Michael Chiklis and David Rees Snell
"I was too good," boasts that brutal bear of a crooked cop Vic Mackey, confessing his multitude of sins, a bloody litany of corrupt bravado that has kept us riveted for seven all-too-brief seasons of The Shield, FX's darker-than-dark breakthrough crime melodrama.
By "good," Vic means bad — to the last drop, the last gripping scene, as The Shield hangs up its tarnished badge forever (Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 10 pm/ET). No Sopranos-style blackout, thankfully. This is how it all really truly ends, not with arty ambiguity but in a climactic crescendo of betrayals and reversals, with tragedy, bitter irony and gut-wrenching suspense.
There are so many conflicting emotions as we watch 2008's most sensational TV finale. The Shield is the sort of show you never want to end, and yet you desperately need to see how it turns out for Vic (the fearlessly pugnacious Michael Chiklis) and his Strike Team enforcers Shane and Ronnie, as well as their considerably less venal but no less memorable police coworkers in the Barn: Claudette, Dutch, Danny. Special kudos here to Walton Goggins as the desperately unlucky Shane, in these final chapters on the lam with wife Mara as hapless Bonnie-and-Clod fugitives from justice.
From its first episode in 2002, when Vic got away with murder — of a fellow detective! — The Shield boldly declared that basic cable was taking on HBO with boundary-busting drama of shockingly edgy intensity. Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck and Damages followed, but The Shield was FX's signature triumph, a blistering study of a great cop gone rotten in an urban moral cesspool of racial and political chaos.
You'll have to watch to see if and how Vic gets his comeuppance, but once it's over, you're likely to sit back, stunned and exhausted, and say: "The Shield was too good."
Britz: When Terror Hits Home
War, religion, politics and family — hard to imagine a more toxic, volatile brew. Britz, a two-part British thriller that's as timely as it is terrific, immerses the viewer with painstaking detail into the life of a Muslim family torn apart in post-9/11 London.
Law student Sohail (Riz Ahmed) considers himself a patriot and is recruited into the understaffed, disorganized MI5 spy agency. Meanwhile, his med-student sister Nasima (Manjinder Virk), far less forgiving of Western society's bigotry and oppression, becomes alienated from family and country in the most deadly fashion.
Chilling yet compassionate in its empathy, even for those traditionally seen as villains, Britz interweaves the siblings' narratives with an escalating sense of dread, a feeling that no peacekeeper (not even 24's Jack Bauer) could make things right between them.