As if this show would go out with a whimper. Please.
Ben and (…is it Sammy?) pull up at some apartments, guns drawn and sneaking up to the door. Ben gives a shout, busts the door down and we see someone jump out of a window. And that’s when we realize it’s not Sammy, it’s Fergusen, back from getting half of his face shot off in the opener (nice bookends, writers), who runs outside to flank the suspect. Ben looks at him and we freeze.
“After a couple of years on the job every cop has to make a decision about what kind of cop they’re going to be. The time has come for Officer Ben Sherman to decide.”
The brilliance of pairing Ben with Fergusen, who was everything Ben didn’t want to be as the season started wasn’t lost on me. My mind is ready to be blown.
10 Hrs. Earlier
Ben sits in the garage of his new suburban home cleaning two of his guns. (I love the precision brushes he has to the left.) He puts the Glock back together, dry fires, but something doesn’t feel right. He takes it back apart to put it back together again. And the metaphor has been established – can Ben put himself back together?
Lydia chases her doctor through a busy office, saying that she’s decided to let the department know she’s pregnant. (I guess that stab wound didn’t injure the baby.) The doctor rushes that yeah, yeah, what letter do you want? The one where you get to be home until you deliver, the one where you ride a desk until then, or the one that changes nothing and you pop out a baby while on a call?
Uh… Doesn’t the doctor know which one Lydia should get? Because, true, she’s a risky pregnancy, but she’s not the expert. Doc rolls her eyes and says “Tell me what you want, we’ll fax it to you.” She’s got places to go and people to see.
It’s Morning Watch Command and the leader tells our group about a “rehabilitated citizen” (code: found god in jail, now out on probation) sicced his pit bull on an officer and brained the P.O. with a tire iron, so all patrols need to be on the lookout. The Sarge is about to release everyone when he remembers that it’s Officer Tang’s last day. She got a promotion, will be heading out west, so drinks tonight, everyone! They all applaud as John stands in the corner, unimpressed.
Ben heads to the hospital to visit Sammy, who has a detail standing outside in case Ronnie comes back, and we learn that Ben has been in his house for three days with detail outside, as well. It looks like he’s happy to see Ben, which gives me the warm fuzzies. “I saved you my Jell-O!” Sammy Bryant, I want to kiss you on the mouth.
Sammy think Ben should continue to not go into work – he doesn’t have to after all, no matter how much Ben thinks he should. Ben says he’s fine, though, and the station’s shrink even gave him the green light. Just when you think that Sammy is giving Ben a look of disappointment, you remember that this guy zigs when you think he’s going to zag.
“If they find Ronnie and he tells them you beat him up, it’s your word against his. Yeah, you beat him up, but he’s putting his thirteen year old daughter out on the stroll. He tried to kill you. So you have a Board of Rights, get a couple of weeks off, and he gets 25 to Life for attempted murder of a cop. Take a break. Have fun. Unplug. Chill with me and we can play some games out here–”
Ben cuts him off with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes and says he needs to go. Sammy slams his hand on his roll-away table. “God damn, you won’t even look at me! I didn’t fall to patrol, okay? I chose it to help young officers. I feel like I failed you. I saw my partner get killed five feet from me. I was in agony for months. I get it. Let me help you. I feel like I let you down.”
He is just putting it all out there, and you can tell that it’s hard for him to admit that he feels this way, but he genuinely doesn’t want Ben to make any mistakes. He knows that the cold shoulder he gave Ben was when Ben slipped away from his care, and now look at where they are. Whether it’s accurate or not, that’s how Sammy feels: this is all his fault. Ben pats his shoulder, not looking at him, and says they’ll get drinks tomorrow when Sammy’s released.
Sammy looks utterly defeated.
Lydia goes into Hernadez’s office, who immediately starts to give her a case. Home invasion, fire, mother dead and two children in critical condition in the county’s Burn Unit. It’s not an easy case, but when has Lydia ever had an easy case? Lydia comes right out with it: “I’m pregnant.”
“No shit, Sherlock, we’re detectives. We figured it out.” But Hernandez isn’t happy with the news, because now she has to take over this case as Lydia doesn’t have her “paper” from the doctor saying what’s okay for her to do. The department has to CYA in case of lawsuits.
Lydia rolls her eyes; let’s just pretend she didn’t say anything, okay? “I am never going to let a doctor keep me off the job.” (And this is why I think she shouldn’t be a mother, if that’s her attitude.)
Hernandez grudgingly agrees to pretend she didn’t know anything and sends Lydia on her way.
