SouthLAnd 4.2 – Underwater

Huh. You don't see that every day...

“This is a tough, dirty job. [The LAPD] used to have a lot more rope, and a lot more soap. But it’s a new age – a video age. People are always watching us. Everywhere.”

Officer Ben Sherman said as much (but far less eloquently) to Officer Fergusen just last week, as Fergusen watched a crime suspect die in the street while a crowd of angry citizens watched. Sherman is about to be reminded of the same thing. 

Ben and Sammy roll up mid-day on a crowd of kids dancing in a parking lot. There’s obviously been a nuisance called in. The kids are all older teens, dressed in uniforms and hoodies. Sammy feels bad for breaking up the fun, but the job’s the job. He switches off the music which pisses of the crowd. As he and Ben start ordering the crowd to disperse, a pretty blonde girl playing tough gets in Ben’s face, threatening him, like he won’t do something because she’s a girl. She slaps and shoves at him and spits in his face.

Well. That just made it assault, so he grabs her, and starts cuffing her. One of her friends, a pretty black girl, starts shoving at him and slapping at him, too. The crowd is cheering the girls on as Sammy moves further and further into the mele. The second girl continues to shove and slap Ben, and when she spits in his face, we freeze.

Cops routinely find themselves underwater. The best manage to keep their heads above the surface. But even for a strong swimmer like Officer Ben Sherman, the undertow can be tricky.”

22 Hrs. Earlier

It’s a pool party with beautiful people everywhere. Ben walks over to Bokeem and Sammy at a grill. This is the off-duty life of Ben Sherman, and the guys are a little jealous. After some “you should move closer to the station, it’s like this all the time!” talk, Sammy says he prefers living far away; he needs the long drive home to decompress. Just then, a gorgeous woman in a tiny bikini comes up to Ben, kisses him, and they go off to horse around in the pool. It’s not a bad life, if you can get it.

Tang and Coop are on a nice city street where there happens to be a bloody, dismembered hand clutching a very rare crocodile-skin Birkin bag. (They actually do retail for around $55,000 and up, as mentioned in the show.) Tang knows all about them, because her sister would give her right arm for one. Dewey, slithering about, laughs and says, “Looks like someone already did.” You can always count on Dewey to make the obvious joke.

Lydia and Ruben arrive, ID the hand (from the wallet) and make arrangements to get the stop light camera footage. Coop and Tang will notify the family of the hand’s death. Lydia knows they’re looking for a silver SUV without plates.

Ben arrives at work that day to find police tape all over the station. (Oho. Clever, writers. Your subtlety never fails to amaze me.) There’s a new captain, and he’s a hard ass. He has everyone take a McDonald’s application, because each time they mess up, they will fill out a new line. “We’re going to send a message.” Ben perks up. Captain Rucker wants everyone’s ass out of their cars patrolling. He wants them squeezing their snitches, he wants them walking alleys, he wants them to protect and serve, goddammit. Ben is in awe – this is what he signed up for. (And everyone had been teasing him, telling him to let his idealism go.)

Lydia and Ruben pull up in front of a very lovely home, upper middle class in the ‘burbs. They ask for the lady of the house (from an adorable little boy) and a very attractive woman with another baby on her hip answers. She lets them see the garage. We can already see bloody tire tracks leading up the drive. Lydia, with a flashlight, checks the exterior, sees the front bumper is crumpled, and checks the front passenger wheel-well. Which is where she’s confronted with the top half of a woman, jammed inside the engine.

Christ. Even Lydia rears back, and that woman is so grizzled, you’d think she’d been through ‘Nam.

The man of the house is led to the squad cars, cuffed, saying how he just got a new job and was celebrating with some friends. “I thought I hit a coyote.”

“You ripped a woman in half, Mr. Davis.”

He begins to softly cry in the backseat. If ever you needed a reminder to not drink and drive, that should do it.

Sammy and Ben head out for the day with Sammy saying that he’s known of Rucker. He’s an OG and doesn’t mind being tough. “Our jobs just got harder.” Ben flirts a little with another new cop, Anawalt. And by flirting, I mean the adult version of pulling pigtails. Sammy says to just ask for her number, already, but Ben’s having too much fun this way.

