by Jim Nintzel
The Shield, FX's high-octane cop thriller, remains one of my favorite hours of TV as it charges through its sixth season. This is a show that brilliantly balances action, humor and drama with rich characterization of nearly every character that walks into the Barn, the rehabbed church that serves as police headquarters for L.A. Farmington district.
Because the show does such a good job of building on earlier episodes, it's tough to comment on this week's episode without spoiling the surprises for those of you who haven't yet caught up with it. But as usual, there's a noose tightening around the neck of Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), the frequently dirty leader of the Barn's Strike Team. Mackey remains one of the most captivating characters on TV because, like Tony Soprano, you know what he's capable of, but you still find yourself wanting to see him beat the odds against survival.
Meanwhile, Mackey's partner and best friend, Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggles), is wrestling with his own conscience over a particularly despicable choice he made last season. Shane, whose reprehensible actions and attitudes have never made him particularly sympathetic, is careening towards a total breakdown. He knows there's a storm gathering because of the mistakes he's made--and that's there's no path for forgiveness.
Season Six, sadly, is scheduled to wrap on June 5, and we've only got one season after that. But hey, at least when The Shield wraps in June, we get the return of Denis Leary's great firefighter drama, Rescue Me.