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Season 4, Episode 5 "Tar Baby"  

Air date:  4-12-05

It appears that David Aceveda has embarked on a crusade to be as big an asshole as he possibly can at every possible turn.  Start with the first scene tonight, with him playing out a rape fantasy with his new super high class hooker Sarah.  Pretty much every single scene he's had with her has involved some kind of purposeful putdown or insult or hurt, starting with the "how's business?" that were practically his first words to her last week.  

This week, she senses post-coital discomfort, and has a little justification for their activities, and how they are healthy and appropriate.  Not a bad spiel for a prostitute.  Certainly just trying to make him feel better.  To which he made a great sharp gesture of quiet contempt, explaining that the "gifts" were for what went on in the bedroom- not for the small talk.  


He apparently proceeded from Sarah's directly to the public forum he had convinced Captain Rawling to address so that he might help her explain and sell her new asset forfeitures policy to the local community.  This scene gave a good chance for some of the high fiber part of this asset forfeiture storyline, with various community members directly giving words to their views, as well as a good chance for Aceveda to continue his personal asshole crusade.  Captain Rawling made an eloquent argument for why these asset forfeitures were necessary, and would work to the good of the community.  Drug dealer Antwon of course spoke out against the policy, cynically playing the race card.  This led to a spontaneous defense by Julien.  

Then of course, Councilman Aceveda came out against the policy.  Being the master politician, he made very good and clear arguments against the basic idea of the policy.  He'd lured Captain Rawling to this event with the understanding that he was trying to support her, and help her present her ideas to the community.  Naturally, he took the first opportunity to sandbag her.  

But he topped that abuse off with his private comments to her after the forum.  He explained that he was now on the council committee overseeing the police department, leading to this exchange:

Captain Rawling:  Guess we'll need to figure out how to get along, then.

Aceveda:  Learn to do what I say, and we'll be just fine.


The date surveillance scene may be the best creative humiliation that the producers have come up with for Dutch- and he doesn't even know it.  They framed it brilliantly, as Vic and the boys watching a secret surveillance tape from his car of his blind date with a black woman.  Dutch has just that perfect way of saying the perfectly wrong thing, with only the very best of intentions.  Ronnie expressed it that Dutch was the man who put the "pimp" in "pimp juice."  

In this case, the pimp juice flowed from an ill worded apology to his date for having had the air conditioner on too high for her comfort, as "cooler climes are just hard wired to my Northern European DNA."

Surprisingly, the date ended very soon after, with a peck on the cheek and a vague promise of a call sometime.

Then he tops it off by driving off down the road, howling along to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf."  You could almost see him casting himself and the date in the famous Duran jungle video.  Oy.

The problem here, of course, wasn't racism, but social skills.  It's not like Dutch has anything against other races, but just that he's so excruciatingly self-conscious about being the dweeby white guy.


The last couple of shows put up some pretty harsh demonstration of the actual practicality of the asset seizure policy, but this show perhaps gave back a point or two to the defenders of the policy.  For starters, no one was shown having their property seized in this episode, no families being thrown on the street.

Moreover, the system in the person of Captain Rawling showed a good example of reasonable restraint and actual due diligence.  That is, Claudette's complaints led the Captain to dig up the true motivations driving the half-assed Maurice Webster bust from last week's "Dog House."  Seeing the illegitimate and "shady" tactics of the DA's office, she dropped the attempt at seizing Webster's home over the three marijuana plants he had out back.


Indeed, this led her to a general dressing down of the assistant DA responsible for the Webster setup.  Rawling really read her the riot act about screwing with her cops like this.  

Creator Shawn Ryan explained at one point something like that the Rawling character was designed to put the very best possible face on the whole asset seizure policy- before they set about showing the hard cases of how that would work out under even the best-intentioned setup.

Aceveda may be a jerk, but he's absolutely right to keep harping on the corruption and abuse that asset forfeiture policies have bred most places they've been tried.  

Rawling showed diligence, judgment and careful fair mindedness in this Webster matter.  She showed herself as a person of integrity and righteous intent.  Understand that the harsh way this policy plays out with this good person at the helm thus represents about the best, most positive scenario for how these policies could work out.








Yowsa, but the closing scene here with Antwon murdering a child in front of Shane and Army with their guns was classic.  It'd be tough to pick just one best closing scene of any Shield episode, but other than maybe the infamous pilot, this has to be a top contender.

For starters, it played out just beautifully in a dramatic sense, the chess game, the violence, the helplessness of Shane and Army.  Antwon's angry over a big hunk of his drug operation and manpower being taken out by the cops in a huge raid.  He's understandably mad at Shane for not protecting him.  

We know from watching how it was executed that Shane had no opportunity to tip him off, but Antwon's people saw Shane and Army taking part in those raids.  That got Shane (and Army along for the ride) the well deserved beating featured heavily in the promos.  Antwon's boy Halprin got particular joy in getting to administer some  payback for the beating that Shane had given him last week.

But then Antwon took it several steps beyond that.  The bust had come from a young, perhaps even preteen girl named Angie leading cops to the house where her junkie mama went to get high.  Having given the mother an OD, Antwon then has this girl brought in right after having disarmed Shane and Army and beating them down.  

Antwon has a strong imagination, great storytelling skills, and an outstanding flair for the dramatic.  He narrates a story about Shane and Army having inappropriate relations and then an argument with this runaway, and then BANG, BANG...BANG, BANG shoots the child with their guns to illustrate the climax of the story.

Then, after spelling out the now obvious threat to Shane and Army, Antwon explains the new world order in the closing sentences of the show, "From now on, I say 'Suck my dick,' you say 'Do you want me to lick your balls, Daddy?"

This whole scene delivers a great immediate visceral rush, with the beatings, and the rising tensions as the girl is brought in, and then the sudden gunblasts.  You could really feel all the girl's terror, Antwon's grim alpha male determination, Halprin's vengeful satisfaction, and Army and Shane's helpless horror.  

Moreover, this scene simultaneously ups the ante and spins everything off in different directions.  Most obviously, this means real trouble for Shane- and just as much for his young assistant Army.  

This certainly gives some villainous throw weight to Antwon Mitchell, taking the character into new terrain.  He's been set up this season as the uber-villain.  In the first four shows, he presented an interesting character, but you could count his murders on one hand.  They were pretty much business related and prudent.  He's a drug dealer who is willing to kill, but had done so only sparingly.  

Now he's suddenly leaped a step beyond.  Executing an underaged girl in cold blood was right up there.  Even the dreaded Armadillo in similar circumstances only (if that's the right word) raped the young girl who informed on him, rather than outright killing her.

There's been some talk in fan circles critical of this scene, thinking it a misstep.  Some argue that this is really weak, because there's no way Shane and Army could have this murder hung on them this simply.

Breaking that down though, there are two different basic issues.  The most important one is dramatic:  Would this character do this?  Does it make any sense?  Antwon's actions here certainly ring true dramatically.  It's easy enough to see how this plays out his rage with Shane and the girl.  It's also understandable how he would at least think that he was acting strategically.

The other issue here is how this will actually play out.  How much control over Shane and Army will this actually get for Antwon?  How will they react?  It seems unlikely that they could be convicted in court on the basis of the girl being shot with their guns.  However, the girl showing up dead from bullets out of their guns would be a whole world of trouble for them.  If they threw in a couple of witnesses on Antwon's payroll insisting they saw the girl arguing with these cops, life would get even more unpleasant.  Or Shane could decide that he has to absolutely destroy Antwon first.

There are certainly a dozen ways the writers could step in it with this storyline.  It'll be real interesting to see how they play it out.


"TAR BABY" PICTURES  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30

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