SouthLAnd 4.3 – Community

Cooper explains the rules for the street version of "Eye for an Eye."

No matter how “civilized” we think we’ve become as a society, certain fundamental laws haven’t changed from the early days when we dropped out of trees and started organizing into groups. When you wrong your community, your community will take care of you eventually.

Tang and Coop roll up on a big event at nighttime; there’s a raging fire with cops and firefighters all over the place. Cooper jumps out shouting, “Where is he? Where is he?”

The City of Los Angeles is made up of over one hundred separate ethnic, racial and religious communities. LA cops have to know how to navigate all of them if they want to survive.”


15 Hrs. Earlier

Ben is in bed with a beautiful woman, post coitus. She wants to take a picture of them, which is weird at first, until he realizes that she’s incredibly turned on by him being “That Guy.” She tells him that if he wants to play rough, she’s okay with that. Ben looks at her, and when you think he’s going to kick her out of bed, maybe, he instead flips her over and kisses her deeply. She slaps a hand on the window a la Titanic and we have our first white woman that is really into Officer Ben Sherman for punching a black teenaged girl.

Sammy, still in his civies, passes out coffee to three parking enforcement officers. It seems he called them in to write tickets for every single car that was registered to members of the 2Treys gang. Their leader, Day Day, comes storming over, pissed at Sammy. Sammy knows how this works, what’s he playing at? “Everything you see is mine,” he tells Sammy.

“I doubt your neighbors will agree. You know what the difference is between me and everybody else in your shitty little world? I ain’t afraid of you.” Sammy turns his back on this huge gang-leader and walks off. Ooh, does that piss Day Day off. Note that neighbors are skulking in the background, watching.

Cooper heads in to work and sees Jessica in her civies (hair down) and notes her massive shiner from their take down of the guy with the neck Tazer that didn’t take. They’re getting more and more comfortable with each other; they make good partners. John is feeling great for getting back to his old physical self.

Sammy and Ben head in for the day’s meeting, with Sammy trying to live vicariously through Ben’s sex life. The Captain is waiting for them specifically, and gets onto Sammy for his parking ticket stunt. He’s drawing a lot of complaints from the community (meaning, the 2Treys) and he lays it out for them. “Community policing means putting up with these assholes until we have a legitimate reason to put them away.”

Sammy argues that Day Day robs from his own people and he rapes their girlfriends (because how can they retaliate?) Ben interrupts. “Droit du seignuer,” French for “Prima nocta,” in which a leader has “first rights” to all the women, dating back to feudal times. (And get ready, because the stage has been set for a peasant uprising.) Sammy walks off and the Captain tells Ben that it’s his responsibility to keep his partner in check.

In the morning meeting, the Captain tells everyone it’s “Hood Day” when all the gang gathers and oh, is it easy pickings for the cops. But not today. Today they’re going to leave them be because there are too many complaints. And they’ll just give these thugs a little more rope to hang themselves. Sammy and Ben will park outside to keep it “contained” and to keep an ear to the ground for any information on a local charter school that was robbed the day before. They’re all reminded that everyone in LA has a camera, so watch their butts. Ben is teased yet again for being “That Guy.”

Lydia and Reuben pull up to the side of a canal as Reuben works on his daughter’s Quinciñera speech. That rite of passage is very important to young Latina women as it’s when they’re “announced” to their communities as women. As he practices his speech, they make their way through the broken glass and litter to find the body of a woman. She’s 41, has no shirt, and there are grid mark indentations in her shoulder. Lydia notes this and spies a shopping cart a few yards away in the water. Her “chariot.” The victim, also Latina, has been brutally beaten and robbed.

Cooper and Tang pull up to a beautiful home where a robbery was called in. The lady of the house is outside, panicked, because the guy is still in there. The two pull their sidearms and quietly enter the house, checking every room and moving upstairs. They find the guy in one bedroom; he startles and jumps out the window. Cooper looks down at the driveway, watching as he runs off and tells Tang that his old partner would have jumped. She just rolls her eyes.

Back outside, they talk to the woman when a rabbi approaches. It’s her father. Instead of being concerned for her safety, he’s beyond upset that she broke the Sabbath. (Used the phone.) Even when she tries to explain that their family heirlooms have been stolen, he’s too rigid in his beliefs to care.

