The Shield

Season 6 Episode 3

Back to One

Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Apr 17, 2007 on FX
out of 10
User Rating
164 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Consumed by bloodlust, Vic finally gets the chance to avenge his friend's murder, despite Shane's pleas against it. Meanwhile, Ronnie is assigned by Claudette to help Dutch and Billings investigate a robbery homicide at a pharmacy.

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  • This series just turned another corner...passed another point of no return. How can there possibly be any hope left for the beleagured souls of Vic and Shane now?

    Brutal. I've often thought while watching episodes of 24 that Jack Bauer was the most hardcore SOB on earth. Wrong again! In his righteous zeal to bring Lem's perceived killer to justice, Vic Mackey has trumped even his own worst excesses- and that's saying something. The scary thing is how much I still sympathize with him and want to see him escape what seems like his inevitable day of reckoning. Shane, unfortunately, gets no such pass from me. While I pity the little weasel, I don't think I'll shed a tear when he gets what is due him. Okay, maybe one...moreless
  • Vic Mackey's Holy Crusade finally reaches it's conclusion...for now, anyway.

    This season just keeps getting better and better. First thing's first - how cool is it to see Ronnie get the spotlight for once? After being little more than a set piece for exposition and muscle in the last five seasons, we finally get to see what Ronnie is made of. New guy to replace Vic? Heck, we've got a viable replacement right here!

    With Lem gone, I really hope that we start to see Ronnie get fleshed out as a character the way we've seen Vic, Shane, and Lem in the past five years. It's something I've been hoping for since around Season 2 - and every now and then we get a little bit of something, but not enough, in my opinion. I'm hoping that this episode is indicative of the screen time Ronnie is going to get this year.

    I'm also starting to warm up to Dutch and Billings - not so much as an actual detective partnership like Dutch and Claudette, but more as a comedic pairing. Every time Billings pops up, hilarity ensues. The real meat here, obviously, is the stuff with Guardo, Shane, and Vic's Crusade to Avenge Lem. Vic's punishment of Guardo is perhaps, for my money, the single most brutal scene of violence that The Shield has ever depicted - and I think part of the brutality is all of the emotion involved. You have Shane, who is knowingly taking part in the torture and murder of an innocent man (well, innocent in this anyway) and is obviously, visibly disturbed by it. His scenes - especially near the end - are gut-wrenchingly emotional, and Walton Goggins once again proves Shane to be the single most interesting character on the show at this point.

    Naturally, Vic comes a close second. Here we see Vic's single-mindedness at it's peak. As we see near the end of the episode, Vic is literally physically unable to do anything else - even sleep or work effectively - so long as the man Vic blames for Lem's death remains unpunished. After that's been taken care of, we see a marked changed back to the "normal" Vic. His single-mindedness also causes him to be so blind to everything else but exacting his revenge on Guardo that he can't see anything else in front of him. Shane's actions in this episode should have tipped Vic off that SOMETHING is up with Shane, but he's so wrapped up in avenging Lem that he can't see it.

    Vic's mindset over these last three episodes is really interesting. Surely Vic blames Guardo wholeheartedly for the actual action of Lem's murder; but one can't watch these episodes and deny that Vic blames himself as well. After all, from his perspective, Vic was the leader of the Strike Team - he was the one who steered the team down the path of corruption, and likewise he held himself responsible for the well-being of each and every one of his brothers. And from a certain perspective, if Vic hadn't been so obsessed with those things, Lem might still be alive. As always, very interesting stuff. I'm really loving this season, and I can't wait to see what comes next.moreless
  • Very good episode!

    Was nice to see Ronnie in more of a action role...

    and see Billings finally DO SOMETHING, He and Dutch should make for some good laughs! You can really see the stress in Shane and it looks as if he's starting to breakdown(tremendous job by Walton). Add to that the death of Guardo and you have to wonder how much longer he can keep his secret. Vic finally get's his revenge, or so he thinks. Will be interesting to see how this effects him when he learn's the truth behind Lem's murder. I think they left some loose ends with Guardo's murder though, They let Nadia go and Dutch finds out that He(Guardo) was in the country. It was great to see Ronnie get more of a role and kick some butt. Next week looks great with Vic's replacement being added to the mix, should make for some tense moments.moreless
  • Holy Cow! Shield fans, there is no coming back from this one. As judge, jury and execution, Vic Mackey delivers a sentence of death to Guardo for his supposed murder of Curtis Lemansky. This episode is a homecoming for Vic, back to an evil world.moreless

