The Shield: Season 3 Review

Image for The Shield: Season 3

Why crooked cops do it better.


Law & Order is for wimps. Heck, Homicide: Life On The Street is for wimps. In The Shield, the bad cops are the good guys and the good guys generally get in the way, amid a patented blend of matter-of-fact violence, shaky-cam foot chases and language that would make a sailor blush. Somehow, it all adds up to one of the best cop shows on TV.

With episodes this season directed by the likes of David Mamet and Clark Johnson, the heart and soul of the Golden Globe-winning series remains the deliciously contradictory character of Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis, who has also helmed some episodes), managing to embody nobility and corruption in one charismatic whole. At the beginning of the season he and his fanatically loyal team are preparing to spend money they’ve stolen from the Armenian Mob, causing a spate of murders in the process, but also going above and beyond the call of duty to lock down a potential gang war. It’s this mixture of self-interest and selflessness that means you’ll find yourself rooting for these guys to get away with every law they bend or shatter in the pursuit of truth, justice and an extra buck, even as the net closes around them and internal pressures come to bear.

But this isn’t just the Chiklis show — the ensemble cast is uniformly good, from CCH Pounder’s ambitious detective, to the fiercely intellectual Dutch (the underrated Jay Karnes), to Benito Martinez’ Captain Aceveda, giving a normally one-dimensional captain role depth, particularly as this season progresses. And the plotlines, both in mini-arcs and funnier, more throwaway scenes, continually engage. If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that sometimes there’s nothing better than a bad cop.