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Blame for Tavon The Shield

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The Shield
Season 3, Episode 4 “Streaks and Tips”

Air date: 3-30-04

So who’s to blame for Tavon’s apparent demise? Not that there isn’t generally blame enough to spread around, but reluctantly I must conclude that it is primarily Tavon himself.

Of the three people involved, Shane certainly looks like the biggest JERK. He more or less purposely picked a fight with the “as long as you know your place” business, and then referring to Tavon as a “darkie.” He deserved the beating he got.

However, Tavon clearly threw the first punch- and that’s where he takes on the responsibility. Yes, he was there in the first place trying to be nice and, as Vic had put it, take one for the team. He was being the MUCH bigger man- until he let Shane bait him.

Now, Mara obviously did the main real damage in the fight by swinging a clothes iron by the cord up side his head. She clearly reacted badly to a fist fight. However, she just walked into the room and found Tavon on top of the father of her child. Shane is getting beaten very badly, and has blood running down his face. What’s she supposed to do?

Mara simply miscalculated the use of force in a moment of crisis. She came into a scene of violence, and panicked. She’s a woman- and a sickly pregnant woman at that. Tavon and Shane are cops- trained professional users of force. She is not. She likely thought that her baby’s father’s life was at stake, and grabbed the first thing at hand to stop it. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if Tavon weren’t on top of Shane and beating him to a bloody pulp she would never have attacked him.

Leave general issues of “morality” out of it for a moment, and consider it legally. Shane was an ass, but he was just running his mouth. Tavon took the first swing. THAT was battery. After that, Shane was just defending himself. Mara was just defending her man, who was being brutalized. You can’t really blame her- not legally at least- for using force to stop a violent attack on a family member in her own home.

Tavon also doubles up on getting the ultimate responsibility for his fate because of his actions AFTER Mara hit him. She damaged him pretty good, but he was still up and walking around. Well, he was up and staggering around, anyway. But it was TAVON that got behind the wheel when he couldn’t even walk straight, and it was getting thrown through that windshield that did it. Neither Mara nor Shane put him behind that wheel.

That’s not particularly a moral failing on his part to say that he deserved it, but it was this really bad judgment that did him in. Not being able to see or walk straight at that point, he should have just fished that cell phone out of the pocket and called 911. If he’d just sat on the sidewalk waiting for an ambulance, he’d have survived Mara’s iron. It was getting behind the wheel when he obviously not even vaguely in shape to drive that really destroyed him.
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  • Zona

    The thing that made all this worse is when Shane tried to actually blame the missing 7k on him …this after knowing what his wife did to Tavon. Unbelievable. It really was. OH dear God Shane got what he deserved at the end. He really did.

  • A black guy

    I have to disagree. Shane got the beating he richly deserved. Tavon got the short end of the stick. sure, he threw the first punch but it was one that I (and many of my white friends) have been hoping would have been thrown much sooner. Tavon went to bury the hatchet and Shane, being the bigot that he is, couldn’t simply grow up and realize that the colour of ones skin doesn’t make you a better or worse person–it simply tells you how much spf to put on.

  • Saxman, Tavon was definitely the bigger man here, but not quite big enough. He took the first swing, so he’s wrong from that point even if he’s right.

    I definitely agree with you about the general weakness of how they handled the Tavon character in general. It would have been much better if they’d just killed him off clean in that wreck. Overall, the Tavon stuff has been some of the weakest material in the whole run of the show.

  • saxman

    Give me a break, guys.

    Tavon was the bigger man here. He went to Shane’s house to “apologize”, though he had done nothing wrong. He sucked up his ego for the sake of the team. He went to Shane’s turf in a gesture of peace. He made himself emotionally vulnerable to someone who had treated him with nothing but contempt. Shane’s response was to snap into klansman mode, and to say “Just know your place, Darkie.” Those are words with hundreds of years of cruelty and bigotry behind them. (Hell, after the fact, Shane still tried to blame Tavon for the theft of the money.) Tavon shouldn’t have hit him, but there is only so much anyone can take.

    And once the fight started, Shane wasn’t simply defending himself. He was practically trying to kill Tavon, and vice versa.

    And finally, it’s silly to say, “Tavon should have called a pay phone.” If his brain was hemoraging, how can you fault him for not thinking straight?

    I was let down with this story line. The writers didn’t seem to know what to do with Tavon from the beginning, other than to use him to make a point about Shane’s bigotry. Evenutally, they realized that it would be unrealistic to keep Tavon around without him finding out about the money train, so they put him in a “coma”, and then his character just vanished altogether.

    The scene in the hospital with Vic, Lem, and Tavon was well done, but not believable. Tavon is a trained detective who has seen the dishonesty that Vic and his crew are prone to, and can smell bigotry and scapegoating from his life experience. It was unrealistic to think that he would unconditionally accept what two white guys told him happened, and that other detectives investigating would, as well. Eventually, somehow, Tavon would have come around and realized he was being suckered.

    In the end, this season showed what a weak, immature character Shane is. Wrapped around a woman who plays him like a southern fiddle, getting jealous of anyone who Vic likes – whether it be Lem or Tavon – Shane came off as being an unsympathetic cry baby, in my view. At the end of episode 15, when he drove off, I was pratically cheering. Too bad Vic didn’t have the common sense to let their relationship die right there.

  • There’s a HUGE distinction between “defending” yourself with words, and “defending” yourself with violence.

    Shane was being a huge dick, but calling him names is not an “attack” requiring violent response. Further, Shane called him a “darkie,” but he did not even verbally hint at any idea of violence. He did not even vaguely physically threaten Tavon.

    Another way of stating it, should either Mara or Shane face legal charges? Thinking it through, I reluctantly have to say no.

  • I served on a jury once where the case involved two guys getting in a fight during a basketball game. One guy punched the other guy hard enough to do some dental damage … we never got to decide the case, because they settled before it came to us, the puncher agreeing to pay the punchee’s dental bills.

    I confess that as soon as we found out what the case was about, I felt like I shouldn’t be on the jury. Because I thought it was a waste of tax dollars. Two guys get in a fight, one of them “wins,” the other cries to the police. I’m not saying I was right to think that … I’m saying I wasn’t going to be impartial, and I shouldn’t have been on the jury. I didn’t care whose fault it was … I just thought they should have been able to settle the matter without bring the state into it.

    I enjoy the Shield reviews here, but I think the subject of this particular message is off target. No one is to blame. Both guys were acting like dicks, the woman over-reacted, now someone is apparently dead.

    But I will say this: I think you are too quick to draw a distinction between physical and non-physical attacks. Shane’s comments to Tavon WERE attacks. You want to let Shane off the hook because he was defending himself, you want to let Mara off the hook because she was defending her man, but you don’t want to let Tavon off the hook because he wasn’t able to let Shane’s “know your place, darkie” attack slide. Tavon was “defending” himself, too. They were all at fault; there is no need to assign blame to one specific party.