“I’m not going to sit back and be a victim for some allegorical dogma that you choose to take literally!” she yells at him. Since she saw the robber’s face, they want her to take a ride with them. The father is angry about that, too, but she goes with Cooper and Tang. Cooper sends off a salvo, “Someone is scoping out and targeting Jewish families.” Someone knows that neighborhood is orthodox and is taking advantage of it.

Sammy spies Day Day’s girl pushing a stroller. He jumps out with some diapers to try and get her to roll on him. She knows the rules and she’s not going to break them, just because of some off-brand Pampers. He mentions that he knows she used to be someone else’s girl, and that Day Day took her because her man wasn’t willing to keep it from happening. Also, he saw the other Baby Mommas over at the Hood Day celebration and… Wait. She didn’t know about that?

Drea plays it off, but you know she’s upset. She takes the diapers and pushes on.

Lydia and Reuben (he’s still working on his speech, and how wonderful that he’s trying to honor his wife’s community and be a part of them) come to a nice home in an older neighborhood. A maid opens the door, and before she can properly freak out about them possibly being from Immigration, Reuben calms her with Spanish. Lydia drops the news: Maria, her boss, is dead. Reuben moves to console her while Lydia starts looking for clues.

It seems the neighbors all hated Maria. One man in particular (who she called a restraining order on) threatened her life. While they wait for that information to be sent over, they take a key from the maid to Maria’s office. They find paperwork on “Loan Consolidations.” And they’re all for Latino families in the neighborhood. She was screwing over her own people. (A less violent version of Day Day.)

Cooper and Tang drive the victim around, looking for the robber. She explains that phones use electricity, so you can’t use them on the Sabbath, and how it’s all just hypocritical bullshit, ultimately. Cooper thinks the idea sounds nice: no work, just family and reflection, and Tang throws in that sex doesn’t count as work, so that’s okay, too. The lady spots the guy, they pull over, and the two cops show that they’re really growing together as partners. They banter with the guy until finally cuffing him.

Tang allows the woman to check his things for any of her heirlooms that were stolen. She finds the family candlesticks and begins sobbing. Even if you don’t believe in the reason for your people being together, they’re still your people.

Sammy and Ben are parked across the street from Hood Day watching as Day Day Crawford lords over everyone. Sammy talks about his neighborhood, as he wants Ben to move out to Castaic where there’s a Costco, Walmart, and K-mart. It’s the best place – easy to live there. (Basically, it’s the polar opposite of his work beat.)

Lydia and Reuben head to the more run down part of Maria’s neighborhood where they find the head plaintiff in a case against Maria for loan fraud. It’s too late to help him, however. He’s already lost his house. He tells them that he was born on Home Plate. Or rather, Chavez Ravine. He lived there until a piece of paper forced him from his home so Dodger Stadium could be built. And here it was, happening again. Lydia sees a picture of his son in his military uniform. The father explains that he doesn’t look like that anymore. He’s homeless, living in Tent City. It’s pretty clear that this kid is who they need to talk to.

Over at Hood Day, everyone is giving the cops amused looks. A beautiful girl and her friend (both black) walk by and smile at Ben. “You the one that likes to smack girls around. Young little things. Pick on someone your own size–” Her face goes from fake flirtatious to barely controlled rage. “–’cause I’ll knock your bitch ass out.” Yeah, being hit isn’t a turn on for her.

A distinctive car, all tricked out (yeah, they 28’s!) rolls up; it’s the 64 Hustlas eying the rival gang. They roll off and Day Day comes over to bitch at Sammy. Sammy doesn’t care, he asks if Crawford is nervous that the 64s are a bigger, tougher gang and obviously gunning for him? He asks Crawford if he knows about the school robbery. Of course he doesn’t. A call comes in for a stranded motorist, and Sammy takes the call, pissing Ben off. They’re supposed to keep a presence. Sammy calls out to Day Day, “Good luck, asshole!” as they drive off.

Cooper and Tang try to decide on lunch when some panicked guy slams into their car screaming about being assaulted. They calm him down the best they can (he blathers about knowing who it was, where they are) and they ask him to remove his hood. His head’s been violently shaved bald and it’s been written on with Sharpie: Child Molester, Rapist, Evil, and so on. Cooper stares at him for a beat, then tells him gruffly to get in the car.

Sammy and Ben find an alcohol promo vehicle (the kind with the sign on top and fancy paint job) pulled over in a “bad” part of town. Some dude is sitting on a bike in front of the car, watching, as two white girls cower in the front seat. They get out when they see the cops. They’re scantily clad in Hooter-style uniforms, asses hanging out from their skirts, the whole nine. They were lost, and then that guy – the guy on the bike – started circling them like sharks!

