The burning questions fans want to know is: "How will it end for Detective Vic Mackey? Will he be killed? Will he go to jail? Or will he walk away?"
Vic faces threats from all directions, primarily from his damaged protege Detective Shane Vendrell, whom Vic knows killed their former partner Detective Curtis Lemansky.
He is also faced with losing his badge, as Captain Claudette Wyms is on the verge of pushing him off the force so she and her precinct can clean up Farmington without the stench of police corruption.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Vic is unaware that he and his family have been 'greenlit' (marked for death) by Diro Kesakhian for ripping off the Armenian money train (Season 2), and that Shane is the one who gave him up.
Last season Vic and Detective Ronnie Gardocki learned that Shane killed Lem. When Vic confronted Shane about the murder of Lem, Shane threatened to blow the whistle on the Strike team for all of the past sins and send the details of their crimes to Internal Affairs, should Vic hurt Shane or his family.
Farmington was systematically being taken over by one of the Mexican drug cartels to launder dirty money through Cruz Pezuela's Development Corporation, which is cycling drug profits into a grand scheme that would eventually push Farmington's poorest inhabitants out of their community.
Cruz Pezuela used City Councilman and former Farmington police captain David Aceveda to pull the political strings by supporting his run for Mayor of Los Angeles.
While Aceveda knew that Pezuela is dirty, his goal was to turn the tables on Pezuela, bring down the cartel and take credit as a hero to solidify his mayoral run.
One problem: Mackey knew about the plan and uncovered a blackmail box that contained incriminating information about a number of high-ranking city and Federal officials.
Mackey stole the box from a former Mexican intelligence officer who had been installed in the employ of Pezuela Development to keep an eye on the cartel's money.
Mackey used Pezuela to pressure Aceveda into supporting his effort to keep his badge — at least for a while — from being stripped by the police review board. Included in the blackmail box stolen by Mackey are photos of Aceveda's ultimate shame — his sexual assault by armed assailants several years ago.
Shane, knowing that he was the only one who could prevent the Armenians from killing Vic's estranged wife Corrine and their kids, kidnapped them for their own safety.
Shane also knew that the hit wouldn't stop with Mackey and his family, but would also eventually extend to him. To put an end to it, Shane orchestrated an overthrow of Kesakhian by her top lieutenant Rezian.
Ronnie is turning down a dark path due to his desire to exact vengeance against Shane for the murder of Lem. He remains loyal to Vic, but his distrust of recently installed former officer, now Strike Team member Julien Lowe, is palpable.
Detective Dutch Wagenbach has to deal with being re-teamed with former interim chief, now epically slacking partner, Det. Steve Billings. Though his inflated sense of genius is constantly insulted by the requirement that he "carry" Billings, his deeper woes come from his desire to protect his former partner Claudette, who is losing her battle with Lupus.
Officer Danny Sofer is conflicted by the risk of her chosen career, her ambition and her responsibility as the mother of her infant son Lee. Complicating matters is the fact that Lee's father is Vic, who wants to be a part of Lee's life against the fierce objection of Danny.
Corrine, having been kidnapped with her kids by Shane, lives in sheer terror about what her life has become as a result of Vic's misdeeds. She wonders how she and her kids will ever escape Vic's decaying orbit.
Can Vic survive? Can he save his family and his job? Will he pay for his original sin of murdering fellow Strike Team member and government mole Terry Crowley? Will he face a showdown with former protege turned Frankenstein monster, Shane Vendrell?
All will be revealed by the end of the series.
The Shield was created by Shawn Ryan and is Executive Produced by Ryan, Kurt Sutter, Charles Eglee, Adam Fierro and Kevin Cremin. The series is produced by Fox Television Studios in association with Sony Pictures Television.
When it ends, The Shield will have 88 episodes to its credit. As with the pilot episode, the series finale was written by Shawn Ryan and was directed by Clark Johnson.