'Shield' gives fans perfect ending

NEW YORK --- No drama series reached further with a surer hand than The Shield .


This was true before. Now, all the evidence is in. The 88th and final episode of this surefire police drama airs on FX on Tuesday from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

It doesn't stumble at the finish line. It's everything a series finale should be.

More to the point, this last episode completes the mission that has driven The Shield for seven seasons, since its first explosive moments gave the audience a start.

With its premiere, it relaunched the stalled career of its star, Michael Chiklis, while wasting no time scoring viewers and awards, redefining its network and paving the way for subsequent ambitious FX dramas.

Since March 2002, The Shield has remained a revolutionary series. It brought unaccustomed quality and daring to basic cable. It pushed TV drama overall to greater heights. And somehow, every week, without fail, it was superb.

This was a cop show that demanded words like "gritty" and "raw." Its protagonist, LAPD Detective Vic Mackey, was a vigilante lawman in the roughest district of Los Angeles. As he fought lawlessness with his own brand of lawlessness, he could rival Tony Soprano as TV's most despicable hero, its reigning charismatic brute.

Now you wait for The Shield to wrap up things. "All will be revealed," the show has been promising. And it will.