Southland 4.7 Fallout

Dynamic Duo is becoming more Apathetic Duo. (Digging the curls, Sammy.)

Split second choices, pre-meditated choices, everything is going to come to a head this week. It’s just been simmering for weeks now, anyway.

Officer Tang, gun drawn, moves through someone’s backyard, heavy with overgrowth. She sees movement on the opposite side of the yard, a good 50 feet off, but it’s hard to see beyond someone with a grey hoodie and a weapon drawn. She fires once (nice shooting, Tex!) drops him, and goes to check him. It’s a kid in a hoodie. With a toy gun down by his knees. Shit. Over the radio we hear, “We have the suspect in custody.” Yeah, we figured this kid wasn’t the person she was looking for.

LAPD officers start every shift knowing they might only have a fraction of a second to make a difficult choice. The ramifications will last their whole lives.”


8 Hrs. Earlier

Jessica and Coop continue down the path of being the best patrol partners on the force, joking and teasing each other (we learn that Coop is going to be okay, and probably doesn’t have rabies, ha) as they head to their car when Jessica gets served papers. Well, that’s a cold bucket of water on the day.

Ben and Sammy are in the locker room, changing into their uniforms as Ben regales the other guys with more tales of Ben Gets A Lot Of Tail, Here’s How. Sammy isn’t interested, and the other officers assume it’s because Sammy’s not getting lucky. Ben huffs to his feet. It’s going to be that kind of shift, it seems.

Lydia, at the station early and eating a burger, gets called in to Captain Fernandez’s office to “talk.” Uh oh. Fernandez asks her (as she shuts the door for privacy) if there’s anything Lydia wants to tell her. She’s working late, no overtime was approved, and…rumor has it that Lydia hasn’t been “feeling well.” So if there’s anything Lydia needs to tell her, woman to woman…

Dang, Lydia can’t think of a single thing, but she’s gotta get out there, so… She leaves, is pissed, and automatically assumes that Reuben is the culprit. And this is the episode where everyone’s partnerships fail, I guess. He shows up for work, and she’s giving him the cold shoulder straight away. [I’m not going to tolerate my perfect couple breaking up, guys, I just am not having it.]

Ben tries to break the ice with Sammy, telling him about what happened to John (wow, it’s bad if Ben is talking about Cooper to anyone) as Sammy continues to ignore Ben. Damn, no one gives a cold shoulder like Sammy, that’s for sure. Ben’s buying a house out in CopLand, even has his Costco card – he’s all in! Just when you think Sammy might relent, freaking Merkle of “Hey, did anyone find the evidence I failed to secure?” fame shows up and tries to laugh it off. Ben tells him to get the hell out of there, but the damage is done. Sammy is now calling Ben “Benji” and condescending to him like he’s a child. Ouch.

Jess is driving like a bat out of hell through the streets as John teases her, then tries to get her to address the elephant in the room: she got served. [I can’t hear that phrase now without thinking of dance battles. I blame Channing Tatum.] She blows him off to point out a black SUV double parked and causing a bit of a traffic jam (Really? Those cars can’t go around?). She’s hell-bent for leather and gunning to take her frustrations out on someone, so she pulls up to cite this guy.

He’s just waiting for his wife, who’s on crutches with a broken leg and –. She tells him to save it. Excuses aren’t good enough today. John rolls his eyes, helps the lady in the car and coos at their toddler while Jessica huffs and puffs and hands him his ticket. It’s going to be a long day in car A37.

Lydia and Reuben head to a crime scene; Lydia asks him straight away: did you tell Fernandez anything? Oh, Lydia, Reuben is not that guy. He assures her that not only did he not, but he wouldn’t as it’s none of his business. He’s a guy who believes in having someone’s back. [Two tours of duty in Afghanistan’ll do that to a guy.] They see a dead body: tats, wearing a wife beater, shot at close range eight times. He’s been rolled, but the eight shots at close range mean it was only incidental that he was robbed – it wasn’t the motivation.

John thanks Jessica for saving the streets from that double-parking maniac, because we all know it’s a slippery slope from double parking to triple homicide. Okay, John, she’s having a bad day. But it wasn’t out of the blue, getting served. It was her husband serving her divorce papers, and she’d been expecting it. John says what I said, “I didn’t know you were married.” [That tells you everything you need to know, huh?] She’s just pissed that her soon-to-be-ex will get half of her pension. That’s rough, seriously. I’d be pissed, too.

