Southland 4.6 – Integrity Check

Oh, please do not tackle the (secretly) pregnant cop, Distraught Mother.

Raise your hand if you were on the edge of your seat for the last four minutes of this episode. Hooboy, my racing heart. On with the show, though.

A woman in her robe is shrieking and hysterical inside a van as Dewey makes things worse (a theme for him this episode) and Tang circles the vehicle. Cooper yells at Dewey to get her under control; two other cops are holding back a large man several yards away. The woman exits, screaming, and has a knife. Tang tackles her as Dewey and Cooper draw their weapons.

The average street cop in L.A. makes $75,000 a year. It’s not enough.”


10 Hours Earlier

Ben, living the life of Riley it seems, is being filmed by a naked blonde woman in her bed. He’s looking irritated (again) and says he has to go, needs to be on shift in a bit, when another woman – brunette – comes in and joins them in bed. Hmm, maybe he doesn’t have to leave just yet…

“Honey, I’m home!” Blondie’s husband is back early, shocking everyone (especially Ben who didn’t know she was married) and Blondie forces Ben to jump from the second story window in his briefs. I couldn’t help but flash on Cooper’s, “You know, my other partner would have jumped.” Ha.

We cut to a court room where an emotional father talks about his son who wanted to do the right thing after witnessing a shooting by coming forward. And he was killed for his efforts, breaking his father’s heart. Sammy is there (and he cleans up nice) trying to keep his emotions in check, but unable to hold back his tears as the father sobs, “It’s the right thing to do? For who? Mijo…Mijo!”

Lydia arrives to find that the force is short on field supervisors, so she’s expected to suit up and hit the streets. She’s not happy about it, but only the viewers know why. (Well, and Reuben, but he’s nowhere to be found this episode.) When she suits up, she’s uncomfortable in the tight-fitting Kevlar, checking her abdomen and noticing that she’s starting to swell with her pregnancy.

At the morning watch meeting, we learn that a PBS-like film crew is wrapping up “LAPD: 20 Years After The Riots” and will be riding with Cooper and Tang all day, much to Coop’s displeasure. Dewey’s, too, but that’s because he just wants attention. Coop tries to hand off to Dewey, but god, would that be stupid; Dewey’s too loose-lipped. The Captain makes a point of telling them all to keep their mouths shut, or the department will happily throw them under the bus. (Uh oh, Dewey.)

“I didn’t come to work to answer a bunch of questions,” John says. Tough, he’s the only one trustworthy on the force; him and Tang.

Tang, in the car with John and the crew riding in the back, explains the call they’re going on, a 415, which could be anything from a mad old lady to someone wielding a baseball bat. They pull into a bakery where a fight is taking place between a couple and the baker. This is based off an actual event that happened in New Jersey, by the way.

Short of it: The family are white supremacists, their son is named Adolf. They want “Happy Birthday, Adolf” and swastikas on the cake. The baker – with Jewish heritage – refuses to comply, but has offered a refund. This is unacceptable to the couple, who claim abuse to their civil rights, etc. The dad is really excited that there’s a film crew and spews his line of logic while Cooper tries to control the baker, Tang handles Aryan Douche and his wife, and ultimately they’re pushed out of the store, handed a blank cake and a bag of frosting. Ha.

Outside, Cooper says, “If you want to name your kid after a homicidal maniac, hey, it’s America. Ignorant? Sure. Offensive? You bet…. Illegal? No.”

Jessica counters, “It’s not our job to enforce good taste. We stay neutral. First thing a good cop learns: do not get emotionally involved.”

CUT TO: Sammy getting emotionally involved. (I don’t know if this is an underscore on the part of the editors, or showing that no, sometimes it’s okay to get emotionally involved. I do think that we see Sammy at his most vulnerable when he’s by himself, which is interesting all on its own.)

Sammy waits in the hallway of the courthouse; he sees Mr. Chavez and expresses his heartfelt sympathies for the murder of his son, Ricky. Mr. Chavez screams and pops Sammy in the mouth, crying and yelling as Sammy goes limp and in defensive stance, letting himself be hit. (Oh, Sammy.) Two officers pull Mr. Chavez off, leaving Sammy at the top of the stairs.

Later, Sammy meets Ben at the squad cars with a busted lip, apologizing for being late. This has repercussions, as they are handed off a car that hasn’t been completely checked out by the previous cop, Merkle. Merkle looks like a dumbass to me. They hop in, Ben lightening the mood by saying he had a threeway (making Sammy even more jealous, even though he claims the women weren’t attractive, um…) when a call for support comes in. They load up and fly out of there, fast.

Cooper and Tang show the crew the infamous Skid Row, now called “CCRZ.” It was renamed to make the area more palatable to potential real estate investors, earning some eye rolls from our cops. They holler at people to stop pissing on buildings and to get their shopping carts out of the road. Just another part of the job.

Lydia checks in at a scene were one cop had to use regulatory “force” on an assailant, earning a face hit himself. (But you should see the other guy.) Great things about this moment: one, everyone respects Lydia, everyone. Even asshole douche bags like the cop who kicked a guy in the face just for the hell of it. Two, Lydia doesn’t preach or get in people’s business to show her integrity (I see what you’re doing writers! I like it.) she simply leads by example and with a very maternal vibe that they all respond to. Lydia is the freaking heart of this show, and I love everything Regina King chooses to be.

