'The Shield' goes from strength to strength with every season and manages to pull something out of the hat to impress. In season 3, we start to witness the collapse of the strike team and for many reasons its the turning point of the entire show.
After the Armenian Money Train heist from season 2, Vic and his boys are trying to keep a low profile and not attract the attention of Aceveda, who has chosen to delay his departure from the Barn. But with the arrival of a new "decoy squad", the tension begins to mount, especially when the Strike Team become targets of the Armenian mob.
As usual, individual episodes have their own storylines but the overall arc is much stronger than last the first two seasons. With every episode, the team deteriorates and with Shane starting a family and Lem fearing for their lives, loyalties start to fade. For once, its good to see a show that puts characters first and everything that takes place is done for the benefit of characters rather than for the sake of it. The season finale is emotionally charged and very powerful without the need to resort to loud action-packed sequences.
Also, there are some juicy plots surrounding other characters such as Aceveda who faces a major personal crisis after a frightening encounter with two junkies. Meanwhile, Dutch hunts a serial rapist in one of the best plots on TV and the conclusion to it is compelling to watch. Also, unusually for her, Claudette rocks the boat and makes a controversial decision which could jeopardise her career.
With so many rich storylines going on, and with the benefit of being two episodes longer than usual, Season 3 really ups the ante for the show and breaks new ground in style. Its a shame it took so long to get a region 2 release though, because a lot of fans will have gone elsewhere by now for a copy.