Southland 3.06 “Cop or Not”

Sammy Bryant has an extremely shit life.

So this week we finally get the inevitable celebrity crime episode. The media blitz woven through the entire episode is as deft as everything else this show gets so right—the televisions in backgrounds showing old interviews of the alleged criminal and the victim, Ochoa using a tabloid as an (very dubious, but that’s excellent characterization as we’re supposed to see her as tacky) investigation tool, the ringtone that causes the accident in front of John and Ben.

Well, seeing Lydia misused is as catastrophic as one would expect. Since she’s the heart of the show and relentlessly shown to go above and beyond—something her own dialogue hung a lantern off of in case anyone was new to the show—the ridiculous nature of the LAPD is skewered much more effectively than the way any other show would do it. We SEE the bureaucratic nightmare, we don’t just hear about it from one cop bitching to another. Although we get that, too, in the Cooper and Sherman storyline.

Now more on Ochoa and how I hate her: she’s that person you know who never does anything egregiously wrong, but she’s also petty and always needling everyone and bringing up things that are none of her business and bossing people around and just generally making a nuisance of herself WHILE AT THE SAME TIME thinking that she’s better than everyone else. She’s, frankly, infuriating. She’s not Tammy, but who is? Oh, right, all those Tammys I know personally. But while not being Tammy, Ochoa is still a character we recognize from reality who is there to create verisimilitude by being annoying to the viewers like a piece of popcorn caught in your teeth.

Speaking of the devil—OH NO, TAMMY’S BACK NEXT WEEK AND THE BABY’S SAMMY’S AND NOW WE’LL NEVER GET RID OF HER! The horror of Tammy really become acute if you imagine Sammy’s your brother and everyone’s been trying to get rid of her for years, but nothing ever works, and it’s not like you can disinvite her from Thanksgiving, right? Can we? Oh, no, I was just joking. Unless we can ban her. Can we?

I’m glad to see Russ back, and I’m not even sure it’s to be a love interest for Lydia even with the anvils, because that’s not how this show rolls. We can all hope, just like hoping for the lottery. I feel like the whole thing with Lydia’s mom is leading to some kind of denouement there, and I want it to be Russ, but since shit like that doesn’t ever work out in real life, I assume she’s going to hook up with someone horrid and we’ll all regret wanting her to have a love life.

It’s hard for me to even really comment on the Sammy storyline this week. It’s all too raw, like watching a friend do things you can’t stop but you really want to. Also, you really don’t even want to have the conversation because it’s all so painful for everyone involved. It’s like THAT, ok? The goatee alone made me want to press my cheek to cool tile to alleviate the second-hand embarrassment. You, me, the watch commander, and everyone who even knows the dude knew he wasn’t ready to go back to work, which is why they stuck him with Mr Slow-and-Steady to compensate for the fact that Sammy’s gotta work through this. I didn’t catch the name of the cop he was with, but I liked the character a lot. He knew going in what he was dealing with, and he was going to handle his shit AND Sammy’s shit, and he was going to go home and watch the game and not get twisted over it. And another thing, does Sal ever do anything right? What a dick for brains. Let’s not even get into what a train wreck Sammy shacking up with the Morettas is. Christ on a cracker. How can that go wrong? Living Nate’s life won’t bring him back from the dead, and it hurts pretty damned bad watching Sammy struggling through this.

I’m conflicted over John’s rage blackout over being on standing-around duty. While his brittle social commentary is completely accurate, in particular the remark that if the house needed to be guarded that the force could send teenagers with traffic cones, his willingness to leave his detail combined with mouthing off to his superior = not good at all. I will just assume that him waking up with a one night stand still in his bed is supposed to be further evidence of his deteriorating rationality filter, otherwise that was just a throwaway scene, and this show ain’t play throwaway scenes.

An aside: have you ever heard someone use limey in a sentence except used for comedic effect? That rang weird. This show is so good that this is how nitpicky you have to be to find something wrong with it.

The resolution to the crime this week not happening in the least is a brilliant reflection on the fact that no matter what happens with celebrity crime, we never know if anyone was guilty or not. And, to put a finer point on it, whether a celebrity is guilty or not is immaterial to the zeitgeist because all that matters in those situations is that X population will never believe the celebrity guilty and Y population will automatically assume guilt. Did he do it? We’ll never know, but in his dying communication he begged his innocence—generally taken as an indication of veracity—however, John isn’t having it, with no evidence to back up his belief beyond the fact that he’s bitter at the guy for ruining his day.

And John Cooper’s halo continues to tarnish with absolutely no alteration in my hero worship nor my desire to have my own in my living room. I think we’re probably supposed to become disillusioned about John in a trajectory coupled to Ben’s, but I’m gonna have to see some John killing kittens action or him going on a pro-life rant for me to be seriously diverted from my adoration.

The scene when they coroner was wheeling the body out of the house, the long shot of the water reflected on the side of the house, was my cinematic oooooooooh aaaaaaaaaahhh for this episode.

Watch Southland on TNT, check local listings