Ben continues trying to get Sammy aboard the Peace Train by dangling a hot friend of his latest hook-up in Sammy’s face, when they pull up to a dispute. Two taco trucks are battling for a hot spot downtown, one guy claims the other stole his place, blah blah, first come first serve, bro. You snooze, you lose. The old guy is told to vamoose. He does. And then hops into his truck to plow into the other truck. (The new guy tries to stand in his way when Ben pulls him out of danger.)

They pull the old guy out and cuff him as he bitches about how that was his partner. Sammy smiles. “Thought you knew the guy, huh? Never expected a knife in the back?” Oh my god, Sammy, you are three. He shoots Ben a pointed look, saying, “Some guys you just can’t trust.” I’m laughing my ass off right about now, but Ben has had it. How many ways can he say he’s sorry, jeez!

Lydia interviews the victim’s girlfriend, who is very pregnant. She’s been clean for eight months, has a full-time job now, is making a life for herself, but her boyfriend just couldn’t seem to shake his. She can’t think of anyone specifically to point the finger at, she’s just kept her head down, trying to make a new life for herself. Lydia admires that, even though she’s frustrated by the dead end.

At a donut shop [raise your hand if you’ve been waiting for one to show up this season?] Coop makes to grab them some coffee when Jessica sees someone futzing with a car. She immediately draws on him, accusing him of breaking in the vehicle. Well, that’s true. But…it’s his, and he locked his keys inside. Cooper checks it out and goes to grab a slim jim, tossing Tang a dirty look. Ease up, Hoss!

Ben eats his lunch up against his patrol car when Sammy comes out. It seems he sat at a different lunch table because he’s mad at Ben for saying something about him and it’s all just so damn ridiculous and funny to me. [I mean, okay. It isn’t. But it is.] Ben even asks him if he’s in the third grade. No more passive-aggressive Sammy, fine. He’ll lay it out for Ben, if that’s what he wants. Every day he has to watch his back (and he knows just how ugly it can get, Naaaaaate!) and the one place he’s supposed to feel safe is in his car with his partner. But hey, he’s actually glad to know how it is with Ben, because now he knows where they stand. [Raise your hand if you think there’s nothing Ben can do to fix this?]

Jessica cools off a little now that they’ve sent the keys-in-the-car guy off. She tells John that she wasn’t blindsided by the divorce. She expected it sooner, but her husband probably didn’t want to look like an asshole serving her while she was in traction after being beaten up on the job. Damn. Cooper offers to take her out for drinks, she can bitch all she wants after shift. He’s a good guy.

In my favorite scene in the whole episode, Ben and Sam pull up to a noise complaint. A kid answers the door, and he’s the one who called it in. His Bar Mitzvah isn’t as cool as he’d hoped, and he’s got the hots for a chick who’s out of his league, so maybe the cops could do him a solid and arrest him? Maybe throw him up against the wall? Ben seems irritated, which just means Sammy is all for it. [You know if Ben had thought it was okay to do, Sammy would have yelled at the kid to stop wasting their time.]

Sammy asks who the girl is, she’s pretty and watching this all with big eyes. Sammy grabs the kid forcibly and slams him up against the pony wall between the party and the living room, telling him to shut up, he’s going to be arrested, etc. It’s hilarious how all of the suburbanite kids are marveling at how “bad ass” their friend seems as he mouths off to Sammy while being cuffed.

Gotta say, that’s a cool thing for the cops to do. In real life, they probably get a kick out of doing things like this every now and then. They murmur as they leave the house with the kid in “custody” that they’re going to drop him off a block away and make him a hero. Ha! Love it.

Lydia tells Reuben that they’re working on getting some surveillance footage, and they know to look for a .40 caliber gun – that’s pretty specific, should make things easy. Reuben just hates that this is happening: drug dealing dad, former using mom…that kid doesn’t have a chance, it’s going to end up in foster care, just you watch. Lydia has hopes for the girl, though; she’s tough, trying to turn her life around. Just then they get a call – they’ve got a plate number.

Tang and Cooper get the call that led to the opener of the episode. They see a car speed off and a runner with a gun. John calls in the plate on the car, Jessica takes off on foot after the runner, and John cuts around the street to head off the runner. Jessica is having to race through backyards, scale fences, duck the runner’s swing with a shovel [yikes!], and keep chasing him through backyards. Finally we see her enter the yard from the opening.

