As was always with The Shield‘s Strike Team, they were a group of guys I hated to love. They were dirty cops, bending the law to their own purposes and outcomes, using their badge — their “shield” — as a means of protecting themselves from the scum on the street, and from being pinched by the very organizations they served. Yet, as the second season worked towards its finale, I found myself rooting for Vic, Shane, Lem, and Ronnie. I wanted to see them victorious.
The Shield‘s second season was all about the Armenian mob’s “money train,” and the corrupt Strike Team’s plan and execution to reap in that big pile of blood-stained cash. Blood-stained not physically, but in the death that came both before, and after, it came into the team’s hands. By the time season two ended, I was more hooked on The Shield than I’d ever been, or will be.
The money train storyline of The Shield was really the pinnacle of the series. Though The Shield lasted a fantastic, and impressive, seven seasons, it was the money train that set the tone. Before the second season’s finale, when the Strike Team finally got the cash, the team — Vic, in particular — went about the motions of getting away with dirty dealings, to squeeze a bit more out of what they get from their work. Vic had a family, with two kids with special needs, and the cash he was able to strip off of the drug dealers and scum of the street, was always meant just to care for them. What he made from being a cop wasn’t enough to give his kids what they needed (or at least what Vic wanted them to have), so he kept at it.
When the money train came into play, we saw a possible decency to Vic Mackey. If he was able to take down the Armenians, and their cash with them, would this really mean the end of his dirty cop days? Would he play the straight and narrow, and stop skimming from the scum of the L.A. streets, if he had enough cash to take care of his family for good? At times he appeared overjoyed at the thought.
Within about 30 seconds, at the end of the second season, we saw rather clearly that this was by no means the end of what the Strike Team would be dealing with. First Vic acts like a kid in a candy store, as he gazes at the piled up cash on the table. That mood changes from giddy to “oh shit” in a heartbeat, as Vic sees the looks on Shane, Lem, and Ronnie’s faces. What have they done? What now? The song that played during that scene was perfect and haunting, and spelled it all out perfectly: “I Am Overcome” (by Live ).
The seasons that followed all connected back to the money train in one way or another. First guilt, then death, then friends turn on friends, more death, the end. Money was truly the root of all evil, and, on The Shield, we saw it all begin with the introduction of the money of the money train. This is why it stands out clearly, to me, as the moment when The Shield Blew the Hatch.