SouthLAnd 4.5 – Legacy

God, I wish people cared about the very real effects of bullying.

 It’s a John Cooper Appreciation Day up in here, gang. And the question to take throughout the episode: what’s Coop’s legacy? Former FTO of amazingness? Drug addict? Gay cop? One of the oldest guys on the force?

The show opens with a jumper being held by an ankle several stories up. John is the one holding him as he strains and grunts from the effort. (Oh, his back! Please don’t pop a staple, John.)

After twenty years on the job Officer John Cooper has been wondering how his fellow officers will remember him. But right now, the only thing he can think about is hanging on.”

8 Hrs. Earlier

In the locker room, Ben and a few other cops are goofing, waiting for Sammy. Sammy steps out of the shower with a washcloth in front of himself, wondering where his towel has gone. Oh, it’s over in his locker, Ben’s pretty sure.

His locker has been completely sealed off with duct tape and the cops start cracking up. One, two, three, four, Ben declares a prank war! Oh, it’s on. Sammy tells him to watch his 6.

At the morning meeting, it seems that it’s time to recognize John for 20 years of service! He smiles and corrects them: it’s 22 years, come April. Well, whatever, Tang wants to run a tab at the bar tonight in John’s honor. As Tang and Coop head to their patrol car, she points out that he’s the seventh oldest patrol cop on the force. He’s shooting for 30 years, plus one day. He loves the work – it’s different every day. Tang is looking for enough time on the street so she can comfortably ride a desk for the rest of her career.

Lydia meets Reuben for breakfast, which she doesn’t want to eat because of this weird morning sickness… Reuben says to not worry, it’ll be gone by the 16th week. Mm hm, she is not admitting anything, Reuben, nice try. They get a call about a home invasion. He tells her to take her time in the bathroom, that body will still be dead when they get there. He then dives into her pancakes.

Cooper and Tang show up at a domestic disturbance; the neighbors called in the complaint. A teen boy is clearly distraught, his parents are screaming at him to not go to school. What? Well, turns out the kid (Mike) thought some guy was into him, so he texted a nude picture. It was a prank, and now everyone in school knows Mike’s gay. His dad thinks he’s stupid, is embarrassed, yadda yadda.

John quickly assesses the situation and pulls Mike outside while Jessica handles the parents. Cooper quietly tells Mike to calm down, let his parents process this, and be smart. He doesn’t need to go to the school just to be a walking target. Mike is too angry to listen and storms off to go to school and deal with the fall out.

To remind us of what the Sammy and Ben storyline will be tonight, we find them on a car chase where they lose control of the vehicle when blocked by another car and slam into one of those tube dancers you find at car lots. A big waggling, smiling face looms in their windshield, cracking them up.

Cooper and Tang spy a woman in distress as they patrol, and go to calm her. She’s Mary and someone kidnapped her son JC last night. He was praying in the garden, and Judas and some soldiers… Oh. Tang rolls her eyes and walks off, but John handles this perfectly. “You must be so proud of him. Have you looked in the dispensary? Do that, then wait at home for him. Bless you, ma’am.”

She calms instantly, thanks and blesses him, and heads off. John is a great cop with amazing instinct and the experience to diffuse just about any situation, right?

Sammy and Ben find a car with the windows shot out and two dead bodies (GSW) inside. All of the neighbors are standing around, and gosh, no one saw anything. Sammy gets pissed that no one will help them when some older guy tells them to get the hell out of their neighborhood. He’s rude and angry, and Sammy gets rude and angry back and calls him a crackhead.

Lydia and Reuben arrive on scene at the “home invasion.” At first glance, it could be confused with one. But the glass was broken from the inside, the blood splatters indicate that there was something on the desk (possibly a computer) where the 31-year-old victim was shot execution style, and the computer and modem are missing. The father is the one who found him.