(We also see that she’s feeling winded in her Kevlar. This is Miss I Can Run Anyone Down And Am Fit As Can Be, remember. Yeah, that’s a lot of lettering on a sash, true, but she wears the title well.)

Ben and Sammy roll up on their support call, which was for the unlikely duo of Out-of-Shape-Cop and Tiny-Lady-Cop. She doesn’t have Jessica’s strong demeanor, that’s for sure. Ben is irritated by how weak it makes everyone look as Sammy bitches about their inability to bring in one measly assailant without help.

Ben points out that Sammy clipped a mailbox (integrity check #2 for Sammy) when he realizes he never got the story behind the busted lip. Short: Ricky Chavez was gunned down for coming forward, one of the shooters had a sentencing hearing today. The other guy who got off? Why, Sammy just learned that he didn’t check in with his parole officer earlier in the week, tsk, tsk. Time to make a house call.

Lydia arrives at a murder scene and immediately goes into detective mode, pleasing the cops there. (We also see again just how much everyone respects and genuinely likes her. She’s attentive, good at what she does, and kind.) A woman screams behind her, a large woman filled with angst – it’s the victim’s mother. She barrels into Lydia, knocking her to the ground, hard. Lydia is internally freaking out but tries to play it tough, saying it was just the wind knocked out of her, but we’re all panicking for her as she grabs low on her belly, bent over. Shit.

For our dose of absurdity, we find Coop, Tang, and Dewey standing over a bunch of morons planking on Hollywood Boulevard, trying to get a record for being dipshits. (I’m pretty sure that was what they were going for, right?) Dewey is – surprise! – irate, but Cooper wants to make sure everyone is clear that they are about to be cuffed. Yes? You’re all clear? And the cuffing and dragging away begins, before they reach their record.

Important moment: Dewey posturing and claiming that “UC Davis ain’t got nothing on me!” God, quit being such a dick, Dewey! He doesn’t get that he’s being filmed, regardless of the crew saying they’re filming him.

Cooper later says, “What happens if one of them got run over or killed? Sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones out here who aren’t allowed to be idiots.” Well, except for Dewey, clearly.

Ben and Sammy, after some more practical joking (Sammy deflecting teasing by claiming his mother has a brain tumor), roll up on the second shooter and his boys. They grab “F-Stop” who bitches and moans that he didn’t do anything, because not checking in with a parole officer (and drinking, which is in violation) isn’t a big deal. As Ben cuffs him and checks him thoroughly, another punk mouths off to Sammy. He threatens to cuff him, asserts his authority, then tosses the punk aside. Ben takes all of this in stride, but I’m thinking this isn’t to his liking, just me?

Now, get ready for me to rant, gang. Lydia next arrives at a lovely home where a small child is terrorizing his family by locking them out and beating everything in the house with a baseball bat. The family, complete idiots, believe in the “Rightman Method.” This means you let your child act out by destroying your own things. They learn that it’s Bad To Wreck Your Own Things and therefore will never misbehave again. Mm hmm.

Lydia and I are on the same side here, which is “Oh, HELL no.” Number one? My children know that their things are my things. Because they are in my house, I bought them their toys, and they are in my house living by my good graces. Don’t think I don’t love my children, but one of them breaks something on purpose? That is a waste, pure and simple.

Lydia gives the cops there a “can you believe this nonsense?” look before going to the back, breaking a glass pane over the door and letting herself in. This should tell you more about the parents, by the way, that they didn’t do this. As she sees the offending lunch (That’s why the little bastard is destroying the house: he didn’t like his lunch. Uh, I guess he can pack that on his own, am I right?) and rounds the corner, the kid is standing still with a gun pulled. Fortunately, she sees it’s a toy gun.

“You better be glad I have good eyesight, you little fool! Drop that and get over here. NOW.” Miss Lydia does not play, I thank you. The kid comes over, she knocks it out of his hand and marches him outside. The mother – and Lord, bear me strength – puts on a “You little scamp!” face and says in a Kindergarten Teacher voice, “Sweetie? No. We don’t lock doors and we don’t break things that are not in our playroom.” She thanks the officers and sends them on their way.

Lydia shifts back on one foot, eyebrow up, “That’s it? Uh…have a nice day?” She turns to the other cops and says, “Meet you back here in five years.” Mm, mm, mm.

Ben is booking F-Stop when Sammy comes in with a “Well, well, well, lookee what we got here” attitude and shows off a crack pipe he found in the backseat of the car. Ben is confused, because he did a really good job of frisking the guy. “Eh, must have hidden it somewhere, who cares?”

F-Stop claims it’s not his and appeals to Ben’s sense of Right by saying he’s not like Sammy, he doesn’t act vindictively, etc. and “You gonna do me like this, Homes?” It’s clearly gotten under Ben’s skin.

