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|Ronald Everett "Ronnie" Gardocki|
|The Shield character|
|First appearance||"Pilot" (episode 1.01)|
|Last appearance||"Family Meeting" (episode 7.13)|
|Created by||Shawn Ryan|
|Portrayed by||David Rees Snell|
|Occupation||Los Angeles Police Department detective|
|Title||Detective, Strike Team member|
Detective Ronald Everett "Ronnie" Gardocki, is a fictional character who appears in the FX crime drama The Shield. He is portrayed by David Rees Snell. Ronnie is known for his extremely calm demeanor, well-groomed appearance, and quiet nature.
Little is known about the background of Detective Ronnie Gardocki. His surname is of Polish origin, but no other clues about his past are given. A DVD commentary by Michael Chiklis said that all the shows characters are from where the actors themselves are from, which would mean that Gardocki is from Wichita, Kansas.
Ronnie has very few lines in comparison with the rest of the Strike Team members, and consequently it is difficult for the viewer to ascertain much information about him through what he says. He is, however, trusted implicitly by series protagonist Vic Mackey, who at times often shields Ronnie from the darker schemes involving the Strike Team. Ronnie, either deliberately or unconsciously, tends to stay in the background of the show, rarely speaking up about anything, though he radiates a manner of unshakable confidence.
Superficially, Gardocki can be described as "geeky" due to his interest in electronic equipment and computers. Besides this aptitude with computers, he has been shown to enjoy the band Journey, beer, and is an avowed atheist. He has severe allergies (in one episode, he comments that he's allergic to "everything but sheet metal"). He appears to favor the Beretta 8045 Cougar F as his sidearm. He had a thick mustache in the first two seasons for which he was occasionally mocked for, before growing a full beard in the Season Three, to cover up the scarring caused by Mexican drug lord Armidillo Quintero.
Gardocki's personality changes somewhat over the course of the show. Initially he is somewhat of a geek, speaking awkwardly with a woman during a prostitution sting (and being mocked for it by his teammates). After Season Three begins, he takes on more of an extroverted manner, participating in more dangerous, hands-on police work with the Strike Team. This is reflective of his experiences over his time working with Mackey. Over the course of the show he is seen flirting with several women; he is also admired by Officer Tina Hanlon, though the potential relationship never develops, and during Season Seven is shown taking an attractive Asian woman back to his apartment.
His calm and quiet personality sharply contrasts with the more aggressive members of the Strike Team. However, he has also been shown to have a violent side: when the Strike Team tried to break up a riot between a group of black and Hispanic gang members at a funeral home, a black gang member struck Gardocki in the back of the head with a crucifix hanging on a nearby wall. After finding out the identity of the culprit, the Strike Team tracked him down so that Gardocki could beat the man bloody.
Gardocki ultimately distinguishes himself from the other three members of the Strike Team as being the most careful and smart in maintaining his outward image as an upstanding, incorruptible cop. Although he committed and was involved in as many crimes as the other three members, Gardocki manages to evade his superiors and their wrath as an individual, unlike the three other team members who all get caught for individual crimes or questionable actions made separately from the overall Strike Team. This is due to Gardocki being extremely guarded and intelligent in the way he handles not only the team's illegal activities, but his own, and he never leaves evidence or proof of his involvement with the majority of his questionable actions. He was the only member of the Strike Team to escape the majority of the damage of IAD Lieutenant Kavanaugh's investigation due to there being no direct evidence on his use of the Money Train money, his involvement with Terry Crowley's death, and other crimes more visibly committed by Mackey and Vendrell.
Only in the final episodes of the series do Gardocki's crimes become known by his superiors, though his careful personality is not the cause of it. Ironically his involvement in crimes is only exposed because of his team leader and best friend Mackey, who revealed the Strike Team's criminal acts - Gardocki's included - in order to gain immunity from ICE, sending Gardocki to prison for life.
Gardocki appeared in about two-thirds of the first season's episodes, including a brief appearance in the pilot for which Snell went uncredited. To explain why a member of the Strike Team would be missing in action so often, it was established that Mackey often has Gardocki run errands.
