This week on Southland: Sammy loses his entire damned mind, but I mostly talk about John and Ben.
The scene in the diner with the waitress flirting with Ben—”I’m fine.” “That’s certainly true.”—is so beautifully blocked and shot that I would like to take it out for a coffee (hint: that’s an euphemism for sexytimes). The character development this season that transitioned Sherman from being a broken little boy with a hero complex into a textured man who knows how attractive he is with an active sex life and no shame about that has been effin’ amazing. There’s no PSA about casual sex, no indictment of Sherman as a cad, no finger-shaking that he needs to grow up and settle down. He is who he is, and he’s all the more attractive for it.
CUE COOPER IN THE BATHROOM HAVING A BREAKDOWN OVER HIS PILLS.
This whole scene is a distillation of everything we’ve come to know about these two guys. Ben’s expressive face, John’s brusque dickish suffering.
I’m a bit conflicted about the basehead in their patrol car commenting on the tension between them like a Greek chorus and Sherman’s “this ain’t tv.” Hm. We needed some third party outsider noticing the drug abuse, so I’ll let it slide.
As we all know, this show is more about our beloved characters than the crimes, so just a brief digression into the crimes of the week—the blowsy actress’s entire story seemed to be just another indication of how Lydia gets too close to her work, I’m waiting on the pay off on this and I don’t think it’s going to be a happy story, how about you?; carjacking a school bus for field trip money is the kind of crackhead crime that is at once tragic and hilarious, something Dave Chappell would have done in his stand up before he became the parodied crackhead; I knew the guy on the bench was the child molester as soon as he appeared which was a little disappointing since I expect so much out of this show, because the “Watch Your Children” sign told me (yes, I am “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed”ing at a tv show, if you weren’t invested you wouldn’t be here!).
There is something about every scene that Chickie and Ben have that I find really effecting. It goes without saying at this point that Ben McKenzie has charisma +, but these two actors have a kind of effortless give and take that feels so real. In the scene where Chickie’s like “the fuck’s up with Coop?” the fact that Sherman actually has an edge to his voice when he delivers the line “he’s my training officer, Chickie” is like 50 other actors screaming. He has a tone with her. Clearly the acting choices on this show are seriously weighed before every scene, so why do these two always seem to have such fraught interaction? This might be like looking too hard at the stars and seeing a giant crab in the sky. Anyway, clearly Sherman doesn’t like being called out on letting the drug thing slide. NOT AT ALL, SHUT UP, CHICKIE! (That last part was him, not me.) My point is more that the actors seem really comfortable with each other in a vulnerable way and it really translates well.
Do we even need to dwell on the child rape bit? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
So even when he’s off his game, Cooper’s instincts are better than anyone else. Yes, we all love him, Southland, please do not let the season finale be a OD cliffhanger. Do you really need to play us like that?
On a more shallow note: Michael Cudlitz has very nice arms…what?
Now a bit about Sammy. Nate was pretty much the only thing that kept Sammy on the rails, which was telegraphed over and over again. Killing Nate was taking the safety off of Sammy. Shit was going to get real until getting real couldn’t get realer. Watching the moment where the fragile equilibrium with Mrs Moretta shatter because she wants to figure out how to move on and he just rambles on about catching the killer was even harder than the kidnapping, I think. I hope this is rock bottom because I can’t really cope with much more. CUE TAMMY.
When Dewey’s giving you advice on addiction, you need to check yourself. John calling criminals shitbirds never gets old, though.
So. We finally get the A-bomb on Cooper Sr. Yeah, I’d say that backstory’s certainly motivation to become John Cooper, BAMF cop. Everything about Cooper and Sherman’s relationship this week was flat out perfection, and it culminates in this scene where Cooper is allowing himself to become even more vulnerable to Sherman while Ben is insanely frustrated by the entire situation but also still on the edge of hero worship. Basically, they’re all wrapped up in each other and both know it, even if Coop keeps on pretending not to know. He knows that Ben could hand him his ass by tanking the fuck out of his career, but, and this is the important thing, as much as he busts Ben’s chops, he trusts him.
Next week: something very bad will happen, my magic 8 ball told me signs point to yes.