We finally catch up to the opening scene where Cooper and Tang are pulling up to the crazy lady in the bathrobe. We learn a little more about her: she’s on antidepressants, acting erratically, and slams the van into the cop car as they pull in. When Jessica tackles her, we learn that the woman fell on her knife. Jessica calls in an RA Unit as everyone is screaming and chaos abounds. I can’t imagine having to deal with that level of stress day in and day out.

Dewey mouths off to the crew, once again not realizing they’re filming him. (Note: that’s what the red light means. That the camera is ON.) He’s painting himself out to be a badass, and I’m already cringing at the damage control that’s going to be needed.

Lydia takes a call for a suspect running. She spots him, pulls up, climbs a fence and starts chasing him when we see how winded she is. She’s cramping and in distress as she gives her position to dispatch, still trying to run, when she gives up and collapses, requesting an RA Unit for herself. She’s doubled over in pain as cramps lay her low. Oh, Lydia. To see her panicking is something else. She’s the calmest person on the force.

Cooper is asked by the film crew if he thinks Tang should have tackled the woman. He looks back with a stony expression and says, “No. I think she should have shot her.”

When Jessica is asked, she seems to really think about her response, and this is a credit to Lucy Liu, how well-developed the character is becoming. She says how they’re trained to disarm by shooting; she chose not to. It depends on who you ask, is her ultimate answer. (The media, the viewing public, or the cops.)

Ben and Sammy grab some food when Ben tries to gently bring up the fact that he believes Sammy planted evidence to get this guy in jail, one way or another. Oh, is Sammy offended by that once he realizes that Ben isn’t pulling a “My mom has a brain tumor” prank. (That’s why they had that joke, so you can get why this conversation is important. I love this show.)

Pissed, Sammy goes off to the john, leaving Ben questioning everything. I have some thoughts on this I’ll save for a bit, but just remember the first thing Sammy taught Ben: you always – ALWAYS – have your partner’s back.

Merkle comes up to Ben later and says, “Oopsie doodles! I left a crack pipe in the car, did you find it? Let’s keep this between us, okay?” Well, Ben isn’t that guy, Merkle, and Ben insists they tell the Captain what happened, because it’s already been listed as evidence for their guy. And Ben serves himself a slice of humble pie.

Cooper and Tang spot some out-of-date plates and signal the guy to pull over. He freaks out, nervous, getting out of the car, etc. Our guys calm him down and get some information: he doesn’t have his DL with him, whoops. It’s not his car, he didn’t know the tags were expired, shoot. There’s a baby in the back seat, um.

I’m immediately thinking Amber Alert. But these two are professionals, right? They learn he’s on his way to take the baby to his mother’s, he has a job interview, and man, he needs a break. You buying it? They do, and they let him off with a warning. They agonize over this with the crew: they might get heat for the woman falling on her knife, they might for letting this guy go. What if he speeds and kills someone? It could be an integrity check, a trap by the department to see if they’re following procedure.

And people wonder why cops are paranoid.

Lydia sits in a hospital bed, hooked to a monitor for the baby’s heart rate, the speedy pulse reverberating loudly. The doctor tells her she had a placental tear from being knocked over earlier, and with bed rest, she’ll be right as rain. But what the hell is she doing on patrol anyway? The doctor chastises her gently: it’s not just about you anymore. She leaves Lydia, who turns the baby monitor back up, listening to it while glancing at her uniform, hanging next to her. Tears roll down her face. What’s it going to be, Lydia? The job you love or the baby you could?

Ben tries to apologize to Sammy as he leaves. Sammy stops and listens, but won’t say anything. What can he say? He gets in his car and leaves Ben standing there with his ass in his hands after Ben says, “I don’t know why I did that.”

I’ll tell you why: because he was essentially alone (and in a very real sense, betrayed) by John during the last weeks of training and didn’t develop that sense of partnership that he should have. He didn’t want to see John back from rehab, even. He just doesn’t have the full “I’ve got your back” mindset, because he was the only one who had anyone’s back. He was on a roof chasing an assailant and almost died and no one had his back. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it.

It’s night, Cooper and Tang are about to roll in and clock out, when John tells the camera crew they have enough and to shut it off. They’re tired. A call comes in that there’s a beating happening just up the block; the camera crew lights it back up. They pull up to see four guys pounding the shit out of some guy in a wife beater. Everyone goes running, Tang after two guys with the camera crew hot on her heels when a horrible grunting noise catches our attention. The camera turns to find Cooper wrestling with the guy in the wife beater, and being overtaken.

The victim-now-assailant clamps his mouth over John’s neck and bites down, blood everywhere. John is fighting back for all he’s worth (which is a lot) but starts to lose strength as this guy is basically eating his neck. It’s the most animalistic thing I’ve seen in… I don’t even know. It’s awful. John is still fighting, weakly, as another cop car pulls up and it takes four guys to pull the assailant off John. Tang runs over, shoves at the film crew as they push in to get a close look.

“You want to catch a cop getting killed on film? Is that what you wanted? Get the fuck out of here!” and she shoves the camera man to the street before turning back to John, trying to get him to focus on her (he’s almost completely grey and his eyes are struggling to stay open) and applying pressure as another RA Unit is called in.

And that, my friends, is how you end an episode. Good god.


(Did you note in the promo for next week that John’s there? All of our worries that they’d kill off Coop were unfounded, whew!)

