The Shield – Season 6, Episode 1 – On the Jones

After a long 12 months the best cop show on TV returns.  Watching this first episode it amazes me just how dense this show is.   So much of what is going on relies on prior knowledge of Shield lore that I wouldn’t recommend a newbie start watching at the 6th season.

If you are a Shield newbie I’m not saying don’t watch.  What I’m saying to you is get off your butt, go to the video store or your favourite retailer and go rent or buy the first 5 seasons.  Then come back and read this review.  You won’t be sorry.

The 5th season of The Shield placed 2nd on my Best of 2006 list and the first episode of this new season picks up a day or so after the jaw dropping ending where Shane murders Lem out of fear he’s going to turn in the Strike Team.   Kavanaugh’s hatred of Vic hasn’t dulled and he tries to pin Lem’s death on Vic.  It’s amazing how close his theories are to the truth but just slightly off.  When he sees Dutch going in a different direction and finds himself unable to find any proof to the contrary, he plants evidence and a fake witness.  Kavanaugh’s descent from principled “follow the evidence” IAB investigator to rage filled, evidence planting Vic-like character has been one of the great character arcs in recent memory.

At the same time, the truly underrated Walton Goggins, Shane, is descending into his own new depths of despair dealing with his guilt over Lem’s death, which only intensifies after he learns that they were set up by Acevada and Kavanaugh.  I can’t wait to see what happens first – whether Vic finds out the truth or he self-destructs.

Lots of other great moments in this episode that only serve to showcase the amazing cast – Dutch knowing that Kavanaugh is lying, Wyms pushing for Mackey to retire while at the same time knowing that she needs him (particularly with cops like Billings on the job), Acevada’s consummate politician, Vic’s pain watching Acevada’s press conference and even a scene with Corinne and Danny that leaves no ambiguity as to her baby’s father.

There’s been a lot of  discussion online comparing The Shield to The Sopranos given the timing of their new seasons.  Lots of people arguing which is better.  Personally I don’t see the need to choose.  I’m just excited to enjoy what’s sure to be a great couple of months of TV.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A

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