John is racing around the street and spies the kid in the grey hoodie. But…Jessica? He keeps running after him, a cop car pulls up, and John hears a shot. He calls it in, pulls his weapon now that the suspect is being secured by the other officers and goes to where he heard Tang’s gunshot. Jessica kneels by the kid, who has a shot to his gut, and sees that the gun, down towards his feet, is a toy. She fumbles with it, no real hesitation when John enters the yard. She starts administering first aid with John’s help.

The kid is wheeled out on a stretcher as Tang paces, going through her actions. “It’s clean shooting. I saw him pull a weapon…” John asks what was by his feet. Shit. “Yeah, I was securing his gun,” she says. She can’t understand what kind of idiot would come with a toy gun when they hear sirens, anyway? They are separated for interviews for the pending investigation, and John is starting to question things, angry that he has to.

Lydia and Reuben arrive at the house where the tags were stolen. There’s a car under a blanket. An elderly woman answers the door, having expected them. See, her grandson is a good boy, he just stole the cable tv for her because she loves Monday Night Football. Lydia turns away just in time to keep from laughing in the woman’s face, and Reuben apologizes for bothering her. (Her car hasn’t been driven by anyone in 5 years, barring her trip to vote for Obama.) Her car’s tags have been taken. Ah.

Jessica tells the investigator what happened (it’s what we saw, too) and we hear that the kid she shot has a record; he’d been in juvie for breaking his teacher’s nose. John keeps looking back at the scene where the body was, trying to put things together in his mind. A PSA for toy guns is delivered by the extra when John is told to head back to the station – they’re going to be a while. As they leave, the kid’s mom shows up, hysterical, and says that her son, who’d been doing much better since getting out, had sworn he wouldn’t take the orange tip off the gun. John takes it all in, and boy, you can just see his disappointment from a mile away.

As Lydia and Reuben head back inside the station, a cop greets them [How much do you love how Lydia knows everything about each patrolman and they all just like the hell out of her? Someone needs a promotion to Captain one of these days.] and asks if they were looking for a .40 cal. gun? Because he just checked a Ruger into evidence. The guy the cops took it from claims to have bought it from a pregnant lady. Oh, damn. So much for making it out.

To continue our theme of disillusionment, John stands in a bathroom stall, thinking things through as he waits to be interviewed. He’s not happy, but he’s also got to be weighing his options based on chances he’s been given, too, don’t you think? He’s a man of integrity, but he’s also royally screwed up himself in the past.

Ben is still trying to get Sammy to forgive him when they see traffic building up due to a crazy lady in the middle of the street, raving. It’s “Crazy Carol,” and Sammy knows her. She’s got a shopping cart full of soda cans blocking cars as she points at Sammy and shouts, “He raped me!”

[Sammy’s droll, “No, I didn’t rape you, Carol,” shouldn’t be funny, but it was.]

She starts hitting herself in the head when Sammy spies a driver with a soda can. He convinces Carol that if she moves out of the street, she can have the can.

She takes it, kisses it, then shouts again, “You raped me!” Ben sees her going for a broken bottle, and before she can stab Sammy in the back with it, tackles her to the ground. She’s yelling over and over, “He raped me! I didn’t do anything!” as Ben tries to soothe her, visibly upset by the whole thing.  [Don’t forget that his mother was raped, leading him to want to be a cop. He’s got a raging need to protect women from assault, which is why the whole “punched a girl in the face” incident rankled.]

Sammy rolls the cart away as Ben gently helps her to her feet. Now, this is all a few minutes of the show, and Carol could have easily been a one-dimensional “crazy person,” but the quality of writing and acting on this show makes this a moment where you can sit and think about it, fill in backstory on Carol, and feel sucker-punched by a lot of things. Our mental healthcare system, how women are treated, on and on. Bravo, show.

John sits in an interrogation room, waiting. And waiting. He futzes with his neck bandage, picks at his nails, and finally the guy comes in. John immediately wants to know the status of the kid: critical condition. He looks up to see Jessica in her civies before going into exactly what he saw. Minus the “securing something at the suspect’s feet” bit.

Sammy called in some female cops to take Carol in to keep her calm, while Ben gets treated for a scrape on his leg from tackling her. Ben thinks they’re cool now; after all, he just saved Sammy’s life. Well, no. He was doing his job, Sammy points out. You don’t get credit for doing things you’re supposed to be doing already.