Also, I loved the idea of the film crew there as a general “integrity check” for the LAPD. I think they did mostly all right, minus Dewey and the face-kicker, myself. And Ben tried to do the right thing, but again, it depends on who you ask, doesn’t it?

And I’m utterly fascinated by the theme this season of how being on film serves as a sort of integrity check in and of itself. (Ben is constantly being judged on film, either for being an abusive asshole or a hot cop, etc.) I think anyone who’s seen reality TV knows that cameras don’t equate keeping people “honest.”

Now I have a question for you, though: do you find the chronological retelling in the recaps easy to follow, or would it be easier to read each group’s total story? The show jumps a lot, so part of me feels like we’re all prepared to read it that way, but I’m curious.

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  • Erin

    Oh god, that last scene was just horrifying. Since the preview reassures me that I don’t have to spend the next week crying and tearing my hair out, I can focus on how much I admire the way Southland treats violence. Sometimes it’s quite cinematic, but much more often it’s shabby and stupid and mean (which is another way of saying realistic, I guess). Disturbing stuff, made more so by the camera crew just filming it instead of trying to help. (What is their integrity check, I wonder? Who watches the watchers?)

    Ben’s arc this season is so fascinating to me. We have seen more of the ugly side of his personality this season (and I admire the writers for following through on what it means when someone with his issues is given a lot of power and no real guidance), but we’ve also seen that he really does try to be a stand-up guy. (Notice how many of Sammy’s pranks/jokes are based on Ben being that guy, whereas most of Ben’s are just funny set-ups.) That last scene was a heartbreaker, because we know where Sammy is coming from, but we also know *exactly* why Ben’s mind went there first. To Ben, a partner is a guy you cover for because because, lying and stealing and evidence tampering aside, he’s a good person and a good cop. That’s a recipe for disaster.

    And I have to say, I’m Team Ben on this one. Sammy is – he’s not a bad cop, but he is a guy who cares more about his own ideas of right and wrong than anything else. That goes back as far as S1 (I remember a “whose team are you on” conversation with Nate while Sammy was trying to cover for Sal), and this season we have seen several instances of him manipulating situations and even ignoring orders so that things go down the way he thinks they should (Community being the clearest example). Given what we’ve seen of their partnership, Ben’s first impulse doesn’t strike me as the wrong one.

    So where do they go from here? My sense is that at this point Sammy either has to realize that he’s the Nate/Cooper in this relationship and it’s his job to teach Ben how to be a good partner, or they’re going to fall apart completely. I’m just hoping nobody gets hurt too badly in the meantime…

    • EDGE OF MY SEAT, that last scene. Good hell, that was brutal! I love how you described their methodology for violence: sometimes it IS shabby and stupid and mean. Perfect descriptors. Oh, I was shouting at that film crew to step in and apply pressure! GAH.

      And yep: no one watches the watchers. Another interesting twist, we’re all put in that position. Everyone in LA has a camera? The cops watching YouTube videos and cheering Ben on? The layers in this show are seemingly endless. And again, they never tell us how to feel, but leave it to us to decide.

      I like that you pointed out the differences in the types of pranks Ben and Sam pull on one another. That tells us a lot about Sammy, too. He allows himself to get emotional, vulnerable, and then pulls the rug. He’s someone that is afraid (I think) to be himself, or doesn’t want anyone to SEE him being himself, so those jokes give him the chance to let a little steam off.

      Ben. Oh, he just wants that idealized cop experience he imagined for himself! Every episode chips away at it leaving him more and more disillusioned. I think Ben still has enough of his, “But, we SHOULD…” in him to become a Current John Cooper-type. Sammy wants to be that guy, but I don’t think he can – there’s too much ugliness he’s had to deal with, too many Rickys, too many F-Stops. I think he’s trying to bring Ben down to where he is to make it okay for Sammy to feel the way he does.

      I think next few episodes are going to bring all of the partnerships to a head. Well, maybe not Lydia and Reuben. He’s perfectly willing to follow her lead (and is a good man in his own right.)

      • Erin

        I love that you pointed that out about Sammy, because that’s another thing I love about Southland (well, I love ALL THE THINGS about Southland), is how much all those choices and experiences matter. Sammy has that good cop inside him, but he’s seen and lost so much, and doesn’t have that bedrock sense of purpose (or maybe it’s just stubbornness) that lets some of the other cops weather it better.

        And Ben – there’s definitely one path where Ben ends up worse than Dewey. And there’s one where he ends up like Cooper. And one where he ends up like Sammy. And one where he figures out how to be himself but better :) It’s just not clear yet if he can make the good decisions, year in and year out, that will outweigh the occasional bad ones (of which he has already made too many). The reason I still have hope for him is that he was still so *raw* in that last scene – he’s still open to admitting that he’s stupid and he makes mistakes and that he doesn’t even know why he does half the shit he does . Dammit, Cooper! You could have set him on the right path.

        Yeah, Lydia and Reuben are my happy place right now :) Although Russell was a terrible person in many ways, he had a calmness that made him a good match for Lydia, and I think Reuben has that quality, too.

