Another amazingly great episode this season. Vic comes up with a plan to deal with Pezuela, the Armenians, and Shane all at the same time. He and Ronnie spend the episode putting it all together only to have it end up falling apart. Vic’s idea is to set up a “buy” for the blackmail box. He’s going to have two Mexican bangers show up and kill both the Armenians and Shane. At one point, Ronnie gets his hands on Shane’s gun and makes sure it will jam during the gunfight, ensuring that there’s no way Shane can survive. As time gets closer, Vic gets cold feet and starts to find ways to rescue Shane. Ronnie, showing a cold-bloodedness this season, refuses to warn Shane or help Vic stop the attack. However, right before the attack, Shane steps out of the building. He sees the Mexicans show up and take out the Armenians. He draws his weapon, but it jams…exactly how Ronnie planned it. Shane now knows his buddies set him up to die.
Former Strike Team member Tavon Garris (Brian J. White) shows up at The Barn asking for Shane’s help on a case he and Vic worked on pre-Strike Team. He has recovered from Shane’s vicious beating and the car crash in season three and is now working in the Hollywood precinct. Shane feels uneasy working with Tavon because of their racially charged altercation, but can get through it because Tavon doesn’t seem to remember much of what happened. After they put the bad guy away, Tavon confronts Shane in the parking lot. It turns out he remembers the night completely. He knows what Shane did and said. He knows Mara hit him in the back of the head with an iron. He knows that he didn’t hit Mara and Lem lied to him about it. He verbally attacks Shane saying he always has someone around to back him up or do his dirty work for him. Powerful scene especially now that we see Shane will have zero backup for the rest of the season.
Claudette is back in the detective mix this week as Billing opts out of a case with Dutch. Responding to an alarm, Tina and an unnamed uni stumble across a naked man covered in someone else’s blood. He claims to be a sleepwalker and can’t remember hurting anyone. Dutch and Claudette uncover some incidents in the man’s past that lead them to believe he’s faking sleepwalking as an alibi. They find a dead girl in a dumpster a mile away and think it’s the girl Naked Guy hurt. Dutch and Claudette try hard to break the guy, but can’t seem to crack him. Later in the episode, they find a young woman whose blood was on Naked Guy. Turns out she slipped, busted her head open on a fire hydrant, and Naked Guy tried to help her out. Claudette goes up to the interrogation room to tell Naked Guy he’s free to go, but finds him dead. Wracked with guilt over possibly killing the dumpster girl, he committed suicide. Claudette is stunned and Dutch is overcome with guilt. He confesses to Billings that he was a better detective with Claudette as a partner and feels he’s slipping (first the teen serial killer, now this).
The characters in The Shield once again feel like they’re playing a high-stakes game of Jenga. They keep building a rickety tower of lies and betrayal that always seems like it’s about to collapse. The Strike Team storyline felt like Shield of old. Shane realizes his buddies are lying to him and want him dead. He took the $100k that was supposed to be used to buy back the blackmail box and is keeping it for himself. Is he going to take it and Mara and start a new life? Or, is he going to stash it and try to get revenge on his former friends?
The scene in the car with Vic, Ronnie, and Julian was one of the tensest in the history of the show. Vic and Ronnie are speaking almost in code while Julian drives. Vic keeps dropping hints hoping Ronnie will pick up on them and direct Julian to where Shane is. Ronnie knows was Vic is doing but doesn’t take the bait. Vic is emotional and feels like everything is falling apart, but Ronnie is cold and ruthless. Great acting by those two.