Coop and Tang walk to the front entrance of a gorgeous mansion. Cooper says that it was Mary Pickford’s home. (Of course he knows who that is.) Tang has no clue, and wonders if that’s his old ex-girlfriend or something. I wonder if Tang knows Cooper is gay…

They get the butler, who is shunted to the side by the man of the house. He’s an attractive and fit older gentleman. He explains to them that his wife is with “her boyfriend” and won’t be home until later. Cooper gently breaks the news that she’s dead and the man crumples, holding on the doorway for support. And then we see that he’s laughing. He tells the butler that she’s dead, and the butler’s response is, “La bruja está muerta!” All of the staff repeats this, joyfully, and laugh with relief.

Tang looks confused, then says, “Ding dong… This is some strange shit right here.” as she and John walk back to their car.

Ben and Sammy are “squeezing” a hooker and hopeful informant. After finding a crack pipe on her to use as leverage, she tells them about a drug dealer’s stash house. They thank her and head off in search of someone to bust.

Tang sits silently in the car as they cruise while Cooper asks her all sorts of questions about herself, trying to get to know her. She’s not interested in sharing, and then, what the hell? Some nude guy – sans socks and running shoes – is jogging down the street. They roll alongside him, John laughing and smiling. “Hey, how’s it hanging, brother?”

The nude guy waves a hand distractedly, saying, “Eh, rough morning. I’m a little underwater.”

Tang asks, “You know you forgot your clothes?”

“I just needed to run, you know?”

John is still laughing to himself at all of this when Tang says, “You can’t run on city streets, so take the on-ramp. Freeways are okay.” The nude guy is thankful and hooks a right. Way to palm it off on ChiPs, Tang! John is impressed.

Lydia and Ruben are investigating a homicide in a convenience store, where the owner is anxious for them to get this taken care of so he can open his shop. The assailant was wearing a ski mask and had a limp, and the victim might be an out of work actor? Lydia notices streaks on the floor. “You mopped?”

Hey, getting blood out of cheap tile isn’t easy, okay? What a dummy.

Sammy and Ben, and Bokeem and Anawalt sit in the shadows watching a group of bangers throw dice, deciding who’s going to get who. They load in the cars, roll up with cheerful, “Hey, guys!” when the bangers all take off. They swing the cars around to block them, tackle who they can and start cuffing. Except for how it seems that Anawalt let one get away. Sammy keeps his cool, laughing and joking as they lead off the cuffed suspects. (This is a theme for Sammy, it takes a lot to ruffle his feathers. Oh, Nate… you’re still missed.)

Lydia and Ruben work the case back at the station, Lydia leading Ruben through the process. They find that the victim is a major parolee, and a little more digging turns up that he fingered an innocent guy for a rape, landing the innocent guy in jail for 22 years. If not for DNA, he’d still be there. Because, you see, the innocent guy – Darrel Miller – recently got out. Mm hm.

Sammy and Ben go to “smoke out” the guy Anawalt let get away by trolling through a near-by apartment complex. Bokeem spies a kid with one shoe that is about nine sizes too large. It’s custom with initials embroidered on it. They sweet talk the kid into snitching. He leads them to a nearby house, where Bokeem busts in first. “Police! Sorry to bother you, ma’am,” he says to the shocked woman in a hallway.

She doesn’t know anything about anything (and we believe her) and certainly has never seen that shoe before. (Which technically, is true. It was with that punk kid outside.) Ben sees the suspect break out through the back, he goes chasing and narrowly misses getting a baseball bat swung at his face by a last minute duck and tackle. He pins the suspect down, getting the cuffs on him and screaming, “You could have killed me, what were you thinking?” Going down for drugs vs. going down for killing a cop. Much different jail experience.

Ben shouts at the lady for hiding him when she honestly has no idea who he is. (He could have been a rapist. He could have been a cannibal, she doesn’t know!) She puts her weight back on one leg, hand on hip and tells Ben coolly, “He’s more my people than you are.” She then asks the suspect if he needs her “to call anyone, baby?” This is too much for Ben. There’s a crowd and they’re all on the suspect’s side. Simply because he’s a white cop. All he wants is to protect and serve, and they won’t let him. He’s pissed and his cool is long gone.

[…just last week: “They just see the uniform!” Exactly, Ben.]

Tang and Cooper are cruising when Tang asks about John’s back. Oh, no. She wouldn’t give, so he won’t give. And that’s when a guy completely engulfed in flames runs out of a triple X porn shop. Holy shi– John calls in back up for R/A support as they chase after him. Someone from the shop has a fire extinguisher and puts the guy out about a block away. Well, that’s not something you see every day.

