The Shield Episodes

2002, TV Show

The Shield Episode: "Family Meeting"

Season 7, Episode 13
Episode Synopsis: In the series finale, cops in the Barn investigate a woman's disappearance and the arrival of a large drug shipment.
Original Air Date: Nov 25, 2008
Guest Cast Michelle Hicks: Mara
Full Episode
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Season 7, Episode 13
Free | Hulu
Length: 45:26
Aired: 11/25/2008
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Prime and VUDU
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The Shield Episode Recap: "Family Meeting" Season 7, Episode 13

When FX launched its first drama, The Shield, the promoted it with the tagline: "The Road to Justice Is Twisted." If you didn't believe the show had a mission statement from the start you can't deny it now. The Shield's series finale, "Family Meeting", contained everything a great episode of the show should: drama, drugs, twists and heartbreakingly awful decision making. Decisions that have cost and irreparably damaged lives. Some of those decisions weren't necessarily made in this episode, but instead were set up years ago. Vic's own road to justice (Did he really get any? More on that later.) began years ago when he had friends, family, and a great opportunity to run an experimental team in the Farmington district of L.A.

L.A. What a great place to start, considering it's where Shawn Ryan started the episode. The band X's punk rock song "Los Angeles" plays over the title sequence with Vic driving in his car thinking about all that lies in front of him. Above all, he's betrayed his partner Ronnie to guarantee immunity for himself and Corrine. He tells Ronnie the "ironclad" deal is for both of them to continue his operation with ICE. Vic's deal is not only bad for Detective Gardocki. Corrine has had immunity by working with The Barn, an investigation that has now gone bust. She fears Vic will discover what's been going on.

Something I really liked about this episode is that the writers have been building to the day of the Presidential motorcade for about half the season. Originally it was the day the Vendrell's would finally pull up stakes. Instead, it's the day the Vendrell's return home. Maura's in a tremendous amount of pain and Shane is strung out. It's all unraveling.

And I can't hide it any longer: Maura is the only one with any foresight in this whole mess. She may not be the smartest, but after she put in some years with Shane and his buddies she caught on pretty quick. Her love for and loyalty to Shane is unmatched on the show, and I really ended up liking her after despising the trouble she caused for the Strike Team in her early episodes. That gift of foresight took a little longer to kick in this time, but she finally asks what will happen to their children when they're caught. They name their unborn girl Francis Abigal. Franny Abby when she does something cute.

A pissed off ICE busts a Beltran-less drug deal which Vic has been coordinating for weeks. When Beltran failed to show and the amount was light, I really thought Olivia Murray went ahead with the bust just to void Vic's deal. I was wrong. This was also one of the first moments of many when I had a "Shane hands Lem a sandwich," pit in my stomach. I was sure now that ICE no longer needed him they would be busting Ronnie on the spot. It didn't happen. But Vic's not considering his duty fulfilled and plans to go after Beltran on his own.

Kyle Gallner returned to the show as Lloyd. It was fairly obvious this was being set up as the final Dutch storyline for the show. What wasn't obvious were the specifics of what would transpire. Dutch has gone on his own interesting journey in the series' run. He went from a bumbling but great detective whose wife left him to, in many ways, the hero of The Barn. I was, however, disappointed to see Frances Fisher did not return as Lloyd's mother. They had really given her character something to do the last time she was on. But, it obviously didn't fit in with the storyline they choose.

Okay, criticism time! If I had to pick something I was underwhelmed with in the finale it was the resolution of the Lloyd storyline. I liked the storyline before tonight. I think Gallner does a great job as the budding serial killer, and I really liked the idea that Lloyd would now try to make it look like Dutch had something to do with Rita's disappearance. There was just something about it. Can't quite put my finger on it.

One of the most intense scenes in the episode was when Shane and Vic shared a telephone call. Shane learns of Vic's immunity. But it's Shane who might get the last word after the ever smarmy Vic commented on Shane spending the rest of his life in Antwon Mitchell-ville. Everything Shane has ever wanted to say to Vic came boiling to the surface. He informs Vic that he has no one. His family hates him and his ex is working with the police. As messed up as they may be, the love between Shane, Maura, Jackson, and even Francis Abby is real. Though I'm sure some will have something to say about those being the ravings of a strung out psychopath just as bad as Vic.

Non sequitur: A much needed laugh was delivered when Billings' lawyer showed up to speak with Dutch. I can't repeat it here but you know the line.

Non sequitur 2: How intense was Vic's impromptu interrogation using a rattlesnake as an interrogation device? It seemed almost like a throw back to the first two seasons when Vic would do things like that weekly and then cap the scene off with a one-liner. Tonight's? "If you want him to live you better start sucking face."

