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It’s really about Aceveda versus himself

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[Morethings index for The Shield] Season 1, Episode1 “Pilot”
Written by Shawn Ryan
Directed by Clark Johnson
Air date: 3-12-02
How perfectly does Ryan set up the most basic relationship of the series? The first scene shows Captain Aceveda putting on his smooth press conference giving exposition on his tenure as new boss. He brags to the media on the new improved crime statistics for this rough neighborhood. All of which gets cut with a scene of how exactly those results are achieved: Our first sight of the principle protagonist shows big ol’ scary white Vic Mackey chasing a black dope dealer through a Mexican grocery at the same time Aceveda is speaking to the press.

Aceveda: With the continued support of community leaders and ordinary citizens, we can make the Farmington district a safer home for all of us.

Which cuts immediately to Vic kidney punching the cornered and non-resisting dope dealer, who falls down doubled up in pain.

Vic: That’s for running, asshole.

Vic proceeds to strip and humiliate the perp in broad daylight and plain sight of the neighbors, reaching down to confiscate the guy’s “third nad” full of dope.

Thus, before the first opening credits for the series roll, he’s set up the basic situation. Here’s the politically ambitious Latino police captain who needs the badass rogue Mackey behind the scenes busting asses to get control of this rough part of town and win him favor with the public.

The biggest ongoing plot conflict of the series comes not exactly as Aceveda versus Mackey, but as how much Aceveda dislikes Mackey and fears blowback from his tactics versus how much Aceveda needs the results that Mackey gets so as to further his political ambitions.

As the politician expecting to answer directly to the voters, Aceveda most closely of any character represents the viewpoint of the public in the series. Much like the public in general, Aceveda badly wants results, but mostly would just rather not know how they are achieved. He might think he does for a minute, but more and more Aceveda will come to see Vic’s status and his own have become joined at the hip, and he will not be nearly so anxious to know everything.

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