Lydia and Ruben go see Darrel Miller in Baldwin Heights, a really cool neighborhood in south LA. Miller comes out and greets them. Yes, he knew the victim, and everyone knows that Miller hated the guy. But hey. He’d been with his grandma all morning. She’s 93 and he lives there to help her out, so there’s that alibi. His grandma comes out (Marla Gibbs!) and she’s a sweet old lady. Lydia smiles and Ruben gives Miller his card, just in case he thinks of anything else. They both notice that Miller has a limp.

Ben and the gang hang out on a hilltop, where Ben is still reeling from the earlier event. “They don’t want us there; I don’t want to be there.” That’s quite the 180 for Ben. Bokeem talks about growing up in the ‘hood, and how the LAPD fostered distrust by constantly beating on them for next to nothing. So why did he become a cop? A member of the SWAT came to his school, and Bokeem just liked the way the man carried himself. Anawalt became a cop because her uncle was one. Sammy confesses that he and his friends were stoned and thought it would be hilarious.

Sammy. SAMMY. And he’s the new moral center, I love it. One of the best, coolest cops there is on the force, too. Ben became a cop because he wanted to make a difference. Bokeem laughs at him. “Another ghetto tourist.”

“I used to think about these kids, how they grew up,” Ben says. Bokeem wants to now how he feels now. “I ain’t no social worker.” Oh, Ben. They get a call for a neighbor dispute and roll out.

Lydia and Ruben stake out Miller’s house, waiting for him to leave. They see him walk down the hillside and go to introduce themselves to Grandma. And…grandma isn’t lucid. There’s some dementia at play, and she thinks she knows Lydia as “Brenda.” This all makes Ruben uncomfortable, as clearly she’s not all there. As they fake their way to the laundry room, Lydia says, “Miller can’t have it both ways. If she’s competent enough to be his alibi, then she’s competent enough to give us consent.”

Cooper and Tang meet Dewey in the XXX store (where he’s over by the transsexual porn.) Dewey shows them the video room where the guy went up. It smells of meth.

“Wonder what he was watching? That shit musta been hot!” Again, any obvious jokes are going to be from Dewey. And he’s not done. He wants to know what kind of porn Coop and Tang are into it. Tang excuses herself, so Dewey explains to John that he loves the big girls. “More bounce to the ounce. Tig old biddies. Moped” all the usual lines. I get the feeling that Dewey owns the entire series of “Truly Tasteless Jokes” joke books. John fake-laughs and leaves.

Ben and Sammy arrive in a nice, modest neighborhood where an other officer is interviewing the complainant. She says the lady she called in about leaves her cats out all the time, and they use the first lady’s sandbox as a litter box. Her child is constantly covered in cat feces, and today, when she went to confront her, the crazy cat lady shot at her. She didn’t see a gun, she was too busy running away from being shot at. The cops roll their eyes, but Ben takes it seriously. (Of course he does.)

Ben has his side arm out, Sammy flanks him. We can see a giant glowing cross in one of the front windows. Ben knocks on the front door, sees a gun reflected in a window and shouts “GUN!” as they all duck. Shots ring out of the front window. They take cover behind their squad cars when Bokeem and Anawalt roll up. Crazy Cat Lady is barricaded in there, and procedure says they call SWAT. But to call SWAT, they’re going to need approval from Rucker. Shit.

Lydia and Ruben walk back to their squad car with evidence bags filled with bloody sneakers and clothes. Ruben is becoming disillusioned about the job; he doesn’t like the dishonesty of gaining entrance. The victim probably deserved it, etc., all of the moral quandaries that a police officer or detective will have to compartmentalize to do the job. Lydia puts it out there: it’s not Miller’s choice to make, if someone lives or dies.

They roll out and the camera lingers. We see Miller slowly making his way up the hill with bags of groceries. Oh, the timing on this show! Not a minute wasted, ever.

Rucker rolls up to where Ben, Sammy and the rest are waiting. And Sammy calling him Shaft earlier feels right. Rucker strides over, pissed they called him away from a lunch for an old lady. He orders Ben to get him his black case from his trunk. (Raise your hand if you immediately thought of The Wolf. “You sending in The Wolf? Well, shit, that’s all you had to say!”)

He opens his case and pulls out a book. Cut to him walking up her drive holding up a Bible and preaching loudly. Just as he’s about to step on the top landing, a gun cocks. “Come any closer and I’ll shoot.”