Did you get a laugh out of that? That's good. Cause we're going to a very dark place. After picking up pens, some flowers, a toy, and a jug of water Shane returned home. After passing by a shocked neighbor, he walked into the sound of his wife and child playing. While Shane was unpacking his things I had an extreme sense of déjà vu. I couldn't help but feel like I did just before the grenade went off in Lem's lap.  Shane took a moment to savor the sounds of his family and called a family meeting.

The Barn receives a tip from the Vendrell's neighbor and rushes over to their home. You know... I'm trying to find a way to make this part of the episode seem exciting for you to read about. And now I know why I can't. It's not exciting. This is what it's come to. There's no way out. No back door deal or plan to make everything go away. The joy we had with these characters has slipped away. By a hastily written note, Detective Shane Vendrell put a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. In the bedroom lay the peaceful, sleeping bodies of Maura and Jackson.

We learn Claudette is off her meds now. "Everyday I'll show up until the day that I don't." What a great way to resolve a disease storyline without either having the character find a cure or succumb to it.

After Vic and Ronnie make good on "their" deals to bring down The Cartel, ICE tells them they're both wanted by Claudette back at The Barn. I watched the rest of the episode in a daze almost. Things have been hanging in the balance for so long that it was hard to believe I was witnessing the definitive outcomes in the fates of these characters.

A crying Ronnie tells Vic about what happened to Shane just before Claudette takes Mackey to interrogation and puts him in the chair reserved just for him. She reads him the note Shane was writing. A choice phrase about Vic includes, "I wish I never met him." This is Claudette's justice for Vic. If he won't pay in jail then he'll be forced to see exactly what his decisions have wrought. She lays out the crime scene photos and walks out of the room. It was here that Michael Chiklis delivered the first of two powerhouse performances. You can see the rage and heartbreak he's bottling up while examining the pictures. Quickly Vic senses he's being watched. He composes himself, walks to the camera and pulls it out of the wall. As Claudette put it, the first of Vic's bills for that camera is due now.

In the comments last week, many people had commented that Vic must have something up his sleeve. His selfishness is just a ploy. He wouldn't really leave Ronnie out in the cold. It's one of Vic's schemes and it will all come around to Ronnie getting a fat check and a place in Columbia. You know, maybe Vic had that plan in him. But I guess there's only so much time and so many balls one man can juggle.

And so, after 3 years of dirty crimes it's the character who started off as the mute guy with the mustache who takes the fall for everything. The guy who seemed to be the least important part of the Strike Team also turned out to be the last member. Ronnie is one of my favorite characters on the show and I couldn't help but feel for him as we saw him dragged away in cuffs.

Vic's cuffs may be metaphorical but he's doing a bit of prison time of his own. His job at ICE is not exactly what he expected. He'll spend the next 3 years in a cubicle wearing a suit and tie, submitting to random drug tests, and writing five reports a week about L.A. gang patterns. The guy who played by his own rules and couldn't be controlled now can't even touch the thermostat at his new place of employment. Not only that, but it's his place of employment that has actually moved his entire family and won't tell him where they are.

In our last scene at The Barn we witnessed a meeting of Captains and got a glimpse at the next generation of the Farmington police force.

After setting up pictures of his children and Lem, Vic sits in his cubicle and considers what has become of his life.

I have many more thoughts but let's face it, I want to hear your comments.  Please check back on the board for more thoughts on this episode and some questions about your favorite moments and characters from the show's run. Let's keep the discussion going. The Shield doesn't need to fade into TV history just yet.

I want to thank Shawn Ryan, Michael Chiklis, and the cast and crew of The Shield for all these years of entertainment. You've delivered the best cop show in history. An incredibly tense, morally ambiguous, and heartbreaking work. Thank you.

And thanks to all of you for reading the blog! And don't forget to check out our postmortem Q&A with Shawn Ryan! Try and put The Shield away long enough to enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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When FX launched its first drama, The Shield, the promoted it with the tagline: "The Road to Justice Is Twisted." If you didn't believe the show had a mission statement from the start you can't deny it now. The Shield's series finale, "Family Meeting", contained everything a great episode of the show should: drama, drugs, twists and heartbreakingly awful decision making. Decisions that have cost and irreparably damaged lives. Some of those decisions weren't necessarily made in this episode, but instead were set up years ago. Vic's own road to justice (Did he really get any? More on that later.) began years ago when he had friends, family, and a great opportunity to run an experimental team in the Farmington district of L.A.

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Premiered: March 12, 2002, on FX
Rating: TV-MA
User Rating: (461 ratings)
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Premise: A corrupt and brutal L.A. detective runs an elite squad by his own rules in a neighborhood ravaged by drugs and gangs. Unusually gritty and graphically violent, but seldom less than riveting, 'The Shield' gets its biggest jolt from the breakout performance by Michael Chiklis as the complex and volatile Vic Mackey. The drama made Emmy history when he won for Lead Actor in a Drama in 2002, the first such win for a basic-cable series.

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