After Mackey uses a stove to burn the face of Armadillo, a violent Mexican drug lord, Armadillo retaliates by doing the same to Gardocki (after Gardocki's paranoia, which was ignored by the Strike Team), leaving him on the brink of death. Gardocki survives, but is left permanently disfigured. It is hinted that Gardocki will not return to active duty, and detective Tavon Garris is hired to join the Strike Team. Fellow team member Shane Vendrell is initially resentful towards Garris for taking his spot on the team.
However, Gardocki returns and decides to take a more active role in the Strike Team, particularly in planning out a means for the Strike Team to hijack the Armenian mob's "Money Train," a convoy used in a money laundering operation. Gardocki, initially interested in the idea, became a much larger advocate for it after his disfigurement, coming up with an alternate method of stealing the money that bypassed the problems within the original plan.
Gardocki later notices that a large sum of the "Money Train" loot is missing, and openly accuses Mackey and Vendrell of stealing the money. When the real thief is revealed as Vendrell's girlfriend, Gardocki states that it is not safe for any member to use the loot, given that the police are still looking for the identity of the people behind the heist.
Lemansky ultimately burns the remaining money from the robbery, fearing that the team's actions will eventually be discovered. When Lemansky's actions cause tension between him and Vendrell, Gardocki attempts to mediate between the two. However, tensions between the team eventually lead to the team's dissolution. Lemansky and Vendrell are transferred to different divisions, but Gardocki remains as Mackey's partner. When suspicions between Mackey, Gardocki, and Lemansky arise regarding Vendrell's involvement with drug kingpin Antwon Mitchell, Gardocki plants a camera in Vendrell's car. The camera captures Mitchell ordering Vendrell to kill Mackey, an act that leads to Mitchell's eventual arrest.
After the Strike Team is re-formed following Mitchell's arrest, Gardocki and the rest of the team are investigated by Internal Affairs Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh due to their suspected involvement in various crimes. Kavanaugh finds discrepancies in some of the team members' finances (a result of their using money from the "Money Train" heist), but Gardocki escapes suspicion due to careful management of his share of the money. Kavanaugh points out that because of the others, Gardocki may go down for "a mistake you were too smart to make", foreshadowing his ultimate fate.
Lemansky later becomes a fugitive after Kavanaugh charges him with stealing heroin from a criminal informant's house. On the way to a covert meeting with Lemansky, Gardocki and Mackey are tailed by Kavanaugh's agents. By the time they escape their pursuers and arrive at the rendezvous point, Vendrell had killed Lemansky with a grenade in order to prevent him from giving up evidence on the other members of the Strike Team.
Gardocki begins to suspect Vendrell's involvement in the murder, but is initially unable to find evidence to justify his suspicions. Eventually, Mackey discovers the truth and threatens to kill Vendrell. Vendrell responds by creating a document detailing the various crimes committed by the Strike Team, informing Mackey that the document—containing enough evidence to put Mackey and Gardocki in prison for the rest of their lives – will find its way to the police if Mackey carries out his plans for revenge.
Vendrell approaches Gardocki with an offer to form an alliance against Mackey. When Gardocki declines, Vendrell informs him of Mackey's involvement in the murder of detective Terry Crowley. Gardocki, unmoved because he had long suspected as much, confronts Mackey to demand why he had been left out of the plot. Mackey, however, refuses to admit to the murder in front of Gardocki.
Mackey and Gardocki later discover that Vendrell has informed the Armenians of their involvement in the Money Train heist. The Armenians have vowed to get revenge by killing Mackey, his family, and Gardocki, so Mackey forges a truce with Vendrell in order to deal with the threat. When Gardocki expresses refusal to work with Vendrell, Mackey promises that they will deal with Vendrell after the threat from the Armenians is resolved. Meanwhile, Gardocki is promoted to lead the Strike Team in light of Mackey's upcoming forced retirement. This is done to marginalize Mackey during his final weeks on the job, as Gardocki would be held responsible for any wrongdoing on Mackey's part.
Mackey and Gardocki craft a plan to simultaneously eliminate both Vendrell and the leadership of the Armenian mob. Their plan succeeds in eliminating the Armenians, but Vendrell escapes and realizes he had been set up. Vendrell responds by attempting to murder both Mackey and Gardocki; this too fails, and he is exposed for conspiring to murder his two teammates.