Ben sees a cat, grabs it, and calls out to the woman that if she doesn’t come out with her hands up and drops her weapon, Ben will call the pound and she’ll never see her cat again. The woman slowly comes out, all cops have their guns trained on her. She has all eyes on Spooky the cat. Ben makes her drop her rifle. She reaches out with one hand for the cat, but secretly has a handgun in the other behind her back. Rucker secretly had a shotgun and tags her with a sandbag load at point blank range, knocking her out. Ben rips open her dressing gown to show Kevlar.

Bokeem hoots and says, “Damn, she was ready to go to war! Granbo ain’t no joke!” Ben is praised for his quick thinking. Damn right he should be.

Lydia and Ruben are back in Baldwin Hills, but this time with a warrant. The blood was a match. Ruben is surprised, but Lydia, ever grizzled, says, “Guilt never surprises me, only innocence does.” (She doesn’t know the name of her gun; she only knows the sound it makes when it takes a man’s life.) Miller exits right about then, figures out quickly what’s what, and takes off, cutting through the shrubs and down the street. Ruben shows how damn good he is at sprinting (you’re on notice Sammy and Ben!) and follows Miller into a house.

Miller brandishes a fire poker, but Ruben pulls his gun. They back out of the house, Miller hoping Ruben will just shoot him. And that’s when Lydia comes out of nowhere and tackles Miller into the swimming pool. (Good hell, that was dangerous. Do you want to be in water with someone that has nothing to live for? Me, neither.) Ruben pulls her out, and Lydia’s stock just rose again.

Cooper and Tang are on the lookout for a suspect that’s 6′ 6” while Tang bitches about Dewey being a dick. True. John agrees, but Dewey is a hell of a cop. He was, at least. (I think he still is. But yes, he’s a total dick.) A huge mountain of a guy walks out and hits their car with his meaty fists. “I’m not going back!” I guess this is the suspect they’re looking for. They get out of the car, John calling it in to dispatch, and they both attack the guy, trying to subdue him. Tang has her baton and starts wailing on him as John grapples him to the ground.

Meanwhile, Sammy isn’t comfortable with Rucker shooting an old lady. Ben corrects him: it was a bean bag round, she wasn’t killed, none of the cops were hurt, and that equals a good day. (This echos advice he was given by John Cooper back as a boot.)

Dewey, the asshole but good cop, turns up with a tazer to aid Tang and Cooper. He gets the guy square in the neck, but that just pissed the guy off. He rips it off his neck, screaming, “That’s all you got?” Which is when John Cooper, the fabulous Coop, cold cocks him in the puss, knocking him out. Dewey and Tang jump on top of the guy, holding him down as Cooper and Dewey double cuff him. All in a day’s work, folks. And remember that John just punched out a guy to subdue him; this is going to be important.

We’re back to Sammy and Ben at the opening scene, the pants off dance off in a parking lot. The crowd is jeering and hostile, the blonde girl thinks she’s untouchable, the other girl thinks she is, as well by virtue of being female, and she spits in Ben’s face, turns and laughs at the crowd. “Ha, ha, look what I–”

Ben punches her face, knocking her to the ground. He finishes cuffing the blonde, and starts cuffing the other girl as the crowd shouts, “OOH!” And every one of them has a camera on this, filming it. Sammy is fucking pissed. The two get the girls in the squad car and Sammy turns on Mean Cop and tells them all to get the hell out of there, mad that things got to this point.

So is it wrong that Ben punched the person because they’re a girl? Because they’re underage? Because age hasn’t mattered much in South LA up to this point. And in a lot of cases, it’s not mattered that it was a female. John just used “excessive force” to take down a guy, but that guy was probably hopped up on PCP. He just ripped tazer wires from his throat. This girl was aggressive, hitting, slapping, shouting, inciting a riot. …right?

Lydia and Ruben talk while Miller sleeps in a jail cell. Ruben is frustrated that this job isn’t turning out like he thought it would. Maybe…they could lose the evidence? Those shoes are pretty much all that ties Miller to the crime. Lydia is straight, though; that’s not how she does her job.

“I don’t want anyone to be guilty. I want people to stop killing each other. But while they still do, we have to speak for the dead whether they deserve it or not.” It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the best one that’s been thought up so far. Lydia is always going to be our moral touchstone. The rules she skirts, like talking with Grandma to get in, seem reasonable. She always identified herself as Detective Lydia Adams, not Brenda. But she still went inside, and look at that, she was right. Her instincts are always right. I’m going to be devastated when that proves untrue. (You know that’s coming.)