Lydia and Reuben (and two patrolmen) pull up to Brenda’s house, the pregnant girl. Oh, they’re pretty sure who the killer is, Lydia tells her, with a world-weary sigh, when Brenda freaks and tries to run. Oh, honey, you’re eight months pregnant. Where do you think you’re going? They easily catch her and try to keep her from freaking out and hurting herself as she’s cuffed.

Sammy and Ben pull into the station at the end of their shift where Sammy puts it plainly: when our shift ends, this ends. (Their banter, etc.) Ben’s had it and pulls out his ace: “Nate never made a mistake?” He’s running out of sorrys, so Sammy better take them while they’re being offered. The Nate mention got him; he stands still, watching Ben storm off.

Lydia rides in the back of their car with a hand-cuffed Brenda who ultimately admits to killing her boyfriend. He wasn’t going to get clean, he beat her, he brought all kinds of low-lifes into their place, and how was she going to make a fresh start with that happening? No one was looking out for her, so she looked out for herself. They tell her that her baby will end up with either a relative (she doesn’t have any) or foster care. Lydia sighs and looks out the window.

Jessica waits for Cooper outside the station wanting to know what he told the FID officer. “What I saw.”

“And that is?” [Girl, you just played your hand.]

John counters with, “What were you doing at his feet?” She sticks to her story of managing the situation. He tries to tell her that it was just an accidental shooting, she wouldn’t have been thrown under the bus for it, and she needs to go back in there and tell the investigator that she’d been served earlier and that she was having “a bad day.”

Uh, no. She’s a first rate officer, he needs to shut the hell up and stick to what he saw. Which was nothing. She storms off.

Lydia comes to her desk to see Reuben perched, waiting for his “you were right.” He’s hilarious, she’s amused, but ultimately, they’re both upset that there’s yet another child being put into an already overloaded system. When she offers to stay late and handle the paperwork, we have the moment that sums up the episode, delivered by Reuben yet again [he’s 4 for 7 at my last count.]

“What’s the surest way to know if someone is carrying?” When you roll up on them and they run. “Fernandez rolled up on you this morning. Act normal. Working late? Uh uh, I’ll stay; you go.”

Lydia thinks about it as Reuben says, “And boss? If you ever did want to tell me something? It’d never leave this desk. See you, partner.” She smiles at him, relieved. Me, too – don’t you go breaking up my Lydia and Reuben, writers!  For a minute there, it looked like she was going to say something. But she’s not even admitting it to herself, so it’s no wonder she isn’t telling anyone else.

And the second incident of me being almost apoplectic with “oh they had better NOT go there!” feelings happens when we see Coop in a dirty, graffitied alley approach some dude sitting on a wall, saying, “I need something now.”

Oxy? Vicodin? Oh, John, no! He keeps it up, saying he’s losing his grip, and just needs something. The guy pulls out a 10-year NA chip. John can have one of those, but he’s going to have to realize that he’s going to go through hell to get it – and it’s worth it. Whew, he’s John’s sponsor. But come on, this was a pretty blatant switch-a-roo, where a rewatch made me scowl at the leading dialog. Come on, guys. COME ON. They both head into a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.

Tang gets home, empties her keys into her key bowl, stares at it for a minute, and pulls out an orange plastic tip to a fake gun and drops it in the bowl, too. She’s visibly upset with herself. What a dumb split decision, Officer Tang.

Things I loved this episode: the parallels between Cooper and Sherman in the beginning of the episode when they both try and diffuse the situations with their partners through humor, trying to set a mood where Sammy and Jessica will open up. Loved it. The camaraderie that continues to grow between Lydia and Reuben – he’s going to be the first person she tells, if she keeps the baby (doesn’t miscarry, etc.). Sammy’s pissy behavior; I mean, he’s justified in a way. He really is. But he’s so petulant about it, it cracks me up. Their arrest of the 13-year-old kid was [kisses fingers] magnificent. I love the little moments of humor in the show.

What layers am I missing? Come talk shop with me!

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  • Erin

    It’s taken me a day or so to digest what I thought about Fallout, and the more I think about it the more I love it. Lucy Liu killed it in this ep, completely capturing Jessica’s anger and fear and and defiance and righteousness, and making me understand Jessica’s motivations even if I didn’t agree with her choices. I’m very interested to see how this plays out.