        So many feelings for this show :) Oh, and I like the chronological recaps, personally. Thanks, as always, for such great discussion!

        • I’d like to see more about Sammy’s background – his family, that sort of thing – to know more about what’s shaped him. I thought it was pretty telling when he said in 4.2 that he joined the force because he was high and thought it was funny. Oh, Sammy.

          I wonder what it is about Lydia that makes her who she is – her damned cussedness to rise above, I suspect, and maybe if Sammy had to deal with the life she did, would have more drive to achieve the type of career I think he imagines. (And Ben, with his life of privilege, is still a tourist in a lot of ways.)

          And because Ben was so wide eyed and ready to be filled, he suffered the most damage from Cooper’s stint as an addict.

          RUSSELL. What a disappointment he turned out to be, huh? How disappointed Lydia was (when he wanted to borrow money? Ugh.) But yes, that chill-quality is def. the right match for Lydia. Chill and intelligent.

          Oh, thanks for that, and I enjoy every time you come comment!

  • Ben

    I haven’t watched much of the other seasons of Southland…mainly because I hate catching seasons half-way through but I’ve managed to catch all of this one and I’m digging it.

    Cooper being attacked is the second time I’ve been a little disturbed by this show (and I’m only half a season in). The first time I was a little disturbed was when Tang got beaten down by that huge guy. After this weeks episode it seems that there is a weird theme to the show. An almost…for lack of a better word…freakish violence keeps showing up. Not like the normal things you see on these cop shows (a.e. The Shield type violence) but almost a “monster under the bed” type of violence. For instance, when Tang get beaten up that guy is kind of a weird looking type of big, almost to the point of akwardness. At first I thought they were going to make it a parody of that little female cop who wound up taking down a guy who was about six times her size (real thing) but all of a sudden the guy just starts throwing her around like a rag doll. Absolutely no reason was given and we didn’t see how it ended (did she get back-up before he got away? was he arrested?). No Cooper gets attacked from behind by some guy who was possibly involved in the fight but we don’t know for sure and then the guy goes all Hannibal Lecter and starts chewing through his neck. Once again, no real reason why someone would attack a cop from behind when he could clearly get away and then try to kill him by cannibalism?

    It could just be me. I’ve studied criminal justice and have seen all the nasty stuff that happens to cops but this show approaches it in a strange way because we don’t get much information surrounding the attacks. I’m not saying that its a bad way to go about presenting the material, because it is keeping me interested. It just seems like an almost “Twilight Zone” thing going on sometimes. Like I said though it could just be me.

    • OMG, you HAVE to watch Season Three. It will make your enjoyment of this season a thousand times more intense, I’m telling you.

      And boy, was Tang getting beaten up just the worst thing ever? I was almost numb from shock over that. This was pretty damn intense, too. But that’s this show – they don’t pull punches. Literally. I will say that it never feels gratuitous, more like I’m getting the reality of the job, giving me a better appreciation for how fucking hard it is to be a cop. (I seriously love this show, can you tell? Ha.)

      I love your idea of the Monster Under The Bed. LOVE. In fact, I’m a little pissed I didn’t think of it. :) This guy, too, huge, hulking monster of a guy, hopped on PCP or something and just…inhuman. He was the guy getting beat up, if you watch that scene again. Crazed, wanting revenge, hey, this guy’ll do!

      (John didn’t even rub the lotion on his skin… Heh.)

      I’m going to keep tuned to that for future episodes, and if any cops come along, I’d love to hear if they see this random insanity happen, too. Fabulous insight, thank you for that!

      • Ben

        I caught some of season 3 but definately not from the beginning. I’m going to pick them up from Netflix or something. I didn’t notice he was actually the guy getting beaten up. They should’ve just let the other guys beat him for a while longer.
        I do like that they don’t make it an every episode thing with the extreme random violence. I don’t think I’d watch it if every episode gave me the willies like those two did.
        Thanks for the reply!

        • Season 3 is notoriously hard to find – I just won’t delete them off my DVR until they release them on BLuRay. But I’m telling you: some of the most powerful television I’ve ever SEEN is in S3, truly.

          Heck yeah, we’re all about dialog here! Comment anywhere you’d like, hang back and read, whatever sounds good to you.

  • Ben

    Wow…anyone who reads this I’m sorry about all the typos. That was not well written. It should say “Now Cooper gets attacked…” and the fight I was referencing was the call they got at the end of the show, not the fight with Tang and the big guy.

    • Haha, don’t worry about typos, it’s just the internet, not a prescription. :D

  • Jack

    I love this show! Thanks for this site & your recaps. In fact, immediately after last night’s episode I got online to try and find if people were talking about this show and in particular that episode. There was definitely an unnerving aspect to the attack on Cooper, from the bloodcurdling scream that started it (not sure if the scream was from the attacker or Cooper), to the barbaric nature of it and more importantly Cooper’s inability to defend himself. I think the attack also underscores the idea that cops are not safe until they return to the precinct at the end of each shift. The idea that any call could be your last. You can see a slight hesitation on Cooper’s face when he took the call. also, Sammy’s partner was killed last season in a somewhat similar situation: the end of a shift, not as alert, maybe a little relaxed, maybe your guard is a little down and BOOM, the unthinkable happens. The show also illustrates the inherent unfairness in life: a loser like Dewey would go through an entire career without ever being in a situation like that. Hell, Dewey would never have taken the call

    • Oh, I’m happy you found us! Starting next week, I should be able to get the recaps up the night the episode airs, so there will be more out there for you. :)

      Yeah, I’m curious to know if the scream that turned the crew to him was by Coop or the crazy guy, that’s a good one. (Put out a message to Cudlitz, fingers crossed he’ll respond.) The perfect (read: horrific) manner that the guy had Cooper pinned where he couldn’t do anything? Frightening as hell.