Rucker dresses down Ben and Sammy. He lets Ben speak his peace, asks Sammy for confirmation, and Sammy knows how this goes: you always support your partner. Ben just… made a split-second decision. Mm hmm. Rucker explains that Ben better be ready to be known as “That Guy.” Sammy was right; their jobs just got a lot harder.

Coop and Dewey leave the gym, and Dewey is impressed with how strong and virile Coop is now. (Pfft, I’m not. Yes, I have a crush, what of it?) Tang heads out when Cooper tells her she has a new nickname: Wu-Tang, “’cause she ain’t nothing to fuck with.” Awesome. Cooper asks for someone that does alterations. What, just because she’s Asian? …shit, here’s a card. Cooper grins and seriously, this guy. THIS GUY!

Sammy waits by Ben’s car to give him a little dressing down (and hidden pep talk.) “Always have your partner’s back. Especially when he’s wrong.” He explains that you have to keep your cool. You have to stay level headed. The only difference between the bad guys and the cops is that “we don’t fire back because we’re mad. We fire back to save lives.”

Sammy offers his fist, Ben bumps it, and they head out. But not before Anawalt can hand Ben an application for McDonalds.

Just another day in South LA.


I love that this show doesn’t tell you how to feel. It’s as observational as it gets. That’s rare for a show to be able to pull that off, showing both sides (and in some cases, more than two or three sides) of an issue, and leaves it up to the viewer to figure it out for themselves. Just like Ben is doing. Side note: Swimming in the ocean isn’t the same as a pool. The currents can change on a dime, and if you don’t keep a level head, you’ll drown. And if you happen to find yourself caught in a riptide (aka the undertow) the rules are to stay calm, never fight against the current, and swim in a new angle to pull yourself out of danger.

Just thought I’d mention it.


(Next episode: Community)

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  • Nathan

    Ben is acting like an idiot at the minute. I can’t work out whether it’s Sammy that’s bringing it out in him or just a natural progression of his character. It’s disappointing though because I was looking forward to seeing how their dynamic would work. So far? They’re both coming across like douchey frat boys (Sammy less so in this episode).

    Loving the other combo’s though. Reuben is fantastic and he and Lydia have such an easy raport.
    Cooper and Tang work really well too. It’s brilliant to see Cooper getting to enjoy being a cop again, and a really awesome one at that. He’s such a calming presence, even when he’s taking down a perp! No wonder Tang requested him. She hit the jackpot!

    • Hey, Nathan!

      I think it’s Ben’s natural progression. He’s been idealistic and hopeful for three seasons, and he’s constantly knocked down for it. I liked his repsonse, “I guess the baseball bat made me change my mind.” I get where you’re coming from about the douchey frat guys, but honestly, I think it works. Sammy is the guy that absorbs the personality of who he’s with. (He still admires Fergusen, you know?) So he’s working with Ben the best he can. (I think his final moment in the episode was as honest as Sammy gets to who he really is. I liked it.)

      Lydia and Ruben are a bad ass team. She finally has a partner that’s worth his/her salt. Ruben looking up to her, but feeling confident enough to have an opposing view is a good sign of them making it long-term as a team.

      Cooper is hands-down my most favorite character on the show. What an outstanding role that is. He’s back – he’s healthy, he’s straight, he’s ready to get the bad guys and go back to being someone to admire. He just needs to convince everyone else of it. I’m really fascinated with where they’re going with Tang, as well. From the looks of her, I just don’t buy her being a beat cop down there. Chickie had a half foot on her, at least. (Oh, Chickie, wherefore art thou?) But she’s proving week after week that she deserves the badge. You’re exactly right: a great match, those two.

  • Erin

    Thank you for such smart and insightful take on this episode! I am loving the new partnerships, and the writers continue to find fascinating character beats in the moments where you least expect them. I look forward to reading more of your reviews.

    You mentioned one moment where Ben echoes advice he got from Cooper, and I also noticed at the beginning that he opens his belligerent flirtation with Anawalt with Cooper’s “Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp.” One of the reasons I liked those callbacks is because they were another reminder that that everything matters on this show – the writers don’t ever hit the “reset” button on the characters or their stories because that’s not how life works. When it comes to Ben, he has plenty of anger and control issues of his own, and certainly he needs to accept the responsibility for his choices, but I think part of what we’re seeing now is the consequences how unreliable Cooper was in the last stages of their partnership. When Ben loses sight of Sammy in the crowd, he doesn’t default to “my partner has my back, I have to stay cool.” He defaults to “I’m on my own, I need to neutralize the threat by any means necessary.” Part of that is his inexperience, part of it is the anger that always seems to be just under his skin, and part of that is that he – unlike Sammy – doesn’t know what it’s like to have a true partner. I have to think the events leading up to and including Graduation Day skewed Ben’s perceptions about how much you can rely on the person backing you up; I just hope he accepts Sammy’s clear willingness to teach him better.