Cooper and Tang cruise their beat and Jessica is feeling mighty fine as it’s her last day on patrol after 13 years. She wants to do a couple of things, if Coop’s cool with it? He keeps his eyes forward and a terse “Yep” slips out. He’s just riding the clock.
Ben gets partnered with Fergusen when he arrives, and he is not happy about it. They clashed big time in the beginning, and Ben thought Fergusen was shady and unreliable. That’s not who you want riding shotgun with you in East L.A. Fergusen is loaded for bear, too, thinking that the guy that shot at Sammy and Ben is some random, faceless guy that thinks it’s cool to attack cops. [Ah, so Sammy and Ben aren’t telling. Got it.]
Tang rambles about her new uniform’s needs when an SUV almost runs into them and speeds off. They’re in a school zone. Cooper rolls his eyes, lights it up, and flips a U-turn in pursuit.
Out on the hooker beat, Fergusen and Ben try to intimidate a bunch of Pros, with Fergusen on Good Cop detail. Ben is definitely giving his all to Bad Cop right now. It’s a hell of a switch for these two guys. Ben finds Crystal, the Easy To Flip Prostitute from the first part of the season, and intimidates her physically to find out where Amber is. Ben is super aggressive and terrifies her; she’s freed and runs off as fast as she can in her cheap platform heels.
Ben? You better take it down from an 11 to about a four, bro.
Cooper and Tang have pulled over the douchebag that peeled out in a school zone, and Tang wants to run this ticket, since it might be her last. Music is pumping out loudly, and it’s some over-pampered white kid that thinks he’s Gangsta (let’s put him in a room with the Two Treys and see how Gangsta he is!) He tries to talk tough and even tries to bribe her at one point, calling her ‘Baby’ and Coop gets pissed that she’s not just slapping him with the ticket so they can roll.
But Jessica is having fun and decides to make the kid stand on the school steps and perform a Nikki Minaj song with sexy dance moves and everything to get out of the ticket. Everyone at the school is laughing and jeering. Tang laughs as Coop looks off in the middle distance, pissed. She lets him off and Cooper checks his watch for the umpeenth time. Seven more hours to go.
Fergusen makes a point to remind me why I think he’s a dirt bag by making an “I think it’s hilarious to beat women” joke, which is not the way to Ben’s heart, by the way, regardless of any YouTube comments to the contrary. Ben says he has a lead on Amber; they pile in the car and roll out.
A house that looks like charcoal is still smoking in the background when Lydia pulls up to get the details from the patrol officer. There were several witnesses, so it’s just a matter of finding the guy. Lydia walks past a charred body on the ground towards the neighbor. She saw a man that morning yelling at the window, and then return from his car with Molotov cocktails; he threw them against the house. She saw everything, including the mother and two children run out. She’s visibly upset. (As you would be.)
Ben knocks on a motel door and we can see Daniela peek out of the window. He forces her to open up and he sees that she’s been hit in the face. He is livid at her “parents” and wants to know where Ronnie is. Fergusen gives a double take, but keeps it in check as Ben physically intimidates Daniela and manhandles her to their squad car. She’s crying, Fergusen is pissed, and Ben is just angry at the world for still being full of assholes. Of which is he slowly becoming.
In a “Finally!” moment, Jessica and Coop hit a food truck where Jessica actually gets some food – and gets to eat it. Ha. She realizes that she never found out why John became a cop.
“It’s the rent we pay for our room on this planet.” He doesn’t take credit for that, though; it belongs to Muhammed Ali. Who most likely got that from someone else (post Cassius Clay, is my guess. Hey-o, girly here knows her boxers! He was the greatest boxer…of all tiiiiime.)
She says that one time when she and her aunt were at home waiting for her uncle on a food delivery (oh man, I love it – he owned a restaurant and probably wouldn’t let her eat there, either) when a cop came to the door to tell them that he’d been hit and killed. The way the cop held his aunt and waited with her until Jessica’s mother showed up stayed with her. “I wanted to do that for someone someday.”
Now, I want to take you back to episode four, Identity. Tom the Marine. Jessica spent a lot of time trying to help this guy get his dignity back and took a lot of care for him, even combing his hair and getting him cleaned up. It was a moment that meant a lot to her relationship with John, as well. So for all of the stupidity in that orange plastic tip, she has it in her to be an amazing public servant.
John looks over at her as she tells her story, and maybe he’s re-evaluating her. She realizes where they are and asks John to get her picture with the Hollywood sign in the background; who knows when she’ll be back this way, after all.