The dad, by the way, is veteran actor Joe Regalbuto from Cagney & Lacey and Murphy Brown. (I gave a little happy noise when I saw him. By the way, the homeless Vet from last episode? That was “Larry” from Bob Newhart, as in, “Hi, I’m Larry. This is my brother Daryl, and this is my other brother Daryl.” Took me forever to place him.)

Back to the investigation. The dad came home from the gym about 7:30am. He didn’t discover his son until about 9-ish. His dad has been supporting him; he has no job. The computer? Oh, that was destroyed by his son a month ago. Mm. “He was kind of…stuck in life,” the father says. “It’s nobody’s fault but mine.” (That sounds like a confession to me.)

Tang and Coop head back out of the station house to find an ex-con, Bobby, with a yen for Jessica. He’s been writing her letters and even got a swell tattoo of her on his chest. John is stone-faced through all of this until the two of them get outside and away.

“Lot of dudes in prison with my name tattooed on their backs, but what you and Bobby share,” John says, laughing. “That is something special.” Ha. She missed a chest shot because Bobby was swinging a shovel, and tagged him in the leg. Bobby is sure it was fate and her loveliness that was responsible for his not being dead. The ways to true love were never easy, gang. And the Tang/Cooper banter continues to be the most natural on the show, which is saying something.

Lydia isn’t buying the dad’s story at all. She gets Reuben to call the cable company to get the modem records (things to know before you commit a crime, folks). Reuben just thinks it’s lame that a grownup still lives at home with their parent. Ahem. Oh, no no, Lydia would like to point out that her living with her mother is totally different. For one, it’s Lydia’s house since she paid off the mortgage, and two, her mother lives with her. “Look, I’m hormonal and I got a gun, okay?” Ha.

Sammy and Ben head back to the station and find the “Crackhead” there. He came in to file a complaint on Sammy. Look, he’s not a crackhead, he’s Wendell. And he’s been clean for two years, okay? Sammy can appreciate that an apology is owed for that, but the rest pisses him off. “You don’t come in here to report any of the shootings that killed your family, your friends, but you’ll come in to report me?” Hey, snitches need stitches, right?

“Every time you stay quiet, you’re disrespecting [your family’s/friends’] memory.” Wendell thinks on it for a beat, then whispers, “Word on the street, it’s Smiley.” He runs off.

At a Hooters-esque diner, Ben and Sammy hang with Jones and his misogynist partner, shooting the breeze. One of the waitresses keeps giving Ben the stinkeye, then leans over and says, “I’m pregnant.”

Oh, shit. Ben, looking completely shell-shocked, nervously asks if she is sure it’s his, because they only were together the one time and… Boy, is she pissed at that. “What are we going to do?” she demands. Ben might be having an aneurysm, I’m not sure. Just then, Sammy starts clapping and laughing. “I got you, dumbass!”

Prank War? I think we know who’s ahead.

Lydia hears back from the Coroner’s Office that the time of death for Justin was 9:00am. And Reuben heard back from the cable company that the modem’s traffic shut off at 9:08am. Things aren’t looking too good for Daddy. Time to get a warrant.

Sammy and Ben are sent out to collect a drunk (or high) Little Person who is playing in a public fountain. He sends Ben on a merry chase all over the square as Sammy watches, laughing. Ben finally catches him trying to climb a light post as the man shouts, “You know who I am? I’m Hollywood Royalty! My granddaddy was a Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz!”

Sammy thinks for a beat and says, “None of them were black!” Just then a call comes in about a shooting around the corner. They cuff the man and cart him off to find out what’s going on. (Side note, there were loads of rumors that the Munchkins were party animals and drunks during the filming of The Wizard of Oz. Just a fun little bit of trivia for you. Also, that actor looked like Tim Meadows, right?)

At the scene of the shooting, it turns out that Wendell “I’m not a crackhead” has been shot and we see him being carted away in an ambulance. Sammy tells one of the other officers that Wendell is not a crackhead. Sammy? You’re a good guy deep down. I like that he gives people chances, that he really listens to them.