    And I say this as someone who ADORES Cooper and can’t understand why Cudlitz isn’t a perennial Emmy nominee. Seeing Cooper so healthy and happy still makes me a little misty-eyed :) I love his and Tang’s no bullshit partnership so far, but I’m also interested in seeing how they’ll handle it when they disagree about something. Neither of them strike me as particularly good at compromise.

    • Thank YOU for coming to talk with me! I love that you pointed out the character beats – the characters stories are so well plotted (and so well acted) that it’s almost easy to forget just how tight the writing (and acting and editing) on this show is. Last week’s fake out with Jessica Tang and the surprising video at the end… How John watched, taking it in and immediately reading Tang’s expression and knowing how to respond and react to her… It’s so smartly done. And it doesn’t ever feel like a cheat, like the writers are doing what the audience expects.

      Oh, good eye, I totally forgot about Coop saying that to Ben in the beginning! And yes, yes, yes, Sammy isn’t right there, and Ben is right back on the chase, jumping across rooftops while John is huffing and puffing, drugged out of his mind. You could almost say he was trained to act that way.

      I have to say that I love that Ben and Sammy are paired up. Sammy clearly believes in “always back up your partner” and follows through 100% – just what Ben needs, maybe, to regain his earlier idealism. Because Sammy cares. Sammy cares about the kids he’s trying to save, the people who’s lives he’s trying to turn around. We saw that in spades last season. He’s just learned how to be cool about it, whereas Ben is still pouty/foot stomping about Doing Good to the point where he comes off as self-righteous. (Esp. to someone like Fergusen.)

      Oh, Michael Cudlitz… (He left us a comment last season, and you would have thought the Queen Mother gave us a gold bar, ha!) John Cooper is one of the most interesting characters on TV. (And Lydia, too. Oh, I love Lydia.) Him working out, getting praise for being fit from other cops… I’m right there with you, sharing the Kleenex. (And excellent point about compromise. I hadn’t thought of that yet, I’m still absorbing how they’re circling each other, sniffing each other out.)

      Man, what an awesome comment, I’m so glad we’re getting such clever readers for such a clever show!

    • tjjor

      I’m still processing what I saw, and I take the stance that the acting trumps the writing by a long shot with this show, so the gaps lead to plenty of questions. This time, that’s a major point with Ben. I admit that I’m a huge fan of Ben McKenzie’s work, be it on stage, film or TV and he’s the reason I watch. I’m all about the less is more and subtle nuances. I think where the story gets into trouble is that there’s a tendency to peg characters at times and with Ben as “the young one,” they then use his character to tell the story they want, whether it fits his character or not. Any character will change with time, but the reasons and amount of time as well as who that character is to begin with are important considerations. It remains to be seen if the writers will stay true to who Ben essentially is. So far, with being so much in the background, merely as “that young guy reacting to the training officer buy and abusing drugs illegally,” his story got lost. There’s no point of reference other than when Ben took a stand on his last day, but still protected the person who hadn’t done the same, compromising him instead.

      I think Ben McKenzie conveyed that extremely well and did the same this week, although his character was written more believably in the premiere. Some of the getting from A to B is hazy at best. I think you’ve made valid points that having a “useless training officer” and one who also didn’t intervene the first day when Ben tried to search the ‘banger (and while I’m no fan of Michael Crudlitz or the Cooper character, this isn’t to disparage either, just context), so Ben started and ended with someone he didn’t trust. This wasn’t exactly close to the best working relationship from the beginning because of how Ben was perceived and judged mostly because of his name and what that represented, however unjustly.

      I think that only built on issues stemming from his childhood, but his year in training exacerbated those. It would have been a very challenging time no matter what, but it became much more than that because of Cooper’s choices and behavior. That wasn’t something that was given attention at the time, so the question becomes if this is the way of revisiting that. It’s clear Sammy doesn’t know anything from Ben about the extent of the problems last year or the full nature, but it would appear Ben doesn’t know about Sammy’s explosive problems last year either, or who knows how he might have reacted in the crowd. I haven’t seen the writers do a good job with continuity and development yet, just my opinion, but if they’re going to right that now, I’m interested to see how they’ll approach that and stay true to the original characters and how they were reinforced.