    To begin, Vic is holding Guardo's girlfriend Nadia captive in a safe house. Unknown to her, all Vic wants is retribution on Guardo for "murdering" Lem. Shane, on a personal day, is visited at home by Corrine Mackey. In delivering some hand-me-down toys, Corrine admits a feeling of guilt to Shane. Corrine believes that, had she not spoke up about the money, Lem would still be alive. This had to hurt Shane. He consoles her saying that it is not her fault, which we all know to be true

    As the day progresses, Vic makes phone contact with Guardo. By making threats on his girlfriends life, Vic is successful in establishing a meet with Guardo in a public park. With the instructions to come alone, Shane and Ronnie are called into action to assist Vic in his ransom. However Ronnie, having used his last personal days on wisdom teeth, is assigned to Dutch and Billings for a string of pharmacy robberies.

    In fearing that Guardo would violate his condition to come alone, Mackey and Vendrell scout the park. There stakeout bears fruit when two cars filled with Salvadorans circle the park. Not interested in the money, Vic follows Guardo to his hideout, where he’ll be isolated from his gang members surrounding the drop point. Shane returns Nadia to the safe house, where she confides with Shane about her fear for Guardo. She’s pregnant with Guardo’s child, yet Shane lies to her about his whereabouts and the potential harm to be delivered upon him.

    While Mackey and Vendrell part ways, Ronnie, Dutch and Billings continue their investigation into the pharmacy robberies. Here, the writers do an excellent, but perhaps overdone, job at developing Ronnie Gardocki. Gardocki clearly illustrates what it means to be on the strike team and receives much verbal praise from colleagues at the Barn. Billings is so impressed he makes light of joining the Strike Team. Before this investigation, Dutch had been given Claudette’s approval to monitor Gardocki’s phone conversations since he was now officially back on the Lemansky murder. To Dutch’s discontent, Ronnie is aware of Dutch’s rouse and down-right annoyed. It’s humorous to see that Dutch may be such a wonderful detective, but Ronnie’s no idiot. Carducci’s a soldier.

    Vic attempts to contact Ronnie for assistance in his confrontation of Guardo, but is deeply entrenched in the investigation with Dutch and Billings. Vic approaches Guardo’s hideout where he corners Guardo and removes him to a secluded building near the outskirts of town. Vic cuffs Guardo and hangs him by his cuffs to a pipe in the ceiling. Vic gets a name from Guardo, which after a brief follow-up, turns out to be bogus.

    Meanwhile, the pharmacy investigation turns into a drug bust, tying Ronnie down to more duties for the day. Upon making the bust, Ronnie receives more praise and attention as well as a noticeable glance from Rookie Officer Tina. Is the Dutch Man jealous? The paper work is left to Dutch and Billings, and Dutch continues to pursue the mystery Salvadoran Hernan. Ronnie slips away to join up with Vic and Shane.

    Ronnie and Shane stand watch, Shane in dismay as Vic beats Guardo with a chain to get the truth. After getting no admittance from the Salvadoran gang leader, Shane interjects, asking Vic stop the beating, for their collective sakes. The following moments, though short, will be embedded in my mind for the rest of Shield history. Shane reminds Vic that they’re in the clear and that neither one should have to put their life on the line again so soon. Vic, seemingly in consideration of Shane’s request, stares mindlessly at the bloody, near-lifeless Guardo, still hanging from the ceiling. This psychotic stare is followed by a brief arm movement from Vic, and a bullet to Guardo’s head.

    The aftermath, though frightening, is spectacular. Vic, after examining the body (with a psychotic demeanor) assures Shane and Ronnie that Guardo acted alone in his murder. Shane, asking what comes next, is met by Vic and Ronnie, urging that his body should never be found, and that Guardo “still at large” will keep the investigation going, leaving him as the primary suspect in Lem’s death.* Shane, still in awe, says “We just killed somebody,” as if he were realizing that it could have been him hanging from those pipes. The team then digs a hole, douse the remains with gasoline, and set him afire. In my opinion this was the darkest scene in Strike Team history.