Cooper, Tang, and Dewey grab a bite to eat, jawing about old cop stories and laughing. Tang tells Dewey that Coop is looking to get six stripes (thirty years) to which Dewey replies, “If anyone can, this crazy bastard can do it.” He then goes off on a story about his favorite FTO (Field Training Officer), a guy named MacFarland. 32 years in the service, three surgeries for injuries on the job, and a hell of a guy.

The day of his retirement, he walked past a group of patrol officers while in his civvies and not one of them said a damn thing to him. A month later MacFarland ate the end of his gun. John gives him a droll look. “Real uplifting story, Dewey.”

He’s just saying that the only legacy a cop can hope for is that some other cops will talk about him at a BBQ or bar somewhere. Huh. How often have we heard about Nate since he was killed? Fergusen got a mention about his impending surgeries. And that’s about it. (Well, Sammy named his boy Nate, so that legacy lives on.) These guys have too much to focus on right now to do much more than that, with the occasional exception.

A call comes through about a possible jumper down the street, Cooper takes the call.

Lydia and Reuben show up with their warrant and poke around the house. Reuben spies some freshly dug earth. They get a shovel and would you look at that, a computer and modem. “Mr. Rogers, you’re under arrest.”

John races across a rooftop with Tang hot on his heels. We see a figure off in the distance in a pink dress and t-shirt. It’s Mike from earlier, and the kid has had the shit beaten out of him, lipstick smeared on his face, and ribbons put in his hair. They’re 10 stories up. John tells the others to back off and gets as close as he can to the boy. He tries to calm him down, engage a little.

“You aren’t the problem. I know this is hard. It’ll get better.” John tries all the right things; and even though at the moment it sounds trite, he’s right. But Mike doesn’t want to hear it, and not from some cop who can’t understand what he’s going through.

And that’s when John outs himself in front of his partner and backup. He does know what Mike is going through. Mike breathes deep, says, “Thank you,” and jumps.

Coop leaps forward and grabs his ankle; the kid slams against the side of the building and the gathering crowd screams. Tang grabs on to John, the other two cops help haul John up, then they all pull Mike up. Mike is sobbing as John cuffs him, saying he’s going to be all right. “It’s okay. It’s gonna be okay.”

Lydia and Reuben find all sorts of torture porn on the deceased Justin’s computer. Reuben asserts that while he gets that some dudes are into that, he’s more of a girl-on-girl type of guy. Ha! I like Reuben, guys. He’s still trying to get Lydia to admit she’s pregnant. Keep at it, bro, she’s not letting any cats out of any bags.

They go talk to the father in custody to find out why. The dad explains that his wife died when his son was six and he was just…wrong. Awful. Violent. They went through nannies like water. He knew that he should have done something when he found the animals his son had killed. This morning he saw things on his son’s computer that were horrible: dead women that had been sexually assaulted before and after. He scoured Justin’s room and found a bag with an ax, saw, handcuffs, duct tape, your basic Serial Killer Starter Kit. He felt responsible and couldn’t allow his son to hurt someone. “He was my burden. I shot him.”

I have some questions for you all after the recap about this, so you know, and I bet you can see where I’m going with it.

John is with Mike in the hospital where he is being restrained. John explains that he’s under a 72-hour psych hold. Mike wants to know if he’s really gay or if he just said so, and after John confirms it, Mike asks if it’s hard to be a gay cop? John smiles a bit and says that he’s got 99 problems, being gay ain’t one. He gently pulls one of the ribbons out of Mike’s hair as Mike’s parents come in. He walks out with Jessica watching him, worried.

Sammy convinces Ben to go get an ID from Wendell in the hospital; he’s convinced Wendell won’t speak with him because of the whole “crackhead” thing. Ben sighs, but agrees. He’s holding his hand (there’s a tube in his throat; Wendell can’t speak and his face is covered in gauze) and begging softly, “Just squeeze my hand if it was Smiley, okay? Just squeeze my hand.”

