Another one of television’s great dramas has come to a close, and if I were to rank the series finale compared to some of the other big ones from the past year or so, it would probably fall somewhere between the disappointing conclusion to “The Sopranos” and the pitch-perfect ending to “The Wire.” It wasn’t great, but it was certainly satisfying, and it wrapped up just about every loose end other than Aceveda’s bid for mayor. Fans of the series have been following these characters for seven years now, and instead of just running through the episode as usual, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to discuss the fates of each character one at a time.
For as much bad shit that happened throughout the episode, this was probably one of the more shocking of the bunch. A lot of people didn’t think it was possible for Vic to get his comeuppance without death or incarceration, but when you consider the kind of person that he really is, it made sense. Vic only needs a few things in life – family, friends, and a badge – and the fact that he no longer has any of them is kind of like sentencing him to his own personal hell. Olivia said it best after Vic begged her to tell him where his children were: “You said goodbye to them the minute you shot another cop in the face.”
All of Vic’s friends are gone, Corrine has put his kids into witness protection, and his new gig at ICE is a boring desk job typing up weekly analysis reports on gang activity in the city. Some might say he’s got it good compared to what could have happened (after all, he’s only obligated to work at ICE for three years and he’s a free man), but the look on his face when he was being shepherded through the mandatory tour of the facilities said enough. That last moment when he grabs his gun and walks out of the office seemed to indicate that he might actually be okay with the cards he’s been dealt, but if that’s the case, then it doesn’t seem like he’s really paid for his crimes at all.
I’d like to say that I didn’t see Shane’s suicide coming, but it’s been building to this for the past few weeks. In fact, Shane has been in a downward spiral longer than it may seem, and this isn’t the first time he’s contemplated killing himself either. It’s been so upsetting to see him become this way over the last few seasons (as he was one of my favorite characters when the show debuted), and it’s even more upsetting that the writers decided he was such a selfish person that he would kill Mara, Jackson and his unborn baby girl as well. Shooting yourself is one thing, and you could even make an argument as to why he killed Mara as well (though that’d be a hard argument to make considering she was pregnant), but what about poor Jackson? Shane certainly deserved to die, but not on his own terms, and most certainly not after he’s just murdered his own family. With that said, Walton Goggins has never deserved an Emmy nomination more. His performance throughout this season has been nothing short of spectacular, but the scene with him talking on the phone with Vic was some of his best work yet.
Poor, poor Ronnie. He might not have been as innocent as Lem, but he also wasn’t as bad as Vic or Shane either. The chances of him escaping arrest, however, were pretty slim after Vic hung him out to dry last week. There was always the chance that Vic had a backup plan to help Ronnie escape, and I even thought at one point that he might make a deal with Claudette to renege on his deal with the feds in exchange of letting Ronnie go free, but that became less and less likely as the episode went on. And when Claudette ordered Ronnie back to the Barn after he helped Vic take down Beltran, you just knew it was only a matter of time before he’d be arrested. It’s too bad it had to come to this, as I’ve really grown to appreciate Ronnie over the course of the series, but what I don’t understand is how it’s even possible? Can they really take Vic’s confession and use it to prosecute Ronnie, because if so, that sucks.
Not everyone had an unhappy ending, and if there’s one person that deserved it the most, it's Dutch. Sure, he wasn’t able to put Lloyd away himself (which was kind of bittersweet not only because that was Dutch’s main storyline for the season, but also because we never actually got to see Lloyd confess to murdering his own mother), but at least he managed to score a date with Billings’ lawyer. Plus, after Claudette eventually does retire (which will probably happen sooner rather than later), he’s probably the top candidate to take over as captain. It’s just too bad it didn’t happen in tonight’s episode, because it would have been the perfect topper to one of the best TV characters of the last decade.
After taking all of the credit from the Beltran bust, Aceveda appears to be a shoo-in for mayor. But is that really the end of his story? I was left wondering whether or not Aceveda had any involvement in the death of Andre Benjamin's character. It seemed too much like coincidence that he'd be shot the same day that he challenged Aceveda at a community meeting (and was doing a darn good job of winning supporters), but at the same time, there wasn't any real evidence that supported that theory. You'd think Ryan would have at least hinted at it if was true, and I don't recall Aceveda acting suspicious in his final scene with Claudette. Then again, I wouldn't put it past Aceveda to take such precautions, and it's just one of the many questions left unanswered after tonight's finale.
Now, I know that I said I was going to discuss each character one at a time, but the truth of the matter is, it's getting late and there isn’t a whole lot to say about the rest of the cast. Claudette has finally cleansed the Barn of all things Vic Mackey, and that seems good enough for her, especially now that she’s accepted the fact that she’s dying; Billings won his case against the city and was rewarded with a whopping two days of pay; Julien, Danny and Tina seem poised for promising careers within the department; and Corrine finally got free of Vic's control.
All in all, not too shabby for a series finale. From the looks of the comments pouring in on last week’s blog post, however, not too many fans are as content with it as I am. Still, even though it wasn’t perfect, Shawn Ryan deserves credit for being able to wrap up as the series as well as he did. It’s always difficult to say goodbye to the shows you love – especially ones as good as this – and though you could debate for hours on how the show should have ended, at least we got a real ending and not some freaking black screen of death.