They ask the guy what he’s doing, and he points to the sign. He’s looking for a free sample; you mix that shit with some Stoli and it’s on, yo. He’s legitimately just wanting booze, but of course, the white girls fear the worst. The cops send him on their way and Sammy asks the girls if they recognize Ben from YouTube. One girl bats her eyelashes and says, “Right on.” White girl #2 into tough guy cops. Next up, tacos. (Even though Ben is getting pissed and wants to get back to Hood Day.)

In the car with Cooper, the victim is asked if it’s true, what’s written on his head. “I paid my debt to society. So all I ask is to be left alone.” Well, why doesn’t he relocate? “Where?” he asks.

Jessica drives to the address given; the victim frantically points at some ponytail dude. “That’s him!” Cooper gets out and asks the man if he did it. The man says, “I won’t let our neighborhood be destroyed by sub-human sexual vermin.” Other people join him on the street corner. There’s a back and forth with the molester’s intent in the neighborhood when John tells the ponytail-born again guy that next time he’s worried, call the guy’s parole officer and don’t touch. The molester is baffled; that’s it? Just a warning? John tells him to get a hat.

Remember that John’s father is a convicted pedophile. He has no tolerance for this bullshit. Also keep in mind that since we started giving our tribes names, the one offense above all others was abusing children sexually. That’s still the rule in prison, as well. Some things can slide; sexual abuse of children is the least tolerated of any crime.

Speaking of… At the taco stand Ben wants to know what the hell is going on with Sammy. He tells him (and the other cops) about Milton Lee Aiken, a church going 13 year old boy that wouldn’t bang with Day Day. Day Day grabbed him up one Sunday morning, sodomized him, packed him full of peanut butter, and sent him on his way. The kid’s cousin rolls with the 64s. So if today is payback day, Sammy’s not getting involved, and neither is Sherman. The community is too scared to report Day Day, so this is the best “law of natural selection” option available.

Sometimes “To Protect And Serve” doesn’t mean what the book instructs.

Cooper and Jess settle into some Dim Sum as Cooper rages quietly about how physical castration is the only option for molesters. They can’t be rehabilitated. (And he’s right: recidivism is the highest with these criminals.) Jessica plays Devil’s advocate for a bit, but ultimately she’s on his side, too, she’s just throwing out hypotheticals, is all. Again: sexual abuse of minors is the least tolerated by all people.

Sammy and Ben get another call at a football field and Sammy takes it. They walk to the bleachers where some woman is raging at the coach for not giving her son a chance. (He’s just not that good, the coach feels.) She pulls out a tazer and zaps the coach as Ben grabs and disarms her. And that’s when they get a call that something massive has just gone down at Hood Day. Shit.

They race back and find that all of the 64s have been killed. A few 2Treys, but mostly the crew in the gunship. Someone screams at them, “Where the hell were you?” Sammy doesn’t say, “Letting nature take its course?” That’s a smart move, Sammy. He’s pretty upset by this turn of events as it is. Ben is just pissed, pure and simple.

Cooper and Tang get a call about a neighborhood dispute. They find an older guy with a broken nose. He said the other guy (two dudes haul some young punk over) said the first guy “looked at him wrong.” So the punk cold cocked him. Fortunately, the two guys holding him saw it and chased him down. The guy asks for a free hit.

“You want to hit him?” Cooper asks.

“I would like to, sir.” Jessica notes there are no cameras, and this seems pretty eye for an eye to her.

Cooper asks the punk if he’d prefer his chin in the air or hands behind his back? (Hey-o, some big time foreshadowing here.) He tells the punk there are rules: he flinches, he goes to jail. He ducks, he goes to jail. Capice? The guy pops him (before the three count, incidentally, because the rules don’t really apply to him in this case) and Cooper shakes his hand. Jess asks if he feels better.

“Much. Who’s the bitch now?” he hisses at the punk. “Have a nice day,” he calls out to the officers.

Lydia and Reuben scour Tent City for Danny, the homeless son that is now their lead suspect. Reuben finds him; he’s plastered. They pull him to his feet, he tries to run, but is tripped by Lydia. He staggers on as Lydia and Reuben make a face. It’s just…pathetic and sad. He can’t get more than a few feet. He passes other homeless people, and there are people wandering around, not caring. There is a total break down of community here. This is the result of taking that away: Danny and who he’s become. He was in the military; I assume he didn’t get the care he needed, leading to his dependency on drugs and alcohol and his homelessness. Nice work, writers.