      Excellent point about them not being safe until they’re back in their civvies: that’s just where Coop and Tang were headed when the call came in, too. Ha- Dewey would NEVER take the call. He’s living the cop life he’s wanted: easy, dumb authority, few heartbreaks. Which is precisely why he’s the guy he is and no one wanted to ride with him when he got out of rehab.

      (I have NO IDEA what happened with Sal – my suspicion is that his particular story line detracted from the actual point of the show: LAPD and insight into why they’ve been corrupt/trying to come back from that since the 20s. I coudln’t stand Sal’s daughter, so that’s no real loss to me.)

      • Sally R

        Excellent point about them not being safe until they’re back in their civvies:

        But just a few weeks ago we saw that they’re not even safe then, with the guy who came in and shot the place up. I think what I like about the violence on this show is that it is so random sometimes. I’ve been in bars when fights start for no real reason. And I think the guy who beat Tang did so because he could. That’s not unrealistic to me, but hyperrealistic. That shit really happens. Look at the cops who’ve been killed on routine traffic stops because the driver they pull over has something to hid and just shoots the cop when the approach the car. It’s real and Southland doesn’t beat around the bush. I like that they don’t focus too much on motivation, because sometimes the motivation is an instant reaction kind of thing, not premeditated.

        • Well, true. I’m thinking more of them being in their cars on the drive home decompressing. The station is what I would still call work, personally, but I understand the point you’re trying to make.

          I think the motivation for violence is irrelevant in a lot of situations on the show. It’s the actual violence that should be addressed (that and the aftermath.)

  • Jack

    PS. Whatever happened to their old lieutenant (Sal?, the guy who had an affair with a reporter) and Dewey’s old partner?

  • Billie

    Anyone who wants to catch up on seasons 1 & 2, they are available to watch on your computer through for very little $ and I also picked up dvds of both seasons for less than $30.00 total. Season three I found for viewing thru a torrent. I have found this a show that if you start from the beginning, it gets better with each episode. So much better if you know each characters storyline because this show really makes everything you see pertain to something but it might be down the road. Read today that SouthLAnd viewing up 5%. So glad. I was relieved to see John is ok next episode but a bit surprised that they took away the suspense. I try not to watch the previews because they sometimes show too much but after me missing so much of what everyone here was talking about last week, I made sure to watch this time.

    • I hate that the only way to catch S3 right now is through a torrent, but what else can people do? (And that’s my favorite season.) I saved everything off my DVR, back when we weren’t sure if they’d get renewed. WHEW.

      I 100% agree that this is a show that needs to be watched from the beginning. I would actually love for some of the new folks to come back and tell us what they think now after watching it all!

      I’m happy the viewership is up. Critics are doing all they can to promote it, so fingers crossed! (I had to watch the preview this time, too, I was just that worried about my favorite character! Ha. You’re not alone!)

  • Billie

    I found that I miss a lot of the subtleties when I watch so after I read the recap here, it’s fun to watch again. The way you recap the show is the way the show is written, not confusing at all. Hoping you don’t change a thing.

    • Oh, that’s great to hear, thank you! I’m glad you’re getting something out of these, and if it’s not confusing to have it chronologically told, then I’ll stick with it. (I’ve had to rearrange the Hoarders recaps, for instance, because that was far too confusing to read vs. how it airs.)

  • I like this chronological format.

    Once again I have to say how much I appreciate how you catch all the details. I didn’t hear Dewey’s UC Davis remark, and given that I live in Davis and my brother was there during that incident (not protesting, but he walked by and could “taste the pepper spray in the air”) I would have had a very inappropriate and uncomfortable chuckle at Dewey bringing that up.

    (I don’t know if this is an underscore on the part of the editors, or showing that no, sometimes it’s okay to get emotionally involved.
    it’s great how this show gets all the little notes and segues.

    Reading your commentary on the final scene almost brought tears to my eyes. I was watching this while on the bed and I actually got up on my knees during that scene, looking like a worried puppy on hind legs, because I just couldn’t stay sitting while watching that.

    • I think I’ll keep it, then. It seems to be preferred. (I just worried it read jumbled. It makes sense to me, but it’s always good to get feedback from y’all. Thanks for that!)

      Oh, isn’t that UC David line so awful?? I mean, it’s TOTALLY in character for Dewey, but it just churned my stomach. But again, for someone that postures as much as he does, it’s darkly hilarious that he admires the pepper-spray-cop from the UC David incident.

      And you’re not alone on the having to not sit during that last scene. I was prairie dogging on my bed, hands clasped to my mouth. Just unbelievably gripping television.