Ben drives Daniela back to the Foster Home, trying to encourage her to change her life’s trajectory on the way there. He tells her about the bus ticket (of course Amber told her nothing) and Ben is just Mayor of Angryville, right now. He’s about to chew a hole through his cheek. He tells her to get to Texas, live with her grandmother, and make something of herself and leaves her there.
Fergusen now has a chance to call him out on the “we don’t know who shot at us and put Sammy in the hospital” bullshit. He calls Ben a dipshit, and that yeah, Amber and Daniela’s life is sad, but Ronnie? Jail’s too good for a guy like that, right? And we get flashes of the cop that let a 10 year old poke a dead body with a stick. It seems like they could “save the taxpayers some money, eh?”
God dammit, we knew he shouldn’t be paired up with Ben, becaus-
“But it’s not up to me. Or you.” Hey, now. What? Fergusen with a speech about what’s right? That’s right? “So what you’re thinking?” Fergusen continues, “It’s wrong. Unthink it. You did enough. Let it go.”
When even Fergusen is telling you to cut it out, that’s when you need to have your Olympia Dukakis moment: look at your life, look at your choices! Your life is going down the toilet, snap out of it!
As always, Cooper and Tang bring us some levity in the form of a call with a massive dude that is mysteriously shirtless (he says he gets hot after an irritated and bothered Tang asks if he even has one) and an irate older woman hosing his face with mace. She claims he ripped her watch off her wrist, he says nuh uh, and as John is about to cuff him, the guy lifts up his belly, pulls out the watch, and swallows it.
“Are you kidding me?! What, you’re a circus act?” John says, completely exasperated. Back up arrives, John pawns this hot mess onto them, and says that to get the evidence, they’re going to need “a Fatburger and Ex-lax.” Not gonna lie, guys, I paused the television and laughed my ass off.
Because I laughed, that means it’s time for something serious. (And I am seriously missing Reuben this episode, I have to say.) Lydia interviews the other witness, a dog walker. This young woman looks pretty numb as she describes the scene: “I saw a woman running out of the house with two kids. Their clothes and hair were on fire, and they tried to run, but the guy shot her. He wouldn’t shoot the kids.”
She falls apart completely, sobbing, and says with an hysterical edge to her voice, “I guess he just decided to watch them burn.”
Lydia is frozen in her seat until Hernandez calls her outside. Lydia is told to wrap up this interview and get to the hospital. The little girl is awake, and they don’t know how long she’ll stay alive, so hurry and get a statement from her. Lydia gives her some serious, “Bitch, are you for real?” face but follows orders. That’s the job.
As Fergusen and Ben roll down the beat, Ben sees something in an alley, slams it into park and races over – it’s Amber. Because he’s trying for the Gold in the Intimidation Olympics, he backs her up against the wall demanding for information on Ronnie. Amber defends her pimp, er, abuser, I mean, “man” and sneers at Ben. Well, lady, today is not the day for that. He holds her against the bricks with a hand on her throat and threatens Daniela if Amber doesn’t start talking.
“You wouldn’t hurt her…” but you don’t think she actually believes that about Ben at the moment. Neither do I. He storms off, but she cries out, “Wait!” It looks like she’s giving Ronnie up.
Fergusen, leaning against the car and watching this, gives Ben the “WTF?” face as Ben offers to drop his ass off at the station, if that’s what he wants? Fergusen rolls his eyes and hops in the car. Ben? If I may…your heart is in the right place, as in: you want to help the broken ladies and children. You are trying to nail in thumb tack by driving a bus at the wall, though.
And now is the scene that absolutely stopped me in my tracks and had me crying for a few minutes, and I wish I was joking. (I’m a cry baby. I full admit it. You put a child, animal, or mentally challenged person in peril, and I’m a freaking mess. Hostel? Eh, that does nothing to me. But I hear Sarah MacLachlan and see the back legs of a Golden Retriever and I’m crying a river.)
Lydia, in a clean suit, arrives at the Burn Unit to talk to a little girl about a bad man that burned alive her mommy. Jesus H. Christ…. And we see her. Third degree burns over most of her body, and all we can see is one arm. The rest is wrapped in gauze with two dark holes for where her eyelids were, and blood oozing around her mouth.
Give me a minute.
We see Lydia quietly start talking as the camera pans away, and I need another minute.
Cooper and Tang, who got a call about a shooting/robber (a 211) pull up to an indoor strip mall, pull their guns and move in, directing patrons to get out. They’re moving like a well-oiled machine, which is great to see. They see the suspect and another body (blocked by merchandise) holding up a shop keeper. One guy turns and throws a shotgun blast through the window in Coop’s direction, but he easily ducks it. He moves forward as the other shooter runs off, and Tang separates, evidently to flank the shooter on the right. Cooper, proving that there’s a good reason why he’s been on the force for over 20 years, asks the shopkeeper if there were only two, gets confirmation while cuffing the first shooter, and then he orders the owner on the ground out of harm’s way.
