If last night’s Shield capper doesn’t have you uttering the words "best series finale ever," then you’re hopped up on the same nose candy as Shane Vendrell. But as amazing as the episode was, it left me with more than a few nagging questions. Luckily, the man with the answers, series creator Shawn Ryan, just so happens to be on my speed dial. (If you have yet to watch the finale, stop reading now!)
AUSIELLO: I understand Shane committing suicide, but did he have to take wife Mara and son Jackson with him?
SHAWN RYAN: To us, it made sense. I mean, it wasn’t fun to write. But in terms of the overall arc of the show, it felt like the place it should go.
Where was Vic racing off to at the end?
We’ve always viewed Vic as a shark. He’s someone who, in order to survive, has to move forward. Is he going to search for his kids? Is he going to pursue his own sort of police work on his own time? Is he going to do something postal? I don’t know. But I do think the shark swims forward.
Did you want us to think Dutch might have killed Rita (Frances Fisher)? There was that whole cat-strangling after all…
I never felt like Dutch was that far off on the deep end. But we joked about how, in the finale, Dutch would come home and unlock some padlock on a door leading to a basement and there would be a bunch of kids chained to the wall.
Andre Benjamin played a comic book store owner in a 2004 episode, and then turned up again last night as a "candidate" for mayor. Same character?
Yes. In that 2004 episode, he was someone who was upset that prostitutes and drug dealers were occupying the streets that his store was on. He was being very proactive to get them off the street. So our idea was that in the intervening time, he’s actually formalized that kind of agenda and turned it into a fringe mayoral candidacy.
What was your thinking behind including him in the finale?
It allowed us to look at a couple of different opinions of the overarching relationship between police and a city. Obviously, Andre’s character had a very radical, although in some ways commonsensical, ideology about the relationship between police and, as he would call it, the prison state. The Shield has always been a mixture between open-ended storylines and closed-ended storylines. And, so that story just allowed us to tell a closed-ended story that tied into Aceveda’s run for mayor AND Julian and Tina.
Speaking of Julian, why didn’t he eventually come out of the closet?
The place that we had gotten him to by the end of the second season, which was that he went through aversion therapy and was embracing his religion and marrying a woman…I had done a lot of research and reading about people who had taken this path, and a lot of times — most of that time — these people stay on that path for a number of years. And so in the timeline of our story — the entire run of The Shield takes place in about three years — it didn’t seem to me that he would reach crisis point. And I didn’t want to force a story that didn’t feel organic. We did put a nod to it in the finale with the moment where he sees a happy gay couple. I definitely wanted an acknowledgment that that story has not ended for him.
Do you have a favorite moment from the finale?
I really like the final confrontation scene between Claudette and Vic, where she lays those photos out in front of him. I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted a Claudette-Vic confrontation [in the finale]. I guess what I could not have anticipated when we got there was that Vic doesn’t even really say a word in that scene. I always sort of envisioned the two going at each other, but the way this story broke, it was just Claudette talking. The things Michael Chiklis said without saying anything… it was a real acting triumph.
You weren’t on the set the week the episode was shot last spring due to the writers strike. Is there anything you would have asked the director to do differently had you been there?
The scene with Shane and Mara, where Mara’s in the bed and is having a lot of pain and he’s going to help her to the bathroom…It came off a little lighter and more comedic, and I wanted it to be a little more tragic. I ultimately was able to get the effect I wanted, but it just required a little more work in the editing room. What you saw reflects how I wanted it to be. But it’s a little bit choppier than I would necessarily would have liked.
Will there be a Shield movie?
Hollywood is obviously a place that revisits ideas or shows, and maybe that will happen with The Shield. Maybe not. But I’d only do it under circumstances in which the quality could remain the same."
Any burning questions I forgot to ask? Reaction to the rockin’ finale? Comment away! (Additional reporting by Lynette Rice)
More on ‘The Shield’:
Hollywood Insider: A blow-by-blow of the finale
Note to David Chase: This is how you end a series. (Gillian Flynn’s ‘Shield’ review)
‘The Shield’: Over and Out (an in-depth look at the show from EW’s fall TV preview)