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The Shield Blew the Hatch with the money train

The Shield Money Train cash

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 Live - Awake - The Best of Live - Overcome).

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.

Photo Credit: FX

Categories: | Blowing the Hatch | Clack | Features | General | TV Shows |

6 Responses to “The Shield Blew the Hatch with the money train”

July 31, 2009 at 2:36 PM

(Spoilers in my post)

That scene might be my favorite use of a song on TV, but I have to disagree. I’ll preface this by saying that The Shield was my first love as far as TV shows go. But for me, the show Blew the Hatch at the end of the first episode. I went through most of the premier thinking that the first season would be about Terry Crowley trying to nail the Strike Team, which could’ve been interesting. But when Vic shot Terry, all bets were off.

This was the original sin, the reason Kavanaugh was brought in, which led to Lem’s death, and the fallout from that. You also knew, from that point on, that Vic would go to any lengths to protect himself, his family, and his team. And hearing Vic recount that in “Possible Kill Screen” was chilling.

If a show cant blow the hatch in the premier, then the money train would definitely be it for me too. It tore the team apart at the end of season three and drove a wedge between Shane and the rest of the team that I’m not sure he ever recovered from.

July 31, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Stan, ITA about the premier setting the tone for the rest of the series: the death of Terry was the catalyst to everything. Vic was never a redeemable character, that much was certain, in that first episode. It was a testament to MC’s acting that he was able to wring some degree of vulnerability out of the character.

August 8, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Stan is right. This show blew the hatch when Vic shot his fellow cop.

August 1, 2009 at 11:02 PM

Yeah, no matter what good he did, the fact was that he shot a cop. Season 4’s hunt for the guys that killed Carl and Scooby was that much more ironic because of that fact. Vic was championing the cause when he was guilty of the same crime. That said, Vic Mackey was an amazing character and you had to root for him in almost every situation, just not in the whole scheme of things.

August 4, 2009 at 3:07 PM

In my opinion, Shane killing Lem was when the show “blew the hatch.”

August 4, 2009 at 3:10 PM

An incredible moment, no doubt, but that happened late in the series. To say that was the moment that truly hooked you to the show seems misplaced. Were you just “meh” about the show or thought it was pretty good until that moment?

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