    Back to the barn, Dutch has a sit down with Officer Hanlon, discussing some helpful techniques. There discussion transforms into an invite to the Wagenbach estate, where she can be romanced by his collection of all-time favorite investigations. As he pulls into his driveway, Tina asks if this is a date, due to his offer ordering Chinese and wine. Dutch must have been screaming on the inside when Tina noticed another woman on his porch. Was it the ex-wife? No. The cuddler rapists wife? No. It’s Agent Zinmann of the ICE. She has information on Hernan, but urges him to look elsewhere due to Hernan’s value to the federal government. She gives Dutch information on Guardo’s whereabouts, as well as the importance to his being in the states. This is forward momentum for the Lemansky murder.

    The scene closes with the Strike Team cleaning out Lem’s locker, getting caught in a story attached to a photo found. Vic offers the photo to Shane, suggesting he needs it most, after all, it was his best friend who was murdered. As the locker clean-out wraps up, Claudette pokes into the old Strike Team room, handing Vic documentation of his forced retirement, as well as the name of his new replacement. Read on for my Dutch Man theory of the day (my thoughts as to what may happen).

    *Note the dialogue after Guardo’s execution.

    Shane: “So what now?”

    Vic: “We make sure this body never gets found.”

    Ronnie: As long as Guardo’s at large, he’ll always remain the prime suspect in Lem’s death.”

    Shane: “We just killed somebody.”

    In watching Vic and Ronnie during this dialogue, they tend to direct their sights on Shane. Consider the possibility that I have. This possibility is that, at this point, Ronnie and Vic both figured it out. Maybe their suspicions started with a missing grenade, and were perhaps confirmed with the accidental hints dropped earlier this season. But in referring to Guardo as the prime suspect here, are they throwing a hint back at Shane saying that they know? Is this all set-up to cover Shane for his efforts to cover them? Keep watching Shield fans, it will all unfold soon.moreless
  • Lots of Ronnie, with things building up slowly. (with spoilers)

    This episode had a slow start but it built up. Micheal's acting really shined, when Vic was torturing the man as Shane and Ronnie watched it was amazing...from an actor's angle. The rest of the episode wasn't bad but feeling ok about it. I do feel like they put in those pharmacey murders just for the hell of it and needed something to fill in the episode that's why I put unoriginal for the classification. Then the ending made me feel like there was some solution to Shane's problem. Vic killed the man he thought was responsible for all this mess and he acted alone. I'm starting to get the feeling that Shane's confession might not come out until much later after season 6.

    And on an ending note why was Dutch listening to A Flock of Seagules in his car. I do admit though that their song I ran, is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.moreless
Benito Martinez

Benito Martinez

Councilman David Aceveda

Catherine Dent

Catherine Dent

Officer Danielle "Danny" Sofer

Cathy Cahlin Ryan

Cathy Cahlin Ryan

Corrine Mackey

CCH Pounder

CCH Pounder

Captain Claudette Wyms

David Rees Snell

David Rees Snell

Detective Ronnie Gardocki

Jay Karnes

Jay Karnes

Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach

Ken Jeong

Ken Jeong

Skip Osaka

Guest Star

Dennis Keiffer

Dennis Keiffer


Guest Star

Rodney Holland

Rodney Holland

Bobby Franklin

Guest Star

David Marciano

David Marciano

Detective Steve Billings

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Guardo: I didn't do it, I swear. He's got the wrong guy.
      Shane: Yeah... I know.

    • Guardo: Money. I give you money. Make you rich. What do you want?
      Shane: Peace.

    • (Vic is trying to get a confession by torturing Guardo)
      Shane: You know, maybe he didn't do it, man.
      Vic: If it wasn't Guardo, who was it?
      Shane: Look at him, man. If he had a name, do you think he would have told us by now?
      Ronnie: That just means he was acting alone.
      Shane: Come on. This is crazy, man.
      Vic: (yelling) He killed Lem! Do you remember his body, his face? Do you think you can just forget that? Huh? Don't you think he deserves to die for what he did?

    • Billings: I like Ronnie. He's quiet. There's something there. Wouldn't mind doing a little Strike Team time myself. Fall into the shit, get the blood moving.
      Dutch: Yeah. It's too bad you get those headaches.
      Billings: You know, you're very sarcastic. I forgot to list that one.

    • Tina: (to Ronnie) Nice operation. Thanks for making me look good to the Captain.

  • NOTES (2)