Vendrell flees, increasing pressure on Mackey and Gardocki to eliminate him before he tells the police of their involvement in various crimes. Mackey begins working with ICE, hoping that in exchange for bringing down a Mexican drug cartel both he and Gardocki will be offered jobs and granted immunity for any crimes committed as members of the Strike Team.
ICE refuses to grant immunity to Gardocki, extending it only to Mackey. In order to secure his own immunity, Mackey is required to confess to the various crimes committed by the Strike Team. Frustrated at her inability to prosecute Mackey for the heinous actions he admits to, ICE agent Olivia Murray tells Mackey that she has enough evidence to send Gardocki to prison for life and will have him arrested after the conclusion of the cartel investigation. Unable to warn Gardocki for fear of voiding his immunity agreement, Mackey lies and tells Gardocki that he successfully secured immunity for both of them.
After the drug cartel is brought down, Gardocki is informed that Vendrell committed suicide and killed his own family in order to avoid arrest. Gardocki is distraught at the news, but relieved that Vendrell will no longer be able to threaten him. Gardocki is shocked shortly thereafter when Claudette gives the signal to Dutch to arrest Ronnie in front of his friend (the exact charges are never stated, though Detective Wagenbach references both the Armenian Money Train robbery along with his decision not to come forward with the revelation that Mackey had murdered Detective Crowley as Ronnie is being handcuffed). Incredulous that Mackey betrayed and lied to him, Gardocki explodes with anger at Mackey as he condemns his former friend's now hypocritical rhetoric about "protecting the team" as well as his preventing Ronnie from fleeing the country several days earlier. Ronnie's demeanor during this scene contrasts greatly with his overall personality throughout the course of the series. As he is dragged away, Claudette orders a distraught Mackey to leave the precinct, having destroyed his friendship with Gardocki once and for all.
One of the few elements of Gardocki's background that has been explored is his close friendship with Mackey. The season two episodes "Partners" and "Co-Pilot" established that Gardocki and Mackey met after Mackey's original partner Joe Clark was fired due to excessive force complaints, but before Mackey met and became partners with Vendrell. It was Mackey who brought Gardocki onto the Strike Team after the anti-gang task force was formed.
Despite being out of the loop on several deeds, Ronnie's loyalty is established during season two when he is disfigured by a pedophile crime boss who Mackey had similarly disfigured earlier in the season. When the crime boss is arrested, he threatens to file a police brutality complaint against Mackey if Gardocki does not recant a statement which identifies the crime boss as his attacker. When Vendrell finds out the details of the situation, Mackey responds that he would turn himself in for his act of police brutality rather than be blackmailed into forcing Gardocki to recant his sworn statement and let the man who disfigured him go free. Mackey is never forced to carry out his vow, as Vendrell arranges for the mob boss to be killed by a disgruntled minion, sparing Vic from having to destroy his career for Ronnie's sake.
Despite his friendship with Mackey, Ronnie has often been kept in dark regarding some of Vic's darker plans. Most notably, Gardocki was not involved in the murder plot against Crowley. In the aftermath of the murder, Mackey and fellow conspirator Vendrell go out of their way to avoid discussing the crime in front of him. After Vendrell's estrangement from the team following his murder of Lemansky, Vendrell reveals the truth about Crowley in order to drive a wedge between the two remaining members of the Strike Team. Gardocki reveals to Mackey that he had long suspected the latter's involvement and that he understood why Mackey did what he did. Furthermore, Gardocki adds that he could have provided Mackey with emotional support after the murder, citing that he would have "looked out for [Mackey] better" than Vendrell did.
At the series' conclusion, Mackey accepts a deal to receive a job with ICE and immunity from any crimes he committed as a member of the Strike Team in exchange for helping to bring down a Mexican drug cartel. He attempts to get Gardocki in on the deal, but ICE refuses. Mackey initially holds out until Gardocki's deal is finalized, but later comes to believe that his ex-wife is in legal trouble for unwittingly assisting Mackey in his illegal actions. Fearful for his ex-wife's immediate future, he agrees to the immunity deal for himself and his ex-wife. As a condition of the deal, he is required to confess to the Strike Team's various illegal actions, implicating Gardocki in a number of them. He lies to Gardocki, telling him that immunity was secured for both of them. In the series finale, Mackey's treachery is revealed when Gardocki is arrested for his crimes, though he does apparently feel guilty for having sold Gardocki out. Despite Gardocki's loyalty, Vic never considered him as close as he did Shane. Ironically, many thought before Vic's betrayal, that Ronnie's low key nature and ability to cover his tracks would allow him to escape the Strike Team's crimes unscathed.
