Top TV #4: Dragonchasers

After yesterday’s ‘controversial’ post, today’s (the fourth in this week’s series of my favorite television episodes) should be a welcome change. 

Even my normal caveat barely applies, but let’s throw it in here anyway: these aren’t necessarily my permanent Top 5, and I certainly won’t claim that these are the best tv episodes ever; they just have a special appeal to me, for one reason or another. They’re also in no particular order, and mostly spoiler-free. Episode/series title links go to the Wikipedia or similar page for the show. 

Today’s selection is “Dragonchasers,” season one, episode ten of “The Shield“.

Picking this episode was almost as difficult as yesterday’s, though in this instance it’s because there are simply too many incredible episodes throughout all seven seasons of this critically-acclaimed drama. When I watched this series during its original run, and even now on dvd, I don’t realize how gripping an episode can be until the end, when I feel my body relax and my breath exhaling, as if I’d been holding my breath for the last hour.

The Fully Reconditioned blog described this episode in much greater detail than I’ll go into here, so if you want the full details I’d suggest giving it a read.

In brief, though, Dragonchasers features: the intelligent but awkward ‘sad sack’ detective “Dutch” Wagenbach in an emotional roller coaster of trying to break a man he believes is a serial killer; Michael Chiklis’ incredibly nuanced star character Vic Mackey (“Al Capone with a badge”) trying to get a drug-addicted mother through her ‘cold turkey’ period; Shane and ‘Lem’, struggling to shut down a string of muggings happening in a local strip club; and black, secretly gay Julian dealing with his emotions and acts of revenge when a possibly AIDS-infected black transvestite tries to infect his partner (cop partner, not life partner) with a bite.

Despite the number of plots, the episode never feels like it gives short shrift to any of them. There’s a bit of humor, with a great deal of darkness, sorrow, and pain, even in the midst of triumph. It’s a great sampler of what this amazing series has to offer.

Runners-Up: I was tempted to choose “Cupid & Psycho” (season one, episode eight), which utilizes The Magnetic Fields song “All My Little Words” to great effect – and as you know from yesterday, I’m a sucker for that. The final episode of the series, “Family Meeting“, was a temptation as well, but I thought it might be too difficult to describe to any of you who haven’t gladly suffered through the up and down journey of Vic’s life. Furthermore, the montage during the closing credits of the last episode, overlayed with Concrete Blonde‘s “Long Time Ago was a great post-ending for the series that brings it all back to me every time I watch it.

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