He moves on towards the car wash where the shooter ran, but it’s hard to hear and see with all of the machinery running. Coop shouts at Jessica, who’s on the other side of the track. Coop looks ahead and identifies a worker – they make eye contact, and Cooper doesn’t fire. His vision tracks to the right where Jessica was headed and sees a different shooter, but he can’t get a clear shot. He moves forward, the worker steps towards him and the shooter pulls his gun. John shoots towards the gunman, but the worker continues to walk forward and gets hit in the crossfire, and it looks like it was from John’s gun.
Tang runs towards the injured guy and John has to stand up, move from his cover to cover her and shoots the guy in the chest three times before he can aim and kill John. He rushes to the fallen gunman, kicks the weapon away, and finally turns toward Jessica, pissed that she didn’t follow procedure. It’s there to keep them alive; it’s not some arbitrary bit of advice.
Lydia wraps it up with the child in the hospital and she leaves, grim-faced. She quickly walks outside to the roof to catch her breath, clearly upset. It’s just too much, too much.
We’re now at the opening scene with Fergusen and Ben pulling up to the apartment. They bust in, the suspect that we now know is Ronnie jumps out the window, and Fergusen leaves to get in the car and flank. Ben runs to the window and it’s an eerily similar view for a brief moment of last season’s finale with Ben chasing a guy on another roof. He jumps and gives pursuit, running hell bent for leather after Ronnie through the streets.
Fergusen is calling him on the radio, trying to get a location, but Ben’s too busy running to respond. Fergusen crests a hill and sees them, flooring it to catch up. With a squeal of tires, Fergusen pulls up to the alley where Ben followed Ronnie and hops out, immediately hearing a gun shot. He pulls his weapon and runs down the hill to find Ben, gun drawn, and Ronnie – shot through the chest and on the street, unresponsive. Fergusen calls an RA Unit and after a few seconds we hear sirens.
They pull in, guns drawn themselves, until Fergusen calms them down. Ben is backed up against the far wall, hyperventilating. Fergusen asks him, “You all right?” Ben has checked out – I’m getting the impression that he can’t believe what he’s done. Fergusen studies him for a moment, then tells the RA team that the “asshole pulled a gun on us,” as Ben looks up in shock.
Remember how Sammy said you always get your partner’s back? That’s what he was talking about, Ben. That’s what “bullet for bullet” means. Even when it’s wrong. Which is precisely why you need to make smart decisions, because it affects your partner. This is a lesson Ben didn’t get under the drugged tutelage of John Cooper, unfortunately.
At the station, Hernandez tells Lydia that they got the guy, so there’s that. The little boy lost his hands, but he’s going to live. The little girl she spoke to? Outlook isn’t good, at all. Lydia hands Hernandez a piece of paper. The Paper.
“Assigned home for the duration?” Hernandez reads, shocked. Lydia looks off at nothing, bracing herself.
“You know, they say babies in the womb? They hear everything we hear. They feel what we feel. What we do…” She looks up, then, and she looks pained as she continues. “It’s hard enough to not let it get to you. But now…it’s like it’s going in too deep.” She’s fighting to talk around the lump in her throat and it’s painful to watch.
“And if it is, where is it going?” She shakes her head, overcome. “It just feels wrong, you know?” She leaves, still fighting back tears.
Boy, they did not take her story line where I thought it would go.
At the bar where they celebrated John’s 20th (when it was actually 22nd), everyone is celebrating Tang’s promotion. Everyone but John, who stands off in the corner for a long enough time to not look like a jerk and then leaves. Tang sees and follows him out. “Yeah, thanks for the toast.”
John gives her a “you gotta be kidding me” look. He’s pissed that she didn’t think about that second shooter from earlier and it could have easily cost him his life.
She gives him the “oh, I see, it’s the 800 pound Orange Tip in the room, let’s get it out,” face and that’s exactly what he’s pissed about. She tells him they she made a split-second decision, but it doesn’t mean she’s a bad cop. And by the way, Pot? I’m Kettle. You’re black.
When he looks confused, she reminds him about that old “rehab for his back” B.S. She’s pretty sure there was more to it, and his friends lied for him because they knew that ultimately he was a good cop. Just like she’s a good cop. (She’s right.)
“Yeah, I’m an addict. I fight that daily. You shot a kid. You lied to get ahead!”
