Ever since the opening minutes of its pilot in 2002, The Shield has been fueled by one simple, high-octane question: When will Mackey finally, finally get busted? Our doomsday clock counts down to midnight, his final hour.
Salvadorans! Armenians! Uh, possibly illegal gasoline imports! Okay, this wasn’t The Shield’s most engrossing hour. Despite the usual swirl of battling gangs and street-carnival shoot-ups (by our estimate, the Farmington district has had roughly 14,632 murders this year), this was essentially a treading-water episode: not much happening on the surface, but with several depth charges now launched and submerged, and waiting to go off.
We can now assume Hernan, the Salvadoran informant, is pretty much toast, given that Vic got uncharacteristically chatter-happy and told Claudette about his contact … then she told two friends … and they told two friends … and pretty soon the show looked like the Telephone Hour sequence from Bye Bye Birdie. Clearly, Aceveda’s smiling mall-developer friend (the last in this line of broken telephone) is wrapped up in the so-far-not-particularly-interesting mystery of the slaughtered Mexican illegals and has no doubt outed the suddenly scarce Hernan.
As for the rest of the cast — well, remember that SNL sketch in which Christopher Walken played a record producer who kept saying “More cowbell”? Well, replace “cowbell” with “Dutch Wagenbach.” Come on! It’s been weeks since Dutch creeped everyone out with a slightly-too-accurate psychological breakdown of a depraved child-sex murderer! Let’s hope the Shane-Vic feud that’s currently taking up all the show’s oxygen will soon suck in both Dutch and Gardocki (David Rees Snell) and expand the current conflict beyond this one claustrophobic Oedipal rift.
For the purposes of predicting Vic’s personal doomsday, however, there was only one development of note this week, and it was a biggie: Shane stuffs a whack of handwritten confessions into what can only be termed the Manila Envelope of Doom™. Clearly he’s seen his share of spy movies, because he then gives Vic the old “If anything happens to me…” speech, promising that his newly penned journals will find their way to an interested readership. Walton Goggins, as Shane, delivers the line-reading of the season, when, in the episode’s final minute, he says to Vic, as part threat, part confession: “Just imagine every wrong, brutal thing we’ve ever done. It’s hard to do, isn’t it? We’ve done so many.” —Adam Sternbergh
Clock’s current time: Four minutes to midnight.