SPOILER ALERT: 'Shield' Boss Answers Burning Finale Qs

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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)


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  • jean macallister

    Why didn’t it tell us what Vic is going to do? Did they leave it open for a movie? I can’t stand programs that don’t give a real finale. Remember “La Femme Nikita”? There was such a fan uproar about that one, the producers shot 8 more episodes.

  • brandon

    hands down best series finale ever. david chase could have learned how to end a series from shawn ryan

  • Jenny

    Thank you for seven great seasons.

  • Keshia

    Please ask Shawn Ryan how does it feel to be a genius? This last episode was brilliant. Spoiler – I am sick about Ronnie going to jail. I couldnt beleive the Vic let happen. I knew he was going to tip Ronnie off somehow so he could run. VIc was clearly walking to the depths of hell as he was getting his “tour” of the ICE offices. The only thing missing were the flames. Brilliant. This is how a show should end.

  • RS3

    I thought I felt bad for Lem a few years ago….Ronnie got it worse.

    • Monty

      The finale broke my heart. I hated seeing Ronnie get screwed like that. And that final image of Jackson and Mara…wow…heavy

  • Donna

    I was disappointed in the way it ended. Ronnie in prison for life, Vic continuing on day to day without his family and friends. After all the years I put into this show i walked away unsatisfied. It doesn’t feel like closure.

  • Anonymous

    Loved the finale but MAN, it would have been more tragic had they stopped after pulling Ronnie away and Claudette says to Vic, something to the effect of “You can go now.”

  • mike

    I am kind of torn about the series ender tonight. I liked, no i hated that shane killed himself (because he was my favorite character), I mean come on, we all knew that was gonna happen, he should have got the hell outta cali. when he had the chance. But I guess I just didn’t like knowing if the pscyho kid was gonna kill again or what in the hell was Vick gonna go. I guess I really hope this all leads up to a movie. All in all, thumbs up.

  • Mykl

    This was a wonderful show I’ll excruciatingly miss… like losing a favorite relative, not unexpectedly but still too prematurely.

  • peteh555

    I don’t get how Vic could of turned on Ronnie after he was always loyal to Lem. It felt forced that the producers were making Vic out to be a completely bad person.

  • Todd

    I was totally in love with the finale until the final scene, which just left questions about Vic.

  • ffaf

    What a horrible ending to the series, they attempted to do a Sopranos ending but failed. I was very unhappy how the show ended, everything seemed rushed and no closure at all.

  • Anthony

    Great final episode. But I still can’t believe Vic let Ronnie take the fall. That’s some messed up stuff. But great finale, it’ll be missed.

  • Ed

    Vic is off to eat a bullet. It’s the only way his family could have a normal life. That’s what I got out of it…and puh-lease…no movie and no spin off. Didn’t we learn anything watching ‘After M*A*S*H’ and ‘Archie Bunker’s Place’? Let it be.

  • Joe

    Dear Shawn Ryan: Wait about 10 years, then do a short 1 minute film of Vic Mackey’s doorbell ringing, him opening the door, and Ronnie Gardocki putting a bullet in his forehead. I can’t think of a more fitting way for Vic to go down.

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