“It was an accident!” she screams. “Who the fuck are you, God?” She drops something on the floor and leaves, telling him “You decide.”
Coop bends over and picks up the orange tip. Damn. And let’s acknowledge that a lot of this rage from John is because he’s going through what he put Ben through last year. He doesn’t like it, he’s angry with himself, and her calling him on his hypocrisy had to hurt.
Speaking of Ben, he’s at a bus station with Daniela; he hands he a bag and presses some money in her hand, telling her to eat. He looks pretty choked up, and we learn that she doesn’t know about Ronnie being killed. He’s pretty emotional as he tells her that she’s going somewhere better, somewhere she can make a good life for herself, and I wonder if he’s trying to convince her or himself?
He watches as she climbs onto the bus, then drives off.
Lydia meets someone outside, and it’s Terrell! Ooh. She tells him she’s pregnant, and this guy wants to immediately know what she wants to do, tell his wife? Find a way to make it work, what? (Man, I would hate to be his wife, you know?) She calms him down, telling him that she’s not there to blow his life up, she just thought he should know, that’s all. One day he might want to know his son. He looks excited at that, but she walks off.
Ben left the bus station to find Amber, who asks which foster home Daniela is at – oh, she’s not. She’s probably in Arizona by now. He says she should go join her in Texas, but Amber is too damaged. She launches into a tirade about how Ronnie is going to kick his ass, and that’s what does it. He gets it: she’s a lost cause and a waste of time. He tells her to “stay safe out here, ma’am,” and drives away.
Tang walks into her new station as the new Watch Commander. She introduces herself and says that sure, they may have heard Pootie Tang, Hollywood, and all of that, but her name is Sergeant Tang, thank you very much. OH. Oh, I see what it is now. She needed a new identity, herself. A fresh start. And she was willing to do what it took to get it. Okay.
At our station, Coop is shouting at a new boot, and I am back at Band of Brothers watching Sgt. Bull Randleman and I love it. Coop runs through the supply list as his boot nervously checks it all off mentally until Cooper barks, “When that guy on PCP starts to bite through my neck, are you gonna rub your finger on the floor’s carpet and shock him? Where is your tazer?!”
Oh my god, I laughed so hard. (And can you imagine your first partner is the infamous guy that was half-eaten by a giant on PCP and lived to tell the tale?) This guy is terrified. Crap, he forgot it, he’ll run back and –
“Never mind, son, I have a spare. Now get in the car.” Once they’re buckled in (Cooper reminds him how it works) he’s calm and supportive. Ha. The kid asks if that’s a lucky charm on the keys, and the jingle made me think that maybe it was a Sobriety Chip, but as the camera pulls back, nope. It’s the orange tip. Good reminder of how to be the cop he’s always meant to be.
Guess it’s not just a choice to make in the beginning, like the Bumper wanted us to believe. You have to choose the cop you’re going to be every time.
Sammy, with his arm in a cast and a sad expression on his face, sits poolside as everyone around him whoops it up. Everyone but Ben. Their eyes meet across the pool and Sammy looks absolutely resigned and sad. Ben looks like he’s aged 10 years overnight – he’s already got the “I’m getting too old for this shit” hardened cop look going, and he’s only been in for three years and change.
Sammy watches him lean back with his shades so no one can see Ben’s expression and sighs, his eye giving a twitch as he thinks about how he’s failed as a training officer, himself.
Story lines did not go how I expected them to, which is great. I don’t want to predict what’s going to happen. I’m shocked that Lydia is going to keep the baby and work from home. I’m shocked that she’s putting the job on the shelf when it’s been all she’s cared about. I think that little girl has every thing to do with it, and I can’t say that I blame her for her choice after seeing it, too.
I didn’t see the story going where Sammy felt like he’d let Ben down, either, and that’s another great twist (for me.) It makes sense, though. Nate was his mentor, and by Sammy taking Ben under his wing, it was a way to honor Nate by showing how much Sammy had learned. And to feel like he’s disappointed Nate? Oh, Sammy.
Out-freaking-standing season. Cooper found himself again, and he’s a damn good cop. Lydia is choosing to be a good mother, it seems, but we’ll have to wait for the next season to see how that’s going to play out. I have to say, I’m going to be sad to not have her on the force doing the dirty work because she’s so good at it (and everyone loves her.) We need people like that out there, you know?
[And if this show is skipped over for Emmys next year, I am going to go bananas.]
I’m going to take a few weeks off to put my heart back together, and then we’ll start a rewatch of the earlier seasons from the pilot onward – I can’t do without this show in my life. They’ll be posted here every Wednesday morning, starting April 4th. Hope to see you then.