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Months before Season 1 began, we see the first day of work at the Barn. Vic Mackey and the Strike Team attempt to take down a rising drug lord, but their methods start clashing with Captain Aceveda. Also, Detectives Claudette Wyms, Tom Gannon, and Dutch Wagenbach try to capture three Mexican kidnappers. Finally, Officer Danny Sofer takes her protege Julien Lowe on their first day around Farmington.
- Michael Chiklis as Detective Vic Mackey
- Catherine Dent as Officer Danny Sofer
- Walton Goggins as Detective Shane Vendrell
- Michael Jace as Officer Julien Lowe
- Kenneth Johnson as Detective Curtis Lemansky
- Jay Karnes as Detective Dutch Wagenbach
- Benito Martinez as Captain David Aceveda
- and CCH Pounder as Detective Claudette Wyms
- Jamie Brown as Connie Riesler
- John Diehl as Assistant Chief Ben Gilroy
- Ray Baker as Detective Tom Gannon
- Reed Diamond as Detective Terry Crowley
- Cathy Cahlin Ryan as Corrine Mackey
- Walter Emanuel Jones as Rondell Robinson
- David Rees Snell as Detective Ronnie Gardocki
- Richard Yniguez as Jesus Latigo
- Karlton Johnson as Mayfield Duffy
- Dayo Ade as Lionel Phipps
- Terry Wilkerson as Ringo
- Cynthia Graham as Neta
- Marcio Rosario as Otto
- Jules Fleming as Clerk
- Michael Auteri as Desk Sergeant Nathan Peterson
- Rina Fernandez as Anabel (as "Kidnapped Woman")
- Cesar Garcia as Happy Sandez
- Juanita Guzman as Witness
- Keith Davis as Kenyon
- Gabriel R. Martinez as Perpetrator
The title is a wordplay on the term "pilot" used to refer to the first episode in a television series. Since this whole episode is a flashback to events preceding the series pilot, it was coined as "Co-Pilot".
- International airdates:
- Germany: April 1, 2006
- France: September 6, 2007
- The episode was conceived largely due to several factors: first, Shawn Ryan's desire for a flashback episode showing how the Strike Team was formed (as the actual pilot has the team already formed and operating). Doing a flashback episode also allowed the production staff to sidestep the issue of Ronnie Gardocki's disfigurement, as the show's make-up staff were having difficulty producing the needed make-up SFX to present the character's disfigurement. Finally, was due to a desire to continue the exploration of Vic's relationship with his mentor Gilroy, as the character appears in the following episode).
- The episode has been the subject of much controversy, due to the issues it raises with the show's timeline and the events of the pilot (which among other things, stated that the Strike Team was well established within the Farmington District precinct and that David Aceveda had only recently assumed control over the precint as it's new captain. Also, the timeline of the episode shows rookie officer Julian Lowe as being present at the Barn upon the precinct's inception.
- This is the only episode of The Shield to break the chronology of the series, with its events taking place prior to Season 1. It is also one of three instances of flashback scenes in the whole series, the other being in the Season 1 episode "Our Gang" and in the Season 6 mini-episode "Wins and Losses".
- Detective Tom Gannon refers to Dutch Wagenbach as "Fletch" probably in reference to the main character in Gregory McDonald's novel.
- Guest stars John Diehl, Jamie Brown, Walter Jones, and Michael Auteri return to reprise the roles of Ben Gilroy, Connie Riesler, Rondell Robinson, and Nathan Peterson.
- Vic Mackey: Ben, I need this.
- Ben Gilroy: (sighs) I've only got one marker to use with the Chief. If I use it, I need results. I need them quick... or we're both out of a job.
- Vic Mackey: Just give me the chance.
- Vic Mackey: What's your name?
- Ringo: Ringo.
- Shane Vendrell: Parents didn't like you enough to name you after John or Paul?
- Tom Gannon: (entering the Strike Team's clubhouse) I was told this is the ladies room. Oh, I guess it is.
- Vic Mackey: Gannon, you creaky old sack of shit. What are you doing?
- Tom Gannon: Gilroy asked me to do him a favor and bring a little credibility to this old barn.
- Vic Mackey: "Barn". I like that.
- Vic Mackey: You just hear me out. A high-profile bust gets us credibility out on the street and with the bosses. Once we get our feet on solid ground, get a couple of wins under our belt... we go back to doing it the right way.
(Everybody looks at each other)
- Vic Mackey: Hey, we need this. Just this once.
- Terry Crowley: So what's the job?
- David Aceveda: Gilroy's pick for the Strike Team, Vic Mackey. There's a spot on the team. Take it. If Mackey doesn't work out... you'll take his place.
- Terry Crowley: Run the Strike Team?
- David Aceveda: Even if he does work out, it's still a great gig... Come on. It's a no-lose situation for you.
- Lionel Phipps: See, I like to know what I'm puttin' on the streets. Come here. Right here.
- Shane Vendrell: He wants to taste the kitty.
- Connie Riesler: Sure. Just let me run to the bathroom.
- Lionel Phipps: What for?
- Connie Riesler: To pop in my diaphragm.
- Lionel Phipps: No need, baby girl. I ain't hitting that raw.