      • How interesting, your thoughts on the actors vs. writers. Honestly, for me it’s a fair draw with talent/abilities. I definitely think it’s a mistake to think that any character is pegged (we all were sure we knew Dewey, then we saw him last season go above and beyond for that one hooker because he wanted to help her get sober, the way he interacted with the school kids in ‘Wednesday’ – he’s not all jerk.) I really disagree that Ben’s story was lost – I thought it was at the forefront, actually.

        To tell the truth, I think that your reactions and frustrations are a sign that the writers are doing their job – you’re feeling BEN’S frustration. And not just from Ben, because the show doesn’t take sides – it shows every side equally. It’s about as 3rd person omniscient as it gets. Picking up on how others are acting, reacting, the use of the character, the shunting him to the side… That’s all leading to your protective feelings for Ben.

        So while I clearly believe that watching a show as smart as SouthLAnd means that you can view it with the perspective you want (and be every bit as impressed, bothered, excited) as I have with my perspective – and it’s definitely created some strong feelings in you, which is what good television should do – I kinda think you’ve proven my point about the writing being strong. ;) (I’m teasing you. But we definitely have opposing views on the continuity/plot/story arcs. I think it’s the tightest, best written show on television.)

        Feel free to point out the continuity errors, because boy, did I miss that! If anything, I’m excited to have a show that creates such passionate discussion, like we’ve had here so far.

  • angela

    Did you notice that Lucy Liu is only listed as a guest star? I’m guessing they have a huge, ugly and grisly ending for her coming up which will throw Sherman and Cooper back together. I loved this episode, it really showed how cops have to deal with a ton of shit and not lose their cool – something millions of normal citizens just aren’t able to do at all.

    Every workplace has a Dewey, I think. The guy no one really likes but they keep around because he can actually do the job so they tolerate his assholishness tendencies. At least every place I’ve ever worked :P

    • I DID notice that! IDK if that spells a short story arc, or she’s still in negotiations. I’m fine with either, because I trust the writers fully. They’ll sell it to me, even if it’s a hard sell. (I mean, Lucy Liu as a beat cop in Watts? HUH? And yet…)

      That’s a reoccurring theme this season (well, two episodes worth, but work with me. Ha.) Wednesday = our nightmares are just their Wednesday. Finding a hand on the street which leads to two completely different stories (a joyous husband, free of La Bruja and the sweet, normal family with a gruesome discovery under the hood.)

      Oh my god, YES. Everywhere you go, there’s a Dewey. He’s the over-laugher, the one that borders sexual harassment, the racist that says “but I have [race] friends!” He’s been everywhere I’ve worked, too. And once he was a lady. (I use the term “lady” loosely. She was VERY Dewey.)

  • Brunettepet

    Everybody’s already said everything, but I’ll add that this was another stellar episode. This show does an excellent job segueing from quiet scenes to action scenes and back again without ever losing focus and I’m enjoying the dynamics of both new partnerships.

    The police officers’ dark humor is pitch perfect.

    That carcass under the engine block was one of the most grisly scenes ever.

    Dewey is so unrepentantly assholeish, hating him is not worth the energy. He wouldn’t even notice.

    Marla Gibbs!

    • I totally buy their dark humor – how else are they going to be able to make it through the day? It’s like that in hospitals, too. Has to be.

      That woman in the car…I tried to think of something they’ve done with equal “HOLY SHIT!” factor, and can only think of Ben, on one of his first rounds, finding the lady with the German shepherds that had died in her home. Bleurgh.

      Ha, excellent point about Dewey – he really wouldn’t. What a great character to play. I loved seeing Marla Gibbs! 227! :D

      • Brunettepet

        OMG, I totally forgot about Marla and Regina King being in 227! Regina played Brenda. Hilarious.

  • Tabaqui

    I feel so bad for Ben, loosing his gloss and becoming hardened toward the people’s he’s trying to help. But it had to happen. There are too many creepers/asshats/bastards in the world to be a cop and think everything is hunky-dory all the time.

    I just hope he can put the bad stuff aside and keep his focus on helping people – I do think Sammy will do him some good. I think that the girl(s) who slapped him and got in his face expected him to back off *because* they were girls, and i think that’s a pretty stupid assumption. I also think Sammy could have come over to him when he saw what was going on, if only to show Ben he was still there and had his back.

