine Dutch putting on sunglasses over and over, Horatio style while the Who yelling “YEA!!!” in the background. Ugh, that would have been terrible.

Instead we had a truly shocking beginning on tv: The killing of Crowley. For a middle, I would say the money train – it’s the height of their scheming. That was truly the signal of the end. It starts to eat away at Lem and eventually leading to his death. I know many who would argue that Lem’s death is the beginning of the end, but I’d say only in the literal sense. Without the money train, there is no reason for Lem to have that internal struggle – his withdrawal from the Strike Team. And the end, well, we just experienced that.

To go back and revisit it, years later, would cheapen the experience to me. This was the finale – we knew to prepare for it. The end of one of our favorite shows had finally come and while it was extremely well written, we don’t want to see such creativity end. But we must. It was a great ending and I rather have it remain that way in my mind than a half assed attempt to recapture it say five years from now. Or much worse, 15 years later like another Star Wars or Indy movie. Or when Michael Jordan came out of retirement. These are odd comparisons, but in each, we thought that was the end and then we welcomed the return only to find that our memories were so much more fond than the newest iteration.

For me personally, nothing is going to touch Shane’s suicide note. He had truly given in. He never questioned if Vic was playing a game with him – what if Vic had lied about getting a job with ICE and immunity? No. The walls were caving in and his last chess piece was gone. He thought he was such an excellent student that he had surpassed Vic, but he hadn’t in scheming. He only passed Vic in something Vic could never teach him properly, the respect of his family. When Vic walked into the Barn, he hadn’t just lost his literal family and the Strike team – he lost his extended family – a family he had never seemed to previously truly respect – the loyalty of the police department. They looked at him with disgust.

But somehow, in Shane’s final moments, he summed up so much wisdom in a few words. He wasn’t better or worse than Vic. They collaborated and that not only made them worse people together, but as individuals. And it was a time to bring an end to this. He had dragged his family through the mud and he saw what he had become and he didn’t want to lose his family like Vic had. He had their loyalty still, and however disturbing or wrong to us it might be, taking them with him in death was the only way he could see them to be together. Upsetting, but cruely logical. I knew something was up when he was staring at the toy police car, the gears were working in his head and their fate was sealed with the “Family Meeting” request. But thankfully he didn’t shoot them. I had expected the worst.

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