Today I watched the final episode of The Shield. Despite the large variety of different shows I have watched, some only an episode, some several seasons, I haven’t watched an entire television show from start to finish for several years. After absorbing the entirety of a single series, I realize the beauty of TV shows; unlike movies, a show’s episodic nature takes you on a journey. You see, even long movies rarely exceed three hours of run time. No matter how spectacular, powerful, or perfect a given movie is, the nature of the beast is that a movie is relatively short, and thus a viewer cannot become fully engaged in it. TV shows, however, take the viewer on a journey that that lasts multiples the amount of time a movie does.
The Shield, for example, takes viewers on a sixty-six hour journey that covers almost seven years of plot, setting, and character development. Moreover, between episodes, the viewer has time to reflect and process. To watch The Shield is not a casual act, but instead an investment of time, thought, and of passion by viewers.
When I watched The Shield’s last episode, which was nothing less that brilliant, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of melancholy. I have spent so much time watching, analyzing, and loving that show that its’ departure from my life was an equally happy and sad farewell. My voyage with The Shield was an emotional rollercoaster: surprise at a plot twist, anger at an antagonist, elation for an unexpected event that helped a protagonist, anticipation for the next episode… and after every emotion bestowed by the show’s events I became more attached to it.
And then, as I gazed upon the opening scene of the final episode, I realized that this would also be the final time Victory Mackey, the main protagonist/antagonist, would reveal his world to me. He was no longer an actor playing a character on television, but a character who moonlights as a man in reality.