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'The Shield': Character comes first

May 2, 2007 | 11:17 am

Shane Shane's secret is no longer his burden to carry alone.

For the second week "The Shield" delivered a gut-wrenching closing sequence, this time as Shane (Walton Goggins) tearfully came clean to his wife Mara (recurring guest star Michele Hicks) about killing his partner in last season's finale. He confessed, in part, to save his marriage (Mara had discovered Shane's infidelity) and it seems to have worked. That's "The Shield."

But as the series continues its six season long progression into a deeper and ever more satisfying character drama, and Goggins continues to contribute standout work, this week also featured one of those classic skin-crawling "Shield" cases. Only this time it felt like unnecessary filler.

Dutch (Jay Karnes) and Billings (David Marciano) pinned down a serial rapist (guest star Brian Howe) whose crimes stemmed from his daughter's disappearance years earlier. As the case's sordid details were revealed, it all played a little too predictably. From the perp's first appearance he seemed like the guilty party and the investigation failed to take enough interesting turns, or have an impact on any of full time cast members, to carry its weight on a show overflowing with compelling storylines.

"The Shield" made its name in part by featuring criminal cases too raw, and often too monstrous, for other cop shows to even think of tackling. But it's sign of how much the show has grown that those sorts of crimes have become its least interesting element. Now more than ever, even the most shocking crimes can't match the dramatic pull of the characters investigating them.

(Photo courtesy FX)