    But he lost his cool, and i think he’ll regret that for a while.

    Lydia rocks my world. I *am* a bit meh on the search via grandma thing. That guy didn’t say she would ‘alibi’ him, he just said he was there – and ‘gran-gran’ really didn’t know what was going on, so I kinda think that the evidence won’t hold up in court. How can someone who thinks you’re ‘Brenda’ consent to a search? I dunno. I feel for her partner, being unhappy with the grey.

    Cooper and Tang. They are awesome. I think she’s so damn relived to have a partner who not only isn’t trying to get into her pants, he isn’t using that video against her, or her size, or anything else. Cooper is an actual decent human being when he’s not totally whacked out on pain killers, and it’s got to be a relief for her. (That recitation of nicknames in ep. one just killed me.)

    I don’t think anyone knows Cooper is gay, though he’d be able to weather it if they found out. I love so much that he *is* gay and it’s not the ‘story of the week’ or anything. I do wish we’d get to see a little more of his private life, though.

    Overall? Hell to the yes. Granbo. Spooky the cat. ‘That Guy’. Just keeps getting better.

  • All I can add is that I especially appreciate how you mention things that are specific callbacks or just reminiscent of parts of previous episodes.

  • Billie

    Loved that Marla aka grandma kept referring to Lydia as her characters name Brenda from when they worked together on 227. Wondering if anyone else thought that maybe Lydia “going to get a cup of coffee” and leaving Ruben alone with the evidence that bothered him so much, was her way of letting him make his own decisions as to what would happen with it? She looked at the evidence as she left and said that to him. I wasn’t sure but it certainly seemed to me that if I had been Ruben that I may have taken that for a “I am not looking, you decide what you are comfortable with, just leave me out of it”. As for Ben, I know hitting a young girl never feels right but what would/could have happened if he had let her send the message that he wasn’t in charge and or control and that it’s ok to disrespect, hit and kick officers? Officers are humans and get scared too and I know I feel that it’s a slippery slope, let her get away with that then who’s next to disobey and assault officers? I think he did as he felt necessary to be certain that he was going home that night and though I do not applaud hitting a young girl, I also am a firm believer that it only takes one, to make a group of ordinary people to turn into a very dangerous mob and respect is the one thing the officers have lost faster and in greater numbers than anything else and it is the single most important thing to keep them safe. Was I the only one who actually FELT scared for Ben? I saw Nate all over again. It’s not always the obvious that is the most dangerous. This is why I feel that SouthLAnd is the only show that is so true to real. Also, your comment about Coop commenting on your reviews/recaps, I’d love to know what he said as I am a new comer to your site and I am certain he was flattered because , as you stated, it’s obvious you, like me, have a little crush, regardless of the fact that we don’t have the right “equipment” for reciprocation. wink wink.
    Love this forum. So many bright people pointing out so much I otherwise would have missed. Glad I found all of you, wish it had been sooner

    • The 227 jokes were hilarious. I kept expecting Jackee to pop in with her purring, “Meeeeeeerry!” Ha ha. I don’t know that Lydia would encourage that – she’s so very by the book. Especially after she tried to tell Reuben that their job isn’t to decide who they bring in and why, but that’s the system. They bring in the person that broke the law, regardless of their motivation, and the courts take it from there. I would take that scene to be more of a test – I told you what is right, and how I work; are you my partner or not?

      Is there a way for Ben to have restrained that girl without hitting her, though? I ask that in a sincere way since I obviously am not a law enforcement officer and have no idea. It read on screen like he lost his temper, not that he had no other option. Also, I think the writers put that there to make people watch the YouTube video of another California cop that actually DID hit a young girl in the face. And that video (which is real) shows that he just did it to show force, not because he was trapped in any potentially overpowering situation. Not to mention that Sam/Ben are in crowds of thugs where they’re out numbered all the time. That’s what makes this show so great – there are no easy answers for anything.

      Michael Cudlitz commented on one of the Season Three recaps and believe me, we were all jumping for joy. He made a point of pointing out that John wasn’t drinking in a particular episode. Now he’s too famous to have time to read us, I assume, but hey, that was pretty cool. We had just gotten online, too. :)

      Glad you found us, too! And hey, no time like the present! We’re not going anywhere. (Says I, the owner that is determined to keep us online.) Thanks for joining in the discussion!