All of which may sound, to the outsider, like a simple piling on of higher and higher stakes. But creator Shawn Ryan and the other writers never take the easy way out. Each and every episode is its own little chess match, with Vic Mackey front and center as king, scheming and double-dealing and pulling off nimble, forward-thinking moves left and right. Unlike so many shows that get more and more formulaic to the point of becoming parodies of themselves in their final few seasons, "The Shield" becomes more compelling and dynamic each year.
Those who write off "The Shield" as a bad-cop thrill ride willfully overlook its depth and richness as a multilayered narrative, filled with desperate characters that tear us in two. We should hate these guys, but we can't help rooting for them anyway. Even Shane, that nasty, murderous rat, tries desperately to protect Mackey's family when his thoughtless alliance with the Armenian mob starts to slip out of his control. Plus, the female characters are far from sidekicks; they make up the moral center here, from Corrine's (Cathy Cahlin Ryan) dismissive but ultimately loyal attitude toward her ex (Mackey) to Lt. Claudette Wyms' (CCH Pounder) alternating rage and resignation in the face of Mackey's extreme effectiveness in the field.
People who write about television with the royal we have serious issues.
People who write about an overlooked washed up series as if it had broken out into a cultural icon, have serious issues.
People who drool for badly acted celebrations of police brutality have some unmet sexual needs and should be spending time writing their personals ad and not pontificating on furniture.