      (I was comparing this ep to another person by saying it was like Episode 5 of the UK show Ultraviolet, which still stands as one of the most stressful, intense, and amazing bits of television I’ve ever seen. That and the “rooster” scene in M*A*S*H. Ha, that’s my attempt at high praise, hopefully one of those will make sense to you.)

      • I’ve actually had Ultraviolet on my list of shows to watch on Hulu for some time!

  • Ben

    *Spoiler Alert- I like finding out stuff about the actors themselves. The “big guy” who beats up Tang is actually one of the assistant producers lol! He’s 6’10”!

    • Ha, I like that you put a spoiler alert warning in front. Ben? You’re good people. :D

      And I thought the guy was huge, but that’s HUGE. Lends way more credence to the Monster Theory.

  • Wayne Hatosy

    Well done, Laura. Of all the SouthLand recaps I read (I am obviously partial to Sammy) you have the most comments from fans. Keep up the good work!

    • Hey, Wayne! (I’m rather partial to Sammy, too, but I’m guessing not in the same way. Heh.) My whole purpose in building this site was to be a positive place for fans to talk about shows we love. I’m pretty fortunate to have smart readers! Feel free to hop in the discussion any time, and thank you for stopping by!

  • Brandi

    I wrote you an essay last night. Then my wrist was lazy and dropped onto my laptop keyboard and suddenly I was back three webpages and all my critical thinking disappeared. I had a sad. And then I drank a beer to get over it. So, bullet points?

    * Since the prank war started I’ve been waiting for it to lead to that moment where neither Ben nor Sammy know when the other is joking. Particularly on Ben’s end ’cause his pranks are just that, pranks, but Sammy’s pranks trend more toward fucking with your head.

    Ben not only has difficulty working within a partnership because his ended so badly with John, but he also has difficulty with deep interpersonal relationships in general. The only real relationships we’ve seen him in are with his parents [completely skewed in every direction], his sister, John, Sammy, and all his one-night stands. He has deep-seated trust issues. He doesn’t read people well. His trust issues play into his not reading people well. I think it’s sad how much better he could read people last season before John broke his little boot heart.

    And he isn’t getting any better. If he had some skill at reading people [not only his one night stands where a more astute observer of humans may have twigged that one of the girls was married] he wouldn’t have read Sammy’s obvious happiness at finding the crackpipe as him having planting it.

    * John and Tang is by far my favorite partnership on this show ever.

    * Sammy’s issues are getting uglier. And more sad. I have a very small hope that he and Ben will somehow find better footing and get some trust between them.

    * If vampire media portrayed vampire attacks in the way they showed that man eating John’s neck last night, fewer people would sexualize them.

    I curled into a ball, had my face over my head ducking down to get away from that scene all the way shouting, JOHN JOHN JOHN.

    Thank Christ they showed him in the preview. I hate shows that want you to be afraid for the life of the character so they won’t show any clue the next week.

    * Lydia. It was another partner themed week. If Lydia only had a life partner to raise that baby with she *might* feel better about being able to be a mom and a cop at the same time. If there were enough people in LAPD to staff the shift, Lydia would never have been put in that position. Lydia — like Ben — doesn’t feel like she has anyone to lean on. Unlike Ben, she can read people, she does trust people to do their jobs, so long as she can see for herself that it’s been done. I’m really curious who the father is. I wonder if its Ochoa’s son. Going back to partner parallels that would be a fantastic one.

    * In conclusion, Ben Sherman is a *pussy hound* and it’s going to bite him in the ass sooner than later.

    • OMG, I laughed at you having a sad and fixing it with beer. I like the cut of your jib.

      1. Erin pointed out that Sammy’s jokes are about being “that” guy while Ben’s are funny set-ups. I think that says a lot about who they are, what makes them laugh?

      2. Ben definitely is the guy that breaks up with someone first to avoid getting hurt, be it a partner, girl, whatever. His parents did a number on him and it’s going to take a LOT for him to fully trust anyone.

      3. I laughed so loud at your “vampire media” comment that I scared my dog. That’s hilarious (because it’s true! ) Side note, Guillermo Del Torro wrote a vampire series w/ Chuck Hogan that is exactly that: violent and scary and not sexual at ALL. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

      4. Lydia doesn’t know how to make partners outside of work, and up until now, they haven’t turned out too well. That’s why I’m worried about her becoming a mother – her life has been LAPD since she was still in high school. She’s married to the job. It’s almost like she’s having a child out of wedlock, you know?

      5. I hope the boy is slipping it on before he slips it in. Herpes/HIV doesn’t look good on ANYONE.

      • Brandi

        1) It does say a lot about them. I loved your point about Sammy and being by himself is bad. Why else would he have married and then pro-created with horrific creature he called a wife? I don’t think he’s made any progress on the stages of grief both regarding his relationship with Tammy and with Nate’s death. He’s as emotionally unstable as Ben in a completely different way

        2) & 5) From what we’ve seen Ben doesn’t have any friends — he ditched all his peers when he went to cop school/they ditched him. He’s a lonely guy and the way he’s living isn’t helping. Him being worried about getting that girl pregnant last week makes me worry he’s not wrapping it up. That’s terrifying. I’m glad he’s fictional.