    I’m glad you mentioned how Cooper’s own flawed past and the second chance he’s been given must be affecting his decision making right now. To him, lying about a shooting is clearly over the ethical line (I remember his speech to Ben at the end of the pilot – you do not lie). But staying on the streets while physically incapable of performing your duty and stoned out of your mind is pretty clearly over the line, too. In both cases, Cooper and Jessica made the determination that they were too good an officer to let anybody judge otherwise. And I can totally see why Jessica, both as a woman of color and as someone with a history of stressors that could make it easy to scapegoat them, doesn’t share Cooper’s faith that the LAPD wouldn’t throw her under the bus. (Lydia might have something to say about that, too.)

    I also want to take a moment to praise Michael Cudlitz – I mean, I *always* want to do that, but in this ep he was particularly amazing. There is a presence and a quality to his silence this season that we’ve never seen before, and I really admire that new!Coop isn’t simply characterized by the *absence* of pain or drugs. We’re actually seeing elements of his personality and the way he engages with the world that had already been obscured by the time we met him in the pilot. (Reason #38475 that I think any discussion of the best actors in American television begins and ends with Cudlitz and Bryan Cranston. Everybody else can squabble for third place.)

    Regarding Ben and Sammy, I don’t think we’ve ever seen Ben as Cooper-like as he was in this episode (which, naturally, is the highest compliment I can pay him). He didn’t try to dodge responsibility for his mistake at all, but at the same time he recognizes that Sammy’s passive aggressive sniping and divided focus is not accomplishing anything, and eventually is going to get somebody hurt. I think he would respect it if Sammy said, “I just don’t trust you anymore and I can’t work with you,” but neither Sammy nor Ben are really the kind of guys who can be partners on shift and strangers off. The tonal shift in that last scene was great.

    As for Sammy, yeah, I get why he’s pissed. But I think we’re seeing Sammy’s Wishful Thinking ™ tripping him up yet again – it’s not enough that Ben is sincerely apologetic, or that (given his initial mistake) he approached the situation with the kind of respect and integrity you’d want in a partner. Sammy wants his partner to trust him blindly and love and support him unconditionally, and at this point I’m kind of feeling like – well, too bad for you, buddy. That’s the kind of thing you earn, or don’t, over time. It’s not something you can demand just because you were spoiled by your last partner.

    THAT LAST SCENE WITH COOPER, OH MAN. That may the first time I’ve tried to mentally body-check a fictional character, lol. Yes, it was totally misleading and cheap, but I’m willing to call that one – and just that one! – a prank and admit that they totally got me :) I do love that he’s getting help. (And do I kind of want to see him making amends to a certain former Boot? Yes, yes I do.)

    • That you rank both Cudlitz and Cranston in the top of the tv acting world just made me love you more. (How freaking amazing is Breaking Bad? That and Southland, I think, are some of the greatest TV shows around.)

      Cooper is definitely being allowed to show us who he REALLY is this season – all dampers are off, but that doesn’t mean he’s reverting back to who he was pre-pilot. He can’t – he’s lived the lie and has to acknowledge it to himself, if to no one else. That’s what makes him such a fascinating character. He won’t pretend he’s perfect, even as he doesn’t feel that he needs to answer to anyone. He’s his own worst critic. (Same as Jessica is for herself.)

      The parallels with Ben and John were so ON this episode. If ever there was a doubt that Cooper made a cop in his own image… Ben is getting enough solid footing in this job where he’s getting to the place where he can be his own best/worst critic, something I think is important for these guys with the split decisions they have to make. Of course, that depends on who they are inside, because Dewey vs. Lydia… Lydia I trust. Dewey? Ha.

      Sammy wants to be Nate. He wants a Sammy that will love and trust him implicitly. I think for Ben to say “Nate never made a mistake?” shook Sammy to his core – did Nate ever mess up? Sure. But Sammy would never EVER say so, because Nate was perfect (even when he wasn’t.) So now Sammy has to rethink everything.

      “It’s not something you can demand just because you were spoiled by your last partner.” I love how that can go both ways. That’s excellent.

      I was going to be SO MAD if they led Cooper down that path again. COME ON, some guys shake the habit, let’s see that, show! WHEW. (And boy, you and me both on the amends with Ben. I’ve got high hopes they’re going there.)

  • At a donut shop [raise your hand if you’ve been waiting for one to show up this season?]
    I was near laughing when I saw a doughnut shop. aah, all the relationships are breaking! Although Reuben salvaged his. Nice “Boss” touch.

    • I definitely think Reuben is exactly who we see him to be: a solid guy. They’ve given us a few red herrings with him, so hopefully that’s all done with. I like his relationship with Lydia. (And lord knows she’s going to need a solid partner in the months to come.)