Gardocki's relationship with Vendrell is much more antagonistic. For the first few seasons they were shown to be good friends, albeit not as close as Shane was to the other two. This is evident in a Season One episode when Lem and Shane profit $10000 each from a cockfighting ring, and Vendrell gives $5000 to Mackey, when Lem asks about Gardocki, Vendrell simply says "Screw Ronnie! He is off the clock". Later episodes would reveal that Vendrell considered Gardocki to be Mackey's "whipping boy", due to the fact that Mackey often has Gardocki run errands and leaves him out of major decisions involving the Strike Team. Despite this, Vendrell was visibly annoyed and upset when Tavon Garris momentarily replaced Gardocki after the latter's hospitalization, though in the end Gardocki returned and Garris also stayed.
During the events leading to the Strike Team's temporary dissolution, Gardocki became privy to several of Vendrell's misdeeds. When $7000 of the Money Train cash went missing, Garocki suspected Vendrell and chastised Mackey for not suspecting Vendrell sooner. He comes to see Vendrell as a liability who must be watched in case he does anything which could implicate the team members in any wrongdoing. When gang leader Antwon Mitchell orders Vendrell to kill Mackey, Gardocki tells Lemansky that he hopes Mackey kills Vendrell during their next meeting.
Their friendship heals to an extent when the Strike Team re-forms. He is more willing to accept Vendrell back into the fold than Lemansky. However, after he discovers that Vendrell killed Lemansky and then drafted up a document detailing the team's crimes as part of his scheme to protect himself from reprisals of Mackey, their friendship ends once and for all. Vendrell tries to lure Gardocki away from Mackey's side, but Gardocki remains angry at Vendrell, refusing to betray Mackey or even engage in small talk with when the two are forced to work together on a stakeout.
Gardocki eventually pushes Mackey to deal with Vendrell "once and for all," culminating in Mackey arranging for Vendrell to be murdered along with the leaders of the Armenian Mob. However, when Vendrell informs Mackey that he would be willing to transfer to a new precinct once they cleared themselves of the problems involving the Armenians, Mackey begins having second thoughts about the murder attempt. Vendrell survives the attempt on his life and realizes that Gardocki and Mackey had tried to kill him, leading to Vendrell arranging for Gardocki to be killed, a scheme that fails as well. When he and his family goes on the run, Gardocki fears that if caught they will testify against him and Vic to receive better deals. Despite their antagonism, Gardocki shows a deal of sadness when he discovers that Vendrell killed himself and his family, but at the same time shows relief thinking he is safe from prosecution, not knowing Vic already gave up Ronnie.
Gardocki's friendship with Lemansky is noticeably less complicated. Due to Mackey and Vendrell often riding together, he and Lemansky are often tasked to work together in running down leads. "Co-Pilot" established they did not know each other until the formation of the Strike Team. When Lemansky burns most of the Money Train cash, Gardocki is angered, yet willing to move past it to keep Lemansky on the team so the Strike Team can remain in operation. Like the other members of the Strike Team, Gardocki is visibly touched when Lem reveals that he considers the team to be "the only family I got." When the Strike Team does dissolve, they are shown to still have a friendship. Gardocki begins to distrust Lemansky when he is under investigation by IAD, thinking he might sell out the team to save himself, but did not suggest violent retribution, unlike what Shane Vendrell eventually did. Upon Lemansky's death at the hands of Shane, Gardocki, like Mackey, wants to find the culprit and kill him. Gardocki still seeks to kill the murderer when it became clear it was Vendrell, even more so than Mackey. In the final season, Gardocki is unwilling to forgive Shane for what he did to Lem and constantly reminds Vic that Lem must be avenged.
- "The Shield – The Complete Series Collection DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
- Goodman, Tim (2008-11-24). "The Shield' goes out with a bang". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-03-02.