        4) I do know, Lydia having the baby is going to make her feel like she’s cheating on her husband/partner career. I don’t envy her her choice.

        Glad I could make you laugh

        • Sally R

          I don’t know. I think Ben would totally be wrapping it up. But shit happens. Nothing’s foolproof but abstinence. To me his shock said, “How did this happen? We used protection.” But that’s just my read.

          • Brandi

            I had another one of those yell at the TV moments, I knew he was going to ask if she was certain it was his and that made me SO MAD. But as much as he’s sleeping around I can see that he would instantly think the same of any one he’s sleeping with.

            I like your interpretation of his reaction there, so I’m going to go with it.

  • Brandi

    And then I forgot about my complaint.

    I don’t care whether you recap linearly or with the show, but I am sick to death with the framing the show does every single week. YES, I understand its purpose but it’s irritating. Thankfully, it’s only mildly irritating that by the time the theme song comes on I am over it.

    • Aww, I like the framing they do – it’s like the opening credits to a good film: if you pay attention, it tells you everything you need to know about the upcoming show. But hey, to each his own.

      Thanks for the input on our format!

  • Sally R

    Please keep the recaps chronological. There are a lot of eps where the different storylines intertwine and I think the chrono works better for those tie-ins. Changing it to follow partners would potentially lose some of the subtelties.

    Now that I’ve told you what to do — *g* — can I just say I love your recaps of this show? You do a great job with conveying the tension and the pace, which rocks my world since I’ve mostly been reading these before watching. I don’t usually like to do that with shows, but your style on these gives me all the details and leaves me able to enjoy it even more when I watch rather than making me feel spoiled. You excite me to watch, rather than ruining the viewing experience. In short, you awesome grrl.

    • Definitely keeping them as is – with Hoarders I changed it around to focus on each person’s story instead of chronologically, and worried for a moment that it might be better served here, too. (But I like how the show is presented, so I’m keeping things as is.)

      Oh, Sally, thank you!! I love this show so much, it’s a real relief to hear that I’m not doing it a disservice with a crappy recap. :D You are just fantastic, Missy. Thank you.

      • Sally R

        I think it makes sense with the Hoarders recaps because they are telling two separate and distinct stories. I was actually surprised to watch an ep and see the stories interwoven, because I knew the show first from your recaps. :) But for reading, it’s much easier to keep the stories (and people) distinct by splitting it up. With Southland, on the other hand, we know who the characters are so the story is easier to follow as presented.

        You rock.

  • Chris

    So… this was the first Southland ep I’ve seen, and I loved it! I was a little worried about the whole documentary style thing (it’s one of the things I get tired of on shows like the office), but I guess this was a special thing?

    Also, for some reason it puts me in the mood to mainline Zorro. Maybe I’ll change my mind after a couple of eps, but the California portrayed gives off the same vibe to me. Perhaps I should point out that I see parallels between “Winter’s Bone” and “A Wonderful Life” that make people look at me weird when I mention it. :)

    Can you believe that dude was chewing on John’s neck!?

    • No, the documentary thing was strictly a sub-plot this week.

      I STILL can’t believe that guy was gnawing on John. Good hell, that was brutal to watch.

  • Michael

    Laura –

    Just found your reviews. Love the show and your reviews are very accurate (even if we disagree on some characters). I recommend everyone new to the show do whatever you can to find season 3.

    One point on this episode I have to disagree with you on is Dewey’s behavior. I thought all along that not only did he know the cameras were on, but he was actually mugging for them trying to become famous. Even when he told John they were far away he was obviously yelling everything he said to be heard by the cameras.

    Also, I was wondering your take going all the way back to Season 1 and the way they changed the ending (what was shown) from the Network season to TNT’s season.

    Keep up the good reviews. I’ll read almost until the end(I avoid all spoliers and previews and I knew John was getting hurt this week because of your write up last week). Thank you.

    • Hey, Michael! Glad you came aboard! And hey, it’s totally fine to have a different opinion, I love when people talk about what gets them passionate about shows and characters. I wonder about what you’re saying with Dewey, though. I can see it both ways – is he really stupid enough to not know that they’re filming him/recording everything? And…I still lean to yes. :D His conversation about how he’s there to “help the people” after the woman was stabbed during the tackle – then he said, okay, let’s get those cameras rolling? That’s why I think ultimately he’s a big ol’ dummy. (But understand that I absolutely love him on my screen, even if I would hate the guy in RL.)

      I do plan on going back to S1 – 3 and filling in the blanks, but it’s going to take until the show hits its hiatus before I’ll have the chance. I’m sure that a closer rewatch (I break down every scene as it’s happening so I can pick up as much detail as possible) will give me a lot more insight into the direction the show has taken. (I think this is the season where they’re far more hyper focused on what it means to be a cop, as opposed to previous seasons where it was about their lives in total.)

      Thanks for coming over this time! I avoid spoilers as a general rule, but the preview for next week was one my heart just needed. :) Feel free to jump in on any threads and discuss things, that’s the whole goal for HDJM – good, interactive chatter.