A nurse comes in and tells Ben to leave that poor paralyzed man alone, he’s not squeezing anything again! Wait, Wendell was shot in the face… “Officer, you’re in the wrong damn room!” The guys outside are laughing at Ben. The nurse and patient were in on it, too. Yeah, Sammy’s winning this one.

Cooper and Tang pull over some pretentious asshole in a Smile car for speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians. He starts giving John shit about quotas, that he’s not actually a criminal, and maybe John should pay attention to them, huh? Oh, not today, buddy.

“Do you tell your dentist which tooth to pull? Your mechanic how to fix your brakes? Then don’t tell me how to do mine. LICENSE AND REGISTRATION.” The guy hands it over. “See? It’s that simple.” Meanwhile, Tang takes a call, looks at John, and replies, “I’ll let him know.” Uh oh.

Sammy and Ben are leaving for the night, with Sammy bragging about how good he got Ben. Then he opens his car and a flock of pigeons flap their way out, scaring the hell out of Sammy. Ben, by the way, has his phone out and is recording it while laughing. I still say Sammy won.

Lydia and Reuben (who have been the ones summarizing the point of the show for the past few episodes) are calling it a day, as well. Lydia just doesn’t understand when it became an option to off your child. Reuben says, “It’s not exactly new.” But there could have been therapies, or meds, or–

“He knew deep down it wouldn’t help,” Reuben says. “I wouldn’t [do it] but I can kind of understand it. Your children are a reflection of who you are. Your successes, your failures… People deal with that burden differently.” And then he tries to get her to admit she’s pregnant once again with a wink. Nope, Miss Lydia is not here to get personal, okay?

Everyone on John’s shift is at the bar swapping stories of crazy cop capers. Tang gets everyone to cheer Coop. He’s grateful, but it’s been a long day; he’s out. Dewey pulls him into a bear hug. “It’s been a pleasure.”

Um…Cooper is just going home, right? Coop thanks him, calls him an asshole (lovingly), and heads home. Jessica follows after him. He thanks her for the night and she says forebodingly, “It’s important to celebrate people while they’re still here, you know?”

I swear to the God of your choice, if they kill Officer John Cooper…

She tells him that earlier that day, Mike found someone to let him out of his restraints and he flung himself from the 14th floor of the hospital. John knew; it was on the radio as they drove to the bar. And of course he’s upset that another gay kid killed themselves because of bullying, but he did his part. (Boy, and how!)

He can’t take every sorrow home with him; he wouldn’t have made it 22 years if he had. And he’s a good cop, he’s the guy you want on the streets. If he has to compartmentalize like that to survive, then more power to him. He smiles and heads off. Jessica hollers after him, “I really hope you make it to 30.”

“And a day!” he says.

“And a day.”

She goes back inside where Dewey challenges the crowd to come up with a better Cooper story than he has. John lingers by the door as “Everybody Wants To (Rule The World)” starts to play.

(“Say that you’ll never never never leave it, one headline, why believe it?” I DON’T JOHN, I DON’T BELIEVE IT.) Guys, I may need a Xanax next week.


Show Discussion

First off, legacies. The LAPD has pretty much painted themselves in a corner (hell, the opening titles show how they’ve been corrupt since the beginning) and their legacy is set. Is it? Also, I think for the viewer Ben is John’s legacy. That was his last Boot, and Ben is turning into a decent cop with good instincts. As for Mr. Rogers and his potential serial killing son… What if Jeffrey Dahmer’s dad had done the same thing? I’m not advocating for vigilante actions, but it’s good food for thought.

And the teaser at the intro where it’s about John just hanging on, well that’s the whole getting to 30 + 1 goal, isn’t it? Head down, day by day, look up and you’re there.

Mostly I’m just terrified that this has all been a set up to show how amazing John is so they can off him. Let’s not get into spoilers, nothing beyond what was shown in the promo: John, bleeding at the neck. (And Lydia on the ground, clutching her stomach, in a patrol uniform.) Thoughts?