As they cuff him, he explains that Maria took the shirt off his father’s back, so he took the shirt off hers.

Ben and Sammy go to the house they got from Drea (I assume this happened off camera.) As they park, they’re spotted and Day Day and friend take off running with the cops in hot pursuit. (It doesn’t feel like an episode of SouthLAnd if Sammy and Ben don’t run.)

Ben calls out the friend, Sammy has Day Day and tackles him. He cuffs him to a telephone pole and takes off to help his partner. Dogs are barking their heads off and some of the neighbors creep out to see what’s going on. Day Day threatens them with violence if they don’t cut him free. Sam catches Ben at the end of the alley; Ben lost his guy and wants to know about Crawford.

“Shit,” Sammy says as he hears some commotion. They run back and even though they were gone for maybe three minutes, Day Day hangs from his hands around the pole, dead. A bloody bat rolls next to him, but there’s no one around. A knife is in his back and his head is split open.

The investigation is underway and all of the neighbors are out, watching. The Captain says, “If anyone deserved to be tied to the whipping post, it’s Crawford. Did you follow policy?”

They say in unison, “Absolutely,” and then walk off to check the house. All of the stolen goods are in there: computers, school supplies, and so on. The neighbors are now clapping and cheering and having what seems to be a party – as Day Day stays cuffed around the pole. We see Drea amidst the crowd, her face shocked but trying to hold it together, looking very nervous.

I thought of the aftermath of WWII in Europe where women were shamed publicly for sleeping with Nazi soldiers (whether they wanted to or not.) Drea is drifting, not really one of them, not the King’s concubine any more. That’s a tenuous position to be in. Let’s hope she’s smart enough to know how to play this and be accepted again.

Lydia drives Reuben to his house as he tells her the story of his daughter’s birth, how long and painful her labor had been, that special moment when he held her and they saw each other as father and daughter and how he realized that she was his. His little girl. And now she’s fifteen… Lydia tells him that that is his speech. He climbs out after thanking her and is immediately engulfed by his family and neighbors with hugs and love all around. When you embrace your people’s customs, you’re rewarded for it.

Lydia calls someone and makes plans to come over. At least she has someone. She’s pretty Lone Wolf, but I don’t think she wants to be. Then again, she’s mostly rejected her community. She grew up in Watts. She wants to elevate her old neighborhood, but time and again they fight against it and reject her. (Think of Danelle in the first episode of the season.)

Ben and Sammy are at a cop bar with the hot promo chicks from earlier. Sammy makes an announcement to the bar that they have a new DCA = Dumbest Cop Alive. And hey, it’s Ben! Ben is dragged onto the bar and a dunce cap is put on his head. It’s an initiation of sorts, and he’s a-ok with it. This isn’t his community, either. Not originally. But he’s ready to embrace them (and really wants to) and they accept him as one of them, now.

We’re now back to the opening sequence where Cooper and Tang pull up on a massive fire. It’s the apartment building where the child molester lived. Cooper yells, “Where is he? Where is he!?” looking for the ponytail guy. He finds him, but a woman shouts, “I did it. I started the fire.” Another person says, “No, I did,” and so on, with about four other people claiming responsibility.

Jessica mutters, “Shit, this is on us.”

Cooper calmly pulls his walkie and tells her, “No. It was always going to end this way. A36, show us as Code 6….” and Cooper goes to work.

The parallels between story lines was so well done: people who took it upon themselves to control a community from Maria, to the rabbi, to Day Day to Ponytail guy. But depending on how the “lord” controlled their fiefdom was how they were treated in kind. An uprising when the people were screwed over, a defiance for being controlled, stepping in to take punishment when their leader had the protection of their most vulnerable in mind.

And the one person that was bereft of all of his people and their traditions left helpless and aimless? That, my friends, is good story telling.

How do you feel about the differences in the perception of violence? The women with the hard lives wanted to punch Ben’s face in. The women with easy lives found it sexy – it was something exciting and different. Is this a comfortable life thing, or a racial thing? I think it’s a little of both, with more on the comfortable life and wanting to experience something “exciting” in a safe way type of situation, myself. Thoughts?


(Next episode: IDENTITY.)